When you need to generate high-quality leads online, there’s no better strategy than Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Especially for ecommerce businesses, where better quality traffic results in more sales. 

In the fiercely competitive space of ecommerce SEO, this is easier said than done. That’s because search engines are constantly rewriting the rules of the game. This means strategies continually need to be rewritten too, to remain visible to customers and their wallets.

Google’s latest tweak to its algorithm, the “helpful content update“, has the potential to impact the visibility of all online businesses that want to be seen by its 4.3 billion global users.

eComplete insights delves deeper into why SEO is still critical for ecommerce companies today and how recent changes from the world’s biggest search engine may impact your bottom line. Read on to learn more.

Why is SEO so important for ecommerce?

Driving traffic to your online store provides the ability for your business to make sales and generate profit. It’s that simple. Ecommerce businesses rely on a concentrated flow of new customers and repeat buyers. Without any of these, your online store will not grow.  

In fact, 39% of ecommerce traffic comes from searches made online. Using it for your business is therefore critical. SEO provides the best return on investment of any marketing tactic too. This could be as high as 748% in some cases.

However, ecommerce success isn’t just about what you sell. It also has a lot to do with the authority and trust you build with search engines. By following their guidelines and providing quality content that customers want to see, you increase the likelihood of searchers being sent your way.

If ecommerce businesses practice SEO effectively, they can not only gain suitable customers, but also see the lifetime value of these customers to their businesses grow too. A great experience begets repeat business, after all.

To do this effectively requires an understanding of what search engines are looking for in an ecommerce store. Hence the importance of delving deeper into Google and gaining a better insight into its secret recipe: its algorithm.

Why are algorithm changes important in ecommerce?

Google’s goal is to offer the most appropriate results for users to find what they’re looking for. If it fails to do this, just like any business, its customers will go elsewhere.

The more relevant and user-friendly your online content, the more likely your online platform is to be placed higher in Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page). To ensure this is achievable, Google periodically changes the way it assesses content.

Spending time and energy optimising a product listing or collection page could be rendered meaningless, especially if algorithm changes eliminate ranking factors which have previously worked for your business.

Only Google knows how its algorithm works and to what extent it may impact your online store, but we know that every tweak focuses on providing searchers with the best possible search results. 

In the past, we’ve seen rankings of ecommerce sites downgraded for:

  • Not being mobile-friendly

  • Having slow page load speeds

  • Using irrelevant search terms 

  • Employing poor website structure and design

It’s therefore important for ecommerce platforms that employ SEO to be prepared to tweak and sometimes overhaul various areas of a website to meet everchanging ranking signals.

Every algorithm update varies in its impact on future SEO best practices, which is why it’s profitable to take notice. Especially if you’re a business which relies on SEO for the bulk of your income. 

What is the Google helpful content update?

Google’s latest algorithm update rolled out on August 25th 2022 and is still being phased in at the time of writing. The search giant said the update will “tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people”.

In other words, website content designed solely to rank highly, but not created to “help” searchers find what they’re looking for, is now in the crosshairs. A long-held complaint by searchers is not being able to achieve their goal – whether that be finding the answers to their questions, or locating a video that demonstrates technical know-how.   

This update – although it’s difficult to speculate to what extent – seeks to promote websites which create content that is “people first” and provides a “satisfying experience”.

How can ecommerce businesses prepare for Google’s helpful content update?

How ecommerce businesses can prepare for this update remains to be seen. It’s important that ecommerce businesses continue to follow good SEO practices, such as: 

  • No overstuffing of keywords

  • Provide expert knowledge in the authenticity of products and services 

  • Limit poor user experiences

An expertly written product review is great if it answers typical customer queries, for instance. But a review that includes a photo or even a visual demonstration of it may enhance and complete the experience. Focusing on “people-first” content in this way could be greatly rewarded.  

Google provides a hint in its new guidelines which the ecommerce space would be wise to follow. Optimising content, whether that be product descriptions or page titles, should match the “existing or intended audience for your business or site.”

Interestingly, some examples of what may be considered “unhelpful content” and should be avoided per the update, include: 

  • Using excessive automation to produce content on various topics 

  • Summarising the content of others without providing additional value 

  • Promising to answer a query that has no actual answer - like a release date for a product when one does not exist

If online businesses continue to focus on creating and providing satisfying ecommerce experiences for customers, as well as delivering expert information that searchers are looking for, this should meet the searcher satisfaction Google wants.

In turn, not only will this enhance your authority with the world’s largest search engine, it will also greatly enhance what SEO has always been best at doing for ecommerce businesses: converting leads into engaged customers.


SEO is vital for ecommerce businesses operating today. The rules of SEO are always being rewritten, so it’s crucial you ensure your business can adapt.

Ecommerce SEO has always been about fine-tuning products for both search engines and customers. Google’s new helpful content update, however, is likely to reward websites that focus on people-first content. 

Providing a superior user experience to that of your competition is likely to be better rewarded with greater rankings, but to what extent remains to be seen.

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