Ecommerce SEO usually isn’t a hole in one.
The more products you offer and the more pages your web store hosts, the more work is involved in keeping everything optimized. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in the position of having to repair bad SEO.
By following the principles we’ve discussed, you should be able to fix the most common SEO challenges ecommerce businesses face. Still, you might have to do some troubleshooting to get to the root of the problem.
Here is a quick rundown of the most common ecommerce SEO issues and how to fix them.
Find and repair bad links
Broken links are frequently a source of SEO problems for ecommerce websites. This is particularly true of outbound links.
Internal links (which point to other pages on your site) are not typically a problem because it is easier for you to catch pages that have gone offline or that are having some other issue. When you want to remove or update a page but keep the link, you just have to redirect the URL.
With outbound links, however, you may not be aware when a page you’re linking to goes offline. If your site only uses a few outbound links, it may be easy enough for you to test them on a routine basis. But if you have a lot of outbound links, it will be easier to use a tool like Link Miner.
Ensure your pages are mobile-friendly
As we’ve discussed, Google and other search engines penalize sites that are not optimized for mobile. Responsive design is simple enough in theory. Nevertheless, there is a lot of detail work involved in making sure that your web store provides a consistent experience across all devices—desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone—as well as all major browsers your customers may be using.
Choosing an ecommerce solution with a built-in CMS eliminates a lot of the headache involved in building a responsive site. Not only do they generally include mobile-optimized page templates, but they offer tools that let you preview how your pages will look on different devices.
Curate your content
One of the key markers search engine crawlers use to determine a page’s relevance are updates to the page. A page may or may not still be relevant if it hasn’t had any updates in five years. But a page that gets at least a few updates a year clearly demonstrates an effort to engage active users.
(At least, this is the thinking of the search engines.)
Note that updating your pages doesn’t have to mean making significant changes to your content. There is no need to rewrite all your product descriptions every quarter. It can be enough to update your website’s theme seasonally, for instance.
Even better, let your customers write reviews on your product pages. Doing so not only provides incredible value to your shoppers, but it ensures that your product pages are regularly updated with unique content (for free).
Use the canonical tag
Duplicate content can pose a particular challenge to ecommerce SEO when you have a large offering of very similar products. Writing unique, keyword-rich product descriptions for fifty variants of an HDMI cable is difficult if you don’t have intensive marketing resources.
By using the canonical tag, you can define just one of these pages as the official version that the search engines crawl. In that way, other pages with the same content won’t be penalized. If you have many pages with similar content (like descriptions), you should review them to make sure you have assigned a canonical URL.
Sharpen page titles and meta descriptions
Your page titles and meta descriptions are quite literally the first impression that search engine traffic gets of your web store. Regardless of the search terms potential customers use to find you, your site will be listed among many other websites that rank for the same term.
If you want shoppers to choose your site, you have to engage them with the small chunk of text the SERPs offer.
How you do this depends on the nature of the page you’re trying to rank. Take a product page, for example. If your product is unusual or unique in some way, you might call attention to its specific value, e.g. made from 100% recycled materials.
If it’s a popular product, you might invite shoppers to discover what everyone’s talking about.
On the other hand, if it’s a commonplace product and you want your page to be competitive, it might be best to call out specs, low prices or special offers.
Whichever approach you take, remember to identify the strategic keywords you’re targeting with the page. Weave them into the page title and meta description as often as possible.
Optimize your page speed
Pages with slow loading times don’t just drive away customers… they can harm your SEO. The worst part is, “slow loading times” as little as 3 seconds get a bounce rate of 40% or more.
Tools like Pingdom let you test your website’s loading speed and overall performance from different locations around the world. Often, media-heavy pages (lots of images and/or video) are behind any slow loading speeds. A content delivery network can significantly reduce load times by hosting these large files elsewhere.
Run an SEO audit
If you have tried all these suggestions and still aren’t seeing the results you want, you should consider running an SEO audit of your site.
An SEO audit isn’t as intimidating as it may sound. It’s just a comprehensive analysis of your website’s SEO. It examines all the factors contributing to your site’s current search engine ranking, some of which may not be obvious. This allows you to properly diagnose the problem(s) and find the best solution. SEO agencies can perform an audit for your business. But with just a few tools, you can run an SEO audit yourself. This article provides a detailed overview of the audit process and how you can get started performing one.