Black Friday 2016: Last minute SEO checks for Ecommerce
Black Friday is probably the most important season for online retailers and, therefore, it is important to ensure that your online store is optimized properly.
Online retailers have stated that in-built SEO capabilities are by far one of the most critical functionalities that they take into consideration when selecting an e-commerce solution. However, even though many e-commerce platforms come with SEO-related functionalities, in most cases they won’t be optimized by default. That said, it is essential that you manually configure them according to your site architecture and the characteristics of the products or services you offer and that you make sure that your content effectively targets your users’ search behavior.
Allow only the crawling of URLs that you want to index and rank
There are two very common scenarios in e-commerce platforms that cause crawl budget problems: generating more than one URL for the same page content and crawlable URLs by default for every existing filter in listing pages. The former happens when you have the same product appearing within multiple product categories, so that you end up having multiple URLs for each instance of the product page. As a result, you’ll need to canonicalize those additional URLs to the original product URL version to avoid having content duplication issues. The latter occurs when applying filters generates specific and crawlable URLs for every combination, most of them showing the same or very similar content, and they will need to end up being no-indexed.
It is critical to configure the XML sitemaps in e-commerce platforms to only include the original URLs of each page, the ones that will be indexable and rank able, the ones we want our users to share, link to and arrive at.
It is also essential to only link to the original URL version of each page internally. If we still need to allow users to access non-indexable pages, they should be implemented in such a way that they won’t be crawled.
Making sure that your e-commerce site is user-friendly is also important. That said, it is important to provide users with a way to navigate through the different categories and levels of products in a relevant way and that, at the same time, prioritized the accessibility of the original URLs that are meant to be indexed and ranked. And the best way to achieve this is by making sure that we always link up, sideways and down: to the main categories of the site, to related and sister product lines or subcategories and to the next level of product segmentation as well as to specific products.
Doing this helps to eliminate the excess of URLs that are not meant to be indexed while improving the crawling behaviour and performance of the site.
Set Indexation Rules Based on Supply & Demand to Avoid Duplication, Cannibalization and Index Bloat Issues
Content is another important consideration for e-commerce SEO issues: it is essential to watch out for content duplication, thin content and cannibalization.
The best way to avoid the cannibalization of content between the different levels of our site in a structural, scalable way is by organizing their content differently based on their level of granularity. This makes it easier to match page content with user behaviour.
For instance, online retailers can have a general category page, a specific sub-category page and a specific product page. By differentiating the site levels, the possibility of content overlapping and cannibalization are significantly reduced, you improve the crawlings of different levels of sub-categories and main products and provide a better user experience.
It is also interesting to differentiate the content of similar categories with feature specific text descriptions on each of them.
Set Elimination Rules For Non-Available Products and Listings
E-commerce sites all share a very particular characteristic: seasonality affects their content.
Campaign landing pages are often seasonally oriented are are usually reused from time to time. However, the problem is that many a time they are not fully capitalised from an SEO perspective.
The most common mistake is to just eliminate these pages directly after their relevant campaign time is passed. The best way to handle recurrent campaigns is by leaving their campaign landing pages published and simply updating the content to explain that the offer is not currently available.
Another common scenario occurs when products run out of stock as in most cases these product pages are just eliminated from the site, showing a 404 error. However, the best way to handle this issue is by simply adding an out of stock notice together with a form to be alerted one the product is back on stock. Thus, online retailers will be available to keep the potential rankings that the page might have earned over the time while providing a good user experience at the same time.
If the product won’t be on stock again, you can use a 301 redirect to the main parent category.
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