5 Common eCommerce SEO Mistakes

It is believed that 60% of online shoppers begin their shopping experience with a search engine1. In addition to this they also visit several websites before making a purchase. This, along with the fact that eCommerce retailers expect online sales to reach $414 billion by 20182, means that it is going to be a real struggle for an online store to survive without a clear and well-executed eCommerce SEO strategy.

Laptop and coffee

Image source: Pixabay

It is also important to ensure that you focus on the user experience, more than ever the consumer is now armed with a wealth of power and knowledge in relation to shopping online. One poor experience can lead to a once loyal customer handing their money over to your competitor instead.

With that in mind, here are 5 of the most common eCommerce mistakes that you need to ensure your eCommerce business is avoiding in 2016 and beyond.

1. Using manufacturers’ product descriptions

As I am sure you have all heard on multiple occasions, having duplicate content on your website can lead to a lack of visibility in search engines and can even lead to penalisation in the future. This is where the time you saved by copying and pasting the manufacturers’ product descriptions can come back to haunt you.

You should always be looking to create unique and compelling product descriptions with the user in mind. This is especially important because Google will love your unique content, but a well-written and enticing product description can also encourage the user to purchase your products.

If, however, brands you stock insist you retain the original product descriptions, you should consider implementing a no-index meta-tag to avoid any potential issues in the future.

While it can be an incredibly daunting and tedious task, taking the time to create unique product descriptions can pay dividends; it can help to further assist your product’s visibility in search, which in turn, will lead to an increase in sales and revenue.

2. Not implementing a rel=canonical tag

A Rel=canonical tag is a HTML markup that tells search engines that duplicate content exists on a website. This is important on an eCommerce site due to the fact that there are going to be several pages that have duplicate content; this is especially common on product pages.

A variety of things can cause duplicate content on eCommerce sites, including when users search for products based on review ratings; or when a visitor uses the website’s search feature. If you were not using a rel=canonical tag, then Google would choose which one of the pages to index in search.

Ideally in the above example you would place a rel=canonical tag on the search header in order to tell the search engines that this is duplicate content and not to index it in search.

This then allows your ratings page to be indexed, which would offer a much better user experience and have a greater chance of converting.

3. Not bothering with product reviews

Many eCommerce store owners often underestimate the importance of having clear onsite product reviews. Yet 88% of consumers claim that they trust online reviews as much as a friend’s recommendation.3 

Unless you are well-known brand, your first-time customers are going to want some assurance that you will provide them with a satisfactory shopping experience. Therefore, if you are yet to offer product reviews on your website, then you need to consider implementing them as a matter of urgency, as there is much evidence that reviews have a strong influence on the shopper’s purchasing decision.

Asking your customers for product reviews can help your customers feel as though they are involved with your brand, which can help to build loyalty. If there are further incentives for leaving product reviews, then this will further improve your customer’s brand relationship.

It is also worth remembering that reviews will be indexed by Google and can help you rank for long-tail keywords due to the fact that your customers will write in more colloquial and natural language. Additionally, product reviews can be pulled into search results as rich snippets but we’ll talk more about rich snippets in a bit.


Image source: Pixabay

4. Underutilising page title tags

In 2016 the page title remains one of the most influential onsite factors; keywords in your title tag will help your website rank for the keywords that are being targeted. Page title tags are used by search engines when displaying the URL in search results, which can help to encourage users to click-through. It is also worth remembering that links to your website will often contain these keywords, which in turn will help them rank organically. However, it is imperative that you avoiding unnatural “keyword stuffing”, which can lead to penalisation and write title tags with your user in mind.

eCommerce platforms often self-generate non-unique title tags, which again can lead to issues with duplicate content. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are optimising your page title tags with keyword rich content that also helps to entice traffic to click-through to the landing page.

5. Ignoring rich snippets

If you are wondering exactly what rich snippets are then you are not alone. This is still an advanced aspect of SEO that should be part of your eCommerce campaign.

Rich Snippets are a powerful HTML markup that provide search engines crawlers’ with further information to display in search results. They are an essential part of eCommerce as rich snippets can be used to display your company’s rating, product ratings, price and delivery information etc. Rich snippets will help differentiate your brands listing in the search results by pulling in things like star ratings from customer reviews or dates to book holidays. 

Rich Snippets

This provides an ideal opportunity to highlight your brand reputation and offering and encourages the user to click-through to your website and convert.

Thanks for reading

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  1. https://www.nchannel.com/blog/retail-data-ecommerce-statistics/
  2. https://www.forrester.com/
  3. http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803

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Category: eCommerce

About the author: Tom Ward

Tom is a Organic Media Architect with expertise in SEO, integrated search campaigns and content marketing strategy for clients across the eCommerce, education and property sectors to name a few. Tom has delivered great search results for clients such as Zoopla, Kings Colleges London and Camp Leaders.


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