No. SEO for your e-commerce product page does not have to be complicated, hard, or time-consuming. Here’s what to do.
“But wait, George. My SEO Expert told me I need to find x, y, and z such that x³+y³+z³=k, for each k from 1 to 100, then spin the Wheel of Mayhem, go up the Ladder of Chance, get to the Golden Monkey, yank his tail and boom – my e-commerce product page is optimized!”
Some of the things you’ll learn:
- Why less is more in life and in e-commerce product page SEO.
- Free and paid options to optimize your e-commerce product pages SEO.
- Simple, high-impact product page fixes you can do immediately (valuable even if you don’t rely on SEO).
Why stick to SEO?
I wrote a 8727-word playbook on e-commerce marketing strategy. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you.
Observation: E-commerce companies either get SEO, or they don’t.
There’s no in-between.
The companies that get SEO are usually merchandisers or resellers, general stores with thousands of SKUs.
The companies that don’t bother with SEO typically have better branding, fewer products, and rely on paid acquisition channels, such as advertising.
Now make no mistake: I’m an advertising guy. I am an expert in advertising. I love advertising and would take advertising over SEO at any time of the day.
But – I’m still amazed at how many companies literally do nothing at all when it comes to SEO, not even the most basic optimizations.
I believe that’s because SEO sounds more complicated than it really is.
Any legitimate marketer knows that Google’s search engine (not completely, but increasingly and near enough as not to matter) rewards the pages that best answer a user’s search query.
So the two fundamental problems we’re trying to solve in SEO are a) how to maximize value to the user and b) how to improve our findability in search engines.
In this short article, I’ll show you exactly how to do that for your ecommerce product pages.
Step 1: What Do Users Want?
The best way to maximize the value of a search user is to answer their search query completely.
So the first step is to figure out the keywords people use (aka, what they want) when they look for your product online.
More specifically, we want to find the keywords that indicate buying intent. In other words, the high-value keywords used by people looking to buy (as opposed to purely information-seeking keywords).
Here’s how to do that.
#1: Google auto-complete. Just type your product’s main keyword to Google, for example, “cargo pants.” Scroll down to the related searches of your google page, and save all related keywords that come up.
#2: Answerthepublic. Answerthepublic is an amazing (and free!) tool that gives you all the questions people ask about a given keyword. Plug one or more keywords into the tool’s search bars and save the results.
#3: Amazon best-sellers. Search for “[your product keyword] best-seller Amazon.” Open the results and note down two things: The top categories related to your product (these will come in handy when we optimize our product categories, but more on that in another post) plus the keywords used in the top 3 best-sellers title, bullets and general product description (e.g “rugged tactical cargo pants”).
#4: Use a keyword tool. My favorite keyword tool is Ahrefs, but there are other good options like SEMRush. You can also use Google’s free keyword planner. Regardless of the tool, plug your keywords inside the tool and find out their search volume.
#5 Rob your competitors blind. Finally, if you’re a bit of a cowboy, you can just open up the top 5 search competitors’ product pages you come across and collect some of the keywords they use. The primary keyword they target will for sure be in their page’s meta title and meta description.
More on meta titles and descriptions in a second.
Step 2: Decide Your Long-Tail Target
A long-tail keyword is a more specific and longer keyword phrase used when the search user is closer to purchase.
If you think about it, it makes sense. When I search for “backpack for men,” I’m less likely to know exactly what I’m looking to purchase than when I search for “travel backpack men for laptop 17 inches.”
We want to target a long-tail keyword on our product page because long-tail keywords are much less competitive than the product’s main keywords. In other words, we are far more likely to win if we compete for these keywords.
Thanks to the process we followed in step 1, we should already have an awesome collection of long-tail keywords to select. Here are two great ways to select the best long-tail keyword.
#1 Ahrefs Difficulty score (paid): If you have a paid subscription to Ahrefs, just add your long-tail keywords to the tools keyword explorer and sort them by KD (keyword difficulty) from lowest to highest.
Now select the keyword that has the highest traffic and the lowest keyword difficulty.
#2 Guesstimate (free): Use Google’s free keyword planner and order your long-tail keywords by search traffic. Just add the 5 most searched ones on Google and open up the competitor pages that come up on the first page of your search results. Ask yourself (and be honest), “Can my product page and website, realistically, be better than the competitor pages that come up?”
If the answer is yes, then the keyword is worth pursuing.
“But George. What about Domain Authority and backlinks?”
It’s true that Domain Authority and backlinks play a huge role in SEO – more on that in another post. For now, remember that this is a short checklist to help beginners simplify their life and do some basic optimizations for their online shop’s product page.
Step 3: Simple on-page Seo Tips For Your Ecommerce Product Page
As I explained earlier, Google’s goal is to provide the user with the best answer to their search query.
That’s why every second of every day, Google’s tiny little internet crawlers search the web to find, catalog, and reorganize the world’s websites.
So before we get to Google’s first spot, we first need to make sure Google understands what our page is all about.
Here are some very simple things we can do to help Google understand our product page’s content.
Meta Title & Description: The title tag and meta description is what shows up on a Google search page. They are snippets of HTML code in the header of your web page, and they a) help users understand whether they want to click to your page and b) help Google understand the content of the page.
We should use our target keyword in both the meta title and the meta description. Learn more about metas in Moz’s blog.
H tags: Header tags (sometimes called heading tags) are used to signal importance. There are six different HTML header tags from H1 (most important header) to H6 (least important header).
They are important because they help break the content into sections, which helps improve user experience, and helps Google understand what the page is about. We should use one H1 tag per page. Our H1 should describe the topic of our product page (aka, our product name, and/or main target keyword).
The rest of the tags should be used hierarchically (H2, H3, H4). Every header tag is an opportunity to use one of our keywords. Ideally, we want the user to understand what the product’s about just by looking at the header tags. Here’s a short read about H tags.
Optimizing Images: Images tend to have default names assigned by our camera. We should rename them to be descriptive of what’s shown (hopefully relevant to our product and keywords). Next, we should look into optimizing our images’ alt attributes.
An alt attribute is what the browser shows when an image can’t be rendered. A simple solution is just to reuse the descriptive image name here.
Whenever we upload images, we should also be uploading the smallest possible image we can get without ruining the image’s quality. This is important for site speed. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for around 70KB per image.
Site Speed: An e-commerce product page must load within 2 to 3 seconds. Anything more than 6 seconds and conversion rates start spiraling down. The reason why is simple. Customers just won’t stay on pages that take too long to road.
So it makes sense that site speed is a critical Google ranking factor. To see how your website performs (and what you should optimize first), just add your website link to GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights to get a full site speed analysis.
Here are some general suggestions to make your page load faster.
Step 4: Maximize User Value In Your Ecommerce Product Page
Okay, let’s assume that you’ve taken care of the previous product page optimization steps. Now what?
Now what we need to do is solve for maximum user value. In other words, we want to make sure that our page a) gives the user all the information they need to make a purchase, delivered in a b) direct and frictionless user experience.
The best way to do so is to pull off our SEO hat and put on our customer hat. In other words, let’s step inside the shoes of a potential buyer and ask ourselves, what would I need to know before I make a purchase?
The idiot marketer believes that people did not buy because the persuasion failed.
But the truth is that in most cases, people don’t buy because they’re anxious and worried about buying.
How do I use it? What if it doesn’t fit? How do I wash it if it’s waterproof? How does it look from that other angle?
People that “get” advertising rarely get this more down-to-earth, practical level. SEOs tend to do a bit better because they understand search intent and keywords… but many of them, unfortunately, can’t write.
Here are some ways you can instantly add more value to a product page.
Get an actual copywriter to write a (keyword-rich) product description. The product description should be as short as possible, or as long as it needs to be, to provide a complete yet scannable marketing message.
A complete marketing message includes a) claim (“The Best Bed for Better Sleep“) b) a reason to believe the claim (otherwise known as the unique mechanism of the product) c) what this means for the customer’s life, plus, ideally, d) a compelling reason to purchase the product right now.
Provide more info, but make it optional. A great option is to use tabbed-navigation or a “read more” option to limit what’s visible to the essentials while also providing additional information to the users who need it. It would be best if you did NOT rely on this, but instead, look into simplifying the message whenever possible.
Answer all possible questions about the product. Don’t ever assume that something is obvious. At the very least, the user should know a) how the product works, b) how to use the product, c) how to maintain/wash the product d) how the product fits (size), e) what precisely is included with every purchase f) shipping times g) what materials are used, (n) plus anything else, such as technical specifications, that would make sense for your product.
When going through this exercise, consult your customer support agents. If you don’t have enough internal data, see what people ask for similar products on Amazon and take it from there.
Leverage product reviews. Social proof is a huge driver of sales. You should obsessively encourage and collect positive feedback and take every chance to feature it everywhere you can, including your product page.
Step 5: Go beyond and Overdeliver
The steps below are almost guaranteed to enhance the conversion performance of your product page. But they’re slightly harder to pull off.
Strategic photography. The rule of thumb is simple. Your product photos should mimic the experience of holding and inspecting the product in your hands, looking at it from all angles. This is especially important for wearables, such as shoes.
Speaking of photography, when it comes to your product pages, you should be careful when it comes to branded lifestyle and model photography. The reason is simple. A product photo is neutral and there’s very little chance that it would discourage someone from buying.
Lifestyle photography, on the flip side, can discourage people. For example, imagine that a user is plus size, whereas the models featured are all super skinny. This can create a negative image in the mind of the user.
If you are looking to attract very specific segments with your branding, feel free to ignore this advice. But if you want to have mass appeal, take note.
Demonstrate visually. A picture is a thousand words, and a video is worth more than 30 pictures per second. It goes without saying that you should leverage video in your product page to showcase the goods. In the case of a complicated, technical product, a product explainer video is an excellent choice.
In the case of a less complicated purchase, a good idea is to feature user-generated content and testimonials.
Direct product comparison. If your product is better than what’s available, why not let the users know? The vast majority of them will search for alternatives anyway, so having a product comparison widget on your product page is an excellent way to keep them glued to your website.
What advantages does your product have that others don’t? If not your product, then your company? Have you been doing it for longer, with more care, higher expertise? Your product page is an excellent place to say so.
Show related products (that make sense). I hate it when ecommerce companies offer cross-sells or upsells that simply make no sense on a product page. There is software that can help (here’s an example WooCommerce plugin, or a Shopify App) speed up this process a lot.
The key is to avoid featuring a related product just because it’s what others do, but because it’s useful. In other words, the related products should be meaningful alternatives to the main product, or, they should be making the main product better.
Do What We just Covered And You'll be Way Ahead of the Game.
Ecommerce SEO is one of those things that marketers like to overcomplicate.
… which is why so few companies go through the basic, fundamental optimizations we just covered.
Less is more. Follow the simple steps we outlined and watch how your product page performance starts performing better fix after fix.
And yes. You should apply all I’ve covered, even if organic traffic is but a small part of your marketing strategy.