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Search Engine Optimisation for Marketplaces

Search Engine Optimisation for Marketplaces

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Marketplaces have emerged as one of the fastest-growing sectors, and the competition is fierce. With so many marketplaces fighting for consumer attention, differentiating your business and attracting high-intent buyers can be challenging.

One of the critical aspects of marketplaces is how they approach supply and demand. Marketplaces need to attract both buyers and sellers to succeed. Without sellers, buyers have no reason to visit your marketplace, and without buyers, sellers have no reason to join. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem and one of the hardest hurdles for marketplaces to overcome.

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There are three main marketing channels to help solve the supply and demand problems: pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing (SMM) and search engine optimisation (SEO). These strategies can all help marketplaces with online visibility; however, PPC and SMM provide more short-term results.

On the other hand, marketplaces should use SEO for the long game. It’s not about quick wins or instant results. Instead, SEO builds a solid foundation that will serve your marketplace well into the future. Over time, the effects of SEO compound, meaning that the work you put in now will continue to pay dividends down the line. It’s the marketing channel that keeps on giving.

Successful marketplaces need to create and optimise an extensive range of product detail pages (PDPs), categories and blogs to attract traffic. You will also attract more supply if your supply side thinks you have demand.

SEO is a valuable growth channel that many marketplaces forget. This article will teach you about implementing targeted SEO strategies, such as creating specific categories and subcategories that align with user search intent so that you can attract high-intent buyers and sellers. We will also look at the use of long-tail keywords for driving more targeted traffic, resulting in higher conversion rates and sales. 

Why SEO Is Important for Marketplaces

Marketplaces are an incredibly interesting and dynamic landscape for SEO. A primary factor that makes marketplaces interesting is the high volume of supply and demand. Marketplaces typically offer a large variety of products or services, making them a go-to destination for customers looking to purchase. By offering a broad selection of products or services, marketplaces attract a wide range of customers, increasing the potential for high traffic volume and customers.

Using dimensions and filters is another aspect that makes marketplaces a goldmine for SEO. Dimensions and filters help customers narrow their search results, making it easier to find what they are looking for. For example, a customer searching for a pair of shoes can filter their search results by brand, colour, size, or price. This is not only helpful for the customer, but it also provides an opportunity for SEO optimisation. By including relevant keywords in the dimensions and filters, marketplaces can increase the visibility of their products or services in search engine results pages (SERPs). Just check out the ASOS site to get some ideas on how to successfully organise filtering.

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Marketplaces that offer helpful and informative content to customers are also a great SEO opportunity. By providing product reviews, buying guides, and other valuable content, marketplaces can establish themselves as a trustworthy source of information for customers. The property marketplace OnTheMarket does this well by creating dedicated sections on their site to house guides and testimonials. This helps increase customer loyalty, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth marketing. From an SEO perspective, helpful content can also improve search rankings by providing a better user experience and improving the website’s overall quality.

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The sheer number of options available in a marketplace is another factor that makes them interesting for SEO. Marketplaces offer a vast selection of products or services, providing ample opportunities to target specific keywords and phrases. This allows marketplaces to optimise their product/service descriptions, titles, and other metadata to target specific search queries. By targeting long-tail keywords and niche product categories, marketplaces can attract highly targeted traffic and improve their search rankings.

Marketplaces are also a great fit for SEO due to the technical considerations and the size of the sites. For example:

  • Marketplaces are typically large sites with a wide range of products and categories, making them ideal for SEO.
  • Large sites offer more opportunities for keyword targeting and content creation, which can drive traffic and improve rankings.
  • Marketplaces often have user-generated content, such as reviews and ratings, which can boost search visibility and provide valuable social proof.
  • Marketplaces can take advantage of long-tail keywords, which are less competitive and more specific to their products and categories.
  • The technical aspects of SEO, such as site structure and mobile responsiveness, are a good fit for marketplaces due to their size and complexity.
  • Marketplaces can implement structured data and rich snippets to enhance search results and provide more useful information to potential customers.
  • As marketplaces grow, they can benefit from implementing more advanced SEO strategies, such as international SEO and voice search optimisation.

Marketplace Keyword Research and Strategy

Anyone with a basic understanding of online marketing knows that keywords are vital for being found on search engines. However, many marketplaces make the mistake of trying to rank for the same keywords. When multiple marketplaces try to rank for the same keywords, they can end up cannibalising each other’s traffic. This results in a lower click-through rate and diminished authority for each marketplace, ultimately leading to lower conversion rates.

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Marketplaces should take proactive measures to avoid the negative impact of keyword cannibalisation. The best way to do so is by building topical authority by creating unique, high-quality content utilising long-tail keywords across multiple pages. In fact, 70% of search traffic comes from long-tail keywords and contrary to popular belief, using long-tail keywords does not necessarily result in a significant drop in traffic volume. The decrease is often only 2x or 3x and results in much higher conversion rates.

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The importance of long-tail keywords cannot be overstated, especially for marketplaces. Long-tail keywords are more specific and targeted than generic ones, which are more likely to drive high-quality, high-intent traffic to your marketplace. Users searching for long-tail keywords are often further down the purchase funnel and more likely to convert. 

Marketplaces are the perfect place to see the results of long-tail keyword targeting in action, with many users searching for specific products or services that fit their needs. Viktor Bartak, Head of SEO at NUOPTIMA, provides this useful example to explain how to target long-tail keywords:

“Say there is a marketplace for hiring private chefs. Instead of focusing solely on keywords like ‘private chef’, ‘hire chef’ or ‘chef price’, include these dimensions in long-tail form. This means your focus should be on targeting long-tail keywords like ‘BBQ private chef London and ‘how much does a personal chef cost.’ These specific keyword phrases indicate that the user is looking for a specific type of product or service and is more likely to be interested in making a purchase.” 

Source: Report from Ahrefs

By targeting long-tail keywords, marketplaces can generate more targeted traffic, which leads to a higher conversion rate and more sales. Moreover, long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive than general ones, making it easier for marketplaces to rank high on SERPs. Long-tail keywords can also target local customers, which is crucial for marketplaces with a strong presence in a specific region.

Online behaviour on marketplaces is highly dependent on their search intent. Customers come to marketplaces to find products or services they are interested in and usually have a clear idea of what they want to buy, but their search for the product or service usually begins on Google. Understanding how consumers behave before making a purchase on a marketplace is essential for creating an effective SEO strategy. 

By targeting long-tail keywords, marketplaces can attract high buying intent traffic to their website, which is more likely to result in a conversion. Research by Ahrefs shows that long-tail keywords make up 70% of all searches. Ultimately, long-tail keywords are essential for increasing visibility, driving more traffic, and increasing sales. 

The Role of Categories in SEO

For marketplaces, categories play a central role in attracting the right kind of traffic. Marketplace categories organise products or services into specific groups to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. These categories can be broad, such as legal services or clothing, or more specific, such as family law or shoes. Marketplace categories help streamline customers’ buying process and improve the overall user experience.

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By creating categories that align with the buyer’s search intent, you can increase the chances of appearing in the top SERPs and attract more visitors to your marketplace. Marketplaces that structure their sites around the buyer journey help customers quickly and easily find what they are looking for. In addition, categories serve as a roadmap for visitors, helping them navigate the site and make informed purchase decisions. When categories match a customer’s search intent, they are more likely to stay on your site, explore further and make a purchase.

Although category-based SEO strategies are widely used in online marketplaces, not all lead to success. In some cases, they can backfire, resulting in lost traffic, lower rankings, and, ultimately, decreased sales. One common mistake that online marketplaces make is creating too many categories, making it difficult for customers to navigate the site. For example, Craigslist (classified ads website) relies heavily on categories but has designed it in an unattractive way that turns into a logistical headache for users trying to find what they are looking for.

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Another common issue is creating duplicate content across different categories. This can confuse search engines and hurt the site’s overall ranking. For example, a fashion marketplace creates separate categories for men’s and women’s shoes, but many of the same shoes are listed in both categories, resulting in duplicate content. As a result, the site’s search engine ranking suffers, leading to lost traffic and decreased sales. This can be a common problem for large marketplaces. For example, Wish has updated its seller policies to ban duplicate product listings. Some other marketplaces, like Amazon and Facebook marketplace, allow sellers to merge listings to avoid duplication. 

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A key lesson learned from successful category-based SEO strategies is the importance of aligning categories with search intent. Another lesson is to create unique and informative content for each category and subcategory. This can help to improve the overall user experience and keep visitors on your site for longer. When it comes to avoiding mistakes, it’s essential to regularly review your categories and ensure they still align with the buyer journey and search intent.

By structuring your site around the buyer journey and providing relevant content and products or services at each stage, you can improve your chances of making a sale. Top marketplaces use categories effectively, and by learning from their strategies and avoiding mistakes, you can optimise your categories and improve your SEO performance.

The Importance of Content and Pages for SEO

Having high-quality content is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. But it’s not just about creating content for the sake of it. The content you create needs to be strategically planned and targeted to help improve your SEO and drive traffic to your site.

First, let’s look at the data. According to research, organic search is responsible for over 53% of website traffic. This means that if you’re not investing in SEO, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your marketplace. And creating content is a big part of that.

By creating more content, you can build up your topical authority, making it more likely that your pages will rank higher in search results. This is particularly important for marketplaces, where there can be a lot of competition for certain search terms.

But it’s not just about creating any old content. The content you create needs to be high-quality, targeted to your audience and include information about the listings you have. This means understanding your target audience and creating unique content that speaks to their needs and interests.

For example, Etsy has a blog that features articles on a range of topics related to artisan crafts and DIY. By creating this content, Etsy is not only providing value to its customers but also increasing its topical authority for these types of searches. Another example is Airbnb, which has created a range of city guides for destinations around the world. Through this content, Airbnb is not only providing value to its customers but also positioning itself as an expert on travel and local destinations.

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To create content and pages that will convert, you need to consider the different stages of the buyer journey. Here are the three main stages in the customer journey we need to consider when looking at content and pages for SEO:

  1. Learning Stage – Buyers are looking for information about a specific product or service. Long-form content like articles work best at this stage.
  1. Browsing Stage – They want to compare the different options, so a well-designed list page is what they will most likely find helpful.
  1. Buying Stage –  When the customer is ready to buy, they will need a product page with simple payment options.

By providing relevant content and page structure at each stage, you can guide customers along the buyer journey and improve your chances of making a sale. In addition, creating high-quality content can also help attract natural backlinks, which are an important factor in SEO. When other websites link to your content, it signals to Google that your content is relevant and valuable. This can help improve your search rankings, drive more traffic to your site and increase your conversion rates.

Data of a NUOPTIMA client showing projected traffic and customer results from just nine months of SEO investment

Look to examples of top marketplaces to see how they’ve successfully used content to drive traffic and take a strategic approach to your content creation to see the best results.

Don’t Forget Local SEO

When your marketplace is primarily serving a specific geographical region, it becomes crucial to concentrate on local SEO. Local SEO refers to the process of optimising your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. People in your local community are looking for the products and services you offer, and local SEO helps them find you.

Local SEO is not just for small businesses. Larger marketplaces with a specific geographical focus have benefited from local SEO – take Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Varagesale, for example. It’s about connecting with your local audience by improving your visibility in the area you serve. This is particularly important in today’s digital age, as most people turn to search engines to find products and services.

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Here are some tips on how to optimise for local search:

  • Google Business Profile: Start by creating or claiming your Google Business Profile. This is a free tool that allows you to promote your business profile and website on Google Search and Maps. With your account, you can connect with customers, post updates to your profile, and see how customers interact with your business on Google.
  • Local Keywords: Incorporate local keywords into your website’s metadata, URL, headers, and content. For instance, if you’re a car marketplace with a large audience in London, you might use keywords like ‘cars for sale in London’ or ‘car leasing in London’.
  • Online Directories: Ensure your business is listed in online directories, such as Yelp and Yellow Pages. These directories often rank well in search results, and having your business listed can help improve your visibility. Make sure your information is consistent across all directories.
  • Reviews and Ratings: Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings on your Google Business Profile and other review sites. Positive reviews can improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.
  • Localised Content: Create content that is relevant to the local area you serve. This could be blog posts about local tips, news, or other relevant topics. Localised content can help you rank for local search terms and attract a local audience.
  • Mobile Optimisation: Many local searches are done on mobile devices, so it’s essential that your website is mobile-friendly. A mobile-optimised site can improve user experience and help you rank higher in search results.

By focusing on local SEO, you can reach a highly targeted local audience and improve your visibility in local search results. This can lead to increased buyer traffic, more interest from sellers, and, ultimately, more sales.

Marketplaces Dominating SEO

The major marketplaces dominating SEO and attracting huge traffic volume include Rightmove, Alibaba, Airbnb,, and Enloya. Here are some of the better-known marketplaces which are heavily relying on SEO to drive traffic to their sites:

#NameIndustryOrganic TrafficPaid Traffic
1AmazonConsumer & Business Products943,000,00016,000,000
2EtsyHand-Made Consumer Products253,000,000222,000
3SheinFast Fashion55,000,0006,600,000
4RightmoveSale & Rental Properties35,200,000510,000
5AirbnbHome Rentals15,800,0004,700,000
7Just EatOnline Food Delivery11,800,00024,500
8UberPrivate & Shared Taxi Services10,900,00044,700
10AvvoLegal Services417,000185,000

Estimated monthly traffic volume based on data between February 2022 and February 2023 from Ahrefs.

eBay is one of the world’s most successful marketplaces and reportedly made a whopping $2.540 billion for the quarter ending June 30, 2023. And as we can see from the data below, eBay has, on average, 46.5 million organic traffic each month. This equates to a traffic value of $283 million.

Most marketplaces are not going to be pulling in the sample numbers like eBay, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t space for the smaller players. There are some niches you can dominate, plus not all buyers or sellers want to use faceless giant providers.

A great example of a small successful niche marketplace is Teachable. It is a platform for freelancers to sell their knowledge and experience to people wanting to learn new skills. Through SEO, Teachable gets an average of 408,000 traffic every month, which has a value of $874,000. 

When looking at their top-performing pages, we can see that their blogs pull in a lot of visitors. They do a great job at covering topics their target market is searching for. For example, they have written high-value pieces on business ideas for women, how much Youtube pays, and how to go live on TikTok. These are all popular topics new entrepreneurs are searching for.

How to Implement SEO for Marketplaces

Optimising your marketplace for SEO can be an overwhelming task. However, by following some simple steps, you can ensure that your marketplace ranks high on search engines and drives organic traffic to your site. Here’s a basic guide to implementing SEO for marketplaces.

Optimising Categories

  • Ensure that category names are descriptive and fit the search intent
  • Include relevant keywords in the category name and description
  • Keep the number of categories to a minimum to avoid duplication and confusion
  • Add relevant tags and subcategories to help users navigate your site

Optimising Products or Services

  • Write unique product descriptions that contain relevant keywords
  • Include high-quality images and videos that showcase your product
  • Enable user-generated reviews to increase social proof and improve search engine rankings

Optimising Content

  • Create helpful and informative content that attracts natural backlinks
  • Write articles that cover industry trends and provide value to your users
  • Include internal links to help users navigate your site and increase time on the page
  • Add social sharing buttons to encourage users to share your content

Tracking and Measuring Success

  • Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track the performance of your site and identify areas for improvement
  • Monitor your site’s search engine rankings and identify keywords that are driving traffic to your site
  • Use tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to track backlinks and analyse your competitors’ SEO strategies

By optimising your categories, products or services, and content for search engines, you can improve your search engine rankings, drive organic traffic to your site, and increase your revenue. To maximise your marketplace’s SEO potential, seek the help of experts like NUOPTIMA.

Common Objections to Investing in Marketplace SEO

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Investing in SEO can be a daunting decision for marketplaces, especially for those just starting out or unfamiliar with the technical aspects of SEO. Some marketplaces are unaware that SEO is even a good growth channel. Many marketplaces focus on immediate results and go down the paid advertising route. While it is true that pay-per-click  (PPC) is a great short-term channel, over time, ads become more costly, and when you stop spending on ads, the traffic drops resulting in the marketplace not having any customers.

Here are some common objections we hear:

SEO ObjectionsCounter Argument
SEO is a long-term investment, and we need quick results.It is true that SEO is a long-term strategy, but it is also an investment with an asymmetric return. Over time, a well-optimised website can generate a continuous stream of organic traffic and revenue.
SEO is too technical to handle in-house.This is a valid concern, but there are many online resources and tools that can help businesses get started. Hiring an SEO agency, such as NUOPTIMA, can also provide the technical expertise needed to implement a successful SEO strategy.
The site is already optimised for search engines.SEO is an ongoing process, and there is always room for improvement. Continually optimising a website can help marketplace owners keep up with the constantly evolving search algorithms and stay ahead of the competition.
Our focus is on social media and paid advertising, not SEO.While these strategies are important, it is crucial to remember that SEO can be a cost-effective way to drive high buying intent traffic. SEO is essential for marketplaces to generate organic traffic and revenue.

Every marketplace can crack SEO with the right strategy and tools. While it can be a challenging process, the potential benefits are well worth the effort. SEO is a capital investment that has an asymmetric return and can generate a continuous stream of organic traffic and revenue.

Data of a NUOPTIMA client showing projected ROI results that can be achieved in under a year.

What Does an SEO Company Do?

Unlike other SEO agencies, we have first-hand experience creating and running a successful online marketplace. We built Europe’s largest CBD marketplace and became the go-to place for trustworthy and effective CBD products that go beyond oil and vapes.

SEO marketing growth agency specialising in helping marketplaces dominate SEO. Our team of experts can help you implement SEO best practices, track and measure the success of your SEO efforts, and optimise your site for maximum performance.

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By implementing targeted SEO strategies, such as creating more specific categories and subcategories that align with user search intent, we increased our marketplace traffic by 552%. Alphagreen also successfully launched the largest-ever crowdfunding raise in the CBD and medical cannabis space, which would not have been possible without the benefits SEO provided.
Effective SEO can bring your marketplace excellent results when executed correctly by qualified professionals. The NUOPTIMA team has the expertise and hands-on experience needed to make your marketplace website successful and profitable. Schedule a free discovery call with our team today.

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