Just over two decades ago, the idea of buying something over the internet was reserved only for science fiction. Now, it’s reality. E-commerce continues to grow in popularity around the world, as 44% of online shoppers start their buying process with a search engine.
E-commerce is a rapidly developing and competitive industry with success, more than ever, hinging on visibility. But with countless businesses vying for attention online, standing out from the crowd is a daunting challenge. That is where SEO comes in: giving e-commerce entrepreneurs the ability to rise through the search engine ranks and capture the attention of their target audience.
However, while implementing an effective SEO strategy can be a valuable asset to your online e-commerce business, it’s easier said than done. From not internally linking properly to neglecting the importance of page speed, there are many common pitfalls entrepreneurs make when trying to get more eyeballs on their products online. Don’t fret though, we’re going to cover the biggest e-commerce SEO mistakes you should avoid, and the opportunities that are out there for your brand. But before we get into the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to understand what exactly e-commerce SEO is.
What is e-commerce SEO?
So, what do we mean by the term ‘e-commerce SEO’?
In a nutshell, the term refers to the practice of optimising online stores or websites for search engines, like Google, to improve their visibility and rankings in search engine results pages.
Think of it like this: an online seller implements strategies and techniques aimed at enhancing an online shop or website’s authority and user experience to attract organic traffic and increase conversions.
The ultimate goal of e-commerce SEO is to increase website traffic — and thus drive sales — all through the clever implementation of on-page SEO and intent optimisation, link building and good technical setup.
Is SEO important for e-commerce sites?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking SEO is just an afterthought in your e-commerce strategy.
Even if you have the most revolutionary, ground-breaking product, without the correct SEO e-commerce strategy your product simply won’t be seen online. SEO will help your product cut through the noise and rank higher than your competition.
Still not convinced?
Here are several reasons why SEO is important for e-commerce brands:
- Increased visibility and higher rankings in search engine results.
- More organic traffic and potential customers.
- Improved user experience and website usability.
- Higher chances of reaching the right target audience.
- Enhanced brand awareness and recognition.
- Cost-effective compared to other marketing strategies.
- Long-term results and sustainability.
- Competitive advantage over rivals.
- Better website conversion rates and increased revenue.
- Valuable user insights into customer behaviour and preferences through analytics.
Biggest e-commerce SEO mistakes and how to fix them
Now we’ve covered why SEO is a vital part of building your e-commerce business, it’s important to highlight the common e-commerce SEO blunders people make.
Not using unique product descriptions
Don't underestimate the power of unique content in e-commerce SEO.
While it may be tempting to copy and paste a product description from a manufacturer, doing so can damage your ranking and limit the overall traffic to your site.
But why is the product description so important?
A product description that’s enticing, persuasive and well-written will help push potential customers over the line. A recent report from Salsify showed that 87% of shoppers noted product descriptions as an “extremely important part” of their decision-making process.
Product descriptions aren’t just for customers though. Search engines value informative and authoritative content. Creating duplicate descriptions puts you at a disadvantage as, if a search engine has seen the content before, it is going to make your page less valuable and unique. If a competitor happens to have the same product description, but better performance in other areas, they will rank higher than your page.
To maximise your chances of success on the search engine results page (SERP), your product descriptions should be unique, compelling, informative and keyword-rich. Make sure to write copy that matches and fits your tone of voice too.
Speed and performance
The speed and performance of your website is a crucial factor for e-commerce SEO. But just how much does site speed affect SEO? Don’t be mistaken, the impact is significant.
In a 2019 study commissioned by Google, it was found that “decreasing mobile site load times by just one-tenth of a second resulted in major performance gains.” The study also revealed that for retail websites, there was an 8.4% boost in conversion rates from just the 0.1-second improvement in speed.
Optimising the page speed of your site enhances user experience, reducing bounce rates and increasing conversions. In turn, this sends indirect signals to search engines that your site provides value and a good user experience, potentially boosting rankings.
Site speed impacts the crawlability of your e-commerce site too, as search engine bots prefer fast-loading pages, enabling them to crawl and index more of your content efficiently.
The mobile-friendliness of your site is a crucial aspect to consider as well, as it improves mobile users' satisfaction, affects rankings for mobile searches, and helps to lower bounce rates.
No internal linking structure
Internal linking is important for SEO, playing a vital role in improving website visibility and search engine rankings. However, many e-commerce brands fail to use internal links strategically when creating content for their category and/or product pages.
Internal linking helps SEO in several ways. First, it helps search engines understand the site's structure and hierarchy. Internal linking also helps spread link authority throughout the site, boosting the chances of the linked pages ranking for the targeted keywords, and so the visibility of these important pages.
Another advantage of internal linking lies in its ability to enhance user experience, effortlessly guiding visitors throughout your website.
With the strategic inclusion of internal links, users gain easy access to relevant and useful content. As a result, you can lead visitors throughout your site and smoothly steer potential buyers towards the ultimate goal of making a purchase.
A lack of authority
Authority is a crucial factor in search engine rankings and user trust. However, many smaller e-commerce businesses struggle to acquire high authority and relevant links for their products.
This is particularly detrimental as search engines consider the authority of a website when determining its relevance and credibility. Without sufficient authority, e-commerce websites may struggle to rank well in search results, resulting in lower visibility and reduced organic traffic. E-commerce sites with low authority may also face challenges in gaining the trust of potential customers, leading to decreased conversions and sales.
So, how can you gain high authority links directed to your product and category pages? Focusing on creating unique and informative content. We recommend independent industry-relevant data and research, a subject matter that has consistently shown to gain high-quality links. Working with an SEO company with proven experience in relevant link building can be a great way to do this.
Not utilising faceted search
Not utilising faceted search is another common SEO mistake made by e-commerce sites. Every e-commerce business wants to be at the top when it comes to high-volume head terms — for example, ‘men’s coats’, ‘dog beds’, and ‘plant pots’. However, some sites have a better shot than others.
Faceted search allows users to refine their search results based on specific criteria, enhancing usability and helping users find relevant products. Without faceted search, users may struggle to navigate large product catalogues, leading to frustration and high bounce rates. Without being optimised for faceted search, search engines may find it challenging to crawl and index the website's content effectively, resulting in lower search engine results page (SERP) visibility and organic traffic.
With this in mind, try targeting lower-volume, long-tail keywords instead. For example, ‘waterproof men’s coats’, ‘orthopaedic dog beds’, and ‘pink plant pots’.
How to improve SEO of e-commerce website: e-commerce SEO opportunities
On top of avoiding the common mistakes made in e-commerce SEO, how exactly can you improve the SEO of an e-commerce website? In this section, we’ll cover the top tips on how to improve an e-commerce product page using SEO, as well as drive overall traffic to your website, and increase authority and brand visibility.
Don’t underestimate the power of user-generated content for e-commerce. Owning customer reviews, media, and Q&As — as opposed to publishing them on third-party platforms like Trustpilot) — can be a huge competitive advantage. Features such as these will add unique and relevant user-generated content to your e-commerce product pages, boosting your rankings and overall visibility. Brands like DIY.com in particular use these features to their advantage.
As discussed, a lack of authoritative links can be a detriment to your e-commerce site. But how do you build backlinks for e-commerce in a sustainable manner? One proactive way to build e-commerce backlinks is to reach out to suppliers to get links from their stockist and retailer pages.
Another way to gain backlinks for your e-commerce website would be to publish industry-relevant data and research to acquire authoritative links from sites with higher domain ratings.
Multimedia product listing pages (PLP)
Keep in mind the importance of multimedia assets when analysing your product pages too. The best product page SEO practice makes use of video and unique photography, instead of relying on supplier photos which are regularly used by competitors in the industry.
Establishing unique and high-quality multimedia content can be a great way to get ahead of the competition and rank higher on the search engine results pages.
Supporting content and information guides
Similarly, including unique and high-quality supporting content on your product page can be a great way to improve the SEO of your e-commerce site. For example, try to include how-to guides and relevant informational content for your products.
This simple strategy can be a great help for e-commerce brands trying to gain more traffic and authority on the SERPs. You’ll build up a reputation of being an expert in your industry, therefore gaining trust from potential customers and search engines alike, and will see the benefits when trying to rank for relevant keywords.
You can also use internal links within these informational pages, guiding your user towards transactional pages.
In conclusion, e-commerce is a highly competitive landscape. Make sure you’re one step ahead of the competition by avoiding the biggest e-commerce SEO mistakes and implementing the correct techniques. While e-commerce SEO can be daunting at first to master, once you learn how to master the search engines — allowing your product to reach more eyeballs — the benefits are fruitful.
Make use of user-generated content, backlinks, multimedia content and unique supporting content for your product pages. This paired with avoiding common mistakes like slow pages, no internal linking, a lack of authority, not using faceted search and including unique product descriptions can help you to rank ahead of the competition, drive traffic and ultimately convert more sales.