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5 ecommerce SEO mistakes to avoid in 2021

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Let’s set the scene: You’ve got a friend's party coming up. In a rush, you need a new pair of shoes. So, you do a quick Google search to try and find a pair that might work.

The question – where do you click next once your Google results appear? We’re going to make an educated guess that chances are, you didn’t scroll for a few pages and read every description in detail. Instead, you clicked on something you saw early on.

This happens daily. Lots. And it's why eCommerce sites need to be zealous about SEO. Put simply, when it comes to search engines, being at the top matters for eCommerce businesses.

Sure, you can spend a tonne on paid advertising, but how is that going to work for you (and your budget) in the long haul? As a marketer, is there anything you can do now to help boost your SEO?

The truth is, eCommerce SEO can be tricky. But it doesn't have to be! Here are the top 5 critical issues site owners usually make and how you fix them:

Mistake 1: Not caring about your product descriptions

Product descriptions are a key thing to master when it comes to improving your eCommerce SEO, but there are a few mistakes we see far too often, including:

  • Not including a description - An image is a thousand words...except when it comes to product descriptions. One mistake we often see is people not including a description at all! If you do this, Google can’t read the page and get the all-important context it needs to think you’re worthy of being a helpful search result.

  • Using someone else’s description – Another similar mistake is just using the manufacturer's description or ripping it off another site. Google turns a blind eye to content that it knows is copied, so if you copy your product descriptions from somewhere you won’t rank at all.

    But that doesn’t mean you should ignore what other people have as their product descriptions. Take a look at how your competitors describe their products. If you see gaps, add them to yours. If you have content your competitors don’t, Google will see your page as a resource, and help you rank better.

  • Stuffing as many keywords in as possible – It can also be tempting to just stuff your product description full of keywords in hope that Google picks it up, but again this isn’t a good idea. Google is smart enough to see through this and will decide you’re not worth ranking.

    The rule of thumb? Keep your word count high(er) and your keyword count low (below 2%). Shoppers actually love product descriptions – around 87% of them say they’re an “extremely important part” of the decision-making process. A slightly longer description helps your customers and also means you can add a few more (natural sounding) keywords in, so it’s a win-win solution.

  • Duplicate Content – Google is smart. If you have multiple pages of products that are really similar (e.g., two different colors of a product). It can be really tempting to just use the same description for them all. This leads to you having different URLs with the same content on your website.

    When Google indexes a site, it tries to determine the primary content of each page. If Google finds multiple pages on the same site that seem to be the same, it chooses the page that it thinks is the most complete and useful, and marks it as The other pages will be deindexed, which can impact your SEO for that type of product.

    To keep things running smoothly, create unique content for every product description. You can also select one page that you want Google to index and make it your canonical URL, so you're able to control which page Google is indexing.

Be a resource! Don’t copy what others have already said. Instead, provide unique content that is helpful to your customers. That way, you’ll be on your way to improving your SEO.

Mistake 2: Ignoring page titles and descriptions 
  • Using the same title tags and descriptions - Similar to what we talked about with product descriptions, using duplicate page titles and descriptions is something you’ll also want to reduce if you’re trying to boost SEO.

    The title tag is an HTML code tag that allows you to give a web page a title. When you have similar products, it can be very tempting to use just one for all. Of course, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid but do so if you can - remember, Google loves a bit of variation.

    The best way to reduce this is to only create website pages that have a specific purpose. If you’ve got a specific purpose, it’s easier to have keywords that you want to target in a unique title tag.

Just because your customers don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t matter. Creating unique page titles and descriptions is a good way to make sure SEO gets a boost.

Mistake 3: Not using customer reviews
  • Get the reviews flowing - If the customers love it, Google wants to know about it. Remember, Google is trying to make the lives of people easier by giving them the information they want quickly.

    If people want to know what the “best” product is out there, a bunch of great customer reviews will surely help you out. In fact, Google shows product reviews in search results for this very reason.

    You can easily get product reviews by sending emails to your customers asking them to review the product (we love using Survicate and YotPo to do this). You can also regularly share the reviews to your site, which helps to keep its content fresh, letting Google know the page is active.

    Google loves customer reviews, so make sure you’re collecting them and posting them to your website, or on Google MyBusiness.

Mistake 4: Not optimizing your product images
  • Using big images - If your file size is over 100kb, you’re likely going to run into a slightly slower webpage. You might not even think that this would hurt your SEO, but remember, Google’s job is to get answers fast. This means that a slow user experience can actually harm your SEO!

    Keep your file size smaller, and resize if you need to. Remember to check that image quality hasn’t been hurt before you hit go though!

  • Using non-descriptive file names - Can a file name harm SEO? The answer is yes! Google wants as much information as possible, so giving your file a name that’s descriptive of the image (such as red_socks_mens) is much better than a bunch of numbers and letters.

  • Using non-descriptive alt text - Alt text describes an image and improves accessibility for people who can't see images on web pages. This may be users who use screen readers or have low-bandwidth connections.

    Often people will use a really general descriptive text (e.g., socks) that doesn’t say much about the product. A much better choice would be something slightly more descriptive keywords (e.g., red dress socks with stripes”). However, again, you want to avoid keyword stuffing (e.g., red socks dress socks stripey socks work socks school socks cool socks funky socks), as Google will quickly make sure you don’t rank!

Your product images matter for SEO more than you might think. Make sure you’re using larger images with descriptive file names and alt text.

Mistake 5: Cannibalization of Keywords
  • Not mapping out your keywords based on your site architecture - As an eCommerce business, you want each of your pages to rank for certain keywords. But importantly, you don’t want them all to rank for the same keyword. The keywords you use on different pages should be different. When other pages or products rank for a keyword that’s not relevant, you’ll have keyword cannibalization.

Let’s take our sock example from Mistake 4. The page architecture of the site might look something like this:

Home > Socks> Men> Dress Socks >

If the only keyword we were targeting on all these pages was “socks”, I might have some luck, but I’d have a cannibalization issue. Instead, focusing a broad target of “socks” on the home page but drilling down to phrases “socks for men” and “dress socks for occasions” on the other pages would likely lead to better results.

Make sure you’re mapping your keywords based on your site's architecture to avoid keyword cannibalization.

 

SEO is important for the success of eCommerce businesses. However, eCommerce business owners often miss out as they’re overlooking the smaller details that can make all the difference!

Put simply, you need to make your website as descriptive as possible for it to pack an SEO punch. Detailed and tailored product descriptions, consistent customer reviews, and even descriptive image names can all lend a hand when it comes to eCommerce SEO success.

Not sure where to start? Sometimes, you need a partner that can get you set on the right track. If you need some help getting started with your eCommerce SEO, we’d love to help with a free website audit, no strings attached. Drop us a line today to find out more.