Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SEO for Ecommerce: What You Need to Know from #SMX East

SEO for Ecommerce: What You Need to Know from #SMX East was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

SEOs working on ecommerce sites face particular challenges and require specialized know-how. At SMX East, speaker Adam Audette (@audette), the SVP of organic search at Merkle, reached out to these SEO-savvy ecommerce-minded marketers in this short but fact-packed session on SEO for ecommerce sites.

SEO Touches Everything

As SEO marketers today, we need to be familiar with everything. However, there are two major pillars of SEO: the technical side and the audience side. Here are some of the main issues.

Adam Audette speaking at SMX EastTechnical Considerations

  • Crawl space
  • Duplication
  • Dynamic content
  • Site migrations
  • Mobile serving
  • International sites

Audience Considerations

  • Search behavior
  • Work flow
  • Content topics
  • Keyword research
  • Engagement
  • Conversion paths

Content Considerations

In ecommerce environments, “native” content is limited to category pages, product pages, buyers’ guides, reviews and blog content. At the end of the day, though, the inventory is the content. The more you leverage that, the better. Levi’s is a best-in-class ecommerce site. Consider their faceted navigation — it’s very useful, and allows you to immediately drill down and even conduct Boolean searches within the navigation.

Amazon is great when it comes to review data — it’s very valuable and they surface it in useful ways. There are callouts, aggregated reviews, star ratings. It’s easy and designed to provide information quickly.

Content strategy begins on the SERP — what comes up when people search? There’s a race toward structured data for a reason. What happens when video thumbnails appear for a product? The click-through rate (CTR) for results with a video thumbnail was 2%. CTR without a video thumbnail was 17%. When looking for a product, people didn’t want videos. Think about what the user wants.

Out of Stock Products
You have three options for handling product pages for items that are out of stock:

  • 301
  • 404
  • Continue serving the page with messaging and good recommendations (winner!)

Technical SEO for Ecommerce Websites

“A technical SEO is the plumber of the internet.”

As unsexy as technical SEO may be, it’s very dependable. There’s often low-hanging fruit that is low-cost, as compared to a television commercial, for example. Technical SEO moves the needle on an e-commerce site and can be easily justified as an expense.

When you get all your signals lined up (navigational and internal links, external back links, canonical tags, XML files all pointing to the same definitive URLs), it’s incredibly powerful.


Ecommerce sites commonly have duplicate content issues at the product level. Use forensics to delve into the issue (just a few tools, keep it simple). Normally, what’s indexed is what matters (if it’s a dupe but isn’t crawled, deprioritize). Always crawl the site yourself. Keep it actionable! Don’t get caught in a maze.

Audette’s favorite site searches to find dupe content:

  • Site:mydomain.com and variations
    • Exclude subdomains with: -site:blog.mydomain.com
    • Find duplicate domains with –site:mydomain.com intitle:exact title tag
  • Inurl:prodID=121212
    • Use with site:mydomain.com
    • Experiment with using categories or folders, too, like: site:mydomain.com inurl:/category/
    • Knock off successive folders
    • Use with intitle, such as: site:mydomaincom inurl:prodID=121212 title:”we’ve got all the stuff here : brand”

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