SEO can help retailers build visibility, traffic, and sales. Learn the expert SEO strategies our team uses to improve the online presence for our retail business clients.

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What is retail SEO?
  2. Common SEO terms to know
  3. Why use SEO for retail stores?
  4. 6 expert tips to improve SEO for retail businesses
  5. 5 local SEO strategies for retailers
  6. How to find managed SEO for retail sites
  7. Average cost of SEO for retailers

SEO for retail helps ecommerce brands and local retailers get their products in front of new people online. By optimizing your website and product pages, there’s a better chance they’ll appear on the first page of the search results for relevant keywords.

But where do you start? Below, we’ll share how to use SEO for retail to get your retail store ranking on Google.

What is SEO for retail?

SEO for retail is a marketing strategy that helps local and online retailers rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). While search engine optimization has many moving parts, the basic goal is to optimize your website with the right keywords and create high-quality content to improve your online visibility.

If you sell goods online, this is referred to as ecommerce SEO. Both require you to consistently update, optimize, and publish high-value content. To know where to begin, perform an SEO audit, which indicates what ares of your website to improve.

Common SEO terms to know

If you’re new to retail SEO, all the terms and jargon can be confusing. Here are some common SEO terms you should know.

On-page and off-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing the on-page elements of your website. This can include your content, URLs, internal links, and title tags.

On the other hand, off-page SEO includes any SEO efforts you apply outside your website, like link building, guest posting, and social media marketing.

SEO algorithm

An SEO algorithm is a set of rules a search engine uses to determine its rankings. Google’s algorithms retrieve information from websites to determine the significance of each website for specific queries so it can rank them accordingly.

Keyword research

Keyword research identifies the keywords and phrases your target audience uses to find content like yours on search engines. The goal is to find relevant keywords you can rank for, typically with a higher search volume and lower keyword difficulty.

SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush provide rankings for difficulty to help you understand what may be challenging to rank for (scores keywords 1-100).

Meta description

The meta description is an HTML element on your site that summarizes each site page. This description is displayed alongside your site link on the search engine results page, like in this example:

Link in Google search showing a meta description

It gives the user an accurate understanding of the page’s content so they can determine if it’s relevant to them.

Alt text

Alternative text, or alt text, is an HTML element that describes each image on your page. Alt text is important for SEO and makes your website more accessible for those with visual impairments and rely on screen readers to understand what’s on the page.

Here’s an example of how Descript adds alt text to the images on its blog:

Examples of images on the Descript blog containing alt text

(Source: Descript)

Link building

Link building is a method of gathering backlinks — hyperlinks from another website that link back to your site. Since backlinks are a factor in search engine rankings, the goal is to get high-quality websites to link back to your site to improve your SEO.

A high quality website is a site that’s relevant to your industry and has a good reputation and high domain authority (ranked from 1 to 100 — 100 being the hightest).

In addition to these terms, there are also metrics to know for measuring the success of your SEO marketing campaigns:

  • Organic traffic: The amount of website traffic that comes from unpaid sources like Google, Yahoo, or Bing
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of users who have taken the desired action such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR): The number of clicks you get to your website divided by the number of times your site was shown on the SERP
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of website visitors who leave your site after landing on a page
  • SEO rankings: Where your site pages rank on the search engine results page

Why use SEO for retail stores?

Search engine optimization helps retail stores increase their visibility, site traffic, and conversions. Your search engine rankings will ultimately determine how many new people see and visit your ecommerce website, so it’s important to have an SEO strategy that aims to get you on the first page of Google.

Increased visibility

According to HubSpot, organic search is the top traffic source for all websites. To be more visible online and bring new traffic to your site, you must optimize your website and content for search engines. The higher your site ranks on the SERP, the more opportunities you’ll have to show up in front of your ideal customers.

More clicks

Over 68.7% of all clicks go to the top three organic results on the search engine results page (SERP). That means that if you want more people to click on your site, you need to rank for the keywords and phrases your audience uses to find you online.

More conversions

The more clicks you get to your website, the more opportunities you have to convert a visitor into a new customer. Without organic traffic from search engines, the only people visiting your site will be those who already know about you.

Lower marketing costs

SEO traffic to your website is free. There can be costs associated with search engine optimization, like hiring an SEO consultant, but it doesn’t cost you anything to rank on the SERP.

Unlike ads and other types of digital marketing campaigns that are expensive to run, SEO is not. SEO will also continue bringing traffic to your site for years (with regular updates), making its long-term costs even lower.

Measurable results and ROI

Another benefit of SEO for retail businesses is that you can accurately track and measure your results over time. That way, you know what’s working and what needs tweaking.

“Tracking is an essential part of any SEO campaign, especially for retail businesses,” says Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM. “We use our proprietary software, ConversionIQ (CIQ) to granularly track every single step of the buyer journey so we can understand what aspects of a campaign are working and where we should trim the fat.”

6 expert tips to improve SEO for retail businesses

Want higher rankings for your ecommerce site? Here are 6 expert tips to improve your retail SEO.

  1. Find the right keywords
  2. Optimize your product pages
  3. Prioritize your retail website’s user experience
  4. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
  5. Optimize your images
  6. Keep an eye on site speed

1. Find the right keywords

One of the first steps in your retail SEO strategy is to perform in-depth keyword research for your store. Find the most relevant and popular target keywords for your audience while considering the buyer intent behind each keyword (informational or commercial).

Informational keywords show intent to find information about a product or service (e.g., blog posts, whitepapers, etc.). Commercial keywords show intent to make a purchase (e.g., product or service page, pricing pages, etc.).

And don’t forget long-tail keywords, which make up the majority of all Google searches. SEMrush found that the average length of keywords for the top-ranking 10% of sites are about 3.5 words long.

Often, the best place to start is Google search. Search for terms you think your audience uses to find your business.

For instance, if you sell planners, your prospective customers may search for “best planners” on Google.

Best planner Google search results

Then, you’ll scroll down to the “People also ask” section to find additional questions and keywords people might search for to find planners.

FYI: When you hit the down arrows, it’ll expand the question list.

Google People Also Ask

Also, look for keyword opportunities down in the “Related searches” section.

Google Related searches

You can even use the Google Autocomplete feature to find additional keyword opportunities. Just type in the beginning of a search phrase, and let Google show you what people search for.

Google autocomplete

Once you have a list of preliminary keywords, use SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or MOZ to find additional related keywords and questions to rank for. Look for keywords with larger search volume and lower keyword difficulty.

Want to learn more about keyword research? Check out our Keyword Research 101 guide.

2. Optimize your product pages

Product pages showcase your product and its features, but they also boost SEO. Here are a few things you can do to optimize your product pages:

  • Use detailed descriptions that include your target keywords
  • Add multiple, high-quality product images to your pages
  • Add clear call-to-action buttons on the page, encouraging people to buy
  • Include testimonials that highlight the benefits of your products
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on the product pages
  • Include videos of your products in action, if applicable

This Biossance product page does an excellent job of clearly showing the benefits of the product with high-quality images and a keyword-rich description:

SEO product page example

(Source: Biossance)

While it’s tempting to use the same descriptions for similar products, avoid duplicate content because it can negatively impact your SEO.

3. Prioritize your retail website’s user experience

Google wants to give searchers the best experience possible on its search engine. So user-friendly websites that prioritize user experience (UX) tend to rank higher in the search engine rankings.

UX is about more than a site’s appearance. It’s ensuring people can find what they’re looking for and then purchase items without friction or other issues.

Here are several ways to provide a positive user experience on your retail website:

  • Make your site easy to navigate with simple, clear naviagational menu items and a search bar
  • Create an interactive site that has multiple clear calls-to-action buttons
  • Ensure ads and pop-ups don’t interfere with browsing or buying
  • Check your site and page load times, and optimize the pages so they load quickly
  • Create a clear path to purchase where the user only provides the necessary information to check out

4. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

Mobile responsive websites are no longer a nice-to-have — 76% of U.S. adults shop using their smartphone. Mobile-friendly websites are critical for ecommerce brands and local retailers since search engine users submit 57% of local search queries on mobile devices.

A few things to consider when optimizing your retail website for mobile:

  • Consider the size of text, images, buttons, and navigation menu elements to ensure they can be accessed properly on a smaller screen
  • Simplify forms and checkout processes so they have only a few steps to complete
  • Optimize your images and other large page elements so pages load quickly on mobile devices
  • Simplify your navigational menu so that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on a smaller device screen
  • Eliminate any pop-ups for mobile devices as this can make it nearly impossible to navigate the site on mobile
Eliminate popups on mobile

Pop-ups take over the mobile phone screen, making it difficult to dismiss these messages when you’re not interested.

(Source: Dinarys)

If your business is local, make phone numbers clickable on mobile devices. That way, local customers can easily call to get their questions answered before stopping in.

5. Optimize your images

Images are vital for your product pages, but they’re often not optimized. Here are a few ways to optimize your product pages:

  • Compress your images to maintain the image quality without slowing down page load times
  • Create captions and alt-tags for your images so that its easy for both human users and search engines to understand the image content
  • Avoid using too many images that crowd the product page and make it difficult to read the description, features, and benefits

6. Keep an eye on site speed

Site speed is an important factor in search engine optimization. Many shoppers will abandon a page or site if it takes too long to load. So maintain a quick web page load time by optimizing your pages.

If you find your online store is slow to load, here’s how to improve it:

  • Use fewer images on your pages
  • Compress files and images
  • Use fewer page widgets
  • Avoid cluttered pages
  • Limit redirects and HTTP requests
  • Consider changing web hosts

5 local SEO strategies for retailers

About 87% of consumers researched local businesses with Google search in 2022, making local SEO vital for retailers with physical locations. Local SEO is a subset of SEO that focuses on helping a business drive traffic to its website from a specific geographic area.

Local search is important for brick-and-mortar retailers and anyone who targets customers in specific geographic locations. Here are just a few tips you can use to improve your local SEO:

  1. Optimize your Google My Business profile
  2. Optimize online directories and citations
  3. Find local keywords you can rank for
  4. Create local content
  5. Get reviews from happy customers

1. Optimize your Google My Business profile

According to Google, customers are 50% more likely to purchase from businesses if they have a complete business profile on Google Search and Google Maps. So make sure your Google Business profile is up-to-date and optimized for keywords people might search to find your business.

Start by making sure your address, phone number, and store hours are correct on your profile.

Google My Business Profile

In addition to the basic contact information for your business, update and optimize your description. Use keywords that potential customers may use to find your business.

For example, The Paper + Craft Pantry, a retail stationary and paper store in Austin, TX uses keyword phrases like “retail paper shop,” “full-service workshop studio,” “woman owned and operated,” “stationary,” and “creative workshops” to make sure anyone landing on their profile knows exactly what they have to offer.

Google My Business Description

2. Optimize online directories and citations

Google isn’t the only place locals look online to find businesses like yours. Make sure your profile or citation is up-to-date in the small business online directories you’re included in.

Visit Austin is a great example of a website with a large business directory people might use to find local retailers. Making sure that the information in this directory is correct and up-to-date helps local Austin, TX businesses bring in local folks and travelers.

Austin local business directory

(Source: Austintexas)

3. Find local keywords you can rank for

If you’re a local retailer, your keyword research process should include looking for local keywords your business can rank for. Often, this will include relevant keywords + city or + near me.

For example, when you search for Austin TX bike shop, these are the organic results that appear:

Local SEO keyword results

4. Create local content

Publishing relevant content that contains your keywords is one of the best ways to improve SEO. However, if you’re a local retailer, you may only want to attract local customers, in which case, you need to create local content.

Here’s a great example from Viva Day Spa + Med Spa, a local Austin, TX spa that’s also a retailer for skin care products:

Local SEO content example

(Source: Vivadayspa)

It’s not uncommon for people to buy skincare and self-care products as gifts. And though Viva may not be a “gift shop,” by producing this type of local content for Austin consumers, it creates an opportunity to get in front of a new audience that’s ready to spend money.

In addition to publishing local content on your site, you can team up with local influencers to create content about your retail shop. This type of content offers an authentic look at your shop and the customer experience, which often appeals to people more than branded content.

A Taste of Koko is a travel and food influencer well-known in Austin, TX for recommending the best local spots. When she curates a list of local places, locals listen because she has built trust within the community with her valuable content.

Getting listed on her “Best Local Shops in Austin” would help drive traffic to your site for keywords that you may not be able to rank for on your own.

Local influencer content

(Source: Atasteofkoko)

5. Get reviews from happy customers

Reviews are an essential part of a retailer’s online presence. Much like word-of-mouth marketing, reviews provide social proof that your company and its products are valuable and worth spending money on. Reviews also speak to the shopper’s experience in your physical store.

Online reviews are particularly important for local retailers. In fact, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before deciding to visit the store.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your store on Google and Yelp. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely customers will stop by and shop at your store.

Go one step further and reply to reviews to show the customer (and everyone else reading) that the 5-star review was truly warranted. Here’s an example of a response from the owner of a vintage boutique in Austin:

Local business review example

How to find managed SEO for retail sites

Managing successful SEO campaigns can be challenging, especially if you’re new to SEO. Hiring an SEO marketing agency gives you access to a whole team of experts who know the best tactics to rank your site on Google.

But what should you look for when hiring an SEO expert? Here are several things to consider:

Performance-driven approach to SEO

You don’t just want to rank on Google for the bragging rights. If you’re going to hire someone to help with SEO, you want to see results and get a return on your investment.

Look for an SEO agency that takes a performance-driven approach to SEO. This requires them to really get to know your business and your goals before creating an SEO strategy.

“We take time to learn about your retail business, target audience, and buyer personas, as well as other information that will help us get the best results,” says Rambod Yadegar, president of HawkSEM. “From there, we create a custom SEO strategy and track it closely to ensure a positive ROI.”

History of getting SEO results for retailers

SEO for retail can be challenging because of the way people search for products. Consumers often search for a specific product with specific features and sizes. That means retailers have to optimize hundreds and sometimes thousands of products across categories.

Due to the unique complexities of SEO for retail, it’s vital to look for an SEO agency like HawkSEM with a history of getting results for retail businesses. The HawkSEM team has managed SEO and PPC campaigns for many different retailers and offers a variety of ecommerce marketing services.

And the results speak for themselves.

Mommy’s Bliss, a retailer offering safe, gentle, and trusted products for moms, babies, and kids, came to HawkSEM needing an SEO strategy and daily management.

With a dedicated, senior-level marketing scientist consistently managing its SEO efforts, Mommy’s Bliss increased total keyword rankings by 79% and organic sessions by more than 65% year-over-year. Check out the case study to learn more.

Other services that complement SEO

Search engine optimization is just one part of your digital marketing strategy. It takes some time to see SEO results, so pay-per-click (PPC) ads often go hand-in-hand with SEO services as a way to get more immediate traffic to your website.

When partnering with an SEO agency, consider what other services it offers to compliment SEO. For example, HawkSEM doesn’t just specialize in SEO — it’s also a PPC agency. Hiring the same agency to manage SEO and PPC gives you the advantage to align these efforts so they’re working together to get you results.

By hiring HawkSEM for PPC, Grayson Living, a furniture and decor retail business, increased sales by 279%. Read the case study to find out how.

Retail store SEO

(Source: Pexels)

The average cost of SEO for retailers

The average cost of SEO for retailers is anywhere between $500 to $5,000 per month. The cost will ultimately depend on the scope of the work and whether you’re working with a SEO consultant or an SEO agency.

The takeaway

SEO for retail can be a complex process, especially if you have many different product categories and types. Hiring an SEO agency ensures that you have experts on your side who can give you the best opportunity at ranking on Google for your target keywords.

Ready to get started with SEO for your retail site? Book a free consultation today.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation