April 3, 2018 ByCheryl Dykstra
When it comes to websites and search engine optimization
(SEO), ecommerce websites are almost considered a different animal.
While many of the fundamentals remain the same, ecommerce
websites tend to run into certain issues that traditional websites don’t
experience – or at least not as often.
Here are five things that are essential to the success of an
ecommerce website that is optimizing for search:
1. No Duplicate
Duplicate content is often an immediate trouble area for
ecommerce – especially if you’re on a marketplace model where other similar or
identical products are sold.
Large marketplaces generally use generic product
descriptions provided by the product seller, but in doing so they are creating
duplicate content and, unless they are lucky, they almost certainly will not
rank consistently on the front pages of the search results. Creating your own custom,
optimized product descriptions and design templates can help combat this.
The other type of duplicate content for ecommerce happens on
your own website. This type of
duplicate content can dilute a particular page’s authority and if done
repeatedly can lead to a downgrade in your overall rankings based on the Google
Panda algorithm update.
To combat this type of duplicate content, you’ll need to
implement rel=canonical tags so that
your content only points to one URL for any page with nearly identical
You may have heard that the more content pages you have on
your website, the better.
It’s true that additional, high quality content can lead to
additional search engine traffic. In fact, a good content marketing strategy is
one of the main factors in increasing your traffic over time – if you wait long
enough to see results.
That being said, having too many poorly optimized, low
quality content pages can actually hurt your rankings – producing too many
irrelevant pages and bringing your overall quality score down.
But before you start deleting all of your old, thin content;
try to see if there is a way to build them up before deleting. For example, if
you have a bunch of thin content pages, consider combining them to create a
stronger content page that can be a comprehensive resource.
Only after addressing opportunities for optimization should
you start cutting pages. In the process, it’s important to ensure that the
pages you remove:
- Are not a source of existing search engine traffic
- Are not capturing inbound links from external sources
- Are redirected to related resources to capture any inbound
authority they may have already had
3. Optimized Keywords
Optimizing your keywords isn’t a one-and-done type of thing,
especially with ecommerce sites.
Sometimes the terminology you used before is replaced with a
different terminology. Other times, adding more variations or long-tail
keywords is necessary to help your website thrive in search.
A deep dive of your current keywords, your competitor’s
keywords, and what is being used in the market can help you determine what
keywords you’re doing well for and what needs to be improved.
One common issue with ecommerce sites is that they tend to
focus on branded keywords such as brand name and product name. While you
shouldn’t remove that information, it’s important to also include keywords
related to the product that aren’t about the brand of product model. These
keywords are often referred to as “generic keywords”, though they are essential
for good search engine optimization.
4. Build Internal
Ecommerce sites often have a huge amount of products.
Building a solid internal linking structure not only helps
with your rankings by directing search engines back to the important pages, but
it is also an important part of the user experience on your website because it
allows visitors to easily navigate through your site and find the page they’re
Getting your link architecture under control is an absolute
necessity if you want your ecommerce site to be optimized for search engines.
5. Add Reviews
User-generated content, such as reviews, can be a
On one hand, studies have shown that adding user reviews to
your website improves organic search
traffic by approximately 30%. On the other hand, adding reviews requires
moderating and responding to any negativity.
If you’re afraid of user reviews trashing your reputation, you
might be surprised by a few facts about reviews.
Believe it or not, products with diverse star ratings
actually perform better than products with five-star only ratings. By
including some authentication into the process you can cut down on fake reviews,
and if you respond well to criticism, it can often improve performance better
than never having been criticized in the first place.
Keep in mind that most people won’t even leave a review
unless you ask. Research
by Trustpilot indicates that people are twice as likely to leave a
review if you ask them (from 14% to 29%).
These five improvements can help your ecommerce website
thrive in search engines, but it’s just the beginning of optimizing.
If you’re looking for help improving your website’s search
rankings, call Sales & Marketing Technologies today for a free strategy
session with one of our digital marketing experts!