SEO: Optimise your ecommerce products for search engines

Published: April 2014

For this blog post we wanted to cover a few of the most common questions we get asked by e-commerce store owners. The following tips and advice are only the tips of the iceberg and it’s important to remember there are now quick results in SEO and you must always persevere and update your content regularly to achieve top rankings in Google.

Should you remove Out Of Stock products from your store?

This is a question we have been asked by nearly all e-commerce site owners we have met. We would recommend never removing a product from your site when it is out of stock. Instead, why not look at some of the alternative options below and decide which is best for you.

Leave the product visible to users
If the products are going to be in stock later, don’t delete or hide them as visitors won’t be able to see your full inventory. Make sure you don’t redirect visitors to another page as this will lead to confusion. You can see how we did this on the SnowShock ecommerce website.

Slush cups out of stock

Tell visitors when it will be back in stock
It is always good practice to let the visitor know when you expect the product to be back in stock so they have the choice to come back and purchase it.

Offer alternative products where applicable
If certain products are sold out, try to offer relevant alternatives, like the same product from another brand.

Back orders
Some of your visitors won’t mind waiting a couple of more days to receive a product they really want. If your store has the functionality to let visitors back order, this can be a good way of ensuring the visitors still purchases from your website. Make sure to emphasise that the product will be sent out at as soon as possible upon arrival.

Do obsolete or expired products belong on your store?

Sooner or later you will come across one of your products that will either expire or become obsolete. A good example of this may be an electrical device as they tend to constantly replace these with newer models and styles.

From an SEO point of view, removing these product pages from your site is a bad thing. You will lose any SEO value that has built up for that page and if anyone has bookmarked that page they will now receive an error message (Page Not Found).

For these reasons, you have a few options to look at in relation to the best action available for you to take.

Redirect the visitor to the obsolete products parent category
Your main goal for when a visitor has come looking for an obsolete product is to come up with a solution to their needs. If you have other relevant products that serve the same purpose you can send the visitor to the parent category.

Permanently (301) redirect obsolete or expired product pages
You are able to retain the SEO value of these pages by using something called a 301 permanent redirect. This type of redirect tells Google that you want the new page displaying the newer model of the obsolete product to be ranked instead of the old page.

What to do with products that have little or no unique content?

Google and other search engines see duplicate content as a bad thing. As an e-commerce site owner it can be very challenging to create unique content for all your products. A good approach we would advise is as follows.

Focus on your most popular products first
Once you have identified your best-selling products, make sure to create unique content for each. Don’t’ forget to take advantage of tools like Google Keyword tools and keep updating them in future.

Second are product categories
A lot of e-commerce site owners have thousands of products, which makes writing unique content for all of them nearly impossible. Instead of tackling this mountain of a challenge, we would recommend focusing your efforts on your product category pages.
Ensure your product category pages have good link architecture (Eg/, introductory text at the top of the page and include a breadcrumb to ensure Google can index your site correctly.

Finally, add user generated content

  • Social media is a great way of helping Google to identify differences between the content on your product pages and other e-commerce stores.
  • Reviews and testimonials for satisfied customers will not only enhance your SEO ratings but also assist in boosting your sales conversions.

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