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19 Common Mistakes Killing Your E-Commerce SEO

Posted on 8.08.2016

:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::

SEO is the most effective tool for e-commerce customer acquisition and retention. Research shows that nearly half of online buyers begin their shopping process with a search engine. Reconfirming that it is important to optimize your e-commerce website to have a steady flow of the targeted traffic.

In an attempt to achieve short-term gains, some online vendors try to game the system with black hat SEO tactics. Businesses that use these tricks often end up getting their websites penalized by Google, leaving their visitors with the wrong impression and denying themselves the long-term benefits of a strong SEO campaign. Black hat tactics are just one of the ways to undo your hard work, here are 19 more common mistakes that could be harming your e-commerce SEO and tips on how to fix them. 

Mistake 1: Lack of Product Reviews

If you do not have any objective third-party reviews on your e-commerce site, you may be missing out on some significant volumes of traffic. Research shows that about 3/4 of online shoppers read the reviews of a product before making a purchase. Therefore, it is important to have them on page and ready to read. Reviews are an effortless way to get new content onto your product pages constantly. You can improve your rankings for “product review” search terms as well as long tail keywords from the reviews.  

How to Fix it?

Try adding reviews to your product pages. A couple of resources for adding reviews include Yotpo and Trustpilot

Mistake 2: Too Many Pages

Some e-commerce sites simply have a lot of products for sale. Since each of these products requires a unique page, the site accumulates lots of pages. Having many pages on your e-commerce site makes writing unique content for each a monumental task. You are more likely to produce duplicate content if you have a lot of pages and no clear plan for optimizing them.

How to fix it

First, identify pages that can be no-indexed or deleted without affecting your bottom line. Determine which products have not produced any revenue and consider deleting or no-indexing them. After removing the excess pages, fix and improve the remaining pages. 

Mistake 3: Serving Duplicate Content

Most website owners know that duplicate content will hurt their search rankings. However, even now most online vendors do not know exactly what duplicate content is and how to handle it. Google guidelines on duplicate provide a clear overview of the best practices to handle pages with duplicate content. Additionally, the lack of canonicalization of identical content is a common mistake and a leading cause of duplicate content

How to Fix it 

First, test your website using duplicate content checkers, such as SEMrush or the Siteliner and then proceed with handling the issue. Some things you should be careful about include:

· Boilerplate and empty pages

· Content syndication

· Using top-level domains to handle country-specific content

· 301 redirects

Mistake 4: Generating Thin Content

Thin content refers to posts and pages that do not offer value for the readers. Although nowadays Google can detect thin content faster than before, it is still a critical issue in the SEO world. According to Google, thin content includes:

· Content from other sources (low-quality guest posts or scraped content)

· Thin affiliate pages

· Doorway pages

· Automatically generated content

Adding thin content to your site could lead to penalty or a Google Manual Action notice that will harm your site's ranking ability.

How to Fix it 

Provide relevant information shaped in a way that Google can easily recognize it as a credible source of information. This includes linking internally to and from supporting resources as well as linking out to credible sites. To keep it simply though, start with a list of questions and make sure you answer them all in your content.

Mistake 5: Slow Page Loading Speed

Page loading speed is one signal Google has publicly stated it uses as part of its algorithm. Site speed is not just essential for e-commerce SEO, it also directly affects your bottom line. An e-commerce website can load slowly due to bloated e-commerce platforms, large image file sizes and slow hosting and servers.

How to Fix it

· Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN is a fast and cheap way to significantly increase your site’s loading speed. It also makes your website more secure from hacks and attacks

· Optimize image file size with compression

· Upgrade your hosting

If you aren’t sure of your issues, Google Page Speed Insights and GtMetrix will give you a checklist to work through.

Mistake 6: Ignoring Google Analytics

Overlooking Google Analytics is a big SEO mistake. Without Google Analytics, you are missing out on an important resource for optimizing your e-commerce site. It allows you to measure the success of your site by providing real-time results on individual campaigns, comparing the data to previous periods and so much more.

How to Fix It

Set up Google Analytics and familiarize yourself with Google’s SEO reports, and determine which SEO tactics work best for you as you proceed. It is free, why are you not using it?

Mistake 7: Lack of Mobile-Friendliness

Statistics show that more and more people are doing their research and shopping on mobile devices. An unresponsive site can be a user-experience nightmare, and can keep Google from recommending your page to people who are searching on mobile devices.

How to Fix it

First, check whether your e-commerce site is mobile-friendly. Google has a tool for doing this

 If you find your site is not, here are few ways to make the site responsive, depending on your situation:

· If you created your website in WordPress, look for a theme that is responsive

· Work with a developer to implement responsive code into the site.

Mistake 8: Keyword Stuffing and Spamming

If you are unnaturally stuffing your product descriptions, meta tags and URLs with the keywords, this can lead to a drop in your site’s ranking. Additionally, this a bad practice in terms of user experience. Even if you have enough keywords on your page to get you high rankings, you still need to make a sale once someone clicks on your link. 

How to Fix it

Always produce valuable, unique content and avoid stuffing your paragraphs with spammy keywords. It is recommendable you use the primary keyword, 2-3 times in the content and once in the title. Use the secondary keywords for the rest of the content.  

Mistake 9: Building Unnatural Links

Producing valuable content is not only a way of engaging the target audience and establishing authority, but also a path of building natural links. With high-quality content, your website is more likely to generate leads and eventually links from relevant websites. Unfortunately, most website owners are trying to improve their online reputation by building unnatural links. Two things that impact the reputation of your e-commerce site are aggressive guest posts whose aim is to get links rather build authority and anchor texts using exact match keywords. 

How to Fix it

If you already have a site with a lot of links using exact match anchors, you need to start by diluting your link profile. This can be done by building naked URL anchor texts from citation sources and social profiles. Blog comments can also be a good source for diluting ratios.

Mistake 10: Lack of Product Description

Have you ever been on a site and after reading the product description been like “wonder if it does…”?  If you are selling a unique product you MUST learn about and answer a potential buyer’s common questions if you want them to buy from you. There are a ton of sites still not doing this.

What to Do

Gather information from your sales team on frequently asked questions (FAQs) and incorporate the answers to those into your product pages. No sales team? Look at the FAQ pages of similar products for an ideal of what types of additional information people are seeking.

Mistake 11: Neglecting Your Target Audience through Keyword Research

Most website owners make this common mistake. While researching keywords, you need to find keywords that are targeted and help you understand intent. Are they looking for information? Ready to buy? Comparing Brands? If you don’t know their intent, how are you going to give them great information?

How to Fix


Brainstorm keywords based on specific questions your audience might type into the search. These keywords are usually the long-tail keywords that are easy to rank as they have little or no competition than general keywords. Ubersuggest is a great tool for brainstorming ideas. If you are a newbie, check out the Keyword Research Guide to get started.

Mistake 12: Using Too Many Images on a Page

Although images are certainly needed to spruce up designs and draw attention to the content on your page, they must be optimized appropriately to avoid reducing load times and driving up bounce rates. Sites with excessive graphics and pictures that are left un-optimized tend to perform worse than their faster competitors.

How to Fix it

Great images on an e-commerce site can be the touch that drives home the sale. In order to have the best of both worlds you need to make sure your images are uploaded in the correct size and file format. We covered this in detail in our image optimization guide so be sure to check that out.

Mistake 13: Using Too Many Plugins or Too Much JavaScript

Using too many WordPress plugins or too much JavaScript can reduce your page load times. JS used incorrectly can also wreak havoc on the ranking potential of your website. 

How to Fix it


Do not use plugins or unnecessary scripts when a lighter alternative is available. If you need to use JS refer to JavaScript for Non-Developers to better understand your options.

Mistake 14: No Physical Address on the Site

Google prefers websites that go out of their way to prove they exist in the real world. You could miss out on potential traffic from local searches that include the product and city in the query. You also miss out on the added trust that comes from having the address on your site.

How to Fix it

If you have a physical store, include the address on your website. If you do not have an actual brick and mortar store, at least list the City/State that your business operates in. It will make consumers more trustworthy of your business. 

Mistake 15: Lack of Market Research

If you are selling products that are not popular, there may not be enough traffic, let alone traffic coming your way. Search engines revolve around supply and demand. If you do not sell products that are in demand, you struggle getting traffic from search engines. 

How to Fix it


Research the best-selling products using resources like The SaleHoo Labs. This will allow you to see what products are trending on Amazon and eBay. If you do not see a lot of traffic for your product, identify the problems that your product solves and look for search terms seeking those solutions.

Mistake 16: Forgetting to Optimize URLs

This is another common mistake in most e-commerce websites. If your URLs are not optimized, it is difficult for search spiders to figure out what the page is about. It is also hard for users to what the page is about at a glance. 

How to Fix it

Ensure your URLs are simpler, more descriptive and include the primary keyword within them.

Mistake 17: Ineffective Site Structure

An ineffective site structure is bad for SEO. It increases bounce rates and makes it difficult for search engine crawlers to find all pages of your site. Both of these factors impact on the rankings of your site. 

How to Fix it

Make sure you have a solid structure for your online store and where possible link to other pages and products. If you built the site yourself, add an internal link or extra navigation where you think it is essential. If you are not familiar with the term “silo structure” check out this video:

Mistake 18: Blocking Indexation of Website While Going Live

This is a simple mistake that happens all too often. Always check your site to make sure it is not set to no-index, no-follow.

How to Fix it

After launching your site open the robots.txt file and make sure any no-index, no-follow tags placed during development have been removed. I know this seems simple but we talked with a client who paid a company for 12 months to do SEO and they never found or removed the no-index directive. 

Mistake 19: Failure to Update Your Site on a Regular Basis

Nobody likes a page that is boring and dull, or one that has not been updated in 10 years. When a visitor goes to a site that is not updated, they form an opinion about the company. They think that your company is dated and old, does not keep up with modern times. 

How to Fix it

Update your website regularly to stay modern and current. Consider updating its appearance, themes, content among other essential features. Aside from just “updating” consider using split testing tools like “Experiments” in Google Analytics to test changes and drive conversions higher.

E-commerce is a rapidly growing market and if you want your store to earn more and show up higher, the 19 tips above are a great start.

About the Author

Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Franklin, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz

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