Done right, an ecommerce SEO strategy has the potential to help you grow your online store considerably. The right ecommerce marketing strategy can help you stay ahead in the SERPs, regardless of whether you are a megastore or a smaller store trying to keep up with the bigger stores. With that said, there are a number of mistakes that can all too easily derail even the best-planned campaigns.
From duplicate content all the way to unoptimised URLs, there are many factors that can affect your rankings negatively. In this guide, we take a look at some of the biggest mistakes to show you how you can fine-tune your ecommerce SEO campaign for better results.
Stay Clear of These Ecommerce SEO Mistakes
Unlike regular websites, ecommerce sites typically have a large volume of pages along with a number of unique requirements. The rise of the ecommerce sector has made it even harder for online stores to rank organically in the search. Without an ecommerce SEO strategy in place, your store could all too easily get lost online, leading to a loss in potential sales and profits. While there is a lot more you’ll need to do to get ahead, you can start by staying clear of these mistakes that make it almost impossible to grow your store online.
Overlooking the audience in your keyword strategy
A common mistake made by many online stores is focusing keyword strategies on products, without considering the audience – in other words, the customer you are targeting. If your keyword strategy includes a huge number of product-related keywords without any keywords that would be naturally used within searches by your target audience, you are missing out on a chance to reach your customers. This is where longtail keywords become valuable, helping you include products as well as customer needs and user intent through keywords that are relevant and highly targeted to your core audience.
Using generic page titles on product and category pages
Don’t forget about your meta data, either. When your page titles are generic rather than being unique and relevant to the page content, your rankings will be affected. Titles should never be used across product and category pages. Instead, you will need to use your keywords creatively to add unique titles and meta descriptions that clearly outline the page content. For example, if you are selling cat scratch posts, you would need different titles on your scratch post category pages (Small Cat Scratch Posts – CatTrees.com) and on every type of scratch post you have listed on your site (Double Decker Cat Scratch Post – CatTrees.com). Be especially careful when you are selling multiple products from the same brand if you include brand names within your titles. This is why it is also important to keep your keyword strategy aligned to your audience so that you have a better idea of how shoppers would search for products online.
Using manufacturer descriptions on product pages
Another big mistake is to try and save time and effort by simply using the manufacturer description on every product page. There are a few problems with this mistake. The first one is that you are essentially adding duplicate content to your store, which search engines quickly flag, putting you at risk of penalties and lost rankings. The second is that these descriptions are almost never optimised. Many are poorly written or written in a way that is geared towards technical details rather than buyers.
Using duplicate content on product pages
In addition to not using manufacturer descriptions, you will also need to avoid using duplicate content. When you have a large number of similar products within a category, it is tempting to use the same description rather than writing unique descriptions for each product. You could look at ways of offering options if the products are very similar (for example, if the only difference is colour). Otherwise, you will need to write unique descriptions that have unique keywords for each product. This will prevent search engines from flagging your store for duplicate content, which will cost your rankings and make it far harder to see any conversion.
Not adding any product descriptions at all
That doesn’t mean you should be skipping product descriptions completely, however. Having no product descriptions can also cost you rankings. Even short descriptions of 100 words or less that are optimised with your keywords will make a difference compared to no content at all. This is where your careful keyword research comes. When you combine relevant, longtail keywords with user-focused content, your descriptions will be far more effective than no descriptions at all.
Failing to optimise your product links properly
Many online stores also fail to optimise product links, using random codes or other linking approaches that are never ideal for any ecommerce SEO strategy. Rather than treating links as an after-thought, make sure that you use proper navigation that easily helps shoppers (and search engines) find product pages without having to get lost. A clearly structured link format is essential to make the user experience as simple as possible. Instead of auto-generated links, consider the category, the product type and the product itself to maintain navigation. For example, instead of a structure such as /men/329039203239, you could use /men/clothing/pants/mens-chinos.
Not utilising or displaying product reviews
Even a single product review is better than no reviews. In fact, even negative reviews can end up helping more than none at all. Product reviews are important on many levels. For ecommerce SEO strategies, they help to give your store more authority and also help you build trust – both of which help your SEO rankings. If you receive negative reviews, you can respond in a way that also helps customers see how you deal with feedback. Responding well to poor reviews can end up helping your reputation more than you realise. Rather than trying to hide customer reviews, display these and use them to your advantage. You could offer points for customer reviews to encourage shoppers to leave their feedback after they have made their purchase.
Not optimising 404 pages properly
Finally, another big mistake to avoid is failing to make good use of those 404 not found pages. These are a common issue with online stores – especially when there are many products that quickly sell out or when you are battling to keep track of stock. When a customer sees a 404 page that has not been optimised, they will end up clicking away. Often, they will leave your entire site altogether. To avoid this from happening, you could use a simple ecommerce SEO strartegy such as showing similar products, leaving a message pointing customers back to the category they had been browsing or you could research additional creative strategies that make these pages a valuable tool rather than something that risks abandoned carts or missed sales.
Invest In Ecommerce SEO
What is the best way to approach your ecommerce SEO campaign to avoid making these mistakes? For starters, it helps to see ecommerce SEO as its very own field rather than an off-shoot of SEO. Investing in a proper strategy that helps you map out keywords, links, content and other elements is an effective way to ensure that your site grows organically. This also helps you prevent making mistakes that hurt your rankings (and eventually your profits). With a carefully planned ecommerce SEO strategy, you can grow your store – whatever its size.