For your BigCommerce site to do well in search results, you need a strong keyword strategy, as well as the knowledge needed to place keywords correctly using the BigCommerce interface.
Let's talk about how to run an ecommerce keyword strategy for a BigCommerce site.
Keyword Strategy for Products
The Importance of Long Tail
The most important thing to understand about keywords in modern SEO is the dramatically reduced importance of individual keywords to the overall strategy. Hummingbird, which was designed in large part to help Google understand conversational queries like those asked in Google assistant, is now six years old.
Today a variety of wildly different searches will return nearly identical results, sometimes frustratingly so.
But the reduced importance of individual keywords doesn't mean keyword research has become less important. Far from it. Keyword research is more important than ever, but it is no longer enough to merely seek out a single keyword with the ideal balance of competition and search traffic.
In modern SEO, pages capable of addressing a wide variety of long tail queries around a topic are highly rewarded, while pages built to target a specific keyword phrase tend to get buried unless that specific keyword phrase is highly novel in terms of its actual semantic meaning. That page, in turn, will also tend to rank well for other queries with similar semantic meaning, even if you can't find those keywords in a keyword tool because they are rarely searched for or even have never been searched for before.
Don't underestimate the importance of these rarely searched for queries. Individually they don't contribute much, but together they contribute a large portion of search traffic. In fact, a full 15 percent of search queries each day are completely new, never searched for by anybody.
Long Tail SEO and Product Pages
One of the biggest problems for ecommerce sites in modern SEO is that this broad query approach to ranking websites tends to reward instructional, educational, and op-ed content over ecommerce pages. Product pages usually feature relatively short descriptions of products. Those descriptions rarely address many questions users would be searching for in Google.
As a result, product pages tend to rank only queries directly related to the brand name and model, and of course only if they are the most authoritative site selling that specific brand and model. Other sites selling the same brand and model have little reason to outrank the most authoritative site because the keywords are the same.
Meanwhile, searches related to a type of product instead of a specific brand or model will tend to return blog posts, shopping tools, or product category pages on very authoritative ecommerce sites, rather than individual product pages.
Finding The Long Tail
There are two types of long tail queries that you can use to differentiate your product pages and find a niche in the search results:
- Novel questions about the product type
- Novel queries related to the brand and model
What you want to do is identify some queries related to your product that aren't being addressed on your competitor's product pages. They should also fit naturally within the product page's content, or they will appear out of place and you likely won't rank for them anyway.
Let's say that you were selling Gucci glasses. Let's take a look at the search results for that most general query:
Without using a wide variety of marketing and SEO tactics to boost your brand's overall authority in Google, it's unlikely you will be outranking gucci.com or framesdirect.com for this query. But Google has already supplied us with some long tail material right in the search results in the "People Also Ask" section.
Addressing questions about whether or not Gucci makes or sells glasses isn't going to be something that makes a lot of sense on a product page, so we wouldn't want to try to force these into our content. But questions about how to tell whether or not Gucci glasses are real and where they are made are questions that make sense to address right on the product page. They may even address objections and make your visitors more comfortable buying the product.
We can get more long tail material simply by clicking on these questions to see the answers. Every time we do this more questions appear at the bottom of the section:
These next two queries are potentially useful. Searchers who are thinking about buying Gucci glasses probably want to know what type of person owns them, and if it applies to the specific product, they will want to know what Gucci P means.
As you can see, Google has already supplied us with a method for identifying long tail topics related to our product pages as well as addressing questions shoppers might have that could ease their mind and make them feel more comfortable buying the product.
The "Searches related to" section at the bottom of the results page can also be a useful source of long tail material, although in this case, it's admittedly a bit of a dud:
To find more long tail material, we can take our topic to some site-specific searches. For example, a Quora search can be revealing:
A site-specific search of Quora in Google can also reveal results that a search on Quora won't, and the fact that these pages show up near the top in a Google search suggests they may have more ranking potential:
We can also get a very long list of queries containing the exact phrase "gucci glasses" from keyword.io, which gets its information from Google autosuggest (and other search engines if you like):
After exporting these, we can then take these keywords to the Google Keyword Planner, select the "Get search volume and forecasts" option, and paste our keywords into the tool to see search traffic potential.
Finally, we can use SEMrush to see a list of keywords that are bringing people to our competitor's pages. Pasting the URL for the top-ranking query for "gucci glasses" will take us to a list of keywords that page ranks for. We can use the keyword filter to see queries containing the words "who," "what," "when," "where," "why," and "how" to, in some cases, find some especially useful long tail queries:
Getting Keyword Phrases Out Of Long Tail Topics
Among the methods of finding long tail topics listed above, only keyword.io and SEMrush give us specific keyword phrases that we can find estimated search traffic for in the Keyword Planner. While the importance of individual keywords isn't as important as it used to be, it's still helpful to see estimates of traffic potential and determine which variations on a query have the most traffic.
We can figure this out by carefully selecting the most informational words in a query and putting them into the keyword planner to see what variants look most promising.
For example, the "People also ask" Google recommendation "How can you tell if Gucci glasses are real?" isn't an actual query people are searching for very often. To find the most popular query with the same meaning, we would want to select the "Discover new keywords" option.
We would then want to select the most informational keywords from the query and search for them. There isn't a completely objective way to do this, but the two concepts being related to one another in that question are clearly "gucci glasses" and "real." So, in my keyword research, I would try "gucci glasses real" for the keyword and look at the results:
In this case, the most popular keyword is quite long, which is a good sign that it isn't being frequently targeted by other sites. Of course, we would only want to use the query "how to tell if gucci sunglasses are real" if the product page were for sunglasses, and if not, we would need to use "how to tell if gucci glasses are real" instead.
In some cases, we may want to experiment with multiple queries. For example, with the Quora question "Do Gucci glasses last a long time," I might want to try a few different variations like "gucci glasses last" and "gucci glasses longevity," "warranty," or "lifespan." There are no hard and fast rules, but we want to avoid missing recommendations by covering any bases we can think of in a practical time span.
Google doesn't treat all content on a page the same way, so it's important to prioritize our keywords to determine which keywords deserve the most attention and which are more supplemental. Some factors we need to consider while we are prioritizing include:
- Relevance as a descriptor of the entire page
- Search traffic
- Relevance to shoppers
If a keyword is a relevant descriptor of the entire page, it should take priority 1 regardless of nearly all of the other factors, unless a different keyword is equally relevant. For example, the make and model of the product should almost certainly be the top priority, even if they aren't very popular.
Ordering keywords by priority is not an exact science. The ideal high priority keyword is relevant, popular, low in competition, commercial, and short, but that is very rare.
Generally speaking, the less authoritative your site, the more you should prioritize low competition keywords over popular ones.
Keywords with little relevance to shoppers should usually take close to lowest priority since we do want Google to understand that the primary purpose of the page is for shoppers. Our intent is not to trick Google into thinking the product page is a blog post and attract non-commercial searchers who won't spend any money.
The length of the keyword is important because the more space it takes up, the more it pushes other queries out of the way. There is only so much space in the high priority sections of a page, so all things being equal, the shorter query takes priority. It may be possible to shorten the query, however, and capture much of the same traffic as long as the meaning is similar.
How To Add Keywords To BigCommerce Based On Priority
Highest Priority Keywords
BigCommerce product pages have a "Search Engine Optimization" section:
Your highest priority keywords should go into the "Page Title" field. You can use the Moz title tag tool to see a preview of the title. If the title is too long it will be cut off with an ellipse at the end. This doesn't mean that Google won't consider these keywords in rankings, but it is widely believed that any words cut off after the end of the title will take a somewhat lower priority. If your title does cut off, make sure there is enough information in the title for the searcher to grasp its meaning and be enticed to click through.
The shortest, most relevant keywords should be entered into the title relatively unaltered, while longer keywords and those with less relevance can be altered to fit into the title grammatically and in a way that better fits a description of the entire product page.
You can place all of your keywords into the "Meta Keywords" tag if you want, but this has no impact on Google search or nearly any other search engine. It may occasionally still be useful for scrapers and other apps.
The "Meta Description" field is what is displayed by Google as a snippet beneath your page title. This content doesn't impact rankings so it should be written entirely to entice users. However, if words the user searched for are in the meta description, they will be displayed in bold which can signal more relevance to users.
If a meta description isn't written, Google will automatically generate a snippet using text to your site that appears relevant to the searcher's query. This isn't always a bad thing, especially for pages designed to capture long tail traffic, and in particular, if it isn't possible for you to especially enticing meta descriptions for every product page. This is a judgment call you will need to make based on your overall SEO strategy.
Aside from the title tag, the H1 tag, or headline, for a page is considered the second-highest priority content on the page. BigCommerce actually uses the product name content, not the title tag, to generate the H1 tag. You may want to alter the product name to match the title tag. Since the H1 tag is visible on the page itself, you also have the freedom to make it longer than your title tag if it looks good and works with your site theme. If so, you can use this to fit longer high priority keywords into a high profile place when they don't fit into your title tag.
To change the product name you need to navigate to Product > View and select Edit from the Action drop down menu next to your product, then go to the Summary section of the Details page for that product. Edit the Name field to change your product page's H1 tag. Bear in mind that changing this will also change your product URL unless you change it back under Product URL in the SEO section discussed above.
Finally, high priority keywords that are also short, popular, and applicable to multiple products should be used as the category for the product. Do not use more than one category.
Lower Priority Keywords
Your lower priority keywords should go into the product page's main content, which is set up in the Description section:
If it makes sense structurally, use your lower priority keywords in Heading 2 subheadings, or Heading 3 if structurally necessary. These are taken more seriously by search engines than paragraph text. You should also be sure to keep paragraphs short and organize your content with bullet points where useful to make the page easy to skim.
Your highest priority second tier keywords should be listed in subheadings closer to the top, and your lower priority second tier keywords should be listed in subheadings closer to the bottom. Only very low priority keywords should be limited to paragraph text only unless it just doesn't make sense from the shopper's standpoint to see the keywords in a subheading.
Modern SEO demands a more comprehensive keyword strategy for ecommerce than in the past. It is no longer about identifying individual keywords but to identify topics that differentiate your content and then incorporate them into your content in a carefully prioritized way. Use these strategic recommendations and tactics to occupy a competitive space in the search listings.