SEO can bring your e-commerce site a steady flow of organic traffic that lasts for a long time. A good marketing strategy should find a good combination of paid traffic and organic traffic to be able to reach the most customers. However, most small businesses struggle with SEO because they lack knowledge or patience. Doing SEO for e-commerce requires an additional set of skills due to the peculiar characteristics of an e-commerce site. If you have tried SEO for your e-commerce site but failed to get the results you wanted, here are some best practice tips to help you know what you did wrong.
Our SEO Best Practices for E-Commerce
1. How Do I Deal with Product Pages That Have Little Content?
Many e-commerce sites pull product information from the database, leading to multiple product pages containing no more than a few photos, some short texts, and nothing more. Worse, the product information may be duplicate content if you have many similar products. This leads to confusion from a search engine’s point of view. Without enough content, it cannot tell how relevant your page is to the user’s intention. To fix this, consider:
- Create content for your most popular products.
- Encourage user-generated content such as reviews and feedback.
- Strengthen your product category pages if you have thousands of products (see next section).
2. Optimize Product Category Pages
Category pages are perhaps the most popular pages to optimize. Focus on these optimization tips to achieve maximum results.
- Treat each category page as an individual home page for closely related products and perform SEO on that page the way you would with an important landing page.
- Add more content to thin category pages.
- Use search engine friendly URLs.
- Make sure the design is both user-friendly and search engine friendly.
- Build deep links to these category pages.
3. Optimize New Product Pages
Good site structure and internal link structure are crucial to ranking new product pages well. Search engine robots will naturally follow the category page that your new product pertains to arrive at the new page. To help them index your content faster, focus your efforts on optimizing those category pages.
Another way to get your new product pages indexed and rank quickly is to add them to the homepage. Search engines scan the homepage all the time for new content, and if your new product is there, it will get indexed right away.
To improve a new product, start by researching competitor products that are already ranking. You can see important factors that could help you improve your page: images, headings, description length. Once you’ve pulled together that information, you can adjust your product page accordingly.
4. Should I Hide Out-of-Stock Items?
You don’t want to disappoint your customers by showing an out-of-stock page. However, from an SEO viewpoint, it’s better to leave these pages for unavailable items where they are and do the following:
- Advise customers when they can expect the item to be available again.
- Add the ability to backorder the item so that customers can receive it the moment it becomes available.
- Add links to other highly relevant items that you recommend as a substitute.
If keeping an out-of-stock item online is a dealbreaker, then you can forward that URL to a comparable item. That will improve the user experience until you have a chance to restock the item. Otherwise, a 404 page will cause customers to bounce.
5. Leverage the Power of User-Generated Content
As we already know, the problem most e-commerce sites face is a lack of unique content. With a blog, you can pour your heart out through words. However, with an online store, it’s not that easy or practical. There’s a simple yet powerful way to cope with this though: user-generated content. Instead of hiring expensive copywriters to create content for you, encourage current users to create content for you. You can do this by:
- Ask users to write a review for the product they just purchased.
- Integrate social media on your pages so that users can easily share, write a comment about, or like the product they love. This will not only add social proof to your item but also improve organic rankings.
- Create contests where users can win small prizes by sharing your products, posting a review, etc.
Above are five simple yet powerful tips to help take your online business to the next level. If all sounds too complicated for you, consider hiring a local SEO expert to do the job because after all, your focus should be on expanding the business. Leave the rest to those who can do it best. We hope you enjoyed our SEO best practices for e-commerce – if you have more ideas, let us know.
David Bell is President of Diving Bell Creative, a digital marketing & SEO agency, as well as a startup advisor.