5 E-Commerce SEO Tips You Can Use Today

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SEO is an area where many online retailers still struggle, especially technical issues. With this in mind, here are some actionable SEO tips that can be be used by retailers today.

Get More From Your Review Content

Review content represents a huge opportunity for e-commerce websites, purely because of the level of unique content available for product pages. If you optimize your review acquisition process and ask the right questions, this could be a really big part of your organic growth strategy.

If you are using an enterprise-level platform like BazaarVoice, you can send review prompts and follow-up emails to optimize the success rates of obtaining customer reviews. This will generate more volume as well. Also, provide some kind of incentive, such as a monthly prize draw, to help make the review proposition more enticing.

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If you are not using a third-party review service, you can still to achieve this. Just map out the process with your developers and create the functionality yourself.

Asking the right questions is really important, as it will help to make the content on the product pages more relevant. You should also build relevance into the algorithm to ensure that you are keeping the best and more contextual content on the page.

In addition to this, I integrate this activity with your email service provider (ESP) to give you more data, such as conversion rates.

Then, read learn more about getting the most out of BazaarVoice for SEO, and more on review vendor SEO. Both resources provide great detail about your platform implementation.

Be Vigilant With Low-Quality Pages

Panda represents a huge risk to e-commerce websites with low-quality pages (too many dynamic pages, pages without content, duplicate variants of content, or just duplicate content). Panda is notoriously difficult to overcome, so listen up.

Focus on the following items (in order) to future-proof your website:

Dynamic Pages

Dynamic pages can cause issues when left accessible to search engines, which is you should prevent them from being indexed. I have seen plenty of cases where a website had been either affected by Panda or generally saw a drop in rankings as a result of allowing these pages to be indexed.

Here are some of the most common types of dynamic pages:

  • Layered navigation
  • Pagination
  • Tracking parameters
  • Sort filter

In order to prevent this from being an issue, perform regular website crawls and keep an eye of what is being indexed.

Here are a few resources that provide more guidance on this issue:

Duplicate Product Content

Duplicate product content is probably the most common e-commerce SEO problem. And, it results in low search position due to Google’s Panda update.

The most common issues relates to retailers opting for supplier content (usually because they do not have the resource internally). This will, unless it is a strong domain, prevent a website from ranking for product queries.

If you are in this position, gradually edit the copy. Prioritize with product pages that already generate a lot of traffic and revenue.

Another common issue is the use of product feeds which results in the same duplicate product copy. This is happens when retailers provide a shopping feed to affiliates, resellers, and marketplaces. To combat the risk of duplicate copy, create a second feed with separate content to eliminate the risks associated with sharing a product feed.

Here is some further reading on this:

Out of Stock Pages

There are many different opinions on what to do on a product page when it is out of stock. I would suggest to leave it, especially if it is a only a temporary issue.

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Image Credit: Flickr

When you leave an out-of-stock product page, you run the risk of unhappy customers, so you need to provide some helpful information. Do one of the following options:

  • Provide the user with some indication of when the product will be back in stock. This can either be a static date or a countdown to show the user when they can purchase the product.
  • Capture the user’s email address and automatically send an email once the product is stocked again.
  • Allow the user to continue to purchase the product, and deliver it direct once it is is back in stock.
  • Finally, provide the user with products similar to the product they are looking at.

Any of these techniques will enable you to provide a positive outcome for the user and the search engine… until the time the product is discontinued.

When that time comes, have a strategy in place to ensure that the product pages are not left in the wilderness. For websites with thousands of pages, create an automated process to reduce the amount of hours spent on implementing redirects.

When creating rules for discontinued products, there are a number of internal factors that may affect the decision. Here are some suggested methods:

  • 301 redirect the product to either an updated model, or the most relevant alternative product.
  • If there is no product available, then redirect the product to the category or sub-category.
  • Remove the product completely and provide the search engine with a 410 status code to have it removed the index.

Rich Snippets

I am often surprised by the lack of online retailers who have not yet implemented rich snippets.

With structured data becoming more of a factor, those who have implemented rich snippets are starting to see the benefits.

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Implementing rich snippets provides the user with further information about a product and also allows the result to stand apart from other search competition.

Rich snippets are fairly simple to implement. And, there are a number of helpful resources to take you through the process, including:

By implementing rich snippets you will not only stand out from the crowd, but you will also start to see an increase in click through rates.

Get Granular With Sitemaps

Sitemaps can be the forgotten SEO technique. In fact, a large number of companies only have a single sitemap containing all of their content. Although it does the job, it does nothing to help inform where your indexing issues are.

Using a sitemap index allows you to be more granular with the categorization of the sitemaps, providing you with more information, but sometimes it’s not enough. With larger websites with multiple categories, it is essential to use multiple sitemap indices.

Breaking your website into multiple sitemap indices makes it easier to understand where the indexing issues lie.

Here are some useful links for creating best practice sitemaps:

And that is it…five SEO tips for e-commerce to put to practice today! How many of these do you currently in place? Any you disagree with? I’d love to hear your comments below.

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Mark J Sebastian
All screenshots taken April 2015

Daniel Bianchini

Daniel Bianchini

Director of Services at White
Daniel Bianchini is an Oxford based SEO Consultant currently working for White.net. He is currently the Director of Services and lead on a number of high profile clients. Daniel runs a networking group in Oxford for digital professionals called OxonDigital. Twitter @danielbianchini
Daniel Bianchini
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  • Excellent post with great tips for eCommerce SEO. I would like the point about duplicate product content. Retailers use suppliers content and with this it will be banned from the search engines.
    Always create unique content, include product features and advantages for product detail pages. If you can’t make unique content, then put NO INDEX meta tag for those pages.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      With regards to product content, absolutely. A lot of manufacturers and retail brands send out the same content and this is then used by multiple websites. If you have this type of content then you really do need to be creating unique content. If this is for 100s or 1000s of products, then you need to do it methodically, and start with those that provide the biggest ROI.

      I would be against adding a No Index tag to those products that you can’t edit. The reason being is, lots of websites have the same content and still rank. If you have visibility then you don’t want to lose it, you just need to work on getting unique content on the page, this could be done through UGC or other non-product description content.

  • Great article Daniel. I have a question if a website have thousands of pages how can we created a xml sitemap. Currently i am using xml-sitemaps.com but this site create only 500 pages sitemap.

    • Hey abhishek have you tried web-site-map.com ?
      They have limit of 3000 + pages .

    • Hello,

      Ideally you would a sitemap created automatically via the CMS and pubished direct to the root folder. If you are unable to do it via the CMS, then I’d suggest using ScreamingFrog, however this could become time consuming depending on how large the website is. The other downside to not having an automated sitemap generator, is that it would go potentially go out of date very quickly.

      I hope that helps.

      • Yea the auto site map generator is good, but what if we have a custom platform? Do you recommend using a third party site to generate sitemap or we should develop a custom sitemap generator

  • Hey Daniel, you mentioned great points. Most of company have problem in duplicate content, and dynamic pages. So for duplicate, I think we have to make unique content for category and product pages along with awesome reviews. And for dynamic pages, we can use robots.txt and to monitor on regular basis. Also additionally, we need to monitor broken periodically and if any found, fix it asap. Once fix, submit sitemap in Google webmaster tools to index fresh pages.

    • Dynamic pages can be fixed with a canonical, too. If you have a sortBy feature that changes a dynamic URL, but keeps the same content (albeit in a new order) then a canonical vs noindex is your best bet.

  • Hello Daniel,
    Your post is really making sense regarding the eCommerce SEO tips. Generally duplicate product content issue is the common problem, but for that canonical tag is the best option to set preferred URL for targeting in rank.