In a previous post we addressed four common SEO mistakes that ecommerce websites are still making. These mistakes are usually overlooked but can have a serious effect on your organic ranking and visibility.
It doesn’t stop there! We’re going to look into another four common SEO mistakes that ecommerce website still make today.
1. Your Robots.txt File
You have a robots.txt file uploaded to your website, but it hasn’t been written with SEO in mind.
Not including pages that you do not want Google to crawl and index.
These are pages such as customer account pages, or shopping cart and checkout pages. The issue that arises by not blocking these pages within your robots.txt file is that you risk wasting your crawl budget, and end up having less important URLs ranking in search engine results pages.
Crawl budget is the number of pages Googlebot crawls and indexes on your website every time it visits. For larger websites, this can be an issue as pages which are not important for SEO may be crawled first, not leaving enough room for those you actually want indexed.
The simplest solution is to ensure that your robots.txt file is written correctly, disallowing all those pages we have mentioned. It is also important to focus on the structure of doing this – specifically with regards to the use of the asterisk (*). For example:
This indicates to crawlers that any URL path that includes /checkout, regardless of what precedes or follows it, should be blocked. In this case, the following example URLs would be blocked:
It is recommended that you have an expert assist you with writing your Robots.txt file to avoid any important pages being blocked.
An alternate solution to this would be to add the “No Follow / No Index” directive to these pages. In order to fully ensure that these pages are blocked, the recommendation would be to add both.
2. Product URL Structure
Your product URLs are automatically generated by the platform you are using.
The first mistake is that some platforms will pull in the product code / SKU and use this as the product URL. So you would end up with something like this:
The issue with this structure is that there are no keywords indicative of what the product is in the URL itself. While your URL is not the heaviest ranking factor, it does contribute to your SEO value and should be taken into consideration.
The second mistake commonly made when it comes to URL structures, specifically those which are automatically generated, is that they follow the user journey’s path. What is meant by this is that it adds the category and/or subcategory which led users to your product. An example of this would be:
The deeper into the subfolder chain your product is, the less important it seems to Google.
While some platforms have the functionality to amend these issues with some changes to the configuration. In some cases, you may require help from your developer.
The end goal is to have a product URL which is as close to the start of the URL as possible, and includes your product title (which usually includes your main keywords). The ideal structure would look something like this:
3. Duplication on Product Listing Pages
You have subcategories of the same name which fall under several different main categories.
The first common mistake made here is not optimising the on-page title – or H1 tag.
For example, if you have a “Shorts” subcategory for men and women, when is usually seen is that both pages have the title “Shorts”
This will cause search engines to identify the pages as being duplicates, as it cannot read images, and the titles are exactly the same.
The second common mistake seen is that there is no content other than the title on product listing pages. This makes the page look very thin to search engines, and therefore gives the impression that it doesn’t hold very much value. This could cause search engines to rank the page poorly.
The first solution is to ensure that the titles are “Men’s Shorts” and “Women’s Shorts” respectively.
The second solution would be to add one or two sentences right under your page title to describe the category / subcategory. Use relevant keywords here, but ensure that the content reads naturally
4. Un-optimised Title Tags
The platform you are using automatically generates page title tags.
Allowing the default automation to happen without defining a specific structure or adding further optimisations.
Title tags are one of the strongest ranking factors in SEO. Not optimising them can have serious effects on your SEO value. For example, the default title tag for
may be “High Rise Denim Shorts”.
The first solution would be to go in and manually optimise these product title tags, inserting the relevant keywords where appropriate.
With an ecommerce business however, it is common that the volume of products may be too large for this to be feasible. In this case, you would use the platform or an available plugin to define a specific structure for title tags. This can be based on fixed elements which you enter, as well as indicating specific on-page elements to be pulled into the title tag. For, example:
Define: Buy [colour] [product title] Online | My Domain
Result: Buy Blue High Rise Denim Shorts Online | My Domain
Depending on the ecommerce platform you are using, the out of the box functionalities and plugins available, you may be able to implement a lot of these solutions on your own. In some instances, you may need the support of your development team.
No matter what the case is, these simple fixes can do wonders for your organic visibility. It’s time to review your ecommerce website, follow the guidelines outlined, and watch your SEO value grow.