eCommerce sites typically have two types of pages:
- Product pages sell individual products
- Category pages link out to related product pages
eCommerce product pages and category pages all have a certain shape and set of best SEO practices.
Let’s look into SEO for eCommerce product pages and category pages so you can boost visibility and drive traffic.
SEO for eCommerce Product Pages
Most eCommerce product pages end up looking something like this:
Let’s break down the components.
Header 1 or H1
This is the primary headline of the content on your page. This field should contain the primary keywords you’re targeting. It’s the first thing most people see on a product page, and it should be between 20 and 70 characters.
Image with Alt Text
Your product page should have an image with alt text added.
The best eCommerce platform for SEO or online marketplace will automatically generate the alt text for images based on product descriptions and allow you to edit the description for further refinement.
In the above Wholey example, the alt text “Atlantic Monk Fish (3 Lb. Avg)” is added.
Alt text should not exceed 125 characters.
Keyword-Optimized Meta Title and Meta Description
Each product page’s meta title shows up when you hover over the browser tab:
And on the SERP:
And the meta title should have the keywords you’re targeting in it along with modifiers like:
- Free shipping
- X% Off
- Lowest Price
These modifiers are typically what get people to click through to a page.
Meta titles should be, max, 60 characters long to avoid getting cut off on the browser tab and the SERP.
It’s important that your H1 and your meta title are not identical. They can target the same keywords, but don’t phrase them exactly the same.
Additionally, every product page needs an optimized meta description, which shows up only on the SERP and is more important for CTR than ranking.
Here you the meta description is the paragraph beneath the clickable blue link. Include keywords in your meta description, but for the purpose of getting searchers to click the link above it. Meta descriptions should not exceed 160 characters.
Write your meta descriptions as if it’s the only thing standing between someone clicking your link. Use keywords and concisely communicate the value of your page. Be real: why is your page good?
Product and category pages should have at least 500 words on them. Longer content ranks best on Google, but creating 1,800-word product pages isn’t realistic.
Ideally, unique, high-value descriptions of at least 500 words will be written for every product you offer. If that’s not possible, think about doing it for only the top 10 or 20 or 30 products.
Other things they can include: weight, size (dimensions), shipping, handling instructions, etc.
Be sure to use targeted keywords in the description, and:
- Don’t go overboard using your keywords. This is called “keyword stuffing,” and Google doesn’t like it. The frequency of keywords on web pages used to be a big deal, but it’s not anymore. That’s because people started keyword stuffing and sentences turned into unreadable robot-focused drivel. Use keywords, sure, but never ever sacrifice human readability. That’s the most important part of any content, and Google considers it thus, too.
- Use related keywords. Sometimes related keywords are also called “LSI keywords,” which stands for latent semantic indexing. Again, it’s pretty much a fancy word for “related keywords.” Google is smart enough to understand that some words are similar to others. Pepper in some related keywords with the specific keywords you’re targeting to avoid keyword stuffing and cast a wider semantic net. LSI or related keywords for seafood, for example, would be shellfish, fresh fish, and lobster.
Pro-tip: The easiest way to find related keywords is using Amazon. Type in your primary keyword and look at all the related words that pop up in product titles. These titles are usually stuffed with semantically-related keywords.
Breadcrumbs are a sequence of links that allow users to see where they are in a website, how far they are from the main home page, and how to get back if they want.
If you have someone in-house with technical expertise, and your content management system or CMS, supports it, consider implementing breadcrumbs on your website.
CMS: Software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. This is the program that you use to write, publish, and edit web pages. The most well-known example is WordPress.
In our above Wholey example, the breadcrumbs are:
The user is now aware that they started at the Fresh Seafood category page, went to the Fresh Fish for Sale subcategory page, and then chose the Monkfish product page.
Breadcrumbs are links, too, so they serve as navigational elements that not only make it easier for search engines to crawl your page, but they create a better user experience.
Both internal and external links are important. Check out our post about off-page SEO for eCommerce to learn more about external links.
Use HTML Tables or Lists
Integrating a table or list on your product page may increase your chances of getting a result on the SERP that has extra visual or interactive features. This is also known as a rich result.
Here’s an interesting example.
On the RetailMeNot.com Neiman Marcus web page, there is a table and a list on the left side of the web page:
This widget was put on the page primarily to fish for rich results. And look what Google picks up and placed under the meta description on the SERP for that web page:
That’s a rich result. And it’s way more appealing to searchers than results without the extra visual emphasis or interactivity.
SEO for eCommerce Category Pages
Everything for eCommerce SEO product pages applies to eCommerce category pages. They need optimized meta titles, meta descriptions, and H1s. They need at least 500 words of content. They need images with alt text. Tables and lists can unlock more benefits of eCommerce SEO.
But category pages have a few best practices of their own.
Here’s an example of Omaha Steak’s high-level Seafood category page that links out to subcategory pages:
And here’s an example of Omaha Steak’s Salmon subcategory page that is linked from the Seafood category page and links out to individual product pages:
Category pages are first and foremost navigation hubs. That means they exist solely to help users navigate to pages with more specific content.
If they don’t enable users to easily and obviously narrow down their shopping experience, they’re not doing their job.
Observe the following when creating your eCommerce category pages:
- Put your 500+ words at the bottom and don’t let them get in the way of navigation.
- Make sure all product images are good quality and consistently sized.
- Make categories clear and obvious. This is the big one. Notice the left rail of each image above. On the high-level category page, users can click laterally to different high-level category pages. On the sub-category page, users can drill down into further subcategories.
- Include both reviews and prices if surfacing product pages. See technical SEO for eCommerce sites.
- Enable sorting and filtering.
You’ve got keywords. You’ve got individual page structure. You should also make sure to link between product pages so that you can work on cross selling.
You may also want to look into using a catalog creator to further highlight your product offerings and make it easier for customers.