Searching keywords for eCommerce is a task that goes far beyond using the most popular keyword research tools. In addition to the volume of searches or the competition, you should also know if a keyword converts. Sit up and pay attention, because you are going to find out exactly how to do it with this comprehensive keyword research guide for eCommerce.
If you are setting up an eCommerce store, your number one concern may be the choice of platform, taking good photos of your products or the costs of logistics.
Well, I have bad news. To all these concerns, you can add yet another one: SEO.
Why? As per FastSpring, SEO or organic searches is the main source of traffic for online stores.
Although SEO has many aspects that you should not leave to chance, the first thing you can do to optimize your eCommerce store is understand how to use keywords.
Finding the Keywords That Convert the Most
There are many posts about keyword research, but many focus on the use of tools and leave out the most important information: how to find keywords that sell.
Note: the keywords that are best for you are not necessarily the ones with the most traffic, but the ones that show a greater intention to buy by the user.
For example, a keyword like iPhone has a massive search volume every month, but it doesn’t tell us if the user is ready to purchase an iPhone. You may be looking out of curiosity, or you may be taking a first look at smartphones on the market.
On the contrary, a keyword like black iPhone 7 plus case makes it very clear that this user is willing to buy right now.
For “iPhone” we must compete not only with the many online stores that sell them but also with the official Apple site and tons of high-authority websites and technology blogs.
Getting to the first page of Google for that search can take a long time and might never even happen. This doesn’t mean you should not mark it as a medium- or long-term objective if you do sell phones, but you should know that it is not a good term to base your entry strategy on.
On the contrary, for iPhone 7 plus black case, you will have to compete only with other eCommerce websites. Maybe some are a little bigger and more established than yours, yes, but all of them are your rivals when work is done well at the SEO level.
Bear in mind, this keyword can be evolved into many variants. For example:
- white iPhone 7 plus case
- black iPhone 7 plus case
- black iPhone 7 case
These are long-tail keywords. They have a little traffic, but cumulatively they can work wonders. In addition, eCommerce SEO experts say these tend to have less competition than the most searched terms.
How To Know if a Keyword Is Competitive
The most basic way to find out is to take a look at the Google search engine results page (SERP) for that keyword and see if there are companies advertising through AdWords. The higher the volume of ads on the SERP, the more competitive the keyword.
Right now, Google can show up to four ads before the first organic result.
It is a possible scenario that one works day in and day out to reach the top position in Google, but it will still come below the top four ads and so it can’t be deemed the “top position.” The ad in the number one position is truly the winner.
As it is not always practical to look at all the SERPs one by one. If you have a very long list, you can rely on a free tool offered by Google, the Keyword Planner. It has a separate column that depicts the various degrees of difficulty keywords. The degrees cover a particular range and do not reveal the exact difficulty of the keyword.
To solve this, you can download the complete list and open it on Google Sheets. This way, you will see the difficulty of each keyword defined numerically. It varies from 100-0, with 100 meaning huge competition.
Note: eCommerce keywords for the U.S. have very high competition and it is difficult to find the chink in the armor – all niches are getting competitive by the day. When everyone is competing for a handful of keywords, you need to stand out from the competition to shine. You just have to look deeper and you will find that magical keyword that will make your mark in your industry.
For better understanding let’s discuss an example. For the purpose of this blog we will look at the “dog food” niche and all its derivatives. This niche has a competition rating of 100 for almost all the keywords, so we will try to find some long-tail keywords that work.
When we searched for keywords in Keyword Planner, we found the keyword bland diet for dogs with a score of 19. In the list below, we see some of the keywords with lesser competition. For this keyword, you can make a dedicated page where you suggest your products that are best for giving a bland diet to your dog. You can do internal linking, get it ranked on Google and then generate leads for sales for your product.
We sorted the keywords for low and medium competition and found one more chink in the armor. As you can see in the image below you can target foods dogs can eat. You could create a dedicated page describing the foods that are best for dogs and push your products, providing an option to buy them at a discount that is valid for a limited time period to create a sense of urgency.
So far we have seen how to avoid AdWords competition (which generally goes hand in hand with organic competition). But if we want to go deeper and know how much it will cost you to overcome the competition and be able to reach the first organic positions in Google, we have a couple of very useful tools.
The first one is KWFinder, which calculates a metric called SEO Difficulty and allows you five free searches a day.
We looked for both bland diet for dogs and foods dogs can eat and we see that the latter is the clear winner, with a much lower SEO difficulty.
The second option, more professional and complete, is the Ahrefs suite. You can use Ahrefs to find keywords with less competition and good volume.
Now, this is all very good if you already have parts of the keywords and you want to expand. But how do you find more low-competition keywords you don’t know about yet?
Well, let’s see what the competition does. Again, our allies will be SEMrush.
With SEMrush, we can enter any domain and quickly see which keywords it is ranking for, and even find out the keywords they are investing in. But the best way to take advantage of the power of SEMrush is not to enter a domain, but a specific page.
Easy, right? The downside is that it will not work for all the pages in the world, only for those with the highest organic traffic (which, after all, are the ones that interest us the most).
But how do you know which keywords are selling the most?
We have one piece left in the puzzle: knowing which keywords generate the highest sales volume. As I said at the beginning, many people search for iPhone, but only a small percentage of those searches will end up for sale. And in eCommerce, you don’t just want traffic, but sales.
Before you tell me that it is impossible to find sales data of a keyword, read on.
Using Amazon To Estimate Sales Volume
There is a gigantic product search engine. It’s called Amazon and it allows us to sort the products in each category by sales volume. You just have to click on “Bestsellers” to see a list of the 100 best-selling products in each category of the store (home, garden, clothing, etc).
Fine-tuning a bit more, we can also see this ranking for most subcategories, although access to the ranking is a bit hidden. Within each product, look for the “Additional Information” module.
Whenever this module appears, you will not only be able to access the top of that subcategory but you will also be able to see the position of that specific product within its categories.
To extract the keyword or keywords that are giving traffic to these bestsellers, apart from the product name and the corresponding subcategory, there is a little trick:
- Do a Google search for that product and category.
- Take the first URL that appears on Amazon’s Google.
- Pass it through SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Now you have both the keywords that lead users to an Amazon category, as well as the bestselling products.
Not bad, but you want more. This information is not 100 percent complete for all market niches, but it already tells us more about sales than any keyword tool can.
Luckily, there is a foolproof method. My latest keyword analysis trick is to create a real AdWords campaign. Why? Because the best possible information on keywords is the real data, from real users, that AdWords will give you.
Think about it: Other data, no matter how good and useful they are, are still estimates and terms that are working for others. With this method, you will see what works for you, who buys from you and who doesn’t and what terms they use.
For me, that information is gold, and you can get it with a campaign lasting a few weeks and costing no more than$100. At an average cost per click of $0.75, which is a reasonable average of what is usually given in campaigns from different niches, you would be taking data from about 130 real users – enough to make important decisions for the SEO of your eCommerce store.
First thing: you can keep only the keywords that really convert.
Until now we have seen that foods dogs can eat seemed more advantageous given its competition and difficulty. But, what if that keyword does not result in sales on your site, while bland diet for dogs does?
It’s clear: you should focus your SEO strategy on that term and on all those that show a better conversion rate.
An additional advantage of AdWords is that, using the broad match type, your users can reveal terms that you had no idea about and that your competition does not use, nor do they even appear in any tool.
Finally, spending a little every month with AdWords serves a greater purpose and helps to open our eyes, making us forget about preconceptions we have about the keywords that are going to bring sales.
It has happened to me many times that the keyword that a client marked as a priority, at the moment of truth, did not work well in AdWords, and others, that the client had ignored until now, did.
Now that you have the keywords, the next step is to let Google know, without any doubt, that your pages are about those keywords. And that happens through on-page SEO. But I’ll save that for another post!