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How to SEO your ecommerce product pages for maximum search visibility

Written by Russell Cragun on May 26, 2016 in Strategies & Tips
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Building product pages can seem tedious and time consuming, especially if you have hundreds of products listed on your site. That’s why it’s critical to make sure that you are listing your products properly. Not only will you save time and resources, you will also make it easier for people to find the products they want. The SEO process of optimizing your web pages to be easily found will make a huge difference. If you’re not sure what SEO is then you might want to read our previous post about it.

By building each product page with proper SEO you can increase the likelihood of people finding your store organically through Google, Bing, and other search engines like Yahoo. This process is not instantaneous; it will take time for your site to gain domain and page authority. However, it is an essential and affordable way of generating website traffic and reputability further down the road, making it something worth your time.

Before you get started we recommend that you review The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. This will give you an idea of what is required to make a good page, and what things can possibly hurt you.

Here is a list of things that you will need to implement on each one of your product pages to ensure the highest possible outcomes.

A word of warning: SEO has changed dramatically the past decade, even more so over the last 5 years. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have been known to penalize websites for “black hat” practices. Make sure to implement SEO tactics with the best practices in mind.

Product Description

Optimizing your product description is one of the most obvious and simple ways of making sure your page is SEO-friendly. Before creating a page for any given product you will sell, identify a keyword phrase to focus on while creating the content. You can perform keyword research by using the Google Keyword Planner. By selecting relevant keywords, you increase the likelihood of search engines judging your store as a relevant destination for searches on that keyword. Use some moderation—stuffing too many keywords on your page you will probably result in the search engines discounting your page for spammy behavior.

Try to make your content original and unique; avoid using the exact same content from the manufacturers and other sites. Search engines could penalize you for duplicate content, resulting in your page not being ranked by the search engines. I do understand that if you are putting up hundreds, if not thousands of pages, you would want to copy someone's product descriptions. If this is the case, then make sure to exclude any index tags on that page. By doing this, you can avoid any potential penalties that could hurt your site.

Heading Tags

While your title tags (H1, H2, etc.) don’t have an impact on SEO rankings, it’s still important to make sure your website is fully optimized. By having this feature you are insuring that your site will remain usable in the event your site’s CSS crashes unexpectedly.

Ensure that your title tags are unique and descriptive. Take the time to explain the product you are trying to sell. If your customers already know what they want, this can help speed up the time of their checkout.  

Images

What good ecommerce store doesn’t have good product images? Images are a critical part of your page, and believe it or not, can impact your SEO ranking. Many e-retailers use more than one image. On Amazon, you’ll usually seeing product pages using at least 3 images.

On each one of these images you can put in a short (less than 10 words) description of the product. Here you can use the keywords that you have previously selected. Although, this won’t give you a ton of influence on rankings, it gives you an opportunity for that image to show up in search queries. 

Page Speed

Page speed is one of those little things most people expect your site to have. If you have a slow loading site that is bogged down by too many images, ads, banners, pop ups, etc. customers will quickly leave and finish their purchase elsewhere. Speed is important for your checkout process, too. If checkout is too slow, your abandoned cart rates increase.

In terms of SEO value, page speed is critical. A slow website is ranked lower by search engines and it’s harder to keep your site indexed. There are ways to improve the speed of your site and pages. Some of these features include using image compressors, disabling flash, limiting ads and other pop ups, and many more. If you want to evaluate your site speed, you can use free services like Google, and Pingdom

Metadata

Metadata is code that is hidden on the backend of your pages. There are four main types of metadata: keyword attribution, title tags, description, and robots attribution. These attributes have a lot of influence on how your site ranks, with the exception of meta keywords. Back in the day people would engage in "keyword stuffing", meaning they would load as many potentially relevant keywords into the meta keywords tag as possible, trying to trick the system into ranking them higher. There were plenty of sites that would stuff every variation of “running shoes” into their meta keywords. Consequently, the major search engines discounted meta keywords as a factor for SEO ranking.

However, just because search engines ignore the meta keywords tag doesn’t mean that you omit them from your meta descriptions. Used judiciously, keywords included in your meta description will help customers because they provide a clear description of your product/service. If you somehow manage to rank highly for a given keyword without including it in your meta description, customers may overlook your listing entirely for lack of relevant information.

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Customer Reviews

Not only are customer reviews the lifeblood of ecommerce stores, but they also offer good SEO opportunities. Generating unique and authentic customer reviews will help increase the likelihood of your product being shown in Google Stores and other search engine shopping sections.

You should give your customers an opportunity to review your product/service early on in your online business. Ask your customers to leave a review of the product they just purchased; by sending a simple follow-up email you can increase the chances of getting a product review.

Using reviews from the manufacturer isn’t the worst thing, you’ll just need to keep in mind what we covered earlier about duplicate content. If you do choose to use reviews from the manufacturer make sure that you choose to exclude that site from the search engines until you get real and unique reviews.

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Product Videos

Another chance for you to improve traffic and linking authority is by using product videos. By placing product videos on your site, YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sites, you can increase your page authority and visibility. If someone goes online to look for specs on a product they purchased, the chance of coming across your video increases. By giving a link to the product in your video description this will redirect people to your product page.

When placing this video on your store and product pages, make sure that the description and metadata is accurate and has unique content. This will also help your ranking influence increase.

Q&A Sections

Q&A sections have become very popular. Many people have questions about the product they are buying, and candid feedback helps answer questions about purchasing products online. People are looking for honest feedback about products, so negative reviews are probable.

Amazon is a prime example of having an effective Q&A section. They let the seller and previous buyers of a product answer questions from prospective buyers, all in an open forum setting. A genuine review could be the difference between a sale or an abandoned cart.

Recently, I had to buy a new product for my smoker at home. I needed this muffin-like tin to smoke my chicken. The tin helps the chicken from drying out and sticking to your smoker for longer cooks. However, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to the best brands, specs, or anything else. Amazon had an item that looked similar to what I wanted, and by browsing the Q&A section, I realized that it was a good fit for my needs. A short time later, I bought it and made some delicious smoked chicken.

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Having an experience like this proved to be crucial in my purchasing decision. If I didn’t know exactly what I was getting I wouldn’t have bought my chicken holder. This shows the power and importance of providing for open feedback about your products on your website.

Social Sharing Buttons

This might be one of the easiest ways to help your site get some easy social links. Say someone comes across a good deal, or a product they like and they click the “share” button and share it with their friends. Every time your content is shared, a unique page is created that is indexable by search engines. These shares serve as a signal of quality to the search engines and can improve your rankings if shares occur frequently enough. There are plenty of tools within Shopify, Bigcommerce, Wordpress, and other platforms that can auto-populate these links for you; you only have to decide what social icons you want, and where you want them positioned on your site.


By implementing all of these strategies on your product pages, you will slowly see your site being indexed more frequently by search engines. Over time, you will see the organic visitors increase as well. Keep in mind that SEO is a huge factor in the long-term success of your site. However, you shouldn’t sacrifice a good customer experience by stuffing in a few extra keywords to try and make your store rank higher.

Always keep the customer in mind and think about what the best possible experience would be for them. The goal of search engines is to understand as much as possible the preferences of real people regarding search results and to use those preferences in delivering results. If you keep your sights set on delighting your customers by the experience on your site, you will almost certainly do well by the search engines also.


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