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10 Steps for SEO-ing Product Pages

by Justin Palmer - March 19th, 2008

“How can I SEO my product pages?” – It’s a good question that I hear frequently. After all, who has the time and resources to build links to hundreds, even thousands of individual products on an eCommerce site? Who has the time to write compelling, keyword rich copy for all these pages as well? Obviously, product page SEO must take a different approach. First, let’s start with the problem:

Why Product Pages Get Screwed:

  1. Nobody links to them
  2. They are buried deep within the site architecture
  3. They usually contain crappy, recycled manufacturer product descriptions

In this post, I’ll share the process I use to optimize product pages for long-tail search.

  1. Reduce the Number of Clicks from Your Greatest Source of PageRank: First and foremost, if you want your product pages to rank highly, your internal linking structure needs to reflect that desire. If it takes 5 clicks to reach a product, you’re telling crawler bots you don’t think very highly of it. My top recommendation for implementing this is displaying as many products as reasonably possible on your product listing pages. In my experience a/b testing, product category pages with more items always win out. (who wants to click those tiny 2, 3, 4 pagination links anyway?). In addition, it prevents the Googlebot from having to crawl through them as well.
  2. Determine Whether the Product is Better Suited for Branded, Non-Branded, or Solution Search: For each product, ask yourself this question: “Will people be searching for this item by brand name, by a generic name, or will it be a solution oriented search?” For example, suppose you were selling running shoes. Here 3 possible target keyword phrases:
  3. Generic Running Shoes
    Branded Nike MayFly shoes
    Solution Oriented Shoes for running faster
  4. Create a Unique Title Tag: Once you’ve completed step #2, place this keyword phrase in the title tag. A heated debate rages regarding where (or even if) the site name should be included in the Title. While I believe there are exceptions to any rule, I strongly believe the site name belongs behind the product’s name and keywords for 2 reasons. First, if a potential customer searches for your target keyphrase, they’ll be looking for that phrase, not your site’s name. Second, odds are search engines consider the order of keywords in the Title when determining the relevance. If all your product page Title start with your site name, it may look slightly boilerplate-ish.
  5. Create a Unique Product Description: Too often, product descriptions are a neglected afterthought of online merchandising. Why not just show a few snazzy pics? After all, a picture is worth a thousands words right? While I would never mitigate the importance of good photography, pictures sometimes fall short on communicating specific product details, features, and benefits. If your company has sales people, ask them to write the product descriptions for you, as if they were selling the item face to face with a customer. Getting back to SEO, I don’t generally recommend stuffing keywords in product descriptions. It looks tacky and sounds awkward.
  6. Don’t Forget the Meta Tag Keyword & Descriptions: Yes, they still work. Not for endless keyword repetition, but for showing that you took time and effort and care about your product pages. Typically, I will populate the meta keyword tag with the product name, brand, and any other relevant keywords. In the description tag, I simply pull the product description from the database, stripping out any unnecessary html formatting.
  7. Display Product Reviews: How do product reviews help you in SEO? Interestingly, customers tend to describe products in ways that you would never think of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a customer review and thought, “Heck, I never would have described it that way!”. Sometimes, I even take the customer’s lead and optimize the Title & meta tags around a product review.
  8. Display Product Tags: Just as you would tag a blog post or a Flickr image, let customers tag your product with words they find relevant. As mentioned in step #6, you may find they think of keywords you didn’t. Checkout Amazon’s product pages for an example of how tagging works.
  9. Don’t Forget the Alt’s: Take every opportunity you have to convey information about the content of your product pages. For the product images, populate the Alt text with product name, brand, or other keywords identified in Step #2.
  10. Give Special Attention to Your Top Products: Identify what you consider to be your top products and highlight them on your landing pages with the most PageRank. Create anchor text that points to these product using the keyword phrases you’ve isolated in Step #2.
  11. Track the Results: So, how do you know if the steps above are working? Personally, I like to monitor the number of total search visitors to product pages divided by the total number of product pages indexed by Google. Over time, you should see this number increase.
  12. Yes, SEO-ing product pages can be overwhelming. If the thought of individually optimizing hundreds, maybe thousands of items makes you break out in a cold sweat, slow down, and take it one step at a time. Over a period of several weeks or months, this daunting task can be completed. The end result will be worth the effort.

    Like the ideas listed above? Get 3 of your own…

    About Palmer Web Marketing

    Palmer Web Marketing provides modern, effective, & affordable internet marketing consulting services. For personalized Do It Yourself SEO recommendations, checkout MySEOPlan.


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19 Responses to “10 Steps for SEO-ing Product Pages” by Justin Palmer

  1. BlackHat Planet » Blog Archive » 10 Steps to SEO-ing Product Pages - internet marketing, seo, internet marketing online, seo services, internet marketing tool, dw230 seo, internet marketing strategy, company seo, internet marketing services, i Says:

    [...] Guru wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt“How can I SEO my product pages?” – It’sa good question that I hear frequently. After all, who has the time and resources to build links to hundreds, even thousands of individual products on an eCommerce site? … [...]

  2. website builder » Blog Archive » 10 Steps to SEO-ing Product Pages Says:

    [...] Guru wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt“How can I SEO my product pages?” – It’sa good question that I hear frequently. After all, who has the time and resources to build links to hundreds, even thousands of individual products on an eCommerce site? … [...]

  3. 10 Steps to SEO-ing Product Pages « Here, webdesign, link, resource, development, helpful, css, sites « Sharebrain Says:

    [...] Here you can get a few tips on how to optimize your product pages for a long-tail search. 03.20.08 | (Click thumbnail to visit the site!) If you like this site rate it here: [...]

  4. Tiffany Says:

    On my sites, I like to feature 10 different products a week on my home page. It’s nice to get the spiders to see those links to those pages but I also write a little intro to the product in addition to the manufacturer’s blurb. Sometimes, I re-write the whole thing. This makes a nice way to update that content a little at a time.

    I still leave my best-sellers on my home page.

  5. palmerwebmarketing Says:

    Tiffany,

    That is an excellent tactic that I have used successfully myself as well. Spiders tend to hit the home page first, so displaying your newest products there is a great for getting them indexed fast.

  6. Simon Dance Says:

    Excellent list – I really think retailers overlook the importance of optimising landing and product pages.

    If you’ve spent time and money on getting the customer, then the least you can do is convert them!

    Nice one,

    Simon Dance

  7. Linda Bustos Says:

    Justin, this article is a Home Run :)

  8. palmerwebmarketing Says:

    Thanks Linda, it’s been lingering in my WordPress drafts for quite some time now. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Justin

  9. Good Friday, Good Reads - Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog Says:

    [...] Justin Palmer does it again with his home-run 10 Steps for SEO-ing Product Pages [...]

  10. Good Friday, Good Reads » Ecommerce Blog Says:

    [...] Justin Palmer does it again with his home-run 10 Steps for SEO-ing Product Pages [...]

  11. An Ecommerce Learner Says:

    How can I promote my blog? It does not have meta tag capabilities(as far as I know). Thanks

  12. Is this a good seo url or do I need to add more info? - Irish SEO, Marketing & Webmaster Discussion Says:

    [...] That url looks a bit odd in that you’re going straight from mobile phones to individual models, I’d have expected an extra layer – ted.ie/index.php/Mobile-Phones/Sony-Ericsson/K850i/Detailed-product-flyer.html BTW, here’s some tips on how to handle product pages you may find useful… Product Page SEO – 10 Steps to SEO-ing Product Pages [...]

  13. Matt Mikulla Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I sell my fine art photographs online and I have be neglecting the use of individual keywords and metadata. I have also neglected product descriptions.

    In my case I think viewers of my site might like to know a little back story on the particular piece of art they are viewing and I will let that be the product description.

    Like you said, one at a time.

  14. Bloggers Digest - 3/21/08 » Ecommerce Blog Says:

    [...] Justin Palmer does it again with his home-run 10 Steps for SEO-ing Product Pages [...]

  15. SEO for ecommerce product pages « Nashville SEO | Ethical SEO | Christian SEO and Social Media Agency Says:

    [...] 22, 2009 · No Comments Justin Palmer has five great suggestions for SEO for e-commerce websites: 1) Determine Whether the Product is Better Suited for Branded, Non-Branded, or Solution [...]

  16. Local search for hotels: X factors that influence ranking | Hotel Marketing Strategies Blog Says:

    [...] hesitate to ask for reviews because you’re afraid they will be negative. As Justin points out, reviewers will often include important [...]

  17. Bulk USB Drives Says:

    Just removed my site name from title. Have to agree. I think it does not bring any information to people and useless. And Also, Using JS I just put all my website pages in 1 page to make it work faster, so it does. But I can’t find an answer how will it reflect my position in Google if I put all the pages in 1 bug pile of HTML code. If someone knows, please let me know

  18. SEO Product Descriptions Says:

    Product description is importance to attract people shopping through internet and inspire them to make their purchase decisions. To present a good product description, you should bear some matters in mind.

  19. Digital Marketing Agency UK Says:

    Many issues with SEOing product pages is duplicate content. eCommerce websites which have thousands of pages often get penalised because each product description has the same copy. The products vary slightly e.g. by colour or price but the descriptions often are the same. SEO’ers need to remember to change the copy…vital if you don’t want to be penalised by Google.


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