Common SEO Errors
Aside from having a functional website, to begin with, one of the critical components of running a successful e-commerce business is to ensure it is optimized for search engines.
In doing this, you help potential customers find your products online when searching for something similar. This is crucial for getting more visitors to your website and making potential sales.
However, e-commerce websites are known to disregard this piece of the equation or carry it out clumsily. To help you with it, we have compiled the most common SEO errors e-commerce websites make.
Knowing more about them will help you avoid them and, by doing so, make your website better.
What are some major SEO errors e-commerce websites make?
When your entire business is online, it’s imperative to make sure your website is as good as it can be. But this is a pretty big task.
If you’re new to running a website, it can be challenging to keep an eye on everything, so some mistakes are to be expected.
In fact, some mistakes may seem intuitive, and you might not even realize you’re doing something wrong.
That’s precisely why it’s vital to learn more about some of the widespread yet ill-advised SEO practices common among e-commerce businesses.
Bad or missing product descriptions
There are several SEO errors e-commerce websites make when it comes to product descriptions. The first one is leaving out a description altogether.
This practically kills any chances your page might have had of turning up on SERPs. It is particularly common for online clothing shops.
Think about it: what will a potential customer Google when looking for products like yours? They’re unlikely to search for a specific product name.
Instead, they’ll search for shapes, fabrics, styles – all things you would typically find in a description.
So if you want to get the most out of your website, you’ll need to ensure people can find it first by using product descriptions.
But merely having a description isn’t enough. It must also be a good description.
This brings us to our second point: you want to ensure that the description you do provide fulfills several conditions:
- it gives your visitors information relevant for potential purchase;
- it is unique and not copied from another website;
- it is the right length.
The product description is vital for ensuring that your page pops up in a related search.
One of the tricks for determining the optimal amount of content is to look at the word count on a blank product page. Your content should not exceed that word count.
Using the manufacturer’s descriptions
A particularly grave mistake e-commerce websites make when it comes to descriptions is using the manufacturer’s description without making any changes to it.
Many websites carrying that product will do that very same thing and ensure that their websites are banned from search engines due to plagiarism.
Not only that, but those descriptions are typically not written in a way that will lead to a purchase. And if you have the same description as dozens of other websites, why would people choose you over others?
Using other people’s work for inspiration is fine, but you want to improve those SEO techniques, not copy them exactly.
So inform yourself about the product by reading the manufacturer’s description, but write your own for your website.
Underestimating the importance of reviews for SEO
One of the most common SEO errors e-commerce sellers make is not providing a space for product reviews. Almost ¾ of all buyers look to product reviews to provide them with pertinent information about a product before purchase.
They decide whether to spend money based on what other people have said about the product.
Therefore, a product page without reviews is a missed opportunity to convert shoppers. But that’s not all.
Review pages reach the top of search engine results much more quickly than those that sell products. This is mainly because search engines know most of their users like to see reviews, so they will prioritize pages with reviews.
There is simply no reason not to encourage your customers to leave reviews. You’re allowing them to interact with your business and getting free content from them, all while keeping your page optimized for search engines.
However, most of the content comes from your customers doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t monitor review sections. You will still want to express gratitude for the good ones, deal with bad ones, and delete any spam that sneaks through your defenses.
But you should see this as an opportunity. By responding to comments, you can change someone’s impression of your business, show that you care about your customers, and even slip in some additional optimized content.
Using dynamic or complicated URLs
Speaking URLs make sense to the visitor and are pronounceable; they clearly state what the visitor can expect to see on the page.
Using dynamic URLs filled with a random sequence of numbers and letters is one of the most common SEO errors e-commerce websites make. Speaking URLs are more inviting to potential customers.
If user experience matters to you, and it should, then you will stick with these simple and straightforward URLs. But that’s not the only reason why they are the better option.
They could also be picked up by another website and link back to your page. The anchor text for that link could help with your page’s ranking.
Underutilizing or misusing titles
The title tag of a page is the main element that helps search engines determine what a particular page is all about. Not using unique titles will create duplicate content, which can hurt your ranking or even get you penalized.
You want to optimize your titles so that they fit the typical search queries of your potential customers.
Depending on what you are selling, you may not want to use a specific product name unless you think people will search for it. For example, if you are selling TVs, you can use a particular make and model in your title.
When people are looking to buy a TV, they are likely to search for those particulars. On the other hand, if you are selling flower arrangements, you may do better if you use a more generic term for the title tag.
A person is more likely to search for ‘roses floral arrangements’ than ‘hybrid tea roses floral arrangements.’
Forgetting image alt text
Forgetting to add alternative text to your images is one of the widespread SEO errors e-commerce websites make. If you think about it, the photos themselves are the key ingredient of any product page.
Putting a little effort into doing this will be a great help in targeting search queries. It will also enable search engines to determine what your pages are all about.
Finally, it’ll help expand your customer base by making your website and advertising more accessible to people who use screen readers.
Not thinking about functionality
Search engines, and Google, in particular, are very concerned with user satisfaction. They want to serve up results that their users will like.
Of course, accurately quantifying user experience is hard, but there are specific metrics search engines pay attention to.
These include, for example, time-on-page. The longer users spend looking at your content, the better.
Then there’s page speed – the faster your website loads, the higher your ranking will be.
Finally, website structure will also play a big part: the easier a website is to navigate, the more search engines like you.
So when you’re designing and updating your website, always think about functionality. Make it easy to navigate, do what you can to speed it up, and try to take customers’ suggestions on board – having satisfied customers can only benefit you.
Underestimating the amount of work it takes to run a website
When you’re running in e-commerce, your website is your business, so it must be functional, appealing, and up-to-date. A lot of work goes into this.
With everything else you need to do, running a website might prove more than you can handle. But in e-commerce, the website cannot take a back seat.
Instead, it would be best to hire a team whose entire job is to take care of the website, run it, optimize it, update it, and deal with any issues that crop up.
Depending on your needs and preference, you can opt for in-house solutions, work with a website management and digital marketing agency, or hire outside consultants.
Either way, you’ll end up with a good website and a lot less stress to deal with.
How to avoid common SEO errors e-commerce websites make
The best way to avoid SEO errors e-commerce websites make is to be aware of them. Most people make these mistakes when creating their websites simply because they don’t realize they are doing something wrong.
By informing yourself of the worst SEO practices for e-commerce, you can identify them on your website and work to correct them.
When looking to improve your SEO, you should also consider hiring a professional digital marketing agency. They can set up and run a website for you so that you don’t have to worry about that step.
Finally, you can look at what your competition is doing. Take a peek at the top-ranked websites in your niche and learn from them!
Frequently asked questions
Why is it so important to avoid common SEO mistakes in e-commerce?
If you’re running an e-commerce business, then your website is undoubtedly the most important thing you have – it’s what makes you money.
Unlike traditional stores, which entice passers-by with an excellent window display, you attract visitors with your website.
You can’t do that if potential customers cannot even find your website. And without good SEO, that’s precisely what will happen.
So don’t take SEO lightly because good SEO practices can make a significant difference on the way to success.
What should you do if you discover some of these mistakes on your website?
Don’t worry – although these mistakes will have an impact, they’re not difficult to fix. Simply add whatever is missing (titles, alt text, a review section, descriptions).
It might take a bit of tweaking, so put your website in maintenance mode while you do it; visitors will appreciate that more than trying to use a website that keeps crashing because of the updates you’re making.
If you’re not sure how to make these changes, consult with a professional – good web designers and web maintenance teams are well worth the expense.
Are there exceptions when these practices aren’t mistakes?
In some cases, it is possible to get away with some of these mistakes. If manufacturers’ descriptions are really good, for example, using them won’t cause much trouble.
However, these cases are rare. As a general rule, you should avoid these practices.
About the author
Since 2007, Brandon Leibowitz has been working in the digital marketing field, specializing in SEO, SEM email marketing, affiliate marketing and social media marketing. He founded SEO Optimizers, a search engine optimization marketing agency that works with a variety of clients, such as Sleeping Angels Co., Castle Catering, Ortho mattress, and more. He is featured on sites as a digital marketing authority, including Social Media Today, Live Chat Blog, Simply Measured, Business2Community and other popular sites.