Marketplaces and SEO in e-commerce

Autor Jens Lindemann Jens Lindemann

Here you can learn what role marketplaces play in e-commerce in general. Specific characteristics, possibilities for search engine optimization and digital marketing on online marketplaces are described.

Digital marketplaces continue to play an essential and growing role in the e-commerce industry. Many marketplaces function according to similar principles as search engines and are therefore also interesting from the perspective of search engine optimization (SEO). This blog article presents some important and general aspects to consider when integrating your products into marketplaces.

Online marketplace: the general meaning and important features

If one is interested in a certain product category, concrete product alternatives and the associated costs are two decisive factors for a purchase decision. But where do potential customers look up product offers and corresponding prices in general?

There is still the analogue possibility of visiting different specialized shops and comparing products analogously. Alternatively, there are product catalogues or trade directories that can be found in digital or analogue form. A third option is various digital sales platforms where users can find products. This option has gained importance in recent years. There are various terms for them that can be used largely synonymously: Sales portal, marketplace, digital marketplace, or online sales platform.

An online marketplace is generally defined by the fact that there is a digital platform with a high number of trades and a high number of customers. A decisive characteristic is that there is direct competition between competitors with comparable products. Many marketplaces are also set up internationally so that it is easy to be directly compared with products from abroad. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. 

Therefore, there are sales platforms that have more of a B2C (business-to-customer), B2B (business-to-business) or C2C (customer-to-customer) focus.

Overall, it should be noted that marketplaces are one element among several strategically coordinated digital marketing channels. Marketplaces are part of off-page optimisation and can lead to an increase in indirect sales in addition to brand awareness.

Online marketplaces as one of the digital marketing channels


Another important feature is that the business model of marketplaces is usually based on commissions. These can sometimes differ quite significantly between different product categories. 

But this should not automatically be a deterrent. The importance of marketplaces for e-commerce must be considered very important simply because of the high number of millions of active users. Many use a marketplace as a tool for digital shopping, and therefore, the integration into a digital sales platform helps to make your products easier to find.

Theoretical aspects and selection of digital marketplaces

In addition to the practical points such as product dispatch and ensuring capacities for marketplace issues in one’s own company, perhaps structural aspects are also interesting before implementing a marketplace integration. We notice these arguments in the discussion about the role of marketplaces: 

  • The risk of information overboard must be navigated

The current development of digitalisation of almost all areas of life leads to ubiquitous digital networking and an extremely high total number of digitally sold products. In the area of digital marketplaces, this can lead to a flood of information. Therefore, it can theoretically happen that a product, despite its competitiveness and existing purchasing power, becomes difficult to see and is remembered less by users. Therefore, we recommend active and long-term support of the products on marketplaces.

  • Different application areas of platforms

Different marketplaces also have different purposes and are designed accordingly. They can differ significantly in terms of product segments, target markets, or even the structure of product integration requirements. This has an impact on the digital options available for optimisation.

  • Algorithmic management power lies in the realm of the platform

The central mechanism for a market organization on the platforms is an algorithm. As a rule, neither traders nor users have full access to the underlying software architecture. There is therefore an inherent asymmetry of information that has to be accepted when using the platforms and which leads to a kind of ‘account power’ of the market-organizing website. This has enormous business potential because this structure brings together a very large number of non-uniform market players. However, this structure also involves the risk of dependency.

Sources and recommended reading:

Toefilus et al. (2020): A study of Indonesian Online Marketplace

Briedies (2022): Moving past friend or foe: How to win with digital marketplaces

Ahrne & Brunsson (2019): Organization outside Organizations

Which online marketplaces are there and how do I choose a suitable platform? 

In the European market, the two most important marketplaces are AMAZON with its sales interface Amazon Seller Central and eBay. This is due to the significantly larger user and turnover figures compared to all competing platforms.

Annual turnover of European marketplaces in 2021

Source: EXPANDO global

Nevertheless, there are important country-specific marketplaces. Examples are Allegro in Poland, Alza and Mall in the Czech Republic, Galaxus in Switzerland, or Kaufland with an expanded marketplace offering in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Facebook Marketplace is also a much-used application.

A suitable platform should fit one’s own brand identity and target market. Furthermore, from a technical perspective, it must be ensured that the product data feed is compatible with the offered interfaces of the marketplace provider according to current standards. Other criteria for the selection can be the available options for search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital advertising on the different marketplaces.

What SEO options are there on Marketplaces?

Similar to general search engines, there are also an indefinite number of ranking factors on marketplaces that decide which products are displayed for certain search terms. The possibilities to actively and positively influence this allocation in the sense of one’s products vary from marketplace to marketplace.

SEO-relevant options include:

  • Keyword optimisation: Product name and product description should be formulated as precisely as possible and cover a large number of product-related terms.
  • Platform requirements for text length and text character: Many marketplaces have precise ideas about what text length, and what kind of descriptions or headlines are ideal.
  • Number and quality of images: The more product information is offered and the more accurately it meets the technical requirements of the Marketplace, the better.
  • Customer service responsiveness: Whether customer queries are handled promptly and professionally is also an important factor on some platforms.

Diverse marketing options on digital marketplaces

In addition to optimisation for organic search behaviour by users, many marketplaces also offer additional options for digital advertising. For example, there is the option for prominent placement on the home page or the linking of visual display ads with relevant keywords without these keywords also being covered in the own product description. Typically, many marketplaces also run discount promotions to increase the reach of their product. Some digital marketplaces also offer the possibility for individual content with detailed product tests. There are also approaches to make digital marketplace trade more sustainable. One example is Shopify’s Planet app. This makes it easier for traders to offer customers more CO2-friendly shipping.

Conclusion: Does my product fit into a Marketplace?

The effort for a Marketplace integration should not be underestimated, especially at the beginning, because detailed requirements have to be fulfilled and the competition is high in many product segments. But all in all, Marketplaces offer a significant additional distribution channel with which new countries and large target groups can be opened up. The marketplace selection should be individually tailored to a product and existing options for optimisation should also be used comprehensively so that the product is not only integrated in principle but is also found prominently.