Posted by Carlos Munoa, Principal, Ecommerce Marketing

With any business initiative, a solid understanding of key factors and differentiators is fundamental to success—especially with search engine optimization (SEO).

Coordinated and comprehensive SEO keyword research, conducted before an ecommerce site is launched or overhauled, can mean the difference between high SEO rankings that drive business growth, or underperforming results found only by the most determined of Googlers. In fact, SEO research is as important to a website as taxonomy, images and messaging.

Though SEO is incredibly competitive, the payoffs are significant. Consider that the top three results in a given search get 61 percent of traffic—the first result gets 32 percent, the second result 18 percent and the third 11 percent, according to Chitika Insights. In fact, the first page of results gets 90 percent of traffic for a given query.

One of the first steps in an SEO research project is establishing the right keyword terms for your business, typically a head term, something like “shoes”; a body term, like “men’s shoes”; and a long tail term, such as “men’s dress shoes.” Identifying where your product or service can best benefit is an important part of the process.

Choosing SEO Tools

Finding the right SEO tools comes next. For example, Google Webmaster allows you to track queries, how your pages rank for that query and the click through rate (CTR) and traffic you receive from the query. Other tools for SEO research include Wordstream, Ubersuggest and SEOBook.

Conducting your own Google searches can be instructive as well. You’ll see how you’re performing vs. your competitors, and what keywords competitors have targeted for paid search. Additionally, Google Instant Search (the autofill that tries to predict what you’re typing) can be useful for targeting similar entities.

You can also add modifiers to your terms and evaluate how pricing, location and seasonality (something like “Black Friday sales”) fit into Google rankings. Be sure to check out related search terms that Google shows at the bottom of a search results page.

Continuing Research

Other tools can help extend your research. RELfinder will take two related keywords, like shoes and sneakers, and provide a concept and related phrases around those keywords. SocialBakers provides a list of the top 10 social media campaigns for different industries that can help you identify what’s driving user engagement.

Outside of tools, ask your customer service reps what customers are calling about, and use your own internal search. What are customers looking for on your site? That could provide topics for content marketing.

Collecting and Tracking Data

Once you’ve collected your terms, you can use a spreadsheet to track how terms are performing across monthly volume, conversion rate, average conversion value or average order value. Once you start getting volume, focus on keywords that provide revenue. For example, some long tail terms that you didn’t focus on at first might bring a lot more revenue than others.

With initial research in place, you can then start tracking the most meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) for SEO, which we’ll discuss in the next blog post.

Want to learn more about SEO? Read the past articles from our SEO Strategy Series:

· How to Execute a Successful SEO Strategy
· Top SEO KPIs to Track for Ecommerce Success
· Developing an SEO Strategy for Ecommerce Success
· SEO Efforts are Meaningless Without Quality Content