What good is a product if nobody knows it exists? This is the driving force behind search engine optimization, or SEO—you have to connect your audience to your brand. You can’t expect shoppers to know everything you sell and how to buy it. You have to make it as easy as possible for them.
SEO plays a huge role in doing just that. A proper SEO strategy can serve up your content—product pages, reviews, demos, websites—when people search related terms on the internet. You’re breaking down the wall between product and customer.
This scratches the surface of why SEO is a must for any eCommerce brand. Let’s go deeper into the basics of product page SEO so you can increase sales through your online channels.
Why Does Product Page SEO Matter?
You may be wondering why you should devote time and resources toward product page SEO. You’ve got a product name, a price, and a buy here button, what more do you need? Well, it turns out that you need a lot more to set yourself apart.
This is a fact of selling online, and one of the biggest reasons why SEO matters. There are millions of brands and retailers online. It’s just not reasonable to expect your average consumer to sift through all that and find your product without a little help. SEO is that help. It includes small tweaks, strategies, and tactics that serve one central goal: to get your product pages served up to the right people at the right time. Without SEO, your pages will sink to the bottom of the sea that is eCommerce.
Furthermore, SEO is a great exercise in building an effective, enjoyable customer experience. Many of the tactics that make for good SEO are also tactics that make for good CX. Fast page speeds, clear descriptions, unique and engaging content, high-quality images, and more all serve both purposes. You should want to make it as easy and enjoyable to browse your products as possible, and SEO can help with that.
Quick Guide to SEO Jargon
Unfortunately, SEO is a concept that has its share of jargon. Some of these terms might make it feel like there’s a pretty big barrier to entry, but it gets a lot easier once you have a few key terms down. Start with these:
“Search engine” makes up two-thirds of the SEO acronym, so it has to be important. Most people think of Google when they think of search engines, and yes, Google is one of the biggest in the world. But it’s not the only search engine, and it’s especially not the only one you should consider.
Search engines are any website or internet service that returns a list of results for a query. Put simply, the user enters a word or phrase, and the search engine serves up some results. So, Google is a search engine, as is Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China. But, so too is YouTube, Amazon, Walmart, Yahoo, Bing, and countless other websites.
The important thing to keep in mind with regard to search engines is that there are the dedicated engines, like Google, and the in-site engines like Amazon’s search bar. You will likely want to optimize for both types.
Long-Tail and Short-Tail Keywords
A lot of SEO conversations revolve around keywords. Keywords are the phrases that an internet user searches on the aforementioned search engines. Crucially, a keyword doesn’t have to be one word. It can be a single word or a string of words. It can be a coherent, complete sentence or a sentence fragment. It doesn’t have to make sense at all, but the search engine will do its best to return relevant results.
There are two main types of keywords: long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are, well, longer. They tend to have more words in the phrase. Beyond that, long-tail keywords have more intent behind them. There are more descriptors, modifiers, and the like that show that the searcher has a better understanding of the topic. For example, a long-tail keyword is “purple women’s tennis shoes in size eight.”
On the other side are short-tail keywords. These are much broader in nature, due to the fact that they’ll contain fewer words. A short-tail keyword is “tennis shoes.” You’ll want to optimize your product pages for both types of keywords.
We alluded to it above, but search intent is more jargon in the world of SEO. Thankfully, intent makes more sense if you think about it outside the realm of eCommerce. Why do we do anything? That’s intent—you might be hungry, so you eat some food. You might have run out of toothpaste, so you buy some more.
In SEO, search intent is all about what the searcher wants to achieve with their query. There are a few broad types of search intent, including:
- Informational—What’s the weather? What time is the Super Bowl? These are informational searches. It’s when a person just wants to learn some information about your product and might not be ready to buy at this time.
- Navigational—This is when people know where they want to go. Your brand name or product name is a good example of this. The searcher has preexisting knowledge. For example, you might open up Google and search “wiser.com” after reading this blog. That’s navigational.
- Transactional—These are the money-maker searches. This is when people are ready to buy and are looking for a specific product or service. A slight tweak to our example above fits: “Nike purple women’s tennis shoes size eight.” These are the keywords you want to go after if you’re trying to create a product page that converts visitors into buyers.
You want to think about intent when you are optimizing your product pages. The copy should reflect the intent of the searchers and the purpose of the page.
Schema is a word you’ll see a lot if you’re doing any research on product page SEO. There’s good reason for it, too—schema is very important in the eCommerce space, and in most facets of SEO. However, schema can be a little confusing at first.
In general, schema is a structure that provides consistency or a plan to a concept. In SEO, schema is a bit of code you build into your product page that tells the search engine how to read and display your page. It’s great because search engines have a mind of their own, and can interpret your page in unique and unexpected ways. Schema is one way you communicate to engines that says “take this information from my page and show it in this way.”
You should visit Schema.org if you want additional resources. Schema markups to consider include product (to clearly identify similar products from one another), and breadcrumbs (so you can show how the individual product relates to its broader categories). Schema can even show off ratings and reviews and organizational details, such as websites, phone numbers, and addresses.
SEO is a great exercise in building an effective, enjoyable customer experience. Many of the tactics that make for good SEO are also tactics that make for good CX.
10 Tips for Better Product Page SEO
Now that you know a few foundational terms under your belt, you can move on to actually optimizing your product pages to get in front of more shoppers. Here are the 10 best places to start.
No. 1: Keyword Research
Which search terms do you want your product pages to show up for? This is the basis behind keyword research. See which terms people are searching, optimize your page around those terms, and serve up your page the next time they search.
Of course, this is overly simplistic. You need to start with a strong understanding of what your page currently ranks for (assuming it’s an existing page and not a new one). Wiser Solutions has a competitive share of search tool that shows you the organic product performance of your brand based on search queries. You can also use your own research, such as visiting Amazon, searching a product-adjacent term, and seeing if your page shows.
Once you know what you rank for, you need to see what people are searching for. There are a variety of tools available, either for a price or for free. You can use Google Trends, SEMRush, Moz, Ahrefs, and many others to get started. Look for terms with a healthy balance of search volume (how many searches occur on average per month) and competition (how tough the competition is for that keyword, making it easier or harder to rank). Look for gaps between what people search and what you rank for, and consider updating the page to include those keywords if relevant to your product.
No. 2: Schema
We discussed schema earlier, so we won’t spend too much time on it here. But it’s massively important for eCommerce brands. Ideally, you can ask your web developer or technical SEO consultant to update the pages with the proper schema. If it’s just you, go back to Schema.org to find some guides on how to implement the proper markups.
No. 3: Ratings and Reviews
Ratings and reviews are a big piece of the product page SEO puzzle. Good, honest reviews can set your page apart and actually help you rank. This is because some search engines use reviews as a metric of legitimacy. The sites obviously don’t want to promote scammers or spammers, so accurate reviews can be a quick way to tell if the seller is legit.
You can use Wiser to see how your ratings and reviews compare to the competition if you want a quick snapshot of where you need to spend more time getting five-star reviews. Focus your efforts on the pages that are lacking a reasonable number of reviews in order to boost your overall SEO health.
No. 4: Alt Text on Images and Videos
Another quick win for any product page is high-quality images and videos. You want your page to accurately represent that product, and there are few ways to do that better than a picture or video.
However, there’s a little step you can take on the backend to really set your pages apart—alt text. Images and videos have an option to add alt text, which is just a description of the media file. Most search engines can’t really tell what’s in an image without this textual clue, plus it makes your page more accessible to site readers. Write clear, unique descriptions of each image and video and enter them in the alt text field. Include a keyword if you can, and you’re already significantly better than most competitors.
No. 5: Unique Copy
Duplicate copy is a big no-no in the world of SEO. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, duplicate pages make it difficult for the search engine to tell which page is the one that you want to show. That means people could interact with two of the same page, creating a confusing experience.
Duplicate copy on unique pages is also a red flag for search engines. Always write original meta descriptions, meta titles, product descriptions, and other copy snippets. It might feel like a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. Every single page, product, or variant can rank in search, so why not give it a fair shot with unique copy? Plus, shoppers can pick up on the repetition if they’re browsing multiple products, and this can give them a poor impression of your brand.
See which terms people are searching, optimize your page around those terms, and serve up your page the next time they search.
No. 6: Testing
Testing is another huge part of product page SEO. Most of the tactics we recommend are based on best practices, industry standards, and experience. However, your brand and products are unique. It’s nearly impossible to know how something will work in reality without testing.
Therefore, always be testing. If you have multiple product descriptions, run them both and see which one has more conversions. Try different schema markups. Test out a product image vs. a product video. SEO is great because it’s a big sandbox that lets you play around and learn new things. Take advantage of that to find the right strategy for your brand.
No. 7: Saved Pages
This one might come as a surprise, as it’s a common mistake in eCommerce—deleting pages. As a general rule, you should not delete product pages if they’re no longer in use, out-of-stock, or discontinued. Why? Search engines award pages link equity, which is a fancy way of saying it’s earned some goodwill from the search engine. Deleting the page loses all your previous hard work.
Instead of deleting the page, you can hide it from the search engine or the end-user (but don’t delete it), or better yet, redirect it to the most similar product available today. Setting up a redirect correctly will pass that link equity to the new URL, saving your hard work and paying that value forward.
No. 8: Trust Your Eyes
This one might feel counterintuitive, but it’s a good habit to get into when you’re working on eCommerce SEO. Trust your eyes. Bots are great, and they’re part of every tool in SEO. However, they can’t know everything and they won’t understand every nuance of your business.
This is where you come in. Always read your pages. Think critically about the recommendations for keywords from whatever tool you use. Just because it’s a high-search-volume phrase doesn’t mean it’s best for your brand or right for your product. There’s always some context that requires a human touch.
No. 9: Responsive Design
How do you shop? Do you use your laptop? Smartphone? Tablet? Voice commands via your smart speaker? There are a ton of ways to shop online today, and your product pages should be optimized for the most relevant options for your customers.
The good news is that many tools, like Google Analytics, can tell you the most common device used to browse your pages, whether desktop, mobile, or tablet. This is important because how the page looks will differ based on device. Therefore, incorporate some responsive design so the page will render properly for all screen sizes.
Again, this is all about serving up an enjoyable customer experience.
No. 10: Page Speed
Last, but certainly not least, is page speed. This is how fast the product page takes to load. You have fractions of a second before you lose the attention of the site visitor. Think about it—how long would you have waited for this blog to load before exiting out? One second? Five seconds?
Page speed is affected by a lot of things, including the size of the imagery and videos, the amount of text on the page, the server quality, and more. There are tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights that can tell you how long it takes for a page to load and how you can speed it up. Often, there are quick wins that will have a positive impact on your overall page performance.
Take It One Step At a Time
SEO might feel like a daunting task, but it can become a manageable, valuable project once you break it out into bite-sized pieces. Better yet, there are plenty of tasks you can do with little to no prior experience. It all comes down to creating a page for the website visitor that serves their needs. If they want to learn more about a product, make it easy to do that. If they want to buy, let them buy.
You’d be surprised at how many product pages fail at these basic tasks. Beat the competition by spending a little bit of time optimizing. Then, watch the rewards roll in.