E-commerce websites often find it difficult to organically increase qualified traffic to their product pages, and engage and retain visitors longer. As the landscape becomes more competitive, and barriers to entry reduce, ranking on the first page of search engines becomes more difficult.
As a result, many turn towards paid marketing as the most viable method of hacking their growth. It is true that e-commerce SEO is a daunting task, and that paid advertisement is a great way for building traction and gaining momentum, however, it is neither the most cost-effective nor the most sustainable.
In the end, it all comes down to how you differentiate yourself — both, through a better user experience and improved on-page optimization.
Here are the top seven optimization techniques that you can use to significantly increase traffic and time per visit to your website.
1. Simplify Your URL Structure
Keep your URL structure simple and meaningful. They should be relevant to the content on your page and easily understandable by humans and search bots alike.
Complex URL structures such as:
www.yoursite.com/Men/formal-attire/Winter/index.jsp?productId=12345679982 create problems, including:
- They make semantic indexing harder for search engines
- It contains no keywords and hence confuses the visitors
Your product page should have links that show the target keywords upfront. This means that long URLs such as www.yoursite.com/Men/formal-attire/Winter/Jackets is still unacceptable. The keywords are too far to the right, and will most likely get cut on the SERP. As a result, they highlight Men and formal attire as the most prominent target keywords instead of the actual product.
Overcome this by optimizing your URL.
An optimized URL is direct, uses the target keywords, and communicates what visitor will find on the page, e.g. www.yoursite.com/Jackets leaving the option for winter and formal jackets on the page.
This URL structure is simple, relevant to your product, meaningful for the visitors, and easily understandable by the search engines.
2. Add Depth with Breadcrumbs
Simplifying the URLs has one downside, it does not show the visitors the path that led to the product page (and hence the page depth of your website). For instance, the earlier URL:
www.yoursite.com/Men/formal-attire/Winter/Jackets showed several categories: a category for Men attire which has a sub-category for formal attire that has sub-categories for the season, and finally a product page for Jackets. Your visitor’s path looks something like this:
However, your URL only states the direct link: www.yoursite.com/Jackets.
So how do you advertise all the other category pages that are not obvious in the URL?
You use breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are the navigational links that you can see near the top of the page.
You can optimize the breadcrumbs to clearly show the categories of products that you offer, allowing the visitor to know where they are on your store and other categories they can visit.
3. Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Every page of your website should target a unique set of keywords. In case you have multiple pages targeting and ranking for the same keywords, then it confuses the search engines. As a result, cannibalization occurs and pages ranking for the same keywords compete against one another for a higher rank on the SERP — cannibalizing each other’s rank for themselves.
By letting multiple pages rank for the same set of keywords, you force the search engines to rank one page over the other, weakening your visibility and hence your traffic.
Overcome this by clearly jotting down your page architecture, identifying the keyword cluster that each page/link will be targeting.
4. Optimize page load speed
How fast your product page loads directly affects your bounce rates. If your product pages do not load within three seconds, 40 percent of your visitors will leave, and 79 percent will never come back because of the bad experience. You have to balance SEO with the user experience.
You can increase your loading speed by:
- Optimizing your page design by implementing lazy loading, compressing images, and fixing server side coding issues — ranging from inefficient memory utilization and redundant data set utilization to presence of SQL queries inside a loop and loading the same model multiple times
- Upgrading your hosting plan and meet traffic demands to your website.
5. Make Navigation Intuitive
Simplify choices for your visitor. Avoid bombarding them with the range of products you have on the first page.
Organize your product pages into broader categories and sub-categories and build your site’s architecture around it. This has several advantages. It simplifies your inventory, shows you the product pages and keywords you have already used, makes crawling and indexing less confusing, and simplifies the choice of your visitors into steps (select categories>Sub-category>product)
6. Create Unique Product Descriptions
People read content to make more informed decision. This is where a product description acts as a sales pitch for your product, a magnet for Google crawlers, and a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
If your product description can help the visitors understand how, where, and when the product can be used, or the benefits the visitor will gain, then it reduces the additional research they need to perform.
Many e-commerce site owners treat product descriptions as filler content and even use ready-made product descriptions supplied by the manufacturer. This poses two problems:
- Search engines flag your content as duplicate, and available on other websites, penalizing it for plagiarism or thin content (in case of rephrasing)
- Manufacturer descriptions are generally written to state product features. They’re not meant to sell the product. Hence, even if the content uses a canonical to avoid penalties for thin content or outright plagiarism, they are a boring read for a potential customer.
Overcome this by writing unique and interesting content for your product descriptions, and helps them decide the product they want.
Additionally, no product description is complete with a relevant, striking, and high-resolution image. Remember to optimize your images by reducing their files size and adding descriptive Alt tags so that search engines can index them.
7. Optimize Your Website for Internal Search Functionality
You cannot rank all your product pages using 300 words of unique content in product descriptions. Although the “site:” operator in Google does allow visitors to search your website for different keywords, it is extremely rare for people to do that for an e-commerce website.
Increase the visibility of your product pages and content by ramping up your internal search functionality. By optimizing your internal search functions, you incentivize visitors to stay longer on your website and search for other pages instead of moving back and forth between category and product pages.
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