We see the same eCommerce SEO mistakes occuring time and time again. The internet is filled with SEO guides featuring a million and one things that ‘e-tailers’ should be doing to increase visitors to their websites. However, it’s not so clear on the critical SEO mistakes that cannibalise search marketing efforts. So, we thought we’d clear things up a little by putting together a guide on the biggest eCommerce SEO mistakes and how to resolve them.
Mistake No.1: Copying Manufacturer Product Descriptions
We get it – you’re a busy eCommerce website adding countless new products to your website every week. But one of the biggest issues we see are brands not writing unique content for their product descriptions. Often, we come across sites where virtually every product description is simply copied and pasted from the manufacturer.
This is not only a wasted opportunity to seed valuable keywords into your content, but also cause your product pages to be flagged by search engines as duplicate content.
Google’s guidelines are very clear on duplicate content;
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
How to fix it
Writing unique and keyword-rich product descriptions is a great way to get your products appearing within Google search results. Place keywords naturally within the product description. However, avoid keyword stuffing by ensuring the keyword is not placed more than 2-3 times.
We’ve found an excellent article by Unamo that shares useful tips to writing SEO-friendly product descriptions.
Writing distinct product descriptions should become a standard process for adding new products. However, if you’re guilty of copying manufacturer product descriptions in the past, you may find yourself with a huge task ahead of you. To make this less daunting, start by writing unique descriptions for your top 20-30 selling products and then continue to work through the remaining products.
Mistake No.2: Limited or No Product Description at All
While copying and pasting manufacturer product descriptions is no good for SEO, providing limited or no product descriptions at all can be just as bad.
Firstly, with limited or no content, a search engine has very little to judge what your page is about. Therefore, making it less likely to rank for related searches. But, secondly and somewhat more importantly, how effectively will this influence a customer to purchase or not? My guess is highly unlikely.
Therefore, for both search engine optimisation and conversion, product descriptions should be given greater priority and energy.
How to fix it
Product descriptions, alongside other factors, are a key decision maker for a consumer. Therefore, a great deal of energy and focus should be dedicated to making these as compelling and persuasive as possible.
Keep copy clear, simple and engaging. Customers often skim read, so make sure your content is structured in a way that makes it simple to read, by using short words, sentences and paragraphs. Use bullet points to display product features.
In terms of copy length, there’s no one size fits all. This completelyboils down to the product and the target market. Provide enough information to help users decide whether the product is right, but little enough to keep the reader engaged. A general rule of thumb is to stick to between 150 – 350 words.
Mistake No.3: No Customer Reviews
Review signals have become increasingly popular in ranking power. However, despite the increasing importance of reviews, there’s still many websites that are yet to implement reviews on their website. Make sure you’re not one of them!
Reviews signal quality and satisfaction to Google, helping Google provide their users with the best quality websites at the top of the search rankings (along with other factors).
Let’s not forget about the positive impact user-generated content has on your overall search rankings. This increases the content on your page that will be used by Google to index. Plus, you get the benefit of your customers talking about your products in their own language – providing you with more keyword opportunities for your target audience.
You can read our recent blog on how reviews help to boost SEO.
How to fix it
Adding reviews to your website is simple. Integrate a Google accredited review platform, such as Feefo or TrustPilot, onto your website and use rich snippets to ensure your star ratings appear in search results. This will help you stand out in the search results against your competition.
However, a review engine without reviews is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. So, how do you get reviews on your products? Ask your customers!
49% of consumers say they would leave a review if they’re asked. This could be sent via email a day or two after the product has been received. Make it easy for them and explain how long or short (preferably) it will take to complete the feedback. Also, don’t forget to include the product they purchased to help them remember what they’re reviewing.
Mistake No.4: Removing Out of Stock Product Pages
Stock runs out. That’s a fact. Sometimes, you may decide not to re-stock a certain product. Or you may decide to replace it with a new range.
The worst thing an e-tailer can do is remove the page completely. There’s nothing worse from a user-perspective than being slapped in the face (metaphorically, of course) with a 404 error page – no matter how pretty the page is!
Worse of all, all that link equity that would have built up over the page’s lifetime will be lost!
How to fix it
So, what should you do?
If the product is temporarily out of stock, why not allow the customer to pre-order it or sign up to a notification for when it arrives back in stock. You could also feature similar products that may tease the customer into further browsing and a potential alternative purchase.
A 301 redirect should be applied to products that are permanently out of stock. This should go to a page that is most relevant to the original product. Be sure to use a dynamically generated message to explain why the customer is being redirected.
Mistake No.5: Missing Canonical Tags
Canonical tags are HTML attributes that tell search engines where to allocate the link equity, where content is duplicated or very similar. This allows websites to avoid any Google penalties for duplicate content and retain their search value. Hooray!
Canonical tags are hugely important in eCommerce, as many pages can be perceived as duplicate content unintentionally. The following shows an example of how content could be treated as duplicate if a canonical tag were not in place.
Both have the exact same page content, however due to the colour selection, would be treated as duplicate content.
How to fix it
Canonical tags should be used in the following scenarios:
- Product variations – for example, size, colour, style, print, fabric, etc.
- Pagination – for pages within the same category that have been spread across multiple pages.
- Same product, multiple location – for example, when a product is listed across multiple categories.
- Similar content – where pages have very similar content, however a little vbit of variation.
So there’s your 5 biggest eCommerce SEO mistakes and how to fix them.
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