Previously, we looked at SEO for the eCommerce Category Page. In this article we’re going to be drilling down one step further and looking at SEO for product pages.
As with all aspects of SEO, getting the URL right is one of the key steps in the process and should not be overlooked or downplayed in importance. URLs should be as short as possible contain no more than 3-5 keywords, use standard word delimiters (such as hyphens), and standard file extensions (although using no extension is even better). Avoid using parameters if at all possible, if you need them for marketing/tracking purposes use the hashtag instead.
Bad URL Example: example.com/prod1234
Bad URL Example: example.com/prod.php?id=1234
Bad URL Example: example.com/darkbluewidget
Bad URL Example: example.com/darkbluewidget.go
Bad URL Example: example.com/buy-cheap-dark-blue-widget-cheap-online-now
Bad URL Example: example.com/dark-blue-widget/?utm_source=camp1234
Good URL Example example.com/dark-blue-widget/
Good URL Example example.com/dark-blue-widget/#src=camp1234
Putting products in a sub-directory or sub-folder, is tricky. If the sub-directory or sub-folder changes or gets renamed you have a lot of 301 redirects to deal with, and that can easily turn into a headache. However if you have thousands, tens of thousands or more of products without a sub-directory things can get messy if you’re not diligent. It can be done, it just requires a lot of discipline or things can go wrong very quickly.
Products should have good unique descriptive titles that describe the item, contain good keywords and are keywords customers are likely to be searching for. The more unique your titles are, the better. However, if your products are very similar, for example “3×4 Bath Mat – White”, “3×4 Bath Mat – Navy”, this can sometimes be a challenge. In all but very few cases, the product title should be first followed by a dash, hyphen, colon or other common delimiter and then the store name.
Good Title: Navy 3x4 Bath Mat - Ultimate Bathroom Store
Bad Title: Ultimate Bathroom Store – 3×4 Bath Mat Navy
Generally speaking, search engines weigh the words at the front of the title higher than words at the end. If you notice in the good example, I even moved the color in front of the name of the product. In the bad example, you can see that the color “navy” is the seventh word and will be given very little weight. In most cases the on H1 tag for the product will be the same as the title but not always. In the example above it would actually be optimal to have them be slightly different.
HTML Title: Navy 3x4 Bath Mat - Ultimate Bathroom Store H1 3x4 Bath Mat, Navy. While then HTML title will be seen in the search engine listings for the product, it’s primarily for the search engines. The H1 tag which will appear on the page is more for the user and any internal search functionality.
Each product should have a unique description. The description, should be unique and different from every other product in your store, but different from every other store selling the same product as well (see preventing duplicate content on your website). Sometimes this can be a challenge if you have a large inventory, or don’t have staff/budget to rewrite product descriptions you get from the vendor/manufacturer. However, keeping the exact same description as hundreds of other merchants is a real obstacle to ranking well for products. One strategy to get around this is to make your page more unique with product reviews. If you go down this route, make sure you use the proper XML Schema Markup for product reviews.
Customers like to see big clear pictures of the products they are shopping for. It’s even better if you can get multiple images. However large images contribute to larger file sizes, longer download times, and page speed does have an effect on rankings. So size your images properly, don’t resize a 1000×1000 image down to 250×250 with HTML or CSS. Many sites show smaller images and let you click for a larger view. This gives you the best of both worlds. If you can rename your files to match the product, you will have an advantage over merchants forced to use SKU or inventory based image naming schemes.
Once a customer has entered the sales funnel, you want to keep them on course, and not provide too many links for them to leave. However there are a few ways to add internal links to your benefit. The first is with breadcrumb navigation, this is the tiny text that lets you know where you are in the store hierarchy:
Home >; Bath Products >; Bath Mats >; 3x4 Bath Mat, Navy If you make each of the words a link, you help your overall SEO effort by spreading internal keyword link equity. Another strategy is to show related products, add on products, or upsell other products. The best way to do this is to show 2-4 thumbnails for the products towards the bottom part of the page.
Social media is a popular topic right now and it definitely is a part of search engine rankings. However, adding half a dozen Facebook like, Tweet this, or other buttons can make your page look busy. Additionally if you use the buttons with active voting counts (ie 17 people liked this on Facebook) you will have a negative effect on your page speed. Each of those active counts will call a different service and add approximately one second per button. If you add six buttons that’s six seconds. Be honest with yourself if your products are that social that you really need that, or can you use plain on site local images.
Takeaways from this post:
- Get your URLs right, keep them small, straight forward, uncomplicated, and free from parameters
- Use your HTML and H1 product titles wisely, and to your maximum benefit
- Make your product descriptions unique not only to yourself but from other merchants
- Look at reviews to make your pages unique
- Keep images small, while offering consumers the ability to see larger pictures if they want
- If possible, use keywords to name your image files
- Link internally using breadcrumbs to help your overall SEO effort
- Show related or add on products to increase sales, make pages more unique, and add value to the consumer