Optimizing E-commerce websites can be more complex than optimizing almost every other type of websites such as blogs, corporate websites or educational sites. That’s why there’s a belief across the industry that most E-commerce sites are poorly optimized. This article highlights 5 practices and approaches that E-commerce companies keen on minimizing opportunity loss cannot overlook.
1. Handling Product Variations
From a user perspective, product variations in terms of color, size and/or other product customization provide a wider range of choice. From an SEO perspective those variations may lead to URL duplication and Keyword cannibalization (More than one landing page from the same website competing against each other in SERPs).
Rel canonical tags are used to minimize the detrimental SEO effects of duplicate landing pages. By electing a parent landing page as a representative for a particular product set where all other variant landing pages point to it (picture) we make sure that
similar landing pages won’t be competing and only the parent landing page is going to rank. Technically, this is implemented by adding HTML tags-referred to as canonical links, into each of the product variations URLs. Those canonical tags should include a link to the parent URL.
2. Handling Obsolete Product Pages
E-commerce websites frequently tend to delete the URLs for models that are outdated or won’t be introduced again. By doing so, these sites are missing out on customers who have bookmarked those pages and those searching for a product which is a close relative. Alternatively, expired URLs can be permanantly redirected to the category landing page keeping the visitor within the boundaries of the webiste. In case the product is a generic one where not too much specifications involved, the page can be reused, thus benefiting from page authority already gained.
3. Handling Seasonal Products
While some products maintain stable and consistent demand all over the year, other products have seasonal demand. Products related to holiday, fashion and apparel are examples of products that are offered seasonally.
Treating a seasonal product landing page depends on the type of the product. If the product is highly anticipated, it’s landing page can be used as a teaser till the new version of the product is launched. If the product has annual releases such as some video games, we can simply add the year in the URL like this: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name-2017/ and 301 redirect it to the website.com/category-sub-category/product-name-2018/ when the new version replaces it. As for seasonal products that are mostly forgotten during off-season, they can be optimized indirectly by optimizing the category page they belong to.
4. Handling Product Pictures
People in the early stages of the purchase funnel may prefer to visaully preview the product they have interest in. That’s why many prefer to look for product images on the web rather than make a traditional search. Optimizing an image starts with the image itself. Does it represent the product in the best way possible? Now it make more sense to optimize for image search.
We optimize an image for search engines by creating a brief yet complete description of the product item or theme the image represents (Picture). This description has to be installed to the alt text attribute within the image’s HTML tag.
5. Setting up a Measurement Plan
Working on a measurement plan is essential for almost all types of websites, yet it is even more intuitive when it comes to e-commerce websites simply because actions on an e-commerce website are more quantifiable. Each item has a cost and sale price and each lead can have an estimated dollar amount that is based mainly on sales and user behavior data.
So, what does this have to do with SEO?
Example 1: You may find out that a certain landing page is underachieving when it comes to sales. You discover that the page takes too long to load. You optimize the page speed reducing load time by 3 seconds. You then compare the sales post-speed optimization. By doing so, you discover how much sales you are achieving (or opportunity cost avoided) for each second of reduced page load time. You can keep investing in speed optimization until no more economic value is attained, thus reducing opportunity loss to nearly zero.
Example 2: You find out that your landing page has a high conversion rate but it is not receiving as much traffic as other landing pages on the website. Again, you invest in SEO to investigate the reason behind this low traffic. You might discover that the product you’re selling is very competitive while you have a landing page with little content and poor meta tags. You ask your copywriter to perform a proper keyword research and craft the page’s content and meta tags accordingly. At the same time you initiate a link building campaign and invest in PR in order to gain quality links to your landing page and climb up the rankings ladder. Again, you compare !
Eventually, a measurement plan can eliminate waste of SEO resources !!