10 Notorious SEO Mistakes Most eCommerce Businesses Make
Due to the wide assortment, most eCommerce shops run a remarkable amount of product pages — hundreds or, in the case of marketplaces, even thousands. More importantly, managing this countless number of product pages requires proper SEO efforts — for the sake of being top-ranked by search engines.
While Google has over 200 ranking factors, SEO (search engine optimization) for eCommerce websites may become a minefield, if you don't know all the pitfalls.
At Magebit, we have successfully executed SEO strategies for dozens of online shops of all sizes, helping them outperform competitors in search rankings.
And here is the verdict — compared to other industries, search optimization for online shops and marketplaces requires in-depth knowledge and ongoing efforts due to the numerous, constantly happening changes.
Bestsellers get quickly sold out. New arrivals need to be continually added. Seasonal offers require frequent updates such as tailored pricing or clearance. The success of your SEO performance correlates directly to how you manage all these dynamic factors.
So before you turn to eCommerce experts for a well-thought-out SEO execution, let’s dive into the most common SEO mistakes online shops make.
#1 Your title tags aren’t optimized for CTR
In the highly competitive environment (which SERPs are) you have literally seconds or less to catch attention and make potential buyers visit your page. Title tags are the most attention-grabbing lines of text in the search results. And with 43% of eCommerce buyers coming from Google search, title tags become king for driving organic visitors to your online store.
The proper optimization of this tiny line of text is essential — both for crawlers and people. For crawlers, title tags define relevancy — one of the heavyweights among ranking factors. For organic visitors, a title tag indicates whether page content will meet their expectations, making them click or scroll further to competing links. Also, title tags must contain keywords you plan to rank for.
For many virtual storefronts default title tag structure looks like “Product model” — “Brand name”. So, if you search for an iPhone 13, a real-life example for a fictional digital shop called PickMyPhone may look like this:
| Apple iPhone 13 — PickMyPhone
Do your title tags look similar? Well, then you need to optimize.
Start using modifying keywords together with the product/model name in the default title tag. Modifying keywords are short words online shoppers frequently use to narrow search results. They become a great extension for the keywords that search engines rank you for. The below modifiers are the most used by online buyers.
So a new, optimized title tag from the given example will look like this:
| Buy Apple iPhone 13 Online — PickMyPhone
And that’s not all when talking about modifying keywords. You should use the same modifier-based principle to optimize for exact model descriptions and broader product categories — extending your ranking options even more.
The below given example contains an exact model description (iPhone 13 128GB in blue color) and a product category for iPhones (pro or mini). So now the title tag will look like this:
| Buy Apple iPhone 13 128GB Mini Blue Online — PickMyPhone
It’s remarkably easier to rank for “Buy Apple iPhone 13 128GB Blue Online” than “iPhone 13”.
Tip: Make your brand or store name more noticeable by placing it at the end of a title tag.
Modifiers help expand the already used keywords while demonstrating to shoppers (and crawlers) the relevancy of the particular online store. Just don’t confuse title tag optimization with simply overstuffing them with keywords.
#2 You don’t optimize your meta
Search engines’ job is to bring more eyeballs to your eCommerce business. Your job is to advance your meta the way people click your link in the long list of similar offers.
To increase your CTR (click-through rate) and drive more potential buyers to your store, consider these tried-and-true practices for enhancing your meta:
- Use CTAs (a call to action) that nudge readers toward a click. | e.g. Browse the exclusive Disney collection!
- Add unique features or bonuses you offer | e.g. Free 3-Day Shipping, 100% Breathable.
- Use capitalization to visually stress USPs and exclusive offers that can be also your keywords | Free Returns. Waterproof. Summer Sale.
These easy-to-execute copy adjustments will drive more organic visitors to your showroom and additionally boost your ranking (as a clickthrough rate is among substantial rank-defining factors).
#3 You don’t have product reviews
Even world-known brands like Puma stumble upon this mistake.
Nearly 70% of shoppers are reported to inspect reviews before ordering online. If your digital store misses such reviews, your business is facing a serious leakage of high-converting customers.
There are 3 good reasons to let your buyers share their experience with a particular product right on the product page:
- Product reviews additionally warm up customers and urge them to purchase.
- You improve your overall SEO efforts — as you get lots of unique content generated by your visitors. And it costs you nothing!
- Publishing product reviews updates store pages, showing crawlers that your online shop is living and active.
Pro tip: For product pages with user-generated visual content, a 106% increase in conversion is reported. Additionally allowing users to attach pictures of actual unpacked products to their reviews is a proven way to sky-rocket sales.
#4 Poor product image optimization
Quality product images backed by aesthetic design can significantly increase sales for eCommerce businesses as we often buy with our eyes. Brands worldwide enhance online stores with visual search, AI-powered try-on tools, and impressive 8K resolution product images.
But what about SEO optimization for visual content? Product image optimization doesn’t limit to compressing file size or choosing the right format. Proper file naming, SEO-friendly alt and title tags together with structured image data can significantly help crawlers understand your page and better rank it.
Well-done image optimization can help your online store rank higher on Google image search, driving additional organic traffic to your eCommerce business.
#5 Poor to no product description
The ever-growing number of online shops make the main bet on product pictures while ignoring advanced descriptions. They usually have one brief sentence, if having at all.
Yes, the reality adjusts to visual shoppers as 62% of Gen Z prefer visual search. But you still need content as search engines don’t see pictures. If you ignore adding descriptions to product pages, you shouldn't expect to be top-ranked in search results.
A unique product description for sure helps enforce your SEO. From the conversion-to-sale standpoint, well-written copy on the product page is a must. This is especially crucial for first-time visitors and shoppers who browse around.
With a poor product description, your chances of converting them to buyers are significantly lower, compared to a thought-out, CTA-powered description. Do not neglect this point if you want your product pages to be on the shortlist in Google search results.
#6 Adding non-unique product descriptions
There is something that can be even worse than no product description at all — adding the one by a manufacturer. Adding such product descriptions is a surefire way to get penalized by search engines.
Why? Manufacturer descriptions get distributed to hundreds (if not thousands) of online stores, with many of them not changing a word before publishing the provided copy.
If crawlers find (and they will) numerous pages with identical content, you will get penalized and filtered out from search results.
What aggravates the use of non-unique descriptions, is that in most cases this copy is low-converting and doesn’t really help to sell.
When it’s about describing products with words, always stick to the golden rule of SEO — create unique content. You may still freely use parts of the provided description that can’t be changed — such as dimensions, fabrics, a model family, or any other specifications provided.
#7 Slow page loading
Shoppers are incredibly impatient when it’s about loading speed. Google reports that for the page load time between 1 to 5 seconds, the bounce rate probability is up to 90%. Every additional second of uploading your product page dramatically increases the bounce rate (number of users leaving the page browsing no further than just one page).
With the highest conversion rates reported for eCommerce websites with a loading time from 0 to 2 seconds, you want to take care of how fast your website opens, with a 2-second-maximum being the indicator to target.
How fast is your digital storefront? And what if visitors open it on mobile?
Maybe your eCommerce page needs some battle-tested enhancements to stop converting organic search visitors into an increased bounce rate.
For faster page loading you may consider the following:
- Minimize redirects
- Compress images
- Simplify design
- Keep the use of custom fonts to a minimum
- Utilize caching
- Optimize webpage code
- Eliminate performance-killing plugins
This list can be easily continued with more complex actions that require time and effort. But optimizing your online store for fast loading is crucial in today’s world of impatient shoppers.
#8 Lack of mobile-friendliness
In 2021, more than half of all eCommerce sales were made via mobile devices. As the world got mobile, search engines adjusted to the new reality and now reward mobile-friendly websites by ranking them higher.
With mobile-friendliness being a valuable-for-customers ranking factor, to stay competitive eCommerce stores should seriously consider optimizing their pages for mobile users (and sales). The scope of improvements for being a mobile-friendly store includes:
- Responsive design that looks good on mobile or tablet. If the design gets cut off, or page elements such as buttons or navigation tabs are hard to interact with, then your online store needs a serious update.
- Page navigation should be a thing of beauty for mobile users — to significantly simplify browsing and purchasing as 49% of mobile users interact with their smartphones with just one hand.
- Fast loading is yet as crucial as for desktop versions. The desired loading time should be up to 2-3 seconds, just like explained above. For this, you’ll need to compress images and videos and reduce heavy content.
- Adjust videos and visual content to mobile dimensions, to avoid ugly-looking overlapping and improper video display.
- Optimize your cart and checkout for mobile habits. Did you know that 23% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts if for completing purchases they need to register? Minimize the number of actions visitors have to go through before leaving your digital shop with a purchase. Simplify product navigation, add a sticky “Add to cart” button, and implement a fast-track guest checkout.
#9 Too much duplicate content that gets indexed
Warranty, disclaimers, sizing charts and descriptions provided by manufacturers, and more — for search engine spiders, all these are duplicate content. Additionally, eCommerce stores face such issues with duplicate products that may get added to multiple categories. For example, a product from the previous collection goes to a Clearance in addition to the primary category.
To make things even worse, many eCommerce websites with hundreds of goods in assortment use pagination within subcategories — instead of an infinite scroll. The issue with pagination is that, in this case, each page gets indexed as a separate one, making it look like thin content for search engine robots.
To avoid getting penalized by search engines, consider preventing crawlers from seeing such pages.
- Implement a robots.txt file to hide pages or sections with duplicate content from crawlers.
- Utilize the canonical tag. It was specially created to help resolve non-unique content headaches. The tag specifies to crawlers what pages with similar content should be indexed.
(Picture source: yoast.com)
- Use the nofollow hints for search engine robots, telling them not to follow (and index) links to sections with similar or duplicate content. This option implies very attentive and corrosive work as you’ll have to indicate every single to-unfollow link. Otherwise, crawlers will find them.
#10 You don’t optimize URLs
To empower your SEO, brush your URL structure. Here are great practices (and reasons) for creating done-right URLs:
- Make your URLs talk. Speaking URLs are beneficial for your ranking as they already consist of the keywords, helping search engines indicate relevancy when sorting search results.
- The shorter — the better. Despite many SEO experts debating this point, a study from Backlinko found a high correlation between brief URLs and higher positions in search results. So don’t stuff your URL structure, instead, keep it short and, as said above, talking.
- Make your URLs user-friendly. Before purchasing, we all love to discuss the considered products with our friends and fellows. This is where sharing via messengers (less often via email) steps into the room. When potential customers send product links — whether to get advice or tell what they prefer for a gift — they want to share short and good-looking links, not ugly chaotic ones. For recipients, user-friendly URLs say what the link is about right away, mitigating the frequent unwillingness to open unknown links.
Final thoughts: how can eCommerce businesses avoid these SEO mistakes?
Organic search is reported to be a primary channel of traffic for eCommerce stores. Hence, top positions in the search results become dramatically important for your eCommerce business success (or even existence) in the long run.
With the leaky bucket theory in mind saying that every business constantly needs an incoming stream of customers, you want a well-executed SEO strategy for your digital shop — to drive more organic traffic to your product pages.
While some of the reported mistakes are less critical, others can be decisive for your eCommerce website. Even if your store is ranking well on particular queries and keywords, there is space for improvements and better results. If you are struggling with these mistakes or need professional help with eCommerce SEO beyond the scope of this post (such as technical SEO or link building), get in touch with us.
Magebit is a full service eCommerce agency specialized in Magento. At Magebit we create the wonders of eCommerce and support small sites as well as large enterprises.
You can contact us at email@example.com or through the contact us page.
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