The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has seen the popularity of e-commerce and online purchases skyrocket in just a few months. Globally, in June 2020, websites that specialise in retail received 22 billion visits. If you are not seizing the opportunity to make the transition to e-commerce as a commercial business, it’s important to understand the many benefits of doing business online. Although 46% of small businesses based in the US haven’t built an online presence, the benefits are undeniable. But if you have already tapped into this way of doing business, are you reaping all of the potential benefits that come with this new approach to business by using SEO Optimisation?
Getting the most out of e-commerce doesn’t just include the marketing strategies you’re doing correctly, it means avoiding common mistakes that are damaging your marketing efforts. SEO Optimisation is a fundamental step to take if you’re aiming to draw in more customers. But done wrong, it can ruin your chances of success, so it helps to be aware of certain SEO errors that should be avoided. By steering clear of these errors you’ll soon find your e-commerce business gaining traction and popularity. So, let’s dive in.
Why is SEO Important for E-Commerce?
Good SEO Optimisation will increase your conversion rates, which is a percentage that indicates the ratio of visitors that complete an action on your website versus the entire number of visitors you have. As described by Joel House, by practicing high quality SEO strategies, in comparison to traditional marketing methods, you can expect to have an advantage of nearly 15% higher.
As approximately 40% of traffic for e-commerce sites across the world originate from searches, and with 92% of consumer traffic being channeled to those e-commerce businesses on the first page of Google’s SERPs, ranking highly on SERPs as an e-commerce business is important.
And it’s also important to be aware of something called a click-through rate – the percentage of people who accessed your website via your advertisement or link to your site, which is important for an e-commerce website and is influenced by various SEO Optimisation factors. Including a video in your email for marketing purposes, for instance, leads to a 96% increase in your click-through rate via this medium.
Something we will keep coming back to in this post is the importance of keywords, how to use them and what to avoid when implementing SEO Optimisation strategies, as it influences your techniques immensely.
Lacking High-Quality Meta Descriptions
One way to increase your click-through rate is to consider your meta descriptions. In fact even though many e-commerce websites don’t make use of them simply because they don’t directly influence their SERP ranking, or their SEO, meta descriptions are an essential step to take that shouldn’t be avoided. Brian Dean backs this suggestion up, citing Google’s recommendation that a unique meta description should be used for each page.
Good meta descriptions have the power to drive click-through rates because they are a crucial factor that directly impacts on how your e-commerce website is perceived by users. They are a short description of the page that can be found on Google’s SERPs and they can potentially lead to an increase of traffic to a website due to the increased click-through rates. As described by Brian Dean, pages that have a meta description can expect to get approximately 6% more clicks compared to pages that lack one.
The mistake to avoid, then, is lacking meta descriptions entirely or, lacking well-written meta descriptions for each of your product pages. If you are unsure how to write great meta descriptions, remember to keep them short, within 155 characters. Avoid using lengthy descriptions that will be cut off by SERPs, but also try to use a call-to-action. And always aim for clarity when writing your meta descriptions as they should be clear, concise and accurate and have a level of detail that compels your buyer to visit the page.
Failing to Optimise for Buyer Intent
Preempting keywords has been taken to the next level. Now search engines are ranking for ‘user intent’, which means that your products or different types of content need to be listed and optimised in line with what the buyer is intending to search for. Buyer intent is also referred to as commercial intent.
Sandeep Mallya points out in her post on ‘9 SEO Best Practices That You Should Follow in 2020’ that being aware of the four types of search can really help to boost your e-commerce as it can aid you when it comes to optimising for your buyer’s intent.
The four types of search intent and classes of keywords consist of: informational, navigational, commercial and transactional and each need to be acknowledged when creating content. For e-commerce, and for listings related to products, you’ll want to tap into the importance of commercial intent, which means preempting the chances of an individual converting into a consumer based on the keywords they use.
And according to Ecommerce Tuners, matching your keywords to the intent of your users, including phrases such as ‘buy now’ or ‘free shipping’ or ‘buy online’ is a good way to increase the success of your e-commerce business. These ‘strong commercial intent keyword modifiers’ can be useful in the decision stage of the process, a stage in which the potential consumer has thought about what product they require and is therefore ‘closer to making a purchase decision’.
The rationale behind optimising for search intent is that it plays into the hands of the SERPs in addition to your potential buyers. Ecommerce Tuners also indicates, for instance, that during the purchasing stage, a consumer will most likely use transactional intent keywords with high commercial intent.
Not knowing, failing to consider or overlooking the importance of commercial intent are errors that should therefore be avoided, as should using the wrong or inappropriate class of keywords for your e-commerce business.
Not Using Title Tags Correctly
The step of creating title tags that are unique shouldn’t be ignored, even though creativity is sometimes difficult to muster while making use of keywords. The title tag is fundamental – 36% of experts in Search Engine Optimisation believe that the title tag is the principal and predominant SEO element.
The balance required in this case is to make use of keywords in the title tags while avoiding replicating content, but to also go one step further and ensure that your title tags focus on the search demand. This can be achieved with keywords and phrases that match what your consumers are searching for in SERPs.
Search engines value the use of keywords in title tags when they are used in the right way. Utilising the brand of the products that you are selling within the title tag, for instance, is a great way to boost your e-commerce business.
The thing to be aware of when creating title tags for e-commerce, then, is to use keywords in an insightful way. Placing them in ‘strategic locations’ as suggested by Neil Patel, as opposed to stuffing them in, inappropriately, is important as discussed later in this post.
It’s also important to refrain from simply using the manufacturer’s description that comes with the products you are selling for title tags. Avoid skimping on the fundamental details when creating the titles for your products and ensure that they aren’t simply copied from other sources. Avoiding replicate content for your titles is useful for your consumers, but it is also useful for search engines because the majority will penalise duplicate content. Which brings us to our following point.
Not Keeping Your Content Fresh for Each Product Page
Staying away from duplicate content for title tags scratches the surface of boosting e-commerce success. From your meta descriptions and your title tags to your product descriptions you’ll want to ensure that they all have unique content that isn’t simply a repeat of descriptions found elsewhere.
Ahrefs backs up this point, recommending that unique descriptions should be used when creating category and product pages. They also provide a few key guidelines that shouldn’t be avoided when creating high quality product descriptions.
An error to steer clear of is to simply repeat the same keyword throughout the product page. In fact, as suggested by Ahrefs, using long-tail variations and Latent Semantics Indexing or LSI keywords to your advantage throughout the page will be beneficial in the long run, as opposed to simply looking for synonyms. LSI keywords enable search engines to better understand user intent, and generate results with relevance.
Using an LSI tool can prove useful when searching for LSI keywords, as they can provide a range of phrases that you might not have thought of.
You’ll want to make use of keywords where possible, but avoid keyword stuffing – which we have explained in the next section.
While older SEO Optimisation techniques may have included using as many keywords as possible within content of any kind, including e-commerce content, this strategy simply doesn’t work now and shouldn’t be practiced in 2020. This is known as keyword stuffing and considered black hat SEO, which basically means that it goes against the terms of service of the search engine.
There are a number of strategies that people use to implement the black hat SEO technique of keyword stuffing, from invisible keyword stuffing to placing the keywords within HTML code. It is thought that these techniques are undetectable, but they are always noticed by search engine crawlers.
Kim Kosaka describes keyword stuffing as being terrible for SEO, resulting in a ‘spammy and artificial read that doesn’t serve a site visitor’s needs’, going on to indicate that the optimum keyword density is around 2% or less, ‘where keyword density = the number of times the keyword appears in the copy divided by the total number of words’.
This is because there are a range of reasons why keyword stuffing is considered bad practice. For one, the UX or user experience of your target market is often negative when keyword stuffing is used. And for another thing, search engines penalise content that offers a negative user experience.
What this means is that keyword stuffing is another error that should be avoided when attempting to increase traffic to an e-commerce website. Not only can it seem unnatural to see, for instance, the keyword ‘best quality’ throughout the product, it can actually affect your SERP ranking.
Ignoring the Importance of Images and ALT tags
Your buyers are expecting to see the products they are potentially going to purchase on your e-commerce website. What does this mean in terms of things to avoid? Well, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t forget to optimise the images of your products.
There are a huge range of important factors to consider when optimising images. Is your file size appropriate? Did you make use of ALT tags? Have you named the image correctly? What about your thumbnails – have they been used effectively? We will consider each of these in turn here.
First, the file size, which refers to the space the file takes up to store it on your server, needs adjusting to ensure the load speed of your e-commerce website isn’t reduced. Selecting and knowing the appropriate file type for adjusting the file size is useful for this, and JPEG files are a common option for product images, making size adjustment slightly easier. Avoid ignoring the importance of adjusting the file size as this can repel your target audience.
Choosing the wrong name for your files is a big no-no. As search engine crawlers value a name that is concise, yet accurate and optimised for keywords, you should avoid simply choosing the name that comes with the file. Doing this will increase your traffic due to improved SEO Optimisation.
Next, consider the importance of ALT tags, which are elements that help to optimise your content. By making use of short, accurate descriptions that match the image, you can increase your SEO Optimisation, giving your e-commerce site a little boost. As described by Moz “alt text offers you another opportunity to include your target keyword”, so it’s best to use certain keywords or phrases that are in line with your target words. The thing to avoid here is forgetting to format your ALT tags – they’re important and shouldn’t be forgotten.
Then, you’ll need to think about the thumbnails of your product images, which also require ALT tags and can help attract more consumers to your e-commerce site. As described by Neil Patel, “You should absolutely display related products below or above the cart or purchase page and entice your customers to click”, as thumbnails are fundamental tools that help you to up-sell your product. The key with thumbnails, however, is to avoid using the same file size as your images. Keep them below 70KB.
Optimising an e-commerce site requires various steps, but don’t panic. By avoiding some of these SEO errors, you can easily boost traffic to your e-commerce website. Remember to think about buyer intent and your ALT tags, and avoid keyword stuffing like the plague.
Jann is a content writer at Top 10 Website Hosting. She is committed to providing all you need to know about technology along with researching and analysing the best hosting providers.