Got a ton of product pages and category pages? Trying to figure out which pages to optimize for what keywords?
If you are looking for an ecommerce keyword research post that goes beyond the basics of search volume, CPC and competition you are in the right place.
What are the best keywords for product pages? category pages? What keywords are sending my competitor traffic. These are all important considerations when conducting keyword research. Before we dive into more advanced topics, we have to start at the ground level.
Building Your Information Architecture Around A Semantic Core
At the most basic level, does Google understand what your site is about? If not, you might have to shift the semantic core of your website; otherwise you’ll be jamming in keywords where they don’t belong.
Search engines are trying to anticipate searcher intent. To get Google, Bing and Yahoo! to find your products, they need to understand underlying foundation of your site. You can’t just jam a keyword onto a page unless it jives with your overall site concept. If the search engines understand your information architecture and topics, you will have a better chance getting your site to rank.
Less keyword matching, more topic modeling. – SEMrush
For a deep dive on semantic core, check out this video:
With that thought in mind, I still think keywords are important. A single topic, can have a better keyword to target. You just have to know that entirely different terms can get grouped together by Google.
Ignoring Synonyms In Keyword Research Can Cost You
Understanding if Google uses synonyms for your products can mean the difference between thousands of visits.
Take a look at an example from cognitive SEO on “remote control airplanes” and “radio control airplanes.” You will see that Google does not treat these as direct synonyms, and there is 10X the search volume for “remote control airplanes.” Google does treat “RC” to mean both remote control and radio control. As Razvan points out, changing out just the title and heading tag for the keyword with more search volume could result in more traffic.
To understand topic modeling and synonyms a little more, let’s take a look at another product example, “baby monitor” and “baby camera.” It seems like they would be the same thing, but the search volume is substantially different. If you were selling these on your ecommerce site, you would be better off trying to reverse engineer the SEO strategy (semantic core, keywords, backlinks) of Toys “R” Us. Google is assuming that if you search for “baby camera” that your intent is to buy a baby monitor. Check out the SERP.
There is a lot going on with this SERP, so lets break it down one by one:
- Although not bolded in both SERPS, it seems like Google treats “Baby Monitor” and “Baby Camera” as synonyms. Notice the top results for “baby camera” does not include the phrase “baby camera.” Based on Google’s patent, it seems like anchor text plays a large role in connecting synonyms with entities.
- Although the search terms are near synonyms, the semantic core is slightly different. The semantic core for “baby monitor” is tied more closely to the act of watching a baby. The semantic core for “baby camera” is tied more to electronics. This is confirmed by a backlink analysis.
- Only three URLs listed in both SERPs.
- Almost no ads on the “baby camera” SERP.
Use SEMRush To Identify Semantically Related Keywords
If you are serious about keyword research you can’t bank on Google’s free keyword planner tool. With SEMRush, you can reverse engineer top listings to find the 2-3 word phrases that you should target. Targeting long tail keywords (5+ terms) is great, but you can’t be scared to go after 2-3 word phrases.
If you have done SEO for a number of years, you know that it is not uncommon to rank for keywords that you didn’t target. You also know that sometimes the wrong page will rank for your target phrase. That’s the thing about Google. It doesn’t act quite like you would expect. The good news is, you can use SEMRush to better understand how Google groups keywords.
Based on the baby monitor SERPs we just looked at, its clear that Toys “R” Us’s semantic core is more tied closely to both electronics and baby. This is why they are able to get top search results for both terms.
Digging a little deeper with SEMRush, you will see that the Toys “R” Us URL is ranking for a ton of keywords.
Although Toys “R” Us does not have all those words on that page, the entire site itself if full of content and information about electronics, baby cameras, baby devices, etc. The semantic core is built around those concepts.
The lesson here is don’t get too caught up on a single “big head” keyword. Think in terms of keyword concepts. If you were a start up selling baby monitors, you would examine the list above to find a low difficulty keyword, and then build thematic content on your site around that.
You’re probably wondering how Toys “R” Us can rank for all those keywords despite not even having them on the page. Your backlink profile has alot to do with that. If you get links from sites with a similar semantic core, you can get traffic for related keywords that tie into the concept.
Keyword Research is Market Research
No doubt, it is important to know what the keywords that Google groups together. Google thinks related keywords are. That is just one piece of the puzzle. Online conversations are happening everyday. 15% of queries that are new. Google has to figure out what they mean and how they connect to existing content/semantics.
Current and historical data is important, but you need to understand the language of the customer and build that into your product pages.
Take a look at the backlink profile of a URL that links to our Toys “R” Us example. None of these sites actually link to the Toys “R” Us site, they link to the Babies Rs Us site, which is heavily linked to Toys “R” Us. A backlink analysis is a great starting place to find topical user generated content.
To get to the top of the search engine results page, you have to understand all the questions people have about your product and give them answers right on your website. I might not get any links from the site above, but I will get to understand the buyers language better.
Keyword Research For Your High Margin Product Pages
Product pages are the most important. They are the conversion page. For keywords on your product pages, be sure to include every last product detail. Be specific about brand name, model numbers, colors and other details. You never know which detail someone might search for. And if they are looking for details – they are ready to buy. By adding in these details, you should be able to rank for those longer tail keywords pretty easy.
In some cases, Google will tie other keywords to a product. Let’s use Stat Gear T3 as an example.
Step 1: Find the Product Page Equivalent On Amazon (Or Top Ranking Site)
Step 2: Plug The URL Of The Ranking Product Page Into CanIRank and Find Possible Keywords
Since Google already connects this product to “Auto Rescue” it might be a slam dunk to optimize our product page for it.
Step 3: Plug Your Product Page URL Into SEMRush To See if You Rank For Any Of those Terms
Step 4: Determine Your Ranking Probability
You can analyze the page authority, domain authority and backlink profile on the pages listed in the SERP. That can give you a “ballpark” on if you should chase that keyword. I prefer to use a use a tool like, CanIRank to check ranking probability.
It’s obviously a lot easier to rank for a term that is closely related to areas where Google already considers your site an authority. Here’s an image that captures that advantage:
For more information on keyword difficulty, check out this post.
Step 5: Update Your Page’s Content With The Target Phrase
Worth around $20K/year, “Auto Rescue” we should consider targeting this keyword. Go back to the product page and update the SEO titles and content.
Step 6: Create a Small Ad Group In AdWords
The goal is to get as much relevant organic traffic as possible. We’ve read what people are saying online about the product, added in product details, and done competitive research. Setting up an AdWords campaign can get you real time search data.
In your Ad Group use broad modified match of various keyword combinations that incorporate the brand, category and product name:
- +StatGear +Knife
- +StatGear +Tool
To trigger your ads, someone has to type in all of the keywords you are bidding on. Your ad will not show for someone searching for “StatGear Tactical” because their search did not include a required word, “knife” or “tool.”
I like broad modified match, because you can see more search terms vs phrase match or exact match. You also have more control over when your ad shows that regular broad match. This can help keep costs down.
Keyword Research For Category Pages
Finding the right way to slice and dice your inventory can make a big difference in your website traffic. Setting up multiple category pages with products that are listed under another category is spammy right? No! Google tends to be a little more forgiving on ecommerce sites, largely because the this helps with web usability.
I might look under the “Tools” category to find that T3. You might look under “Shop By Category > EMS.” The trick with these pages is to not compete with each other or your product pages. A simple way to check is to do a site search on Google.
“auto rescue” site:www.thefirestore.com
We don’t need to optimize a category for “Auto Rescue.” What terms should we consider for our category pages?
This is where a gap analysis is key. A gap analysis will tell you the keywords that a similar site is ranking for that you are not. In our case, we want to do a gap analysis between our site and the manufacturer of the rescue tool. We do this because our site sells many of their products.
Something else to pay attention to is plural vs singular. Google is about intent, so if I search for “tactical backpack” Google will show me more product page results. It is assuming I want a result of a single product page. If i do a search for “tactical backpacks” Google will show more category page results.
To gain some serious ground with your keyword research, you need to understand the concepts related to your products. Related keywords can sometimes surprise you. Are you seeing your competitor rank for keywords that are not even on the page? I know I am.