When dealing with an e-commerce website, there are several things that you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to in terms of SEO.
Your WordPress website is not going to have the same challenges as your IBM Websphere website. With e-commerce, you are dealing with a litany of areas where things can go wrong. Hopefully this column will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that often come from trying to optimize for e-commerce.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of everything to watch for in the SEO of an e-commerce website, but these elements just happen to represent some of the more common things that I’ve come across.
Thin or Duplicate Content
For many retailers, if a manufacturer provides standard copy for product descriptions, they’re likely to use it. The more deadly sin occurs when the retailer makes no effort to work on copy across other areas of the website – namely category pages, shareable blog content, video content, and so forth.
We are currently in the midst of a Panda update that we hear is “slowly” rolling out. This is the first update since last September. Imagine how it must feel to find yourself not doing as well as you could because of thin or duplicate content, then rewriting your content, only to have to potentially wait a year to regain some Google-love for your content pages. If you’re not sure if you have an issue here it’s probably prudent to address it.
The duplicate content piece gets a little more interesting. Are you duplicating content across multiple categories and pages on your own website? Are you using other domains to merchandise the product under a separate brand and with the same content? Are affiliates scraping your content? These are all things that you will need to consider.
There are many tools available for checking duplicate content. Since SEM Rush is one of my favorite tools, I typically just end up using its Audit feature to review for concerns.
If you feel there may be an issue with external duplicate copy, it doesn’t hurt to utilize a tool like Copyscape to see how many other retailers or manufacturers may be using the same product descriptions.
Sometimes it feels as if Google and Bing are dragging us to our wits end with hundreds of algorithmic “best practices” to adhere to. They actually reward us for some of these demands with a richer search result display, which is nice. This is seen in the use of Schema markup format in your page source code. While the page display will not change for your users, search engines will enjoy digesting content in a code markup that is easy for them to understand. Your reward is the addition of product price and availability information in search results.
One word of caution: make sure that your product prices are better than the competition ranking alongside of you that feature the same markup display. Schema.org provides more info for creating this markup. There are even tools to assist in checking if your schema markup is throwing errors. If you feel you may need some help in coding these formats, you can also enjoy assistance in schema coding from Google.