With thousands of individual product detail pages and category pages, e-commerce sites have many opportunities for great SEO. However, it is critical that you choose an e-commerce platform that allows you to control the many factors that are important for SEO.
Webmaster Tools Verification
When first completing an SEO audit or building a new e-commerce website, there are several key steps that can set up the website for success. This includes the verification of the website through Google and Bing Webmaster Tool. These platforms allow you to see crawl errors, update SEO settings for your website, and more.
Google Analytics Ecommerce
Another key feature you’ll need is the ability to setup Google Analytics or another traffic analytic tracking service. Google Analytics offers e-commerce tracking support that can display extensive information about user’s shopping behavior. To setup e-commerce tracking, your shopping cart will need to be able to pass specific data to Google Analytics via the order thank you page.
Once this is complete, it’s time to set up a dynamic XML sitemap. If your e-commerce platform can create an instantly updated XML sitemap, setup and maintenance of the sitemap will be much easier.
E-commerce sitemaps must be updated regularly, as products are often removed, edited, or added to the site. Once the sitemap is set up on the site (usually located at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml), it can be submitted to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, as well as other search engines, such as Ask and Baidu (China’s largest search engine).
Customized Product Detail Pages—Titles & Descriptions
Duplicate content is the enemy of successful e-commerce SEO, so you need the ability to edit almost anything on each individual product detail page. Being able to edit product page page titles and meta descriptions individually is critical.
Meta descriptions may not directly impact SERP rankings, but they definitely influence CTRs. They should never be the same or overly generic, such as “Clothes.com offers dresses, pants, and more for men and women.”
Instead, a meta description for a product page for a black lace cocktail dress should say something like, “This Jill Stuart black lace cocktail dress is perfect for parties, weddings, and other celebrations. Free shipping until Dec 24th.”
More Product Detail Page Tips
Each new product description page offers a variety of SEO opportunities that can help increase website traffic and online sales. Some of these include:
- Keyword Image Alt tags: Be sure to have the alt tag for the photo on the page to include the title of the product.
- Related Products: Use other product titles as the anchor text in a related products section near the bottom of the page that users may be interested in.
- Utilize Video: Besides great photos and content, product description pages could include a video testimonial, review, or overview of the product. Zappos.com does this for the majority of their products. They have a Zappos employee model the product and then speak about its features. For clothing, shoes, and accessories, this can help the customer feel more certain about their purchase because they know what it looks like when held or modeled by a real person.
- Adding social sharing tools, including Pinterest: Pinterest can be a traffic superstar for many ecommerce sites, especially when users pin images that directly go to the description page. Regularly check to make sure the social sharing tools are working (many times, a change in permissions or API logic can cause issues) and make sure the buttons are visible on the page next the image.
- Keyword-Rich URLs: Make sure that the URL structure of product pages include high-level keywords. For the example above, a good URL would be yoursite.com/womens-dresses/jill-stuart-julia-cocktail or something similar. The URL doesn’t need to include all keywords, but the brand, model, and type is a good place to start.
Don’t Forget the Category Pages
The product details pages are important, but never forget SEO opportunities for the category pages. Your ecommerce software should support similar features for category pages that we listed for product pages:
- Ability to edit page titles and meta descriptions
- Ability to add social share buttons
- Use of image alt tags
- Keyword rich, static URLS
Another feature you should look for is the ability add custom text or HTML to category pages—a great way to provide useful text both for visitors and for googlebot.
SEO for e-commerce websites goes far beyond installing Google Analytics and adding a keywords meta tag. It’s critical that you choose an ecommerce platform that includes the SEO features you’ll need to succeed.