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SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization), is a very important concept for eCommerce business owners to understand.  In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the basic ideas behind SEO, including what exactly Search Engine Optimization means, why it’s so important, and how you can use good SEO to improve your business and bring more traffic to your site.


As stated earlier, SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ and can generally be described as the set of ‘rules’ or the framework that you build your e-commerce website according to in order to maximize your reputation with Google and other search engines.  

We’ll focus on Google here, seeing as how it’s the most popular search engine. Google’s algorithm has specific criteria to watch for in order to determine what would be the best results for what you’re looking for. Having good SEO means that you’ve built your website according to that criteria and is therefore optimized to let Google know that you’re going to be one of the best options available, meaning that you’re going to rank a lot higher and have Google point to you much earlier on.  

And that brings us to our second stop on our SEO crash course:


As was touched on above, if you’ve optimized your website, then Google will recognize you as being a top choice for whatever it is you’re selling and will rank you higher in a search, preferably the first page.  Consumers are most likely to click on websites that are within the first page, so getting a high rank through good SEO will get you more traffic and, therefore, more conversions in the long run!

But SEO also does more than just simply make your website better to Google: good SEO also makes your website better and easier to use. Increased usability, easier navigation, faster page speed, and a more satisfying user experience are all factors that draw consumers back to your site and further establish your e-commerce business as the go-to guy for your product.


SEO isn’t necessarily cut-and-dry.  As was stated above, Google uses complex algorithms to look at sites and figure out the best ones to point you to first in a search.  So good SEO requires you to address things from a few different angles in order to truly establish yourself and get Google to see you as worthy for the first page.  

SEO can be broken down into 3 stages: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, & Off-Page SEO.


Technical SEO is the process of making sure that Google and crawl and index with ease.  This doesn’t necessarily have much to do with what’s ON your website as far as content, but more with settings and such to ensure that crawlers will have an ok time getting through your site.  If this isn’t optimized properly, it will lead to problems and a lower ranking for you.


On-Page SEO is when you get to deal with optimizing the content of your site/page.  This is where Google’s algorithm takes a look at your page and determines just how good you are.  This is where important pieces like keywords, title and image optimizations, page structure, links, and more are scrutinized.  

Keywords are like the seasoning of your web page; you want just the right amount for Google to approve of. If you use too many keywords or use them too frequently, then Google’s going to hold that against you; use too few, and Google may give the prize of a higher ranking to someone else.  

Having your images and titles optimized is also a smart option. That makes your page load significantly faster (and makes it quicker for Google to ‘read’), and that kind of streamlining not only improves the site’s user experience, but also wins good points with Google.

So in short: making sure your website is optimized to run smooth and tight with as little drag as possible is the key to good On-Page SEO.  Professionals or agencies like Gapstow Design who specialize in e-commerce website design can do wonders to boost your On-Page SEO from the get-go.


Off-Page SEO is the final stage in SEO.  This deals mainly with the number of links/backlinks you have.  

Generally speaking, backlinks to other sites. Google does look at these to determine your credibility.  It matters where these links are connected to: the more reputable the site, the better your results with Google.  But if you have paid backlinks or backlinks to article directories, Google’s not going to look on you with favor.

Make sure you’re connected to the right and best sources you can.  One simple method of getting more links is to simply put out more content: having a blog or some other articles or series opens the way for more links and better Off-Page SEO.

The best way to truly learn and understand SEO is to practice, get a feel for what you’re learning, and experiment.  But one last important fact about SEO to remember: good SEO will only have limited success without good content.  

Content is a really important factor in ranking highly on Google, and without that SEO really doesn’t have all that much to work with.  Focus on getting good content up on your site, and employ SEO to maximize your traffic and really use that content to its fullest extent.  

Using everything covered on this page, you can make your ecommerce business far more successful. But these basics are just the beginning. When you get beyond what’s covered here and start wading deeper into the world of online marketing, having someone who can help navigate these waters can really save you a lot of time, money, and energy.  

That’s where Gapstow Design can lend a hand. Our agency specializes in e-commerce consulting and can help you maximize your online business through quality SEO, website design, and more.  

Contact us today to see just how we can help you!



Keyword research is an absolutely vital piece of good SEO. Keywords must be chosen carefully and precisely for maximum effectiveness.

But exactly how can you go about choosing your keywords?


Trying to compete with big-name companies for broad-term keywords is going to be a lost cause; you’ll simply drown under the competition. You really won’t stand a chance. So you want to make sure the keywords you choose are appropriate to your “weight class,” so to speak.

You want to search - ideally - for keywords that have a high search volume, but low competition. And if there’s going to be competition, make sure that you’re not facing off against big names or keywords targeted by heavy hitters, as mentioned above.


The first type of keyword you’d want to deal with would be long-tail keywords. These are highly specific but low traffic keywords.

For example, the keyword “E-commerce” is a very broad term, and targeting that specifically would mean drowning amidst bigger, stronger competition. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with using the word “E-commerce” as a keyword, but making it the full target of your keyword research and center of your site would be unwise due to the competition you would face from others. However, the long-tail keyword “E-commerce Web Designer in Cleveland, Ohio” is a much narrower and easier to work with as it eliminates a huge chunk of competition and makes things much more manageable.

Long-tail keywords also have more to offer than simply less competition. They allow you to make the content better suited for the topic at hand, as well as the ability to gain increased traffic from the fulfilling results of said traffic. They can also serve as a great starting point for small to medium sized businesses!


Another great tool not to be forgotten is to use keywords that are already driving traffic to your site and work with those. That can give you insight into exactly why people are coming to you so that you, in turn, can craft your site to better suit their needs. You can also look for keywords related to these and drive even more traffic to your site.


One of the most important parts of SEO is keyword research. It can make all the difference in how much organic traffic your site gets.


In its simplest form, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a specific word a user will search to find information regarding that topic. Generally, keyword searches are how websites receive organic traffic.

When used efficiently and effectively, keyword research tools can open up all sorts of opportunities to increase brand awareness, benefit from various avenues of online advertising, and boost your website’s rankings.

But it all starts with researching exactly what people are searching and how those searches will lead them to your business’s website.


  • Are the keywords I’m using relevant to what people are searching for?
  • Will my website provide the answers users were searching for with said keywords?
  • Is this organic traffic going to achieve the desired level of brand awareness and profitability?

If not, the keywords in use aren’t performing at a needed level, in which case it’s time to start choosing new ones.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, We also need to understand what type of keywords we’re working with and how to use them in the best way possible.

When using a single keyword, whoever is conducting the search will be fed an incredibly broad and general stream of results.

A long tail keyword, on the other hand, consists of a phrase or multiple keywords, so the results will be fewer, but much more specific and relevant to the search. This makes it easier for the user to find what they’re looking for while cutting down on competition from other sites that aren’t quite as relevant to the search.

It’s important to strike a balance with long tail keywords: too vague and they won’t be very effective, too specific and they won’t draw much traffic.


The next step in finding the right keywords is determining how difficult it is for a keyword to rank well in search engines.

To do that, we need to consider:

  • How widely searched your keywords are
  • The level of competition
  • The number of other sites targeting the same keywords

Even if we know which keywords have high search rates and adjust accordingly, it could all be for nothing if we don’t take into account competition. Every factor of determining keywords needs to be fully considered and balanced accordingly.

Once all of the above is squared away and it’s time to put a plan into action, we need to make sure we fully utilize any SEO tools to ensure that we have a clear picture of the market, competition, and any information pertaining to the keywords in play.

Of course, research will still be necessary. But paired with the proper tools, the process will be more simple, efficient, and effective, which will make it that much easier to improve traffic, ranking, and conversion rate.


If you put time and effort into creating a quality website but it doesn’t receive traffic, it’s not going to perform the way you want it to. Period.

That’s not to say that top-notch quality isn’t important, it really is. But it can’t succeed alone in providing the best possible user experience your e-commerce business has to offer.

Of course, it’s alway beneficial to bring your content straight to users, for example via social media advertising. But what about drawing in potential customers — making them come to you?

That’s where SEO comes into play.


Chances are, when you develop new content, your priority is going to be to promote it. But what about months or even years down the line, when it’s not new anymore? It most likely won’t receive the same attention to promotion as it used to.

But a search engine isn’t going to forget about that content, and if it’s properly optimized, it can stay profitable long after its promotional period has ended.

While a search engine might be more likely to prioritize newer, fresher content, that doesn’t mean the older stuff will be forgotten.

Good SEO means maintaining good visibility and brand awareness even after you’ve moved on to newer things.


In order to make the most of SEO, it’s crucial to make use of effective strategies that suit your business’s needs.



When it comes to SEO, one of the most important things to do is to use short-tail and long-tail target keywords.

It’s especially important to make sure that the keywords used are relevant to your business, and that they’re used naturally so that your page doesn’t become forced and cluttered.

It’s also a great help to prioritize keywords by the amount of traffic they’ll generate, how specific they are (especially to your business), and what level of advantage they could give you over the competition.


Whether it’s a webpage, blog post, or something else, organization and layout can greatly affect its success.

Specifically with SEO, correctly using H1, H2, and H3 tags can lend a helping hand to search engines and show them what your page is about so that they can properly place and recommend them for searches.

It’s really a two-fold thing, because not only can headers help SEO when you add keywords to them, but they can also present a clearer, more concise layout, which in turn improves user experience.


Another crucial part of a vast majority of SEO strategies is gaining backlinks to your site from external sources since it can build your site’s reputation and authority.

Internal links can also have great value as well. It can seem a little bit complicated at first, but the overall idea is that it can provide clear navigation through your site, and when done right can also build authority. So when it comes to any kind of new posts or pages on your site, adding links to your previous content can also have major benefits. But that only applies on a necessary basis, overdoing it can lead to a cluttered and confusing website, in other words: the exact opposite of what users — potential customers, no less — want.


For businesses that operate in more than one country, localizing content can also be a significant part of SEO.

For example, translating your website’s language or simply altering spelling and vocabulary to suit a specific country can make a huge difference in the performance of your site. Even something subtle and seemingly unimportant like color schemes or designs can play an important part, and no factor should be left unconsidered when it comes to localization.


Finally, measurement is arguably one of the most important strategies to implement.

Specifically regarding SEO, before even beginning any kind of optimization, the first step will be to see how you’re ranking with your targeted keywords. The next step will be to routinely track any changes and improvements in your rankings in order to see which efforts are benefitting your performance the most. However, you can’t expect to see immediate results. Authority, reputation, and traffic aren’t going to improve instantly, they take time, effort, and patience. There are also external factors to consider, in some cases, your rankings can be affected by the efforts of others.


Sitemaps act as a ‘blueprint’ for your website, showing off the structure and layout of not only your site as a whole but also each individual webpage. Sitemaps make it easier for search engines like Google to look through your website and its pages. Since Google ranks not only your whole site but also the individual pages, sitemaps are in a pretty essential position to offer up a boost to your SEO rank.

Aside from the general benefits listed above, sitemaps are especially handy when you have either a fresh site lacking in external links or a site lacking in internal structure or internal linking as well as sites with dynamic pages or even large sites with possibly poorly-linked archived pages.

With all the above pros and no cons, sitemaps really are an extremely beneficial and worthwhile option to consider if you want the best SEO rank you can get for your e-commerce website.



Google, for instance, requires that your sitemaps adhere to Sitemap Protocol 0.9, meaning that your sitemaps have to use UTF-8 encoding and have this tag at the start: <urlset xmlns=”HTTP://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>. Once you’ve double checked the formatting, eliminated any errors, and uploaded your sitemap, you’ll want to let Google know so they can verify it.


The world of SEO is one that’s constantly changing and improving, therefore websites have different needs in order to fully utilize new opportunities to conduct business.

One of the most important of these needs is making sure your website ranks within the very top search results, specifically across the three biggest search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing).

Applying high-quality search engine optimization to your website can determine where you rank in comparison to competitors, and the higher the better. In the case of smaller businesses, Local SEO efforts are extra important.


  • Maintaining a good user experience
  • Effectively utilizing keywords
  • Balancing quality and quantity
  • Having good content shareability
  • Making sure your site is mobile-friendly across various platforms

If you want to get more specific, though, consider the benefits of on-page and off-page SEO: on-page SEO is more effective in determining what you rank for, whereas how high you rank generally comes from off-page factors. That’s not to say one is better than the other, however. It depends on your needs as a business.

To really find out those needs and how to meet them, it’s best to go straight to the source: search engines like Google and Bing have SEO user guides to explain exactly how they rank websites.

But it also pays to fully understand exactly what you’re choosing between, in this case, on-page vs. off-page SEO.


On-page SEO examples:

  • Titles, descriptions, and headers
  • Alt and H1 tags
  • Mobile compatibility
  • Quick load times


Off-page SEO examples:

  • Link building
  • Reviews on 3rd party sites
  • Social media marketing
  • Collaborations with other websites and bloggers

It’s important to keep in mind that again, there’s no solid answer as to which is better, it simply comes down to which better meets your business’s needs.

In most cases, the best option is to efficiently and effectively utilize both to strengthen your e-commerce website and overall improve business.

One vital part of eCommerce SEO that also relates to the entire purpose and concept of the internet itself would be internal links. Internal links are important pieces of code that link to other web pages within the same domain. If you consider your website like a house, then internal links are like doorways inside that house, allowing you to navigate from room to room comfortably. Internal links help any visitors navigate your site easier and open up more of your site to said visitors, thereby keeping them on your site for a longer period of time! Internal links also serve as a means to organize the site’s information hierarchy as well as spread around the site’s ranking power. Already, some of the many benefits of internal links with regards to SEO are becoming apparent. But there are even more in-depth reasons as to why internal linking is a key part of successful SEO.


When it comes to the ranking of specific products, schema markups have become a vital part of successful eCommerce SEO.

While they in and of themselves don’t increase your ranking alone, they make information that consumers are looking for easily accessible and readable, which in turn generates more clicks and traffic.

With the level of competition on Google, the wisest thing to do is to do what you can to differentiate yourself from your competitors and as soon as you can put out there any info that makes you unique and worthy of your customers’ attention.

Utilizing a good schema markup in your snippets is a great way to do just that.


For a good schema markup, you’ll want to include data such as:

  • The products aggregated rating
  • Availability
  • Awards
  • Brand

As well as more descriptive attributes like:

  • Category
  • Color
  • An item description
  • Relevant dimensions
  • Item condition
  • Make and model
  • Manufacturer
  • Serial number
  • Product’s date

These are all important pieces of information that consumers will be looking for.

But schema isn’t useful only for products. It can work great for businesses too! Include your

  • Address
  • Ratings
  • Area served
  • Branch
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • A map to your business
  • A logo
  • Hours of operation
  • A photo of your business

Once again, these get many important details about your business out in the open early on, grabbing more customers’ interest and leading more traffic directly to you.


While textual aspects like keywords and links are a huge part of good SEO and tend to get a lot of focus, there are other important aspects of e-commerce SEO that should not be overlooked and are just as important.



Images enhance the usability and consumer experience of a site.

Without images, your site would be incredibly bland and unappealing, resulting in extremely low traffic, dissatisfied consumers, and bad sales. So images are a must-have for a high-quality website with the aim of drawing people. However, images must be tended to properly, or else they may end up working against you!


  • Make Sure You Use Relevant Images
  • Using images that have nothing to do with the topic at hand won’t benefit anybody. Make sure your images are important to the context and add to the experience! Make sure not to use any images that you don’t have the rights to, as that could get you into trouble.
  • Websites like Pexels or Unsplash have tons of royalty-free images you can use on your own site!
  • Edit The Filename & Alt Text
  • While these don’t seem very important and don’t actually seem to add anything for the average visitor, this step is very important for good SEO. Search engine crawlers look at these and can use the info to judge the relevance of the images and rank you accordingly. Also, if your image fails to load, the alt text can fill in that blank nicely!
  • Find The Right Balance Between Size & Quality
  • This one can be a little tricky. Pagespeed is a huge part of good SEO. If your images are too big or too high a quality, then they’ll slow your website down. But if the images are too low quality, then your website looks cheap and unappealing.
  • The easiest way to achieve that sweet spot is to use a website like TinyJPG to optimize your images; just drag the desired image onto the site, download the new optimized version of the image when its complete, and upload where you like!
  • Choose The Best Format For The Job
  • JPEGs are favored by many because of their small file size, but they don’t have as high quality and don’t support transparent backgrounds. PNGs have a higher quality, support text for images (which is great for SEO) as well as transparent backgrounds. However, their downside comes with larger file sizes. GIFs have less of a color range but have good file sizes as well as support for transparent backgrounds.
  • Have Images In Your Sitemap
  • Google already recommends having a sitemap sent to them to make it easier to navigate. Adding your images to that sitemap or even creating a separate one for images, that increases your findability with Google, and makes for great SEO.
  • Host Images On Your Own Site
  • While hosting your images on another site may seem like a good idea to save space, if that website crashes, then so do your images. The safer bet is to simply host your images on your own site.

Images are an important part of good SEO not to be overlooked. Proper optimization can boost your SEO, enhance the consumer experience, and help your eCommerce website grow and flourish!


Of all the various tools at your disposal, you can use to maximize the success and effectiveness of your eCommerce SEO.


Since good SEO caters mainly to Google, what better option than to use Google to improve your SEO by leaps and bounds? Google My Business offers a ton of features that you can take advantage of, and the best part is: it's free!

The benefits of Google My Business really shine through when it comes to Local SEO, but it has a great many benefits for Organic SEO as well.


Google My Business is a handy tool that allows business owners to customize and have a substantially greater amount of control over how their business is listed on Google’s SERPs and various other pages from Google.

It has a number of features and benefits you can work with, arrange, and customize to your liking in an effort to reach your target audience and maximize the effectiveness of your SEO.

  • Google My Business allows for greater informational consistency. By keeping your information up-to-date here on Google, then that can eliminate a ton of inconsistencies elsewhere, including any third-party services that get their info from what Google says. Using Google My Business also lets you put up as much first-hand information about your business as possible, ensuring your customers get the most accurate info they can.
  • As mentioned briefly above, a lot of third-party apps and services rely on Google for information. Using Google My Business and keeping your business’ profile up-to-date means more accurate information about your business is available for these services, thus increasing your odds of being featured in other areas of the web and generating further exposure for your eCommerce business!
  • Using Google My Business allows you to upload photos and videos of all your best products and assets early on, allowing consumers to see your best bits first. These powerful first impressions can generate good traffic and better conversions!
  • Google also offers analytics data to better help you understand the flow of traffic to your site. You can better identify how people are finding you and what they’re seeing versus what they’re not seeing. You can tweak and adjust things accordingly and tailor your campaign to best fit the needs of your customers.
  • Google also gives you the option of being able to create content that will be visible to users searching for your business. Promotions, advertisements, or articles can all act as a sort of ‘free advertising’ that you can tinker with at any point to better appeal to your target base.
  • Google My Business also has a handy feature if your business takes appointments. It will allow customers to conveniently make bookings online without even leaving the SERPs!
  • In addition to bookings, Google My Business also has the feature of allowing you to view/respond to any reviews left for your business online as soon as you log in. As reviews are a crucial part of successful eCommerce SEO, this is an incredibly convenient and handy feature that Google offers!

Google My Business offers a ton of valuable features to improve your eCommerce business’ listing and maximize your SEO. While it does require some time and effort to maintain your listing, it’s well worth any time and effort you put into it!


Along with Google My Business and the ever-important Google Analytics, Google also offers the potent Google Search console.

Google Search Console acts as an invaluable tool to establish good SEO by allowing you to track the number of items, including keywords, traffic, and mobile responsiveness, just to name a few things. It also lets you submit sitemaps, which can aid Google in navigating your site.


The setup process for Google Search Console is relatively painless, especially if you already have Google Analytics set up for your website.

  • Just use the same Google account you’ve used for the rest of your business.
  • After you’ve signed in, add your website as a property by adding it’s HTML to the required box.
  • The last step is to verify your ownership.

That’s where having Analytics already set up comes in handy: if you already have the Analytics Tracking Code built into the head of your site’s homepage, then you’ll be in with no problem at all!

One other choice you get to make is choosing whether to use the old or new Search Console.

While the new one is more visually streamlined, the old one retains a lot of its features and usability. So while everything will eventually switch over to the new interface permanently, for now the old offers increased functionality.


Google Search Console has a ton of features that can help you analyze your site and build your SEO as effectively as possible.

  • Sitemaps - As mentioned briefly in the beginning, Google Search Console allows you to submit a sitemap to make it easier for the crawlers to do their job and rank your site.
  • Keywords - Google Search Console does a lot in the way of tracking keywords. It keeps tabs on exactly what keywords bring people to your site, and rank them accordingly for you. That way, you can track whether or not your SEO structure is working, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Traffic - Google Search Console also keeps track of the traffic flow through your site, including which of your pages are the most popular and see exactly where your visitors are coming from by tracking what pages are linked to you.
  • Local SEO - Google Search Console can also help out with Local SEO by providing you with the geographical locations of some of your visitors. If certain locations are important for you, then this lets you see the info you need to in order to re-adjust your strategy as needed.
  • Mobile Responsiveness - Not only does Google Search Console check your site’s mobile responsiveness and give you feedback accordingly, but it also lets you know what devices your visitors use when they visit your site. That way, you can make any necessary adjustments to your site’s layout.
  • Diagnose Issues - Google Search Console also does some work in the way of security and fixing your site. It finds and alerts you to any broken links on your site, keeps taps on your schema markups and lets you know if they’re working right, and also alerts you to any security threats to your site!

All in all, Google Search Console is an incredibly valuable resource for successful eCommerce SEO, and considering the fact that it's also free, there’s a little-to-no reason why it shouldn’t be added to your SEO toolbox!


Of all the invaluable tools available to aid in structuring your site for successful eCommerce SEO, nothing will offer as competitive an edge as doing some good competitor analysis.

The world of SEO is competitive by nature, each site (and by extension business) vying for the top rank, constantly changing and upgrading their sites to stay at peak performance and cater to both customers and Google to maximize the effectiveness of their optimization.

Looking at what your competitors are doing and why you rank the way you do vs them can give you great insights as to what you should change or exactly how you can better your site.


Some of the methods you can use to get that edge can include but are in no way limited to:

  • Keyword Targeting - Figuring out what keywords you’re going to target is kind of like figuring out what weight class you’re going to be fighting in. This can give you some major insight into not only who you’ll be competing against, but also what you’ll be competing for.
  • On-Page Optimization - Looking at your competitors’ layouts, especially those who rank better than you, can give you some powerful ideas for layouts and ways to optimize your website, and ultimately streamline your site and slingshot your way to a better ranking!
  • Off-Page Optimization - Google puts a lot of stock backlinks when it comes to dishing out a ranking. If your on-page efforts seem to be having a minimal effect, often times improving your backlink quality can turn the tide.

While the world of SEO can be incredibly competitive, you can use your competition as a mirror to improve upon yourself and build your site’s SEO into a force to be reckoned with!