eCommerce sites depend on an ever-increasing pool of online customers in order to grow. Search engine optimization for these sites is critical, as it helps new customers find the products and services they are looking for. The difficulty for SEO professionals is that large e-commerce sites can be unwieldy; many companies simply don’t have the budget available to make page-by-page optimization improvements. With thousands of products and keywords spanning each of those products, an SEO strategy may encompass many thousands of pages, each with their own unique metadata and descriptions. Obviously, this is unfeasible.
There is hope for SEO professionals and for e-commerce site owners, however. With the tips we will discuss below, SEO can produce incredible results even without having to optimize the individual pages on the site.
Smaller websites, defined here as any site with less than about 500 unique URLs, tend to be indexed efficiently by search engines. When you’re talking about massive e-commerce sites with many thousands of products and even more individual URLs, the concept of “crawl budget” comes into play. In simple terms, crawl budget is the number of pages indexed by search spiders on any given day.
Improving site indexing is the key to efficient use of the crawl budget. First, it is critical for SEO professionals to carefully review any 5xx server errors on the site by using tools provided by Google Search Console. Server errors and timeouts can indicate to the search spiders that your site needs attention. Review and eliminate these errors as quickly as possible.
Next, take a good look at any sitemaps. Accuracy in sitemaps is important to prevent 404 (“page not found”) errors, which can also damage a site’s indexing performance. Eliminate discontinued product pages, obsolete page listings, and other errors that are cluttering up indexing. Dynamic sitemap updating is a feature you may want to implement to streamline this process, helping search engines index new products and skip over anything that is discontinued.
It’s no secret that main menu navigation is an important component of any website, not only from an SEO perspective but one of user engagement. Typically, the pages a website has in its main menu are the ones that search spiders are most likely to index and rank on the results page. The main menu will also appear across thousands of pages, especially on a large e-commerce site. For internal linking in such a large site, the menu is of utmost importance.
A great way for webmasters and SEO professionals to take advantage of internal linking is by using a secondary menu strategy. Think about including secondary options to the main menu, such as drop-down sub-menus that appear when a user hovers over a menu link. You could even go further by adding tertiary menu options, granulating the menu for users. By doing so, the linking value will increase dramatically, subsequently boosting page rank for menu pages in the search engine algorithm.
We’ve only scratched the surface. In next month’s blog post, we will talk about several more tips for SEO professionals as they optimize large e-commerce sites. Stay tuned!