Optimizing Your E-Commerce Website

Optimizing an e-commerce website can be much more time consuming than optimizing a site with simple product or service line pages. Simply adding products to your online catalog will not generate search engine traffic as many online retailers may think. Hosting a website to sell your products online is simply not enough to be successful in the search engines. No matter how many products your site features, each product page needs attention. To begin optimizing your e-commerce site, start with these easy fundamentals.

Site Search

Site search is an added navigational feature, which gives a visitor the ability to search the content on your website. This allows the user to jump to specific pages if your website has a large amount of content or, in the case of an e-commerce site, specific products they may be looking for. There are several functionalities of on-site search, from the basic simple search to an advanced search option. An advanced search option helps visitors find what they want more quickly by allowing them to provide more specific information about what they are looking for.

Adding site search to your e-commerce website not only improves the user experience, but also allows you to track site search in Google Analytics. Site search is a powerful metric within Google Analytics because it allows you to track your website visitors’ search queries, time spent on-site after search, total unique searches and other important metrics. Tracking site search may reveal information about what products visitors would like your site to provide.  Make sure you enable site search tracking in Google Analytics for information to begin reporting.

Canonical tags

It is normal for e-commerce websites to offer different paths for a user to get to one product page. Say for example your e-commerce site sells blue shirts. Visitors can take multiple routes to get to the blue shirt product page, , and each of them generates a different URL. If this is the case for your site, have your webmaster enable or install canonical tags. Canonical tags tell the search engine which page they should index, despite there being several URLs that allow a user to land on one product page.

For example, a user may shop by product, gender or size, but ultimately end up on the same blue shirt product page.

Installing canonical tags shows search engines that the following URLs lead to the same product page:


Through canonical tags, you have control over which URL or version of the page you would prefer Google to index. In the example above, you could choose any of the above URLs for Google to index. Keep in mind, if you do not indicate which you would prefer through canonical tags, Google will choose which version they think is best. 

Product Descriptions

Product descriptions are especially important for e-commerce websites, as they enhance the user experience and help inform search engines. Providing unique, descriptive content for e-commerce products improves the chance that a product will rank in the search engines. Remember, if you don’t talk about it on your website, you won’t rank for it! Providing a product description is essential for the website visitor looking to make a purchase. A customer of a grocery store is not likely to buy cereal if it were a blank box, and a website visitor is less likely to complete a purchase without knowing any details of a product.  As mentioned earlier, product descriptions should be unique. Avoid the tendency to use manufacturer product descriptions, as Google may see this as duplicate content.

SEO-Friendly URLs

Using applicable and accurate URLs to describe products on your e-commerce site is beneficial to both site visitors and search engines. Descriptive URLs give both groups an idea of what the page is about. URLs show up in multiple locations across the web: the search results page, the web browser address bar and oftentimes on blogs or social media sites. As opposed to friendly URLs, unfriendly URLs often appear as a string of anonymous numbers and letters that look like spammy nonsense.

In the example below, the same pair of women’s running shoes is shown in an unfriendly and friendly URL style:

Obviously, the second URL would be easier for a customer to find if they were returning to a site to complete a purchase or share with friends. Just like unique content for product descriptions, URLs should also be unique. When creating URLs for your e-commerce site, stick with relevant, product-specific terms that are easy for the visitor to read and understand. 

These are just a few simple tips to help you optimize your e-commerce site. There are many more tactics that can improve your site’s functionality and performance. Whether you have a small amount of items for sale or products by the thousands, optimizing your site for your customers will only benefit your site in the eyes of the search engine. Contact Full Media for information on Internet marketing for e-commerce platforms.