“You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed you have to create traffic.”
— Joel Anderson, former president and CEO of Wal-Mart
There are few factors more influential to the success of an eCommerce site than SEO. Search optimization mistakes can be extremely costly for your business.
As consumers become increasingly comfortable utilizing various eCommerce platforms and a multitude of avenues for shopping continue to emerge, such as Google’s ‘Similar Items,’ the competition grows increasingly fierce.
For your site to thrive in such an environment, SEO should be one of your business’ main marketing initiatives.
Unfortunately for most small business owners, SEO is a living, breathing thing; this means that keeping up with the latest trends, best practices and critical updates can be quite challenging, to say the least.
There is a good chance you might be succumbing to one of today’s most prevalent eCommerce SEO mistakes.
Let’s rundown the list and help you get your site to reach peak SEO performance.
1. Thin Content on Product Pages
Thin content can be a site-killer in the post-Hummingbird world of user intent.
As this relates to eCommerce, there are only a few better ways to deter a sale than to have a visitor land on a product page that contains little to no information about the offering. This is a consumer’s first sign that they are better off shopping somewhere else.
To retain a shopper’s interest and gain sales, it is absolutely necessary (for user experience andSEO purposes) to write out an engaging and accurate description of the product.
This does not mean to copy and paste the manufacturer’s description.
The most important thing you can do is spend some time thinking about the information that a customer would want to know about the item before purchasing it. This is the type of unique copy that you will want to draft to help convert consumers.
While writing product descriptions, bear in mind that if you end up with content that is too similar from page-to-page it will dilute your efforts because Google will have issues assigning authority to one page over the next.
2. Lack of a Content Hub
While we’re on the subject of content optimization, one of the single most overlooked aspects of SEO that eCommerce sites are guilty of is the lack of a blog.
You might be thinking, “I sell pajamas. Why on Earth would I need a blog?”
For SEO, that’s why.
A running content hub is one of the biggest drivers behind SEO success. You may not realize it, but most of the Internet’s biggest retailers (including Zappos) have a blog.
In the case of the aforementioned company, content ranges from sizing guides to company culture, lifestyle tips, and beyond. This not only serves a SEO function for the brand by consistently posting fresh content for Google’s spiders to come back and crawl, but it also gives them a means to internally link to various product pages, inform consumers throughout various stages of the buying cycle, provide a platform to upsell various products, keep previous visitors coming back for more, and serve various other optimization goals.
Be sure to keep your content well organized through proper tagging elements, customized URLs, and other techniques. If you fail to do this, you will have a content hub that is equally unappealing to Google as it is to your visitors.
3. Neglecting Alt Tags
While images are incredibly important to the user experience, image alt tags are equally critical for Google’s spiders to understand what is going on in the image. This description is what will give the crawlers context to gain a deeper understanding of what your page is all about.
4. Product Review Paucity
If you’re in the eCommerce game, I shouldn’t have to tell you how epically important reviews are. If your products don’t have the social proof that 77 percent of all consumers demand before buying, then you are basically begging them to buy somewhere else.
When an abundance of reviews are present, people are more likely to trust their prospective purchase; it’s that simple.
As far as SEO is concerned, search engines treat fresh and dynamic content more favorably. As new reviews are uploaded (the more frequent, the better) the page itself becomes dynamic.
As this aspect continues to improve your SEO score, more relevant traffic will be driven to your site, which can lead to more sales and reviews, which repeats the cycle again.
If you aren’t sure how to sway your buyers to leave an honest assessment, there are a multitude of ways to gain product reviews from customers.
5. Slacking on Security
Over the past several years, the public has watched a slew of major corporations – from Yahoo! to Target to Sony – get hacked and lose their customers’ information. This means that buyers are weary of where they shop and are looking for certain security markers to gain the peace of mind that their data will be protected.
One of the most prominent and sought after security features is SSL encryption. In fact, in 2014, Google announced that it would provide a slight rankings boost to those who employed the technology:
“We’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal…. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
You shouldn’t, however, employ this purely for the rankings increase. You should add this encryption to your website for the safety of your brand and customers.
There’s a ton of competition out there in eCommerce-land. Don’t let your brand go unnoticed simply because there are a variety of SEO mistakes on your site. Get your webstore cleaned up with these five tips and your brand will stand a much better chance of gaining the clicks and sales that will help you prosper.
Which of these mistakes are you guilty of? What is your favorite method for gaining product reviews?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.