Learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a bit of a rabbit hole. While some best practices are pretty straight forward, it is the application that matters. For example, you would not take the same SEO approach for an informative/resourceful website as you would for a website that sells products online. You need to make SEO work within the context of your business so that your strategy will nurture the purpose your website exists to serve.
SEO for a website that sells products online is a study all in its own, and with it comes a slew of its own unique challenges. So, for those of you who have been baffled by how to best present your products online, here are just a few tips to get you started down the right path.
- Craft Unique Descriptions for Product Pages: If you sell a product that other websites also sell, do not use the manufacturer's description for your product's page content. It may seem like a time saver, but many others have had this same idea. Doing this will inevitably cause your website to be flagged for duplicate content. It just isn’t worth it. As much time as it may take, you need to start from scratch and come up with a unique product description for each product listed on your website. The extra work will save you from having to deal with some major headaches down the road.
- Secure Your Website: It has always been advised that eCommerce websites should enable HTTPS encryption in order to ensure that all transactions made remain secure. Not only does this safeguard the sensitive information of your customers, but it is also a factor within Google’s ranking algorithm. Websites utilizing HTTPS will most likely rank higher than those that do not.
- Meta Descriptions: As of late, meta descriptions have been a topic of some debate. For those of you who are unsure about what a meta description is, it is the text which appears under the website title in search results. Though this isn’t necessarily a number 1 priority as far as SEO goes, it is still important and should be considered a best practice which you should strive to employ at every possible chance. But here's where the debate comes in: More and more, Google has been pulling content excerpts directly from your webpage and using this as the meta description rather than using the meta descriptions assigned by website administrators.
This brings up a good question, "If Google rarely uses the designated meta descriptions, why take the time to compose and update them within my website?"
Here is a good rule of thumb: If your website is smaller and sells only a few main products, it's worth the time it takes to come up with a unique meta description for each page, products included. However, if you sell thousands of products online, it's probably not worth your time. Pick out a few popular products and create unique meta descriptions for those. As long as your product pages contain good, solid content, Google will effectively pull a meta description from your content that is relevant to the search query made.
One other important item: Don't use one umbrella meta description for all of your products. You are better off with no meta description than you are using the same meta description for each product or page.
- Site Navigation: Make sure your website is organized in a way that makes sense to users and also employs a linking structure that makes it easy for search engines to crawl and find content. Also, utilize the valuable homepage space as a storefront, placing links to featured products and current sales and specials for easy, quick access. As far as usability, make sure you are separating your products into relevant and logical categories so that users can easily find the product they are seeking.