As an agency, we at Power Digital Marketing frequently come across many common SEO mistakes in eCommerce. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes not only interrupt the customer’s experience, but they also can hurt your site’s or page’s ranking overall.
Even worse these mistakes permeate and spread as common SEO myths with the promise of improving your site. But fear not! Many of these mistakes are easily fixed once you know about them. So let’s take a look at some of these myths and the best way to quickly address them.
Common E-Commerce SEO Myths
Myth: Remove Out-of-Stock Product Pages
When you have an out of stock product, it’s hard to know what the best thing to do with the page is. Should you leave the page as is? Redirect the page somewhere? Delete the page entirely? Before making any decisions, it’s probably best to recognize if the product is permanently out of stock, or just temporarily. If the latter, it’s probably best to leave the page as is. But, if the product will never be restocked, or at least not in the foreseeable future, the best solution is to 301 redirect the page.
Using a 301 redirect allows you to retain all the authority from the links built to that page, you won’t have to worry about losing anything. The rankings and authority from the previous page will now be passed to the new one. More importantly, customers will be less likely to bounce if you use a 301 redirect to your advantage by redirecting them somewhere relevant.
Related: The Ultimate E-Commerce SEO Guide
This means you should not be redirecting every page back to your home page, this will increase the likelihood of people bouncing off the site. Instead, redirect them to a similar product or applicable product category page. The more similar the product or product category page you redirect to, the better. The customer will be happy, plus the rankings and authority passed to the page will still be for a relevant product.
Myth: Each Variation of a Product Needs Its Own Page
Some people may suggest that you should have a separate product page for each color of an item. Don’t listen to those people. You want to avoid this tactic and have a single product page with options to view each color. This creates a better shopping experience for your customers and make it easier for them to see what is available on your site. Always remember, you want to make the customer’s time on your site as easy as possible to avoid abandonment.
Often times the same meta data and product descriptions are used across various colors of the same product. Having one page for all variations of one product is can also prevent from any duplicate meta data or duplicate content issues.
BONUS: You’ll also want to keep your most important SEO product pages as close to the homepage as possible. This means you’ll want to shorten the click path to no more than a couple clicks. Doing so will ensure that your SEO isn’t buried on your site and will be easier for users and bots alike to find it quickly.
Myth: You Only Need One Product Description Per Product
Product descriptions are the most important content on your product pages and should not be overlooked. A common problem that we see with new clients is that they’re using the same product description for every retailer and every website that sells their products, which can cause duplicate content issues.
If a search engine, such as Google, sees what they consider duplicate content as other sites, your organic search rankings will suffer. This is why adding unique product descriptions for each site is crucial. If you must use the manufacturer’s product description, try to adjust the wording slightly and use synonyms to create some changes.
Keep product descriptions short and succinct, using bullet points when possible. This is helpful for both customers and search engine spiders that are viewing your site. When creating product descriptions, don’t forget who your audience is.
Continue to write for them even if you’re only writing copy for a product page. And finally, use the product description to answer potential questions customers may have before purchasing. For example, if you’re selling a jacket that is waterproof be sure to place that in the description.
Myth: Not All E-Commerce Pages Need Content
Even if you’re running an eCommerce site, it is important to have relevant and helpful content on your pages. Not only is this useful for consumers, but it is vital for SEO rankings. One commonly overlooked place for content is product category pages. These pages still need to contain some content or Google may penalize you for thin content pages.
Plus, adding content will help the category pages to rank better especially if your competitors don’t have content on their category pages, giving you an edge over the competition. However, you don’t want to disrupt the buyer’s experience with content heavy category pages. As a result, the best practice is to limit yourself to about 300 words placed at the bottom of the page under all the products.
Myth: SEO is Dead
It is true that SEO in its original form is dead. However, SEO as a strategy has grown and evolved into something much more sophisticated. There was a time when using black hat tactics such as keyword stuffing, hidden text, scraping, and link schemes were the best way to increase your search ranking. Now, however, those tactics will only get you penalties from Google.
Instead, all webmasters including those of eCommerce sites must use white hat tactics such as quality content, keyword optimizations, and real PR to achieve the best possible ranking for every page on their site.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO and, unfortunately, as an eCommerce site you’ll have a unique set of challenges to face when designing and optimizing your site for search engine spiders. As you make decisions regarding your site, think carefully about how each choice will influence your SEO. And be sure to stay on top of new search engine guidelines as they are always changing. SEO is not a one and done process, but a continually evolving tactic that demands your attention.