These quick wins for D2C eCommerce SEO (direct-to-consumer search engine optimization) are for ecommerce marketers who already have an understanding of SEO basics and ranking factors (keyword optimization, quality content, backlinks, and more) and are looking for actionable steps to expand optimization for their direct-to-consumer brand. If you need a quick refresher on any of this, check out our article on the top factors for SEO.
Before we dive into strategies for a few quick wins for direct-to-consumer, or DTC/D2C ecommerce SEO, note that the “quickness” of each win depends on what capabilities you already have on your ecommerce site. If your website already allows for text to be added to product category pages, you’re set up for two out of three of our quick wins below. We’ll go over the requirements for product category pages and how to add them to your site.
Quick wins and steps for D2C ecommerce SEO:
Some of the top low-hanging fruit and quick wins for D2C ecommerce SEO include:
- Improving product category pages with keyword-optimized category page text.
- Answering questions your customers are asking in long-form articles.
- Maximizing internal linking.
Optimize product category page text
In short, this means adding keyword-optimized descriptions to your product category pages. First, let’s talk about what we mean by “category page text.” This refers to text on a page that represents multiple products in the same category. The product categories can be broader like “queen mattresses” or specific, like “small dining tables” or “purple yoga mats.” Those category pages would also contain multiple, usually more specified products that fit within that category (for example, firm queen mattresses, soft queen mattresses, adjustable queen mattresses, etc.).
Category page text is additional descriptive text that is typically placed at the bottom of the page so that it is out of the way of the user’s shopping experience. Here are a few examples:
What if I only have one product that fits into the product category? If you plan to offer additional products under this category in the future, you should still create the product category page and have the single product show there. That way you can be building the rankings so that when you add new products to the category, it’s already indexed and maybe even performing well in search. However, if you don’t plan to ever offer additional products in that category, then you could simply optimize the product detail page.
For example, if you only have one purple yoga mat but plan to have more purple yoga mats in the future, then create a category page. If you only ever plan to have one purple yoga mat, you could optimize the product detail page. The same SEO requirements below would apply to the product detail page.
How to set up a category page with text if you don’t have one
Most content management systems, or CMSs, (like Shopify, Wix, etc) natively allow for product category pages, although they may be referred to with different terminology. For example, in both Shopify and Wix, category pages are called “collections.” Even a custom CMS with ecommerce functionality will most likely have the structure needed to group products into a category or collection.
Next, be sure that the new collection or category page meets the SEO requirements below. If it doesn’t, you may need to submit a ticket to your developer to add any missing capabilities. You can copy and paste the requirements below into your dev ticket (including any specific information about your site where applicable).
It’s also important to note that just because most (if not all) CMSs allow for the creation of collections or category pages, that does not mean they natively come with the ability to add descriptive text to the collection or category page. You will need that text capability in order to properly optimize that category page.
If you do not currently have the ability to add text to collection or category pages, then submit a dev ticket to your IT or dev team by copying and pasting the requirements below.
SEO requirements for category pages (with developer ticket instructions)
To optimize your product category page text (whether you use Shopify or another platform), follow these requirements in order to have your category pages indexed and ranked on Google (copy and paste this list if submitting a dev ticket to your team):
Category/collection page requirements for SEO:
- A customizable, unique URL with the keyword.
- Example: /purple-yoga-mats/ NOT /yoga-mats?1234&color=purple
- The URL must be listed in the XML sitemap.
- A customizable meta title tag and H1 that includes the keyword/category name (i.e. “Purple Yoga Mats'').
- Descriptive text (recommended placement under the product list/product grid) that includes:
- At least one subheading with the keyword.
- Descriptive paragraph text — the keyword must be used at least 3-5 times in the text (but more if possible to do so naturally).
- The ability to add internal links within the text.
Additional requirement: linking to category pages/collections
In order for Google and search engines to index the category page AND to better rank the page, you need to include a minimum of one internal link (but preferably more) to each category page/collection. At least one link should be from a high-level page, meaning no more than 2-3 clicks from the home page.
One easy and effective way to accomplish this is by adding a “Shop Categories” page that you link to in the footer navigation. The “Shop Categories” page can be a simple page with text links to your categories. Here is an example/mockup of what that could look like:
Then link “Shop Categories” to a page that houses internal links to all of their category pages, like this:
Alternatively, you can list and link to your categories in a sidebar menu, like this:
If you need to create this “Shop Categories” page, follow the requirements below, or copy and paste this into a ticket for your developer.
Requirements for a Shop Categories page:
- Create a simple HTML page with an editable text section (with the ability to add basic formatting and links).
- This page needs to be easily editable with the CMS (shouldn’t require further dev tickets to edit).
- Link to this new page in the footer menu as “Shop All Categories” or “Shop Categories.”
Maximize internal links
In addition to the minimum of the one required internal link mentioned above, you can also maximize your internal linking strategy by linking between product category pages, as well as linking from educational blog posts to product category pages.
Here’s an example of linking between product category pages:
Internal linking is like creating clear, helpful road signs for search engines. That increased clarity helps search engines properly index and rank your content. In fact, this SearchPilot A/B test shows that adding internal links between product tiers/categories correlated with a 20+% increase in organic traffic.
Answer top questions your customers are asking with long-form articles (with case study)
Chances are, your customers are asking questions about your products, such as how to use them, how they fit, how to find the right product, etc.
Answering those questions not only brings new people to your site but can bolster relationships with your customers who can now count on your brand to provide supportive information while they shop and even after they purchase. Therefore, this is not only a DTC ecommerce SEO win but a potential brand win as well.
The D2C footwear and ecommerce client below created an educational article hub where they answered questions on “how to find the right fit,” “how to clean,” and “what’s the difference between X and Y products.”
Not only did they see a large increase in traffic (the dark blue line), but they also saw net new revenue as well (meaning a customer made a purchase after landing on the how-to article):
Frequently asked questions on ecommerce SEO strategy
Which is better for ecommerce: on-page SEO or link building?
Both on-page SEO and link building (getting links from other websites back to your website) are important and necessary for ecommerce SEO, or SEO in general. Link building may be the initiative capable of bringing your targeted keyword into the top three ranking positions, but link building won’t be as effective without on-page optimization/keyword optimization.
How do you determine keywords to target?
When determining the best keywords to include on your product pages or informational, long-form articles, it’s best to have a professional do a formal keyword research project to discover all of the ways that potential customers are searching for your products AND understand what questions they’re asking about your products.
However, if you don’t already have that keyword list or have access to an SEO professional to support you in this keyword research, here are a couple of quick methods for mapping out your keywords
Category page keywords
First, list out each product you sell and the different product variations you have. For example, a clothing brand may have a keyword table that looks like this:
Then use this table to create your list of keywords/product categories, such as “blue sweatshirts,” “quarter zip sweatshirts,” “women’s blue sweatpants,” etc.
Questions from customers (for long-form articles)
For a DIY method of determining what questions your customers are asking, consult with your customer service team and/or sales teams to understand the top questions they receive. With that information, you can use this downloadable DIY template for determining questions to answer in your long-form articles.
Long-form articles must follow very similar requirements as the product category pages:
- The article needs its own, unique URL with the keyword.
- Example: /how-to-measure-your-inseam NOT /blog/article1234
- The URL must be listed in your XML sitemap.
- The meta title tag and the H1 must include the keyword/category name (i.e. “How to Measure Your Inseam”).
- Include at least one subheading with the keyword as well.
- Provide a direct answer (“to measure your inseam, you should…”) to the question. This helps optimize for Google featured snippets.
- Include the keyword at least 3-5 times in the text (but more if possible to do so naturally).
- Include a minimum of one internal link to the article.
What’s the best way to prioritize these DTC ecommerce SEO efforts?
If you haven’t yet employed any of these DTC ecommerce SEO tactics yet, start with product category page optimization first (adding the optimized text and internal links between the categories). If you need to submit a ticket to your dev team to ensure your product category page optimization meets the requirements, you can use that time to work on the educational articles until the dev ticket is completed.