All eCommerce websites live and die by their Google rankings. Because they are selling products online the position of their Google ranking is critical. This is why all eCommerce websites need to be audited regularly to help with their SEO rankings.
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Google is on the look out for any invalid or non compliant ‘on page’ SEO and will deliver punishment through website penalties for those sites that do not adhere to their strict guidelines.
Following are 9 things you should be regularly checking on your eCommerce website and if you follow these you will be on the way to better SEO rankings.
1) Get rid of thin or duplicate content.
There is no two ways about it; Google loves content and the more you have for it to crawl the better off the sites overall rankings. We tell our clients that the more content you can post the better off you will be. What website owners need to be on the look out, especially for eCommerce websites is where product descriptions can be duplicated. You might be selling the same product as someone else and the description you provide can be the same over many sites. This is going to affect how Google ranks your site as it prefers unique copy and will reward sites for this. If you are a reseller and have been provided the product descriptions from a parent company, then you need to look at rewording the product content site wide. Duplicate copy just devalues your sites authority and in turn will harm your SEO efforts – perhaps even get you what is known as a Google penalty. Get on top of this quickly. As soon as you make these amends submit your site for rei-ndexing and you will see a difference.
You also need to look at your pages throughout the site. Google algorithmic updates now look at thin pages with little or no content as something to flag. Make sure that all your pages are descriptive with unique well worded copy.
How can you avoid duplicate content?
- Make sure that what ever you do, the product descriptions are written by you for your website. Never copy and paste descriptions from the suppliers website – THIS IS A KILLER!
- You have to get your web developer to use robots.txt to seal off any duplicate areas of a web page. This is essential for all headers and footers.
- Use canonical tags to deter against any future duplication. Speak to your SEO agency about this important point.
2) Try using Canonical Tags
Canonical tags will let Google know which part of the ecommerce site is permanent. If many users are coming to the site through different paths, Google sees this as multiple pages and will divide your page authority. This is really bad for SEO purposes. To avoid this you need to insert Canonical tags so Google will not index these pages. This will avoid duplicate content issues in the future.
3) You have to look at balancing your link equity
If you have pages that you do not want to get indexed for whatever reason you will insert a ‘no index’ or ‘no follow’ into the code. This will stop Google trawling through these pages. The issue here is that these pages may have some authority and if there are internal links here they will not pass any of this on. You have to tread carefully and understand the nuances and affects site wide of telling Google not to follow certain pages.
4) Use correct URL structures
All eCommerce sites face the same issues of URL structures. This is thanks to the product pages that need to be correctly worded and have the best URL structure possible. If the consumer is to find their way around the site and if Google is going to be able to easily index all pages and rank them, then the URL structure which describes the page has to clearly reflect the product. This has got to be done site wide in a uniform manner. When doing a site audit for SEO purposes, you have to make sure your URL’s are pristine. There are issues with older sites that may be using old content management systems that do not automatically format the URL structure. This is the main reason why we use WordPress as our preferred CMS as it doers this automatically and if you don’t like the way it displays you can always adjust this manually.
5) When was the last time you updated your sitemap?
If you have a massive eCommerce site and Google has to trawl through all these pages just to get to the new ones added, this will delay the ranking process. Not ideal in the highly competitive online market. You want to be indexed and ranked as soon as possible. For better efficiency, update your site map with the new pages. This will get your product to market a lot quicker via better SEO rankings.
6) Add Schema Markup to the site.
This doesn’t have a direct correlation with rankings but will not hurt them either. It just gives users/customers a better experience by allowing prices and reviews to come up in the SERP’s. This puts you in the drivers seat when it comes to what data you want Google to index.
7) Have better taxonomy for easier customer navigation.
OK, so what do I mean by this. It means that its easier for customers to navigate their way around the site if there is a broad navigation structure with fewer drop downs as opposed to a thinning structure with long complicated drop down menus. Simplifying this will keep users on the site creating a better user experience, they stay longer on the site and this in turn, helps with the revenues and rankings. Knowing this is vital – your web designers and developers should have taken this into account when presenting initial wireframes. Remember a wider more open taxonomy is far better for Google to crawl and will help in your SEO.
8) Speed up page load times.
This is a no brainer and you should always be on the look out for increasing your websites load speed. The standard e-Commerce website takes 5.5 seconds to load – with a 1-second delay equaling a 8% drop in shopping cart abandonment. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that website load speed are slowing by 25% per year (which is hard to believe given all the new technologies available), so there is a gap in the market for super quick websites.
9) Ditch any bad SEO companies
Lastly, if you are using a SEO company to help boost your eCommerce websites rank9ings for gods sake make sure they are performing and never use an agency that has had to pay to be on page 1 for any SEO related keywords. You can be as compliant as you want and have the brightest and shiniest website ever, but if you are with the wrong SEO agency nothing can help improve your rankings, because what you do ‘off page’ is as important as what you do ‘on page’.