Keyword research for marketplaces

Marketplace SEOEcommerce
By Yuval Ginor, Nov 05,2023

Keyword research for marketplaces

In this article, we will share some insights into how to conduct keyword research for marketplaces, so you will be able to correctly identify which keywords are most advantageous to your marketplace product listings. 

The e-commerce world is constantly evolving, adopting new features and abandoning others, all in an attempt to provide shoppers a better shopping experience. These rapid changes are significant for marketplace SEO, as they require further optimizations and adjustment. 

However, some features are so fundamental that they have maintained their importance throughout the year. Keywords is one such element that has hardly changed, while still keeping its very prominent role in listings’ visibility in marketplaces. 

In this article, we will share some insights into how to conduct keyword research, so you will be able to correctly identify which keywords are most advantageous to your product listings.  

Let’s begin with understanding the importance of keyword research, and what it requires.

Keyword Research Explained

The goal of keyword research is identifying and prioritizing the words shoppers use the most when searching for similar products.

First, sellers need to identify which keywords and keyphrases are popular among shoppers when searching for products like the ones they sell. Some keywords are obvious, but others, and in particular keyphrases, can be somewhat different from what sellers may think. 

For instance, for an online store that sells smart sport watches brand name keywords are key. But in order to attract shoppers that search for “the best sport watch for running”, sellers need to include this keyphrase as well. Keyword research can help sellers discover what keywords and keyphrases shoppers often use when searching for such products.  

After identifying relevant keywords and keyphrases, sellers need to analyze and prioritize them. To do this, information must be gathered with regards to each keyword, pertaining to its search volume in the search engine, competition levels, relevance, and other factors. To do this, sellers can use the help of online tools, as we will discuss later.  

When analyzing and prioritizing keywords, it is important to understand what the shopper was actually looking for when they typed in the search. When they search for “the best sport watch for running” it is clear what they are after. But when someone types in “running for beginners”, they usually look for tips on how to begin training, and are not (yet) interested in sport watches.  

Though both keyphrases can be helpful to a store that sells sport watches, it is important to distinguish between what each is referring to. In other words, understanding what the shopper’s intent was is highly important for keyword research. 

Search Intent

Generally speaking, in SEO term, searches are divided as follows:

  • Transactional searches indicate the user’s intent to make a transaction, or a purchase. For example “buy iPhone 15” or “purchase books”. 
  • Informational searches indicate that the user is trying to find specific information, for instance “how to make a bird feeder” or “how to clean ketchup stains”.
  • Commercial searches indicate that the user is looking for information about a product or a service (somewhere between transactional and informational searches). For example, “best sport watch for running” and “live concerts in London”.  
  • Navigational searches are aimed at finding a specific page. When shoppers search for “Amazon” or “eBay” they probably want to get to these websites.

A lot of sellers often mistake commercial and transactional searches, because they misunderstand the intent behind the search. Most often, when users search for “best running shoes” they expect to find reviews and opinion content. Giving them a list of best selling products misses their true intent.

Instead, since users are looking for commercial information, it is much better to go along with their intent and provide a page of high quality content, reviewing a number of running shoes, and simply linking your listings to the page. Providing such high quality content also helps your listings become more relevant in searches. 

Keyword research for marketplaces

When it comes to marketplace keyword research, things become a little more complex. The level of competition in marketplaces is intense, and so is the level of competition for keywords. With so many competitors, marketplace keyword research must be done strategically, or sellers run the risk of having their listings drop in the search results. 

Keyword research for marketplaces can be overwhelming when faced with hundreds of relevant keywords. There is no need to rush in. Select 15-20 keywords, and monitor their performance. With time and enough information, you can optimize your keywords and add to them. 

Keyword research is not a one time endeavor. In order to keep expanding your brand and reach more potential customers, sellers should continually add to their keyword list. Ongoing keyword research can help sellers familiarize themselves better with what their customers want and need, and learn the way they look for products in marketplaces. 

However, keyword research is more a process of trial and error than exact science, so I can be rather confusing and a bit intimidating for beginners. 

Following are five helpful tips on how to conduct your first keyword research for marketplaces. Afterwards, you can use what you learn here to further expand your keyword pool. 

  1. Divide Your Products Into Clusters

Begin by compiling a list of keywords and keyphrases that you think are the most relevant to the products you sell. Prior to this, it is recommended to look around the marketplace and see what keywords are popular with your competition, and what keywords the search engine’s autocomplete function suggests.  

If you feel that you are all over the place, try and group the products you sell into clusters, and continue the search from there. For instance, if you sell clothes, group the products into clusters such as “shirts”, “pants”, “jackets”, etc. This way, instead of going through the process over and over again, and compiling long lists of keywords for each product, you can identify keywords and phrases that are relevant for whole clusters of products. 

  1. Use Tools to Understand How Shoppers Reach You

Another important aspect of keyword research is to identify just how shoppers are discovering your listings. For this purpose, there are a couple of tools that can be useful. First, Google Search Console provides information on searches conducted by shoppers in which your listings appeared, their rankings in the search result page, and their click-through rates. 

Another useful tool is Google’s Keyword Planner. Instead of focusing on the search term, Google’s Keyword Planner focuses on the keywords themselves. The Planner allows sellers to see what keywords shoppers often use when looking to buy certain products, see how a list of keywords might perform, and even combine keyword lists to create new ones.

Once you have identified relevant keywords using these tools, add them to your keyword list.

  1. Marketplace Keyword Research

This step takes you deeper and closer to your target audience. Now you need to understand how shoppers behave when navigating in the marketplace, and what keywords they use there to find your listings. 

Some marketplaces provide their sellers data on popular keywords within the marketplace (which may differ from traditional searches), which provides a great insight into shoppers’ behavior. Alternatively, Google Analytics can help you find out what are the most common keywords used within the marketplace. 

Other excellent keywords sources are social media channels that are connected to the marketplace, such as Facebook groups, X (Twitter) hashtags, Reddit subgroups etc. There you can connect to actual shoppers and quickly pick up what are the most common search terms they use. 

After compiling a list of keywords, try searching for some of them in Google to see what the results are. It is recommended to see what keywords are used in the first few results, because they must be doing something right. This step can also help you validate that keywords you chose are indeed effective. 

  1. Competition Analysis

A very effective way of identifying relevant keywords is reviewing what your competitors do. You can compare your keywords list with the keywords used in rivaling listings, and see what areas of your listings need improvements.

Visit competing listings and see what keywords they most often use in the title, product description, headers, meta tags, item specifics etc. There are plenty of online tools that can help with the task, providing lists of keywords used by specifically chosen sellers, which provides great insights, like Google’s Keyword Planner.

After analyzing what keywords your competitors use, you will have to decide how to go about using the keywords. Should you follow the competition’s example or go your own way and try something else? Think about what is best for your business, and what will contribute more to your success and growth. 

  1. Identify Keyword Variations

When you are finished compiling your keyword list, take a few moments to come up with variants. Sometimes, the keywords sellers think are the best, are not the ones most often used by their customers. 

For instance, a seller that sells outdoor equipment might think that there is no other keyword better than “hiking boots” to describe some of his products. However, it is possible that some of his customers actually prefer the term “trekking shoes”. 

For this purpose, you can either conduct a synonym research, or as always, you can use one of the many online tools to do it for you. 

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