#1 NOT CHOOSING THE RIGHT CMS 

Before you kick start your eCommerce website build, consider and research your content management system (CMS). No two eCommerce sites are the same, so avoid choosing a CMS based on ‘it’s what everyone uses’ and focus more on which will give you the functionality your online shop requires. 

The CMS you choose will likely vary based on a multitude of factors, however here are some of the most common; 

  • The number of products - are you selling in the Tens, Hundreds, or Thousands?
  • Type of products - Standard products, products with variations, and bundled products all come with their own difficulties.
  • Who will be editing the products, adding the images, etc?
  • How do you plan on scaling the business?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Are there any systems your website will need to integrate with?

We always recommend working with a web agency where you can, they’ll be able to advise you on the best platform for your business. Once you’ve chosen your CMS, it’s then critical you find an SEO agency that can support that particular system. 

#2 HAVING AN INEFFECTIVE WEBSITE STRUCTURE 

Understanding your audience’s behaviour is the key to creating an efficient website structure and driving conversions. But what is an efficient site structure? Google published a study in 2012 that showed the users’ preference for easy-to-navigate web pages with a simple and familiar design. Websites that fulfilled these criteria were more likely to lead to conversions. 

CONSIDER YOUR LANDING PAGES

To create relevant landing pages based on your customers’ user behaviour ask yourself these questions: 

  • Who are my customers? 
  • How are they getting to your site?
  • What questions are they asking before purchasing? 
  • This will help you create a site structure led by customers while helping you optimise the path to purchase. 

GROUPING PRODUCTS INTO APPROPRIATE CATEGORIES

Once you understand your customer’s journey the next step is to look at how you group your products to fit into appropriate categories. Be sure to think about how your customers are likely to be searching for those products. 

Is it very popular for a customer to search for the product: 

  • By brand 
  • By colour 
  • By size

Consider how your categories can be broken down into subcategories as this will help enhance your visibility and chances of ranking for long-tail, high-intent searches. 

It’s also worth noting that not every customer is going to search for your product by its major name. For example, if you’re selling laptops, some customers will search for that top-level “laptops” keyword, but a much higher percentage will search by brand, screen size, or colour.

#3 NOT OPTIMISING PRODUCTS BASED ON SEARCH DEMAND

Similar to the point above, the journey of how your customers discover you all comes down to understanding the language that they use. As an eCommerce merchant, you have exceptional expertise in the specific features of your products and you probably already have an idea of how to address them on your website. 

HOW ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS SEARCHING FOR YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES? 

You must find out how your customers are searching for your products and include these keywords in your descriptions on your product pages. Otherwise, it will be challenging for your customers to find your eCommerce company and its offerings in the depths of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). 

The lower you appear on the SERP, the more your average click-through rate decreases - from 28% on the top results to 2.5% on the 10th result and even lower if you rank on page 2 of search results. With this in mind, you've probably noticed the search snippet at the top of the SERP. Showing up here is the ultimate goal, as your article will be the first thing the user sees.

WHAT QUESTIONS MAY THEY HAVE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS OR ABOUT THE PAIN POINT THAT YOUR PRODUCT CAN SOLVE?

It is not unusual that your customers may have questions about your products and services. To make sure that your customers feel in good hands and get answers to their questions, we recommend that you:

  • Create a series of informative articles in an FAQs section that provide answers to the most common questions you receive.
  • Integrate your FAQs into relevant articles and pages on the site so they don’t just sit in a detached area.

Top Tip: If you’re not sure what questions are being asked, apart from asking your customers directly you can also use dedicated keyword research tools like SEMrush to identify questions that have high monthly search volumes or Answer The Public.

Not only is the FAQ section incredibly helpful in providing answers to your customers’ queries, but it is also a great start to make use of another fantastic ranking opportunity - the People Also Asked snippets. As you can see here, for the search query "creating an eco-friendly garden" there are four questions to which you can write an article that would then have the potential to appear above all organic search results and boost the SEO for your eCommerce website. 

#4 NOT OPTIMISING URLS

Remember how we spoke about including the keywords that your customers search for on your product pages? The same goes for your URLs. URLs are a strong ranking signal and it’s all about providing the most relevant results to the search query. So if you can include your relevant keywords in the URL this is a fantastic indicator for the search engine that the page should be ranking for that particular term as well as related keywords although it can’t be guaranteed. 

HOW TO CREATE OPTIMISED CUSTOM URLS

When creating a new page in your CMS it will most likely generate the URL automatically. To ensure that your page can reap the benefits of this ranking factor we recommend manually updating it and ensuring that the URL clearly shows the hierarchy of directories, as well as relevant keywords to indicate what the page is talking about. 

#5 DUPLICATE CONTENT  

The creation of duplicate content is a violation of Google’s content guidelines. There are two major areas for duplicate website content: duplicate metadata and duplicate product content. 

DUPLICATE METADATA 

Especially on large-scale eCommerce sites, it’s easy to end up with sub-categories which are grouped by colour or by brand.

This comes with the risk of creating duplicate page titles as on many content management systems, the page title will simply be generated from the name of the category. On many occasions, we’ve seen categories simply with a page title of “White” or “Brand Name”, which is doing nothing for the ranking of that page in search results.

This is why our top tip to avoid duplicate metadata is to ensure you create bespoke metadata consisting of:

  • Page title 
  • Meta description
  • Header tags

DUPLICATE PRODUCT CONTENT

Sometimes the products your company sells are similar. And with large numbers of products in your eCommerce shop, it can be challenging to come up with a new product description each time. Nevertheless, this is something you shouldn’t ignore. If you start copying and pasting product descriptions, you run the risk of Google penalising your content for duplication.

Did you know? Back in 2011, Google introduced the ‘Panda’ algorithm update, to combat pages which simply copy and pasted content from elsewhere. The idea is that if you’ve copied and pasted content, your website probably isn’t of the highest quality. This Google algorithm update would therefore penalise you by not showing you as highly in search results as perhaps you did previously. However, while this change affected things like blogs and news websites in a positive manner, it also changed the thinking behind eCommerce product content, too.

In many industries, it’s commonplace to simply copy and paste product content straight from a manufacturer-provided spreadsheet.

However, in this instance, you’d be falling foul of the duplicate content algorithm, and chances are, those products will never display in search results.

Therefore, however, you do it:

  • Stay away from manufacturer-provided spreadsheets (generally speaking).
  • Get your own content written up for your products.
  • Think: How can your product page be better than your competitors? What can you add to make customers think your site is more informative and useful than the others?
  • Ask customers for reviews on your products - it’s free content writing!

#6 NOT OPTIMISING FOR IMAGE SEARCH 

Did you know that about 62% of Gen-Z prefer visual search online? This is precisely why your business should optimise for image search. 

Images provide contextual information for search engines but can pose a risk of slowing down your website and leading to high page loading times if not optimised correctly. In short, this means that you should add schema markup to your products. 

This typically includes information about: 

  • Price 
  • Availability 
  • Image alt descriptions can be used to find the product in image search if you include relevant keywords for your target group. 

But not only is it important to optimise for image search to make your products more discoverable by Gen-Z and Zillennial customers, but it also plays a major role in website accessibility. Meaning that you can make your website accessible to people who have disabilities and impairments and who use assistive technologies such as screen readers. 

#7 LACK OF PRODUCT REVIEWS

A study by |nvesp found that 90% of all potential customers use the product review feature to form an opinion of your product before making a purchase. This includes finding out what other customers thought of it. The practice can be traced back to the human behaviour element of the concept of social proof. 

PRODUCT REVIEWS AND THE CONCEPT OF SOCIAL PROOF

The concept of social proof states that a prospective customer may become convinced to make a purchase decision after being interested in a product based on the fact that they read a positive review about that product. Social proof works by validating the claims made by the company about the features of the product through the reviews and strengthening the customer's trust in them.

Google understands that user reviews are a highly relevant answer to queries around “best” and “top” products and your brand name appearing in the top results for these would certainly be a welcome boost to your brand image. 

#8 LACK OF CUSTOMER SUPPORT 

When your customers browse your site and questions arise, your customer service must be available to answer their queries and help them complete their purchase(s). 

How a lack of customer support can encourage customers to look elsewhere:

  • If nobody is available 
  • If it takes weeks to hear back from the team or get a refund
  • If contacting customer service is just one big hassle 

This risk is largely eliminated by setting up a chatbot on your eCommerce website. This chatbot can then answer FAQs, but can also solve more complex queries with the help of modern technologies. For the customer, using a chatbot is effortless and fast, so it is often perceived as very helpful.

#9 NOT USING EVENT TRACKING & MONITORING WEBSITE METRICS

Event tracking as well as the general recording of your website performance metrics is a must for every eCommerce merchant. Many eCommerce CMS systems offer internal tracking, however, we recommend you set up a Google Analytics account that will allow you to monitor the order of pages your customer visits before making a purchase, determine which was the converting page and much more. 

By accurately recording and analyzing these metrics, you can quickly identify trouble spots and pages with optimization potential, thus improving your conversion optimization strategy. This will help you have happier customers and ultimately generate more revenue.

Metrics you should include in your eCommerce tracking are: 

  • Website Traffic 
  • Average Order Value
  • Sales Conversion Rate 
  • Customer Acquisition Cost 
  • E-Mail Opt-In Rate 
  • Customer Lifetime  Value 
  • Customer Acquisition Cost 
  • Keyword rankings for your products & services

#10 HAVING A SLOW SITE 

Ever since Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm update, page speed has become a definitive ranking factor. This is because such parameters as the page's load time contribute massively to usability. Images and graphics are certainly worth adding to your page, but as mentioned above, you should make sure that they are optimised and do not negatively affect the page speed due to their size. Among the elements that can affect your page speed are:

  • ​​Image and video file sizes
  • Animation load times
  • Image and video resolution
  • Mobile vs. desktop page speed comparison

 
To assess your site against these risks you can use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, just read our article on Core Web Vitals before you start so you know exactly what you should be looking for. 

CONCLUSION

While this is only touching the surface of potential problems with your eCommerce SEO, for most websites, the biggest issues will be one of the ten on this list.

If you think your eCommerce website is suffering or has seen traffic reduce in recent months, consider an SEO audit for your website, a service that we provide at Reflect Digital. Get in touch to see how we can help your eCommerce website hit the ground running again.

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