It is very frustrating when the products you are selling do not rank, or you experience fluctuations in your product page SEO rankings and overall traffic to your product pages. Many online merchants think that as soon as they list products on their eCommerce site, their organic search traffic will start to grow. But this is very different from the reality of getting organic rankings for your products.
In this post, we won’t be discussing how to implement great eCommerce SEO for online stores, because there are plenty of articles about this already (check out this article and this one too if you’re looking for this). In this article, we’re going to lay out 5 key mistakes which you need to AVOID making, because these mistakes will kill your product page SEO and hurt your sales badly.
Truth be told, it is harder to optimize an eCommerce store for SEO than it is for other types of blogs or websites. By having tens, or even hundreds of product pages “randomly” going up on your site and then going down again, plenty of problems can come up that will typically make product page SEO much harder to do well for eCommerce websites.
This article describes 5 important product page SEO mistakes that can hurt your product’s organic rankings that you need to be aware of. If you’re making any of these mistakes, you should get them fixed ASAP.
We will also be discussing what you can do in order to fix these problems. For anybody who isn’t comfortable implementing these fixes on your own, you can always hire a freelancer or agency to help.
1. You don’t have enough text content to describe your product
While many eCommerce stores feature plenty of images of their products, we typically find when doing SEO audits, that most product pages have little to no content at all.
Google and other search engine robots and crawlers, (the ones which determine whether you rank well in search result pages or not) are mostly able to read text content to understand what your product is (and where it should be ranked).
So if you don’t have enough text content to help describe your product well, then your product page SEO will be weak and it will make it very hard to achieve a good ranking If you want your product to rank well make sure that you add lots of text content to describe your products.
Think at least 500 words, although adding more is even better. We would recommend going up to 750 and even 1,000 words depending on the products you sell.
The more unique text content you have to describe your products and who they’re best for, the better your product page SEO will be.
When creating the text, make sure you don’t write the description only for search engines (i.e. don’t just use keywords which are used in queries). Writing a quality product description will help your customers make an informed purchasing decision when they visit your eCommerce store.
Think of the search intent of your customer first, and answer the following questions:
- What does the customer need when they are looking for your product?
- What general and specific recommendations can you make when a customer is intent on buying this product or a similar one?
- Can you make any useful suggestions or give any good advice about this product to your typical customer?
- Are there any other products which could be useful with this one and what would you recommend in this regard?
- Are there any variations of this product? How would you go about choosing the best option if you were the customer?
In general, just make sure that when the user that lands on the product page they have more information than they would expect, and hopefully they leave the page knowing more than when they landed on it. That’s a positive user experience and is something which you should strive for with each product page on your site.
Of course, where necessary include the right images to complement the text, but always make sure there is the correct ALT tag and filename which describes the image. This is because once again, search engine aren’t yet able to understand the actual contents of the image very well, so they try to understand what the image is about from the filename and ALT tag text.
The below is an example of a solid product description for a product. You can see how the description is explaining in detail what the user would want to know before buying this product.
Important side note:
Do not attempt to copy text from other sites when describing your product because search engines will penalize you for doing that. And most importantly, do not replicate the manufacturer’s description. See below to learn more on this.
2. You are copying product descriptions directly from the manufacturer’s websites.
We’ve already discussed how text content is very important to product page SEO because this is the content most search engines are able to understand.
But when creating content for the product, you need to make sure you don’t make this other BIG mistake: copying product description directly from the manufacturer of the product. This applies in particular to retailers who are selling and reselling physical products.
Search engines will typically penalize and sometimes completely remove from pages which are copying content directly from other websites from their search results. This is considered duplicate content by Google and other search engines.
Duplicate content is bad for product page SEO on 2 fronts. First, the search engines can’t differentiate between your content and others, and so you’ll likely miss out on a lot of traffic due to a low ranking. Second, even if someone does find their way to your product page, you’re missing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and create a much better buying experience by providing helpful and unique information to improve purchase conversions.
Additionally, if Google thinks that you are trying to use duplicate content to manipulate your eCommerce SEO rankings or “feels” that you are employing spammy strategies to drive traffic and improve your product’s organic rankings, then your eCommerce store can be completely removed from Google’s index.
To summarize, you should use the content from the manufacturer to understand what the product does, but then write your own unique product description that gives your customers all the information they need to make the decision to buy. The better the quality of your new content, the better your rankings are likely to be, and the more likely you’ll be to convert a sale.
3. You don’t have Schema Markup on your product pages
Above we explained how crawlers are typically unable to understand non-textual content.
But did you know you that:
- there is a specific language that search engines speak and understand
- search crawlers can extract content from this language
Wouldn’t you want your website and product page SEO to take advantage of this and speak in this language to search engines?
This language is called schema markup and is syntax which is specifically written such that search engines can extract meaning from your product pages.
Not enabling schema markup to help search engines best understand your products is a subtle but important mistake to avoid.
Schema markup is a great tool that you can employ to explain your content to the search engine crawlers, including such details as price, type of product, description, ratings and reviews and plenty of other properties.
LemonStand’s flexible eCommerce platform makes it possible to enable schema markup for your product pages. Many of LemonStand’s available themes have schema markup built in by default, and if you’ve worked with a developer to build a completely custom theme for your store, you can definitely have them add schema markup if they didn’t originally.
An example of how this can look in search engines is below:
Notice, the ratings, price, reviews, stars, etc.
Using these schema markup properties explains to crawlers exactly what your content is all about.
Using schema markup is a great way to boost your product page SEO and increase your overall eCommerce SEO rankings as well. Schema markup is also used to feature specific featured snippets in the result pages, particularly when users are searching for products.
Done right, it really can have a massive impact on your rankings and click throughs.
4. You have too many (thin) product pages
For search engines such as Google, having many pages which are similar in nature but with little to no content is a problem.
Google has recently clarified that the value of a domain is based on the “average” of all of the pages. So if you have 20 great pages, but your eCommerce stores is generating thousands of product pages for different colors, sizes and other variations of your product (with little to no text differences as explained above), you are diluting your whole domain’s value.
You are also likely to exhaust what is known as the crawl budget of a website, meaning that any important changes in your website may not be get indexed (or updated) at all, or may take a long time to get updated correctly.
Make sure that you focus on the most important product pages you want to rank for, and if you do have a lot of variation pages, noindex useless variations of products which you don’t need to rank for. You can show the user that there are variations of the product, but there is no real need to try to index and rank ALL of your product pages.
Note that for LemonStand powered stores, this is typically not a problem, as they have a single page for the base product and all variations. But some other platforms may generate a unique page for each variation, which can cause problems.
For example, the below product page is quite thin in terms of product description and usefulness for the searching user:
With a lot of similar “thin” product pages, you can also risk running into keyword cannibalization issues, where the same pages start to compete with each other for the same keywords, with the result being that none of them will rank well enough.
5. You have not fully optimized your on-page product page SEO
On page SEO optimizations remain one of the easiest wins for organic rankings. Specifically, important meta data such as the:
- <title> tag
- URL (what appears in the address bar after your domain)
- <h1> tag
- <meta> tag description
are critically important. The first three above correlate directly to rankings, whilst the 4th actually impacts the user behaviour (click-through rate), if you create an enticing description of your product that users are more likely to click.
We won’t get into a full discussion of on-page SEO factors here, there are countless articles on this topic and we’ve already written about this on the LemonStand blog.
But suffice to say, it is still a critical factor for rankings. Not spending the time to optimize your on-page product page SEO can be a costly error. And conversely, by taking the time to optimize your on-page ranking factors, you can quickly see a spike in rankings and traffic.
If you want to improve your product page SEO quickly, make sure you fully optimize on-page SEO factors on every product page.
The mission of Google and other search engines is to help their users find the best matches to what they’re looking for, and this is especially true when they’re looking for products to buy.
To avoid killing your product page SEO, your product pages need to give both the user and the search engines the help they need to find your products. So remember to always make sure that your eCommerce store’s product pages are useful and informative for your clients. What is valuable and helpful for your clients is also great for search engine rankings.
To give the search engines the right signals and make your product page SEO really pop, always make sure that:
- Your products have enough text content that clearly describes them to potential customers
- Your product pages have unique and useful content which has not been copied from other websites
- You implement schema markup on your products to make them more machine-readable and boost your product page SEO and overall search rankings
- You avoid using too many thin product pages as this will dilute and weaken your SEO
- You always fully optimize on-page SEO for each product page
Have you seen other mistakes that kill product page SEO? Share them in the comments below to help others in our community.