Hello. Today I’m going to be talking about some common SEO issues that I see a lot with e-commerce sites. I’ve got five issues here that are really common with sites that sell products online, and in ironing them out, you can actually make a real difference to your SEO.
First of all you’ve got your URL structure. Now this is surprisingly common, and in fact a lot of sites don’t realise that their URL structure is important or that it could be better optimised for search. By having a really clean and clear structure, so a directory and then the product, or category and the product, rather than having lots of different directories and a really long URL, or unnecessary code in there and text and numbers that just aren’t needed, if you keep this nice and clean, it’s better for both search engines and users and helps them both to navigate your site and understand where things are and what’s important, and at what level of the site they are in.
So this is really important, and it’s well worth getting that structure set up, even if it means a little bit of technical coding to change the way things are. It would be worth it in the long run. Just make sure that if you’re going to change an existing URL structure, that any of the old URLs are appropriately redirected so as not to lose any of that value or lose search engines or visitors in the process.
The next one is image alt tags. Now this is particularly common with e-commerce sites, because there are so many images on the site. With typical sites that don’t sell products online, it’s a lot easier to make sure that every time you put an image on you’ve got an alt tag, and it’s got the appropriate name. But with e-commerce sites, when you’re uploading products in bulk and products come and go regularly, you quite often see that the alt tags are neglected, and they aren’t optimised if they are there.
So it’s important to remember that this is an important part of the page, and it helps search engines gain an understanding of what the page is about, and more specifically, what the image is of. And it’s also good for usability and users who can’t see the images on the page. So it’s an important one to remember, and if there’s any way that you can go through the site and make sure that all of your images have got nice optimised alt tags that clearly identify what the image is about, then it’s going to make a difference.
The next one I’ve got here is about mobile sites, and I put responsive design here, because with e-commerce sites it’s really important that your site is accessible to both desktop and mobile users and everything in between, which is why responsive design is a really nice touch for an e-commerce site, meaning that anyone can use your site on any device, and it will load and render properly. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re on a mobile and you’re trying to buy from a site that just doesn’t have a mobile optimised site or a responsive design site, and you can’t tap the right targets. You can’t find what you’re looking for, and it’s just not designed for a mobile experience.
You’re going to lose business if you have a site like that. So it’s really important to consider mobile users because they are climbing dramatically, and they’re every bit as important, if not more important, than your desktop users. So it’s important moving forward that you get that right.
Next I’ve got thin content, and I’ve put here about product descriptions, because some of the most common places that we see duplicate or thin content is in product descriptions, because it’s very difficult sometimes to talk about different products when there are only slight variations perhaps to other products on your site. But it’s really important that you do have enough unique textual content on each of your pages, and this includes your products. So sit down and write as much as you can about your products, and make sure that you’ve got 250 plus words on each page, 300 plus if you can. And make sure that it’s unique to that page and isn’t a duplicate from another similar product. Keep it completely unique, nice unique product descriptions, unique to each page and to your site.
Lastly I’ve got URL parameters. Particularly with e-commerce sites you will often see different URL structures and tagging, things added in order to categorise different products, which can cause duplication issues. It’s really easy to deal with these. If you’ve got a URL structure that means that you have to have URL parameters, you can make sure that search engines don’t index them as separate pages in Webmaster Tools or via robots.txt. So it’s really important to get that right and make sure that you’re telling search engines what is unique content and what they shouldn’t be indexing.
So this is just a few issues concerning e-commerce sites, and there are a lot more. But hopefully, if you can iron out these things, it will actually make a real big difference in terms of search. It’ll help you users, and it’ll give search engines more relevancy about your pages, and it’ll make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for, which ultimately is going to help you in the search engine results pages.
So thanks for listening, and follow us with the social profiles at the end, and I’ll see you again soon.
Brilliant Emma! Thanks ever so much. These resources are EXACTLY what I am looking for :)
Great overview, Emma! Excellent reminder (to self) about the need to be vigilant where URL parameters are concerned (or more importantly, why they can be so useful with certain URL formats).
Incidentally, are you able to recommend (or email me) some links to really good white papers / resources / articles etc., that go into greater depth on each of the five elements you covered in this video? You gave us the “what needs to be done” and I am now looking for the “how it can be done” e.g. actual examples of best practice ecommerce sites (that conform to each of the aspects you spoke of). I love ecommerce and can never get enough really meaty information on the “how” side of things.
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