Internet retailers make up a large part of the online landscape, with more online shops opening for business every day. Many online retailers make the cardinal mistake of assuming that once their website is up and running, and their product pages are in place, customers will inevitably flock to their virtual doors. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. In a crowded online marketplace it can be difficult to get noticed by potential customers, and plenty of e-commerce sites fail because the owners have neglected to consider the importance of optimizing their website for better online performance. While applying SEO techniques to an e-commerce site is much more difficult than it is for a blog or static website, there are some basic steps online retailers can employ to help boost their online potential.
Every online retailer should have detailed and “unique” product descriptions for every item they sell. If they don’t, they’re already behind the eight ball. Whether the site has fifty items for sale or five thousand, custom product descriptions are one of the most important aspects of any online retail site. Without having custom content, you will fall victim to duplicate content issues, and quite simply, “trust” issues within the SERPs.
Beyond giving valuable information to customers, unique and original product descriptions also help search engines to find and classify product pages and assign them relevance to any given search. A photo of the item for sale, a price, and an ‘add to cart’ button are simply not enough to get noticed by a search engine’s filters. The filter doesn’t see pictures, and the product’s name alone is not enough information from which to draw conclusions.
Consider the following when writing product descriptions for your e-commerce site:
- Create unique content, and do not simply cut and paste the manufacturer’s description. Unique content is imperative.
- Never copy product descriptions from other websites. Search engine filters are likely to penalize sites with unoriginal content.
- Create quality descriptions that are designed to promote sales. It seems obvious, but many online retailers depend too much on convenience and cost to make a sale. Be creative and sell the product through its description.
Keywords and Search Demand
Consider the most common search phrases that customers are likely to use when searching for a product and work them into the content of the product page. Titles and headlines should contain as much specific information about the product as possible, including brand name and, where applicable, model number. This can be time consuming, particularly if the site offers a great number of items for sale. But using distinct keywords and phrases in the product page’s content helps search engines and customers find the items you are selling. Remember that the use of keywords should come naturally through the page’s content. Do not simply overload the page with keywords and phrases in an effort to attract a search engines attention. That is always likely to backfire, and your site will get penalized with a lower page ranking.
Product reviews play a big part in online shopping, and online retailers need to consider adding the option to their sites. I take that back, all online retailers “need” reviews. Customers like to read reviews to help them make informed decisions about what they purchase. It is estimated that nearly 70% of online shoppers are searching for product reviews on forums and online stores before they make a purchase. In addition to providing value to the customer, reviews help to keep pages active, and are a free way of adding new and unique content to a product listing. Search engine filters like to see activity on pages, as it indicates that the page is providing valuable online content. There’s a concept called the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) that dives into this concept in great detail.
Search engines dislike duplicate content, but for an online retailer it can be hard to avoid. There are product tags, printing options, and archives with various sorting elements. Its the nature of the beast, but there are ways to avoid being penalized by search engines for duplicate content. Use nofollow protocols for links that direct to duplicate content, and use canonical tags to indicate which pages you want the search engine to pay attention to. Again, this will be time consuming but the alternative is to be penalized by the search engine filters for having too much duplicate content on your retail site.
Above All Consider the Consumer
Above all else, online retailers need to offer customers a convenient and pleasant shopping experience. There are no SEO techniques that can trump customer satisfaction, and if clients return to your site again and again the search engines will take note. By paying attention to customer service, offering quality products, and employing a few specific SEO principles, online retailers can begin to carve out a successful identity in the online marketplace.