Over the 3 years (kicked off by the COVID ecommerce boom no doubt) the vast majority of my work has been with ecommerce businesses. Everything from those accelerating their ecommerce plans due to lock downs, those launching new businesses through the pandemic, my own ecommerce projects, to global brands looking for ecommerce specific search marketing experts.
The challenges posed by this range of businesses have been unrecognisable from one another, so whilst all have been ecommerce based, each one has been vastly different. I have worked with businesses ranging from those with 1 single product, to those with literally millions of products. Bother are ecommerce, in some cases they are using the same technology, but the issues they face are worlds apart.
SME and Small Product Catalogue SEO
For start ups, or SMEs with a small product catalogue, the technical challenges are much less. So long as the website is built on a solid ecommerce platform (e.g. Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce etc) then with some tweaks and amends you wont go far wrong technically.
Internal linking too, a mainstay of some ecommerce strategies, is not the same challenge on a smaller website. And as for topic clusters, if the pages aren’t there what are you clustering?
With an SME or small ecommerce website, the focus typically needs to be on the content of the pages you do have, and finding the niche areas you can “win” against the competition. Question based content or blog posts add depth to a smaller website, and advisory pieces within the product page or a blog bring people to your brand earlier up the decision making process.
Small wins can reap huge results for these businesses, finding them, building on them and reinvesting is key for small businesses in the SEO space.
Enterprise and Larger Site Ecommerce SEO
Whilst a lot of what works for SMEs and small ecommerce sites should not be discounted for enterprise businesses and large sites, there are typically bigger issues to deal with.
Can Google find and index your site properly? Are products available at multiple different URLs and if so, are you managing this correctly? What technical SEO challenges does you site face?
Content drops down the list of priorities because the first issue tends to be making sure Google can find and index what you have before you want to add to it. Addressing crawling and indexing problems will reap rewards before any typically SEO suggestions which are content based if you are in charge of a large website.
With enterprise SEO you also regularly face the challenge of internationalisation. A single or multiple websites for different countries, many using the same language. Wrestling with hreflang, canonicals and Google’s handling of this challenge can be a full time job in itself.
But the difference is not just about size. Enterprise SEO involves more stakeholder management, communication, convincing and gaining buy in from those you are going to be putting more work towards. Coming to the recommendation is often the easy part in this scenario. With small businesses and start ups, there’s rarely a legal department getting in the way…
Common ecommerce SEO problems
Differences aside, there are also many similarities, which once understood can make your life slightly easier. Especially when one day you can be working on a goliath of a website, the next on a 5 page minnow.
Ecommerce businesses large and small fall foul of using supplier product content on their websites. You and 5,000 other websites describe the product in exactly the same terms, so tell me why Google should decide to show your website first?
Neglecting internal linking is another common one. Even for the smallest catalogues, if you have product categories with multiple products, you need to spend some time on internal linking.
The SEO basics apply regardless of your website size. Having a page title template which reads Product Name | Site Name is unlikely to get you very far unless you are the only website selling that product.
Every Ecommerce Site is Different
Even for all of the similarities, the variety of ecommerce sites you end up reviewing and working on in the SEO space keeps everything interesting. Whether it is their size, the platform they are built on, how the business operates, or simply the products they sell working in ecommerce is anything but boring. And solving problems is what I love to do, so working on ecommerce SEO fits very nicely with that.
If you have an ecommerce site and are struggling with your SEO challenges, get in touch and let’s see how I can help.