SEO for Product Pages: The Basics
Great product pages are vital to a successful online store, so how do you optimize your product pages for SEO and high conversions?
- How to Optimize Product Pages?
- Is That Really All?
In eCommerce, it’s not uncommon to think that organic traffic mainly comes from either the home page or (keyword-oriented) category pages. While this might be so for some well-known brands (think of brands like Nike, Channel, Longines, etc.), in general, this is not true.
As we became more search engine literate, for many of us, Google (and Bing and others) became the starting point of buyers’ journeys and product pages' end destination. No in-betweens or online store browsing make search engine optimization (SEO) of product pages hugely important.
Many businesses already know that, and chances are your competitors are already investing heavily in product page optimization, so if you haven’t started with it yet, now is the time.
There are many cool posts/guides/articles on the web about product page optimization already, but many fail to point out that there are two aspects of optimization you should consider: the SEO aspect and the clickthrough rate optimization (CTR) aspect.
The first is about the appearance of your product page in search engine results for desired keywords. The second one is about the conversion or selling of your product. The following tips/tricks/best practices are written with the two in mind. Luckily for me, the two are intertwined🤪
We’ll talk about both from the perspective of ‘Spongebob Squarepants Socks’ example from our eCommerce SEO guide. You can DOWNLOAD a PDF version of this guide with bonus content (this page included) for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers.
BTW this does not mean you should focus solely on product pages. Home and category pages still play an important role. As more transitional pages, these offer a great way to cover more general keywords within your business’s industry and better showcase and promote your product lineup.
The beginning of any SEO is making sure the basics are done. Like setting up GA for eCommerce properly, submitting the website to Search Console and Bing Webmasters, etc. The guide I mentioned above has that first step (among many other things).
One of the more recent studies shows that 1 in 2 online shoppers will abandon their cart if pages load too slowly (source link). Website performance matters. It matters not only for conversion but also for SEO and ad spending.
The performance starts with your architectural approach. Monolith, Decoupled, and Headless are three popular architectural approaches to building websites that have gained traction in recent years.
Pros and cons on all sides. However, the headless approach is built with performance in mind, and with a fast-growing ecosystem of tools and companies in the space, the chance is you’ll find a perfect, performant, secure, and future-proof solution for your use case.
▶️Best practices: no matter the tech you use, there are general things you should be doing, like making sure server response times are as low as possible and using CDN, keep an eye on your TTFB results (measure it server side on your server), serve dynamic content with Edge Function, optimize images and videos, manage 3rd part scripts, etc. Put our frontend performance checklist suggestions to work just like we did, i.e., get behind the scenes of crystallize.com perfect 💯Lighthouse scores and performance tricks and hacks we used to get it.
💻Example. (shameless plug) as a headless eCommerce solution, we have turned to modern frontends that are all about performance. Hence the Gatsby, NextJS, Nuxt, and Remix open source and free boilerplates built with eCommerce in mind. Secure, easy to scale, and, above all, performant. Guess which one I’d use for my Spongebob socks project?
Beginners and experts alike know about on-page optimization. In eCommerce, for the most part, it means aligning the product name with your keyword research (targeted search queries) and implementing the results/findings in the crucial parts of a page.
▶️Best practices: your keyword/product research findings include the product page title, meta title and description, and URL slug.
📝SEO aspect: obviously, focusing on keywords helps you rank for them. That’s like SEO 101 from the days of old.
💰CTR aspect: matching keywords with page/product and intent helps raise CTR. It is cool that we rank for cartoon socks, but chances are we’ll have much better CTR for Spongebob Squarepants Socks because not everyone looking for cartoon socks would be interested in Spongebob’s.
💻Example. Check The Spongebob Squarepants Socks Example in our eCommerce SEO guide (.pdf version).
Use Schema.org structured data format loved and approved by all major search engines as a part of your HTML <head> tag to help search engines understand and display your content better in search results as, for example, a rich result.
▶️Best practices: ensure all the vital product information, including price, user reviews, and ratings, are incorporated into the schema code you’ll be using.
📝SEO aspect: helps you win those reach result listings and rich results.
💰CTR aspect: winning those rich results is the first step in attracting potential buyers to spend $ on your product. The more info you give them via product schema, the easier it’ll be for them to choose you.
Headings aim to catch your audience’s attention. HTML helps structure the page. Attributes and variants depend on the product. And product storytelling helps sell your product better. Judging by the title, this is an odd mix, right?
What binds them is the product, i.e., its number of attributes and variants, which will influence the content of the page or pages, how you convey a story about the product and the variants, and the number of product pages/variants.
▶️Best practices: structure your product page and message using H tags. H tags are an excellent place to add main product keywords and synonyms. You’re not just selling your product; you are selling a story, a feeling, and a meaning that comes with it, so go beyond simple product descriptions.
Be mindful of product variants and how you gonna take care of those.
📝SEO aspect: having a neat structure supported with quality content helps both search engines and users understand and value your website more.
In case you include multiple product variants on a single page (i.e., variants share the same URL), the page may be ineligible for Product rich results in search results. And if you use a distinct URL per variant, best you go with something like /socks/green or a query parameter like /socks?color=green
💰CTR aspect: the better the story, the more likely your audience is to purchase your product.
💻Example. We sell ‘Spongebob Squarepants Socks,’ i.e., socks, right? Wrong. We’re selling the hype of being a Spongebob Squarepants fan. We’re selling that inner child in you who loves the cartoon’s quirkiness. We’re selling that feeling of belonging to a group of people with the same interest. I have two variants of socs (yellow and red) with size attributes, and the variants' keywords are not that searched for, so I’ll stick with two product pages (yellow and red) and let faceted navigation cover extra long-tail keywords like ‘size M SpongeBob SquarePants socks.’
Humans are visual animals. We form an opinion about something in the first few seconds of visual interaction. That’s why high-quality product images and videos showing the product in detail and in real-life situations can help improve conversion rates, i.e., incentivize someone to buy your product.
There is a dark side to using high-quality images and videos; they influence your page performance which, in turn, affects your sales (I’ve already talked about it). Solution? Ensure you have optimized your images and videos and that you’ve used modern image formats like WebP and AVIF.
▶️Best practices: you can find everything about image and video optimization in our eCommerce SEO guide.
📝SEO aspect: if standing out is not enough, think of a positive influence on UX (another ranking signal) and a chance of appearing in Google Image search.
💰CTR aspect: everything I mentioned above + think of what kind of photos your product deserves. Group photo, lifestyle type, product infographic, with the model or mannequin doll or both, different angles, scale or detailed shots, with the discount text, etc.
💻Example. (shameless plug) if you use Crystallize on the backend as I do in my Spongebob example, you’ll be happy to know we compress/convert images to AVIF and Webp in different sizes and transcode videos out of the box. Just upload and take care of them on the front end any way you want.
Product selling does not end with a great story, images, and videos. People turn to reviews, suggestions, and FAQ sections when in doubt to understand the product more. Make these dynamic elements an integral part of the buyers’ journey on your product page.
▶️Best practices: use breadcrumb navigation so your audience knows where they are on your website (and search engines). Honesty is the best policy, i.e., don’t mess with reviews. The FAQ section answers the most common question about your product. How-to videos are an excellent tool for page conversion. Use them in your FAQ section. Suggestions (You might also like section) is a great way to retain visitors to your website and upsell them.
📝SEO aspect: study the pages appearing for your product/keyword page. Satisfying the expected page structure is just as important as satisfying the search query’s intent in terms of the content.
💰CTR aspect: those undecided visitors maybe win over with these additional sections.
💻Example. On my Spongebob page, thanks to reviews, people have learned that yellow socks are best paired with black pants. And our how to put on a sock video in FAQ has thousands of views.
In eCommerce, one often has (or thinks about having) multiple pages with similar content. Think of a sock in different sizes and colors. You can identify variants within the single product page or multiple pages for each variant. If the latter is your case, ensure the primary variant has a self-referencing canonical URL. Why? This way, you’ll tell Google what page to rank.
Once the product is out of stock, or you don’t sell it anymore, handle that page with care because it may still bring quality traffic, either organic (search engines love it) or partnering sites (i.e., other websites linking to it). Think about that before you decide to delete the page.
📝SEO aspect: canonize to make sure everything works as intended and the pages you’d like to appear in search results really do appear in them.
💰CTR aspect: no, you don’t want to lose the traffic or let your competitors take it. Keep track of your products to replace the discontinued ones with something similar.
💻Example. So my red socks are out of stock. Let me offer them my yellow ones.
Well, yes and no. In reality, product pages have multiple roles. To rank in search engines for product-related keywords and give your customers the best information about your product and a compelling reason to buy it are the main ones.
Whether you start a new store or upgrade the old one, the best course of action is to check search results for clues about what your product page should look like.
Take it from there and build upon your experience and your audience.
Shift your BUSINESS perspective to headless architecture with Crystallize and reap the performance, SEO, and CTR benefits that come along with it.
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