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Search engine optimization (SEO) for e-commerce websites is not really different from SEO for, for example, a corporate website. By improving technology and content, you want to optimize findability in Google and attract more visitors to your website. Nevertheless, e-commerce websites have a number of specific points of attention that do not – or to a lesser extent – apply to corporate websites. That is why in this extensive blog I will discuss 10 SEO points and tips for e-commerce websites in random, but logical order. In this article, I will go deeper into the following SEO points of attention.
No unique product information
Webshops often use product feeds from their supplier(s) to automatically include products in their webshop. The downside of this practical solution is that you take over standard product information from the supplier that is also used by 80% of the other online providers (your competitors). However, Google has a preference for unique, original, and self-written content and also rewards the effort required for this. Pages with unique content should – under equal circumstances – rank better in Google than pages with standard product information. Yet many e-commerce websites miss opportunities in terms of unique content, often for two reasons: time and creativity.
Duplicate content comes in two forms: between and within domains (websites). At point 1, no unique product information, there is duplicate content between domains: different webshops have almost the same text. This is relatively easy to solve by rewriting the content on your website.
Hierarchical website structure and navigation
One of the parts of a webshop or website that I look at during an SEO quick scan, auditor at the start of a new SEO project is the hierarchical structure. I mainly look at the relationship between main and subcategories and whether the subcategories are a logical refinement within the main category.
Every webshop has to deal with it: products that are no longer available. Especially at webshops that sell products with a ‘limited shelf life, such as tickets for films, shows, or events, there is a large turnover in supply. This also applies to websites of companies active in real estate: if a house or commercial property has been sold or rented out, the page has become redundant. The relevant page is usually (automatically) deactivated in the CMS so that it disappears from the website. The product can no longer be ordered, but what happens to the URL of the corresponding page? This often gets a so-called 404 status code(Page not found). The page then disappears from the Google search results after a while and the (link) value that this page had built up is gone. And that’s a shame.
Paginated content means that the content is spread across multiple pages. Almost every webshop will have to deal with this, except if you can scroll infinitely because the content is loaded with Ajax. According to recent reports, Google seems to be less able to deal with the latter than promised. The vast majority of webshops will have too much content (read: products, but also an overview of blogs!) to be able to show on one page.
Filters and parameters: the technique
Another typical ‘problem’ for e-commerce websites arises from the filter options that allow the visitor to refine the product range displayed. This is very useful for visitors, but often a problem for good findability in Google. The culprits are the so-called parameters: the additions to the URL that indicates which filtering and/or sorting options have been used.
Filters and parameters: the content
Although Google is able to index URLs with parameters, in practice it will be difficult to get pages with such URLs to rank well in Google. One of the most common mistakes made by online stores is the use of filters with parameters for properties/characteristics that potential customers use in their searches in Google. One of the conditions for good findability is a logically structured URL that contains relevant keywords. With extensive keyword research, you find out what those relevant keywords are.
Internal link building
Link building is often thought of as generating links from other websites to your website. In short: website A on topic X with a thousand links from reliable websites is judged by Google as a greater authority than website B – on the same subject – with a hundred links. As a result, if the other factors that play a role are comparable, website A will be found better in Google than website B. What people often don’t think about is setting up a good internal link structure. A good internal link structure serves a number of purposes
Optimize pages for the right search terms
The hierarchical structure of the main pages within an e-commerce website usually consists of three levels: main categories, subcategories, and product detail pages. In large webshops, we often see a layer with sub-subcategories. Each level represents – roughly – a certain type of search behavior: from broad (main categories) to specific (product-detail pages). When optimizing pages by creating unique content and setting up or improving an internal link structure, it is therefore important to search pages for the right relevant search terms.to optimize.
When you have followed the previous nine pieces of advice, your e-commerce website has a solid foundation to be found in search engines. However, the fact that you are well found does not automatically mean that potential visitors will also click on your display in the search results; you have to stand out for that.