Organic. It’s become a healthy eating trend in recent years, but in the world of online business and eCommerce, organic traffic has been king for a long time.
A study by Optify states that websites ranked number one on Google received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent, number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent, and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent. To put that into perspective, receiving a number one ranking in Google gets you as much organic traffic as ranks two to five combined.
But as eCommerce becomes more competitive, it gets tougher to rank higher. With a large amount of eCommerce themes out there, it’s easy for another retailer to start a copy-cat store and try to outrank you.Rank 1 in Google gets you as much organic traffic as ranks 2 to 5 combined! Click To Tweet
It takes time to get to the front page of Google, and while purchasing advertisements can get you some initial traction, you need to remember that your competition is buying traffic too–and driving up the cost! Sooner or later it will become a losing strategy.
A better idea for the long haul is to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
But, with over 200 factors that Google takes into account when determining your online store’s ranking, knowing where to start can be hard to pinpoint, so that’s what you’ll be learning today. Below you’ll find a list of the most important on-page factors for product page SEO.
1. URL Structure
Let’s start with the top: page URL. The best policy for URL structures is KISS (Keep It Simple, Store-owner!). It should be simple, relevant and understandable to both humans and search engines.
Too often you’ll see URL structure formatted like this:
Do not do this.
There are a number of things wrong with this URL structure: It doesn’t tell the user what they’re looking at and it contains no relevant keywords for search engines.
URLs like this are typically generated by the software or platform you use to build your store. The random number at the end is a dynamic parameter. Now, some platforms do create more readable, static URLs but they still end up like this – www.somesite.com/womens/collections/product/blue-lowrise-skinny-jean.
The problem here is the important keywords you want search engines to pick up on–like lowrise skinny jean–are placed at the back. By doing this, you’re telling search engines that the most critical elements of your URL are womens and collections instead of your actual product.
An optimized product page URL should look like this www.somesite.com/blue-lowrise-skinny-jean.
Your keywords need to be placed right after your domain which tells search engines that “blue lowrise skinny jean” is what the page is about.
This is also important for when potential customers search for a product using those keywords, or something similar. When your product shows up in the search results, Google will bold the keywords in the URL, so searchers know what to expect when they click on your link.
How does this happen? With some eCommerce platforms, depending on how you organize your products into categories and collections, you might see multiple URLs being automatically generated based on the path a user can take.
For example, if your ‘Blue Low-Rise Skinny Jeans’ product is featured on the ‘Frontpage’ collection, while also under ‘Women’s Clothing,’ your platform might generate three URLs pointing to the same product –
Three different URLs, but all pointing to the same product–see the problem. To customers, there’s no difference, but to Google, it’s like having three different pages with the same content. To solve this, you’ll need to use the rel=canonical tag to tell Google that it’s not duplicate content.
Breadcrumbs are the navigational links you see near the top of a page. Here’s what a typical breadcrumb looks like –
Enabling them is good SEO practice for a couple reasons: they build internal links to other pages on your site and help define your link architecture. Online shoppers appreciate them, so they know where they are in your store at all times (especially crucial for eCommerce stores with lots of categories).
3. Title Tags
Another important signal of relevancy to both humans and search engines are title tags. Think of the title tag as a succinct description of your product page’s content.
Much like with URLs, you want your main keywords to appear at the start of the tag. The optimal title tag formula is Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.
The secondary keyword(s) and brand name, if applicable, are what make each product page title tag unique. It solves the problem of having multiple products of the same type, like skinny jeans. Adding words like ‘low-rise’ or ‘Levis’ to each product title tag also takes into account other words that customers might be searching for.
Here is an example of a title tag used by Aldo Shoes in HTML. It starts with the name of the shoe and the type of shoe, followed by the brand name Aldo.
And this is what it looks like when I search for ‘Afoalle Aldo shoes’ on Google.
This title is perfect because it’s descriptive and optimized for search engines.
Other Header Tags
If possible, try to include your keywords in your H1, H2, and H3 tags. These are weaker signals, but they do count.
4. Product Descriptions
Unique product descriptions are vital to helping customers add a product to their cart and win over search engines.
If you don’t change the copy written by manufacturers, there are a few things that work against you. First of all, these descriptions are distributed to all the other online stores selling the same product, this is what search engines now see as multiple websites with the same content. Ever since the Panda algorithm came out, sites with duplicate content have been getting penalized by Google.
What’s also unfortunate about manufacturer descriptions is that they are not written to sell the product. They often describe the product specs making them boring to read. While specs are necessary, online shoppers want more than that.
A rule to remember when it comes to any SEO, not just product page SEO, is that search engines love unique and exciting content.
5. Product Reviews
According to eMarketer, almost 70% of people look to online reviews before making a purchase, but not only do online shoppers love and look for product reviews, search engines love them too.
Because your store is consistently being updated with fresh and unique content, Google is going to rank you higher. The best part is that it’s free user-generated content, making it a scalable and cost-effective way of adding new content to all your product pages.
They can also help optimize your product page for long tail keywords that you may have missed and add micro-data . This micro-data shows up as a line of text under each search result and gives your content a bit more context.
In this example, you can see how the micro-data manifests as a star rating and a number of reviews. It helps customers decide if they should click on the result or go to the next one.
6. Social Media Buttons
Ideally, you don’t want to distract customers from buying your product. It’s better to have someone buy a product than just share it. Better yet, have them buy it and share it later.
It’s worth testing different strategies but, in general, social shares can send signals to search engines about the popularity of your products. Each share acts like an upvote, indicating that your product is interesting enough for people to tell their friends about it. And, if each share brings back additional traffic to your site, that just an added bonus.
7. Product Images
You’re probably already aware that product images help improve conversion rates, but did you know that you can also optimize them for search engines?
Start by using descriptive image file names and Alt tags that incorporate your keywords. For example, skinny-blue-jeans.png is a much more descriptive file name than product2234.png.
The alt text is just the alternative text that browsers use if they can’t render the image. Again, a keyword-rich description helps both search engines and humans.
And finally, make sure your image file sizes aren’t so large that they take a long time to load. This will slow down your page speed, causing potential customers to bounce and search engines to lower your ranking.
8. Product Videos
A video increases consumers’ understanding of your product offering by 74%. That’s impressive but, even better, these videos actually drive 12% of the viewers to buy the product!
Product videos aren’t just great for conversion rates, they also allow you to differentiate yourself in search results. You know that colossal video sharing site, Youtube? Google owns that site.
When uploading product videos to Youtube, ensure that the titles, tags, and descriptions are optimized for your keywords. This makes it searchable on Youtube, and the video might even show up on a Google search if optimized well.
After it’s up on Youtube, make sure you embed it on your site and allow others to embed it too. The more interested viewers embed your video, the higher your ranking will be in Google.
Get Started Optimizing your Product Pages
If you don’t have too many products, it’s best to just go through all of them in one sitting and optimize them for search engines. If you can’t finish in one sitting, break it up over a few days. As you look through each product page, go over the checklist and optimize each point.
Remember, you won’t immediately start ranking on the front page of Google–this takes time. Eventually, your store will begin to rank for specific keywords, and you’ll slowly beat out your copy-cat competitors. And if you’ve already done everything in this post, check out Part Two for some advanced techniques.
What are your best product page SEO tips? Let us know in the comments!