SEO for e-commerce product pages

Search engine optimisation for e-commerce sites presents a number of challenges and opportunities that need to be overcome in order to maximise conversion and rankings alike.  Some of these are shared with informational or service-based websites, whilst others are unique to the retail sector.  In this post we shall look at the product page only, and how to make the most of this vital element to any e-commerce business.

Whether the product is a spa voucher or a holiday to Greece, it is vital that the product pages are designed in such a way that they appeal to both the consumer and to Google.  There are far too many examples of sites that focus overwhelmingly on ranking for the high volume phrases at homepage or category level that they miss out on what can be achieved with a good set of product pages.

URL optimisation

Firstly, product pages should be given decent URLs, not database-generated number strings that do not mean anything to anyone.  Not only do these look unappealing in the search results, affecting ranking factors such as click through rates, but a readable URL is more helpful to Google in divining exactly what it is that the site is selling.  This helps with ranking for both exact match searches and broader terms that relate to many of the products.  It is a huge boon to rank first for a product name, especially if it is a popular product available from multiple websites, as it will, almost unfailingly, have a high conversion rate.

Meta data optimisation

The factor that has perhaps the most effect in the search results is the meta data.  Like the URLs, decent meta data is going to be a huge draw for how many people choose to click through on the listing.  Meta data should be unique, with the product name placed first in the meta title, and the meta description highlighting any selling points such as ‘free delivery’ and the price (if it is competitive and stable).  It is likely to be up against both natural and paid competition so making the most of these characters is a must.

Site structure

On most e-commerce sites, the product pages make up the bulk of the website.  Optimise all of these properly and there is the opportunity for a great deal of long tail traffic to hit the site.  Unless there are any ‘star’ products that are going to be massive revenue generators, such as in the example of upcoming game releases or new tech products, it is normally not worth link building to individual product pages.  Therefore the entire website must be designed in such a way that these pages are easily crawlable through the navigation and not buried too deep in the site structure.  A well designed site will promote and bring power to the product pages rather than leaving them undefined and disconnected, as is so often the case.

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