Eating Big Fish in Small Ponds – eCommerce SEO Hacks

So your grandma told you “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, and the point kept getting hammered by other well-meaning people in your life, but like most facts,  the inverse can be equally true.

SEO can be hard, and anything that increases the odds of success and saves time is a blessing, especially if it makes grandma frown.

What we’ll be doing here is a quick technique meant to help people selling products online via sites like Etsy or Ebay.

Instead of competing with the whole internet over your keywords, this approach limits your competition to just other pages in Etsy. Be more relevant than they are (links, content, social signals, user experience) and you’ll be replacing them in Google.

Let’s say I’m selling party invitations at my Etsy shop. My product is good, but I’m new, so not getting much traffic to my storefront yet. I can do traditional SEO, and hope for results, while competing in Google with every other site that sells invitations, or I can limit my competition to a much smaller set, and therefore see gains much faster. The basic approach is to flip the existing results in Google.

I’ll be using the SimilarWeb Pro tool, which makes this relatively easy.

Go to SimilarWeb and search for etsy.com. Then, go to the Traffic Sources Tab and choose Search. Scroll down and click on the Organic Search Terms. Click on the export to Excel icon.Organic Search Terms Tab

When prompted, choose to open the file in Excel. For this technique, we don’t really need columns B and C (Traffic Share and Change), so delete them. All you should have now is an Excel sheet with 1 column. For Etsy, the download includes about 35,000 keywords to play with, which is enough data to make it helpful for many different niches.

First Excel Snapshot

Highlight the columns and then Data > Filter.

Choose Excel Filter

Then, click on the filter icon in the Search Term column. Text filter > Contains > type in one of your main search terms (keywords), like “invitation”.

Excel Filter search term

Excel filter contains

Repeat the above step with different keywords and variations. Copy all the relevant ones to a new Excel tab or notepad.

For “invitation”, I’ve got 571 keywords from the SimilarWeb Pro tool.

final Etsy keyword list

Go to the Google Keyword Tool (or your favorite scraper, I personally like using a paid tool called Ultimate Niche Finder for harvesting keyword data, but it’s not for beginners) and copy/paste your keywords.

[Pro tip – now is a great time to do any industrial strength digging, since Google is changing how their keyword tool works and it’s uncertain how these changes will affect scraping tools.]

Make sure to select “exact match”, not “broad match” in the Google Match Type selector box.

Usually, you can paste up to 500 words at a time in the Google tool, at least for a while, then Google starts limiting requests from your IP to around 100-150 at a time.

So now, click on the Keyword Ideas tab, and then Save All.

Personally, I like adjusting the data columns to show only local search volumes and CPC.

Then, export the information (Download > My keyword ideas). Open in Excel, add Filters and use Excel’s find/replace to delete the brackets surrounding your keywords (find “[” and then replace with nothing, etc).

Now sort by the Monthly Search column. Delete all the keywords with no search volume (have “-” instead of a number). So, this gives us a nice list of keywords with search volumes that Etsy is ranking for, that are relevant for your store or business. The key here is choosing those words that are relevant and have relatively high search volumes in Google, since these will drive good amounts of relevant traffic to your store.

What you can do now is either check these terms in a rank tracker (props to http://serpbook.com, which is nice, accurate and cheap, as well as to http://rankcheckerace.com, which has a good free option for up to 1000 keywords) or just take it on faith that Etsy ranks (or used to rank recently, for these keywords).

Now comes the fun part, what I call ‘switch and wait’.

Everything we did above was done to create a list of keywords that are relevant and that various Etsy pages are currently ranking in Google for. The problem is that it’s not your pages that are ranking, but that’s fixable.

All you have to do now is target these terms on your pages. Do the basic on-page SEO and get some links (cough, cough) and consider dropping prices to increase conversions, or any other changes that will create a positive user experience (rumored to have a growing impact on Google rankings) .

Keep in mind that like all things fickle, this is a numbers game, work on as many pages/keywords as possible, and you’ll rank for some. But, instead of expending lots of energy competing with everyone in your niche, you’ll be working as efficiently as possible, competing only with other Etsy pages.

About the Author -

Currently the in-house evangelist at SimilarWeb. Suffering from a strong SEO-based bias to my marketing approach and life in general; pimping since Northern Lights was a search engine, not just a strand.

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