Not just compete, we are going to tell you how to outrank Amazon
Global e-commerce revenues are estimated to reach $4.48 trillion by 2021. These stats reveal that there is a huge competition in e-commerce space.
Amazon is one big giant in the e-commerce world. Founded in 1994, they started out as an online bookstore and later expanded their product range to retail goods and electronics. Being the world’s leading e-commerce company today, with over 20,000 employees and $20 billion annual turnovers, it does overshadow every other small e-commerce store.
Many e-commerce store owners especially the startup entrepreneurs find the idea of competing with Amazon nerve-wracking.
And we totally understand why!
But just think, what if you could not only compete but also outrank Amazon?
Imagine the tremendous boost in sales and reputation your store will get.
Seems impossible, right?
Well, not really!
In this guide, you’ll learn everything about optimizing your eCommerce site for search engines. I’ll walk you through keywords research to technical SEO, and in between, I’ll mention tools that will make your life a little easier.
Let’s get started:
- Site construction
- Keyword Research
- On-Page optimization
- Technical issue
- Add a blog
- Promote your blog
1. Site Construction
E-commerce sites have more pages than any other website. You will have a different page for every product and category.
Just have a look at how many pages does Amazon have:
With this many pages, it is very important to keep everything scalable and easy to reach.
Not as many as Amazon but your e-commerce store will also have lot many pages.
It is very critical to have a well-organized site structure, so your customers don’t quit in midway. One of the very effective methods to do so is the “3 Click Rule”
Basically, this rule states that every page should be 3 clicks or less from the homepage.
If you see on Amazon, you go on Toys and Baby Products > Strollers and Prams > Carrycots. And you have what you need in 3 clicks from the homepage.
Similar to this, make sure all your product pages are accessible in 3 clicks.
2. Keyword Research
There are certain people who tend to not give importance to keyword research. These are the people that are left behind in the race.
Keyword research is a very big deal for any e-commerce site. It lets you optimize your product and category pages.
The whole process of keyword research can be broken down into 2 parts:
- Finding the right Keyword and
- Choosing the right Keyword
2.1 Finding Keyword
Let’s talk about Amazon first,
Head over to Amazon and type a keyword that is related to your product.
What do you notice?
Amazon tends to have very targeted keywords also known as long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are keywords phrase that have three or more words. They are usually meant to target a niche audience. When a customer uses a long tail search phrase, they are more likely to actually buy the product. Also, these keywords are far easier to rank better than the more generic single keyword.
Amazon uses this keyword strategy and makes approximately 57% of their sales from long tail keywords.
The basic concept here is that a lot of sites are competing to rank for short and general terms, you have a high chance of getting outranked here. Using long tail keywords will give you a slight edge in the competition and make it easier for you to rank higher on SERP.
Now that you know what kind of keywords you need, the next step would be finding keywords. Here are some of the tools you can use:
Kwfinder is a powerful keyword research tool. With information like search volume and CPC, this tool is one of the best for long tail keyword research.
To use this tool simply enter your keyword, you can also change the location and language then and there.
It will find dozens of keyword suggestions with their search volume and CPC. Not just that it also shows first page results from Google SERP.
Kwfinder not only makes the keyword research process a lot simple and easy but also gives many keyword suggestions.
Let’s move on to another favorite tool for keyword research.
Not only does SEMRush generate keyword ideas, but it also shows you keywords that your competitors already rank for.
First, enter the keyword and select the keyword overview from the drop-down list.
It will show you a complete overview of your keyword, organic search volume, competition, and trends that followed your keyword.
Not only that it also shows you ad copies that your competitors are using. In the picture below I can easily see the ad copy of Amazon, it will help me create my own.
In the left sidebar, you get so many more options that will help you in detail analysis of your keyword and competitors. Once you start using this tool for your keyword research you won’t need anything else.
The two tools mentioned above are great but you will need to spend some money to use them.
I would also like to mention a free tool for small e-commerce that are still starting out and are on a budget. Obviously, it is not as great as KWFinder and SEMRush but it will get the job done.
Ubersuggest is an amazing tool which will help you find long tail keywords in a few minutes.
Enter the keyword and you can also change your country and language as well.
From search volume to SEO difficulty and SERP analysis, you will get everything in one place.
Since it is a free tool you can do as many keyword research as you want.
Last and definitely not least is our good old Google Adword.
iv. Google Adword
It is not considered as keyword research tool as it doesn’t offer many keyword ideas but you can always use it when looking for monthly searches and competition.
Now comes our next step:
2.2 Choosing the Keyword
Once you have a keyword list next step is choosing the right keyword. In your entire research process, you will come across many keywords but you have to make a choice which ones are worth using and which ones aren’t.
Here’s how to do it:
i. Search volume
It is the number of searches expected for a keyword. You can easily find the search volume of any keyword using the above-mentioned tools.
It is very important to take search volume into consideration because if no one is searching for the keyword you are targeting, it’s of no use.
But there is no way for anyone to figure out one number specific to search volume. This is something you will figure out yourself once you will start using different keyword research tools.
It is always advised to go for high search volume keywords as they will give you the most amount of traffic.
The competition metric helps you to see if people that search for that keyword will convert or not.
For a keyword with little to no competition, you will need less content, links, and promotions to claim your spot on page one.
To check the organic search competition you can install a Chrome extension SEOquake. This extension will show the keyword difficulty below your search bar whenever you search for a keyword. Stick with keywords with low difficulty percentage. As there’s no point in trying to rank for keywords with high competition as they have no chance of ranking.
Note: Competition for organic searches and Google Adwords are different. In Adword if a keyword has high competition it means a lot of people are bidding on a keyword, hence there’s money to be made.
You can easily check the competition of a particular keyword in Google AdWords:
You can also see suggested bids in Google Adwords. It is an indicator of what people tend to spend on a single click. Higher the number of bids, more the revenue you will earn. Therefore, you should go for keywords with medium to high competition and high bids.
The keyword that you pick must fit with the products you sell on your website.
Let’s say you are selling natural juices. Keywords like fresh juices, fruit juices are all relevant. You can also use packed juices as they might be relevant to you or you might be able to convert them.
But a keyword like soy milk is a complete NO.
You will have a hard time making a sale with keywords that don’t fit your site. I recommend sticking to keywords with the exact match for more conversions.
3. On-Page Optimization
On-Page optimization is rather very important for an e-commerce site.
It includes the things you do on your own web pages to help your site rank better.
You have your site structure ready with all the keywords you need, next step is using those keywords on your product pages. On-Page optimization is an important factor for Google to rank your website and also it improves your traffic and conversion by increasing CTR.
You need to consider the following 6 factors to improve your On-Page optimization and help you outrank Amazon.
- Optimize meta tag and heading
- URL structure
- Schema markup
- Products title and description
- Recommended products
3.1 Optimize heading and meta description
Headings and title tag are very important as they help in increasing your organic click-through-rate.
More CTR=More traffic=More sales
Optimize your title tag by including your primary keyword and include words that will catch viewers attention like:
- x% off
Such words are also called click magnet words.
Have a look at the title of an Amazon page on headphones on SERP:
They have done a great job, any visitor will for sure click on this because of “50% Off or more”.
Coming to meta description, it is a tag in HTML – a snippet which summarizes the content of a page. Optimizing meta description is important because search engine shows this description in the search result.
Even though Google doesn’t really consider them an important part of on-page SEO. But they still work well in maximizing clicks.
When it comes to big brands like Amazon they don’t write a separate description for each of their product.
Have a look at this:
We kind of understand this because with the no. of pages and products they have it will take forever to write unique descriptions for every product.
And you also don’t need to do that. You can also use the templated approach but use it smartly, don’t just copy paste it. Create unique templates for each category, subcategory, brand, etc.
Here are some things to take care of:
- Make your primary keyword hero
- Use long tail keywords
- Include words that suggest some action like buy or click
- You can also try mentioning some of your USPS like free delivery or 7 days return
3.2 URL structure
So here’s the thing, e-commerce URL can get messy.
This is a URL of Amazon polo t-shirt category page
And this is the URL of the product page
You need to avoid this.
URLs need to be clear and readable. Short URLs rank higher on Google than the longer ones.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach here, you can still follow certain rules:
i. Use keywords
It can prove to be very good when using a keyword in URL.
URLs are not only shown with your product title and description but think about it, URLs also get shared on daily basis. URLs serve as anchor tags when shared.
See the following two pictures of shared URLs, which one will you choose to click?
A short URL with keywords will attract more clicks.
ii. Try being static than dynamic
You don’t need to include every parameter in your URL, you can avoid some dynamic parameters. If your Url has more than 2-3 parameter you need to rewrite it.
Ideally, this is how your URL should look like:
Simple, and contains all the information reader and search engines need.
iii. Use Proper Format
Proper formatting is essential when rewriting a URL. Use hyphens to separate words. And don’t use underscores, spaces, or any other characters. Also, don’t overdo hyphen. It can look spammy.
3.3 Schema markup
Schema markup is a code that you put on your site so that search engines can return more informative results for viewers.
They are a most recent discovery in SEO. It is the most powerful and least used form of SEO available.
There are many types of markups available like schedule, rating, images, and videos.
Schema markups are an easy way to stand out in search engine pages. For e-commerce sites, the best snippet is reviews and ratings.
Have a look at these two snippets:
Which one would you click?
Obviously the first one
Showing ratings and reviews snippet catch users attention and works well in increasing clicks.
Here’s how to quickly implement review Schema markup:
Simply go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
You will see several items listed, just select Articles. It’s one of the most common types of content. And paste the URL of your website in URL tag and click on Start Tagging. For this example, I will show you an example of a smartphone on Amazon.
Next, the page will load in a markup tool. You will get a workspace for the markup i.e tagging items.
Start tagging the items you want in your snippet. In this case, I clicked on the rating option > Aggregator rating > Rating value.
You can also select other data items that you want.
Once you’ve finished, click “Create HTML.” You will see the HTML of your page with the relevant microdata inserted where you selected.
Now simply go into your CMS and add the highlighted snippets in the appropriate spots.
You can also download the automatically generated HTML file and copy paste it into your CMS.
3.4 Product title and description
Now that you have done everything to optimize how your products will look on SERP, now let’s come to the product page.
What will happen after the user clicks on your website snippet in the search result?
Users viewing your product description should see your best sales copy.
Have a look at this product page of Amazon:
The title clearly mentions every detail a user will need in one go. Products name, size, features and just below that you have your customers rating.
Price and EMI options are also clearly visible. Now, scrolling down you will see an in-depth product description.
Not only do they provide a description, but they also provide a comparison between similar items. Since it is an electronic product this comparison can prove very helpful.
Further, they also have the complete specification of the product listed.
As a buyer, you will not need to go anywhere else for more information. Since user gets all the information on one page, chances of making a decision and buying the product are quite high.
This is the ideal format that you should follow for your product pages. It can be daunting to add unique descriptions for each product. You can always rephrase some of the content for similar products. Start adding content on the most important pages first.
Trust me, the more information you provide a customer about the product, higher are the chances of conversion.
Here are some useful tips to follow while adding content:
i. 1000+ words
“The more The merrier”
Longer the content piece is, higher are the chances of ranking
Because Google wants to fully understand what your website page is all about. More content you provide, better is it for Google to do its job. Also long content helps customers understand what they’re about to buy.
Again I understand it is very hard to add 1000+ words for every product, so as I mentioned above just start writing long, in-depth descriptions for your top-priority product and category pages.
We are back to this again.
Adding your primary keywords on product description page will help Search Engine understand what your page is about. The ideal keyword density should be 1-2%.
Also, make sure you have mentioned the keyword in the first 100 words of the page as Google prefer keyword placements at the top. Make sure you emphasize on converting keywords.
iii. LSI keywords
LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing are keywords related to your main keyword. They are not synonyms to your primary keyword. These are words that are found frequently together because they share the same context. Using LSI keywords will improve your ranking as Google is now looking at total context rather than keyword density. LSI keywords will help Google better understands the context of your page.
You can use LSIGraph, a free tool for some LSI keywords suggestion.
3.5 Recommended products
For On-Page optimization, this is a pretty good SEO practice. Some people also refer to it as internal linking. This is actually not as easy as it sounds, you cannot just blindly link products to each other. A strategic placement is essential to best utilize this technique.
See how Amazon links products:
Best practice is to link products that your customer might want with the item he is already purchasing.
4. Technical issues
Your e-commerce website will have a lot of pages and it is not unusual that every now and then you will face some technical problems. These problems can badly influence your Search Engine ranking.
To avoid this you need to perform regular technical audits on your e-commerce site.
Some of the tools you can use to perform these audits are:
I will be showing you an example of a report through GTmetrix. This tool offers a free basic plan with limited resources but you can always upgrade to their bronze, silver and gold plan.
Go to GTmetrix.com and just enter your domain URL. Click on Analyze.
Let’s see a report about Amazon.in
Performance score and page details play the most important role.
Once you scroll down you can get an in-depth report about the URLs.
You can get a great analysis of your website using any of the above-mentioned tools.
Identifying the common errors is just the first step, you need to solve these problems one by one.
Don’t be scared, it’s not that hard. Here’s how to do it:
Problem 1: Site Speed
Users generally do not hang around and wait for a slow website to load. It’s just a matter of seconds in which you can lose your customer. Google has also clearly stated they are using site speed as a ranking factor. One of my all-time favorite free tool to check site speed is Pingdom.
Just enter the URL and location and you will have your performance grade.
Amazon.com has a page load time of 1.25s which is great.
If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, there is a problem.
i. Optimize images
Being an e-commerce platform most of your website comprises images. Also, you need high-quality images to attract your customers. Heavy images can easily slow down your site. Lossless compression minimizes image size without reducing quality. It is one of the best ways to optimize images on your website.
ii. Go for a reliable hosting provider
In web hosting, you get what you pay for. A slow hosting plan is always a deal breaker. Here are something you should look for in your hosting provider:
- Bandwidth limit to ensure that the platform can scale on demand during sale and promotions
- Projected traffic and user load to be sure that your site won’t crash when the number of visitors increases
- Support and security system to protect your user’s data
Caching is the process of storing static files for easier and faster access so that the database does not have to retrieve for every new request. When someone visits your site, the elements on the web page they are trying to access are automatically downloaded and stored on their hard drive in a cache(temp file). So the next time user visit your site, their browser can load the page without needing to send all those HTTP requests to the server.
A CDN basically shortens the path of information between the server and the user. It is a network of servers with multiple geographic locations. When a user accesses your website, information is pulled from the server location closest to them.
Problem 2: Duplicate Content
The nature and structure of e-commerce websites make it susceptible to duplicate content. Products in an e-commerce site are present in categories and subcategories and generate multiple URLs pointing towards the same product. If these URLs get indexed, it will be considered as duplicate content by the search engine.
- Exclude the areas like category pages and tags that may create duplicate content using no index tag
- A canonical tag basically tells search engines that these pages are copies of another page. Search engines don’t treat pages with canonical tags as unique pages so add a canonical tag in pages like reviews and comments.
- Lastly, you can embed a no-follow no index attribute to new URL generated that points toward duplicate content.
Problem 3: Security Issue
If you have an e-commerce site you will need to collect personal details from users. Sensitive information like credit card information will also be linked to your website. You need to have a full proof security to avoid any data breach.
Not only that if you haven’t installed SSL yet, Google will show ‘not secure’ sign on your website. Visitors will be reluctant to shop, you can only imagine the amount of loss you will suffer due to this.
i. Use HTTPS
HTTPS is the most secure standard for any website. It encrypts the connection between the browser and the server making sure that no third party can access the information shared between two parties. An EV (Extended Validation) SSL for ecommerce and financial institutions is a must today.
Most hosting providers like us offer free SSL certificates.
ii. Avoid storing credit card info
If you can avoid storing sensitive information like credit card information, it would be great. But if you absolutely have to, get PCI Compliant hosting. PCI compliance certificate assures that the data is safe on your website.
You will have to pass the compliance assessment and a self-assessment questionnaire. Another way to handle payments is using third-party tools like PayPal or stripe.
iii. Enable Firewall
Firewall is a gatekeeper between malicious traffic and your website. You can get many different kinds of firewalls, but the most effective firewall for e-commerce platform is application gateways. Application gateway provides network security by filtering out incoming traffic.
A proxy server is the best example of Application Level Gateways Firewalls.
5. Add a blog
Blogs can significantly boost your traffic and sales. Even if you are a sole proprietor or have a small team, you can still blog. You don’t need to send 2-3 articles every day, you can write 2 per week.
I have listed down some more reasons to convince you to start a blog.
i. It will help you rank
Think about it, blogging means more pages for your site and more pages means more internal links pointing to your product pages.
Not only is it great for internal linking but once your article gets shared on social media platforms you will get links from other sites. And trust me, that will work wonders to improve your ranking.
ii. Help you get noticed
If you have a good piece of content, it might attract attention from some big names in your industry. You never know who will be reading your posts.
iii. Provide you a storytelling platform
There is only so much you can write or share through social media. Blogs give you an opportunity to share your stories. You can write feature guest post reviewing products on your website. You can build a great market for your product through blogging.
iv. Lead generation
Say for example you have an e-commerce website that sells food items, you might write a blog post on healthy recipes or diet plans.
Once you start getting some traffic on your website you can offer these post as downloadable eBooks. You can ask a buyer enter their email address in a lead generation form to download this eBook. You can use these emails by sending them sales and marketing emails prompting the potential buyer to make a purchase from your site.
Now that you are on board with my idea of creating a blog, let me show you how to actually do it:
5.1 Use the keywords
Remember the long list of keywords you made in the beginning? Since every page on your site is optimized with some keywords, there will be a lot of important keywords left that couldn’t make it on to the pages of your site.
You can rank these keywords through a blog post. You can optimize each post for a keyword that you aren’t targeting with the pages of your site. Keep in mind, just like your website pages your blog posts need to be high quality.
5.2 Audience persona
Audience persona basically means identifying your target audience. This is very important because a well-researched audience persona can help you do everything a little better.
Here are a few things that come under audience persona:
- Who your audience is
- What information are they looking for
- Where are they looking for that information
- What challenges they face
- Their goals
- How they find, research and purchase a product
Once you have an idea about what you need, look for ways to collect that information. You can refer to the following:
- Industry reports and surveys– Today in the world of internet you can get almost any information at your fingertips. People have a lot of reports and surveys that they publish online, have a look at them. Make sure these reports are not too old.
- Social media– Social media has everything you will need. Follow social media trends, chats and discussions. Follow groups that are dedicated to your niche. This is a great source of first-hand information.
- Blogs– Considering the competition in the present world you can be sure that whatever you are selling and whatever you want to write about has already been done by thousands other. Search for other blogs in your industry, look for what they are writing. Now be very clear that I am not telling you to copy their content. Use their content as an idea and create your unique content. Provide additional information that they might have missed.
- Product reviews– Heading back to Amazon, search for your products and read the reviews that people wrote. What problems they face, are they still struggling with something? You will find a lot of information about who your audience is and what are they looking for.
5.3 Be Original.
There are many blogs out there about the same thing you want to write about. So here’s a question, How is your blog different? Well, I happen to have the answer to, because of you. Your blog is about your perspective and your creativity. You can take inspiration from someone but at the end what you write should be an original masterpiece.
5.4 Worthy of a share
Your goal is that your content reaches your audience and they share that information further. Nobody shares a piece of content that has little to no value. Your content must add some new value to your reader’s lives. This is the only way to get quality readers who keep coming back to your site and share your blogs further.
5.5 Use proper formatting
Nobody likes a content presented in a haphazard way. Make your content appealing to customers eye by using proper formatting. With a load of information present on the internet, an average reader always skims. A well-formatted content makes it easy for your readers to skim.
Here’s what to look for:
- Divide long text with heading and subheadings
- Use bullet and number lists to point out key information
- Bold and italicize key points
- Add quality images
- Use short paragraphs
5.6 Add CTA
Call to actions(CTAs) are phrases that motivate readers to perform a specific act. It could be subscribing to your newsletter or read another blog post or make a purchase. Make sure every single one of your post has a CTA of some kind. Usually, these CTAs are mentioned at the end of the article but there is no hard and fast rule to it. CTA can be a simple request for a share or a comment, or even ask to make a big purchase.
Every post will not drive a sale but it should definitely tell readers the “next step”.
By now you have an amazing e-commerce site running with an even amazing blog content. Next step would be to bring people to your content.
6. Promote Your Blog
An amazing blog post is of no use if no one is reading it. You need to take certain steps to bring traffic to your articles.
6.1 Social sharing
Social presence is a must-have in today’s world.
But even when it is so popular there are just a few people who actually understand how to use social media the right way. Don’t just push your content out it is not an RSS feed. Use tools like CoSchedule or Buffer to schedule posts. Do a little research as to which is the ideal time to post on a social media platform.
Another way you can use social media is joining groups and discussions relevant to your niche. Post a link of your article in a relevant niche Facebook group. You will see a difference in user engagement by using these social media platforms in the right way.
If you want to see the best and worst times to post on social media you can check out this infographic I made recently.
Emails can be a crowded media but it still can provide with high-quality links.
Once you have quality content, reach out to anyone you think will provide you with a backlink. One way to find who to reach out is using the tool we mentioned above SEMRush.
Take the URL of a similar article from your competitor and paste it in SEMRush. It will give you a list of places that are giving them a link. Outreach to them – let them know about your article.
There is no guarantee here that they will give you a backlink but if you have a good content piece, there is no harm in trying.
Quora is a place where people ask a question and find their answers. Search for the topics related to your niche. There might be people looking for products that you are selling. There are threads that get viewed for months and years. Just remember, don’t just leave your links. People use Quora to find answers to their question. Help them – Give them the answer they are looking for and then at the end include a link to your website.
With this, we come to an end. I guess I have listed almost everything in the blog post.
It will not be easy to outrank Amazon but if you do work for it, it is not impossible.
How did these tips work for you? Let us know in the comment section below.