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SEO 101 for Online Merchants. Part 2: Product Pages

14 min listen

We pick up the conversation with John Lincoln, the 2017 Search Engine Marketer of the year, again and take what we learned in Part 1 (Keyword Research) and apply it to a store.

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Jesse: Hey guys, Jesse Ness here. Glad to have you back, I’m here with…

Richard: Richard Otey.

Jesse: Alright! So, if you joined us on the previous podcast, we’re back again with our special guest John Lincoln. He’s a CEO of Ignite Visibility, he was named the search engine marker of the year by Search Engine Land and has the #1 SEO company ranked by Hey, John!

John: Hey, how you doing? Good to be back!

Jesse: Good, good to be here. So, last week we talked about keyword research and this is kind of a SEO 101, so is this still an SEO 101 topic? So, you did all this keyword research, what the heck do you do with it, right? So, we’re going to take a look at  because this is focused on e-commerce merchants — we’re going to talk about how do you optimize one page and specifically will a focus on a product page first, because most e-commerce merchants are selling products. Starting with the idea that people already have done their keyword research and have three or four terms that they want to rank for on Google. What’s the next step for an e-commerce merchant?

John: Yeah. So, when it comes to, you know, actually optimizing a page, there’s a lot to it and I’ll try not to go into all that with you guys. The way you would do a category is different than the homepage, which is different than a subcategory, and a sub-subcategory. There’s different things you can do throughout a page and systems that people have to refresh them. All that stuff I said — forget it. I’m not gonna talk about it. If you want to learn more about it, you can find out about it on our website.

What we’re going to talk about today is the product page. And the product page should only be optimized for your product name. That’s really the right way to do it. Usually you target your biggest terms on your homepage or on your category page and those are usually meant for more general terms.

So your product page is actually going to be optimized for whatever your specific product name is. So, if you have a site and you sell tables, for example. You might go after tables on your homepage, then you might have a category for green tables. Then you might have your final inside of that category of your products. Your product name might be specific. It’s usually shouldn’t be something, that says “green table” and you want to be unique, you know. It might be “4×22 table” or something like that.

So, what you would do is once you know what that term is, you’re going to want to optimize your page for that term. And the way you go about doing that is you optimize the title of your page, the description of your page, also known as the meta description. That’s only in the code of your page. So, that’s what Google pulls out and then shows in the search engine. You’re going to make sure the product name is in your H1, which means “heading 1 tag”, and that’s something inside the HTML as well as your H2 and then throughout the copy. Then the final element on the bare bones most basic type of SEO you could do is making sure it’s in the image file name, the image alt tags, and then the image caption. If you can do that, Google is going to have a really good idea that that page should be ranking for whatever that product is. You also want to rank for those other terms to, because probably a lot of people are going to be searching for your product name, unless you’re a bigger brand. So, you know, the next level up you want to go after the category type of term or you might want to go after on your blog, but that’s kind of how you do the product page.

Richard: Is there a reason why you keep the green table part separate in the category page? Even though most people might think that including that on the product page niches them down even more?

John: That’s the biggest mistake most new e-commerce sites make and most websites make in general. They want their product page to rank for green table, right. And that’s not the right way to do it.

That’ll actually really mess things up, because you don’t want to see your category page is competing with your product page. So, you want your product page to be the product name your category and rank for green table. You might have more green tables at some point, right. So you want all those to be in there. That’s really something you got to watch out for. I can’t tell you how many times I will get a client in and then they optimize all their products for their category names. Then their categories were optimized for the same thing and nothing’s ranking, because Google gets confused. You can only get one shot on Google to rank a page for one term. They don’t rank you multiple times. So you really got to pick and choose your battles there.

Jesse: Great. So, I think we will talk about the homepage and category pages on which ones the best to go for. So, sticking with the product page one last time. So, if you have a very specific keyword. You named your product that. And there is inside of Ecwid, it’s a product description area. So, you can type as much as you want about a product. How many words should a merchant type in order for it to show up in Google?

John: Good question. So, the highest ranking pages on the internet are 1500 to 2200 words which is a lot of words. But you don’t need to do that for the product page. You do need to do that and maybe even more for a term, like, “table”, or “green table”, or something “outdoor table” or whatever. So those type of pages have an entirely different strategy than the product page. The product page is less competitive, because it’s just you, you came up with the name, there’s not a lot of competition for it, unless you have a competitor that named their products the exact same thing or there’s some overlap in some weird way. Usually for the product page it’s usually a 150 to 300 words. There’s other things you can do on that page to. A lot of people like to get reviews on those pages. So you can get the “five stars” in Google or however many ratings you have. Fresh content allows that page rank hires as well as the website as a whole. But, you know, it’s kind of a delineation, and that’s really the main way to think about just keyword research and an optimization and generally. Start at the top, that’s the most authority, and that’s the most content, and you kind of go down in a pyramid like idea until you finally get all the way down and drop off on the product page.

Jesse: Okay, perfect. So, I know we probably started at the bottom of this pyramid!

John: But that’s okay, it’s good to get that out of the way first so people understand the whole context, so they don’t make that very common mistake of starting with optimization for a broader term on a product page.

Jesse: So don’t name your products a very basic name. Name them very specifically. Use the same keywords in the description on the product and then maybe save some of those terms for more of a category page or a homepage. We don’t have much time left here. So, you have a very specific product name on your page. Let’s go back to the homepage. A lot of people don’t like to put a lot of content of their homepage, and I get that. What is a way to work in some content into a home page, so you can talk about your main keyword?

John: So, the homepage is usually the most authoritative page on the side. That’s because all the other pages relate to it and it has the most links from other websites. The two most important things for ranking inside of SEO are the amount and quality of links that you have and then the quality of your content. So, the homepage almost always has the most links, and so because of that you can sometimes get away with a little bit less content. So, people don’t like that, a lot of content on pages. But, basically as long as the keywords inside of the title it’s throughout the page a little bit, you’ve got a pretty good chance. And you want to at least get a couple hundred words on that home page, if you can. If it’s further towards the bottom, and an FAQ format or something like that, that’s okay. But, it doesn’t need to be five thousand words. So that’s kind of how you want to think about that.

Jesse: Got it. Especially for e-commerce. You want to show the products ireally as soon as you can, you don’t want to have paragraphs of text, you know. Sticking with our example of concrete tables. Can I give my mom an example like “let’s make sure in the headline here you’re using, you know, ‘fiber optic concrete tables’, you show some images and then on the bottom, you know, maybe there’s an ‘About Us’ or paragraphs in the bottom. Is that a place where you can work in your keywords?

John: Yeah that is a place you can do that. For your mom, for ‘concrete tables’, I think you just gotta say: ‘Hey, look. This is a really competitive term.’ So, I think we want to kind of theme aside from this and over time, as we build up authority and stuff like that, you know, eventually you will start coming on more and more. I would be really looking for a more niche term. And, depending on the number of products you optimize a category for it. If there’s not a lot of products that you have, you can also think about going after that in content marketing. So, that’s a big shift today in SEO. It’s like, what are you target on the blog and what’s a category. That’s something that we can talk about in the future episodes, it’s a lot to think about. But really I think, you know, for most people just kind of coming on and getting started in SEO, try to build a good foundation, some simple keywords in the right place with the clear delineation from top to product, and you’ll be in a pretty good shape.

Jesse: So maybe, in a homepage we’re talking about 200 words or so, 300?

John: Yeah, couple hundred words on the homepage.

Jesse: It’s not too over well for a new user to look at that, but you’re still getting your words in there. And then for a category page, you know, do you want to start on top of a category with a paragraph?

John: Here is how the perfect category page looks to me. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. But you come in, it’s the keyword in the title, it’s in the description, it’s in the heading. There’s a little image thumbnail and the thumbnail has the file name, and the alt tag, and he caption that are optimized for that keywords, right. And then what’s really important, is as Google crawls the page they see that the products are also green tables. They relate to whatever that category term is, so that Google can pick up on that. And then there should be little descriptions for each of them as well, so that there’s some texts on that page. Then you usually will put a little bit of text and description at the bottom. And that’s going to get you in good shape. You can get a little bit more advanced than that. And that’s for another episode, but that’s the basic optimization there.

Jesse: Got it, perfect. So that’s even more than 101 for a beginning merchants!

John: It’s 102 at least!

I hope we didn’t scare everybody away with some little more advance, but we want to make sure we cover some ground. So, John, thank you for visiting the Ecwid podcast.

John: Yeah, thanks for having me, appreciate it!

Jesse: Hey guys. Jesse Ness on the Ecwid E-commerce show, and check out for more information and for more information from John.

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