When people ask you how you’re doing, you often reply with a curt “busy” before walking on with your coffee in hand.
And you are. You have…
keywords to comb through
products to relabel
a looming deadline
poor organic traffic which you’re compensating for with SEA
If you are an SEO/performance/content manager in the online retail space, this article is for you.
In it, I will detail how SEO people like you grow their organic presence to catch more traffic than they ever did before. If you follow these steps, your organic traffic is sure to grow. (Nothing black hat here. Just plain ol’ SEO content management).
Fun fact: category pages are loved by users and by Google. The tl;dr is this:
Category pages collect products into the categories that users search for and for which you can rank;
Even though Google uses hundreds of ranking factors inside its algorithm, SEO still comes down to one major aspect of it: choosing the right categories;
Category pages are "Google's top choice for retail keywords throughout all levels of search intent".
To sum up, category pages have amazing potential to unlock explosive organic growth for your online store. But instead of starting from scratch, you should look at what your competition is up to.
OK. How can I study my competitors, and what am I looking for?
There are many SEO tools out there which can assist you in your research (SEMrush being my personal favourite). You need to find out:
Which categories will unlock organic growth for me?
That’ll be different for every store. You are looking for categories (which I’m using as a synonym for keywords or queries) for which there is high demand and low competition.
If few other retailers market their products in this way, you will have less competition, it will be easier to rank and you can claim a significant proportion of the traffic for that category.
Make Leo proud.
Pro tip: the categories aren’t always obvious.
Sometimes, you’ll find that a significant portion of your users call your products something completely different than you would. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’ll share an example at the end of this article. 👇
Right, but how do I find the best categories?
As I mentioned earlier, you can save yourself a lot of work by finding your competitors’ (specifically those selling similar products to yours) best categories.
They have put in the hard work in finding out how their shoppers — your future customers — search for them.
SEMrush lets you type in the domains of big competitors and find every category for which they rank.
There is an even easier way, which I’ll talk further about at the end.
This is how you do competitor SEO research:
Check which competitors rank in Google for some of your product searches.
Download all the keywords and put them in a big Google Sheet.
Filter by easiness to rank (say, 70% of less category difficulty) and rank in descending order by demand.
Find out which of these categories are relevant to your products.
I’ve found some amazing SEO categories. Now what?
Now that you’ve picked the best categories to highlight in your store, you need to find which items in your catalogue match up to it.
This will likely be done manually; your matching products may not be tagged with the specific category language. Some tips to find them more easily:
Use your own on-site search. Unfortunately, most on-site search engines won’t understand categories your site doesn’t use.
Use your existing categories. You can narrow down the things for which to look by combing through similar categories you’ve already created. However, you’re likely to be looking for categories your site doesn’t use today, so matching is tough.
One last thing: do not forget to relabel your products accordingly for future reference.
Whew. Got all my products. Now I just stick them all in a page and set it live, right?
Bear in mind that putting together a selection of relevant products isn’t what makes a great category page.
In order for your page to rank, write a few hundred words including your category name, related terms and other helpful information around the category. This is helpful for Google indexing, but your users will appreciate the extra effort, too. 🤗
Say you’re creating a category page around “mens white sneakers”.
You should think about including related terms like “off white sneakers”, “casual shoes”, “streetwear”, brand names (if you can), and ways to style them.
In this case, the term “Marty McFly” would also work.
And why should I include related terms again?
Because Google understands intent.
You should give Google’s algorithm as many clues as you can.
If a user searches for “casual sneakers” and your category page is all about “white sneakers”, you should give Google’s algorithm as many clues as you can for it to understand: this page is relevant to people looking for casual sneakers, too.
More relevant info in your page = more chances to bump your ranking on a SERP.
Alright, alright! Can I publish my category page yet?
Yes! In many (larger) companies, you’ll likely need to plan for a bit of buffer time. If your work requires several rounds of internal approvals and IT work, you might want to ask for a priority review (if the category you’re tapping into is particularly trendy).
The sooner your category page goes live, the more likely it is to manage to rank for high-traffic categories.
Is it live yet? Yes?
Then get ready to watch your organic traffic increase. 🎉
Now, this may not be as dramatic an increase as you might hope, depending on how much demand and competition your category of choice is earning. Google also takes some time to learn what new pages are about.
Don’t get discouraged if your page isn’t an overnight organic success:
It may well take a few days, weeks or months before a new page starts to rank.
But… think of all the SEO traffic you could add up if you published new, relevant category pages each month? Each week?
Dare I say—each day?
What can I do if I don’t have time to do all of this work?
You just need to use the right tool. Similar.ai helps enormous sites become more user-centric and scale their product revenue in the process. Get in touch now to create and publish category pages in minutes instead of weeks.