E-commerce sites can present several challenges when optimizing for search. While each e-commerce website will have its own set of difficulties, here’s a rundown of the more common issues facing e-commerce sites and how best to deal with them.
Managing End-of-Line Products
Failing to properly manage old products can have a significant impact on user experience: customers may land on a product page that they cannot purchase from, resulting in a negative user experience.
To prevent this from happening, end-of-line pages need to be redirected. Redirects should ideally lead to a similar product page or the category that the product was listed under. If neither option is possible, redirect to the homepage as a last resort.
Server-side 301 redirects, which state that a page has been permanently moved to a new location, are best used for this as they pass on the value of the page.
Duplication can be a massive issue for eCommerce sites. Duplicate content dilutes the effectiveness of your site as the domain value is spread across every URL of the site.
Minimizing duplicate or low-value pages means that the remaining URLs will perform better within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Duplication arises when the same content is available via different URLs. For example as a result of product filters (A-Z, Highest Price to Lowest Price) or if your site is using session IDs to keep track of visitors, there are many causes so it’s worth more investigation.
How to Do It
To determine whether or not your site is falling victim to duplication, you can run a site operator search as follows:
- Set your search preferences to 100 results per page then search site:example.com. When you go to the final page of results, Google may prompt you to display omitted results.
- Clicking through will show you a larger set of your indexed pages. This will include results from what Google calls the ‘supplemental index’ including various types of duplication/low-value pages.
- Chaining site operator queries together can help narrow down duplication so, for example, if you spot a session id in these results: jsessionid – search site: example.cominurl“jsessionid“
There are various solutions for dealing with duplicate and low-value content, ranging from redirection to adding canonical tags to pages; it all depends on the type of content. Below are a few example cases for dealing with duplication:
- A valuable URL that has functionality and needs to exist – canonicalize
- A valuable URL that no longer needs to exist – 301 redirect
- A non-valuable URL that exists within a CMS/file structure – meta robots tag
- A non-valuable URL that does NOT exist within a CMS/file structure (tracking tags) –robots exclusion
- Paginated pages should be dealt with by using Rel=”next” and Rel=”prev” tags
Also read: Shift in SEO Trends in Post Pandemic World
Know more: 7 Tips to Optimize Your Product Pages for Increased Traffic and Sales
Nail the Basic SEO
If you have a large number of products that frequently change, ensuring that basic SEO rules such as targeted page titles and meta descriptions are well executed is often tricky, particularly for eCommerce sites. The page <title> is the most important on-page element.
A scalable approach for page titles and meta descriptions for larger eCommerce websites is to develop a dynamic format.
How to Do It
This involves using relevant fields from the database to optimize page titles, meta descriptions, and <h1> headings so for example, if you are selling phones you may follow a format for the page title:
[Brand] [Phone Model] [Storage] [Colour] | [Contract Type] | PhoneShop
This would translate to:
Apple iPhone 5 16GB White | Pay as you Go | PhoneShop
The benefit is that when you add new makes, models, and brands, the titles and meta descriptions are optimized based on the data that you have stored in the database.
Conclusion: One of the fundamental rules of SEO is that you should treat every page on your website as a landing page focused on performing for a single SEO search term and converting the resulting traffic.
By trying to target multiple/different key phrases on a page, you not only dilute the focus of the page but also make this page less likely to perform.