When it comes to selling products online, these days it’s all too easy to set up shop with a free content management system and expect the sales to just roll in. But what are the most common mistakes or after-thoughts people have when it comes to SEO for ecommerce websites, and how can you avoid them being a problem for your web shop?
Before you start with an ecommerce project, consider which content management system you are going to use.
No ecommerce website is the same, and the CMS that a friend or business partner has used before, is not necessarily going to fit for the purposes you require.
The CMS you choose will vary depending on a number of important factors, such as:
Speak to an agency to understand which CMS is likely to be right for you. Most agencies have worked with all of the major content management systems before, so will be able to point you in the right direction depending on the requirements of your project.
Typically for smaller websites, using Wordpress ecommerce plugins such as Woocommerce are fine. However, if you are planning on selling hundreds of products, a more dedicated ecommerce platform such as Magento, might serve you better in the long run.
Perhaps the most important point of an ecommerce website, is something which is often overlooked. Business owners often only think about their products, forgetting the research stage of a potential customer.
Consider who your potential customers are, and how they are likely to find you, from every avenue. Not everyone is ready to make a purchase straight away, so think about the type of questions customers are likely to ask prior to purchase.
You should ensure that you are able to create landing pages for these type of potential customers - whether it be via a Help & Advice article, or an FAQ section, you should be able to have a page where popular questions can be answered. Try to integrate this content properly into your website, too, rather than it being a detached part of your website’s structure.
If you’re not sure what popular questions are being asked in your niche, try asking your customers what difficulties they faced prior to making a purchase, or consider looking at dedicated keyword research tools such as Answer The Public.
First things first, when it comes to grouping your products together into categories, you need to think about how your customers are likely to be searching for those products.
Is it more popular for a customer to search for the product by brand, by colour, by size..?
It’s all too easy to be lazy and have one big category for all of one type of product. However, can that category be broken down into subcategories, to further enhance your potential of displaying in search results for long-tail searches?
Again, think about using keyword research tools to help structure your categories. An SEO agency like Reflect Digital can help you to do this.
Consider 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, by screen size, and potentially even things like colour.
Ensure that you have every base covered, by having a proper category and subcategory structure which allows for these sort of searches to be catered for.
Especially on large scale ecommerce sites, it’s easy to end up with sub-categories which are grouped by colour or by brand.
This has the potential of creating duplicate page titles, if you don’t consider your meta data.
On many content management systems, the page title will simply be generated from the name of the category, so ensure you have your SEO covered by getting meta data created for each of your categories.
While this sounds simple, it’s often overlooked, and 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.
While this can be easily tackled at the launch of a site, it can be one of the most forgotten about, and yet simplest, parts of SEO. It’s easy to bulk upload new products to a website in a rush to get the sales in, but it’s also easy to forget about the SEO basics while doing that, too.
Ending with probably the most common issue seen on ecommerce websites, especially those selling less-than-interesting products, is that of duplicate product content.
Back in 2011, Google introduced the ‘Panda’ algorithm update, to combat pages which simply copy and pasted content from elsewhere. The idea being that if you’ve copy 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 blog 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).
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 five 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.
It’s time to move the game on.
To find out how we can help you take your business to the next level, contact our friendly and expert team today.
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