Optimizing your eCommerce store for Search Engines is no longer optional. It does not matter if your store is a bootstrapped startup or a Fortune 500 company, SEO matters to you regardless. Don’t take my word for it, log into your analytics tools and check the channels driving the most profit for your store. The organic channel is the best driver of traffic and growth.
Google has been embedded in our day to day life of customers, and for the majority of the eCommerce businesses, it drives now the majority of the sales. So if the same trend is not apparent for your company, chances are that your SEO is missing the mark.
Ecommerce SEO is critical for your customers to find your store. It is the most cost-effective way to grow your business bottom line, and the effects last longer than any other marketing channel.
Also, there are subtle differences between eCommerce SEO and other traditional forms of SEO – Local or B2B. Site owners must understand these differences and nuances.
Table of Contents
Missing Canonical Tags
A canonical tag is an HTML attribute that tells Search Engines the original URL, e.g. if you have multiple versions of the same URL being crawled and indexed, these can potentially cause duplicate content issues.
A canonical tag is a nice way to tell search engines to consider only the cannibal URL in the tag as the original version and discard the others for indexing. This is especially important for eCommerce stores as the layered navigation end up generating thousands of instances of the same category.
Having the canonical tag will help in conserving the crawl bandwidth and circumventing any potential duplicate content issues.
Using Manufacturer’s Product Descriptions
Many of the eCommerce stores are happy to use the manufacturer’s product descriptions on their product pages. While this saves the money to hire a copywriter and come up with unique content, the duplicate product description will end up causing long term SEO issues.
First of all, it’s harder to rank higher for duplicate content, and the pages would end up facing the same duplicate content issues as not having canonical tags. Because of this, it’s always better to have unique product descriptions rather than coping the manufacturer ones.
Lack of Content Flux on the site
Your website might have the most optimised meta tags, but it’s worthless if not supplemented by quality content on the site. Some of the key pages to add content are what I term as the money pages – category and product pages.
You need to ensure that there is sufficient amount of content that effectively describes the category. Having user-friendly content will help in not improving the ranking potential of your targeted keywords but also help in targeting semantically similar keywords.
Handle Discontinued / Out of Stock Products
Discontinued products handling is an important part of ongoing SEO plan. Lots of Ecommerce struggles to manage their discontinued products inventory and end up disabling/deleting these products which are not an SEO-friendly approach.
Online stores can follow a process to manage discontinued products in an efficient SEO manner.
Here’s a checklist to follow.
- Your Dev team is notified that the product is discontinued.
- The product is set “discontinued” to “Yes” in CMS. This way users would know that the product they are being discontinued.
- The “Short Description” is changed to “This product has been discontinued by the manufacturer and is no longer available for sale.” Again helpful to update product status to the user.
- Add the keyword “Discontinued” in the title tag of the product page. Besides the user, having this in the title tag will help your analytics team to check the traffic trend on these pages.
- The product is removed from all the categories (display option). This will help users to navigate the page through internal links.
- The visibility of the product is changed to Status – Enabled, Visibility – Search
- Remove the product from Amazon/eBay/PLA or any other feeds being used for Advertisements.
- The SEO team will periodically review Organic Rank and Backlinks to discontinued products.
- If the page is still sending positive signals to Google/providing a positive SEO benefit, the page is left alone and re-evaluated in 2 months.
- If the page is no longer sending organic traffic etc. We will 301 redirect this to an appropriate page.
- Prepare a list for teams to process the 301s.
Lack of Active Blogging
Blogging generates the most traffic. Google will always reward websites that consistently add unique and resourceful articles. Blogging helps you to target less competitive long-tailed keywords.
While these long-tail keywords are not the best at converting a user to customer or lead, these can help spread awareness about our brand.
Search Engines are also the best place to identify the best topics to write about Use Google Trends to find what are the popular topics in your niche, write an article that covers the information.
Google has also specified a distinctive schema for blog articles. Ensure that all of your blog articles have the BlogPost schema, to make it easier for Google to understand what the page is about.
Beside schema, you can add internal links to the product pages to make it easier for both Search Engines and user to find them.
Most Important Point:
Ecommerce store owners need to be aware of SEO and how best to leverage it for promotion. We suggest doing a periodic sitewide audit to identify gaps and errors and schedule to fix them, or else hire eCommerce SEO experts or a Digital Agency for a quick audit report.
A site audit will help you to identify and resolve the most pertinent issues as well ensuring the overall health of the site is good