You don't have to have an entire SEO strategy in place to make simple changes to your e-commerce website that can improve your rankings. Here are a few quick things you might be doing wrong — or rather, missing the opportunity to take advantage of — on your e-commerce website and how to quickly remedy them, even if you know nothing about SEO!
Mistake #1: Duplicate content in your product descriptions
I’ve talked previously about how I hate writing product descriptions. Who doesn’t? However, that doesn’t get you off the hook for writing compelling, original product descriptions that help sell your products. It’s a pretty essential part of running an e-commerce business.
One mistake a lot of online shops make, especially those that are not selling their own designs, is copying product descriptions directly from the manufacturer and using that content on their website. While not technically a copyright violation (after all, the manufacturers provide that content for you to use), using the manufacturer’s product description verbatim means you’re using the same content on your website as the manufacturer and anyone else who sells that product online — and Google doesn’t like that. Writing original product descriptions will help you rank higher in the search engines even if you’re selling the same products as another online vendor.
Quick fix: Run your product descriptions through an online plagiarism checker tool to check for duplicate content across the web. Rewrite any duplicate product descriptions.
Mistake #2: No content on the home page
I occasionally come across an e-commerce website with a very sparse home page. While the page may incorporate beautiful imagery and graphics, there is almost no written content on it at all. While this doesn’t necessarily hurt your SEO, it is certainly a missed opportunity. When Google is scanning a web page for content, it looks for certain clues in order to determine what the page is about. Two places it looks are the headlines and body content on the page. If you’re forgoing using headlines or written content on your homepage in favor of a sparse visual design, Google can’t look to those two important elements for keywords.
Quick fix: Make sure you have a main headline on your home page that contains some content. This headline should appear as <h1> in the back end code. You also want to have at least 100 words of written copy on your home page between headlines and additional body copy (the words that appear within the <body> tag).
Mistake #3: No product reviews
Product reviews are an important part of a good e-commerce SEO strategy. They both help generate new content on your website frequently (which Google likes) AND they supply important rich snippets that make your appearance in the search results more robust (and clickable).
Quick fix: Add a product review widget (such as Judge.me for Shopify) to your website to automate the process of collecting and posting product reviews. (For more recommendations, check out my list of essential Shopify SEO apps.)
Mistake #4: Not optimizing your home page for your main product category
In addition to sparse visual websites, I often see websites that do not use meta data to optimize for a main product category. This can be a little tricky, because to optimize your home page for a main product category you have to a.) determine what that main product category is (hard if you sell LOTS of things) and b.) pick a single key phrase to optimize for that summarizes what your entire shop is about. But you should do both of those things and then optimize your home page for those keywords. Think of this kind of like your tagline.
Quick fix: Use your home page’s page title and meta description to optimize for your main product keywords. Be careful! Some e-commerce content management systems, such as Shopify and Squarespace, house these home page meta elements in the website settings versus at the page level, so make sure you’re editing the content in the right place.
Mistake #5: Not using your blog
“But I don’t know what to blog about!” So many e-commerce companies decide that they’re confused about how a blog serves their business bottom line and so they forgo adding blog content to the website at all. Huge mistake! Like product reviews, blog posts are a way to add new content to your website frequently, which Google likes. Even if you’re not optimizing your blog for important keywords, having any blog content at all is a signal of a healthy website.
I’ve written before about how to use your e-commerce blog to drive traffic to your website, and that’s where you eventually want to get, but to start with, just have a blog, any blog, at all.
Quick fix: Add a blog to your e-commerce website and update it at least once a month.