Friday, October 18, 2013

Typical issues with ecommerce product pages

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Content issues curse many sites on the web. Ecommerce sites are particularly at risk, mainly due to issues that can stem from hosting hundreds or thousands of product pages.

Typical issues with ecommerce product pages are:

Duplicate content.
Thin content.
Too much content .

Left unrestrained, these issues can negatively impact your site's performance in the SERPs.
If you run an ecommerce site and you've seen traffic flat-line, gradually erode, or fall off a cliff recently, then product page content issues may be the offender.

Let's take a closer look at some of the most common content woes that plague ecommerce sites, and recommendations on how to can fix them.

Duplicate Content

There are usually three types of duplicate content we encounter on ecommerce sites:

Derivative versions of the manufacturer's product descriptions.
Sole descriptions that are duplicated across multiple versions of the same product.
Inquiry strings generated from faceted navigation.

Copied product descriptions

A large degree of ecommerce resellers copy their generic product descriptions directly from the manufacturer's website. This is a big no-no. In the age of Panda, publishing copied or duplicated content diagonally your site will weigh your site down in the SERPs like a battleship secure.

How to fix it

The solution here is to author unique product descriptions for every product on your site. If budget is a matter, prioritize and get fresh content written for your highest edge product pages first and work backwards.

Sole yet duplicated product descriptions

With many ecommerce sites, site owners have authored original product descriptions, which is unbelievable. Where they run into trouble is they sell multiple versions of the same product and each product version has a different page/URL with the same boilerplate description.

Thin Content

Even if a site has 100 percent unique product descriptions, they can frequently be on the thin side .Now, product pages with light content can still rank well where field strength helps supersede potential thin content issues.

But most sites don't have the back link profiles of Amazon or Zappos, and I like to think in terms of risk/reward. Thickening up descriptions makes sense because:

It can decrease any risk that thin content issues might negatively impact SERP visibility

It adds more content for engines to crawl, which means more opportunities for your page to rank for a wider basket of search queries.

It freshens up your page, and freshening up your content can absolutely pay dividends with Google.

How to fix it

Some of the traditions you can address thin content on your ecommerce product pages contain:

Enable user reviews and feedback. User-generated content is free and helps set up your content with naturally-written text. This additional content can help get better potential relevancy scoring, time on page, user engagement levels, and can help the product page rank for a broader basket of search queries. Also, user reviews recommend social proof and can improve conversion rates as well.

Write some additional, original content. You can hire a author to help thicken up these pages with extra features and benefits, or you can do it yourself. Again, given it could be very expensive to thicken up every product page on the site, you can prioritize your highest margin products first.

Pulling in mashups of links/text of similar products, product accessories, special offers and newly viewed items is another way to add more content to a page, and a tactic many larger ecommerce sites use.

Too Much Content

Saying that a site has "too much content" may sound opposing to the issue of having content that's too thin. But when I say an ecommerce site may have too much content, I'm really talking about two distinct issues:

Too many product pages.
Improper treatment of paginated product pages.
And specifically how having too many pages of low value content can cause PageRank and crawl budget problems.

Too many product pages

This is really an addendum to the duplicate content issues posed by faceted routing or hosting several versions of the same product on different pages.

Aside from low value content concerns, hosting a mass of duplicated product pages dilutes your site's PageRank or link equity, which weakens its overall ranking power of your significant content.

Improper handling of paginated product pages

Another concern of hosting "too many pages" is not handling pagination correctly. Often times, ecommerce sites can have product categories containing hundreds or thousands of products that span multiple pages.

How to fix

Some of the ways to address equity intensity or crawl budget issues that can stem from too many product pages include:
Rel=next, rel=previous: This markup tells Google to take care of ecommerce product listings spanning multiple pages in a logical sequence, thus consolidating link equity  with all pages in the series.
Canonicalization: It's efficient for consolidating link properties, but it won't solve possible crawl budget issues, since Googlebot will still crawl all your dupe content.
"Noindex, follow": If your goal is to optimize crawl budget and keep duplicates or pagination out of the index, use brute force and block Googlebot via robots "noindex, follow" meta edict.

1 comment:

  1. If you are in E-commerce business that time you will definitely face some main problems in that it is very important to handle this problem very carefully. I really like the point you shared with us which very important to understand. Thank you so much for that.