What Does An eCommerce SEO Agency Do?

Okay, fess up. How many people have had to tell you how badly you need an eCommerce SEO agency before you bit the bullet and clicked on this post? 

If you’ve got an eCommerce store—whether you started it from your shed or you’re a large, profitable enterprise—SEO likely isn’t entirely unfamiliar. You’ve probably had to listen to quite a few people harp on about how crucial and transformative it is in a bid to convince you to hire an eCommerce SEO agency.

And they’re right! If you’ve got an eCommerce store and you expect to continue growing, you can’t really afford to be without an expert SEO team. 

But you’re a busy bee—you might not have had time to sit down and figure out what the hell an eCommerce SEO agency does that you can’t do yourself. We’re here to break that down for you. 

Reboot is an industry-leading eCommerce SEO company with a track record of helping to build multi-million pound online retail companies from the ground up. We’re sharing the inside scoop on what an eCommerce SEO agency really gets up to and how this benefits your business.

What does an eCommerce SEO agency do?

An eCommerce SEO agency is hired by an eCommerce business to optimise their website, making it more visible to potential customers on search engines. 

Now, what do we mean by “optimise”, exactly?
Without getting into all the complicated nooks and crannies of SEO (we’ll get to those later), the objective of any eCommerce SEO agency worth their salt is to connect their client’s products with the people looking for them on search engines. For example, if you make and sell eco-friendly vegan candles, we want to make sure that you’re appearing in searches for both “eco-friendly candles” and “vegan candles” to maximise your online traffic and sales.

There’s a range of different techniques that SEOs can use to accomplish this but the end goal is always the same: help your business reach its full potential through online channels. 

What is eCommerce SEO?

eCommerce SEO is a branch of SEO that uses search engine optimisation processes such as link building, technical SEO and content marketing to increase the online visibility of eCommerce websites. 

eCommerce websites present a unique challenge to SEOs: they are generally larger and more complex than most other websites, with hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. They also need to perform additional functions like payment processing, order fulfilment and inventory management and are therefore usually built on different content management systems (CMSs) that can accommodate this.

eCommerce SEO is therefore a specialist area of SEO that requires experience and understanding of optimising product pages, category pages and UX—among other things—in order to guide site visitors towards a purchase

Read more: ‘What Is eCommerce SEO?

Why you need an eCommerce SEO agency

The simple answer: because you almost definitely cannot do it yourself. 

There are some areas of SEO that you can arguably DIY—although we wouldn’t recommend it. These are usually SEO fundamentals like adding keywords to page titles and meta descriptions, and maybe a bit of internal linking. 

However, eCommerce SEO is usually complicated, technical and very, very time consuming. The bare minimum of an eCommerce SEO project requires you to:

  • Structure your website to be easy to navigate for search engine crawlers
  • Identify and fix any technical issues
  • Conduct and implement keyword research across your whole site
  • Optimise your product pages and UX to maximise the chance of a conversion
  • Publish a steady stream of relevant, engaging blogs

This is a months-long process even for an expert SEO agency with dozens of employees, and not something that most eCommerce business owners have the capacity to undertake.

Your specialty is your business, and that’s where your focus should be. Let the SEO experts deal with the algorithms.

Read more: "Why You Shouldn't DIY Your SEO"

Hiring an SEO freelancer for the job probably isn’t the way to go either. Again, this is a huge undertaking. While there are many talented, experienced and reliable eCommerce SEO freelancers out there, they usually specialise in one or two areas of SEO, such as copywriting or UX, and work on multiple projects at the same time. A full-scale eCommerce SEO project is simply too much for one person and expecting them to perform at the same level as an agency will just drag out the deadlines. 

When it comes to maximising your website’s potential with SEO, an agency is really the only way to go. 

Benefits of working with an eCommerce SEO agency

    Identify opportunities you might miss

One of the most important pieces of the SEO project puzzle is the eCommerce SEO audit service, which happens at the start of the project. This is the land survey, the risk assessment and the due diligence of the SEO world. 

Sure, it exists to pinpoint any obvious roadblocks, such as manual penalties and broken links, but an eCommerce SEO expert will also be able to look at the audit, as well as the competitor analysis, and spot big opportunities for your business to outperform others in your niche. 

These could be gaps in your current strategy, keywords you’re already ranking for without trying or areas of your site that are driving surprising, but beneficial, levels of traffic. Either way, the person best placed to identify them is your specialist eCommerce SEO. 

    Compete with industry leaders: 

Most areas of eCommerce are competitive. You will not be the only person selling your product, and in some cases, you will be competing on search engine results pages (SERPs) with household names. For example, if you’re selling vinyl records, one of your most important keywords will probably be “buy vinyl records online” 

The likelihood of you being able to rank first for this term is pretty slim, as nationwide music and entertainment retailer HMV is sitting pretty at the top of the SERP. Other well-known names in this space you’ll be competing with include Discogs and Music Magpie. All of these sites have a domain rating (DR) of 70+ and monthly traffic in the thousands. 

However, you’ll notice that some lesser-known retailers have managed to rank on the first page as well. For many of them, eCommerce link building is clearly a core part of their SEO strategy, with tens of thousands of backlinks to just that one page. 

So the question is: do you have time to build tens of thousands of backlinks to compete with HMV, or whatever its equivalent is in your industry? Probably not. But we do. 

Working with an eCommerce SEO agency means that you’ll be able to compete with the big brands in your niche, because the agency will have time to deploy the necessary strategies to get you there. 

    Focus on your business

No matter what the loud, overly peppy self-styled eCommerce gurus on YouTube ads, or your Twitter feed, or your LinkedIn are screaming at you, you do not need to be good at SEO

It’s important to remember that the so-called “gurus” aren’t just benevolent online sages who genuinely care about your business. They are people trying to sell you something. Of course they think you should take their course… but does it benefit you or does it just benefit them?

That’s not to say that there aren’t SEO gurus worth listening to. But the best SEO advice you’ll find on the internet is free.

The bottom line is: you didn’t start your business to spend hours watching online courses about internal linking and guest blogging that make you feel overwhelmed and only marginally less confused. You started it to sell products and make money, and that’s what you should be spending your time doing.

SEOs are the ones who should be worrying about anchor text and Helpful Content and on-site navigation and high-DR links. That’s what we’re here for. Don’t take valuable time away from your specialism to spend time trying to learn ours. 

    Attract the right customers

Thirty years ago, the only way to market your business was to send out a message to a wide audience and hope that someone was interested. We’re talking billboards, flyers, television advertising… There was no way of knowing whether the person on the receiving end of that message was interested in your product.

SEO, on the other hand, is a targeted inbound marketing strategy: it’s about bringing customers with buying intent straight to your digital front door. 

Again, this underlines the importance of hiring an experienced eCommerce SEO agency. There are still some SEOs that will just look at keyword volume—how many times per month a keyword, such as ‘vinyl records’, is being searched—create a page for it, and assume that’s job done. 

Experienced SEOs know a little bit more about identifying the right keywords that connect you and your target customer, understanding the intent behind a keyword and creating a piece of content that answers that intent. 

After all, would you rather be ranking 30th for a keyword with 5,000 monthly searches and bringing in no traffic, or be ranking first for a keyword with 30 monthly searches, and getting the lion’s share of that traffic, which converts into sales? 

    Raise the profile of your business

SEO isn’t all about keywords and search volumes, you know. Remember those tens of thousands of backlinks we mentioned earlier that lesser-known sites are using to rank alongside HMV? Well, the value of those backlinks go well beyond simply letting Google know that you’re one of the good guys. 

For the uninitiated: backlinks are links from third-party websites that point towards your domain. They are absolutely crucial in SEO, as search engines interpret backlinks as an indicator of quality. If a website has a lot of backlinks pointing towards it, a search engine is likely to believe that website is of high quality. It’s digital word of mouth.  

Backlinks are typically obtained one of two ways: guest blogging and by digital PR agencies. There are, unfortunately, still some SEOs that recommend buying links in bulk, but this is simply a bad idea. This practice violates all search engine guidelines and will get you penalised. 

So… what do you think happens when you publish a guest blog on someone else’s website, or get featured in a major publication? You get exposure. 

Not only does the backlink benefit your site in a technical sense, but it boosts the profile of your brand and signals to anyone who sees that blog or article that you are a trustworthy authority on your subject matter or niche. 

Read more: "11 Benefits of eCommerce SEO"

How to choose an eCommerce SEO agency

Of course, not all eCommerce SEO agencies are made equal. Plenty of businesses have had bad experiences with SEO agencies, making them wary of the industry as a whole. 

According to Backlinko, 65% of companies have already worked with more than one SEO agency and only 30% would recommend their current provider. The top reasons behind this agency-hopping include dissatisfaction with business results and a lack of responsiveness. 

Unfortunately, there are still eCommerce SEO agencies operating from bad or outdated advice, as well as those who are just out to make a quick buck and don’t really care about their clients. There are also some that simply don’t have the capacity to undertake an eCommerce SEO project at the scale required. 

Navigating all of this as an eCommerce business can feel like a bit of a minefield. How do you avoid getting hooked in by a bad agency and wasting valuable time and resources? Well, there are certain things you can look for as indicators of reliability when looking to hire an eCommerce SEO agency. 

    Case studies

An SEO agency in any niche is only as good as the results they produce. A potential provider might be full of lofty promises and tech-y jargon, but do they have the SEO case studies to back up their claims? 

Word to the wise: if the case studies aren’t on their website, it’s a red flag. SEO agencies market themselves on their results—that’s why SEO Twitter and LinkedIn are full of graphs and humble brags. We work hard to get results for our clients, and showing them off is a great way to attract new business. 

It’s important, when it comes to eCommerce, that your potential provider has case studies in the eCommerce industry. Bonus points if they have experience in your specific niche. All their case studies should include information about their processes, how they identified priorities for that project and, of course, data. 

    Reputation within the SEO community

When in doubt, ask the experts.

The online SEO community is kind of a beautiful place… at times. The best SEOs generally have established industry connections and aren’t shy about praising or recommending a fellow expert. 

We don’t always get clear-cut instructions from the SEO overlords, which means we’re left to decode updates and fluctuations in site traffic all by ourselves. We therefore rely on one another for education, advice and just to reassure ourselves that our latest theory about Google’s direction isn’t completely crazy. 

This means that all you need to do to vet your potential eCommerce SEO provider is do a bit of online stalking. Check out who follows them on Twitter, or who comments on their LinkedIn posts, or who they might have collaborated with on SEO experiments. If they’re well-connected to the respected higher-ups of the SEO industry, you’ve likely got yourself a good’un.

    Shows interest in your business

Nobody likes being lectured to.

If you’re on an SEO discovery call with an eCommerce agency and they spend the entire time preaching to you about how amazing they are, we give you permission to hang up.

Also, if you’re an SEO reading this… don’t be that person. 

There is obviously a degree of ‘selling’ that goes on during the discovery process—or the ‘talking stage’ of the agency world—but discovery calls are about an SEO agency getting to know you, not the other way around. It’s an opportunity to discuss your business, your needs and your roadblocks, and to hopefully build the foundation of a working relationship.

A huge green flag with eCommerce SEO agencies is lots of questions from them to you:

“Who is your target customer?” 

“What experiences have you had with SEO in the past?”

“Are there any keywords you’re already thinking about as priorities?” 

SEO is a bespoke process. There are techniques and strategies that reoccur, but the selection and implementation of these strategies should be based on each business’s unique challenges and opportunities. If someone is trying to sell you a one-size-fits-all service, or are treating you like just another client, don’t bother.

    Takes an educational approach

SEO might be a familiar term in the eCommerce industry, but it is still a fairly niche specialism. It’s unreasonable for any SEO agency to expect their clients to understand everything they’re doing from the word ‘go’. 

Nonetheless, there’s an incredibly tacky tendency among some people in the SEO industry to be either publicly or privately condescending towards clients who are asking perfectly reasonable questions. 

Your SEO shouldn’t make you feel stupid for struggling to wrap your head around the concept of link-building. It’s not your area of expertise, it’s ours, and it is therefore our responsibility to help you understand its value. 

If your SEO is patronising you or just straight-up refusing to explain themselves, dump them. It’s simply a part of the job of an SEO to be an educator, and eCommerce projects are particularly complex. It’s important that you understand the project and that you feel able to ask your provider questions. 

    Has capacity

This is a big one. Not to be a broken record, but eCommerce projects are a lot. There is usually a huge amount of work to be done, and clients—that’s you—usually expect to see results within a couple of months of working with an SEO agency. 

It’s so important that your SEO agency has the internal resources to accommodate your project so that an impact can be made within a reasonable timescale. 

This matters not only because no client wants to wait too long for new content to go live, or for technical errors to be fixed, but because too much internal pressure on staff will tank the quality of the work, and potentially cause delays if key employees decide to leave. 

The best way of verifying whether or not an agency has the capacity and resources for your project is to first of all, just ask. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask about their current workload and client roster, and how they divide up the work internally. You can also check their website and, crucially, employee reviews on websites like Glassdoor. 

Read momre: "How To Choose an eCommerce SEO Agency"

Hire Reboot as Your SEO Agency

Reboot Online Marketing is an industry-leading SEO agency with proven experience of bringing in thousands of new monthly organic visitors to our client’s websites, achieving first-page rankings for their target keywords, earning high-DR links from national and internal publications and tackling technical issues across thousands of pages. We can help your eCommerce business maximise sales and brand awareness through a combination of technical SEO, content marketing and digital PR.