SEO for eCommerce Part Two: Poor Site Structure

You have been waiting for it all summer and now it is finally here! My follow up post to SEO for eCommerce Part One: Content Woes. Before I go into details on the next biggest problem with eCommerce sites and search indexing, I will take a few minutes to reply to some of the questions that were asked after the last post.

Question: Can you copy website content and then edit it?

Yes you can copy website content and edit it. If you edit the content that was copied enough, then it will become unique content and can be used on your website.

Question: What do I recommend for link building to eCommerce sites that don’t have real linkable content?

The trick to getting links is to generate content that is “linkable.” Content can be generated through blogs, articles, buyer’s guides and knowledge bases. These types of features on eCommerce sites are great for building “linkable” content and they can also help you stand out as the expert in your industry.

Question: How different do the descriptions have to be?

Sometimes all it takes is some rewording of a couple of sentences to make product descriptions unique enough. One easy way to get unique content is to read the manufacturer’s description and then write it from your memory. In most cases you will not be able to remember everything word for word and your version will be different enough from the manufacturer’s.

Thank you everyone for your questions and comments. Now I am going to describe the next problem that occurs frequently with eCommerce websites: poor site structure.

Poor Site Structure

The problem of poor site structure occurs with eCommerce sites when the navigation of the site makes it difficult for search engine crawlers to find the product pages of the website. Standard eCommerce website designs will employ a category and subcategory system that helps the visitor to browse by narrowing their options until they find what they are looking for. The flaw in such a system is that it requires that a search engine crawler travel too deep into the site to find the product pages.

How do You Know if a Crawler is Traveling too Deep?

One indicator is the Page Rank score of the page. You can find the Page Rank score of any page on a website by simply visiting the page with the Google toolbar installed on your browser. Pages that are not too deep will usually have a Page Rank score. There are other factors that could cause a page to not have a Page Rank score so this indicator isn’t 100% reliable. My rule of thumb for determining if a page is too deep is to count how many pages I have to visit before getting to the product page. If it is more than three pages deep then it is too deep for the search engine crawler.

How do You Correct the Site Structure?

The simple answer to the question about correcting the site structure is to tell you to make your product pages no more than 3 pages deep. But I know that this isn’t always a simple fix. Some websites are huge with millions of products. Creating a site structure that consists of one level of categories and then the products would create pages with thousands of links. This is where it will require a carefully planned link structure.

  • Code the main site navigation using SEO friendly CSS so that you can include expanding sub-navigation menus.
  • Include featured product links on the homepage and main category pages of the site to promote better indexing of popular products.
  • Use blog posts, articles and buyer’s guides to link to specific product pages.
  • Add a quick bookmarking widget to your product pages so they can easily be bookmarked and shared on social networking sites.
  • Include an HTML sitemap (or multiple sitemaps depending on the size of the website).

The main thing to remember with site structure is that you want to make it easy for both a search engine crawler and a customer to find any product you sell on your website. Go through your site and see how easy it is for you to find your products. Ask friends and other family members to do the same. They can give you good feedback and help you find places you could change to make your eCommerce site both user and search engine friendly.

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