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SEO in e-commerce: the biggest challenges for online shop operators

Every online shop operator can tell you a thing or two about it: Search engine optimization in a highly competitive industry is extremely difficult. Small things decide on 1st, 5th or 39th place in the organic ranking. The associated sales differences can be gigantic. Business remains rock-hard even after reading this article. However, in this context we want to highlight the greatest challenges that an online shop operator has to face, based on the remarks by Erin Everhart, SEO Manager at The Home Depot. With this knowledge you can at least turn the right screws.

Weak product descriptions

Still the classic: It is a tear in your hair! Every SEO expert, every e-commerce consultancy and even Google trumpet it out loud again and again. Refine your product descriptions and the search engine will thank you. This is really no longer a secret, but it is still a hot tip. Too many shops ignore this recommendation because it is too expensive. However, meticulous product descriptions are still the best recipe for placing the products prominently in the search engines.

The deadly sins of the product descriptions are as follows:

  • Use of the manufacturer's product descriptions (which all other resellers also copy)
  • Duplicate content due to identical product descriptions for variants of the same product (e.g. shirt in a different color)
  • The product detail page has no or very little content

Unoptimized product pages

SEO is often optimized for shop categories. That makes perfect sense, because they can be aligned very well with the search volumes of the keyword research. However, one also often forgets to optimize the product pages. After all, the customer is not there when he has reached the category. He wants to find a good and trustworthy site when he clicks on the product. On the other hand, the product pages have a very high potential for long-tail keywords. In this way, you can specifically address interested parties who already know which product they want to buy or at least have a specific idea. Optimized product pages are very powerful in combination with individual product descriptions.

Often, however, a lot of traffic potential for the product pages is wasted due to the following omissions:

  • No product reviews (extremely valuable, if any)
  • Insufficient keyword targeting
  • Missing ALT tags on images
  • Thin content

Bad internal linking

Internal linking is an important factor in search engine optimization. It offers an excellent opportunity to highlight important products in the online shop and to weight them for Google. Unfortunately, many shop owners do not even use this powerful tool. Others make fatal mistakes in the process. It is extremely important to always link to the same product URL. A product can have multiple URLs in an online shop. This can be done based on internal search or through the use of canonical tags. In the worst case, a product can be reached under two URLs and causes duplicate content anyway. So it is important to limit yourself to the original URL from the outset and to link to it from thematically appropriate pages.

Maintenance of the URLs

As a rule, URLs are generated dynamically in shop systems. It is difficult to keep the structure of a URL clean and short. In the case of many sub-categories, the URL automatically becomes very long and often contains duplicate keywords, which can possibly be interpreted as spam. The shortening of a URL should also be treated with caution, as the omission of some navigation modules can in turn result in duplicate content. As a shop operator, you know your URLs best. You have to decide and tell Google which of them to crawl and which to ignore.

SEO and SEM do not harmonize

The know-how of the search engine optimizers can be exchanged wonderfully with the experts who are responsible for Google AdWords advertisements. Unfortunately, this exchange takes place in the rarest of cases. There are different reasons for this. Sometimes these areas are looked after by different agencies or they are handled completely independently in the sense of online marketing.

However, a collaboration would be very tolerable in all probability. The search engine optimizers could, for example, get valuable suggestions from the meticulously worked out keyword lists of the AdWords specialists. On the other hand, you can save a lot of wasted AdWords budget. If even top positions in organic search rarely convert, you can save yourself a bid on these keywords from the outset. In many online shops, important synergy potential is wasted here.

Source: Search Engine Land

Sascha likes to write about trends in online marketing and eCommerce. The business graduate works as an online shop manager himself and contributes his practical experience.