There is no denying the fact that creating an e-commerce store in 2020 is easier than ever before.
There are thousands of websites each with hundreds of product category pages. You have to reconsider your approach if you think you’ll automatically have search engine traffic rolling in by simply listing your thousands of products online.
The bitter truth is optimizing your e-commerce store for SEO is much harder than optimizing a blog or an informative website.
With plenty of platforms available, these days including the best e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, WordPress, and BigCommerce, many people are now trying their luck in an online marketplace.
If your e-commerce store is not delivering the desired results, it’s high time you should pay attention to the best SEO practices.
In this post, we’ll be highlighting the 18 critical SEO mistakes that kill your e-commerce store. So without any further ado, let’s get started.
1. Forgetting To Focus On Keywords Your Target Audience Is Looking For
The biggest mistake SEO marketers make is they pay a lot of attention to keyword research but forget to find keywords that their target audience is searching for.
Since keywords are a key ranking factor, the wrong use of them can significantly ruin your business visibility in front of search engines.
Fortunately, there are many keyword research tools, including Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, which makes the process of finding relevant keywords simple and result-driven.
Just ensure you use proper tools and implement the right set of keywords to witness great results.
2. Lacking Relevant Content
SEO for e-commerce is not just about getting your website ranked higher on search engines. It’s all about getting quality traffic that turns into conversions.
Many inexperienced online store owners keep their entire focus on reaching the first page of Google and forget about offering real value to their users.
Content marketing is an integral element of SEO without which no online business can improve its visibility in SERPs. Here, it is crucial to understand that even if you have excellent content on your website but it is poorly optimized, you’ll get lesser traffic and engagement rates.
Make sure you create keyword-focused headlines, titles, and meta descriptions for your blog posts and descriptions.
E-commerce stores that fail to understand the significance of high-quality content will witness a massive drop in their rankings and overall engagement.
3. Keyword Stuffing
Unlike in the past, when online sellers were more concerned about maintaining keyword density than creating high-quality content, present-day sellers are paying more attention to curating premium content with perfect optimization.
Google's algorithm has changed significantly in the last decade. If you’re still following those obsolete keyword-stuffing techniques in 2020, then you should be ready to see a noticeable reduction in your rankings.
Apart from that, unnatural stuffing of keywords may also lead to a bad user experience.
4. Content Duplication
According to Google, pages that are unique index better than pages that contain plenty of duplicate content. For this, Google constantly makes efforts to identify content that has been intentionally repeated across different URLs.
Even if your website contains duplicate content because of some legitimate reasons, you’ll still have to face issues in terms of SEO.
So whether it’s about pasting manufacturer’s descriptions on your website or repeating boilerplate across webpages, duplicated content is a big NO.
5. Pasting Manufacturer’s Descriptions
Many e-commerce store owners copy/paste the manufacturer’s descriptions to save a few bucks.
But did you know this practice may result in the ban of your website from search engines?
Since manufacturers distribute these descriptions to multiple store owners, this may lead to several pages with duplicate content. Also, most of the time these descriptions are written for the sake of posting only.
So if you’re looking to make your e-store stand out from the crowd, you must create optimized and unique product descriptions.
Don’t forget to include a No Index Meta Tag on URLs that you can’t craft exclusive content for.
6. Lack Of Product Reviews
As discussed above, the best SEO practices do not revolve around ranking factors only. The idea is to attract visitors to your website and convince them to make a purchase.
Research suggests that more than 70% of customers look for testimonials/reviews on e-commerce stores before making a purchase.
Reviews are one of the most effective ways to drive your website, and visitors to spend. The good thing about these reviews is that they’re unique, meaning you’ll have fresh content on your page when one of your buyers will drop a genuine review on your website.
Also, they give other buyers confidence that your products are worth their time and money.
7. Lack Of Product Descriptions
Because search engines cannot see images, it’s essential to add product descriptions to every product you have on your website.
Needless to say, the more unique and keyword-focused content you write for your product descriptions, the better your product pages will rank on Google.
Here are a few things you should pay attention to while writing descriptions for your product pages.
Create unique and SEO-focused content for your product descriptions
Do not copy/paste content from your competitors
Always test description word count to identify how much content will be enough to drive conversions
Read our guide on How To Write Product Descriptions That Sell to write effective product descriptions that can help to increase conversions to your online store.
8. Slow Website Speed
Research reveals that people expect websites to load within 2-3 seconds. Remember, if your website is taking longer to load, your potential customers will tap a back button and start exploring your competitor’s sites.
While you should make every possible effort to make your website look amazing, make sure you’re not doing it at the cost of loading time.
If you include high-resolution images on your website, it will take more time to load pages. So it’s better to optimize your images on online editing tools before you post them on your website.
9. Not Optimizing URLs
Another critical SEO mistake many e-commerce entrepreneurs make is they don’t optimize their URLs for the right keywords.
Keywords included in your URL help Google understand what your pages are all about. Online stores with an extensive product range often use non-descriptive URLs for their product pages. These URLs include product codes unintelligible to customers.
For instance, instead of writing www.mybootshop/product/1234, you should write www.mybootshop/product/kids-ankle-boots
10. Not Optimizing Product Pages
Make sure you keep those keywords in mind while writing headlines and titles that your target audience is searching for. If you target the wrong keywords, you’ll end up marketing things that no one is looking for.
Here are some tried-and-tested tips for optimizing your product pages:
Always use model numbers in tags and H1 headings
Always include a brand name in your H1 headings to make it look more targeted and relevant
Always include image alt tag information
Do not spam your content by over-optimizing your product pages with keywords
11. Lack Of Mobile Responsiveness
Approximately 52.2% of traffic was generated from smartphones and mobile devices back in 2018.
Considering the increasing use of mobile phones and tablets, having a mobile-friendly website is not an option but a necessity these days. For this, you have to work with your web designer to create a responsive design that can provide your customers with the guaranteed best experience.
Users browsing through their desktops can easily navigate their mouse, However, those using their smartphones have to touch options to perform different functions.
Similarly, images and videos load faster on desktops. You have to showcase low-pixel graphics on your website that won’t take forever to load on mobile devices.
12. Inadequate Internal linking
Placing internal links here and there without a proper plan is one of the mistakes killing your e-commerce SEO.
If your goal is to make your website navigable and more rankable, then you have to work hard on your internal linking structure.
As a general rule, you must follow the pyramid linking structure for your e-commerce store. The pyramid linking structure is the one that keeps the home page at the first level, and category pages and product pages at levels two and three respectively.
If you’re finding it difficult to do this on your own, you may seek the assistance of a professional SEO specialist to devise a custom internal linking structure for your website.
13. Lacking Security Encryption
Lacking security encryption is another key factor that significantly impacts your website SEO.
Security encryption is what makes your customers feel confident about the authenticity of your website.
This is crucial for customer experience and also prevents hacking attacks on your website. Remember, you’ll lose customers if you lose your valuable information during a transaction.
To make the buyer’s journey safe and worthwhile, search engines give preference to e-stores that hold SSL certificates.
14. Only Focusing On Search Engine Ranking
Even if you have the best keywords in the world, there is no assurance that your pages will convert and contribute to sales.
SEO is a broad phenomenon and only works well when used in conjunction with other marketing practices.
There are so many other factors that need your consideration as well. For instance, you must also include actionable CTAs and backlinks to enhance the overall effectiveness of your ecommerce SEO.
15. Duplicate Title Tags
Similar to duplicate content, it is equally important to create unique meta titles for your products and category pages.
You can also take help from Ubersuggest to provide recommendations that can help you win the SEO game by just typing your domain name and keyword in the search box.
16. Absence Of Sitemap.xml
There are more than 1.7 billion websites on the internet. Measuring all of them is an unrealistic task for anyone.
There are hundreds of thousands of ranking factors that one should keep in mind while creating an SEO strategy.
Here, it is crucial to understand that the search engine visibility of your website mainly depends on the value you offer to your potential customers.
Crawlability is a technical yet often neglected aspect that involves the integration of Sitemap.xml.
Sadly, most e-commerce store owners are not aware of this term. All in all, if you want to get your e-commerce store to rank higher on Google, you should create a sitemap.xml for your website for better visibility.
17. 404 Errors
You must have seen a page containing a 404 error message while browsing. This happens when a search engine fails to find the specific URL on the website.
Broken connections and incorrect linking may also result in this type of error message. These pages shouldn’t be on your website as they can negatively affect the quality of SEO.
In addition to that, the 404 error message also proves that the content published on your website is outdated and site owners have not conducted any sort of site maintenance.
If you have deleted some pages on your website, make sure you customize your 404 pages with an image and a call-to-action(CTA) to guide users about where they should click to proceed further.
18. Low-Quality Backlinks
Domain value is of the utmost significance when it comes to SEO. While adding backlinks to your e-commerce store to increase your domain authority, it’s important to keep your focus on quality instead of quantity.
Ideally, you should include high-quality backlinks on your website that come from high-DA websites only.
We know, getting high-quality backlinks from renowned websites will take some time, but it’s always rewarding to be patient instead of getting paid links for your website - as it may result in a hefty penalty for your e-commerce store.