Optimizing your eCommerce content for search engines is a no brainer in today’s competitive “Google it” world.
One thing to consider is that search engines are always making updates to the models they use to rate your website in search engine rankings. For example, Google’s algorithm upgrade from Panda to Penguin can have negative effects on your website if you are trying to “beat the system.” While internet marketing leaders are staying current with their eCommerce approach, there are some typical SEO mistakes that you can easily make.
When optimizing your website for search engine rankings, avoid these seven common SEO mistakes.
- Multiple Root Domain Name URL’s and No Redirect in Place
It is important to establish a primary root domain name. By domain name, we mean the homepage. The homepage is the bread and butter of your site, and it has an effect on the entire website. Having additional homepage landing pages redirect to your established domain name makes it easier for your site to receive better overall search engine rankings, and it decreases duplicate content concerns.
- Duplicate Title Tags on Landing Pages
Title tags (in html: <title> </title>) refer to the keywords that are being utilized and that support the theme of the landing page. Normally the homepage has the brand name as the title tag. A common mistake is to repeat brand names across pages.
The reason many websites make this mistake is because they are utilizing templates to create their site. If you create a new page off of a template, the title tags will stay as what you used previously. Remember to make the new title tags unique, or you will not be maximizing your on-page search engine optimization potential.
- Keyword Stuffing in the Meta Keywords
Keyword stuffing was very common in the 1990’s because it was used as a way to increase rankings in organic search results. Long-tail keyword stuffing was used to get rankings on page one. These early algorithms allowed stuffing, but that is no longer the case. Meta keywords are the number one place you may be keyword stuffing without even realizing it. It is easier to be more descriptive in your Meta keywords, but don’t fall into this trap! As the density of your Meta keywords increases, it is easier for the search engines to see what you’re doing and know that it’s wrong.
It won’t hurt you to use Meta keywords, but it is more likely to hurt you if done wrong. Google won’t penalize you for keyword stuffing the Meta keywords anymore, but even if Google doesn’t, this isn’t to say that other search engines using older algorithms won’t. To be safe, you want to use seven or less keyword phrases and you shouldn’t repeat a keyword more than three times.
- Meta Descriptions Exceeding the Character Limit
Search engines don’t limit characters in the Meta descriptions, per say, but only a max of 160 characters will be visible. For this reason, the limit is generally considered to be 150 to 160 characters. Keep in mind, less is more.
The purpose of the Meta description is to influence the user’s decision to click on your title tag. Writing your own Meta descriptions means that you can control the short description on Google’s results page under the link to your website. Therefore, it’s good to write a clear, action-oriented description, and you’ll get more out of your Meta description if you follow the character limit. You wouldn’t want to have all your great content and call to action cut off because it was over the character limit.
Since 2009, Google no longer takes Meta descriptions into account from an SEO perspective. However, if you don’t write your own Meta descriptions, the search engines will pull content directly from your landing page. This means the search engine has control over how your brand is portrayed in the Meta description. In some cases, what is pulled can be viewed as keyword stuffing because the keywords are being pulled from navigation rather than content from a paragraph. Google will display what it views as most relevant to the search query.
- Not Writing Unique Content for Navigation Landing Pages
Nowadays content is king and more important than ever to search engine rankings. Having unique content for each landing page gives more value to the search engines, and that’s exactly what they want. Content creation is less likely to be done and seen as less of a need for eCommerce sites vs. local small business sites. This isn’t surprising since small business sites are strictly content based; no transactions take place on the site. However, eCommerce sites provide what customers are looking for, but not necessarily what search engines want. Just because it isn’t as common for eCommerce sites to create content, doesn’t mean that this is the right way to go.
Links in ecommerce navigation have low SEO value. Contrary to that, anchor text links and unique content have high credibility to the search engines, their search engine results pages (SERPs), and ranking placement. Content should be utilized as your primary source for an internal linking strategy with theme based keyword phrases as anchor text links. As an example, if you’re linking to a page about soccer balls, use the text “soccer balls” to link, instead of linking “new products” or some other unrelated phrase. Just remember the page you’re linking from should be relevant to the anchor text keywords being used.
- Being Unrealistic About the Keyword Phrases Targeted
The reality is some keywords are just too competitive. You need to be realistic about the authority of the site you are optimizing. Look at the scope and the niche that you’re targeting and how competitive they are. You want to use more long tails, more targeted title tags and keywords that are more relevant to your site. Utilizing the long tail approach with domain names that have less authority will lead to more quality page views. The idea is quality over quantity.
For example, let’s say you make cool themed cases for iPads. iPad is a very competitive keyword, and you may be unrealistic to think you will rank well with this. However, if you utilize this in a long-tail keyword phrase, such as “Avengers case for iPad,” you may have a better chance of showing up. Yet, this is still a more competitive phrase than something as specific as “gray Avengers case for iPad.” Think about what people are searching for and if you have a chance to be competitive with other websites about that same topic.
- Product Image Files Not Labeled Correctly for the Search Engines
To be effective, you want to correctly name both the product image files and the <alt tag> attributes for the images. The addition of images to universal search within the organic results should reinforce the decision to update file names. This is a great opportunity to try and acquire additional traffic from your images.
For example, an image using a product skew as the file name “32336d.jpg” is not as SEO friendly as “USA-Map-With-Color-States.jpg.” Again, think about what keyword phrase is being searched for, such as an image named USA Map with Color States.
In addition to that, images are excellent calls to action in universal search. This is where the user’s eye will go, and they will be compelled to click. If the search query is in reference to an image, universal search will provide more relevant images in the SERPs. Before universal search, no images would be displayed in the natural search results. The same is true of video. Not correctly naming and utilizing images is a major missed opportunity for eCommerce sites to get new traffic and visitors that are more inclined to convert.
These seven mistakes are easy to make. Optimizing your search engine rankings requires research and knowledge of what you are doing. However, avoiding these common blunders is a great place to start in getting your website to page one ranking.