Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
While optimizing an ecommerce site isn’t much different than optimizing a regular website, as many of the best practice guidelines remain the same, there are a few key things that make ecommerce SEO special. Here are five pieces of ecommerce SEO advice to help take your ecommerce site to the next level:
1. Use 302 redirects when products are out of stock.
404 errors can ruin the user experience on any site, but they are especially deadly on ecommerce sites where users are looking to and ready to buy. Don’t lead your visitors down a path they can’t convert on! If your inventory is constantly changing, or one of your products is out of stock, create a 302 redirect that sends visitors to another page (perhaps a listing of similar products), letting them know that the product they were looking for is currently unavailable. This is a better option than just removing the product page (which could create the 404 error) because it still gives your customers the chance the purchase something. A 302 redirect tells the search engines that it is only a temporary solution, which is perfect for when your inventory is restocked and you remove the redirect. Use a 303 redirect when you completely discontinue a product and want to permanently remove that page to save the SEO value of that product page.
2. Write unique product descriptions.
A common ecommerce SEO problem I see is that ecommerce sites don’t have unique product descriptions; they just use the information provided by the manufacturer. This means there is a risk of a duplicate content issue, since a dozen other ecommerce sites are using the same content. It also means you’re not leveraging your unique selling proposition to its fullest. Why should a customer buy from your site and not the competition? What makes your site special or more valuable to them?
3. Incorporate how-to videos, customer reviews and other product-specific content.
One way to work around the duplicate content issue, in addition to rewriting the product descriptions, is to add more content to each product page. This helps both with the site’s SEO as well as the user experience. The more content on a page the more “meat” the search spiders have to work with. More content also gives your customers more information about you and the product, which can help from a conversion perspective. User-generated content like customer reviews are especially important, as that helps build consumer trust. Your visitors want to know they are going to be happy with their purchase.
4. Optimize product pages in batches.
Depending on how large your ecommerce site is, there might be thousands of product pages that need to be optimized. It doesn’t make sense to wait until all of the onsite optimization for every product page is done, so why not roll out your ecommerce SEO in batches? Optimize your best selling and most profitable pages first (say the top 100) and then work your way through the rest of the site. By optimizing your website in section you’ll be able to get the ball rolling a lot sooner. Since SEO is so long term you want to give your onsite SEO efforts enough time to have an impact on the SERPs.
5. Use brand and product specific keywords.
Don’t just target “gym shoes.” Get specific with your ecommerce SEO! Go after long-tail, branded phrases like “Nike women’s cross trainers” or “New Balance waterproof hiking boots.” Even though product specific searches might not have a very high search volume, they will send a much more targeted visitor to your site that knows what they want and are more likely to buy. The main goal of ecommerce sites is to sell products, so getting more visitors that a ready to convert and aren’t just “shopping around” is crucial! Your ecommerce SEO campaign can help make that happen.