Find out how you can do the right kind of keyword research for your eCommerce business. We have a few tips that will help you optimize your online store and bring in more customers.
Find Monthly Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty
In this article, we will explain how to find monthly search volume and keyword difficulty for a specific term.
You may have noticed that many times in Google Keyword research people add random numbers after the words. Words like [keyword phrase] + [random number] or [keyword phrase] + [random number] + [random number].
The purpose of these numbers is to find out how difficult it would be for a brand new website to rank in the search engine results page (SERP) for a specific keyword phrase.
This article will explain how to do this so you can do your own research and discover if a certain term is worthwhile or not.
Let’s start off by defining some terms.
- Monthly search volume:
The number of searches that are performed for a specific term over the course of one month. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is used to determine monthly search volume unless otherwise stated in this article.
A relative concept based on previous SERP position data gathered by SEOmoz.org. The difficulty number will be lower if a keyword has been easier to rank for in the past. A high difficulty will therefore mean that it is very difficult to rank well for a specific term, and vice versa.
In order to determine how many searches are performed each month for a specific term, you can go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner and type in a word, phrase, or short URL to see the monthly search volume for that specific term.
Finding Monthly Search Volume
The first step should be to go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner and find out how many searches are performed each month for a given term. As an example, let’s try the term [keyword phrase].
In this example, we can see that about 1,400 searches are performed every month for the term [keyword phrase] in Google.com.
The next step is to find the difficulty number used by Moz Toolbar, so you know how easy or difficult it will be to rank for the term.
In this example, we write down [keyword phrase] + [random number]. In this case, we will use a “4”. This is an n-gram match keyword to find previous search volume.
Now, visit the Moz Toolbar Site and mouse over SERPs until you see a listing that looks like this:
The results for this Moz SERP are shown in the picture above. We see that the number 1323 is given, but since we did not use that number during our research it will be omitted from this article. Instead, we will use 4 as the difficulty level for this term. This means that it is relatively easy to rank well for this term.
Now it is time for data gathering. We will use the formula [monthly search volume] / [random number]. For our example, we get 1,400 / 4 = 350
Since the number 350 is less than 500 (the “hits” column under Keyword Difficulty), you can rank on the first page for 350 / 500 = 70% of your targeted terms.
Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner for this step, if you can. As an example, you could search for [keyword phrase] + [random number X]. But since we used a “4” as our difficulty level, with an “X” of 0 instead of 4, you will get roughly the same data.
Competitor Research and Search Data
So let’s say you have a product niche in mind, say women’s chunky heels. How should you do your first round of research?
You can take a peek at what other eCommerce stores are selling, which is called ‘competitor research’. Since this is for beginners, I’ll be assembling some free tools that can be done online.
I’m going to aim for a high degree of coverage, in a way that’s cost-efficient and time-saving.
Google Shopping Search Data via Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool
You will need an AdWords account, which you can create here. This screenshot shows some of the search volume data that you can use to discover keywords related to your niche:
You will also see a bunch of other useful information below those search volumes. Note that those ‘average monthly searches’ are only rough estimates, and don’t take into consideration factors like seasonality or holidays. You could think about this how many people are actively searching for products in your niche each month.
Competitor Research via Google Keyword Planner Tool
Just like our last step above, you will need an AdWords account to do this. This time, we will use the ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category’ function in the same tool (this is for AdWords). Don’t worry, it’s still free.
You will need to enter the target keyword first. For example, let’s say you’re selling ‘women’s chunky heels’. Then on the next page, click on ‘Add more keywords using a phrase, and enter some of your competitors’ product names (we don’t want to enter the store’s full URL, since it will give us too much search volume).
Search for keywords that show how people are searching for your niche. If you’re selling ‘women’s chunky heels’, then someone might search simply for “heels” (a high-level term) or “ladies shoes” (a lower-level term), or perhaps even for “women’s chunky heels”. If you’re selling “men’s watches”, then people might search for “Men’s watch design, wrist watches men, casual bling wrist watches”.
Use a space to separate each keyword.
As you add more keywords, the search volume on the side will update for each keyword. This is very useful because you can see which keywords have a better search volume. And which have a lower one. You should aim to add at least 10-20 keywords per niche so that your research covers enough ground.
Product Listing Ad Research via Merchant Center in Google Shopping
These are the ads that you see when you search on Google Shopping, featuring your competitor’s products. You might not want to use them directly as keywords (because of SEO best practices), but they can serve as an inspiration and tell you what your competitors are focusing on. They can also reveal topics, such as ‘women’s chunky heels’, which might inform the product listing title and description that you should use for your store.
Niche Forums Research
These are forums where people discuss similar products/services to yours. For example, if I’m trying to find keywords for a ‘women’s chunky heels’ store, I can check out what people in forums like Reddit or Quora are discussing.
Other Product Listings Research
This is a more general research method that you shouldn’t miss because it will also give you some inspiration and remind you of topics and keywords that might be relevant to you. It’s an analysis of product listings for your niches. It is performed using Merchant Words, which is a free tool that helps you find the most profitable keywords to target in your store.
Compile Your Research and Write Down the Keywords You Found
Try to group all the keywords into topics/categories or subcategories, so you can narrow down the topics later.
Perform Keyword Difficulty Analysis and Competitor Backlink Analysis with SEOQuake
SEOQuake is a chrome extension by Dave Ohly that lets you carry out competitor keyword difficulty and backlink analysis in Google’s SERPs. It’s an extremely useful and time-saving tool, and I highly recommend using it, especially if you’re a beginner.
This is an extremely powerful free tool for SEO and eCommerce store owners who want to track their competitors’ keywords and backlinks. You can use this information to inform your product listing title and description, as well as the topics that you should focus on in your product research.
Create A Product Listing Title And Description Based On Your Research Results
This is one of the most crucial steps that you should never miss because it can greatly affect your click-through rate (higher CTR means more exposure and traffic), which directly affects your conversion rate.
Which Ecommerce Pages to Optimize?
Know your metrics and optimize for them.
The best thing you can do before optimizing any page is to check if it’s already doing well. If it doesn’t, you might as well come up with a better idea and throw the work away. But if it does, then why not see what’s working and try to squeeze out some more juice?
Is the page converting well?
If it is, then you’ve done something right. Just make sure that everything on that particular page can be easily changed or updated so you can keep reaping its benefits as long as possible.
If for some reason it’s not converting, you need to find out why before doing anything else. Is it because the design is poorly done? Or maybe because the page itself lacks clarity in messaging, information or content.
Are you A/B testing anything? If not, then start right away with a small test — don’t worry if it’s going to harm your overall sales — and see how it fares for a week. Don’t go overboard on-page optimization; instead try improving the copy, images, or anything that you think might need improvement.
What about bounce rate? It’s not enough to just see if your pages are converting well. They should be doing so while keeping low bounce rates as well. If it isn’t, then something needs to change.
You can run a report for all of your pages that are failing to convert, or just those with high bounce rates, and see exactly what needs improvement. You can use Google Analytics for this — their URL Builder is great for helping you find the right search terms.
Optimize based on keywords
There are two ways to find out which pages should be optimized: by doing keyword research, or by looking at your site’s structure. For the latter option, just check out your navigation menu and find out which pages are getting the most traffic. Start optimizing those that aren’t converting well — even if they’re important pages like your homepage. Of course, this isn’t really an ideal way to do things since there are other factors you should consider as well.
If you do keyword research, use Google’s Keyword Planner to see which terms are bringing in the most traffic for your keywords. And If you’re already ranking high on page one of Google, then optimize pages that aren’t converting or just can’t be found using your targeted search term. Maybe If the page isn’t ranking yet, you can optimize it for whatever search term is bringing in the most traffic.
To check out which pages Google considers as relevant to a certain keyword, just go to your AdWords account and click on the “Keyword Planner” tab. It’ll show you exactly how many people are searching for that particular term — just know that the more exact and popular a search term is, the higher it’ll show up in the list.
Isolated pages vs. product pages
You might want to optimize your entire eCommerce site, even if it’s just for one or two keywords. That means that you should be applying SEO keyword research services for every page on your website — even those that aren’t product pages.
Product pages, however, should be optimized for one or two targeted keywords. Just make sure that they have a strong focus on your product’s features. And what it can do for the user. The messaging shouldn’t just be about your brand but also about how you can help your customers reach their goals.
That being said, make sure that every page on your website has unique descriptions and messaging. Duplicate content is never a good idea for eCommerce sites, so Google’s Panda algorithm will kick in and screw you over if they find out that several pages are just carbon copies of each other.
You can find the right keywords by looking at your highest converting pages, and then check out their ranking on Google. If there are other terms you’d like to rank for, just do the same and test them out using different keywords and phrases.
If you want to go down this route, here’s a list of the most commonly used search terms in eCommerce:
As always, remember that these aren’t universal terms and that there’s no such thing as an eCommerce keyword list. You can also check out the best long-tail terms for your niche by looking at other stores’ search terms. But if you’re using these general words, don’t be surprised if they’re not bringing in massive traffic to your site.
Search for a long-tail keyword that’s very specific to your niche and product, then just optimize for that one.
What not to do
When doing your research, don’t go too broad at first. Trying to rank for a really popular term will only bring in a lot of competition, which means you’ll need a humongous budget or tons of backlinks. You’ll also need a really long list of terms if you want to compete — and that can be hard to pull off.
Keep in mind that since most people don’t search for your exact keywords, they’ll likely type in something else. So instead of going for super-general terms like “men’s dress shoes” or “Disney princess dresses,” you should try to optimize for long-tail keywords that are just as specific but with less competition.
Don’t compete on price
Optimize pages according to their conversion rate, not how much you’re willing to pay per click. It’s more important to get people who are most likely to buy your product or service rather than those who’ll only click on your ads.
If you do decide to pay per click, don’t bid too high, or else you’ll be losing money because of all the other advertisers who are bidding fairly low. But if your site doesn’t convert at all. Then try lowering your search bids so that Google will show people your ad. Just don’t go too low or you’ll get outbid by smaller fish.
Things to keep in mind
You need to be able to track the keywords you’re using. It’s no use optimizing for certain search terms if you can’t track what’s giving you traffic. And what’s not doing so well. Use Google Analytics, AdWords, Webmaster Tool. And other services that’ll help you see how many people are visiting your site and from where.
Keep in mind that this is just a general overview of how to do eCommerce keyword research. Just remember the best way of finding out what keywords. You should optimize for it by doing it yourself and testing them out. It’s all about split testing and finding out what works and what doesn’t. So throw a bunch of keywords against the wall and see which ones stick.