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12 E-Commerce SEO Pitfalls To Avoid

  • Are you regularly auditing your website?
  • Optimising your pages to create a good user experience
  • While tempting, don’t purchase backlinks
  • Benefits of having an SSL certificate

Marketers need to understand e-commerce search engine optimisation (SEO) amid the fast-transforming digital landscape. In fact, when it comes to e-commerce, SEO and traffic to your website are vital. Organic SEO is possibly the most valuable source of business, bringing in 40-60% of your overall traffic, which ultimately makes up a large portion of revenue.

Any e-commerce website that starts to lose its rankings on Google is at risk of going out of business; it’s that simple. Here are twelve common SEO mistakes that you should avoid to keep your E-commerce SEO strategy healthy:

1 – Switching platform without considering SEO

It can be pretty easy to overlook certain aspects of SEO when launching a new e-commerce website or switching from one platform to another, which is a common reason for your rankings to fall and your sales to deteriorate.

It may simply be a case that your new platform isn’t as user-friendly or search engine optimised by default. More commonly, you may have overlooked the fact that your URLs have changed, and you haven’t put any 301 redirects in place to point your old pages to their relevant, new counterparts.

Ensure you perform a full SEO audit of your new platform, and you know how to structure URLs correctly, including pointing your old URLs to your new ones. Following this practice will ensure you maintain as much of your current rankings with Google as possible, and you have a solid, optimised platform.

eCommerce SEO

2 – Removing URLs & Pages

If you start to remove old products, pages and other content without considering the SEO impact, you could be in for some headaches. As above, if you are deleting or moving content, it’s important to have a 301 redirect pointing those ‘old’ URLs to the most relevant existing page possible instead of leaving it as a 404 error.

If, for example, you have a ‘seasonal’ page that displays special offers or sales, it is far more effective to keep that page active regardless of the time of year. This helps build up longevity and trust, rather than deleting the page and starting from scratch once again when the time comes back around. The same could be said for ‘out of stock product pages.

3 – Creating a Bad User Experience

User experience has become Google’s main priority over recent years, and one could say that the above points are also factors that contribute to a positive UX. So, if your user experience is poor, it’s likely that your rankings will follow suit.

Keep a close eye on your Google Analytics reports, particularly bounce rates, pages per session and time on page, as all of these will give you a good idea of how your user experience is shaping up. If your statistics are constantly declining, it would be a good idea to consider restructuring to create a better user experience. After all, the rest of your SEO strategy may be sound, but if you have a poor user experience, it won’t only be your rankings that are affected, but your sales too.

4 – Ignoring Search Intent

Search intent is often the overlooked ranking factor that all marketers should pay more attention to – how else will you reach your audience if you don’t understand why they have typed in a particular search query.

Google shows users the most relevant results based on their search query. So, if you want to rank highly in search engine result pages (SERPs), you need to be creating content that aligns with the searcher’s intent.

Think of relevancy as the foundation of SEO success. For example, suppose you’re trying to rank for “online tutoring services”, don’t just optimise your landing page for these keywords as it will negatively impact your SEO.

There are four types of primary search intent:

  • Navigational

  • Informational

  • Transactional

  • Commercial

Ensure all your pages and posts are optimised for your primary keywords and include semantically related keywords which help inform Google about the context of your site.

Local SEO

5 – Not Optimising Your Site for Local Search

Local search is essential for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized companies that operate regionally instead of nationally or internationally.

What is optimisation for local search?

Local SEO prioritises appearing in SERPs for searches within a specific location. You could optimise for local search by including region-specific keywords such as city, county and address on your pages or in the header and footer of your website.

If you focus on customers within specific regions, optimising your SEO for local searches will increase traffic, leads and conversions, which will help you compete more effectively against businesses that operate at a national level.

You could also boost your SERPs position by optimising for voiceover search, which is set to spike exponentially over the coming years. How do people in your region ask questions when they speak to their mobile devices? Do you need to consider dialect and conversational tone?

6 – Forgetting to Run Regular Website Audits

When was the last time you ran a health check on your website?

If it’s been a while, or you’ve never performed a website audit, you might want to push that up on your list of things to do for your site. Running regular website audits is vital for your SEO success, as it will allow you to inspect the robustness of your site’s structure, assess whether it is crawler-friendly and identify issues that could impact user experience (UX).

Website audits also allow you to pinpoint any missed SEO opportunities and solve SEO pitfalls such as broken links, keyword stuffing, duplicate title tags or meta descriptions and slow loading speed.

Conducting a website audit will also allow you to compare your performance against competitors, which could help you re-evaluate the effectiveness of your website and identify new revenue opportunities.

There are several website audit tools available, our favourite being SEM Rush. If you’d like to receive a free expert website audit – yes, that’s right, free – go over to Soar Online’s Website Audit Tool.

7 – Ignoring Off-Page SEO

If your competitors are optimising their pages for search engines, you need to be doing everything you can to stay ahead so that you can keep your business on the first page of SERPs.

The recipe for SERPs success also includes off-page SEO, which many marketers make the mistake of ignoring. 

On-page SEO is essential, but off-page optimisation is equally as important, arguably more as you cannot achieve the best results without it. However, off-page SEO isn’t something that comes about naturally. Marketers need to devise strategies to really reap the benefits, but the goal remains pretty simple:

Off-page SEO techniques don’t have to be costly, but they do require time and effort to have any real impact on your website. Nonetheless, the benefits of an effective off-page SEO strategy are abundant, with increases in rankings, PageRank, traffic and brand mentions.

8 – Buying Backlinks

Purchasing backlinks can be extremely expensive; even if it’s a white hat link, you could still find yourself in hot water. Even if you buy “cheap” backlinks, this technique is a black hat SEO tactic, and you’ll more than likely find that these come from disreputable sources.

Google’s new algorithm update, Penguin, now largely focuses on poor-quality websites linking to other sites, meaning the presence of a large number of low-quality links pointing towards your web pages will negatively affect your rankings.

Google Penguin now significantly penalises websites for using unethical backlink strategies, having moved its focus on link building from quality to quantity.

If you want to build a successful link profile, you’ll need to earn backlinks from credible websites that generate high-quality traffic rather than risk purchasing them from disreputable sources. 

9 – Duplicate Content

While search engines rarely penalise you for duplicate content, it can impact how your web pages perform in SERPs as crawlers will struggle to decide which version of your content is more relevant than the other.

Google admitted that “appreciably similar content” can dilute link equity as link juice is distributed to duplicate content. Given that inbound links are a ranking factor, if the same content is available on multiple URLs, this could impact visibility in SERPs.

Search engines make an effort to index content that is unique and distinct, so if you have pages with similar information on your site, it will create problems for SEO.

Avoid creating duplicate content by ensuring that the information on your site is original. For example, don’t copy and paste manufacturer product descriptions onto your website or publish drafts of other pages with a few keyword tweaks, as Google won’t just downrank content; it might not index it at all.

10 – Not Optimising URLs

While URLs may seem insignificant compared to metadata and content, how you structure your web address matters for SEO.

Featuring your keywords in the URL will not only help crawlers understand what your page is about but help users select your search listing against options that aren’t optimised.

E-commerce websites that sell lots of products and have thousands of pages tend to create non-descriptive permalinks that contain numbers or other unintelligible “paths” such as:

However, a more effective URL would look something like this:

Some Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress allow you to create custom URLs.

11 – Neglecting Internal Linking

Marketers often make the mistake of ignoring or forgetting to include internal links on their web pages, which is half of the recipe for search success when it comes to link building strategies.

What is an internal link? It’s an embedded link that connects one page to another within your website, such as a landing page to a blog post. Search engines like to see content linking to other high-quality content, so it’s a wise idea for marketers to develop an internal linking strategy to help establish a hierarchy of information.

An effective internal linking strategy will also help bots find the deeper pages of your site and pass authority between those pages which ultimately improves rankings.

Use anchor text for your most relevant keywords, which provides context for inbound links to help crawlers understand what your content is about and give visitors the chance to find potentially helpful related content. However, avoid anchoring links to the same keywords as this could do more harm than good for your SEO.

12 – Not Having An SSL Certificate

Security encrypted websites ensure website visitors’ sensitive data is transferred over a secure network. Search engines such as Google prefer websites with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates and is more likely to list secure websites in SERPs than websites with the “HTTP” framework.

Many search users are also reluctant to shop on websites that don’t have HTTPS encryption in fear that their privacy and security is unprotected.

Having an SSL certificate is vital for the user experience. Security encryption could also prevent your business from being a victim of a cybercrime such as hacking, which could have further repercussions for your business.

If a customer’s information is jeopardised after they shop with you, they probably won’t use your service again; worse still, they could badmouth your company to friends and family.

Although you need to pay to obtain an SSL certificate, it’s worth it from an SEO standpoint. Remember that search engines want to provide users with relevant, accurate and safe results, so having an SSL certificate will boost your visibility in SERPs.

Avoiding the 12 e-commerce pitfalls mentioned above will go a long way to improving your search visibility and rankings.

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