If you own an e-commerce, and like any other retailer, your goal is to attract as much qualified traffic as possible to grow your sales. To do this, your website must be visible to potential customers and accessible through relevant search queries related to your business. What are the best practices to optimize the referencing of your product pages? Semji’s SEO agency provides you with essential advice and lists what you can do to better position your website in search results.
Introduction to e-commerce SEO
The aim of SEO is to help you gain positions on the SERP to increase the visibility of your business and expertise. An eye-tracking study shows that websites that rank in the top 3 organic results get 80% of the clicks. Therefore, the goal is to position yourself in this area, called the golden triangle, that attracts the most attention from users. As a general rule, a website positioned beyond the first page is likely to remain in the shadows, compared to those who are on the first page.
By optimizing the SEO of your product pages you will be able to better position your e-commerce website on the SERP and increase traffic by creating new entry points. But before you get started, you need to make sure that your website is fully operational, otherwise, users will never start buying! The navigation and overall user experience must be straightforward and easy.
The first step is to identify the most relevant keywords and expressions according to your positioning, the nature of your target, and your product characteristics. In e-commerce, long-tail keywords are essential! They allow you to guide online user as precisely as possible to the right product they’re looking for by using information such as brand, dimensions, volume, color, shape… Once this work is done, you have all the tools to start optimizing the SEO of your e-commerce product pages. Let’s get started!
Technical optimizations for product pages
The TITLE tag should be cherished and given full attention. It’s the title of your page and gives Google valuable information on the content of your page, it plays a key role in your SEO strategy. This tag must be as precise as possible on the topic of your page. Each of your website’s pages must have a different and unique TITLE tag. The most important keywords should be placed at the beginning of the tag, but be careful not to overload it… You can use up to 70 characters max, so choose them wisely!
Short and striking, the TITLE tag of your product page usually contains the name of your brand, the name of your product, and its technical specifications (weight, size, color, volume…).
Improve META descriptions to boost clicks on product pages
The META tag does not influence the e-commerce SEO of your website, but it gives the user an overview of the content of your product page. This tag plays an important role in the choice of the Internet user: visit your website or that of a competitor. It must be attractive and encourage the click. Don’t hesitate to be original in order to attract the reader’s attention. Don’t lose sight of the fact that, even if your content is browsed by robots, it is above all read by humans!
If you leave this tag blank, it will be generated by default from the first words of your product page content.
Images are important for users, especially in e-commerce. Your visuals must be compelling and showcase your products to trigger sales. However, if your images are visible to your visitors, they are not (yet) visible to Google robots. Yet, they are very effective in SEO. So, how can you provide them with information about the content of your images? Before importing your images on your product page, remember to rename your file correctly. Then, fill your ALT tags with clear and precise descriptions of your products. This action will improve your e-commerce SEO because your images can be referenced on certain queries. Beyond optimizing your SEO, this is also an opportunity to add additional keywords!
Add strategic keywords to your URLs
The URLs of your product pages must be SEO Friendly. In other words, a URL must provide as much information as possible about your page and its products, while being short and precise. Placing the most important strategic keywords in the URL will help you stand out in search results. Similarly, inserting your product name, which should be the main keyword of your page, with two or three related keywords (size, color, fabric type, dimensions, etc.) will help the user find your product.
Without this work, URL slugs will be generated automatically and might contain irrelevant words from your title, numbers, etc.
Name your images wisely
Once that users are on your website, after finding relevant information on the description of your product page. They will start to look for additional information in images, which are a powerful sales trigger. Don’t forget that part of your traffic to your website comes from image search. To increase your chances of attracting new leads, you need to name and caption your images correctly. ALT tags are also a great opportunity to rank well on certain search queries.
Improve your product descriptions
First, your product description must be long enough to be considered qualitative by Google, and by the reader who is looking for as much information as possible before choosing. Semji recommends at least 350 words, but the ideal is between 500 and 800 words. Exhaustiveness is welcome.
If you have thousands of products, you may have been tempted to duplicate or make a spinoff of your content or even to use blank text to save time. Please don’t do this. Duplicate content is extremely harmful to SEO. To avoid the wrath of the Google Panda algorithm and see your website ranked last, you must avoid having similar content at all costs. If despite everything some contents are similar, use the canonical tag to dodge sanctions.
If you sell your products on marketplaces, it is possible that the content you have provided to the host website is valued more highly by Google than yours. The reason? Google gives more importance to the domain name that has the best authority according to it – the website that has the best trust index.
Build an internal mesh in your product pages’ descriptions (siloing)
Another essential element of your SEO strategy is internal linking. It consists of creating logical and consistent links between the different product pages or categories of your website. By going with a semantic silo structure, you tell Google the different product categories available on your website by using proxemics. Ideally, you should name your categories after traffic-generating queries.
Micro-data: tiny bits of information for a great impact
By tagging micro-data or structured data, you improve the positioning of your website on the SERP by indicating to Google robots which information is important, what it’s about, and that it should be taken into account. These micro-data come in 3 different formats: JSON-LD (most recommended), Microdata, or RDFa.
Some data, common to all websites, are part of the Schema.org markup.
Here are the different markups to use for your e-commerce:
- the Product tag allows you to highlight the price and quantity available for a product.
- the Offer tag gives the price of the product as well as the currency in which it is sold, but also if the product is available or out of stock.
- the Rating tag to display the number of user reviews left and the average rating of customer reviews.
- the Aggregating Rating tag is very useful to highlight the best, worst and average ratings.
Seeing this information without visiting the website improves the user experience and promotes clicks as the sorting between the different brands is already done on the SERP. More traffic and more conversions: these are two good reasons to use micro-data.
To implement them, you can choose between the manual, automated, or Search Console. option.
SEO product management
When online users are looking for a product, the worst thing that can happen for them is to not be able to buy the product they are looking for or not finding the information they needed. Whether you are able to sell a product or not, you should ALWAYS provide a great user experience. From an SEO point of view, there are also a few things you can do to prevent negative ranking on the SERP. How do you handle out-of-stock or expired products? We share a few tips below!
The solution for out-of-stock products
If you’ve already looked for a solution, you’ve probably seen that there are several ways to manage a temporary out-of-stock product: 301 redirections with a different product description, 302 redirections in the event of maintenance, 404 redirections for a page that does not generate organic traffic…
The most common option is a 404 redirection, but it isn’t always relevant as the page will be de-indexed from Google. As for 301 and 302 redirects: they will be harmful to bots as they will detect multiple changes in a short amount of time on your website, without really understanding what’s going on.
But in reality, there is only one solution to manage an out of stock product without negatively impacting your website SEO-wise: keep the page active!
Therefore, we advise you to keep online the out-of-stock product page and to unable users to buy the product. To keep the good positioning of your page and offer a good UX, we recommend:
- inserting a form for users to stay updated product availability again for retargeting purposes.
- suggesting similar products on the page.
By keeping this page active, you can continue to work on its SEO and optimize it even though the product cannot be purchased. Nevertheless, this page is an entry point to your website as it is still indexed on Google.
This product management technique of temporarily out-of-stock products is very useful for a website with seasonal activity: fashion, food, surfing, or hiking equipment… In the context of cyclical product management, it is important to keep your product pages indexed to improve their SEO throughout the year!
How to manage deleted products?
When one or more products are no longer available on your website, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed by a multitude of duplicated orphan pages or pages linked to the internal mesh, therefore accessible, but empty.
You can do several things about it. Each one having its advantages and disadvantages, we advise you to study each case and to choose the most appropriate one for your situation:
Use 404 redirections
Use a personalized page containing a message that explains the situation. Once again, remember that a good user experience is paramount.
- Better use of the crawl budget by quickly deindexing pages.
- The juice from backlinks is lost
- UX-wise, the user has no other solution than to go back
- Too many 404 redirects within the same website can be harmful!
Do a 301 redirection from the page of a deleted product to a page that offers a similar product in terms of price, technical characteristics, delivery time… If no product matches, simply redirect to a relevant category or sub-category. The idea is to find always provide the best solution for your user.
- You preserve the juice coming from your backlinks.
- The best option in terms of UX, by sharing a similar product.
– A potential loss of information for users as they won’t get what they were looking for, while the redirection is taken into account by search engines.
To determine which solution is best in your situation, ask yourself about:
- how often do the products expire: daily, weekly, monthly?
- how many products are expired: a few dozens occasionally, or several thousand regularly?
- what’s the organic traffic generated by that page?
- what are the technical constraints of the website: human resources, tools, software.
One last solution, that isn’t for every website but is still relevant is the unavailable_after meta tag.
Maybe you already know, before some products are even live, when they’ll no longer be available. In other words, you have to manage seasonal products.
For example, this could be for a one-time sale or a special product. If this rings a bell, then you should definitely use this tag for robots: unavailable_after
<meta name=”googlebot” content=“unavailable_after: Jan-02-2020 5:00 PM” /> Here, it means that the product will no longer be available after January 2, 2020 at 5PM.
Inserted in the header of your product page, you can indicate to Googlebots that this product will have to be de-indexed on a particular date and time. The advantage? No negative impact on your SEO and a great for UX!
But beware, this solution works best for small websites but applied to large e-commerce platforms, it can quickly become unmanageable.
Depending on your activity, you may have several similar products but yet different.
Here are different cases:
- a shampoo available bottles of 7 or 18 fl. oz and 1 liter;
- a teddy bear available in brown/black/white;
- a plate available in sizes of 4, 6, and 8 inches
But how do you avoid being hit by a Panda penalty on duplicate content? By using canonical tags, you can tell Google which version of your product prevails over the others while letting it know that your content is duplicated on purpose.
There’s no need to index every single product page that barely differs. But rather define which product should be on front display as the reference to be indexed. Then insert a canonical tag on all other product pages indicating that they are attached to the product page on front display.
For example, if we look at Semji’s website. If the blog post you are reading is based on the content of our previous article on SEO optimizations for e-commerce websites, here are the steps to use for markup:
Example of a canonical tag:
Add the following tag on this page AND on the referring page that contains the same content:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://semji.com/fr/blog-reussir-seo-page-produit-e-commerce” />
By doing so, you’re telling Google that the content it needs to consider is the one from the e-commerce SEO article and not this one.
If other pages or articles on this website also contained similar elements to that article, this tag should also be added to these pages.
Which off-site optimizations can you do for your product pages?
Once the On-site SEO is done, you can tackle the Off-site part. Off-site SEO includes all the external SEO actions (netlinking) that are beneficial for your product page authority but that do not concern the e-commerce website itself.
The cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy is netlinking. It consists of creating quality external links that point to your product page. For example, you can talk about your website on forums or product comparison websites, buy sponsored articles from high authority external websites or develop your press relations in order to benefit from free articles in your industry’s most influential media. If influential websites are talking about your products, your brand will gain credibility in the eyes of Google and potentially reach valuable positions on the SERP, in addition to improving your e-réputation.
The level to which your activity is considered on social media by Google’s bots is difficult to assess at this point. But one thing is for sure: you will never be penalized for being active on social media, on the contrary! Feeding your social media on a regular basis not only keeps your community engaged, but also sends a positive signal to Google. This activity helps bots know that your brand is active and thus, that the information provided to visitors is updated.
Monitor and protect your e-reputation and product reviews
E-reputation and SEO are closely related and work towards the same goal: attracting more visitors to grow your business. But keep an eye on every type of content that talks about you and the reviews left by users. To make sure you don’t miss anything that is said about your brand, use monitoring tools and alerts to keep track of it all. Similarly, pay attention to your social reputation as a bad buzz can happen quickly… Free tip: keep a close eye on Google Suggest which gives you precious indications on user requests regarding your brand… It can sometimes contain some not-so-pleasant surprises!
To design an e-commerce website that attracts and converts leads, here are the 5 important things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your e-commerce website is functional and user-friendly.
- Make all the necessary SEO optimizations for your product pages (tagging, internal linking, description …)
- Implement an SEO strategy for your out-of-stock or unavailable products.
- Take care of your netlinking and internal mesh.
- Take part in the conversation on social media and make sure to maintain a good e-reputation.
If you apply these tips, your product pages will be truly successful!