eCommerce sites are some of the largest in the world. With thousands or even millions of products come thousands or millions of links, which means that implementing and managing a SEO strategy for an eCommerce site is extremely difficult and time consuming.
Having optimized content on product description pages is one of the most important SEO factors for eCommerce because they contain the most valuable content though out the entire site. The product description page is where the customer finds pictures, product specifications, reviews, and pricing options to eventually make a buying decision.
Beware of duplicate content problems that may arise from other companies, who are selling the same product, using your product description content on their sites. If you allow other sites to sell your products make sure that there are multiple unique product descriptions and keywords that they can use. Finally, never use manufacturer product description because almost everyone uses it.
Using SEO friendly navigation and internal link networks are vital for search engine spiders to crawl your site, especially with eCommerce sites that have thousands or millions of products and links. Use the sidebar on the homepage to link category landing pages and make sure that the site map has an organized structure that lists all the main product categories. Internally linking product description pages together through “recommended product” links or “those who searched this also like this” links is an effective way to pass link juice throughout the site.
Another SEO practice that needs to be looked at is the use of long, crazy URLs. There are countless numbers of eCommerce sites that use URLs that do not use keywords and are not SEO friendly. For example, this fictitious site, http://www.myecommercestore.com/, uses a URL that looks something like this for a product page that sells military style cargo shorts, “http://myecommercestore.com/ – productid=9876/, when it should look something like this, “http://www.myecommercestore.com/ -military-cargo-shorts/. Using keywords in the URL will add benefit to SEO.
Internal Search Engines
Utilize the internal search engine to support SEO efforts. So many sites have beyond mediocre search engines where customers will search for product and nothing shows up. But, when navigating through the sites pages, that product is listed. eCommerce sites need to be able to produce search queries for product names, models, SKUs and relative items. Investing in powerful internal search engines is a necessity for a successful eCommerce site.
Unlike tracking external search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, which generally only list keywords for which you rank, internal search metrics provide you with much more valuable information. Internal search engines can help you understand which keywords customers are actually using which will help with targeted external SEO and PPC. This internal search data will also show which keywords are converting into sales and which keywords are causing people to leave the site.
User experience is crucial to a successful eCommerce site. After looking through sites such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com and Newegg.com, there are a few user experience factors that these successful eCommerce sites have in common. In this fast paced world we all live in, no one wants to click through three pages of garbage to finally see the price of a product, thus, upfront pricing and product descriptions are necessary for conversions. Product sorting options are also great for a user, for example, showing highest or lowest priced items, best-selling items, newest items or relevant items at the top of the on-site search query.
One important factor for eCommerce sites and user experience is site speed and performance. Fast page loading times are clearly related to increased search traffic and improved conversion rates. Google has started considering site speed and page load time as a new organic search ranking factor. So, we can determine that faster sites are clearly correlated with increased search rankings and positive user experience.
Creatively designed Rich Snippets, while not necessarily increasing search rankings, improves the presentation of pages in the search results, increases click though rates and increases the user experience. For example, which search result would you rather click on: One that lists your search topic and a review or one that includes reviews, availability, price and a photo? That’s a rhetorical question.
Social Media should not be overlooked. Google does take Likes, Shares and Retweets into consideration when determining search rankings. Adding Facebook Like, Share and Twitter Tweet buttons to the product description pages will allow users to link to the site through social media. Interacting with your customers in social media is an amazing way to increase brand awareness and conversions.
SEO for eCommerce is highly competitive and constantly evolving. Innovating and learning from others to better understand the search engines and consumer behavior is critical to the success of any eCommerce site.