5 SEO Challenges Facing Large Ecommerce Websites

On October 29, 2012, wrote:

SEO is challenging no matter what type of website you have. As the web marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, you have to be at the top of your game to compete.

In particular, large ecommerce websites face a number of SEO challenges. We explore 5 of those challenges here.

1. Unintentional Duplicate Content

Nowhere is the issue of unintentional duplicate content more prevalent than on ecommerce websites with lots of products and categories. A common issue is on sites where the category name is in a product URL have products in multiple categories. It’s common to see the same product (with the same content) at multiple URLs.

Another common issue is when a large website enables users to sort category pages by price, best selling or other features. What it effectively means is that a user going to category A and then changing to ‘sort by price’ is seeing the same content in a different order. But on some sites, this actually results in a separate URL which could again lead to duplicate content problems.

Most large ecommerce site duplicate content issues can be rectified by appropriate use of the canonical tag and by a well thought our URL structure.

2. Product Page Duplicate Content

If you sell products that lots of other sites sell as well, you face a content dilemma. On the one hand, producing unique content for hundreds or even thousands of products is a mammoth task and you could just run the manufacturer’s content (as many of your competitors are probably doing). But content is the single most important on page factor and if you run the same content all your competitors are running on product pages, then you face an impossible task to achieve any organic visibility on those product pages.

A huge task? Yes, you bet. But writing your own content will give you one up on any competitors running manufacturer’s descriptions.

3. Crawlability

With thousands of pages, a common issue can be organising content in such a way that both your human users and the search engines can access everything that’s important to them. A good site navigation bar is, of course, essential. However, an XML sitemap will also ensure that you can give Google easy access to all of your content.

4. Handling Expired Content

Product lines end. Stock runs out. How do you handle this type of content? This is a particular challenge for you if your lines change like this frequently.

As a rule, I’d suggest leaving a page live if:

  • The product is going to come back into stock one day

I’d suggest 301 redirecting the page if:

  • It has inbound links (redirecting to the nearest relevant page)
  • You have very similar products

I’d suggest 404ing the page if:

  • The product will never be in stock again
  • You have no inbound links to that page
  • You stock no similar products

5. Acquiring Links

Unless you have a particularly phenomenal or interesting product, you’re unlikely to just acquire natural links.

Having a platform to create link worthy content is essential. Maintain a blog as a means of having somewhere to post link worthy (and not necessarily commercial) content.

About the Author

Our guest author is Stacey Cavanagh, a Digital Marketer from the UK. Stacey works at Tecmark and maintains her own personal blog, Blogsession


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