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E-Commerce SEO Horror Stories : How to tackle the most common issues 
at scale and avoid an SEO nightmare - #Mozcon

E-Commerce SEO Horror Stories : How to tackle the most common issues 
at scale and avoid an SEO nightmare - #Mozcon

Learn to tackle the most common ecommerce SEO issues and opportunities before they become horror stories.

Aleyda Solis

July 13, 2022

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  1. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti E-Commerce SEO Horror

 How to tackle the most common issues 
 at scale and avoid an SEO nightmare #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  2. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti gymshark.com huel.com allbirds.com

    timbuk2.com Organic search is already one of the biggest traffic drivers to online stores semrush
  3. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti SEO will become

    even more important with rising cost of advertising https://www.shopify.com/research/future-of-commerce/future-of-ecommerce
  4. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti While SEO tools

    have introduced features to better support online stores
  5. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Not so fast!

    It’s now harder than 
 ever to do SEO for e-commerce
  6. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti E-commerce site characteristics

 SEO challenging A high number of pages due to product volume Complex categorization Dynamic inventory causing constantly changing URLs The same product info as other sites
  7. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This slows down

    the SEO process and 
 causes real horror stories Internal search results cannibalizing categories Noindexing categories pages with search potential Lack of unique commercial content in categories Product pages with poor 
 unique descriptive content Product pages with traffic 
 but inconsistent status Seasonal pages with traffic 
 but inconsistent status Overlooking informational content and resources
  8. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti With nightmare SEO

 even when you think things are great Scary Dip
  9. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Let’s see how

    to avoid these and maximize 
 e-commerce organic search growth
  10. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Internal search results

 cannibalizing categories #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  11. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This can cause

    you to rank for non-relevant or even spammy terms
  12. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Which is not

    so qualified traffic that 
 you’ll eventually lose anyway
  13. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Or rank poorly

    with internal search result URLs rather than relevant facet pages
  14. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This SEO horror

    story happens when indexing internal search results to attract traffic
  15. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti That end up

    cannibalized in Google 
 search results by these other pages
  16. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Don’t feel bad

    if you’re doing it, 
 it’s thankfully easy to solve
  17. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But it’s important

    to point to actual alternate pages, not the home page
  18. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You can also

 301-redirect internal search result URLs to relevant indexable facets
  19. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Or even avoid

    these URLs suggesting categories or products when searching
  20. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti While monitoring your

    internal searches to identify categories or facets to create
  21. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti There are many

    ways to solve this issue, 
 and avoid an SEO horror story in the making!
  22. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Noindexing subcategories 

    & facets with search potential #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  23. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Many online stores

    noindex facets by default, losing their high traffic potential
  24. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Some sites canonicalize

    all their sub-categories 
 or facets to their main categories by default
  25. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Others also noindex

    and obfuscate links to avoid 
 thin content or duplication & control crawl budget
  26. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti However, subcategories and

    facets can connect with popular searches with high commercial intent
  27. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If your subcategories

    or facets can’t rank, 
 your product pages will, but worse
  28. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But product pages

    will have inconsistent rankings for these queries, cannibalizing each other
  29. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Should you index

    a sub-category or facet page? Index Noindex No Are there enough products at the sub- category/facet level to satisfy the user need? No Yes Yes Demand Supply The sub-category/ facet has enough search volume to compensate their optimization It’s critical to validate supply and demand of each facet to index
  30. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If demand &

    supply compensate for subcategory and facet optimization, index and optimize >
  31. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti While allowing crawling

    and linking 
 effectively through canonical URLs Don’t do this
  32. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Yes, there’s little

    point to index and optimize 
 them if you won’t internally link to them
  33. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Lack of unique

 content in categories #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  34. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Categories and facets

    connect with a long tail of popular commercial searches
  35. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But many only

    feature links to products, without any descriptive text, making them hard to rank #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  36. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Many add text

    at the bottom to improve relevance without hurting conversion
  37. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But too often

    this content isn’t useful and doesn’t connect with user intent
  38. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This can cause

    confusion regarding page intent 
 “Our algorithms sometimes get confused … when they have a list of products on top and essentially a giant article on the bottom” John Mueller https://bit.ly/3OZESqM
  39. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Instead, show as

    many products per page as viable, with longer descriptions Product 1 Product 2 Product 3 Product 4 Product 5 Product 6 CATEGORY A Pages: 1, 2, 3… 100 Product 1 Product 2 Product 3 Product 4 Product 5 Product 6 CATEGORY B Pages: 1, 2, 3… 60 < Product 7 Product 8 Product 9 Product 10 * Explain why you’re in the best place to buy these products * Clarify common doubts of customers when buying these types of products
  40. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Also identify commercially-

    driven queries to address customer doubts Moz, SEMrush, Sistrix
  41. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use keyword and

    content optimization tools for suggestions based on content nature Frase, Surfer
  42. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti From FAQs to

    Facts, these can be integrated 
 within categories/facets pages to support sales Reassure users that the products they’re seeing are the best for their scenario Mitigate any doubts around the use and characteristics of the products Show why they’re in the best place to buy these products … #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  43. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti And blend with

    the products listing design to make them visible and helpful to users #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  44. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Establish patterns to

    generate these at scale while leveraging content automation tools to help writers FAQs: • Are these boots made from real leather? 
 • Do these boots have a good transpiration system? 
 • What are the best pants to wear with knee-high boots? 
 Surfer, NeuralText
  45. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Now you can

    tackle categories/facets content optimization at scale!
  46. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Product pages with

 unique descriptive content #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  47. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Product pages target

    the longest tail of queries 
 that can end up generating most of your traffic
  48. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Users love sharing

    product pages, attracting backlinks and direct traffic, too
  49. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But product URLs

    can show little unique content and Google tends to leave them out of their index
  50. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Unique descriptions Comparisons

    Instructions Images Complementary Products Similar Products Product pages should feature specific, 
 descriptive information Reviews and Q&As Specifications
  51. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Products should give

    compelling reasons to buy with descriptions, images, videos, reviews, comparisons, etc.
  52. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This is even

    more important if you’re not the only vendor of the product! What’s your USP? Feature it
  53. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use unique, descriptive,

    persistent URLs 
 for each variant you want to index https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/ecommerce/designing-a-url- structure-for-ecommerce-sites#how-google-understands-urls-for-product-variants Avoid showing the same products through different URLs Minimize the number of alternative URLs that return the same content Use descriptive product variant names in URLs Avoid temporary parameters, such as session-IDs, tracking codes, user-relative values
  54. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Title & meta

    description with version and color Product description with version and color Product heading with version and color VS Differentiate similar products and variants using their unique characteristics in the metadata Product heading with version and color Title & meta description with version and color Product description with version and color
  55. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Leverage automated content

    generation tools to accelerate the process Neural text, Frase, Surfer and Copy.ai
  56. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use your own

    support insights and leverage keyword tools to create product Q&As Alsoasked, Neural text, Frase, Surfer and Copy.ai
  57. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Incentivize users to

    leave reviews on product pages with discounts/offers
  58. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use product structured

    data to specify their characteristics and improve their SERP snippet https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/product
  59. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But what if

    you have many identical or very 
 similar products with a very short lifespan?
  60. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Consolidate on aggregator

    pages for product names while avoiding indexing individual URLs
  61. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Note that adding

    many product variants (like colors) on a single page makes it ineligible for product rich results https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/ecommerce/designing-a-url- structure-for-ecommerce-sites#how-google-understands-urls-for-product-variants
  62. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti There are challenges,

    but it’s possible to differentiate your product content to rank and sell better
  63. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Product pages with

 but inconsistent status #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  64. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Some product URLs

    can have a very short lifespan and end up generating errors
  65. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti These don’t only

    affect the site crawl health, 
 but the rankings & traffic attracted by these pages
  66. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s common when

    checking product URLs to find not only HTTP errors but redirects with issues
  67. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s then critical

    to establish inventory rules & workflows to manage product crawling & indexing https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/shopify-plus/flow2/ reference/triggers/inventory-item-deleted
  68. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Don’t worry if

    you haven’t set them yet, 
 let’s go through a few rules to follow
  69. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti When doing a

    product “pre-launch”, use the same URL that the product page will have when launched
  70. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If a product

    can be featured in many categories, don’t include them in URLs to avoid duplication https://paulnrogers.com/how-to-change-the-product-url-structure-in-shopify/
  71. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Create and send

    product feeds through the merchant center to maximize their visibility https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/7439058?hl=en
  72. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti When a product

    is out of stock, eliminate from listings, XML sitemaps, and feeds
  73. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If it’s temporary,

    the product page should be indexable, offering notifications when back in stock
  74. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti The product structured

    data and feeds should be updated and show their out of stock status, too
  75. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If the product

    is permanently out of stock, 
 and has a new version, 301 redirect towards it 301 redirect to new product page, while alerting users 
 Update internal links, XML sitemaps, and product feeds
  76. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Add a notification

    explaining to the user why it’s being redirected If there isn’t a new version, but the page has backlinks, traffic, rankings: 301 redirect to category
  77. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Avoid 302 redirects

    not passing former page popularity or redirecting to irrelevant URLs Don’t do this
  78. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Don’t show 404

    HTTP errors for out of stock products with backlinks
  79. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You can use

    404s/410s for out of stock product pages that don’t have traffic, rankings, or backlinks Personalize the error page offering alternatives to make it usable
  80. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Internal links, search

    pages, XML sitemaps, & feeds shouldn’t include unavailable product URLs
  81. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use this flowchart

    to establish these rules 
 through the product inventory lifecycle https://bit.ly/3yKag7h
  82. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Set recurring automated

    crawls & alerts to detect 
 remaining product URLs with issues to tackle Ryte, Sitebulb, Screaming Frog, Botify
  83. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use real-time SEO

    monitoring tools with your top products to address issues fast Little Warden, ContentKing
  84. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You can integrate

    traffic and ranking data to only get alerts of those pages with a minimum value Little Warden, ContentKing
  85. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Monitor performance, rich

    results, and product carousel inclusion to identify more opportunities Advanced Web Ranking
  86. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Say goodbye to

    the scarier product SEO horror stories with a product inventory validation
  87. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Seasonal pages with

 but inconsistent status #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  88. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Seasonal campaigns sales

    are huge for 
 e-commerce sites https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-holiday-shopping-2021
  89. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Don’t waste the

    popularity of your seasonal pages by changing their URLs
  90. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You should leverage

    these pages through the years, so don’t add the year in their URLs, only metadata
  91. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s important to

    reuse them as they’ll increase in popularity and rankability
  92. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti When the season

    campaign is not on, keep them indexed, you can use them to refer other deals
  93. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti If you need

    to modify URLs, 301 redirect, and update links and XML sitemaps
  94. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s always a

    good time to make the most out of your favorite holidays
  95. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Overlooking informational 

    content and resources #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  96. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti In e-commerce, we

    focus on ranking for the most popular commercial and transactional queries
  97. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti But established e-commerce

    sites have grown 
 their traffic targeting the whole search journey
  98. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Some online stores

    don’t see the value of informational queries, but they help to establish authority with our audience
  99. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You can’t expect

    users to purchase from you if 
 they haven’t seen you at the awareness stage To attract this… You also need to target & establish yourself here
  100. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti REI does this

    with their Learn section, establishing authority while attracting top-of- the-funnel traffic
  101. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti With useful complementary

    guides and resources for existing and potential customers #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti
  102. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Commercial queries also

    have some informational intent and are ranked by resources
  103. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s about addressing

    some of the most common questions and doubts when buying your products
  104. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti WHO Is your

    target audience & competition WHAT 
 Is your audience looking for WHEN 
 Are they searching? At what stage in the journey are they? WHERE 
 Do you need to take them to satisfy their needs HOW 
 Do you need to be shown to maximize visibility WHY 
 Ranking for these queries is going to help goals Profitable Queries + Relevant Content Use the 5 Ws and H to ensure high relevance, intent, and profitability through the user journey
  105. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Identify and map

    queries with different intent to relevant areas for content optimization or creation Guides/articles Brand page Comparison page …..
  106. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti To help, I’ve

    created this reference for e-commerce sites, to avoid forgetting relevant query types https://bit.ly/3wKdCTe
  107. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti You can also

    see examples of known online stores for each and copy/paste from Google Sheets https://bit.ly/3wKdCTe
  108. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Use tools like

    Keyword Insights to develop your topic clusters while automating keyword mapping keywordinsights.ai
  109. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Connect with your

    potential and existing customers to help and convert them
  110. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti These implementations will

    avoid the 
 most common e-commerce SEO horror stories Internal search results that cannibalize categories Noindexing categories pages with search potential Lack of unique commercial content in categories Product pages with poor 
 unique descriptive content Product pages with traffic 
 but inconsistent status Seasonal pages with traffic 
 but inconsistent status Overlooking informational content and resources
  111. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s critical to

    execute them error free, to avoid bugs that will hold you back
  112. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti A high share

    of SEO efforts go to fixing bugs 
 rather than developing new initiatives
  113. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti PRE-RELEASE SEO VALIDATION:

 is fundamental, but not sufficient
  114. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Set an SEO

    Quality Framework to prevent errors, rather than simply catching them EDUCATION 
 To prevent SEO mistakes VALIDATION 
 To avoid launching SEO errors MONITORING 
 To catch SEO incidents fast 1 2 3 ERRORS/ISSUES
  115. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti WEB PLATFORM CONFIGURATION/SETTINGS

  116. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti IMPACT EFFORT 1.

    To Execute 
 Now Don’t Do 2. To Assess 
 & Prioritize 2. To Assess 
 & Prioritize You don’t need to do it all at once! Prioritize those with high impact/low effort in your context
  117. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti https://bit.ly/3akZWZZ Use this

    SEO Recommendations Prioritization 
 Template in Google Sheets
  118. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Develop forecasts to

    assess, prioritize, and show 
 the expected ROI of the recommended SEO actions https://bit.ly/3P9urR9 Advanced Web Ranking
  119. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti SEOtesting.com, Ryte, Splitsignal

    Run SEO tests and pilot projects 
 to obtain more buy-in
  120. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti Create SEO A/B

    split tests for free using Google Tag Manager https://bit.ly/3R6BTP3
  121. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti This makes it

    worth it! Achievable with consistent, 
 and error-free SEO execution
  122. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti While maximizing your

    organic search results to achieve your online store sales goals
  123. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti It’s all about

    e-commerce organic search growth, revenue, and ultimately, SEO ROI
  124. #ecommerceseohorror at #mozcon by @aleyda from @orainti I’m Aleyda Solis

    * SEO Consultant & Founder at Orainti * SEO Speaker at +100 Events in +20 countries * Author “SEO. Las Claves Esenciales.” * Crawling Mondays Video & Podcast Series Host * #SEOFOMO Newsletter Wrangler * Maker LearningSEO.io * European Search Personality of the Year in 2018 * remoters.net Co-Founder orainti.com Thanks! Questions?