7 ways to optimise for strong product pages
This article touches on specific items for product pages, assuming basic on-page optimisation processes have been followed, we have covered these in my Smart Insights On-Page optimisation Guide if you're not familiar with these basics.
1 Check Products have Unique URLs
Ecommerce systems are complex, they have a lot to do and unfortunately are not usually designed with things like Unique product URL's in mind. An example of what I mean by this could be:
- www.example.com/product-1.html = The primary shortest product URL you can visit to see the product
- www.example.com/category-1/product-1.html = Navigating to the product page after viewing a category page
- www.example.com.category-1/sub-category-1/product-1.html = Navigating through two categories before selecting the product
Each of the pages above are unique to Search Engines as the URL's are different. However, the content on each will be exactly the same. To ensure you are not display all these duplicate pages to Google you will need to implement the canonical tag on the 2nd two URL's. The tag would look like this in the HEAD of your html page, you can learn more about the Canonical tag here:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product-1.html" />
The tag alerts search engines that it is a duplicate page & also informs them where the primary page is located!
2 Write Unique Product Descriptions
Unless you design / produce your own products it is likely that the products you stock are supplied to other retailers as well. This usually means you receive a disc or files from the manufacturer with the product information on, this same copy will be supplied to all retailers. This creates obvious duplicate content issues between retailers limiting each from ranking well. You need to make sure you add unique content to each product description, ideally re-write to ensure you are completely unique. This will really help you standout from competitors as well, especially if you submit to Product Comparison engines etc where retailers tend to look & sound alike. Well worth the investment in junior copy writer(s) or interns!
See this in-depth article by Mel Henson advising how to write strong product page copy for SEO AND shoppers.
3 Display Customer Reviews
Remember Google looks for lots of different signals to rank your website, customers ratings is undoubtedly one. Having customer reviews on a product level is the ideal implementation but for certain product types it doesn't always work too well, clothing is one that stands out in my mind (very few people review clothes). If this is the case for your business consider using a more generic experience review service such as: Trust Pilot, eKomi & Review Centre. To name just a few of the benefits for implementing reviews:
- Displaying unique & fresh content is never a bad thing
- It aids in possible duplicate content issues with other retailers
- Shows other indicators of site activity to Search Engines
- They can be used as part of Rich Snippets (see below) to bring your product listings to life on search engine results pages
4 Implement Rich Snippets
I recently wrote about the varying types of Rich Snippets that you can utlise on your site. On product pages there are three specifically that will allow you to stand out on search engine results pages;
Utilising Rich Snippets not only helps search engines understand content types on a page (which can be no bad thing) but they will influence how your page is displayed in search engines. As with the image above you create a much more valuable search result for users before they arrive on your site. Displaying latest price, review & stock levels is all useful to the end consumer & will ensure you are constantly on-top of your pricing & stock levels. Using the offer snippet you can also push your latest offers in search results. Search engines will constantly work to make sure the data is accurate which means more frequent search engine visits to your site, again no bad thing! Rich Snippets are dead easy to implement on most ecommerce platforms and well worth the costs / time to install.
5 Optimise Images
Images create new opportunities to drive traffic & are very easy to optimise for search engines. You should make sure each image follows the following points :
- A clean URL - an issue with a lot of ecommerce systems will displayed cached images resulting in ugly URLS such as:
- http://www.example.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/300x/9df78eab33525 d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/z/u/example.jpg
- It would ideally be - http://www.example.com/images/product-category/example.jpg
- Ensure where possible the filename includes keywords relevant to the product & image
- ALT text, this serves two purposes, the first been for text-only browsers & the second is to help search engines understand the contents of the image
- File size should not be too large (shouldn't go over 75kb for your large image, thumbnails should be a lot smaller)
- Don't stuff with keywords
- Include images in your sitemap(s) (see here for more details)
- Make the filename & alt text relevant to the image & use keywords that highly searched for where possible
You can checkout a very helpful guide from Google here should you want to learn more about optimising your images for search.
6 Unique Internal Links
Most product pages on your website will contain a similar amount of internal links, yet at the same time some products are just more important to customers than others... We need to make sure Search Engines understand which products are more important. Outside of external factors such as inbound links you can make use of your current website to influence this, you should consider;
- Using text links from relevant copy on your homepage straight to "hero" product pages
- Produce blog posts & news articles about the products & link out to them
- Create a hot products page which is available on the top nav to your top 10 products
7 Allow pages to be shared
A huge amount of online stores are still to implement social sharing facilities on their product pages. If your products are good enough people tend to be inclined to share them with friends, it could be to show off or to get opinions. This creates multiple benefits, inbound traffic, boosts the social score of your site & shows the product is been talked about when other people visit the page. Implementing basic social buttons or using a service like Add This is straightforward to do and a must if you have amazing products!