Avoid these common SEO mistakes within e-commerce

Are you trying to figure out why your (or your clients) Online store is not bringing in more website traffic and sales? Are you scratching your head over the fact that your competitors’ products are ranking higher on Google than yours? No matter how well made, low priced and unique products your site is offering, if you are making any of the common mistakes listed in this article, your site simply won’t perform at its best. 

As SEO specialists we come across the same e-commerce mistakes every single day, within every industry and at any level. To help you avoid making these mistakes we have listed them below, along with solutions that are applicable to any Online store and industry. Read on to learn how to optimise your site to boost your website traffic, SEO, sales and Google rankings.

Common Mistake 1: Neglected Collection Pages

One of the most neglected areas of an Online store are the category or collection pages. Most store owners don’t seem to realise that adding a description to these pages are almost as important as adding descriptions to individual product pages. By neglecting these you are missing out on the opportunity to include important target keywords that could trigger the page to display on Google searches. On top of this, without any target keywords, headings or copy, search engines won’t have a clue what’s on the page and therefore it will not rank well. It is likely that it won’t even be indexed! 

Do this instead:

Add a unique description to every collection- and category page. Include the target keywords (or phrases) that you would like to trigger this page to show up on Google searches. If you are selling furniture and have a category called ‘outdoor furniture’ you can include key information about the quality, design, benefits and materials of your outdoor furniture on the category page. You could target words or phrases such as ‘outdoor furniture’, while on each individual product page you target more specific words such as ‘outdoor cedar wood table’ or ‘water resistant outdoor chair’.

Adding a short description to each collection or category page will increase the chance of having the page indexed and crawled by search engines, and to be displayed on searches. 

Common Mistake 2: Long and complex URLs

Something as basic as the actual product page URL can be off-putting to a potential customer. We want to know what page we will land on when clicking on a link, and therefore the links need to clearly state where they will lead us. If you were looking for a Vanilla scented candle, which one of the following links would you be more likely to click on?

https://www.thecandleshop.com/scented-candles/products/copy-of-vanilla-scented-candle-large-handmade-shellcandles/

https://www.thecandleshop.com/scented-candle-vanilla

We have noticed that some business owners who are setting up their own e-commerce sites are simply copying and pasting product pages, which will end up with a confusing URL that includes the word ‘copy’ as seen in the example above.

Do this instead:

When you are setting up your Online store, aim for short and descriptive URLs. If you already have a store you need to be mindful of changing the already existing URLs – you need to redirect the original URL to make sure that any links that are leading to that page will direct the visitor to the new one. If you have a Shopify store you will have the option of redirecting the original URL when changing it.

Common Mistake 3: Auto Generated or Duplicate Meta Description

An issue when adding multiple similar products, or when duplicating product pages, is duplicate or auto generated meta descriptions. When your store has 10, 15 or 100 pages with the exact same meta description Google won’t be able to tell the difference and therefore won’t be able to match the most relevant page to a specific search phrase. This will also come up as a warning when performing website SEO audits. 

Do this instead:

Write unique meta descriptions for each product on your site. If you are selling cookies in 10 different flavours, make sure to include the flavour in the product description to make it unique from the others.

Common Mistake 4: Poor Navigation

We recently had the opportunity to optimise an Online giftware store. The client could not understand why his quirky but high quality products were not selling as well Online as in physical stores, and why his competitors would rank higher on Google. At first glance we noticed straight away that they only displayed their products under their collection names in the menu, rather than arranging them by category. In this case, the collection names only made sense to the person who created them and they meant nothing to a person who’s never bought from the store before. We were tempted to leave the site in frustration as we struggled to figure out what kind of products they were actually selling! 

Do this instead:

In general, people will want to have the option of browsing product categories, collections and sometimes by receiver (as in our case with the gift store). A ‘shop all’ option is also an important addition for customers who wish to browse through all products and get a good overview at what you sell. 

Bundle your products into categories by adding relevant tags to each and everyone of them. A scented candle can have the tags ‘candle’, ‘mum’ and ‘winter collection’ to fall into each relevant category. Imagine that you are a new customer on your own site, or ask someone to head over to your site with a specific goal in mind (to find item X) and ask them about their experience. Was it easy to find what they were looking for? Did they get a good understanding of the product selection? If not, you may need to rearrange your navigation or menu structure. Try to make it simple and clear and always keep the user experience in mind.

Structure your menu in a way that makes it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for.

Common Mistake 5: Poor Use of Keywords

When you write a good product description you are likely to include the most important target keywords without even thinking about it. If you sell clothes and shoes for all kinds of sports and physical activities the word ‘activewear’ may be a natural keyword to use in your copy. But many seem to forget to put themselves in the shoes of their clients – are they really searching for ‘activewear’ or are they more likely to search for more specific phrases such as ‘yoga clothes’ or ‘Football Boots’? Make sure that you use not only the main keyword but that you also include related words for a wider cover.

Another mistake when it comes to the use of keywords is keyword stuffing. Don’t use the same word or phrase to describe your products over and over again on your site as search engines can punish you for this and drop your rankings. 

Do this instead:

Do some keyword research and find out what words or phrases your customer’s are actually typing into Google’s search bar to find the kind of products that you are selling. In Google Search Console you can check the most common queries that people are asking before entering your site – this can give you an idea about their search intent. Just click on ‘performance’ on your Google Search Console dashboard. Under ‘Queries’ you will get a good idea of what phrases people type in to find your website. You can also check what your high ranking words your competitors are using in their copy, headings and Online advertising. 

Instead of stuffing your page with the same keywords or phrases, try to find semantic words that you can use instead. Instead of only using the phrase ‘active wear’ you can refer to your products as ‘workout clothes’. That will broaden your keyword target and you don’t risk being punished by search engines. 

Common Mistake 6: Lost Opportunity to Rank With Images (Image Alt Tags)

Have you noticed how a row of images is showing up at the top of the first page on Google when doing a search? If you want your product images to pop up here when someone is searching for one of your target keywords, you need to add image alt text to your product images. This is something that way too many Online stop owners are missing or forgetting about. Even if you have added Image Alt Tags to your images you may have done it incorrectly – there are best practices to follow if you want to make the most of your website images. 

Do this instead:

How you add an image alt text to your product images is a bit different on different platforms but in general you should be able to click on the product image when you are in the product edit section of your site. Here you should find the ‘add image alt tag’ or ‘add image alt text/ option. Write a short description of the product using around 6 words. Include your store name at the end. 

Common Mistake 7: Weak Product Descriptions

If you want your products to rank well on Google (which we know you do!) there is no getting around the importance of detailed product descriptions. It won’t only make the product more attractive to customers but it will also make the page more SEO friendly. Without any text, Google (and other search engines) won’t know what your product is all about or what search phrases should trigger it to be displayed. 

Do this instead:

Start off by improving 10 product descriptions and monitor their performance. Make sure to include all basic relevant information such as the product dimensions and weight, but also any sensory details such as texture, smell, colour and quality. You can also explain how to properly use the product and recommend which of your other products that goes well with it (and include a link). As you watch these items pick up in sales and clicks you will be motivated to keep improving your other product descriptions! If you struggle with the writing it’s definitely worth the investment of outsourcing this part to a copywriter.


By adding more copy and target keywords into each description your customers are more likely to purchase the item and the product has a higher chance of ranking well on search engines.  

Common Mistake 8: Too long title tags and meta description

Each website page has a title tag and a meta description as seen in the image below. The point of title tags and meta descriptions is to tell the visitor (and the search engines) what the main topic is for the specific page. If these are too long, which is very common for especially product pages on e-commerce sites, they will be cut off by Google. On the other hand, by writing title tags that are too short you are missing out on the opportunity to include important target keywords.

Do this instead: 

Rewrite all of your title tags and meta descriptions and make sure to follow the general guidelines – a rule of thumb when it comes to the length of title tags is up to 60 characters, and up to 155 characters when it comes to meta description. The title tags for your product pages should include the name of the product and any key information. 

Pro tip:

By using the free tool Screaming Frog you can easily download a sites’ title tags and meta descriptions and export them as an excel or Google sheets document. This way you will keep it organised and you get a good overview of the titles and description.

Common Mistake 9: No Added Product Schema (Structured Data)

Product schema is structured data of your product that will help search engines to offer more information of the product to publish on the search results page. By adding product schema your products are more likely to get clicks and views and to be matched with relevant searches. If you are fairly new to the world of SEO and e-commerce this may be the first time that you even hear about Schema data. If this is the case, we strongly recommend that you try it out – it is something that can do wonders for your Online store success!

Do this instead:

Some e-commerce platforms (such as Shopify) automatically set up product schema, while some require that you do this manually. It’s easily done using free tools such as Merkle. You add your product details, copy the code they give you and paste it on your site. Before pasting in on your site we recommend that you test the code in Google Rich Results Test.

We hope that you found this article helpful. Remember that within SEO the smallest tweaks can make a world of difference to your website success – use this to your advantage and watch your sales, clicks and leads grow as you keep improving your site!

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