If you’re a budding entrepreneur and have taken the opportunity to start a business in this digital age, you’ve very likely opened an online store.
And kudos to you. E-commerce stores have way less day-to-day hassle than brick-and-mortar stores, fewer overheads, and way fewer daily expenses.
But with all these benefits, there are also a thousand competitors that you need to deal with. The way that search engines, like Google, view your ecommerce business is just as important these days as the way that actual customers view your store.
If search engines like what you’re doing, they’ll promote your store and help you climb search engine results – making you more visible to online shoppers. But on the flip side, if they frown on your store, you’ll simply become less visible.
So, how do you keep Search Engines happy in your pursuit of online business superstardom?
Let’s have a look at some common SEO mistakes and how you can avoid falling into the same trap.
Neglecting On-Page SEO
A basic explanation of On-page SEO is that it refers to just about everything you have direct control over on your site.
It’s the nitty gritty stuff, like clearly establishing meta descriptions that will give internet users the information needed to decide whether or not they actually want to enter your website
Here’s an example of a meta description:
The snippet of text that appears below a search result gives a bit of a preview of what’s on the page. A good meta description is about 160 characters long and will draw potential customers in.
On-page SEO is also referred to as On-site SEO and would include other SEO practices like optimizing articles and internal pages of an Ecommerce store
Neglecting on-page SEO would be a huge mistake, as neither internet users (who are, after all, your potential customers) nor search engines (like Google or Bing) will find your online store amongst the millions of competitors.
Ignoring Mobile Optimization
Who has time to switch on a laptop to do online shopping? Very few people.
Doing online shopping from your mobile phone is just too easy these days. In fact, over 50% of all e-commerce purchases during the 2022 holiday season were done from a mobile device. (1)
And it’s easy to understand why.
We use our phones at the bus stop, at work during breaks, even while chilling on the beach.
So one of the most costly mistakes that any ecommerce store can make would be not to optimize their pages for mobile use. Without mobile optimization, you’re basically giving up on that 50% of customers – which would be a huge financial loss.
Poor Keyword Research
Keyword research is a fine art – but not rocket science.
You need to figure out what your potential customers are searching for on the net and cater to their searches. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re selling fishing equipment you need to optimize your pages and content descriptions for anything that is relevant to rods, tackle, bait, fishing line – you get the idea.
Not using the right description on a sales page could, in all likelihood, make internet surfers bypass your pages and move on to the next online store.
Duplicating pages could be a serious issue that you’re not even aware of.
A duplicate page can come about without being malicious, i.e., without you duplicating text on purpose just to gain more visitors.
The problem could occur when using the same descriptions for items on your site or perhaps having different pages selling the same product.
An example of this could be:
Well, which is it? All three pages appear to sell the same product, so why would there be three different pages or HTML pointing to the product?
If a search engine picks up these kinds of duplicates, it will likely bypass your store and rather show a page on a store that has an original product.
Neglecting User Experience
User experience encompasses a range of on-page SEO practices, such as fast loading times, a pleasant layout, and easy-to-navigate checkout processes.
One of the biggest mistakes that a website owner can make is to downplay the importance of good user experience and focus too much on ‘pushing products’, thinking that this will translate into higher sales.
A bad user experience will only make potential customers click away, annoyed with their experience. These customers are unlikely to return or recommend a site to someone else.
Think about it – when was the last time you forwarded the link to a product to a friend when the very page annoyed you with a bad layout or slow page loading times? Nobody wants to be that friend.
Site owners need to treat user experience as one of the most important factors to consider when designing their online store, especially if they want to capitalize on referrals like social media shares or links to products being shared amongst friends.
Why Do Search Engines Hate These Mistakes?
All search engines have the responsibility to deliver the best pages to their internet users that they possibly can. They do this by presenting websites that are most likely to satisfy the search intent of the internet users.
So, if the abovementioned mistakes would detract from someone’s experience, why would they promote a site littered with these mistakes?
For this reason, Google has an entire section dedicated to guidelines that webmasters can follow to help them stay on the good side of Google.
The closer you adhere to these good practices, the more Google will give you that all-important nod of approval. Veer off and you even stand the chance of getting your web pages penalized.
How to Avoid These SEO Mistakes
Now that you understand the importance of creating a digital store that not only appeals to users but also to Google’s algorithm, you need to implement a few design and layout strategies into the design of your website.
Here are a few things you can do to encourage better internet results page rankings – and rake in your share of the online ecommerce profits up for grabs…
Optimize On-Page Elements
Use an SEO platform like Surfer SEO to see what keywords are needed to write articles that will likely rank on Google.
But keep in mind that with SEO writing, you need to be careful not to over-optimize and stuff in keywords just to keep a program happy.
Write fresh, evergreen content that will appeal to your audience.
Choose pictures that have great definition but small file sizes. You could, for instance, prioritize a JPEG over a PNG format as the latter has a larger file size and will slow down an already busy ecommerce site.
Prioritize Mobile Friendliness
Before setting any page as live, make sure to view the page on your laptop, tablet, and handheld device.
Check that the pages are all formatted correctly, that the pages load quickly, and that the text is legible on your cellphone.
With ecommerce websites, it is reasonable to expect many pictures of products. These pictures need to be formatted in a way that doesn’t slow down page speeds or take an eternity (more than 3 seconds) to load.
Menus should be easy to navigate, and product pages easy to find
Conduct Effective Keyword Research
When it comes to doing proper keyword research, you need to factor in all the relevant players in your niche.
Some online stores are well-established for certain phrases; going up against them just doesn’t make sense. You’d have to invest a lot of cash to stand a chance of outranking them.
So, take your own website strength into regard when deciding which keywords would make the most sense for you to target.
Write these keywords down in a spreadsheet where you can note their difficulty (how hard it would be to rank #1 for each phrase) and then come up with a proper SEO plan according to each search phrase’s difficulty.
Another point to consider is how much search volume each keyword has. Some keywords are searched hundreds of times a day, while others are searched once or twice a month.
Find a happy medium between how hard a keyword would be to rank for and compare it with how valuable the phrase would be for your business.
Ahrefs is a good tool to use to come up with keywords that are relevant to your online business. Their keyword research function displays the search volume (average number of monthly searches for a phrase) and also how difficult it would be to rank for that keyword.
In the above example, the dark green search phrases are relatively easy to rank for, both with a difficulty of only 4.
The light green search phrase has a difficulty of 25. Yes, there are 20k monthly searches for the phrase, but if you’re only ranking #100 for that phrase, how big will your slice of the search pie really be?
The two other phrases have a search volume of between 1200 and 2000 searches each month. So here, it would probably make sense to come up with an article that targets those phrases.
Don’t neglect long-tail keyword research.
Long tail keywords are basically just keywords that have three or four words in the search phrase. They’re important as they help you zero in on what your potential customers are directly searching for.
Keeping with the fishing gear niche in the previous example, instead of targeting a generic keyword like ‘fishing rods,’ a long-tail keyword such as ‘high-performance bass fishing rods for freshwater anglers’ could be a valuable choice.
Deal with Duplicate Content
To address this issue, you can take several steps:
Firstly, use canonical tags to tell search engines which page is the preferred one when you have multiple pages with similar content. Implement 301 redirects to direct all variations of a product URL to a single, canonical URL.
Also, make sure to use unique product descriptions and titles to avoid duplication.
You should also consider consolidating very similar products into combined category pages with selectable options and regularly audit your website for duplicate content.
This will not only improve your search engine rankings but also enhance the overall experience for your customers, making it easier for them to find and purchase products.
Enhance User Experience
There are a hundred different things you can do to prioritize user experience on your ecommerce website, but let’s just focus on three of the most important points for now.
#1 Design A Simple Homepage
The first place people will land on your website will likely be your homepage. That’s your one shot at a good first impression, and it matters.
Keep your homepage uncluttered, free from overwhelming adverts or paid ads popping up each time you touch the mouse.
#2 Simplify The Checkout Process
There’s nothing as annoying as filling a cart and trying to complete a checkout, only to struggle with security questions and filling in credit card details.
If you can simplify the checkout, your potential clients will become paying clients who follow through with their purchases.
#3 Make It Visually Appealing
Use high-quality, relevant pictures that will appeal to your customers. Use fonts that appeal to and entice people to purchase a product.
There’s nothing worse than landing on a website and hating the look of it. People are visual creatures, and creating a fun website that looks as good as the products it promotes will help your sales flow.
When it comes to e-commerce SEO, there is a lot to consider.
We’ve just mentioned a handful of the most common mistakes that ecommerce sites make today, but there are hundreds more that pop up from time to time.
If you really want to take your ecommerce website to the next level, consider seeking professional help.
These experts possess the knowledge and experience to perform a comprehensive site audit and effectively implement the strategies mentioned earlier.
Identifying SEO mistakes on your ecommerce site is just the first step in boosting online visibility. With a solid SEO strategy, you can take your e-commerce business to the next level and feature high in search results for relevant keywords.