For an ecommerce site, SEO offers the chance of a steady flow of targeted traffic. Searchers looking for product-related terms are usually in a buying frame of mind, making the conversion process far easier. SEO on many ecommerce sites is often neglected, though, with plenty of missed opportunities for some easy traffic. The following mistakes are all examples to avoid when optimizing your site for the search engines.
Ideally, keyword research should be conducted before setting up your site. You can still correct errors later on, but it is easier to construct your site based on thorough research. The data should inform you of the most relevant search terms based around each product, along with more general terms that can be used for the homepage and category pages. Avoid setting up multiple pages based around the same search terms as this can create a conflict in deciding which page is most relevant.
Another side effect of bad planning is a poor site structure. A considered hierarchy will place individual product pages within broader categories, so visitors and the search engines can easily navigate through the site. Keyword research will assist with the structure, but you can also use some common sense. If you do not create an understandable hierarchy, the search engines will consider this a bad user experience.
Mobile searches are growing each year, with a lack of mobile optimization leading to a penalty. Search engines do not want to show people a site that is hard to read and navigate, so ensure your site has a mobile option or responsive design. A good mobile ecommerce site should adapt to the screen size, have readable text, clickable buttons, and optimized images.
HTTPS encrypts data using an SSL certificate over the HTTP protocol. Ecommerce sites have a greater need for security due to the transactions that will take place, so it is important to put customer security first. With Google making HTTPS a factor in their algorithm, there are also now ramifications for SEO. HTTPS is not difficult to employ, but your customers and search rankings can both benefit.
It is common for ecommerce stores to delete pages when a product is no longer stocked. Gradually, a store will have a number of pages that return errors when visitors and search engines land on the site. There is often still an internal link to the page, whether from a sitemap or sidebar, making the error prominent. Error pages are bad for SEO, so you should carry out maintenance to ensure they are cleaned up. Add a 301 permanent redirect, so visitors are taken to an active page closely related to the original.
Product descriptions help visitors to make a buying decision, but they are also important for SEO. An area of text helps the search engines define what the page is about, with more descriptive text helping you rank for a variety of keywords. Instead of using one or two lines, try to include more detail that can also keep a visitor on the page for longer. If you are selling common products, avoid using the manufacturer description as your SEO can suffer with duplicate text issues.
The title tag is an important factor in the search ranking algorithm. The title of a page is not as important as it once was, with search engines better able to discern the page topic from other factors, but it still holds weight. The title is the first thing a searcher will see in the listings, so it should be relevant and enticing. Even if you reached the number one position, a better title from a lower position will usually encourage more people to visit the alternative page.
For SEO purposes, your URL should be as clear and consistent as possible. An ecommerce site can usually make the URL extension the full product name, but this is often not followed. A problematic ULR would be a product reference number, with a string of letters and numbers used to identify the item. Create a standardized URL structure from the product name, make sure it is readable for visitors, and maintain the structure across the site.
Product reviews, if they are positive, can really help sell a product, but they are also useful for SEO purposes. Reviews will contribute additional text that is highly relevant to the product. This text can help rank for related keyword terms, while also adding more relevance to the subject matter. Search engines can also include star ratings within the search results, usually helping to increase the click-through rate.
SEO is an excellent traffic opportunity for ecommerce owners, but many of these mistakes end up harming their efforts. While you shouldn’t rely solely on search engine traffic, it can provide a large proportion of your daily visitors. If you have already been working on site promotion, including backlinking, press releases, and social media, then cutting out these errors might be the factor you’ve been looking for. So much of SEO is about giving the search engines, along with your visitors, exactly what they have been looking for, so aim to make your site as user-friendly as possible.