Keyword research is the first step in ecommerce
SEO because without the right keywords you won’t be able
to optimize your website or your product pages for search
engines. With the right keywords, however, you have the
ability to push your site to the first page of Google and
bring in hundreds – or even thousands – of high converting
traffic week after week.
This guide will walk you through ecommerce keyword research
step-by-step. Let’s jump in and find some keywords!
Ecommerce Keyword Research Methods
First, we’ll kick things off with the best research
methods. There are plenty of keyword research tools out
there, however, the ones we’re going to discuss in this
post are either free or very low cost. Most importantly
though, they’re highly effective and offer lots of useful
information to help you get the most out of your research.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner
(GKP) is a free keyword research tool developed by Google. It
was originally created to help Google Adwords users find
high-volume, low competition keywords to plan their
pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns, however, it also happens to
be a good tool for judging keywords’ monthly search volume
and for finding closely related keywords.
To use GKP, you first need some seed keyword ideas. A seed
keyword is a starting point for keyword research. It’s a word
that relates to your product or service that can help you
find other keywords.
For example, let’s say we’re selling dog beds. “Dog beds”
would be our seed keyword.
As you can see, the term “dog beds” gets 100 thousand to 1
million searches per month, however, we still need to determine
organic ranking difficulty, but we’ll cover that in the
following section on SEMrush. For now, let’s discuss what
else GKP can do.
Important Note: Some people look at the
“competition” metric in GKP and think that’s how difficult it
is to rank for a keyword. That’s not the case. Competition only
refers to the paid ads competition, not organic ranking
difficulty. We’ll show you how to see organic ranking
difficulty using SEMrush later on.
The other use of GKP is to find closely related keywords you
can also include on your page. This is part of an SEO strategy
called Latent Semantic
Basically, LSI is just a fancy way to say that there are other
keywords related to your keyword that Google recognizes as
being synonymous. When you include these related keyword on
your webpage in addition to your primary keyword, you help
Google determine what that webpage is about so it can
better index it.
For example, “dog bed” and “bed for a dog” are semantically
related. Here are some more examples:
As you can see, Google gave us a few semantically related
keywords we can use.
“large dog beds”
“luxury dog beds”
“best dog beds”
By including these keywords in your product description, you’ll
increase your chances of ranking for all of them.
Here’s an example product description based on these keywords
We’re dog people too, that’s why we’ve created the
best dog beds in existence. These
luxury dog beds will ensure your pup
gets the love and rest they deserve, and because these are
large dog beds, they’re just right for even
the biggest breeds. (Don’t worry – if your baby is just a
little one, we have small dog beds too!) Give your dog the
very best in luxury and comfort, give your dog the Dog Bed
Of course, having a seed keyword and some semantic keywords
isn’t enough to revamp your entire store. You have to have the
right primary keyword first.
So what should you do with these keywords you’ve found?
Put them in a Google spreadsheet,
noting their volume. Make a column for difficulty as well.
We’ll choose which keywords to target after we’ve got a nicely
sized list to whittle down.
Notice we don’t know keyword difficulty yet. We’ll get there
with the next tool:
The KWFinder tool is a
useful and inexpensive way to find great ecommerce
keywords. Just like GKP, start by searching the seed
keyword but, as you can see below, the results include a more
accurate monthly search volume estimate, as well as a rough
estimate of the keyword difficulty.
According to the KWFinder tool, they rank keyword difficulty as
10-19: Go For It
30-39: Still Easy
75-89: Very Hard
90-100: Don’t Do It
So “dog beds” is “possible” and “luxury dog beds” is “still
easy”. In other words, these aren’t difficult keywords to
rank for, so if they were our target keywords for our
own products we would go ahead and optimize our product
pages with these as our primary keywords.
Important Note: The KWFinder tool gives you
three free searches per day. After that, you have to pay $12.42
per month for their basic plan.
Toss your keywords into your Google Sheet and update
each keyword’s difficulty once you’ve searched them on
This is a good start, but we’re still not ready to target
anything yet. We need more potential keywords.
Amazon for Ecommerce Keyword Research
Google last year as a starting point for product search.
Apparently, 38% of people searched for a product on Amazon
first, compared to 35% who started on Google. Because
Amazon’s search bar has such a high purchase intent (meaning
people tend to buy something after searching), it’s a great
place to find high-converting keywords.
Start, like always, you’ll need to start with a seed
keyword. Amazon will then be able to give you some
Two that stand out to me here are “dog beds for large dogs”,
because it’s semantically related to “large dog beds” and “dog
beds for crates” because it’s ultra specific. Typically,
ultra-specific keywords are high-converting and low
Add any relevant keywords you find to your sheet. Don’t
forget to check the volume and difficulty of the keywords with
the KWFinder tool or GKP so you can get the necessary data.
See those last two keywords on the list: “dog beds for large
dogs” and “dog beds for crates”? We’ve come to our first “long
Long tail keywords are keywords that, really, are more like
key-phrases as they are comprised of four or more words.
Typically they have a lower search volume because they’re more
specific than shorter keywords, but they’re usually easier to
rank for and have a higher conversion rate because they’re more
Should you use them? We’ll talk about that more in the second
half of this guide. For now, let’s keep adding keywords to your
Keyword Tool Dominator
If you thought, “Man, using Amazon to search for individual
keywords takes forever. Isn’t there an easier way?” you’re in
luck. There is.
The Keyword Tool
Dominator scrapes Amazon’s search suggestions to automate
the process for you. Just type in your seed keyword:
Then hit search and you’ll get tons of suggestions.
Important Note: Many of the results may not be
relevant to you. Filter them by rank to ensure they’re as
relevant as possible.
Looks like we have a few potential winners!
Important Note: While it wouldn’t make sense
to write “dog beds yellow” in a product description, you
could write “yellow dog beds” instead. Google will acknowledge
that they’re semantically similar.
Add anything promising to your list. Again, check volume and
difficulty on KWFinder and GKP.
Competitor Research Using SEMrush
This is one of the best methods for finding keywords
because it’s just so easy. SEMrush is
a keyword research tool that shows you the keywords that your
competitors are ranking for, including the low-hanging fruit
keywords that you can scoop up, which can help you think of new
seed keywords you may not have otherwise thought of.
Just look what SEMrush did for our
site traffic in less than one year:
So, how do you use SEMrush to find the best, golden nugget
Here’s a video overview of everything you need to know about
SEMrush. Keep in mind the video is an overview of all of
SEMrush’s major features, including competitor research. Keep
reading this article for the condensed version.
Here’s how to use SEMrush to spy
on your competition:
Start by entering a competitor’s URL into the search bar. (I
found the example below by Googling “dog beds”.)
Important Note: If you leave the “http://www.”
in front of the website, you will only be viewing the data for
their home page. Delete that (just put theirwebsite.com) and
you’ll see info for their entire site and all pages.
You’re going to be overloaded with a bunch of other information
as well. Ignore it all for now and just look on the side bar
for “organic research”.
Scroll down and you’ll see “Organic Search Positions”. These
are all the keywords your competitor ranks for organically.
Unfortunately, with a free SEMrush account you can only see the
top 10 keywords, however, you can get a 7-day free trial which
will let you do some initial keyword research for free.
Once you sign up for your free account, dig through the results
for good keywords. Rinse and repeat with a few other
Your list of potential keywords should be pretty long by now
but there’s one last ecommerce keyword research method we can
use before analyzing the words we’ve found.
I can hear you now: “Huh?” Wikipedia isn’t just for
learning about information that your teachers always reminded
you wasn’t fit for academic research, it’s also a great
way to find keywords!
While it doesn’t work for every category (they don’t have one
for “dog bed”), you might luck out and find yours covered. For
this example, we’ll use “dog food” instead.
If you find your seed keyword on Wikipedia, check out the
contents of the page. You might find some other keyword gems.
The first three could be potential blog post topics and
the second two would be great for product descriptions. Just
reading through the beginning of the page has already offered
great potential keyword ideas.
Again, find the search volume and difficulty of any words
you find here by using KWFinder and GKP. That data is
what’s going to help you choose your best keywords.
Choosing the Best Keywords for Ecommerce Product
& Category Pages
Now that you have a huge list of potential keywords, you’re
probably wondering how to choose which keywords to
target. The best way to narrow them down is based on
these four key criteria:
Let’s start with the most important metric.
1. Search Volume
Search volume is by far the most important metric to consider
when choosing your keywords. It doesn’t matter how easy a
keyword is to rank for if no one types it into Google.
It doesn’t matter
how easy a keyword is to rank for if no one types it into
That said, knowing how much search volume is “a lot” is
difficult to say. It really depends on what your niche is. For
some, 100 searches is a lot – for others, 10,000 isn’t much.
You should have a feeling for what a “high” search volume is
based on the average of all the keywords you’ve found.
Keep in mind that some keywords have major seasonal variation
in search volume. For example, “dog beds” seems to get search
spikes near the end of November, indicating many people
purchase them to give as Christmas gifts. You can find
this info using Google Trends.
It’s important to know search trends and the seasonality of
your product because they will affect your bottom line. You
might not make money for certain parts of the year if you focus
on keywords that only get searched for around the holidays.
Bonus: To learn more about seasonal trends and
other factors to evaluate when searching for a product to sell
online, check out Shopify’s 16 Step Guide to
Evaluating the Viability of Any Product Idea or use
our Instant Product
2. Keyword/Product Fit
So you have a few keywords with tons of search volume. They’re
all winners, right? Not necessarily.
The keywords you choose need to make sense with your product.
If it’s too much of a stretch, people will get confused when
they click on your site and leave. Not only will these people
not convert, it will hurt your search rankings.
For example, let’s say you sell dog trackers with GPS
capabilities. You see the term “Garmin” getting millions of
But, just because it gets tons of monthly searches, doesn’t
mean you can make that keyword relevant to your products.
People are more than likely looking for car GPSs when they
Instead, it’s better to go with a more relevant keyword, like
“GPS tracker”, even though it doesn’t get as much search
Now that you’ve got highly relevant, fairly high search volume
keywords, it’s time to see if people are willing to open their
wallets for you.
3. Commercial Intent
Ranking #1 for high search volume keywords is awesome, unless
all 10,000 searchers have no intent to buy
anything. That’s why it’s important to go after keywords
with a high commercial intent. In other words, go after
keywords that people are searching to buy products.
Luckily, this is actually pretty easy to find out. Just go back
to our trusted GKP. Look at the “competition” metric for your
Remember how we said this shows you how many people are bidding
for ads on a particular keyword? Well, chances are, the ones
with high competition are high competition because there’s
money to be made. People don’t typically waste money on ads
that aren’t giving returns.
But even more important than competition is the “suggested
bid”. Suggested bid is the average of what people spend for a
single click on their Google Adwords ad. The higher the
suggested bid, the higher the commercial intent.
Keep in mind that higher suggested bids are also usually more
difficult to rank for, but we’ll cover that in the next
section. For now, take note of the suggested bid on your
keywords. (Consider adding it as an additional column into your
One last thing to keep in mind: Look for keywords that scream
“I’m looking to buy!”
For example, GPS isn’t a very high “buying” keyword. People
searching for this could be looking for anything from the
definition to the best GPS to something else entirely. This low
buying intent is reflected in the low bid of $0.23.
On the other hand, high buying intent keywords like “buy GPS
online” gets far fewer searches, but it’s more likely that the
person searching is ready to purchase.
Now let’s look at the final consideration…
You could find a keyword that’s super relevant, with high
search volume and an amazing commercial intent, but all of that
doesn’t matter if you have no hope of hitting the first page on
Google. Why? Because less than 10% of
people go past page one of Google.
We already covered how to determine keyword difficulty using
the KWFinder tool, however, if you ran out of free searches,
you can also see keyword difficulty using your free trial of
Head over to SEMrush and type in your first keyword.
Next, go to the “Keyword Difficulty” tab on the left.
On this page, you’ll see the keyword difficulty. Unlike the
KWFinder tool, they display a percentage from 1 to 100, 1%
being the easiest. It works in much the same way.
It looks like “dog beds” has a difficulty of 80%. This is much
harder than the keyword finder tool claimed, but they are based
on different things. Either way, this keyword is going to take
some serious work to rank for.
One Last Check for Difficulty: Google It
Don’t take any keyword difficulty metric, regardless of the
tool, at face value. Take one last step and check it out on
What you’re looking for here is to see if the other pages are
specifically optimized for that keyword. If it’s not, you can
potentially outrank it with better on-page optimization (such
as your product and meta descriptions).
For now, look place your exact keyword phrase in these
The title tag (the big blue heading text)
The URL handle
The meta description
Let’s take a look for dog beds:
As you can see, these results are fairly well optimized,
however, a couple of them could have better URLs as they
aren’t very customer-facing. While having better
optimization isn’t super important (thanks to
Google’s Hummingbird update), it
can still give you a slight edge over the competition.
This guide has hopefully helped you conduct valuable keyword
research, which is a fundamental step for ecommerce SEO.
Without keywords you can’t help direct search engines such as
Google to show your webpages as search results when they’re
most appropriate. Keywords help everyone: they help your
webpages get found, they help people searching on Google find
exactly what they’re looking for and they help Google pair
searchers and the relevant results together.
Take your time finding keywords, searching for their
data and building out your Google Sheet. This will help you
prepare to make the best possible choices when implementing
keywords on your store.
you can’t help Google show your webpage as a search result when
it’s most appropriate.Click To