Keyword Research and Collection SEO

First, research your keywords and consider your collection’s keyword targeting.

Most collection pages on your site should have an individual main keyword the page focuses on. You want to think through this and decide which pages are targeting which keywords.

Speaking from personal experience, if you don’t plan this out (or map it out in a spreadsheet), it’s way too easy to end up duplicating your work, creating multiple pages, and targeting the same keyword multiple times across multiple pages.

You can make a copy of my Collection Keyword Map spreadsheet here:

Make a copy of the Keyword Map at the link below. Then, for your SEO priority collections, list out the relevant details (i.e., main keyword, page URL, SEO title, headline, description). This way, it’s easier to manage your keyword targeting over time.

You want to think about pages and keywords matching up one-to-one.

This page targets this main keyword, in particular, in a 1-to-1 relationship.

That’s an oversimplification but a useful one. In reality, your collection pages will end up targeting (and ranking for) a range of related keywords because of secondary keywords.

Secondary keywords and SEO

A collection that’s targeting a primary keyword (link ‘Handmade Kitchen Knives’) will end up also ranking for various secondary keywords (like ‘custom kitchen knives’ or ‘handmade cooking knives’) due to content on the page in the collection’s title, headline, collection description, and product titles.

You can also intentionally target secondary keywords with a collection page. You might optimize for those keywords with the collection description, SEO title, and product titles on a collection.

Whatever secondary keywords you target should be related to the primary keyword for the collection.

Examples of Secondary Keywords

  • Let’s say we’ve got a collection handmade-kitchen-knives.
  • The main keyword for that collection is Handmade Kitchen Knives
  • Secondary keywords: Chef’s Knives, Handmade Carbon Knives, Paring Knives, Boning Knives

Including a few secondary keywords in the collection description, product titles, and SEO title of this collection page will be optimized for and rank for those secondary terms, in addition to ranking for the main keyword.

Pro Tip: Keep collections separate (don’t mix collections)

For example, if you sell “Wool Hats” and “Wool Gloves,” you want to have two separate collections, one for each product type.

Mixing and matching collections isn’t the best idea. Google gets confused, says, “Is this a collection about hats? And about gloves? I’m not sure about that,” and then goes home to lay down and rest.

For best results, keep collections separate—this collection targets this keyword in particular.

One important note. The products can be the same or overlap entirely in separate collections, and the collection keyword targeting can be different. For example,

  • Collection #1 targets the keyword ‘handmade kitchen knives’ and has 20 handmade kitchen knives, 12 of which are carbon.
  • Collection #2 targets the keyword ‘handmade carbon kitchen knives’ and has 12 handmade carbon kitchen knives in it.

That’s an excellent approach to creating multiple collections to target multiple relevant niche keywords and one that I encourage.

How to refine your keywords — and why lower traffic, niche, and specific is better than generic and high-traffic

You’re much better off targeting lower-traffic, more niche keywords (like ‘handmade kitchen knives’ or ‘handmade carbon kitchen knives’) than more generic, higher-traffic terms (like ‘kitchen knives’ or ‘knives’).

Why is that? Because those higher-traffic terms are a) much more competitive, b) most likely much less relevant to many of the searchers.

By targeting smaller, more niche, lower-traffic terms — what SEOs and marketers call ‘long-tail’ terms — you’ll be setting yourself up for success in your SEO efforts.

Picking a keyword of three, four, or even five+ words is a great way to decrease the potential search traffic but increase the relevance and the conversion rate.

For example, the ~65,000 people searching for ‘knives’ are looking for a vast range of things, only a few of which are handmade carbon kitchen knives. Even if this knife store could rank #1 for ‘knives,’ they’d see an incredibly low conversion rate from that traffic because what they’re offering isn’t relevant.

However, the ~390 people searching for ‘buy handmade kitchen knives’ this month are all in the mood to buy what this knife store is selling. If they could rank #1 for that long-tail term, they’d likely see an incredibly high conversion rate.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are search queries that get a small number of monthly searches, and they tend to be longer and more specific than their generic ‘head counterparts.

For example:

  • The keyword “knives” is a ‘head’ (short and generic) term that gets ~60,500 searches each month and is very difficult to rank for.
  • The keyword “handmade kitchen knives” is a long-tail term that only gets ~390 searches each month and is easier to rank for.

There’s no absolute keyword volume that says, ‘this is a long-tail keyword.’ It’s all about the ‘head’ term.

Why are long-tail keywords important?

In general:

  • Long-tail keywords are a lot less competitive

Because there are so many more long-tail keywords than head keywords, fewer people are targeting the long-tail keywords. You can likely rank well for those less competitive searches that are getting a few hundred searches each month.

  • Long-tail keywords are easier to address

Creating content for long-tail keywords typically takes less work than for head keywords. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and easier to address, and creating content for these long-tail keywords may take less work.

  • There are LOTS of long-tail keywords.

While individual keywords may be just for a trickle of a dozen or hundred visitors each month, in aggregate, these keywords can drive a lot of relevant traffic.

Why are long-tail keywords great in combination with collections?

Because you can easily:

  • Pick five relevant long-tail keywords 
  • Create a collection to target each keyword 
  • Stock each collection with the same (or similar) products

Let’s think back to our kitchen store example. There are several long-tail keywords they could target:

  • Handmade Kitchen Knives
  • Handmade Boning Knives
  • Handmade Parring Knives
  • Handmade Carbon Kitchen Knives

Each of those keywords could be the primary keyword for separate collections. And each collection page could carry a similar range (or sub-set) of products.

One collection page would target ‘handmade kitchen knives.’ Another would target ‘handmade boning knives.’ And so on. 

How can you discover potential long-tail keywords for your collections? (Free and paid tools.)

There are a few places you can look for ideas and inspiration for keywords:

  1. See where you’re already ranking. I like using Google’s free Search Console to see where my collections or pages across my site are already ranking.
  2. Use paid tools to explore keywords. I like using SEMRush to explore potential keywords. (You can get a free 7-day trial to SEMRush over here.)
  3. Use free tools to explore keywords. I like using Keywords Everywhere for inspiration on keywords or to identify related + relevant long-tail keywords for a head term.
  4. Use paid tools to see where your competitors are ranking for keywords. I love using SEMRush to see where my competitors are ranking. I’ll look at my competitors’ collection pages, identify primary and secondary keywords, and use them in my SEO content creation. (You can get a free 7-day trial to SEMRush over here.)

If you want a collection to rank for a keyword, you need to do these four things.

  • Decide on a relevant keyword to target with that collection page.
  • Avoid having more than one collection page targeting the same keyword.
  • Refine your keyword from general head terms towards a more-specific long-tail term as your main keyword
  • Optimize your collection for your main keyword and any relevant secondary keywords

How do you optimize the collection’s SEO? It’s about creating content on that collection page targeting that main keyword. And creating that content is what you learn about in the following chapters.

Now that you’ve finished reading this chapter on collection SEO, you can:

Read the previous chapter

Introduction to Collection SEO

Read the next chapter

The Collection ‘SEO Title’

Or you can jump to one of these reader-favorite chapters:

If you want help growing your Shopify store, I encourage you to check out my Shopify SEO + Growth services.

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