Large e-Commerce Websites:How to deliver great SEO outlined by Digital NRG
Although with a few intricate processes and tasks depending on the geography and customers goals, the principles of good search engine optimisation (SEO) are generally the same regardless of the website, the industry or market sector. The major exception to this is a large-scale e-Commerce or online shopping website. Digital NRG explains the differences and how to make the most of them.
e-Commerce Site Mapping and Search Engine Crawling
When auditing or improving the SEO of a website the first task is usually to look at the “global view” of the website and specifically how the pages, posts and products interlink with each other. Do all the pages have a link to another page or are there any “dead pages” that are not linked to at all? How will search engines like Google crawl the website or, more likely, what needs to change to ensure they crawl ALL pages.
As a side note, it may interest you (or scare you) to know that virtually every website we audit for a new or potential customer – between 33% and 50% of the pages of the website are not indexed by Google. This means that if people are searching for topics, information or products on these pages – they will not be shown in the search results. And before you ask, these are websites with sitemaps, added to Google’s “Search Console” and have other websites linking to them. Google simply does not index all pages on all websites.
So, if this is a potential issue with a small 100-page website, imagine the challenge this creates for a website with 1,000 products or 10,000 products or even 1M products?
Ensuring all products and pages are indexed is the quickest way to grow website visitors and increase sales and revenue.
e-Commerce Main Menu Navigation
A common misconception is that SEO Agencies and SEO services are only about getting a website, product or service found in search engines. Although, by definition, this is a principle task, there are other measures and goals to consider in delivering the best SEO service.
User experience and conversions are such measures. Technically minded SEO consultants may think we mean “bounce rate” and conversion tracking, but we mean how easy is it for a potential customer to find the information or product they are looking to buy. For the “techy SEO’s” you could start finding this information in the analytics “behaviour flow”, but this is such an important factor for large scale e-Commerce websites, that experience and common sense far outweigh “technical measures”.
To help with site mapping and crawling and to make the user experience (you may notice we are deliberately avoiding using the industry term “UX”) the main menu navigation should include as many product categories as possible, yet in a clear and easy to understand manner. The rise of the “mega menu” for websites is a fast and eye-catching way to solve this.
Remember, for mapping and crawling purposes, it is better if the mega menu links to categories and sub-categories, which in turn link to products. Easy for the customer to navigate and Google to crawl.
e-Commerce On-Page Content
This is a huge topic that I will summarise and explain in a common-sense way.
Google loves content – Google ranks content. If your category page simply has a list of products available in that category, you have content – but very poor content.
This doesn’t give Google the first clue on what to rank that page for in the search engines.
For example, you have a large electrical appliance e-Commerce website. Under the category of “Refrigeration” it has a sub category of “Freezers”. Normally this will then be a list of the different types of freezers freestanding, integrated etc. This holds very little value for Google. Simply adding two or three paragraphs of copy regarding the different types of freezers available, delivery and installation options – gives Google relevant information to rank, as well as providing value to the customer.
e-Commerce Meta Titles and Description
Although we cannot provide all the answers on this one, as it is very dependent on the products being sold – we can pose the question so that you find the relevant answer.
On a normal website the Meta Title and Meta Description are key to getting the webpage found and entice users from the search engine results and on to your website or product. They should always be unique, include relevant major search terms and ideally the location. Easy if you are a shoe shop in Bristol selling “ladies red shoes size 7” as it could be a meta title of:
Ladies High Heel Red Shoes Size 7 | The Bristol Shoe Store
Specifically, what you are selling, location and retail store branding – perfect!
The meta description could be as equally specific:
“Looking for ladies high heeled red shoes in a size 7 in Bristol? The Shoe Store has over 30 pairs in stock. Call in today or buy online with free delivery”.
But how easy is it if you have an e-Commerce website selling 100,000 products? Writing individual titles and descriptions, let alone monitoring their success and editing where appropriate would need an army of SEO Analysers.
The key to great meta titles and descriptions, of that many products is automation. You want to know that as soon as you add a product to the website is immediately has a high quality, and relevant title and description.
On the large e-Commerce websites we work on, we use available plugins on WordPress/ Woo Commerce websites or work with developers on bespoke websites to generate automated descriptions etc.
But what to automate? This is where we pose the question for YOU to answer. Consider how your customers search for a product when they are researching and when they are ready to buy.
Going back to our example of an Appliance retailer – our experience tells us that people will research first by features such as “double oven” or “washer dryer”, then they may find a manufacturer or brand they prefer and research “Neff Double Oven” or add further features such as “Neff Double Oven Slide & Hide”. When ready to buy they will use SKU’s or model numbers such as “Neff B44S32N5GB”. They may want to buy locally or online.
So the automated title and meta needs to reflect some of the research keywords and the buying keywords, for example:
%Manufacturer% %Product% %SKU% | Smith Store Bristol
Looking for a %Manufacturer% %Product% %SKU% ? Smith Store in Bristol have a huge stock. Buy in Bristol or online with free delivery.
5. Schema for Products
While there are many helpful uses for Schema.org structured data, quite possibly the most helpful SEO use of structured data is for Product schema. Google puts a lot of emphasis on product schema, especially for e-commerce sites.
Earlier this year, Google announced that they’re going to start displaying “similar items” in Google Image Search to help people find related products to what they’re searching for. Their advice to optimise for this announcement? Make sure you have product schema with an image reference.
In addition to appearing in similar items searches, proper use of Product schema can make your products stand out in search results. Google will display a variety of structured data elements from Product schema, including price, star ratings, availability and more.
You can see in the example below how an appliance retailer uses this markup effectively to increase their product visibility in search results. If possible, dynamically update your Star Rating field when customers leave new reviews on your products, as this adds more credibility to your schema and makes it likelier for Google to display your ratings.
Information Credit: Search Engine Land
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