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5 SEO Errors Ecommerce Websites Make

16th September 2021

SEO is a huge part of any website and is an important marketing channel for eCommerce websites. So understanding how to do SEO and what common SEO errors websites make is critical. It will help you to avoid mistakes that could have a big impact on your rankings, traffic, and revenue.  

That’s why this guide will identify the 5 SEO errors eCommerce websites make so that you can make sure your website isn’t making the same mistake. Our guide will also show you how and why you need to fix them.  

What Is SEO? 

SEO is the work involved in optimising a webpage so that it ranks higher on Google and other search engines. The process of optimising webpages, or doing SEO, can be extensive and take years to learn, which is why many businesses will outsource or hire an SEO specialist.  

As a digital marketing channel, SEO is one of the most effective, driving both new and returning customers for free (essentially). This is why it is so important for eCommerce businesses and many do spend money hiring specialists. But SEO can be free and you can learn to do some of the basic optimisations yourself.  

5 Most Common SEO Errors 

Whether you are doing some SEO optimizations yourself or you are a large business with specialists, websites can still experience errors and mistakes when it comes to SEO.  

Here are the 5 most common SEO errors that websites make…  

Not Using Keywords 

The first common SEO error eCommerce websites make is not using keywords.  

Keywords are the search terms and queries that make up a Google search, e.g. ‘Nike football trainer”. You should use keywords to define what your webpage is about. So you should use it in your main heading, your content, any subheadings should be related. Using one keyword per page will help to easily define your topic for Google and keep your content on topic and relevant to the search. 

Many eCommerce websites will not choose and use one keyword per page. Not doing this will mean that search engines will find it harder to understand what your page is about and which searches to rank your page for. Using keywords helps you to direct search engines on when and where to rank your page. So how do you know which keyword to choose? 

To choose a keyword for your page you will need to do keyword research. Aim for at least 5 to 10 minutes of research per page, which will involve: 

  • Looking for the most searched for queries – use a keyword research tool to do this. There are both paid and free tools available online.  
  • Googling those queries – to understand if your page type matches the page types that are already ranking 
  • Considering the competition – make a judgment call to see if your website has enough authority to rank 
  • Considering the potential search volume – are enough people searching for your keyword to drive any traffic 

So, for example, consider these two headings for a printer and decide which has the most ranking and traffic potential: 

  1. HP Color LaserJet Pro M283fdw Wireless 
  1. HP Wireless Printer, Colour LaserJet – M283fdw  

TIP: One common page type that eCommerce websites forget to keyword map is the product pages. So don’t forget to consider what keywords to use for your products. 

Duplicate Content 

The next most common SEO mistake eCommerce websites make is not having unique content.  

Duplicate content is, as the name suggests, content that is the same as another page on the internet. The content on your page is how Google and search engines understand what your page is about, which is why keywords are so important. But understanding your content is only the first step. Google will also need to evaluate why your page is better suited to the search query than another website in order to rank pages. If pages have the same content, i.e. duplicate content, then it becomes almost impossible to know which page to rank.  

You will find a lot of duplicate content across the web, particularly on spam sites but all too often on eCommerce sites as well. Having duplicate content will make your website look spammy too, it will also waste Google’s time by having it find and understand (known as crawling and indexing) the same content multiple times. So having unique content on all of your pages will show Google that you are not a spam site and you have something to offer their searches that other websites don’t. So creating unique content is key to helping you rank well or even rank at all.  

This applies to all types of onpage content, including: 

  • Headings – both main heading and any subheadings 
  • Body content – main section of text 
  • Title Tags – the page title of your page, which usually isn’t visible to users 
  • Meta Descriptions – the description of your page, which usually isn’t visible to users 

TIP: Duplicate content is especially a problem when it comes to shared products from manufacturers. Don’t just use the product description provided by the manufacturer. Most other retailers will be using this. Get creative and create your own, unique content based on the description you were provided.  

Unoptimised URLs 

Unoptimised URLs are one of the most common SEO mistakes that all websites make. 

URLs should be optimised, which means simple and easy to read for humans. Google will read your URL in an attempt to understand what your page is about, which will go hand-in-hand with keyword use. So you should try to keep your URLs short, on topic, and containing your keyword.  

Often eCommerce sites will leave URLs alone, which means that they will default to whatever their CMS uses. This can leave you with URLs like: www.yourdomain.co.uk/productid=12345 or www.yourdomain.com/categordyid=24. In these cases, Google or users will not be able to understand what is on either of those pages based on their URLs.  

Instead, you should aim to optimise your URLs so that they: 

  • Follow your website structure – e.g. /category-name/product-name 
  • Are short as possible – shorten product names and long categories where possible 
  • Use keywords – make sure your page keyword appears in the URL 

TIP: If you make any changes to the URL of a page, you will need to use a 301 redirect. This is because your page will have permanently moved and the old URL will no longer work. Adding a redirect will make sure that Google and users can find your new URL and rank that one instead.  

Navigation 

Another mistake that eCommerce websites make is setting the navigation structure based on aesthetics alone.  

Did you know that your navigation or menu also has an effect on your SEO? That’s because Google will use your navigation to find pages on your site. It will start on your homepage, much like a user, and follow all of the links on your homepage to find all of the other pages on your website. And if Google can’t find a page on your site, it won’t rank! This is why you need to consider the SEO value of your navigation when you create it, not just how it looks.  

Although aesthetics and usability are paramount, as users need to be able to find what they are looking for, Google does too, so you should consider SEO at the same time. Google will consider any pages that appear in your navigation as your priority pages, which are essentially pages that define and are important to your website. So consider Google and your users when you create your navigation. 

To optimise your navigation for Google you should try to include the following in your navigation: 

  • Main categories – make sure all of your top-level categories are in your menu 
  • Sub-level categories – try to have as many sub-categories appearing in your navigation as possible without being overwhelming to a user. Use dropdowns if needed 
  • Feature pages – if you are able to, try to highlight any featured pages that are important to your site but don’t sit in your category structure, e.g. buyer guides 

TIP: Google and search engines can’t see any element that loads using Javascript. Menus and navigation can commonly be built in JS, which means Google will never see them. Bear this in mind when designing your site.  

Page Speed 

The final SEO mistake that most eCommerce websites make is having slow page speed.  

This is a problem that is becoming more and more of an issue when it comes to SEO. Page speed is a direct ranking factor, which means that Google has confirmed that the slower your page speed the lower you are likely to rank. And this is becoming a more important ranking factor every year, with Google prioritising pages with good core web vitals metrics.  

The top 2000 eCommerce websites take 10 seconds to load according to Strangeloop. However, Google says that  “2 seconds is the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” So most websites have a lot of work to do when it comes to improving page speed for ranking. But it isn’t only your organic ranking that will be affected by poor page speed. The slower the page the higher your bounce rate will be, which means you’re providing a poor experience for users, which prevents them from converting and becoming your customers. It can also damage your brand if a user has a bad page speed experience and tells someone else about it.  

TIP: Test your page speed using free Google tools like Pagespeed and Lighthouse. These tools will give you a benchmark of how quickly your page should load, what stage of load takes the longest, and how you can improve it.  

Summary 

Avoiding these 5 most common SEO mistakes that eCommerce websites make will help you to improve not only your rank in Google, but also traffic, bounce rate, and revenue too. By understanding each of these most common mistakes you can avoid them and know how to fix them if your website is affected, which will help to support the overall performance of your website.  

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