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Parts of the search engine optimisation work e-commerce sites undertake require a certain level of technical understanding which is where SEO consultants can shine. Other parts need some common sense and an eye for detail.

Here are five SEO mistakes e-commerce sites make, so that you don't have to make them...

Avoiding the 'copy and paste' trap 


1. Using identical vendor descriptions. 

Most e-commerce sites will get a product description from the vendor and copy paste it word for word. Superficially, this looks OK because each product page has a full product description which includes key features, overview etc, but it isn't that easy.

There is a fair chance that other e-commerce sites have used the identical vendor description which makes your content a type of duplication. You should make your content unique and valuable by adding your own notes under an editor review or by encouraging customer reviews.

2. Duplicating that unique and valuable description. 

Many e-commerce sites will copy paste their new unique content onto 3rd party sites like eBay, Amazon and co' thereby creating a type of content duplication. Sure, the description first appeared on your site and the search engines should recognize this, but why take the risk.

The engines do get things wrong and the last thing you'd want is to compete on the SEO front with more sites. Remember that identical vendor description from before? Well, here you can use it freely.

Creating unwanted competition


3. Not paying attention to the affiliate channel. 

E-commerce sites often profit from a good affiliate programme and for many of my clients, this channel has the lowest CPA which makes me a huge fan! Nevertheless, it's important to set terms and communicate them to your affiliates as to what they can and cannot do. It is also important to take into account your weaknesses when recruiting new affiliates.

For example, if the search engine results for your brand terms are weak and you have recruited many promotional code affiliates, don't be too surprised if within a short space of time you've created unwanted competition for yourself on the organic front. You might be paying for sales, which would have otherwise come directly to you.

4. Revealing way too much. 

There is always a fine line between revealing too much information and finding ways to convert more users by sharing internal stats. e-commerce sites will often reveal best sellers lists to try and generate more sales, and while this is all well and good, there's a fine line here. Some e-commerce sites will even go a step further and will list best sellers on a category level together with revealing the product availability (XY in stock).

When doing competitive analysis, eagle eyed people might pick up on that and will very quickly estimate the number of products you sell. If the conditions are right, you might encourage others to complete against you as they can tell how many you sell.

Fixing what's not broken 


5. Making site wide changes.

For established e-commerce sites in particular, making site wide changes over night can easily backfire. It's common for site owners to pick up on the latest SEO trends and implement them across the site although it isn't clear what they are trying to fix. From time to time we come across misuse of the robots.txt which wrongly blocks important parts of the site and lately misuse of the rel=canonical tag is becoming a real issue. The trick is to identify the area you're looking to improve, measure the outcome on a group of pages and only then implement it site wide.

Have you come across any common sense mistakes recently?

Ran Nir

Published 8 March, 2010 by Ran Nir

Ran Nir is founder of Conversion Counts, a web analytics and conversion optimisation agency, and a contributor to Econsultancy. He can also be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

8 more posts from this author

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Gary Preston

Gary Preston, Strategy Director at Propellernet


Nice article Ran. Some other common mistakes I’d add are:

1. Online retailers not fully understanding the concept of internal link architecture and how they can concentrate link equity on high value categories \ product pages.

e.g. Can you use your home-page to link directly to high value product pages that you currently perform poorly on organically? There are nice ways of doing this such as including a “Our Favourites” list or “Hot Products” on the home page.

2.  Not understanding the value of a compelling Title Tag and Meta Descriptions

a. Do you offer same day delivery, no hassle returns etc? Make your product listing stand-out in the SERPs by clearly stating your USPs.

b. Do you know you have the lowest price on specific products? Can you pull in the cost directly into the Title Tag to make your listing stand-out in a SERPS page.

c. Are you leveraging your Brand’s strength in your Title Tag?

d. Are you utilising Google “Rich Snippets” to own more space on a SERPS page?

Cheers
Gary Preston
Strategy Director at Propellernet

almost 7 years ago

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James Wilmans

I will never forget the fresh hell that accompanied me discovering that my product descriptions that i had painstakingly typed out had, in fact, already graced the internet on a site far older and more optimized than my own (despite the client swearing blind that the descriptions only existed in print :P).

Thanks for the post, honestly, i assumed the almighty robots would have been able to discern that the new descriptions on my page had existed prior to listings elesewhere but, needless to say, I shall now be more diligent.

Kind Regards,

James Wilmans

almost 7 years ago

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Mark

Content Duplication is really an important issue in SEO concern because it will effect on your ranking if your site has duplicate content.SO,its better that try to chek your content through the copy scpe and after that publish it.So it will really help you to improvise your ranking.

almost 7 years ago

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George Jacobs

Well nice write-up.. and about the the first mistake, I see many of them..copied/duplicate content..

almost 7 years ago

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websitebuilder

It always great to have such facilities. It would be of great help.

Thanks for sharing this important info.

almost 7 years ago

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Slots of Vegas

Re: Using identical vendor descriptions

This is very common mostly in Hotel Industry. You will find many sites pull content from GDS and post them as a landing page for a particular hotel without knowing there may be few more doing the same thing...I personally had a hard time explaining this same issue..


almost 7 years ago

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Jack

Nice! Reading #4 was interesting - I was thinking of using that to fool my competitors instead. :-D

over 6 years ago

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The Pinky Elephant

Thanks for the article.

Ecommerce sites often contain lots of products and description and it is sometimes pretty poor in content. Content is key to optimisation of any websites and of course the use of keywords is essential to page ranking. Search engine do not rank the entire site but it is page specific.  So, if you are selling a particular brand, use keywords that cover your brand and distribute the keywords and phrases throughout the website to obtain SEO.

Molli

http://internetmarketingstrategyforbusiness.com

http://neatfeetcare.com

over 6 years ago

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mansi

It is vital to study about SEO techniques through forums and articles before you go about it. While you may be clear on ‘what to do’, it would also help to understand ‘what not to do’. Learn some basic activities of “what-to-avoid” when leveraging SEO for promotion. http://tinyurl.com/yk73km2

over 6 years ago

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Amir Arif

Very good Article. I believe that w3 Validation and SEO are very important for any website whether it is ecommerce or simple website. Rick Snippet is also a good idea by Gary

over 6 years ago

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What's Up

Number 2 is a very valuable tip. That is why I never do article submission as an SEO technique... I would rather have the content appear on my site and I don't want other sites competing for the keywords in my articles.

about 6 years ago

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Fishing Pictures

Another mistake that I think a lot of ecommerce webmasters make is spending too much time on acquiring links and not enough time on creating quality content.

about 6 years ago

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Heller

Truly when someone doesn't know then its up to other people that they will assist, so here it occurs.

over 4 years ago

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