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Technical SEO tips for eCommerce sites

Technical SEO is all about making a website faster, easier to crawl and understandable for search engines. These are some of the pillars of technical SEO optimisation that every website owner should pay attention to.

Alex E. Pjetra (Product Marketing Executive) Written by Alex E. Pjetra (Product Marketing Executive) 5 Feb 2020 in B2B eCommerce

If you own a regular website, technical SEO is important. If you own an eCommerce website, it's even more important.

This is because eCommerce websites have a lot of pages due to the many products they sell. Each additional page increases the chances of having more technical issues that can damage your SEO.

Additionally, most eCommerce websites don’t have that many backlinks pointing to them unless they run a blog with high-quality content that other websites link back to. Which means that technical SEO can either make or break your site’s chances of featuring on Google’s first page.

Let’s take the following as an example. Assuming you and your competitor rank equally for keyword density, technical SEO will be a key factor when Google compares the two sites to decide which one to rank higher.

In a sense, it’s the same as when you compare 2 similar or even identical products from 2 different sites that they only differ in pricing. Obviously, you are going to pick the cheapest one.

Likewise, Google will pick the website with the least technical issues, assuming everything else is on the same level.

Below, we are going to explain the most common issues when it comes to technical SEO but not limited to these.

  1. Duplicate Content

    Duplicate content is possibly the most common technical SEO issue that most eCommerce websites face. It’s a technical SEO issue that can make your website’s ranking plummet if not resolved.

    However, it’s not something that you should be afraid of or be intimidated by as long as you run regular site audits and follow best practices for technical SEO. Once you know how to fix it, you will make duplicate content a thing of the past.

    There can be many reasons for having duplicate content that can affect your eCommerce site’s ranking, but we are only going to cover the most common causes.

    Your site creates unique URLs for all the different products or categories.

    If you have a product that comes in different colours or sizes, then you will have a lot of product pages with the same URL. If these get indexed by Google, it means that Google will perceive it as a duplication of content which it most definitely will not like.

    The easiest way to fix this is to index only the main product page and set the rest of them as “noindex” so Google doesn’t consider them when crawling and indexing your site.

    Boilerplate content

    Boilerplate content refers to any written text that is used over and over again on different pages without its content to be altered.

    For example, if you have a 100+ word paragraph that you like to use on your product pages or a general description of the same length that you want on all of your products, Google will perceive that content as duplicate and that is something you definitely do not want.

    There are a number of ways to prevent or fix this when it happens.

    As you all know, it is better to prevent a problem from ever happening to try to solve it after it has happened.

    With that in mind, if you want to prevent boilerplate content then you can either make that description of yours less than 100 words so that Google doesn’t ‘detect’ it or you can just alter the wording which can be time-consuming and intimidating if you have hundreds of similar products.

    Alternatively, you can set these pages to “noindex” which prevents Google to index them.

    Lastly, you can make good use of canonical tags. Canonical tags are simple tags that inform search engines that pages including that tag are either copies or a slight variation of the same page.

    This means the search engines will read the canonical tag and will not treat that page as a unique page, or in our case a duplicate page.

  2. Thin content

    Thin content is also a common technical SEO issue that refers to content that has little or no added value. Usually, such content can be duplicate content that is automatically generated by your website.

    Another common technical SEO problem that eCommerce sites have to deal with is the fact that often product and category pages contain very little information.

    One of the main reasons, if not the main, why, especially, eCommerce websites suffer from thin content is because it is indeed very hard and challenging to write unique descriptions and information about similar products.

    However, this shouldn’t be stopping you from writing unique and captivating product and category copy for all of your important pages.

    As a first step, you need to identify and locate any pages on your site with thin content.

    You can do this manually if you wish, but if you have to go through hundreds or thousands of pages, then it may seem like an impossible task.

    Alternatively, you can use online tools like Raven Tools to find such pages. Normally, pages with less than 250 words are considered as pages with thin content.

    Once you have identified which of your pages need fixing, all you have to do is add some more value to those pages by writing more high-quality and unique content including images or videos.

    The more unique and detailed your content is, the better. This will definitely fix all your technical SEO issues that come from thin content.

    Note that you can use tools like Small Seo Tools to check if the copy you are writing is unique or plagiarised. You should always try to make your content 100% unique because Google, in particular, loves unique and relevant content.

  3. Performance

    Undoubtedly, performance is a major indicator that Google takes into consideration when ranking a website.

    Technical SEO issues like this one are of utmost importance and need to be addressed.

    First, let’s first explain what site speed is. According to Google, site speed refers to how quickly users can see and interact with the content on your website.

    Now, let’s explain what page speed is which is often confused with site speed. In simple terms, page speed refers to the time it takes your browser to fully display the content of one of your web pages.

    As per Google Webmaster, performance is a ranking factor that can either help your website rank better if it is good or penalised and rank lower if it is bad. However, you can still rank high even if your page speed is not as great, as long as you provide great, relevant content.

    You can use PageSpeed Insights to evaluate the performance of individual pages on your site. PageSpeed Insights will provide you with a report of your performance as well as suggestions on how to improve it.

    Below, you can see a performance report on our SAP Business One integration page for desktop.

    PageSpeed Insights offer both mobile and desktop reports and improvement suggestions.

    Note that the results you get may slightly fluctuate every time you run a page speed test. But in general, that number doesn’t vary much.

    In any case, performance is a very important technical SEO factor and it is highly recommended that a page’s load speed should not exceed the threshold of 2 seconds.

    What causes performance issues and how to solve it?

    There are many reasons why your site speed may be slow but we are going to list the most common ones.

    Hosting & Servers

    This is one of the first things anyone in the eCommerce world considers before building their website. There are many great web hosting services out there but if you make the wrong choice, you are going to pay for it in the long run.

    That is why it's good practice to invest in good, reliable, and fast web hosting. As an easy and quick fix is to just change or upgrade your web hosting depending on traffic levels, preferences and budget.

    Your eCommerce Digital Platform

    Some eCommerce platforms are by nature slow due to bloated or out-of-date code. If that’s the case then there is not much you can do.

    The easiest way around this is to change your eCommerce provider. Aphix Software is the integrated eCommerce and mobile apps provider for hundreds of companies and we offer a state of the art digital platform that integrates in real-time with your back-end ERP software.

    Images & Videos

    High-resolution imagery and videos may look awesome to you and your customers, but they can make your site’s speed take a big hit.

    As previously mentioned, you can optimise your images and videos to the point that they don’t lose quality. This is very important as most of the eCommerce sites use a lot of imagery and sometimes product videos for their various products.

    Image and video optimisation also fall under both technical SEO and on-page SEO. In our on-page SEO blog, we explain in greater detail the best practices for multimedia optimisation.

Summary

In conclusion, technical SEO for eCommerce websites is an important factor when it comes to search engine rankings. The better your technical SEO result is the better your website’s ranking will be.

In general, eCommerce website owners need to look out for the following most common technical SEO issues but not limited to:

  1. Duplicate Content
  2. Thin Content
  3. Performance

There are many other issues that fall under this category too. However, in this article, we addressed the ones that you definitely need to be aware of and try to avoid from the start.

This is because as you scale, these issues will scale too. Having to resolve such issues at a larger scale is definitely something you do not want.

Regardless of what your approach may be, you definitely need to consider about your integrated eCommerce provider and digital platform.

Aphix Software provides the Digital Platform for ERP integrated eCommerce and mobile apps solutions that can help you achieve your goals faster and with as little effort as possible so you can focus on other aspects of the business.

Integrated eCommerce solution

If you wish to learn more about SEO for eCommerce websites, then you can have a look at some of our blogs that cover different aspects of SEO.

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The keyword research guide for eCommerce websites

Website architecture for eCommerce SEO

On-Page SEO for eCommerce websites

Link Building for eCommerce websites