When we talk about successful businesses, ecommerce are always there on the list. The reason behind this is very clear: we are living in a virtual era, where almost every single task is being performed online.
According to Statista, it has been confirmed that e-commerce is rapidly growing popular in the B2C arena, with sales amounting to more than 1.2 trillion US dollars in 2013 alone. At the same time, retail sales attributable to the Internet are also booming.
The current generation does not believe in putting in a lot of physical effort to make purchases. With the expansion of technology, consumers can make a large purchase with a single touch. This is evident in the fact that, between 2010 and 2018, the number of digital shoppers is going to increase drastically.
E-commerce has become a buzzword in digital marketing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to discuss why e-commerce is important – the internet is already filled with such information. I will just prove some facts with a few authentic stats.
The bright side of the e-commerce industry is that millions of business owners are picking it up as a profession. On the other hand, many business owners neglect the importance of ecommerce website planning and optimization. The optimization of an e-commerce website is quite different from that of a regular website – with e-commerce having become a huge and highly competitive industry, cutting-edge knowledge is required to stay competitive. Therefore, it is important that your website is properly optimized.
Let’s discuss the common challenges you will come across while optimizing an e-commerce website.
1. Lack of Interaction with Designers and Developers
Most business owners hire professionals to design and code their e-commerce websites. When the website structure is ready to go live, it is handed over to search specialists for its optimization. The problem arises here, when SEO specialists ask owners to re-design the structure because it is not convertible, increasing the business’ costs.
This lack of interaction with designers and developers is a big problem; hence, the entire website structure should be made under the guidance of an SEO specialist. That specialist should be capable of finalizing a design that can generate leads, and is up to e-commerce standards.
2. Content Uniqueness
Compared to regular websites, e-commerce websites contain less content. The kind of content mainly depends on the product display and design; but it is usually in the form of product descriptions. As an SEO specialist, you need to make sure that the descriptions are not being copied and are purely unique.
Here is a great example of content uniqueness in the screenshot below. Due to having multiple colors of a product, the system generates multiple URLs for the same product. But both the URLs are having different product descriptions.
3. Keywords Research and Analysis
Keywords research is like a map that can help you find a treasure; yet most SEO specialists spend less time on it, selecting keywords randomly. The reason is that they have limited time, so they spend more time on link building and less on keywords research.
But once you do keywords research correctly, it will ease the overall link building process. For this, it is important to know whether the keywords you are selecting are convertible.
4. Avoid Broken Links
Broken links have always been a harmful factor for both static and dynamic websites. The possibility of broken links in an e-commerce website is generally high as compared to the ordinary websites. Either if the product is out of stock or unavailable that certain page gets broken.We can’t display a 404 page to our beloved customers. If in-case the product is unavailable it should be redirected to main category page.
5. Proper Link Building Strategy
Most of the link builders make the same mistake when it comes to building backlinks for an e-store. I have worked with many e-commerce clients and I have learned a lot of things when it comes to link building strategy. You might get shocked but its truth that most of the SEOs are still following the outdated SEO methods for building links even for e-commerce website, they focuses on bookmarking, submitting directories, etc … Such a big LOL!
As far as my experience is concerned, I mainly focus on guest posting, getting product reviews from bloggers, submitting products to the online stores like Amazon and Ebay, coupon submission, infographic, and presentation submission. These methods should be mainly use to build trust among your perspective customers as result your link will automatically get qualitative 🙂
While building links, you should always target the right blogs or any other platform where you are going to build links. Try to focus more on your home and category pages for link building rather than product pages. The reason is that when you target a product page and suppose that product is out of stock as a result it will become a 404 page or might be redirected to any other page. But your efforts that make to build links for that specific page will be wasted.
6. Keywords Targeting
It is common that bunch of keywords are being targeted on a single page of an e-commerce website. It is important have an occurrence of all these keywords in your titles and meta descriptions. Don’t stuff them, use them creatively to give a natural look 😉
7. Utilization of Image ALT Text
In most online marketing campaigns, ALT text is being underestimated. But it is the most powerful way of getting links. Confused? Let me explain: As we know, ALT text is used for image optimization; if your product’s image is properly optimized, it will start appearing in image search results.
Most bloggers find images via Google images, and use it in their blog posts. As a result, they provide links in the form of image sources. This is how you can gain links through image optimization.
8. Get a Convertible Blog
As I discussed above, the e-commerce industry usually has a large volume of keywords. In such a case, a blog is the best option to point tertiary keywords on your blog. It is a proven technique, and will definitely provide you good rankings in the SERPs in the long run. It is also used as a point of attraction for getting links naturally on other platforms.
9. Implement Schema Markup
In most digital agencies, SEOs don’t know about Schema Markup. Update schema code in the first place, in order to identify data about product reviews, manufacturer and aggregate ratings.
All these are factors and challenges that must be considered while optimizing an e-commerce website. All the above techniques can boost your rankings in the SERPs as well as increase your website traffic. I know you guys are thinking that I have only stated 9 factors, while one is missing. Let’s learn the last factor from some of our industry experts and know what they think!
10. What is the biggest challenge while optimizing an E-commerce Website?
Ted Ives (SEO at TedIves.com)
Generating really good unique product descriptions. If the site gets most of its data from a partner feed, it’s important to have as much of it be as different as possible – which is a balancing act because you want it to be accurate and in compliance with the partners standards!
Moosa Hemani (Inbound Strategist at SETalks)
I am not sure if this comes under optimization or not, but this is very important from the conversion point of view. I have seen tons of different clients who either do not have a mobile website or have a bad-looking one, and when you suggest they change it and invest in the mobile version, they tend to say no.
One of the biggest challenges is to tell them how important mobile is for them and how they can seriously improve their conversions with mobile. I am in the middle of writing a post about it as well, and here is the one graphic from the post that will tell you how much traffic one of my clients is getting from mobiles and tablets (keeping in mind that, at the moment, they don’t have a mobile website ready).
Analytics shows that 44.55% of the traffic is coming from mobiles and tablets, and as they don’t have a mobile website, imagine the kind of conversion they are missing out on, only because they don’t have a mobile website at the moment.
What ecommerce businesses need to understand is that mobile technology is growing. So if your data tells you to invest in mobile, just go with it as this will have a direct impact on your conversions and offer a greater ROI.
Bill Sebald (Founder and SEO at Greenlane Search Marketing LLC)
I find the biggest problem today is still the same problem I faced in the early 2000’s, as database-driven platforms started to become popular. Instead of advancing with SEO best practices, they focused on scalability through rapid development. The result was often a buggy mess of orphaned pages and duplicate content. Today some of our eComm clients are on more sophisticated platforms, but many are still on bloated enterprise platforms with thin templates. It’s my opinion that while Google got better/smarter/stronger at figuring out how bloated a site is, as well as more capable of crawling, they also got less interested in these messy sites. I’ve seen eComm (and other huge database driven sites) take a sudden nose dive, unrelated to any penalty, after a few “high URL count” GWT warnings. As if Google said, “that’s it – now that we know what a mess you are, we’re tired of spending the electricity on you.”
So the biggest problem is still the bloated URLs – which leads to duplicate content, index bloat, wrong pages ranking, good pages never getting discovered or favored, and a bad user experience. Thus, the biggest challenge is actually “pulling the weeds”. The more the issues caused by a sloppy CMS or catalog manager, the more waves of weed killer you have to add. For some big ecommerce sites, that’s a lot of resources and cost. Coordinating those efforts, and pushing through implementation, is always a huge challenge.
In a Nutshell
Summarizing my whole concept with a conclusion that while working on any ecommerce website you need to play very efficiently. Because its not as simple as most of the marketers think. Sometimes, your single mistake can waste your whole effort. Follow the techniques discussed in the article and follow the advice from our experts, you’ll definitely get hell out of it. And in the meantime, share in the comments below what challenges and solutions you have encountered yourself!