Any ecommerce store owner worth their checkout box knows the value of effective SEO. They already understand that a high search engine ranking can earn you thousands in sales.
Unfortunately, this is where most ecommerce store owners get careless. They prioritize site wide improvements or things like social media and content marketing. While these do have their place and are important for your site’s SEO health, they tend to overlook a key element: product pages.
Product pages are the buyer’s gateway into your site. The higher the product ranks in google (and the more relevant it is to the search), the easier it will be for customers to find and buy your product.
For this article, we’re going to assume you’ve already done the basic SEO practices like:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Image names
- Removing duplicate content
We’re going to focus specifically on the more advanced SEO improvements for product pages.
1. Put effort into your product description
Do not use the manufacturer’s product description.
We’ve seen this many times before. Hundreds of your competitors are using the exact same poorly-written text supplied by the manufacturer. If you do the same, it’ll be much more difficult for you to stand out--both to shoppers and to Google. Google may even consider it duplicate content and thus lower your product page’s ranking.
Instead, create a unique, well-crafted product description that incorporates popular related keywords and showcases the unique value your product offers. Employ a mix of creative flair as you describe the product in paragraph form, but also include easy-to-read bullet points to communicate important product specifications.
If you have a prohibitively large number of product pages and can’t possibly get to all of them, prioritize the product pages that either sell the most or need the most improvement and work your way through the rest over time.
2. Optimize load speed
Google has confirmed that page load speed matters. If your site loads more slowly than the competition’s, your site may rank lower than theirs (assuming all other factors are equal).
The reason for this is that if your website loads slowly, Google’s crawlers won’t have enough time to review the entire site. Your ranking will only be based on a partial view, and so will have a negative effect on your search position and traffic.
Optimizing load speed is important for your site in general, but it’s especially vital for product pages, because they’re more likely to have load-heavy elements, like:
- Hi-res product images
- Embedded media (videos)
- Multiple font styles and sizes
- No CDN
- Front-loaded scripts that load slowly
- Third-party plugins/apps (especially in DIY store builders like Shopify)
If you want to test your own site speed, we recommend Google Lighthouse or GTmetrix.
3. Tailor your product URLs for SEO
At AmeriCommerce, we see many ecommerce stores misuse their product URL’s and miss a golden SEO opportunity. Either they put in a simple or vague product description, or they use a SKU number.
If you’re selling a fountain pen, for example, it would look something like this:
The SKU number is actually helpful, but only if the customer already knows exactly what they’re looking at--for example, a component of a larger product.
What they should be doing is applying keywords into their product URL for additional SEO juice. Include high-impact keywords and search terms into the URL and make them unique for each product page. For example:
Another way to make the URL unique is to include product details:
Anyone searching for product details like that has a strong intent to buy. And since your product page URL already includes those keywords, it will have a higher chance of coming up in search.
Note that site builders like Shopify will impose their own URL structure, so that may affect your ability to customize your URL to your satisfaction.
Unlike Shopify, AmeriCommerce allows custom URLs of products and categories. It’s a much better experience for you and/or developers because you have much finer control over what your domain says. You can opt to use or remove structural folders like “collections” or “category,” etc and create a simpler domain.
4. Include Product FAQs
When you can include them, Product FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are an easy way to boost both customer goodwill and SEO ranking.
On the customer service side, the FAQ adds value because it helps visitors understand the product better and make a more informed choice.
On the SEO side, the product FAQ gives you a justifiable opportunity to add more keywords to the product page. You can even reuse the same FAQ across multiple product pages--assuming the other products are similar enough.
You don’t have to stick to a prescribed format. Sites like Home Depot employ them as Question & Answer sections that fulfill the same function.
Google identifies FAQ sections through the use of Schemas. What are Schemas? I’m glad you asked!
5. Structured data
Structured data (like Schema.org) is specialized code written specially for search engines. Search engines use this code--also referred to as “rich snippets”--to display information in a very specific way in the SERPs. By using structure data properly, you can dictate exactly what a search engine will display when your product page comes up.
If you update your product page with the appropriate rich snippets, users will be able to see important product information just from the search results page. Information like:
This helps search engines identify your product page and all the product characteristics, and thus do a better job indexing your page. It also helps search engines display rich snippets in the search results, so that users will have an easier time browsing products.
Normally, you’d add schema markups to product pages yourself. AmeriCommerce does all of this for you in the template, and comes with deeper theme editing capabilities. You’d then have to invest more time fixing it than if you’d built it from scratch.
6. Collect real reviews
Search engines love reviews for multiple reasons.
Firstly, they provide value to customers. Over 80% of US shoppers check reviews before buying anything online, and trust reviews more than they would trust the business itself. This is why search engines have a REVIEW schema specifically for this purpose--so users can conveniently scan reviews in the SERP.
Secondly, reviews are probably going to include product-related keywords that you want to be known for. If these reviews live on your product page, then that gives search engines more to work with as they try to index it.
Thirdly, a page that regularly receives reviews is a page that is regularly updated. And search engines prefer frequently-updated pages versus stagnant ones.
Of course, when you include a review on your site you have to remember to manage those reviews. Don’t let a negative review sit, because potential customers are going to see it and run away. Reach out to the reviewer and do what you can to make them happy. If you solve their issue, they may be willing to update their review to something more positive.
Check out our help guide if you want to know how you can automate the review collection process.
7. Test, test, test
Don't simply take our word that the above tips will help. Test your changes ruthlessly. Perform A/B tests, focus group tests, site speed tests, and more. Keep the changes that have a positive impact, and revert changes that don’t. Don’t stick to a recommended best practice just because we say so; SEO is always in flux, and today’s great solution may be tomorrow’s mistake.
Apply the changes one at a time so you can verify whether or not each technique is working for you--otherwise you won’t know which tactic is working and how well. Remember to benchmark your current results so that you can gauge how much of an affect your SEO improvements have had.
Putting it all to use
Our recommendations might sound like a lot of work (and they are), but the results are going to be worth it.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of your product pages. Focus on the most important products first and foremost - the ones that will have the most impact on your bottom line. Then work on gradually applying those SEO improvements to the rest of the site.
Remember that all of Google’s SEO ranking factors encourage improving the user’s experience. Reviews, fast load speed and detailed product descriptions, coupled with back-end improvements like schemas and customized URLs, will make your customers’ lives easier and put your product pages far above your competition in the SERPs.
Focus on improving the customer’s experience, and it’ll all work itself out.