Is SEO worth it for e-commerce?

Is SEO worth it for e-commerce?

By Abi Crosbie, SEO Manager at Reckless.

9 minute read

The simple answer to ‘is search engine optimisation (SEO) worth it for e-commerce’ is, yes! Why? The easy answer is that good implementation of SEO can save you money – in the long-term

SEO for e-commerce websites has specific challenges for content, off-page and technical. We are going to deep-dive into these and give you some reassurance that you’re not unhinged for wanting to improve your SEO.

Why SEO might not be worth it

We genuinely believe that the majority of e-commerce businesses would benefit from SEO, but here’s a few reasons why it might not be the right time:

  • You don’t have a website (it’s kind of essential for SEO)
  • Your stock changes very rapidly (other channels might be more suitable to work on)
  • You want results right now (SEO is for the long-term, paid would suit you better)
  • You have zero time to put into it (we can take a lot of the work here, but if you can’t even read through something for sign off – it’s not the right time)

So what exactly are the benefits of good e-commerce SEO?

Here’s your TL;DR bit. But keep reading, it’s dead good.

It can save you money in the long-term
💰Reduce paid spend
🪴Optimised content can be evergreen, with minimal updates it can rank for months or years
🛍️Reduce reliance on marketplaces that charge fees

It can increase your organic traffic
⚡Expand your marketing funnel in the right places
🔍Target the right audience

It can improve your website visibility
💻Crawlability
🌏International selling challenges

E-commerce SEO can save you money long-term

It always comes down to money, which is why it’s our first point. We’re also eager to point out the “long-term” aspect of SEO here too. Initial spend on SEO can match or sometimes exceed paid media, which is often why it gets pushed aside for the instant results paid offers (so any agency that promises instant results from SEO is sus, in our opinion). What you really want is a combined approach where paid and SEO cover the weakness of the other.

SEO takes time to work, sometimes it can take months to see results, so paid is excellent at bringing in those sales in the meantime. But paid will always cost you money, whereas well implemented SEO techniques require minimal attention once in place and can last months or even years, bringing in free traffic the whole time. 

I’ve convinced you? Already?! Brilliant. I can’t and won’t stop there though – here’s some specific moneysaving knowledge coming your way.

Is SEO worth it for e-commerce?
SEO content can perform well for years

We tend to call content created specifically for the long haul “evergreen content”. It’s clever, see? Like an evergreen tree, it’s there all year, looking great and making that sweet sweet chlorophyll. Or in your case, bringing in traffic and getting people to buy your products.

The creation of this content can be where the initial cost of SEO happens. Great optimised content needs keyword research, supporting/secondary content, backlinks and good internal linking. BUT, after that, all you may need to do is tweak it once or twice a year, update images and add or remove an internal link. That’s extremely low maintenance and thus very beneficial for your purse.

Now imagine that across multiple pages, for multiple products – that’s what a good SEO content strategy looks like.

How SEO can reduce your paid ad spend

We already covered the whole “done well, around for ages, free traffic” benefit of SEO, but there’s also a huge benefit in owning the organic SERPs and then being able to reduce or stop bids. 

For example, if you can create content that ranks you highly for your top transactional term [diamante dog collar], then you might want to ease off bidding so you appear in the ads at the bottom of the page instead. Or experiment with removing the bid entirely. 

You could reduce reliance on online marketplaces and third-party platforms

While there are big advantages to selling on eBay, Amazon, Etsy and all the other online marketplaces out there, the fees can take a big chunk out of your profits. It seems obvious that ranking well with your own website (where you don’t have to fund Jeff Bezos’ attempts to go to space) will be a moneysaver, but the ease of selling and showing in the SERPs using those big platforms can be hard to move away from.

The best approach initially is to launch your SEO strategy and then see which products are performing well via organic search so you can ease off selling them via marketplaces. Over time you can grow your organic channel without taking a big hit by leaving a platform entirely.

E-commerce SEO can increase your website traffic

We know, it’s obvious. But hear us out, there are specific ways to do this, because targeting anything and everything isn’t the best approach. You need to be targeting the right people at the right point in their buying journey to make an increase in traffic work properly for you.

If you’re familiar with the marketing consideration funnel this should make you feel all tingly. SEO is best used for TOFU expansion but also works really well for MOFU and BOFU.

Increase top of funnel traffic

TOFU search queries tend to be broad and informational, with potential customers searching for ways to solve a problem. These are usually [how to] searches and at this point, you’re not creating content to push your brand or product, you’re showing your knowledge and expertise. 

For example, for one client we worked with them to create content for the query [how much coffee in a cafetiere?], because they sell coffee and it meant they could show off their extensive knowledge of their products and industry. Then boom, top of the SERPs and an excellent increase in traffic. Here’s some more of our work if you’d like a sneak peek.

Is SEO worth it for e-commerce?
Increase middle of funnel traffic

Then comes the next stage – MOFU. Middle of funnel queries focus on a different type of informational content. Here we see comparisons and help making the right choice, so queries like [arabica vs robusta] would be seen at this stage. Again, you’re able to show knowledge and expertise on the topic while being closely involved in the potential customer’s process.

Increase bottom of funnel traffic

Leading us to BOFU (bottom of funnel), where the transactional queries come in and potential customers make their decision. Here we’re looking at queries like [buy coffee beans] and similar terms that are high competition.

We’re calling out where and how SEO works at each level of the marketing consideration funnel because your business goals will influence where effort is best focused. If your website just launched, you need to start at the top, but if you’re an established business looking to reduce reliance on paid ads, then BOFU is where you’d aim.

E-commerce SEO can improve your website visibility

Now we get into the juicy technical bits. E-commerce has some unique complications when it comes to technical SEO. We’re not going to blow your mind with a ton of technical jargon, but we will explain the benefits of making sure you include technical SEO in your plans

E-commerce SEO can improve website crawlability

E-commerce websites often have the unique problem of too many pages. That seems counterintuitive – don’t you want loads of pages so search engines can rank you for loads of keywords? Yes, but in most cases the pages are duplicates (products in multiple categories) or have thin content (category pages created by someone using the filters), which means they aren’t a benefit to you. Search engines flipping love useful and unique content, so you can see how a website that duplicates content or makes poor content isn’t very pleasing to them.

So how does this link into crawlability? Search engines will get tired of seeing the same things or will simply crawl your website for a certain amount of time before going “there’s so much of this, I’m bored” and stopping. We use our little technical SEO toolkit to make sure search engines only see the content that matters, meaning they crawl where we want and ignore what we want – and that, my friend, improves crawlability (in part but it’s a big topic and we promised we’d keep it simple).

Is SEO worth it for e-commerce?
SEO can help international performance

Selling across multiple countries or languages has a lot of business challenges, but it also has technical SEO complications. Yes, more technical complications – we’re buzzkills but we’re also good at offering solutions.

Technical SEO solutions here include advising on subdomains, subfolders and general website structure, hreflang and keyword targeting. These are essential so you show up in the search results for the right countries and languages – you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget or get it wrong without someone looking at the overall picture. And to completely brag about it, we’re good at that.

International SEO is best looked at before you even start building your international websites, but if you’ve already done it and want to know how to optimise your website(s), we can advise on how to move forward.

Summary

If you’re not convinced SEO is worth it for e-commerce by this point, maybe it’s not, but we reckon those are some compelling points. If you’d like to chat about what we can do for your SEO and growing your organic search, get in touch.

Let’s talk

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