For online retailers, perhaps the most important pages of a website are the product pages. Whether a user is looking at an individual product or considering a list of several items, product pages can make or break a sale. But in such a competitive retail market, one of the biggest challenges is getting found amongst a sea of sites all offering similar products to yours. That’s why it’s so important that your product pages are search engine optimised, to help you get as many eyes on your products as possible. Here I’ll go through some ideas for improving SEO on your product pages, product listing pages, and on-site search results pages.
SEO for Products Pages
Quite a while ago, I wrote this blog post: “Creating Content: Writing Effective Product Descriptions”. It’s about the dos and don’ts of writing content for product pages, and the points raised in the post are still very relevant. The main takeaways are that you should write useful, unique content that accurately describes the product, provides important information - including the benefits to the customer - and provides links to other on-site resources to help them make a purchasing decision. This is all as important for SEO as it is for usability and conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Let’s take these points apart one by one from an SEO point of view:
Write Unique Content
Google likes unique content – copying product descriptions from your competitors or the manufacturer website will not help your SEO at all. What it will do is harm your rankings in the search results, and make your website feel sloppy because your tone of voice won’t be consistent throughout. Always write your own content while bearing in mind your own business’s style and branding, your customers’ needs, and the keywords you would like to rank for on this particular page. Since this is a specific product page, you should particularly consider the keywords someone might search for if they were looking for this exact product, rather than more general keywords you can target with other pages on your website, such as your product listing pages.
Provide Plenty of Relevant Information
Providing useful and important information is of course helpful for the customer looking at your product, but it will also help your SEO by covering as many bases as possible for when people are searching for specific products or longtail keywords.
Build Internal Links
It’s also helpful to provide links to other pages within your website, such as relevant articles and buying guides which could help your customers to make an informed decision, particularly if the product is quite technical or specialist. You may not want to distract people with this within the main product description, so reserve a special place further down the page for this purpose. If you don’t have blog posts, articles or buying guides you could link to, consider creating some. This valuable content shows users that you’re an expert in your field and could make them more likely to buy from you once they are armed with this helpful information - and it provides some great SEO juice, too.
At the bottom of the page, you could also show the user similar products in case the product in question isn’t what they are looking for. Or you could show them products that are often bought at the same time, for example showing laptop cases on a laptop product page. This could help customers to find what they need, make it easier to navigate your website, increase the average basket value, and improve your internal linking – which helps search engines to index your website.
SEO for Product Listing Pages
Your product listing pages should be so much more than a list of products. This page showcases your products to users and search engines, and it should help steer users closer towards making a purchasing decision.
If you have many products, you may have categories and sub-categories on your website. For example, a clothing retailer may have a main page for women’s clothing, and a product listing page for dresses, and then nested underneath that, different types of dresses – evening dresses, summer dresses, maxi dresses, cocktail dresses, and so on. So you’ll need to think about not only the more general product listing of dresses, but also the more specific product listings underneath, which will all serve a different SEO purpose. For example, more generic product listing pages might target the keyword “laptops”, while a sub-category might target more specific keywords such as “gaming laptops”.
It makes sense that a user landing on a more generic page will be a little further away from the product they need, so you need to make it easy for them to narrow down their options. If a user lands on the product listing page for dresses but they are specifically looking for a prom dress, your page needs to direct them to the product they want. This is likely to come in the form of categories often listed at the top or at the side of the page. So it’s important to ensure that these category names are SEO friendly, include good keywords, and that the products listed within them are all relevant.
Now for the main content: review the previews of the products on this listing page. What information are you showing, and is it enough to inform the user and tempt them to click through? Does it include the brand of the item (if you sell other brands besides your own), the colour, size, or other important features that make the item stand out from the rest? What is the customer looking for, what are the USPs, and does the product’s title, short description and image tell them what they need to know? Is all of this information accurate and useful from an SEO point of view?
The next step is to add some richer content to the page. This will help with the user’s experience and your SEO, in terms of using good keywords and building internal link architecture. A paragraph at the top of your page will serve to indicate to the user what is on the page, and how they can narrow down the products. Include links to more specific product categories or popular brands and do some keyword research to ensure you have included those important phrases. This is all important for improving your SEO for this page, and it will help your customers to find the product they need more easily too, meaning more potential conversions for you.
A paragraph at the bottom of the listings page is also a good idea. The thinking behind this is that the user has gotten to the end of your product list and hasn’t found what they want. How can you help them to find what they need? Perhaps by letting them know how they can get in touch with you, or by directing them to other parts of your website where they may find what they are looking for. Again, this is good for usability, CRO and internal linking.
SEO for Search Results Pages
Don’t forget about search results pages, too. These probably appear similarly to product listings pages on your website, but will need to be optimised separately. For example, what is the heading you’re using on these results pages? Your main search page itself, if you have one, is probably fine with a heading such as “Search Our Products” (or maybe something more specific or exciting, like “Search for your new favourite running shoes”). However, once a user has performed a search, the page they land on could work just as hard for you as your main product pages, in terms of CRO and SEO.
There are two ways a user may come to land on a search results page on your website. The most obvious is that they have visited your website, entered a keyword or phrase into your search bar, and clicked to search. Another option is that they performed a search on Google and your search results pages have been indexed and appear as a search result here. A search results page within a search results page. Users might also come across your search results pages through direct links on other websites or by sharing them with each other. However a user finds your results page, when they get there it needs to be useful and informative – and to help more and more people find it on Google, it needs to be optimised for search.
First, let’s think about your heading. At this point a search has been performed, so you have a little information about what the user is looking for. Let’s say they are searching for “black trainers”. Instead of using the same heading you used on your main search page, your heading can now reflect the phrase the person is searching for. For example, “Black Trainers”, or “Black Trainers at The Running Shoe Store”. If your search results page has filters too, you could further customise the heading to reflect the options the user chooses, for example “Women’s Black Trainers”, or “Black Adidas Trainers”. Obviously the user knows what they have searched for, but if someone lands on this page from a direct link, it’s useful to make it clear exactly what they are looking at right away. And of course, these attributes of your product could make great longtail SEO keywords.
As with your product listing pages, good CRO practice is to go a step further by adding some text at the top or bottom of the page to guide users to other parts of the website or to provide contact information if they have reviewed the search results but none of the products are quite what they are looking for.
You can read more about how to improve your on-site search facility and results pages from a usability perspective in our blog post “12 Features Of A Great Site Search Function”.
If you would like any help with optimising your product pages, contact SilverDisc. As an online retailer, you may also be interested in our upcoming “Maximise Retail Profits” event we’re hosting in collaboration with Google in June. You’ll spend the afternoon at Google’s London headquarters, learning strategies for increasing the ROI of your website from the experts. Find out more and register.