The Elemental Guide to E-Commerce SEP – Part 1 Of 5

So, you are wanting to sell products online. You have the e-commerce store built and ready to go but how do you get traffic to your site? In this article, we cover the fundamentals of optimizing an e-commerce site in terms of SEO.


SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the site for users and search engines to increase your site’s rankings in search result pages. In other words, the goal is to get found for search terms. Search terms is the word or phrase someone enters into a search engine, such as Google. For example, if you sell shoes online, you would want your site to be found when entering the search term “high heel shoes cape town”.

Whether you find yourself wondering whether SEO still matters, then take a look at our latest article, “Is SEO still relevant” where we break down why it is still important today. Now, how important is SEO for an E-commerce site? Here are some quick facts which help answer this question:

  • 44% of people start their online shopping journey with a Google Search (nChannel)
  • 37,5% of all traffic to ecommerce sites come from search engines (SEMrush)
  • 23,6% of e-commerce orders are directly tied to organic traffic (Business Insider)

As we can see from the above facts, SEO is important to assist in helping your e-commerce site grow which will lead to an increase in sales.

This article is the first part of the e-Commerce SEO series. We have broken this down into the stages of the buyer’s cycle as well as how to optimize each of the sections we mention below.

We touch on the basics that the site would need. In the next three posts, we will dig into the details of each section individually. Let’s get started:


When it comes to selling products, finding the right keywords and topics is very important. We have to take into account that there are buyers cycles, research phases and those who are on the edge of their seats ready to make that purchase. We need to make sure that we optimize our site accordingly.

To start, we look at the following type of terms or topics:


The keywords in this category are based on finding out information about the product. These would include how, where or when in the search phrase. For example, how to use product X or where to find product X. The person is seen at the top of the buyers funnel, essentially, they are not ready to buy just yet but rather researching the relevant products.


The keywords in this category become important when a person knows that they need a particular product but they aren’t able to decide on which one they would like to buy. This is where we find the user comparing products and reviews. The types of search phrases we expect to see here include “best”, “reviews” and “compare”.


At this stage, the user has completed all their research, read the reviews and is ready to purchase a product. This phase of the search includes terms that contain, “buy”, “cheap”, “coupon” and “price”.

Understanding the importance of these terms and their relativity to each person is one of the most important aspects when it comes to e-commerce. It assists us with the structure of the site, the content we need to produce and how we optimize each page going forward.

We would say that this one of the most important aspects of optimizing your site for SEO. Once we have the keywords that we want to target we need to look at the on page optimization. In part 2 of this series, we will discuss how keywords research is performed.


We mentioned the buyer’s cycle above, which is what we look at to optimize the site. We break this down into the following sections on the site:

  • Category Pages (Comparing and reviews)
  • Product Pages (buying)
  • Blog Pages (research)

These three sections target each phase of the buying cycle and it is imperative that we optimize them accordingly and ensure that we do this right.

Below, we have outlined the basic optimizations that would need to happen from a site-wide perspective. We will dive into each of the three sections individually:


In each of the three sections, we need to make sure that the URLs are optimized and include the primary focus keyword. The URL also needs to be neat and to the point. No one likes a URL that includes a lot of numbers and other signs and search engines general struggle with the URL if it is complicated. This is an example of a good URL: – This URL is straight to the point and easily identifiable.


Second to the URL, the title tags are extremely important. It tells people what the page is about and what they can expect to find on the page. If we do not optimize these with our focus terms we can miss out on a large amount of traffic. Search engines may not index the content correctly if the title tag is not correctly optimized.


We often come across sites where the alt tags have been missed completely. Image Alt text tells search engines what that image is. We use this because search engines cannot crawl an image to understand it.

If we do not use an image alt tag, search engines cannot index the image. The alt text only needs to be the primary search phrase or name of the product. This will help search engines better index the keyword correctly.


The meta description is a brief summary of a website seen in the search results.
This doesn’t directly impact your results but it does impact the traffic that comes to your site. Think of it as the call to action button.

Optimizing the meta description to include the keyword and be as inviting as possible can ensure that your site gets more traffic. As we know, ranking and not getting the traffic is pointless.

An example of a meta description:


This concludes the basic must-haves on your e-commerce site. This should be a good starting point to get your site optimized from a fundamentals perspective.

In the next part of this series, we will discuss Product Page Optimizations where we cover content, technical aspects such as Schema and much more.

If you would like assistance with your SEO, get in touch with us. We are able to assist you and determine if you do have the platforms measuring your website’s performance. If you don’t have a website just yet, we can gladly assist in setting this up for you.

Don't forget to share this post!
Having been established in 2005, in Cape Town, South Africa, Elemental is primarily focused on providing web development services and digital marketing campaigns.