If you have great products for your eCommerce business, it can be easy to assume that your search engine optimization (SEO) will take care of itself. But the fact is that all businesses need to take careful steps to ensure they are doing the right things to rank well on Google. It’s all too simple to make SEO mistakes.
SEO isn’t easy, but it can be compounded when you make errors, not least because it can be difficult to know that you have made a mistake until it’s too late. eCommerce businesses that can get their SEO right can see an impressive jump in sales – so this is absolutely vital for your bottom line. Here are seven common SEO mistakes made by eCommerce sites, and what you can do to correct them.
7 Major SEO Mistakes
1. Forgetting About Customer Reviews
Recent statistics revealed that 91% of people will read customer reviews on a website, and 84% of those would trust online reviews as much as they would trust a personal recommendation from a friend. This shows the power reviews can have on swaying a customer to purchase from you.
So, if you don’t have reviews on your site, then you could be putting off a very large percentage of your audience from making that all-important purchase. Remember, customer reviews have a number of SEO purposes too. Firstly, if you are posting the reviews to your own website, then this is free and unique content for your pages. As the reviews keep the content fresh, it shows Google that your page is active and being used.
However, Google also takes into account customer reviews on external sites – mostly notably in Google’s own reviews platform. Getting a number of high-quality Google reviews can be enormously beneficial to your standing with the search engine. Remember too that you should reply to all reviews (and especially negative ones) in order to give your side of the story.
Depending on the industry you work in or the type of business you are, here are some review sites that you should look to be included on:
2. Weak Product Descriptions
Too many eCommerce sites have product descriptions that are either low quality or (worse) copied directly from the manufacturer or supplier. Copying text from another site is a complete no-no. Google will ignore any page where it has seen the same identical content before. Your product page simply won’t be ranked at all.
It’s important to write high-quality product descriptions. Google loves to see authoritative and informative content on websites – and the more content, generally the better. A recent report from Salsify indicated that 87% of shoppers describe product descriptions as an “extremely important part” of their decision-making process. Try to provide answers to your customers’ questions and remove any potential barriers to the purchase.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing in order to get an idea of what you can do to improve. This not only includes looking at what competitors have on their site – but also what they are lacking. If you can provide details that your competitors don’t have, your site will be seen by Google as a resource.
3. Failing to Utilize Schema
Schema is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO that eCommerce sites can benefit from – and yet so many are failing to take advantage of it. Essentially schema is a type of structured data that makes it easier for Google to understand your website or to make sense of page elements. It can be used to display specific pieces of information in search results.
Schema can really make your website stand out in the results – so if you have fantastic reviews that you want potential customers to see, or if taking the time to write up a fantastic FAQ section, this is worth promoting with Schema. Aside from helping your site to be noticed in the results, it also shows off your expertise and signals to your customers that you understand their needs.
Recent estimates suggest that less than 1% of websites currently use schema – this means that this is one of the most valuable and underutilized ways for your website to stand out in Google’s searches. Remember that using high-quality schema can place your website higher in the rankings with a snippet of text. This makes it more likely for users to click.
4. Using Non-Unique Page Titles
Another common problem for larger eCommerce sites comes from duplicated title tags. If you sell multiple products from the same brand that are very similar, it can be very difficult to create title tags that are unique as you will naturally want them to contain the same keywords. Of course, it’s not the case that you should avoid doing this entirely. Rather, try to make sure that all of your products do not use the same format for the title tags.
It won’t necessarily be possible to do for the whole of your site, but the more variation that you can put in, the more effective your title tags will be. Remember that if your page titles are too similar, you’re at risk of cannibalizing your pages.
Make sure every time you create a new page that it has a specific purpose. You should be targeting a specific keyword that is not targeted elsewhere on your site. This can really help to inform your choices on page titles.
5. Optimizing for the Wrong Terms
You should always make sure that you are factoring in search keyword numbers and demand when you are writing any kind of page content, headlines, or product descriptions. The issue here is that you could be relying too much on your own interpretations of how individuals search, and you may end up optimizing for terms and phrases that simply no one is searching for.
Do your keyword research before you begin writing any content for your site. This way, you’ll ensure that you are writing something that is going to benefit your business. It’s no use ranking for terms that do not get any search volume.
When you consider how long you might spend working on an individual page in order to get it to rank higher on Google, it becomes essential that this time is spent effectively.
6. Poor URL Structure
Too many eCommerce sites struggle with SEO mistakes because their URL structure becomes complicated and impossible to manage. This is usually down to a lack of forethought about how the business could expand or change. But perhaps the most crucial element of URLs that many eCommerce sites forget is that they need to be “speaking URLs.” This is a URL with the keyword in it.
Don’t have URLs that use product IDs as their identifiers. Ensure the whole product name is included and that it can be differentiated from similar products. It’s important to think long-term when you consider your URLs. Don’t be afraid to change your structure if it has become unworkable. The challenges of making the change now will be outweighed by the benefits that you see down the line.
7. Excessive Duplicate Content
Do your pages have a lot of the same text on them? This could be information about shipping or maybe a paragraph about your company and how it operates. The trouble here is that Google really doesn’t like duplicated content and would much rather see unique text. This is something to consider when you’re writing up your pages.
Common places that you will find duplicated content include:
- Product descriptions for similar products i.e. t-shirts in different colors.
- Frequently asked questions.
- Contact Us sections.
However, it should also be mentioned that your site could have duplicated content for more technical reasons – for example, on automatically generated pages such as product listings, but also due to issues surrounding misconfigured URLs and session IDs. Have a technical SEO specialist audit your site in order to check for technical reasons for duplicated content.
Are you making any of these key SEO mistakes?
This article was written by Dakota Murphey. Dakota has over a decade of experience in digital marketing and business growth. Currently looking to share her knowledge and experience with other like-minded professionals. Find out what else Dakota has been up to over on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey