In the past, we’ve talked about how important Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization is for local and small businesses. If you want to drive traffic and leads to your company online, then you need a competent SEO strategy (or a competent search engine firm).

But while local search optimization is important for businesses of all kinds, from roofers to dentists, search engine optimization services are doubly important for e-commerce companies. Search Engine Journal recently posted a new feature on this exact topic, and it contains some helpful SEO strategies for e-commerce companies that are getting buried in the rankings.

Simply put, there’s just too much at stake. The U.S. Department of Commerce just reported that e-commerce sales reached $341.7 billion last year, a major increase year-over-year. And since 44% of online shoppers will start their purchase with a search engine, that’s where you need to be. Mostly, that means optimizing for Google, as Google consistently holds at least 65-70% of the search engine market.

So how can e-commerce companies increase visibility with SEO? What are some of the best SEO strategies for e-commerce companies in 2016?

1. Improve Your Keyword Research

SEJ’s first piece of advice for e-commerce companies is simple: keyword research. Many people mistakenly believe this means identifying the search terms with the highest volume. Instead, our search engine firm focuses on the keywords that are most likely to convert. Keywords that signal consumer intent, like “buy dvd player,” are far more likely to result in a conversion than someone searching “dvd players.” Likewise, long tail keywords can be an important part of your keyword optimization strategy.

And according to SEJ, “Long-tail keywords are longer (26-40 characters) and typically a more specific version of the head term. For example, “bed sheets that keep you cool”. While long-tail keywords drive lower traffic volumes and impressions, I do see a higher pattern of clicks and conversions when compared to head terms.”

2. Onsite SEO: Analyze Your Online Store’s Architecture

Too often, our Arizona SEO firm faces an uphill battle because of an overeager web developer who built a flashy online store. This store might have gorgeous graphics and a next-level user interface, but because it wasn’t built to increase visibility with SEO, no one can actually find this incredible online store.

If you want your e-commerce site to rank on key terms, then it’s not enough to have a sophisticated online store. You still need content on your site that’s optimized for your keywords. So, for instance, if your online store is all contained within one webpage or URL, and all of your product descriptions are contained within this Java or Flash widget, then Google’s search crawlers won’t be scanning that content.

You’ll need to build distinct webpages for each major product or service you offer, then optimize that content for the keywords you’re targeting.

3. Avoid 404’s

For some reason, e-commerce sites tend to collect 404 errors. And if you want to hurt your page’s ability to rank on Google, this is a sure-fire way to do that. There are some online tools designed to help you find 404 pages, or you can hire an experienced search engine firm to help clean out your back end.

4. Offsite SEO: Digital Marketing in the SEO Era

There’s only so much you can do with onsite search engine optimization. Eventually, you’ll need to find ways to attract incoming links to your site. There’s no single way to do this either. For many e-commerce companies, pay-per-click advertising is a natural fit. However, we know that 70-80% of users ignore those PPC ads for organic search results, and PPC won’t help you with link building or social media attention. That’s why our professional SEO company focuses on a multi-modal approach to SEO and online marketing.

Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list of SEO for e-commerce companies, but it’s a solid foundation. This guide assumes that you already have a mobile optimized site, because we know that 51% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a responsive mobile site.

For more advanced SEO strategies, you may need to find a search engine firm with experience helping e-commerce companies succeed.