Go Back eCommerce SEO Guide

eCommerce Keyword Research: How to Choose Your Keywords

One of the first steps in increasing your visibility is keyword research, which is a time-consuming but critical element of the best eCommerce SEO.

Matthew Banes
Williams Commerce Matthew Banes
Head of Search

Williams Commerce is a global ecommerce specialist. We help our customers build and transform their ecommerce businesses worldwide.

In the simplest terms, keyword research is the act of figuring out what search terms people are using, or would use, to find your product.

The sweet spot is keywords that are both easy to rank for and illustrate what we call in the industry “high user intent.” In other words, folks searching for these phrases are ready to buy, and they’re looking for results that match what you offer.

So how do you find these magical terms? This step-by-step guide lays out tools, tips, and best practices for choosing the right keywords.

Step 1: Find the right keyword planning tools

There are a lot of options when it comes to keyword tools, and choosing the right one comes down to your needs and your budget. Here is an overview of some of the most popular.

Free keyword planning tools

  • Google Keyword Planner: Google’s Keyword Planner helps you plan which keywords you should use, based on data harvested from its search engine and advertising products, including Google Shopping. The catch? You must set up a Google Ads account to access this information. It’s worth it though, as the data includes approximate MSV, or monthly search volume (the number of people using a given search term), that you can filter by location if you’re targeting a specific region or country.
  • Ubersuggest: For Chrome users, the Ubersuggest plugin automatically shows actionable keyword information for any Google search. A quick Google of “bow tie dog collar” reveals volume, competition, related terms, and other keyword suggestions. (There’s a market for “glitter bow tie dog collars”? Who knew!) Ubersuggest also offers a web app for non-Chrome users. Overall, it’s a solid tool that should be part of your repertoire, and a good entry point for many beginners.
  • Google and Amazon: Spending a little time in Amazon’s or Google’s search bar will yield rich keywords that you can implement in your own eCommerce search engine optimization, since they helpfully auto-populate your search with suggested search terms that others have used. You can also click through the products that are returned in the search results, to see exactly what keywords are being used in headlines and copy to market the product.

Paid keyword planning tools

If you have the budget for it, it may be worth it to go with a paid tool for your keyword planning. You’ll be spending money, sure, but you’ll also be saving time. There are many to choose from, but three of the most popular are Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. All three offer free trials for their premium plans, so you can get a feel for them before deciding.

Step 2: Analyze your current keywords

If your business isn’t brand new, chances are you’re already ranking for some keywords. And those keywords will tell you a lot about other keywords you can easily rank for.

If you’re using a good analytics tool to measure your site traffic and conversions, you probably have this information. If not, Google Search Console can help you to get a good picture of your organic search rankings.

Step 3: Assess the competition

After you do an analysis of your eCommerce site, you want to do the same for your competitors. This will help you to identify opportunities for ranking. Paid keyword tools are especially helpful for this step, though you can get some insights from the free options.

Step 4: Create a (realistic) list of keywords

The “realistic” bit is important. If you sell women’s clothing, for example, you are going to have a hard time ranking for “women’s clothing” or “dresses” if you’re a smaller brand. “Women’s floral maxi dress plus size,” or “petite wrap dress knee length” on the other hand, may present an opportunity to grow your traffic.

Ideally, you want to have a good mix of short tail and long tail keywords. Short tail are more general terms, usually 1-2 words, while long-tail keywords are more specific, like the “women’s floral maxi dresses plus size” above.  Short tail keywords have more competition, while long tail keywords target users with higher intent.

Step 5: Optimize your website and pages

Once you have your wish list of keywords, it’s time to put them to work! You’ll find tips and strategies for using keywords in your eCommerce site optimization in the rest of the guide.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to keyword research is that you can’t take shortcuts. Even if you have 657 product pages to optimize, you can tackle them in batches of 10, starting with your most trafficked pages first. Accurate keyword targeting is a foundational exercise for the rest of your SEO, so getting it right is worth your time.

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