Top 5 eCommerce SEO Mistakes
One of the most common viewpoints shared by eCommerce retailers (especially among small businesses), is the misconception that by merely uploading their products to their site, they’ll immediately start getting organic search engine traffic.
Unfortunately, eCommerce SEO doesn’t exactly work like that.
You need a strategy. You need optimized content. You probably need help.
Doing SEO for eCommerce websites is challenging. Inventories are constantly in a state of flux, search engine algorithms are always changing, and then there’s the problems around creating high quality content. All of these come into play to create one giant headache for eCommerce owners/admins (or their SEOs).
Below are the top five mistakes regarding eCommerce SEO.
1. Product Descriptions Caught Lacking
I’ve consulted for a few eCommerce retailers, and the most common problem I’ve seen across the board is a lack of detailed product descriptions. I’ve even seen entire inventories that contain virtually no written content. Having minimal written content (or none) ensures that you aren’t going to rank high in the SERPs.
While written content is incredibly important for product descriptions, you also need to avoid overdoing it. Product description content should describe the product (obviously).
Don’t add fluff.
Make it unique.
- The actual word count will vary depending on your niche/industry, and the specific product you’re describing.
DO NOT copy product descriptions across numerous products. This is one of the hardest things to clean up in regards to eCommerce SEO (especially if you have hundreds or thousands of products).
Of course, some products may be similar to others, and that is fine. I’m not talking about product details/measurements/sizing; I’m talking about the written description of the product.
The written description should be as unique as possible.
Google and other search engines generally won’t penalize you for having similar product details/measurements/etc. This is common on many eCommerce sites. However, they will penalize you if you have duplicates of written product descriptions.
2. No Reviews = No Social Proof
If you’ve ever bought something online, you’ve undoubtedly looked at some reviews of the product before buying it. Surprisingly enough, many eCommerce retailers don’t include product reviews on their website. Why do you think Amazon, Etsy, and other leading online marketplaces all have built-in review features?
Reviews have a direct influence on purchasing behavior (especially online). If your website doesn’t have an option for customers to leave a review, you’re losing out on potential sales.
Bonus: One of the extra benefits of having customers leave reviews is that they’re basically creating free, unique content for your site. Often times the reviews will naturally include some target keywords as well.
3. Product Descriptions Not Optimized for Search
This mistake ties directly into what was covered in section one (lack of written product descriptions). The title, description, and headline(s) should all focus on one target keyword that is directly relevant to the product.
Example: Your product page’s H1/title, product description, and image alt tags are optimized for “Boston sweatshirt.” But, for this specific product it actually makes more sense to optimize for “black Boston sweatshirt with hood.”
The point here is to optimize for one target keyword per page, and to have that keyword be highly relevant and targeted.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when optimizing product listings for SEO:
- Use the brand name in H1 tags/product titles.
- Don’t overuse the keyword. Low keyword densities are optimal.
- Write with the customer in mind (not the search engine).
- Make each written product description unique.
- If relevant, use model numbers/identifiers in your product title/H1 tag.
- Actually fill out your image alt tags (basic SEO that is commonly ignored).
4. Duplicate Page Titles
Another very common issue among eCommerce sites is having duplicate titles (on product pages). When I say title I’m not referring to the H1 tag of the page (typically used for the product’s title/name), but the actual title of the page (shown in the browser and in the SERPs).
If you sell more than a handful of products, then you most likely have products that are similar to one another. For this reason, it’s recommended to use key phrases rather than keywords (in regards to page titles).
- An example of a common title structure is: BRAND – PRODUCT – STYLE
Remember that both your H1 (product title) and page title should coincide with one another (it’s also common for them to be exactly the same). Focus on one keyword per product page. Don’t use the same page title across different products.
5. URLs Aren’t Optimized
Having URLs that aren’t optimized for your target keywords is a mistake. I see it all the time when contracting for eCommerce clients.
- One of the worst ways to structure a URL is by making your product page (or blog post, or category page, etc.) a random number:
Not only does this confuse your website users, it will also lead to diminished returns on your SEO efforts. It’s recommended to make the URL user-friendly. Include the product title (or its truncated version if it’s especially long). Although Google and the other search engines place less priority on keywords in URLs, it can still help you have an edge in the SERPs.
- Have detailed product descriptions that are actually written out.
- Include the target keyword in the page title, H1/product title, product description, and URL (if possible).
- Enable reviews for all of your products.
- Optimize your product descriptions properly.
- Don’t have duplicate page titles.
- Avoid as much duplicate content as possible.
If you’re not already implementing some of the above tips, I highly recommend that you start immediately. Better search rankings, enhanced UX, and increased sales. That’s what eCommerce SEO is all about.