SEO for eCommerce Part One: Content Woes

ECommerce website optimization and search engine optimization strategies are very similar to other types of websites. However, there are some common mistakes that prevent eCommerce sites from achieving top search engine rankings for their targeted search terms. The focus of my next few blog posts will be on these common mistakes starting with the biggest one: too little or no unique content.

We’ve Heard it Before — Content is King

Search engines rely on website content to determine what search terms a specific page of a site should rank for. The search engines use “crawlers” to read content in various elements of Web pages, and then use an algorithm to rank the page based on that content. Problems occur when the only content on the site is the generic product descriptions that have been copied from different manufacture sites.

The Conflict

ECommerce sites that lack unique content cause a conflict for the search engines try to rank the pages of the website. The conflict occurs as the search engine crawlers discover several pages that are very similar, with the only difference being the type of products displayed on the page. The images and brief generic descriptions simply don’t offer enough information to help the crawlers know what the pages are about. In the end, the similar pages of the site cause the website to never get top rankings for any relevant keywords.

An end to the Conflict — Unique Content is the Real King

The way to end the conflict is to add unique content to the pages of the website. If you have a product category page with several sub-categories linked from it, a couple of paragraphs of content will be the only thing that will let the search engines know that page is different from the sub-categories.

Don’t be afraid to push the products down to allow space for a couple hundred words of content. Pushing the products down will have little to no effect on conversion. Without the content, the page will not be able to rank well and there will be no visitors to convert.

If you have featured products at the top of the page and don’t want to push them down, then break up your content. Include a couple sentences at the top and place the rest of the content below the products.

Final Thought

It is very easy to copy product descriptions from manufacturer websites and past them on to the product pages of your site. However, if you take the time to write your own product descriptions, the end result is well worth it. Copying product descriptions is quick and easy, but the search engines know which website had the content first. If your competitors write their own descriptions, and you copy the manufacturer’s descriptions, you will never rank better than your competitors for the best converting keywords — the product specific keywords.

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  1. Daus says

    I see… So, we should make our content and avoid to copy from the other website. How if I copy the content and edit it. Can the crawler know?
    Btw, nice tip’s. 😀

  2. David Corman says

    Hi Dustin,

    Great tips here.

    In terms of building links, though, to an e-commerce site, what would you recommend for a site that doesn’t have any content real linkable content? What would you recommend in terms of places to get quality links to e-commerce sites?

  3. andrew says

    I have been trying to promote a website that is just like what you speak of in the article. Thanks for the tips on how to go about it.

  4. Jake Olson says

    In your opinion, how different do the descriptions have to be. We deal in movies, and the copy for the DVD descriptions is often copy that is carefully crafted by the studios to describe a film that our staff may or may not have seen.

    In order to have original content, it makes sense to rearrange and rephrase the content of the film synopsis, but how extreme does it need to be. Does changing the wording of a few sentences do it, or does the whole 120+ word description need to be re-written.

  5. Gennady says

    I have a big problem with this paragraph:

    “Don’t be afraid to push the products down to allow space for a couple hundred words of content. Pushing the products down will have little to no effect on conversion. Without the content, the page will not be able to rank well and there will be no visitors to convert.”

    You cannot make such a blanket statement about not having an impact on conversion. And your assertion that without visitors, no one will see those products is another assumption that SEO is the only source of traffic. NO website uses SEO as the only source of traffic. I urge you to reconsider your thinking here. Even direct traffic that is often comprised of repeat and word of mouth visitors (typically, users that convert higher and purchase more) may see such a change and have a different user experience than they expected (hint: giving users a different experience than they expect is really bad for usability).

    In my experience in ecommerce, I have found that channels such as PPC impact revenue in a larger and more scalable way then SEO. Further, such changes that you propose people ‘not be afraid of’ can have an impact on the user experience enough to greatly impact the bottom line. Users should look at things from a total impact perspective. If you can improve your traffic such that even though it converts worse, you still get enough traffic that your total revenue is more than before…GREAT! But this should be something they need to test and analyze before jumping in head first.

  6. Harry says

    Thanks! Dustin

    I read this blog thanks for giving great tips about link building, ecommerce for targeting my terms.

    thanks again!

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