TopRank Marketing Editor

5 SEO Tips for Online Retailers

Retail SEO

Online retail websites face a unique set of obstacles when it comes to improving sales through better search engine visibility.  Repetitive product descriptions, a lack of content and frequent churn of products can all be hurdles to overcome. But with these specific tips for retail search engine optimization, online retailers can turn those challenges into opportunities and maximize their organic search traffic.

1. Add fresh content to the website. Many online retail websites focus on selling products rather than informing and providing value to customers, and hence severely lack content. It’s a good idea to include pages on a retail site that are purely content-based. Not only will informative, optimized content improve search rankings, it can help retailers sell more products by engaging customers.

Try these ideas for adding fresh content to an online retail site:

  • Add customer success stories and case studies to the website.
  • Create a blog to provide relevant industry news, tips and product offerings.
  • Incorporate a resource section on the site with relevant white papers and other content.

2. Eliminate repetitive copy. Another issue online retailers face is that many of their products are significantly similar, with only slight variations. As such, product descriptions tend to use very similar copy. And if other retailers sell the same products, their descriptions are likely similar as well.

Avoid being penalized by the search engines for duplicate content by writing product descriptions that are as unique as possible. Highlight the most distinguishing characteristics of products to avoid duplicate copy. Lastly, ensure keyword phrases aren’t repeated too many times throughout descriptions. It’s an easy mistake considering target keywords are likely found in the name or description of most, if not every, product.

Not only will this technique contribute to improved search rankings, but user experience will be enhanced as well.

3. Draw traffic to static pages. For many online retailers, products are frequently added and removed from their website, some as often as every month or every week.  Adding fresh content to a site provides SEO benefits, but removing it can quickly negate any advantages, as it takes time for search engines to index content.

To maneuver around this roadblock, draw traffic to more static pages, rather than revolving pages. For example, instead of focusing SEO on individual product pages, focus on product category pages.

4. Don’t forget to optimize PDF product catalogs. For many retailers, it’s a common practice to offer a product catalog in PDF format on their website. When devoting time to optimizing HTML pages on a website, it’s essential not to forget about the catalog or any other PDF files. Remember these key points when optimizing PDF files:

  • Create text-based PDFs, rather than designing them in an image-based program, so that the search engines have text to read.
  • Optimize as you would an HTML page, incorporating keywords in headlines, copy and meta descriptions, and including anchor text hyperlinks.
  • Post a smaller sized PDF to avoid search engines – and customers –  deserting the PDF before accessing its content.
  • Remember to complete the document properties, particularly the title.

5. Optimize images for search engines. SEO doesn’t end with HTML pages and PDF files. Online retailers’ sites are full of images. Why not leverage those images to gain better search rankings? Including alt text and optimized captions can all contribute to improved rankings in the search engines. Plus, images found via the search engines have the potential to be shared and linked to across the web, also contributing to improved rankings.

Have you implemented creative SEO tips for ecommerce and online retail web sites? What tips would you add to this list?

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  1. Great Post. I have been using Alt tag with keywords in my images and I have noticed a increase in traffic.

    Thanks for the tips.

  2. Avatar Laura Chapman says

    I guess SEO facilitation is important for every site.
    I try my best with my ebay online store and my #Labels at

  3. Excellent article. I thought there were some good ideas here to apply not just to online retailers, but also bloggers that utilize their blogs as a selling tool.

  4. Bonus tip: Automate as much ecommerce or shopping cart content SEO as possible. Database generated web sites that are managed with a content management or online catalog system use templates to create web pages. Optimizing at the template level allows many SEO edits to propagate across the entire web sites with a small amount of programming and database editing.

    You can't automate everything, but when you can automate making web content more search friendly, everyone wins.

  5. Avatar Florist Edmonton says

    I found this post to be very interesting, I bookmarked the page and put a link to this page on my website. Thanks.

  6. Michelle, very interesting post, which I have tweeted 🙂

    Many major retailers with physical sites located in shopping malls are seeing their online sales draining their in-store sales (turning their stores into showrooms). We have a suggestion to improve that situation and decrease the average 30% return rate from online shoppers (not home, changed their mind) on my blog at
    What do you think? Best, Gail

  7. Gail, really interesting post and concept for solving that problem. I wouldn't have guessed that the average return rate would be that significant for online retailers.

  8. Also, be sure to have a product feed. The shopping results are a great source of customers.

    Nice post!

  9. I had really never given any thought to .pdf search engine optimization. I think you hit on a great point here. Thanks for the info….

  10. I think having fresh content is the best tip.

  11. Avatar Bijou Fashionista says

    Thank you very much for a useful post.

  12. Nice work. It is impressive and very usefull for all. Site design is attractive and simple. Thanks for your effort.

  13. I think you made some really interesting points. I have never thought about using PDF for for online texts, plus I agree that it is important to use smaller PDF's. I have definitely seen the size of a PDF and immediately clicked the exit button before. I do believe that the most important thing for a website to do is to add fresh content. Without it there is really no reason to go back to the site.

  14. Avatar earnmoneyonline says

    This is a Professional Search Engine Optimization news
    It will help to flexible. Thanks for this SEO Article.

    Utsav basu

  15. Very nice post, especially the pdf one, never thought it before.

    I would say eliminating duplicated product description has the highest priority. Most of the online retailers have the same product description, and Google is yet to resolve this problem.

    There are few more effective tips in terms of seo

    1. Add backlink request in the thankyou page, e.g. “if you have your own website or blog, please link back to us, any link will help.”

    2. Enhance interaction, once you've started talk about your customers, lets say, feedbacks. They will feel they are important to you and therefore write something about you in their blogs.

  16. this is an excellent post. It's always difficult to differentiate your website using standard product descriptions . I have a blog on my site which helps to address the issues mentioned in tips one and two. This is one of the best marketing blogs on the net

  17. Avatar fieldservicesoftware says

    The article is really nice.All the information is provided in this article.The intenate marketing plays an important role in this field.

  18. Avatar goldenblogger says

    1. Add fresh content to the website. – This is very important for evryone who want to have cool rank on google 🙂

    2. Eliminate repetitive copy. – If somebody copy, his project don't have chance to be success full

    Nice article, keep it 🙂

  19. Hi Rob, I agree, leveraging microformats to provide search engines with more structure is certainly an opportunity, especially for ecommerce sites. This was a 5 tips post, which we like to keep simple. 🙂

  20. Thank you so much for your precious advices Michelle, I have learn particularly about the pdf file marketing, which I wasn't aware!

  21. The tips seem to be great. I will test them and observe the result.

  22. Ugg Australia has recruited designers like Manolo Blahnik, Carlos Falchi, Rebecca Minkoff, Rafe pictured,and more to design high-end versions of the brand's trademark boots for its seventh annual Art & Sole auction.

    I have to assume these will be filed under unaffordable (which is good – more money for St. Jude!), but I'll still be going to the Web site on December 1 to window shop and see what these designers have cooked up.

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  23. This is an interesting article, I am very interested in the adding more content-rich pages even in a retail site… I have been focusing on products and their discriptions not the extra pages.

  24. thanks for informations

  25. Nice article, thanks!
    Yes, as a retail site owner, I do think we need to find more ways to market our website and attract more customers.

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  27. Fill your winter with the beautiful color of this blue Burberry scarf that has style

    and comfort written all over it. Holding the same traditional fashion that Burberry is known for, this graceful scarf is well-

    accepted all over the world. Wear it along with your white jacket to draw instant recognition from the peers. With best quality

    cashmere fabric, the scarf is quite smooth and comfortable to the skin. Include it in the list of your essential accessories for

    the coming autumn and winter seasons.

    color: Blue
    Size: 66 X 12 Inches
    Fabric: 100%cashmere
    Origin: Scotlan