Even for an e-commerce website, SEO is an important marketing component to get right. Sure, getting the basics right might not bump you up to the number one spot in the SERPs, but getting them wrong will certainly hurt your rankings – especially if your competitors have done them correctly. You might be thinking that by simply listing products on your website, the search engine traffic will automatically roll in. Not so. You have to put some work into optimizing your site for SEO, more so than for blogs or simple five-page company sites. Today I am going to go over the biggest errors that might be keeping you from reaching your target audience and gaining more organic traffic.

1. Poor URL Structure

One of the most ignored aspects of on-site SEO, URLs are also one of the most important. Too often companies use ecommerce platforms that insert random letters and numbers into the URL of their products, instead of creating a keyword friendly, or “speaking”, URLs. It is very important to customize each product’s URL. See the difference between Store 1’s anonymous URL and Store 2’s speaking URL:

Store 1
Store 2

Store 2 gives you a much clearer idea of what you are clicking onto. Having relevant keywords in the URL not only influences your ranking in the SERPs, but lets customers and searchers know what to expect when they click on the link. Long URLs full of numbers and gibberish look like spam, which is a turn off. Also, if the URL is picked up by another website and reposted, important keywords will be present in the anchor tag if the URL is used as the anchor text. Putting keywords within anchor text that point back to your website is the main driver of getting to the top of SERPs.

2. Duplicated Title Tags

Another common mistake made by retailers is duplicating titles. This can happen because of copying and pasting text from another page, duplicating a page to quickly create new product in their platform, or simply because they do not know better. What should be done is creating unique tags for each item, even they are all from the same brand. Think that is too difficult? Try the “brand-model” title tag formula”: Brand – Model – Item Type. For example, “Nike Air Huarache” or “Marmot Limestone 4 Person Tent”.

3. Lack of Product Description

I have often found this error while on clothing and gift store websites: a product page with no description whatsoever. Unfortunately, not having a description means your product will never make it to the top of the SERP. Be sure to add a description to every product page.

Obviously, the more unique content you come up with, the better the SEO for your page, but be mindful of what you write. Aim for descriptive content that helps users make purchasing decisions, like talking about the benefits instead of features, or telling a backstory on the product. Try not to overwhelm them: too much content can be a turn-off, so test what word count aids with purchase conversions. Above all, do not copy from another website, even the manufacturer! Search engines penalizes websites that use previously published content, even for the same item.

4. Copying Descriptions from the Manufacturer

I cannot stress this enough: always create unique content for your pages, even for product descriptions! If you keep the original text from the manufacturer, search engines will not only kick your page down in the results, but could also ban it entirely. If there are portions of your inventory you simply cannot write unique descriptions for, consider putting a NO INDEX meta tag on those pages to keep them out of search results. It is better to keep your SEO in good standing than suffer from poorly optimized product pages!

5. No Product Reviews

Product reviews are also content, but user generated, which makes them more interesting for a number of reasons. Primarily, product reviews contain unique content; they might also contain keywords you might not have thought of. If you are receiving regular reviews, your pages are constantly adding fresh content, and Google ranks fresh content higher in results. Other benefits include higher conversions rates and sales, as customers trust products more than advertisements. The more positive reviews a product has, the greater the chance it will sell.

6. Missing Metas

Many retailers ignore meta descriptions, to their detriment. Meta descriptions are important not only to search engines, but also to customers. Even if your page shows up in the results, it will not get clicked on if there is no information around it! Giving accurate descriptions helps customers find the best page for their search; remember to keep it simple and explain why the page is relevant to searchers.