The Ultimate Guide for 2023


I’ve led hundreds of successful Ecommerce SEO campaigns over the past decade, and in this guide, I’ll show you how to get more organic traffic, customers, and sales for your store.

In fact, this very same process helped me grow one supplement company’s traffic to over 150,000 visitors per month.

Let’s dive right in.

7 Step Ecommerce SEO Checklist

  1. Find the Right Keywords
  2. Conduct a Technical SEO Audit
  3. Optimize Existing Content
  4. Build Topic Authority
  5. Optimize for Google E-E-A-T
  6. Use the Reverse Silo Technique
  7. Acquire Backlinks

1. Find the Right Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of every successful e-commerce SEO campaign. The truth is that while any average Joe can find keywords, the real skill comes from knowing which keywords to actually target; this is precisely when knowing how to qualify and prioritize keywords comes into play.

Let’s start with some simple ways to find the most effective keywords in your industry. 

Start With Your Website

Open up Ahrefs, enter your domain, and go to Organic Keywords.

Once you’re there, you’ll see all the keywords you are currently ranking for.

The specific ones I highly recommend you pay attention to rank anywhere from position 2 to 15, the “low-hanging fruit” in this scenario, and the best keywords to target right from the get-go.

Why?

If you move some of these from position eight and up, you’ll see a huge increase in organic search traffic—especially for keywords that really matter, like the sandblaster keyword, which I’ll discuss more in a minute.

Steal Ideas from the Competition

Visit the Organic Competitor section in Ahrefs to view your organic search competitors, who aren’t necessarily your competitors in the real world but instead with respect to Google.

I like to sort these by competitors’ keywords, examining those ranking for more keywords than I am and selecting three.

Clicking on Content Gap and opening up a new tab, I’ll paste these top three competitors into the tool to reveal the keywords they’re ranking for that I’m not, meaning that within seconds, I’ve learned tons of keywords I can go out and attack to rank for as well.

Now armed with a strong keyword list, it’s time to qualify these opportunities.

“Keyword difficulty” is the first filtering mechanism to use.

Start by filtering by lowest DR to reveal keywords where low-authority websites are ranking, beginning with a DR of 50 or lower.

This is critical—KD doesn’t consider overall site strength, but I recommend starting with a KD under 30.

Next, set a filter only to show keywords with a search volume greater than 100.

Which specific keywords should you focus on within this group?

The answer to this question is 100% based on search intent.

In short, you should prioritize keywords with transactional intent towards the bottom of the funnel.

Familiarize yourself with the five primary search intent categories: informational, investigative, comparison, transactional, and navigational. 

Every strong SEO campaign targets keywords at each stage of the sales funnel.

Let’s say you’re building a keyword strategy for an e-commerce website that sells sandblasters.

Informational Intent

At the top of the funnel, you’ll target keywords with informational intent (e.g., “How does a sandblaster work” or “soda blasting versus sandblasting”) to both drive traffic and brand awareness while building topic authority.

Investigative Intent

The next phase targets keywords with investigative intent (e.g., “best sandblaster”).

Comparison Intent

The searcher is likely brand-aware at this point, meaning he or she will likely search keywords with comparison intent (e.g., “Le Lematec versus Neiko sandblaster”).

As you can see, the searcher is getting very close to making a decision and thus weighing the best options.

Transactional Intent

When you arrive at keywords with transactional intent (in this case, “Neiko sandblaster coupon code”), the conversion rate for these types of keywords skyrockets.

In summary, you should always start at the bottom of the sales funnel and work your way up, prioritizing keywords with transactional intent and building your entire strategy to support those bottom-of-the-funnel keywords.

2. Conduct a Technical SEO Audit

First, you’ll need to download Screaming Frog SEO Spider—a tool that will crawl your website and unearth every possible technical SEO opportunity—and then integrate Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs APIs. It’s easy!

All you need to do is go to Google Analytics 4 and connect your API in the API section. Head to the Google Search Console to connect the API, and I would also recommend enlisting the help of page speed insights as well. Finally, use Ahrefs to connect. In doing so, you’ll be able to see your current traffic from Google Analytics.

Meanwhile, Google Search Console shows you clicks and impressions—with page speed insights providing the ability to view core web vitals for every page. You can also view individual backlinks, which is critical to understanding the performance of each and every page.

After the crawl is complete, I recommend exporting the report and adding it to a Google Sheet. Truth be told, I could dedicate endless hours to this audit process, but in the interest of preserving your precious time, look out for these three circumstances/opportunities:

Poor SEO Performance

With all of this data from Screaming Frog, you want to find pages that have zero sessions, zero clicks, (hopefully) zero impressions, and zero backlinks.

Seeing a bunch of big goose eggs across all of those columns indicating poor metrics is a sound indication that adjustments are needed for that page. Perhaps it needs to be upgraded or optimized.

Maybe it’s ripe for more topic authority, internal linking, or links of any kind.

Either way, improvements are undoubtedly necessary.

Whenever I spot an underperforming page, I immediately ask myself: Does this page need to exist? 

Delete & Let it 404

If the answer is no, I’ll simply delete it and let it 404.

If its existence is warranted, however, but it is not targeting a particular keyword well, I’ll probably rebuild that page—upgrading it, optimizing it, coming up with a new angle, and just making it substantially better—before acquiring backlinks to see if I can actually get that page to rank.

Another option is to simply take that page and 301 redirect it to an existing page.

I typically only recommend this in two scenarios: with respect to keyword cannibalization (which I’ll discuss in a second) and if it has backlinks. If you want to 301 redirect a URL, and it has backlinks, that’s a good idea, but you need to make sure you find an apples-to-apples comparison.

If it’s a post about backlinks, you’ll want it to 301 redirect to another post about backlinks and make sure the redirect is very clean. Use this data to your advantage! You can identify poor-performing assets and then take the necessary steps to improve those pages.

Internal Linking Opportunities

Internal links are critical for improving crawling and indexing and, more importantly—sending link equity to prominent pages on your site.

Crawl Depth

Take the export from Screaming Frog and simply scroll over, looking specifically for internal linking opportunities until you see crawl depth (which is critical).

This refers to the number of clicks it takes to reach those pages; the deeper your pages are into the architecture, the more difficult it is for Google to crawl and index them.

As a general rule of thumb, you want every page on your site to be no more than three clicks deep.

Internal Link Coverage

Unique internal links are also really important, meaning just how many go to these pages. If you spot pages with no internal links at all (and tons of internal links missing in general!), you have clear-cut candidates to decipher why this is happening. Sometimes, it’s simply total neglect or perhaps a symptom of poor topic authority.

Regardless, if you see many pages lacking internal links, this typically means you need to create more assets to actually build internal links—and thus greatly improve your SEO performance.

If you happen to encounter a lack of available pages when looking to amplify internal links to those that actually matter, you know what to do next: create more content.

Keyword Cannibalization

This occurs when two or more pages target the same exact keyword. In looking to address this, I always like to start in the title section and filter by condition.

I’ll then type possible cannibalization culprits into the “text contains” field (for the purposes of the example mentioned above, let’s say we enter the word “sand”) to pinpoint all pages currently containing that keyword.

At the end of the day, we want just one particular page to rank for “sand blasters” despite the fact that multiple product pages currently contain this.

Therefore, we need to figure out the best strategy here.

Given how they’re currently optimized, will these product pages compete against our primary keyword?

One Primary Keyword Per Page

In most cases and as a best practice, you’ll want one primary keyword per page: meaning I should target “sand blasters” and “sand blaster” on only one page of my site.

In looking at these, we also see they’re really the same exact product but with a different skew.

Even though this isn’t a huge problem—I’d be more concerned if I spotted another page with “sand blasters,” clearly indicating cannibalization—we’d still like to figure this out.

Therefore, in stumbling upon this issue, you’d simply need to consolidate these assets together to eliminate them for good.

3. Optimize Your Existing SEO Content 

We’ve already discussed targeting the low-hanging fruit first (keywords ranking from positions 2 to 15), so you’ll need to examine these pages while striving to make them better.

The process I use to optimize existing content is simple!

Within Surfer SEO, I’ll head to the SERP Analyzer and enter “sand blasters” (our keyword of choice) and the target URL.

Clicking on the little three dots in front of me, I then head to “audit” to learn if the page is well-optimized for the primary keyword.

A quick note: before you even examine NLP-related keywords, it’s much better to check out the word count. In this case, I want to see if the page contains enough words to compete.

You don’t necessarily need 2,400 words here, but we at least want to aim for a range between 1,000–2,800.

If there’s room for improvement based on word count alone (not even considering the type of copy), we first need to narrow that gap before looking to weave keywords into the content—adding your chosen keywords to your content brief and then you building out the content based on related ideas.

This is an excellent example of upfront optimization; rather than first creating content to go back then and attempt to inject these keywords after that—which is much more complicated—do so right from the get-go and enjoy less work on the optimization side.

Let’s take a minute to discuss content creation.

While you could, of course, enlist the help of a writer to generate content for you, I’d actually recommend turning to ChatGPT. The first step is to enter your keywords using a very basic prompt: in this case, creating an e-commerce page targeting sand blasters.

Make sure you mention the company while also adding NLP keywords and the target word count.

A few seconds later? Bam! We have a decent piece of ChatGPT-generated content we can easily add to the category page with a few modifications and edits.

Think of it like a first draft. You’ll run through, clean it up, and make it relevant to you—personalizing it and adding testimonials and/or bottom-of-the-funnel content, whatever makes it unique to the brand. This is just the starting point. However, it is a nice base to work from.

You’ll now add this to Surfer’s Content Editor, along with some basic headings. You might even head back to ChatGPT if you need to amp up the word count and increase the depth of some sections a bit more.

Upon hitting the proper word count, run the content through Grammarly while also using your own brain to add even more personalization/brand-relevant details and, of course, that ever-so-necessary human touch.

You’ve now completed the most challenging step—actually writing the content, which is the biggest hurdle to overcome—in just a few minutes to see immediate improvements.

As an alternative, you can also use Surfer AI to create this content automatically; simply feed it the keyword you want to rank for and let it do all the work for you!

The program will analyze the top five competitors ranking on the first page and select those with the highest scores to use as seeds for creating content.

One article I created in this manner cost about $30 to deliver, so the point is it’s not necessary to open the purse strings here—though it, of course, makes things a lot easier.

No matter which route you take, don’t just create content with Surfer AI, ChatGPT, or any other automated tool, for that matter, and then simply slap it on your site.

Make sure you have an editorial process in place!

Beyond just a first draft, you’ll want to do a second and possibly third draft to ensure the content is unique, human, and ultimately not just cookie-cutter.

Take advantage of the tools mentioned above to streamline your SEO content creation efforts. 

4. Build Topic Authority

Ensure you update your post date whenever you make substantial changes. Then, after working your way through existing assets, it’s time to splinter your content. Know that if your website is currently ranking for any keywords, you’re sitting on an SEO gold mine.

Here’s what you need to do.

Open up Ahrefs and enter your domain.

Ahrefs Site Explorer

Then go to Organic Research, click on the Positions dropdown, and select 51 through 100 (I like to refer to this set of keywords as “clustering opportunities”).

You’ll likely have a page ranking for keywords that will never rank number one in Google due to a lack of hyper-focus, which is precisely when splintering content comes into play.

Let’s consider an e-comm business that sells sand blasters and ranks number 50 for “where to buy sandblasting media,” with a product page not 100% relevant to the query.

In this case, I’d create a dedicated page for where to buy sandblasting media and then internally link these pages together. I’ve actually tested this method thousands of times at this point, and the splintered content outperforms the original page 9 times out of 10; you heard it here first!

5. Optimize for Google’s EEAT

E-E-A-T is particularly important if you’re in a “your money, your life” (YMYL) industry such as health or finance. The truth is, however, that I go through this process for every site I’m trying to rank.

So, what is Google E-E-A-T exactly?

The acronym stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Here’s a perfect example of how you should approach optimizing for experience per EEAT guidelines…

If you’re creating product reviews or talking about anything informational, always mention real-life, firsthand experience. It’s so important.

For a website discussing and creating content about sand blasters, we’ll want to loop in our actual experience with these products.

That’s all there is to it! Don’t overcomplicate it, and avoid talking in generalities. Don’t be afraid to actually have an opinion!

This is really important because it adds depth to your content and, most importantly, shows Google it’s not just some regurgitated nonsense; it’s actually legit.

Taking this to the next level and optimizing for expertise, turn to WebMD for inspiration: examining what they’re doing and modeling it to a T. On their website and right above the fold, it’s easy to see that content is written by a subject matter expert.

This needs to be really, really clear from the get-go, no matter your industry. Enlist the help of these professionals for content writing and fact-checking purposes, and place this material above the fold.

Looking more closely at WebMD content specifically, you’ll see lots of links pointing to other related topics as well as citations at the bottom highlighting sources from which the information originated.

Thus, it’s crystal clear this content is very high quality and trusted across the board, which is the ultimate goal for your website as well.

6. Utilize the reverse silo technique

In short, most of your backlinks should hit linkable assets, with your site also driving link equity to other critical pages using internal linking.

Simply remember that “a rising tide lifts all ships,” meaning that driving backlinks to one page will improve overall site authority—improving the performance of other pages in return.

Check out this example:

A company called Candy Funhouse created a really unique “chief candy officer” position who is just someone who—you guessed it—tastes candy. I have no idea if this is even a real position, but regardless, it’s a good marketing play nonetheless.

As a result, they attract a ton of backlinks going to this specific page on their website. The traffic isn’t great, but that’s not the purpose here, which is, in fact, the backlinks driving to the page alongside an extra 480 referring domains.

Remember how I said a rising tide lifts all ships? Driving links to this specific page is a shot in the arm for overall website performance, which gets a large boost as a result and points to the importance of building site authority one page at a time.

I’ve done this on so many websites, honing in on one page and driving really high-quality links to a page that really deserves it—thus lifting organic traffic to the entire site. Never underestimate the power of this. 

7. Acquire high-quality, relevant backlinks 

Returning to the idea of the reverse silo, you need to create linkable assets: meaning you need pages people actually want to link to.

Category or product pages are rarely linkable, so most of your backlinks should go to your homepage and high-quality content.

Here are a few examples:

Create Ultimate Guides

Compiling the most comprehensive guide on a given topic works really well in industries where this is not overplayed.

For example, if you attempt to assemble the ultimate guide on backlinks in the SEO industry, you’ll (unfortunately) likely fail due to sheer saturation with respect to this topic.

However, doing so for the history of sandblasting will likely strike gold because no one else is really doing it.

Prioritize Data-Driven Content

A case study we created with unique data analyzing the top CMSs for SEO now has countless backlinks from authority websites; once again, we didn’t engage in aggressive link acquisition to do so but instead generated a unique asset no one else had.

Produce Free Tools and Software

While this used to be a very difficult proposition, you can now use ChatGPT to create (awesome!) free tools that function perfectly as link bait. Here’s how…

Head to ChatGPT and provide a very simple prompt just to see what it will come up with. You can, of course, pursue many of these ideas—they’re often good and worth investigating a little bit further—but I’m looking for something a bit more specific to companies that sell sandblasters, in this case.

In inputting something like, “What free tools can we create?” ChatGPT will spit out a bunch of really unique ideas from which we can cherry-pick the best one.

With respect to a Sandblasting Time Estimator, I’d then tell the site to create HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It will immediately write that code for you—which won’t be perfect, by the way—and you will then input it into the website to ensure it works.

Encounter any errors? Head back to ChatGPT to request a subsequent fix.

You can simply treat this like a developer on your team and go back and forth until it gets right.

Once that’s squared away, you’ll head into WordPress and download the WP Coder plugin before inputting the HTML/CSS codes and JavaScript.

Add the shortcode to the actual page you’re creating, and bam! You now have a fully functioning tool for link-building purposes and something actually worth linking to—and you’re not even a coder!

For the sake of transparency, I do understand a little bit of code and was, therefore, able to build this out based on issues I was encountering. However, I’d go back to ChatGPT and ask questions to receive answers for issues I was clueless about.

There are just so many ways to build free linkable assets now.

There are truly no reasons at all not to use ChatGPT, which really streamlines this process to arm you with a fully functioning piece of link bait you can promote and score backlinks in return.

It’s Your Turn Now

Well, that about wraps up this piece for today. Want access to my proprietary e-commerce SEO systems, templates, and SOPs?

Go here to apply for Gotch SEO Academy.





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