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SEO Beginner's Guide

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

If you are an eCommerce business owner, search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that you may hear often, but do you know what it really means to "improve your SEO?"

In the guide below, I'll walk you through the most important things you need to understand regarding SEO, why it matters, and what you need to do to improve yours.

What Is SEO?

We all have used Google before. You use it to type in something that you want to know more about, something you want to buy, a place you want to visit, etc.

For example, if you type in the word “decaf”, you will have millions of results in a matter of seconds. Today, Google even shows answers to common questions that people have regarding that search term, for example, "why is decaf unhealthy?".

Regardless of what you are searching for, you know what happens next. You end up clicking on the first couple of results that show up on the search pages. In 2020, research from Sistrix found that the first organic result in a Google Search had a click-through rate of 28.5%. This means that most people are going to click on that first result. 15% click on the second and 11% click on the third.

This means that more than 50% of people using Google as a search engine are going to click on those first three results. If your site doesn’t show up in those top three spaces, you are going to be getting less traffic. If you don’t show up on the first page at all, then you are DEFINITELY getting less traffic.

How does SEO Work?

Imagine that each page of the Internet creates a large web. Google acts as a massive spider that crawls the web, inspecting each thread and the content it contains across the entire Internet.

Google then sends out little spiders (bots) that go to different regions and sides and inspect all of the threads on each page.

These little spiders look for the elements that determine the quality of your content, for example, the use of relevant keywords, user experience when on your site, fast loading images, etc.

The little spiders create a report based on their findings and give your page a score. When you have a high score, you are shown higher on the search engine results page. Therefore, you have a greater chance of getting seen and having visitors to your site.

Google cares about the experience of its users looking for information using their platform, so it tries to show the highest quality content available (that is going to best match what the user is looking for) at the very top of the search result query.

Is SEO just a Google thing?

No, SEO is not just a Google thing.

SEO applies to all Search Engines, Amazon, Pinterest, Etsy, Safari, (even Tik Tok!), and any other directory where you can type a keyword and get a result.

Why Do I Care About SEO?

The SEO quality of your site plays an important role in whether you are getting high-quality organic traffic (not paid). Getting good quality traffic means that you can get more leads to convert to sales.

Good SEO is a mix of creating high-quality content and technically setting up your content in an SEO-friendly way:

  • High-quality content: relevant content that brings value to the person who is reading it

  • SEO-friendly technical setup: content that is set up in a way for the little Google Spiders to be able to classify it and show it when it is relevant

Getting organic traffic through proper SEO of your site is great because it means that you can get new traffic (and leads/sales) without needing to pay for advertising.

How Do I Know If My SEO Is Good or Bad?

You need to assess how your SEO is doing before you know whether you need to make changes and adjustments to it. However, when you don't know much about SEO, it can be difficult to know whether your SEO is on point or if it needs to have some work.

This assessment can be done by using various tools that can help to analyze your website's SEO. We’ll be looking at some of the best options below. First, though, let’s look at the SEO Score and what it is.

The SEO Score

An SEO score is simply a measure of how well the technical aspects and UI (User Interface) elements of your website contribute to "good SEO" (Search Engine Optimization).

The ranking system is scored on a scale of 100 and is based on the elements that affect the performance and how easy it is for Google to crawl the site. The higher your SEO score on the scale, the better. Today, a good SEO score is between 80 and 100.

Remember, your site and pages don’t have to be perfect—although you may want to get them to be as good as they can be. What you want to aim for, though is to have them be better than what the competition is offering. This will make them more usable, and better for visitors, and it can help to improve your rankings (AKA showing closer to the top of Google for a specific keyword or group of keywords).

To determine your SEO score and the health of your site, you can use one or more of the tools discussed below.

Google Console

Google Console is a free service offered by Google that will help you to better maintain, monitor, and troubleshoot your site’s performance and presence for Google Search Results. This tool is meant to help you better understand how Google sees your site so you can improve it. This is a highly useful tool, and since it’s free, there’s no harm in checking it out.

Shopify/WooCommerce Analytics

Shopify and WooCommerce, two popular options for those starting eCommerce stores and sites, have some interesting SEO features.This includes analytics that can help you to get a better understanding of how your site is performing, and where it might be underperforming. This can provide insight into what needs to be done with SEO to improve quality—and ranking.


Ahrefs is my favorite SEO tool. It is a paid tool, but the benefits are worth it. The system provides an all-in-one SEO toolset that can provide a site audit, analyze competitor’s sites, and help you get a better understanding of what your customers are looking for with their Keywords Explorer. Ahrefs also allows you to track your ranking progress. You can see the differences in your ranking over time as you are making changes to your SEO strategy. Pretty cool!


SEMRUSH is another all-in-one option, but it can provide help with more than just SEO work. It also helps with content marketing, market research, advertising, social media, and more. The tools make it easy to analyze any domain’s backlink profile, you can run technical SEO results, track search engine results page positions daily, and more. This is a paid tool.


Moz is a high-quality SEO software that can provide site audits, rank tracking, backlink analysis, keyword research, and more. There are different SEO solutions available for various needs. The Moz team defines the tool as an all-in-one SEO platform and says that it provides the most accurate SEO data. They have some free SEO tools, as well as paid products that offer more features.

Other Plugins Made for Shopify and WooCommerce

When you choose platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, you get not only the tools that come with these platforms but also the option to install plugins. These plugins can provide you with a range of different benefits including tools to help improve and track your SEO. You can get a better understanding of your current ranking and how to improve it.

Take some time to check out all of the tools above once you have finished with this post. Then, choose a platform that can provide you with the insight and guidance you need to improve your SEO and rise through the search engine ranks.

What Is the Difference Between My Site’s Health and My Rank?

This is often a point of confusion for those who are new to SEO.

When you start to track your progress using tools like those above, you may see that your website’s health score is starting to improve, but your organic rank is not improving.

On the one hand, when you are using tools like Ahrefs, you are measuring the health of your site and crawling the site using their platform's ranking system - this is your "Site's Health."

On the other hand, after you make changes to your site, Google has to re-crawl the site and reindex the site on the Google platform - which is your "Organic Rank.'

How Can I Improve My SEO?

When it comes to improving your technical SEO, there are three main areas where you have to focus.

  • Technical SEO (Errors, Warnings, and Performance)

  • Content Quality

  • Backlinks

Let’s take a closer look at these.

Technical SEO (Errors, Warnings, and Performance)

If you want your site to rank well, first I would make sure that you have fixed all of the technical issues on your site.

Quite often, those who are using Shopify and WooCommerce sites tend to have fewer problems when it comes to this aspect of their SEO. However, those who have custom-built sites tend to run into more problems because sometimes designing the structure of the site sometimes allows for certain errors to slip through.


Some of the most common SEO technical errors include:

Pages Have Links to Broken Pages

You might have pages on your website that have links to other URLs. They might be internal links, or they could lead to external sites. However, when someone clicks on them, they don’t go to that page. Instead, they return a 404 or 410 HTTP response code. Simply put, these are broken links.

If a page has a broken link, what do you think it will do to the user experience on your site?

Visitors may get frustrated if they click on a link only to find out that it doesn’t work and that they can’t access the page they want. Even worse, sometimes the pages appear as broken links because something happened to the inventory or, internally, someone changed something in the product listing that made it show as unavailable, and you may be losing sales over it.

From a technical perspective, the broken links cause dead ends for the search engine crawlers which Google interprets as "this site is hard to navigate", lowering your rank. What you need to do is to remove the broken links from the pages or replace them with links that lead to active pages that have relevant information. It is also possible to set redirects for the moved or deleted pages.

Duplicate Pages without Specifying Canonical Version

One of the other technical errors that can occur is having pages that are duplicates of another page (for example, a page with both a mobile and a desktop version), or that have similar content and that don’t specify their canonical version.

Specifying the "canonical version" means specifying which of these duplicates of the same page should be indexed by Google.

You may want to remove those pages that have duplicate content and pick one page that will be the true, canonical page and keep it so that it can be indexed in the search results.

If you keep the other duplicate pages, be sure to add the main canonical page’s URL to the “rel=canonical” labeling on each of the pages that have duplicated content.

Related to the previous idea, you may want to make sure that all of the relevant pages are easily accessible. It’s also a good idea to make sure that all of the pages you want to be indexed and ranked have good, followed internal links.

Google Search Central says that it’s important for visitors to be able to find their way to your homepage (if they didn’t land there), and to find all of the content they need on your site.

There should always be a way for the user to get to the homepage and content from any pages they visit. They should never land on a page and become “stuck” on it. Creating a trail for the user to follow and having a good user interface (UI) helps to make it easier for users to know where they are on your site and how to navigate it.

Orphan Pages

These are pages that do not have any incoming internal links. When you don’t even have internal links coming to those pages from your site, it makes Google wary of them.

Google believes that you must not have any confidence in those pages since you are not seeing them as being valuable enough to link to.

It also means that visitors to your website will not be able to get to that page on any other page on your site. You may want to check out these orphan pages and choose to link them or dispose of them.

No Outgoing Links from a Page

Here is another of the common technical errors that so many websites tend to have.

If a page doesn’t have any outgoing links, it is considered a dead end. It’s not just a dead-end for the visitors who come to your site, but it is also a dead-end for the search engine crawlers.

It’s important to have links that go out from each of your pages. They can go to internal links, or they could head to external links.

You will want to check the website navigation, as well as your link architecture, so you can make sure that there aren’t any dead ends on your website.


Some of the common warnings that you might see on your site and that you may consider fixing include:

The Page Has Links to Redirects

If you have redirects to URLs on your website, it’s not as much of a problem as it will be for those who have redirects on external pages. Keep in mind that even if you have redirects to your own site, it’s still better to link directly to the destination page.

It is recommended that those who have redirects on external pages replace the links with direct links rather than keep the redirects. Although it might take some time, you can manually review the external redirecting URLs that link from your site. You want to be sure that the content that the page links to has relevant information for those visitors who click. If your redirects are not correct, it could end up hurting your website’s overall performance, and it could confuse some of your visitors.

Meta Description Issues

In some cases, you might have a meta description that is too long. Other times, you might have a meta description that is too short. You need it to be just right. It’s recommended that you keep your meta description between 110 and 160 characters—not words.

This will ensure that the snippet taken for Google, Facebook, etc. provides enough context for the content without being overly short or long. Also, remember to try to use keywords in your meta descriptions to help with SEO even more.

Title Length

Just as your meta description might be too short or too long, the same could be true of your title. Your title should be between 50 and 70 characters long. If the titles are too long, only part of the title will be shown in the search results. This means that the point of the article might not be clear on the search engine pages.

If they are too short, you are wasting potential. You want the title to indicate what people will get when they come to the page. Again, make sure you are putting some keywords or phrases in the title.


One of the other technical issues that you might run into is the performance of your site. Specifically, I am referring to how fast your page loads.

Keep in mind that each page will load at different speeds depending on the amount and type of content. Those that have images and elements can be slow to load if the images are not optimized.

Ideally, you will have your site load in less than 200 microseconds, which is considered fast. Medium speed would be between 200 and 300 microseconds. 300 to 500 microseconds is slow, and if the site takes longer than 500 microseconds, it is considered too slow.

In this Internet era, users are used to (and require) fast —instant in most cases—access to sites. If your pages are loading slowly, users (and potential customers) will leave your site.

SEO Optimized Content

Optimized content is content that is relevant to the user looking for an answer (or looking for a service or product with purchase intent).

Google uses a few key points to measure the relevance of your content. For example, relevant keywords repeated throughout your content, how long the user stays from the moment they click on your link, how many users bounce away from -abandon- your website (many bounces can mean too slow, broken link, or not relevant content).

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know exactly how many keywords to add without going overboard or without adding too few. Fortunately, there is a great tool that you can use to help make matters easier. is a great and easy-to-use tool that helps you to create better content faster than you might have thought possible. They even have a seven-day trial at the moment of writing, so you can get a better idea of how it works and whether it’s the right tool for you.

This tool helps you to add relevant keywords and titles as well as help with everything from content writing and optimization to content analytics. Using this tool can can really help improve the quality of your content.


Here’s something else that you need for your site. You need to have relevant backlinks that are pointing back to your site. The number of backlinks represents the number of times your website is promoted or referred to in other websites. Google interprets backlinks as "others are talking about you and your business so you must be relevant."

This is probably the most time-consuming part of the SEO optimization process since it requires outreach, connection building, and marketing efforts. Here are some ideas on how to get backlinks:

  • Backlinks could come organically from sites that want to link back to you because you have relevant content on your site.

  • Backlinks could also come through the use of affiliate marketing. If you have affiliates working to help sell your products or services, their sites will have links back to your site.

  • Additionally, you can connect with agencies that can connect you with relevant high-quality pages that they already have in their network. It can take some time to build your backlinks, but it is important if you want to rise on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

How Long Does It Take to Improve SEO?

There is no simple answer to this question, as improving your SEO will depend on the amount of time and resources you allocate to it in many cases. If you put in the time and work needed to make the changes to your content and site, then it will generally take between one and two months to fix the technical, performance, and errors on your site, so that your site starts to rank higher.

Keep in mind that for the changes to appear in Google and to achieve a higher ranking, it will take longer. Most experts say that it will generally take between six and twelve months to see results from the work you are doing. This is why SEO is considered a long-term investment in quality traffic rather than an immediate source of traffic and lead acqusition.

Tips to Rank Higher in SEO

What can you start doing to rank higher in SEO?

One of the most important things to focus on is your content. You need to create high-quality content that is right for your visitors.

You want it to be high quality content so people want to read it and engage with it. If it isn’t, they will leave your site quickly, and they might not return, which will hurt your SEO.

Never use clickbait to get people to your site. It will backfire on you.

Here are some other tips:

  • Always use SEO-optimized content with relevant keywords

  • Fix technical errors and clean up warnings

  • Make sure you have fast page speeds by compressing images and large files that could be slowing you down.

  • When creating content, focus on search queries and topics that aren’t oversaturated. Choose less populated keywords to help reduce the competition. Keywords with a search volume of between 2k and 10k a month tend to be the sweet spot. It means that you won’t have too much competition, but you are still using terms that are relevant to what people need.

Quick Tips to Convert SEO Traffic to Leads

Of course, you want more than just visitors. You want to make sure those visitors become customers. Here are some strategies you might want to implement.

  • Collect Emails - Add an email form at the top of your site's header and footer so your traffic can always join your email list.

  • Use Pop-Ups – Create some pop-ups and A/B test them to see what works best for your visitors. In my experience, exit intent pop-ups work better than having them appear when someone first comes to the page. Of couse, all audiences are different. Find what works for you.

  • Freebies – Have you considered offering something in exchange for an email address? This might be a discount, a free resource, a unique piece of content, or something else that will turn your traffic into leads.

  • Retarget! - Retarget the list you acquire with SEO using email marketing or paid advertising

A lot of work goes into SEO, but it’s necessary if you hope to compete in today’s digital world. The information and tips in this guide should help you start your journey.

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