Product page SEO in ecommerce: 10 useful methods
SEO in ecommerce is somewhat different from the usual search engine optimization: you have to strengthen different areas to be able to reach better rankings on the search results pages, and these areas mainly have to cover specific, relevant information. We are going to describe in detail what this exactly means.
- Why do you have to optimize?
- URL structure
- Breadcrumb navigation
- Hierarchy-based or location-based breadcrumb
- History-based or path-based breadcrumb
- Meta title & description
- Product descriptions
- Reviews and opinions
- Social integration
- Images and videos
- Page speed
- The page should be mobile-friendly
- Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
- How to get started with product page SEO?
Why do you have to optimize your online store?
Organic traffic drawn to your product pages can worth more than gold. It represents users that have searched for a specific product, solution or service with the help of the search engine and they have found your page the most relevant – however, this is not easy to achieve.
Statistics show how important it is that the link pointing at your page is displayed not only on the 1st page of Google but at the very top of it. According to the data of Optify
- the average click-through rate of the search result that is placed in the first position is 36.4%,
- for rank 2 it is 12.5%,
- for rank 3 it is 9.5%.
The easiest solution of course is to simply purchase the best positions, since Google has given priority to advertisements over organic hits on the search results pages for a while now. Furthermore, it is a recent change that text ads gain even more space on the mobile devices: copy space is increased to 140 characters, thus ensuring 47 percent more space on the search result page. (This means two headlines of 30 characters and a description of 80 characters instead of the current 25 and 35 characters respectively.)
There is only one problem with this:
It is not a strategy that can be sustained in the long run. That is because the competition is also trying to buy these positions in AdWords and high competition will result in higher prices – therefore, attracting traffic to your pages like this will sooner or later cost you an extremely large amount of money.
A well applicable, solid technique that is sustainable in the long run, is search engine optimization. SEO is cheaper and once you gain enough experience in it, it will consume less resources even if you have to do continuous fine-tuning due to the analytics and the changes.
Currently, Google takes into account 2000-3000 factors when defining on which part of the search engine results page (SERP) or on which page your website page will get a position. We will not go through all this in detail now, but we will describe all important aspects that you have to pay attention to in order to be able to make properly optimized product pages.
URL structure considerations for online store optimization
Let’s start at the very beginning and take a look at how a search engine optimized URL should look like.
When you arrive at product pages of an online shop, you often come across addresses like this:
examplerandomwebshop.com / webshop / product_info.php?products_id=878
The problem with this…
is that it does not show to what page, what kind of product it takes you – which is annoying not only for the users, but for the search engines as well. Search bots cannot read the relevant expressions and terms from the address.
Such URLs are usually automatically generated by the estore engine. For this very reason it is worth choosing an engine that supports individual URLs (Magento for example is a system like that, among others).
A search engine friendly URL should more or less look like this:
This format is more advantageous because
- the search terms (e.g. “slim fit” and “men’s shirt”) are well comprehensible for the search engine,
- they are at the beginning of the URL, not at the very end of a long address,
- the words highlighted in bold on the search results page are clearly visible, so people know where they will arrive after clicking.
Why breadcrumb navigation is worth implementing?
Traditional navigation methods may sometimes be annoying in an online store – which is exactly why breadcrumb came to life, which was named after the breadcrumbs in the tale of Hansel and Gretel. The essence of this form of navigation is that it indicates your path step by step and it also clearly indicates where you are within a given system.
It has several advantages from a search engine optimization aspect as well:
- It creates cross-references within the website, thus strengthening the internal link structure.
- It helps the users find their way around the page, and by improving the user experience you can have a direct effect on the algorithm.
- Search bots can easily find their way around on the site.
Hierarchy-based or location-based breadcrumb
As you could get used to it in case of the latest Windows operation, it indicates where you are, based on hierarchy: it shows the upper levels, so you can always easily move higher with a selected number of levels. In case of an ecommerce store this obviously means that you can move back to a broader category. This may look like this:
Clothing > Menswear > Shirts
History-based or path-based breadcrumb
You can retrieve the followed path with its help, so you can always easily get back to the previously visited pages. It can be useful when you would like to return to the page of the internal search engine. The “Back to the search results” link is considered as such a breadcrumb.
You can see here the attributes selected during the search, according to which the page engine displays products for you. You can apply these filters not only in the search engine but continuously anywhere else.
Nowadays even Google uses breadcrumbs, you can often see this path on the search results page, which helps the users precisely understand where they will arrive after clicking.
Meta title & description
The name displayed on the search results page, namely the meta title tag, is essential. If the name of the given product page is just like the name of the others, if it does not provide exact information or it is too long to be displayed completely, you are applying the wrong method.
The best solution may be the use of the following formula:
Primary keyword | Secondary keyword | Brand name
A product page displayed this way may look like this:
Slim fit shirt | Mens shirt | Random online shop
As you can see it provides the most possible useful information within the given couple of characters, which is appreciated by the search engines as well.
It may also be useful if the main keywords are included in H1, H2, H3 tags on the page, but be careful and don’t “over optimize” your page using keywords too frequently.
Meta descriptions should preferably be unique: it may be tremendous work to make individual descriptions for every single product, but it is well worth the effort. Thus you can avoid that the automatically generated description is the same as of your competitors.
You can include CTAs (Call To Action) in the description increasing the click-through rate and improving your rankings like that. You can incorporate specific information in it thus ensuring the users that they will arrive to the appropriate place after clicking, and achieving the same effect like that.
Product descriptions: make them unique with a lot of useful information
We have previously written about how incredibly important good product descriptions are, since they are capable of persuading the hesitating customers to purchase. (5 proven strategies to overcome buyer hesitation) Furthermore, you can provide them with a great deal of useful information in an interesting format.
At the same time, product descriptions are highly valuable from an SEO point-of-view as well.
The reason for this is that Google does not like to see the same content on multiple pages. And if you just simply list the data of a product, or you copy the description of the manufacturer here, you will most likely make the mistake of content duplication: a lot of estores do the same.
Unique product descriptions (that are also of good quality, which means they are not abounded with spelling mistakes, full of keywords and they are actually interesting for the customers as well) can improve your ranking a lot themselves.
Make use of customer reviews and opinions
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to display user reviews, opinions and ratings on the product pages.
This can help you persuade potential buyers to purchase, but search engines also like product reviews.
To start with, it is a great advantage that they continuously enrich the product page with new, unique content, and on top of that, they provide free user generated content.
They also facilitate optimization to long tail keywords: there is a great chance that the users use words and expressions in their own descriptions that you have forgotten about.
You can gain micro data information from the opinions and reviews as well: these appear in the search results, for example like a star rating: this way it is visible even on the product page whether the users rate a product as good.
If you search on a movie or a series, you can find a great example of the operation of micro data: on the hit list, Google immediately associates the current ratings and the number of votes to the pages of imdb.com
Social integration – effective tool for boosting product or brand awareness
You should integrate the possibility of social sharing into every single page if possible. These are extremely valuable, and not only because Google has admittedly monitored the number of sharings and has built it into the algorithm for a while now (at least in case of some services).
By sharing, the users may generate further links leading to the page and may channel traffic to the specific product pages thus having a direct positive influence on your ranking.
Images and videos for enhancing user experience
By using images you can provide the users with valuable information and with interactivity. At the same time, it can also serve as an advantage if you optimize the images with the help of Alt (alternative) and Title description, by indicating the most important keywords.
Normally this is the text that is displayed if the image itself cannot load on a given page for some reason. However, the search engine also examines these.
It is worth ensuring that the size of the images is not too large, so that they do not make the page load slower, as this may have a negative effect on your ranking.
You can generate traffic with the use of videos as well:
Product presentations, tips and tricks, and similar formats are quite popular, they often persuade the interested users to purchase. Additionally, they are also superbly optimizable on YouTube: the page is operated by Google as you may know, so if you work with the appropriate keywords and descriptions (100-200 word dsecriptions recommended) as usual, you will get high ranking videos that will very likely appear on the search results pages, and thus you can direct higher traffic to the product page (into which it is advisable to integrate the relevant videos).
Page speed ‒ the higher, the more Google will like your page
The golden rule:
- the size of the page should be smaller than 3 MB,
- the page should be loaded in less than 3 seconds.
If you can sustain these numbers, no major problem may occur, however, there is still a lot to cut back from the 3 seconds. If the page is loaded too slowly, you will lose users on the mobile, and even the search bots register that your page is not fast enough – they do this because this can spoil the user experience, so it will have a negative effect on your ranking.
Some researches show that even a 1 second delay in loading can result in a 7 percent decrease of conversions.
The page should be mobile-friendly
Writing this down almost seems unnecessary, but as it is literally essential, we have to mention it: more and more people use the internet and at the same time purchase through mobile devices, which Google has noticed already as well. The algorithm will simply not display non-mobile-friendly pages in the high ranking positions of the hit lists, because they spoil the user experience.
You can easily test how mobile-friendly your page is by the Mobile-friendly test of Google, which is worth running on your product pages.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) ‒ using related terms and synonyms
Today keywords already have decreased significance in the eyes of Google, and if you use too much of them, you may even be put on the black list.
There are solutions though with which you can influence the algorithm in a good way. Beside the already mentioned long tail expressions, in other words longer search terms, LSI keywords are like that as well.
This is one of the first fruits of the MI technologies of Google: the system is also capable of making associations, of interpreting the words and expressions relevant compared to each other. Therefore, if you use synonyms, different words with (almost) the same meaning on the product pages, Google will also understand better what the page is about.
Let’s see an extreme, but easily understandable example:
Imagine that you optimize the product page for the keyword “bat”. Google will not yet know from that only whether you offer a type of sports equipment or flying mammals. However, the engine likes understanding more what it displays on the search result pages, as it can ensure more relevant results this way, thus enhancing the user experience.
How to get started with product page SEO?
With SEO audit:
Examine what is wrong with your pages, each of them from the main page through the category pages to the product pages. You can easily do that by following the criteria and tips described above: use a check-list, run test searches and examine the data of Analytics as well.
Carry out a keyword research:
Analyse with which keywords the users find the page – and also which are the most popular among those that direct traffic towards you. Conduct an analysis of the competition, find out in which fields your competitors are stronger.
You definitely have to provide multimedia and text content on your pages if you want to rank high on the hit lists. You can as well start preparing unique, relevant, informative and useful content: we have already given you some useful tips on that earlier.
In reality only a minor part of online stores apply professionally these methods of product page search engine optimization. You can boost your page in comparison to your competitors if you use the tips, or assign an expert, just listed here.
It’s no secret that it takes a considerable amount of effort to optimize every single product page properly, but it is such an investment that is indispensable for making your estore successful in the long run.
If you want to know how your online shop fulfils today’s SEO requirements, you can check out our SEO audit service.