If you run an ecommerce site, you will need to optimize it for search. Unfortunately, it is possible to do things worse if you are making SEO content mistakes.
I have learned a lot from my experience with ecommerce sites. I’m happy to share with you a few lessons that I think will help you get more traffic and avoid breaking Google guidelines.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when optimizing your online store for Google and Bing.
Put too much content on category pages
You might get the impression that Google is a huge fan of long content. Under normal circumstances, you would be right.
But these are not normal circumstances.
You are not optimizing a practical item or a case study. You optimize an e-commerce site.
This is why you should limit the verbiage on your category pages to 300 words or less. Otherwise, Google could see the content as an article instead of a category page.
Many sites load category pages with unnecessary content. Then they stuff the text with keywords.
It’s not going to win you any favors with Google. It’s best to follow the rules to make sure you get a good ranking.
You should also have at least 30 products on your category pages. Again, the goal is to make it clear to search bots that this is really a category page and not some other type of content disguised as a category page.
Duplicate product descriptions on category pages
When it comes to e-commerce sites, many SEO issues can be summed up in one word: duplication.
It is too often the case that digital marketers just copy and paste the content from one location to another. You might make your life easier if you go this route, but you probably won’t see your site making it to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Duplicate content is a big no-no with all search engines. Avoid it.
So what can you do I can answer this question with another word: paraphrase.
Instead of copying and pasting content, rephrase it.
Yes, it is a challenge. It’s more than just a challenge of paraphrasing, however.
You need to create rephrased descriptions that effectively market the products you are trying to sell. It is a tall order.
But it will help your site get better ranking.
Also: do not use the same product description on the category page that you use on the product detail page. Again, this gives you duplicate content.
So do yourself a favor: invest some time in rewriting your product descriptions that appear on different pages. If you don’t have the time, invest the money in hiring a copywriter who can take care of the task for you.
A category page without a goal
I touched on this briefly above, but it’s worth emphasizing: your category page needs a goal.
If you put text on it just for the sake of it, you’re doing your site no service. Instead, add content that your visitors will find useful.
Here’s a cool tip if you’re stuck and don’t know what to add: put a FAQ on the page.
For almost any product group, people will have questions to answer. Collect the most popular questions and answer them on the category page.
This strategy also reinforces an important point: you must always optimize your site first for visitors, not for search engines.
Why? Because Google is moving more and more in a user-friendly direction.
Make sure people who visit your site are happy with the content they see. Google will reward you with a high ranking.
Duplicate content on product detail page
If you are reselling products, you might be tempted to get the product description from the manufacturer’s website and paste it on the product details page on your own site. As I mentioned before, this will not give you a high rank.
Instead, think about rewriting the product description to be unique.
You might find this necessary even without the threat of losing your rank. It often happens that manufacturers’ websites do a poor job of promoting products with descriptions.
When you change the product description, you give yourself the opportunity to improve it. Make the description more marketable by highlighting the benefits rather than the features.
As well, avoid thin content on your product detail page. A 1 or 2 sentence description is probably not enough for most visitors. This is definitely not good enough for Google.
Take the time to describe each product in detail and what it can do for the people who buy it.
If you want to see what a great product details page looks like, check out a bestseller on Amazon. Usually you will find a detailed description in bullet form so that it is easy for people to scan.
Amazon is the best performing e-commerce site on the planet. You will do well if you imitate him.
Lack of rich content on product detail pages
Beyond giving your products unique and healthy descriptions, you also need to add rich content.
To get started, include lots of product images. Once again, Amazon is the example to follow.
If you look at just about any Amazon bestseller, you’ll notice that the product description page has multiple images of the item from different angles. You can usually see the additional images aligned vertically next to the “main” product image.
You shouldn’t stop with pictures, however. Include videos as well.
This is a good idea if you are selling a product that involves some sort of learning curve (like machines). Video can be used as explanation which shows people how to use it.
Of course, you should also use the video to promote the benefits of the product.
While I’m talking about the video, be sure to include the video schematic markup on your product detail page. This markup makes it easier for search engines to crawl the content and increases the likelihood that the page will rank well in search.
Also include FAQs. Make sure you optimize the questions for the keywords so that they get ranked.
Finally, include product page review. Buyers want to see what others think about the product you are trying to sell.
Blog content that rivals product content
If you use your e-commerce site to content marketing purposes as well as for the sale of products, special attention should be paid to cannibalization.
What is cannibalization? In this case, that means blog posts rank high while product detail pages languish lower in the SERPs.
You don’t want this because you will lose sales.
This is why you should optimize your blog posts differently than you optimize your product detail pages.
For blog posts, optimize for practical keywords and sentences.
For product detail pages, optimize keywords and buyer intent phrases.
For example, let’s say you sell GoPro backup batteries. You wouldn’t want to create a blog post with a title like “Acme 3-Pack GoPro Hero 7 Black Backup Batteries”. This is the kind of title that belongs to your product page.
Instead, write a blog post with a headline like “How many GoPRo batteries do I need to shoot 2 hours of video?” Then you can add a call to action on this post which gives people the option to purchase your backup batteries.
To wrap up
Have you committed any of the SEO sins described above? If so, it’s never too late to make amends.
Set up an action plan today that optimizes your site for search. Then watch the sales skyrocket as your website attracts more customers for life.