how to make your online store rank higher - ecommerce SEO

The Ecommerce SEO Stack: 7 Must-Have Tools to Increase Your Ecommerce Rankings

by Jenna Compton
August 19, 2015

Search engines have a job to display the best, highest quality content first. But with content marketing being so popular right now, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get your content ranked. Search engines are looking at the popularity, authority, quality and shareability of your content when ranking it. A recent study reveals that the first position on the SERPs is more valuable, as the CTR of the first position is double than that of the second position. (source)

What do I need to Focus On?

SEO has become quite complex, and it can be difficult for a business to learn what actually makes “quality” content. Is it the actual structure and foundation of your website? How much does the code affect rankings? How effective is content marketing? Do you focus on making your content marketing keyword-related? Or can you put keywords on the backburner as long as it is valuable for the reader?

See how complex this is getting already?

This article will highlight our recommended SEO stack: 7 helpful tools to help you make sure your ecommerce pages and products are getting indexed, ranked, and driving customers to your online store.

1. Plugin SEO (Shopify & Bigcommerce)

Bigcommerce SEO Plugin

Many ecommerce platforms offer a third-party app to help owners optimize their site for search. Plugin SEO is a free plugin for Shopify and Bigcommerce users, that helps you identify the gaps in your store’s SEO, along with recommendations in fixing them. You can see from the screenshot above that this application analyzes pieces of your code that you may not think about optimizing after you’ve produced content. As long as you have a developer on your team, you should be able to send them instructions on how to fix the identified issues. If you don’t, Plugin SEO offers the ability to pay one of their experts to fix it for you.

Check out Plugin SEO for Shopify here.

Check out Plugin SEO for Bigcommerce here.

I Don’t Use Shopify or Bigcommerce

If you don’t use either of these ecommerce platforms, don’t sweat. These plugins are looking at each page on your website and making sure that your images, headings, and META description all reflect the keywords you are targeting. Depending what platform you’re using, your method to optimize each of these will differ. The important things to know are:

  • Image titles and descriptions can (and should) hold keywords relative to the page of content on which they appear.
  • Headings should be written and structured so that a search engine can easily scan the code and read the structure. If the headings are used correctly, you have better chances of your user understanding the order of your page, thus increasing the chances of ranking higher for valuable content.
  • Editing your META description for each page will help you keep your description relevant for each page / product. It should contain some specific information about that product or page, and some type of call to action.

2. Moz Analytics

Many ecommerce owners realize the power of data analysis after they’ve been operating for a while. Imagine the leg-up you can have on your competition if you have data analysis from Day 1! If you can implement a tool which allows you to track your marketing efforts early on in your online retail channel, you can harness the power behind your results and maintain an advantage over your competition.

Moz Ecommerce Analytics dashboard

[image via the Moz blog]

Moz Analytics is a software that helps you measure your marketing efforts by tracking metrics like the performance of visits from a tracked keyword, how many brand mentions you receive, keyword rankings, and a lot more.

So how can this tool help your SEO?

When focusing specifically on content, Moz works by helping you identify where keywords are missing from your pages, then will provide you with detailed solutions. It will highlight the most important areas for improvement so you can prioritize your fixes accordingly.

Moz Inbound Links Tracker

[image via Kissmetrics]

It can also help you identify the source of your competition’s inbound links (Inbound links are links that appear on an outside site linking back to your website). If you observe that your competition has a high-quality site, you can strategize to also get linked from that site.

Inbound links affect your rankings because the search engine is essentially attaching value to your content based on the “authority” of the page linking to your site. Some of the factors that impact a link’s value include:

  • An incoming link from a website that Google considers to be popular and trustworthy means a lot more than a link from a brand new site with very few inbound links.
  • Links from sites related to your product or topic are usually more valuable than links on unrelated sites because related sites provide more topic relevance.

Moz Analytics will allow you to get a full-circle view of your site in relation to your competitors. Being able to interpret that data can not only help you strategize against your competition, but can identify holes for you to fill in order to build a strong ecommerce website foundation.

3. Yoast SEO Plugin (WordPress)

According to, WooCommerce powers 335,534 websites and it currently holds around 20.8% of the ecommerce platform market share.

Woocommerce ecommerce platform market share

[image via]

If you are operating on WooCommerce, Yoast is a tool you should be using to optimize your site’s SEO. A well-known plugin for WordPress websites, Yoast also provides a specific plugin for sites using WooCommerce: Yoast WooCommerce SEO. Their WooCommerce plugin can help configure your products to appear more optimized on Pinterest, excludes unnecessary information from the sitemap, and allows you to use SEO-optimized breadcrumbs to ensure that your customer is able to navigate your website more efficiently. Search engines also pick up on breadcrumb links and display them in results, offering multiple ways for web searchers to navigate to your website.

Breadcrumb Navigation for ecommerce SEO

[image via Marketing Land]

I Don’t Use WooCommerce

If you’re not operating on WooCommerce, don’t fret! What you can learn from this section is that there are elements of your products which you can optimize for better search results. Read on – we’re covering these in the next section.

4. Rich Snippets

If you’ve heard that searching is now more “semantic”, it’s true: the functionality of search engines is now focused more on understanding the user’s intent, and the context around their search. This way, the search engine can deliver more relevant results based on location, user intent, history of previous searches, and many more factors.

As an ecommerce owner, this is important to understand because if a user searches with an intent to purchase, search engines will display “rich snippets” that will show product descriptions, user reviews, price range of the product, and many more details based on what the company sells – but only for those companies that have this functionality correctly implemented. Here’s a full list of common ecommerce rich snippets. This visual shows how implementing the customer reviews rich snippet will be displayed in search results:

Rich Snippets Reviews for Ecommerce SEO

[image via Google Developers]

Adding this information to each of your products can help increase overall sales because when a user is searching with intent to buy, things like images and reviews definitely influence their purchasing decision. According to Moz, many companies have seen a 20-30% rise in click-through-rate (CTR) after implementing rich snippet markup. (source)

Almost every ecommerce platform has a plugin to help you correctly deploy rich snippets. If you’re operating on a custom-built site, you can always have your development team follow the guidelines. It should be painless for a developer to understand and get started.

5. Crazy Egg

We’ve written a couple of articles about the impact of good user experience (UX) design on ecommerce sales. Addressing UX design is something that ecommerce business owners often put off, usually because it can seem overwhelming when trying to find a starting point for this process. That’s why we’re writing about Crazy Egg: it helps you get detailed insight about your user experience. The application will show you where people are clicking on your website, how far they are scrolling, and where your users are coming from to begin with.

Heatmap Analytics for Ecommerce Websites Crazy Egg

[image via Storya Blog]

If, for example, you aren’t receiving as many clicks as you’d like on your social profile, you might consider testing different text options for calls to action for that profile. In this case study, one business owner found that a link he thought was a “throw away” link was indeed receiving clicks and optimized it to achieve over a 12% increase in CTR. Imagine harnessing this power and applying it to product descriptions, etc.

According to eConsultancy, most major ecommerce retailers have moved to this layout for their detailed product pages:

Product Page Wireframe UX

[image via eConstultancy]

If you use a heat mapping tool like Crazy Egg, you could benefit by A/B testing some different product page designs in order to see which one performs better. If you can design a page option based on the above layout and direct traffic to both, you will be able to understand which UX your customer prefers.

This impacts your overall rankings in search engine because sites with the best user experience will rank higher than those that are less user-friendly. According to Moz, “Crafting a thoughtful, empathetic user experience helps ensure that visitors to your site perceive it positively, encouraging sharing, bookmarking, return visits, and inbound links—all signals that trickle down to the search engines and contribute to high rankings.” (source)

Related: 7 Tools that Ecommerce Companies Use to Increase Sales

6. Twitter Analytics

There are various tools to help you analyze your Twitter activity and ROI, but housed within Twitter itself is a fairly comprehensive analytics system. Your Twitter Analytics account shows you metrics like impressions, mentions, and stats on your followers.

In the above image, you can see what the Audience Insights feature of Twitter Analytics looks like. But why is this important to your SEO strategy? As discussed in the beginning of this post, generating high quality content requires popularity, authority, quality, and shareability. If you know your audience inside and out, you have much higher chances of creating content that they will value and share, which ultimately impacts your rankings. It all comes full circle (whew!).

I Don’t Use Twitter

If you’re not currently using Twitter for your ecommerce business, WHY NOT?

7. Buzz Sumo

We know that search engines are constantly evolving, so what holds true and effective for optimization one year may be outdated the next. According to the latest SearchMetrics Report, the one standard to focus on right now to improve your SEO rankings is quality content.

This may be starting to sound redundant, but all things related to ranking currently hinge on this characteristic. We’ve already discussed what makes quality content, so let’s talk about Buzz Sumo: a tool that can help you find it, learn from it, and build your own.

Buzz Sumo is a tool that helps you find the most-shared content that resonates with your audience, what channels this content is found on, and the key influencers who shared it.

Buzz Sum influencer identification marketing strategy

[image via]

Through identifying influencers, you can build an outreach initiative into your marketing strategy. Reach out to these influencers. Get some links back to your site. High quality backlinks can increase your rankings (discussed in depth in #2 of this article). For a more detailed example, read our case study about a brand who built an influencer engagement plan for Instagram here.

Additionally, by analyzing what kind of content resonates with your audience most, you can strategize your ecommerce website design. For example, if you’re a men’s clothing online retailer and you observe that a blog post written about “Our Favorite Wedding Guest Look ” is performing well, you can feature all of these products mentioned on your home page. Your audience is obviously interested in them, so why not feature them and increase conversions? This can increase your overall rankings by delivering a good UX (told you it’s redundant). Delivering a good UX is absolutely necessary in achieving a higher ranking in SERP.

Related: Are You Losing A Full Day of Revenue With Your Mobile Site?

Your SEO Must-Haves

What tools do you use to make sure your ecommerce is maintaining rankings? Share with us in the comments below.

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Jenna Compton Jenna is our Director of Marketing and provides regular contributions to the blog. When she's not reading about business, she can be found running, drinking good coffee, and fiddling with projects.
  • OCP

    Hi Jenna, really nice post with some great recommendations. Yoast is an awesome plugin for WordPress sites, I’m very familiar with it. CrazyEgg have a huge reputation based on the notoriety of their owners and frequency of blogs, and do a great job for SME’s by providing heatmaps, however there are far more insightful customer experience analytics tools nowadays than CrazyEgg in the marketplace. At enterprise level there is our’s (Decibel Insight), along with a couple of others. You can signup for free if you fancy running a test on your site 🙂

    • Hi OCP, thanks for your comment and recommendation! Yes, there are many more tools more complex and more detailed than the ones mentioned in this article. We like to focus on solutions that won’t break the bank for an ecommerce owner. I’d like to check out your platform – thank you for the info.!

  • Hi Jenna, We like the image you used for Crazy Egg :). Yoast, Moz, and Crazy Egg are all excellent tools.

    • Hi there – thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the image and hope you enjoyed the post as much.