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How to Optimize Your Products for Search Engines

Having a beautiful e-commerce website is just the first step toward success online. You also have to make your products visible, and in order to do that, you need to learn how to optimize them properly for search engines.

Your guide to product page optimization

Step #1. Keyword research

A lot of businesses make the mistake of assuming that the name of their product is all they really need to rank. But, depending on the product name and how popular it is, there’s a good chance that people aren’t actively searching for it online. That’s where keyword research will come in handy.

Basic keywords, like “women’s shoes,” for example, are wildly competitive. And, the chances of you actually ranking for them aren’t good. That’s why when you’re doing keyword research, you should always look for long-tail keyword opportunities.

Long-tail keywords are much more specific to the product in question. For example, “pink platforms for women” may not get a high search volume but will be much easier to rank for in the SERP (search engine results pages).

Don’t settle for just one keyword per product, either. Make sure that you identify several long-tail keywords that describe the product.

Step #2. Metadata

The metadata — i.e. the page’s title tag and meta description — tells Google what keywords are relevant to the page, and it’s also what shows up in the search results when your product page ranks organically. Don’t make the mistake of letting the metadata autofill. Make sure that you customize it for your page.

Title tag

While your title tag should include the name of the product, it shouldn’t stop there. It should also include your most valuable long-tail keyword. You can also add enticing adjectives of pain points to your title tags to make them more convertible.

Meta description

You have a lot more real estate with your meta description than with your title tag, which gives you even more opportunity to entice people to visit your page. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing your meta description:

  • Keep it brief - While Google doesn’t put a limit on characters in your meta description, it will typically truncate descriptions at around 160 characters. Try to limit your meta descriptions to between 50 and 160 characters.
  • Give an overview - Give shoppers a short overview of the product, which could include the pain points it helps to solve, as well as its benefits.
  • Include a call to action (CTA) - Entice consumers to act by calling them to action. A few examples of e-commerce CTAs include “Shop now,” “Learn more,” etc.

Step #3. URL

Not many people think of optimizing the URL of their product pages, but if you don’t, it’s a huge missed opportunity. If you leave the URL as is, it’s likely that it will either be the product name, product number or complete gibberish that has been autogenerated, sometimes, leaving you with an overly long URL.

The perfect product page URL is SEO-friendly, relevant, clear and simple. Try to create “speaking” URLs. These are URLs that your average reader will understand.

Step #4. Images

If possible, always try to use your own high-quality images instead of relying on images from the manufacturer. This will help to set your products apart. And, when you’re adding images to your product pages, make sure that you properly optimize them.

That means that any images you use on your product pages need to be re-sized and compressed. This will prevent your images from slowing down your page, which will hurt its organic rankings.

It’s also important to save your images under descriptive, SEO-friendly file names. Of course, your users will never see these file names, but Google will. And, if the image name is a bunch of numbers or some other such nonsense, it’s a missed opportunity.

Last, but certainly not least, optimize the alt image tags for your images. These tags are what tell Google what your images are all about, and they help your images to rank in image searches. Keep in mind that these tags are also what tell people who can’t see your images what they are, so it’s critical that they are descriptive.

Step #5. Product descriptions

A lot of e-commerce businesses make the mistake of using the manufacturer’s descriptions for their products. And, while Google won’t penalize you for having duplicate content on your product pages, it can still indirectly affect your standing in the organic rankings.

That’s because duplicate content is difficult for Google to rank. Search engines don’t often display the same content multiple times. When there are multiple pages with the exact same content, it confuses the matter and makes it difficult for Google to determine which one to rank.

The best way to avoid the inadvertent pitfalls of duplicate content is to create your own unique description for each product. Here are a few tips for writing product descriptions:

  • Know your target audience, and write with them in mind
  • Write about the benefits of the product, rather than the features
  • Include keywords naturally, and don’t force them into your copy
  • Identify the pain points the product helps to relieve
  • Use bullet points to make the description easy to scan
  • Answer common questions before customers have a chance to ask

Product optimization is just one aspect of organic visibility online. You can do everything possible to make your product pages stand out, but if your website isn’t up to par, you’ll have a hard time finding success online.

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Originally published on 7/27/20