Most Common ECommerce SEO Problems That Online Stores Face
If you want to sell products online, people first have to be able to find your store online.
That feels like a simplistic concept, but in reality, it’s anything but simple.
Ecommerce stores rely on search engine traffic to increase their brand awareness, sell more items, and drive profit.
People find ecommerce stores through search engines every day. They enter a query, Google scours the internet and comes up with a list of the most relevant results to choose from.
But how does Google figure out which sites to list?
It all comes down to Search Engine Optimization.
There is no SEO recipe for success. Every query and every site is different.
But there are some common issues that plague a large number of online stores.
In this article, we will explore some of the most common issues that people have with ecommerce SEO, highlighting these potential problems, and telling you how you can avoid them.
Ecommerce SEO Problem #1: Lackluster Product Descriptions
Google can’t just look at an image of your product and automatically know what it is. It’s an advanced system, but it’s not that advanced… yet.
That’s why you have to make sure that you’re giving great product descriptions for every item in your ecommerce store.
All In The Details
Clothing stores are notorious for failing at this. If your product is a black scarf and your product description is “black scarf,” you’re not going to get a lot of search engine attention. You have to flesh the narrative out and give a lot of information on every individual product.
Google wants to see information in your product descriptions. That means you should be talking about the product, the color of it, the material used in its creation, what it can be used for, and more.
Here’s an example of an search-optimized product description from H&M’s men department:
Product descriptions are also a great place to sprinkle some keywords.
The first step of any SEO plan is to do some keyword research and figure out what are the best, high-value relevant keywords for your audience.
Make sure you include your target keywords in your descriptions to let Google know precisely what this product is, what it does, and who it is intended for.
While you should be beefing up your descriptions, you also don’t want to make them long for the sake of being long. Keep the content limited to just information that drives sales. Don’t go off on unrelated tangents or try to be cute or funny. Keep it strategic.
A critical SEO factor:
You should not copy your product description content from other stores under any circumstances. It has to be completely original. Google has its ways of sniffing out plagiarized content, and it can and will flag your site. Your SEO score will plummet as a result.
How Long Should Descriptions Be?
There is no magic word count for SEO success in product descriptions. Every site is different, so it’s going to take some trial and error.
Experiment with different word counts and compare the results until you find what works for you.
Ecommerce SEO Problem #2: Not Enough Reviews
You need reviews on your products.
That can’t be overstated.
You need them for a variety of reasons. SEO is only one of them.
Customers Want to See Reviews
Google loves customer reviews, but that’s only half the story. Your customers themselves also want to see what other customers are saying about your products or services.
That’s because customers don’t trust corporate messaging as much as they believe third party accounts from their peers.
That’s pretty easy to understand. Companies are not going to come out and say, “Here’s what we could stand to improve upon.”
Customer reviews, however, will do that. Many of your reviewing customers have the same pain points as your prospects. Those potential customers want to see proof that your products have helped people in similar situations to them.
Google Wants to See Reviews
Much like your actual customers, Google wants to see reviews. That’s because reviews prove legitimacy.
A lot of people don’t stop to consider what a Google search result is.
Google is one of the most well-respected and trusted companies on the planet, laying out a list of recommendations for its users.
That means a Google search result listing is almost like a letter of recommendation from Google. It’s one of the largest companies ever, putting a stamp of approval on your ecommerce store and saying, “Yes, this is the best site in the world for what you’re looking for.”
So it stands to reason that Google wants to ensure quality in the sites that it lists. This is particularly true in ecommerce situations.
So Google wants to see some third-party validation (your previous customers).
And they’re even happier when it sees reviews in both video and text format. Video reviews are great for users, and Google considers it an additional service that you’re providing.
Of course, some bad reviews are to be expected. You shouldn’t be afraid of them. Don’t worry that a few bad reviews are going to tank your SEO score.
How Do Reviews Help SEO?
On top of being a valuable resource for your prospective customers, user reviews fulfill some tried and true SEO criteria.
Here are just some of the ways that user reviews help the SEO score of your ecommerce store:
- Reviews are user-generated content. Google loves seeing content created by users and rewards you with a nice SEO boost for having it.
- User reviews keep your pages fresh. Google wants to see sites being consistently updated. While you might not have the time to update the site daily, a steady stream of reviews will keep fresh content coming onto your site.
- The content of a review is unique, and that’s something else Google values. It’s not enough that you provide any old content on your site. It has to be exclusive content not taken from somewhere else. User-generated content and user reviews, in general, meet these criteria.
Ecommerce SEO Problem #3: Titles That Are Not Original
Titles are essential for SEO. Title tags are an excellent opportunity to include keywords and let both Google and your customers know exactly what your page (and by extension your product) is all about.
As such, you need to come up with titles for every product. And make sure that these are 100% original. They can’t be duplicated from other sites or even from throughout your existing site.
Duplicate title tags are a red flag for Google and can be a factor that leads to your SEO score dropping. No two products are exactly alike, so even similar products should have differing title tags.
It’s the same for web pages. Every page needs a unique title tag that states not only who you are but what you do.
You should be answering a few questions with your titles:
- What is this product?
- What is it for?
- Who can use it?
- Why should you want it?
This is a step in the SEO process that is often overlooked by ecommerce stores.
Target Your Title Tags
You shouldn’t create title tags without a strategy in place. SEO success requires a strategic outlook on virtually every aspect of your website.
To that end, make sure you do your market research. Your audience wants specific things, and they search for those things in particular ways.
Online shoppers look for key phrases when searching for products. It’s up to you to figure out what those key phrases are, how you can appeal to those searchers, and how you can include this information in your title tags.
Title Tag Structure
There are a few elements that go into a successful title tag. You want to talk about the item itself, including the type of product it is, the brand associated with it, and the model that you’re selling.
All of this is essential information that can be easily included to better inform both customers and Google as to the contents of your page.
Of course you also don’t want a title that is ridiculously long, like in the image below:
The structure of an SEO compliant title tag should look like this:
By determining how your customers search and using similar terms, you will be able to optimize your title tags further to appeal to a broader audience.
To further improve your Title Tags, consider writing for CTR as well. We have a free SEO CTR Grader that will assist you from start to finish on creating that perfect Title.
Ecommerce SEO Problem #4: Lack of Keyword-Friendly URLs
Keywords are the main component that most people think of when discussing SEO.
It makes sense to most marketers, then, that SEO-compliant phrases should be used throughout your written content like descriptions and titles.
However, one place where some people forget to optimize with keywords is the page URL.
Every page on your site should have an optimized URL. A random assortment of letters and numbers helps no one. You can include keywords and phrases in your product page URLs to make them more appealing to Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
Create unique URLs that include high strategic value and relevant keywords for every product. You can discover these keywords through research. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can give you a lot of information.
Remember to make it something that people will search for — either specific keywords or even key phrases will do.
On top of making things easier for search engines, this tactic also makes it easier for the customer to know what they’re getting when they click on your link.
Including keywords in a URL adds some much-needed relevance to the process. Relevancy is incredibly essential from an SEO standpoint and should not be ignored.
Ecommerce SEO Problem #5: Too Much Duplicate Content
It might seem like a good idea to include a lot of the same information on similar pages, but this is something that could negatively impact the SEO standing of your online store. Most SEO companies have been recommending that every page needs unique content.
This goes beyond just the title tags for your pages. You shouldn’t have duplicate content on the page, either. This includes product descriptions.
Google will flag you for duplicate pages. Make sure you’re original on every single page of your site.
There are some instances where duplicate pages are needed. However, there is a workaround for that which can help your SEO score. You can use robots.txt files to block Google’s bots from gaining access to pages that you don’t want them to see.
If you want to succeed with an ecommerce store, you first have to succeed with an SEO plan. Understand what Google is looking for and ensure that your content and layout adhere to those things.
To review, there are a few significant steps that you can take to resolve some of the most common ecommerce SEO issues that plague stores the world over.
- Avoid lackluster product descriptions
- Generate user reviews and feature them prominently
- Make sure you’re assigning relevant titles to your product pages
- Use keywords in your custom URLs
- Avoid duplicate content and use robots.txt files to blind Google to any duplicate pages.
By taking these five steps, you can ensure that your site will be more Google-friendly and win up before the eyes of your audience.