SEO for web shops – the guide to 2023

SEO optimization for an online store involves more than you think. Compared to optimizing a B2B website (for example, that of an SEO specialist), an online store has more challenges. In this article I will tell you how to optimize a shop for SEO and which pitfalls to avoid.

Optimizing SEO for web shops: these are the pitfalls

Are you going to work on improving the SEO for your webshop so that it can perform optimally? Then you need to consider several pitfalls. The following are some of the most common:

  • Duplicate content: duplicate content means “double content” and can negatively affect the SEO performance of your web shop. After all, Google wants to provide its users with unique content. Therefore, it is important that each page of the web shop has unique content. Do duplicate pages exist? Then remove or correct them.
  • Incorrect keywords: using incorrect keywords can lead to poor SEO performance. Indeed, these do not match the user’s intent. So identify the right keywords first and then use them in your content, metadata and other parts of your shop.
  • Poor user experience: a poor user experience leads to higher bounce rates and fewer conversions. Do you want to keep visitors on your page? Then make your webshop user-friendly. You do this, for example, with fast load times and easy-to-navigate pages.
  • Improper e-commerce tracking: when you do not do e-commerce tracking (collecting customer data on your website) correctly, it leads to inaccurate data. These do not provide a basis for sound decision-making. Therefore, make sure you implement your e-commerce tracking correctly. Check these regularly for accuracy as well.
  • Poor quality product photos: low-quality product photos lower your conversion levels. It is important that products are displayed clearly and accurately. Only high-quality photos give customers the confidence to make a purchase.
Poor quality product photos
  • Overuse of technology: excessive use of technology, such as JavaScript and Flash, slows down the loading time of your web shop. This has a negative impact on your SEO performance. Therefore, make sure you have a good balance between technology and SEO.
  • Non-optimizing mobile user experience: more and more people are using their mobile devices to store online. Therefore, it is important that your web shop is optimized for mobile devices. If this does not happen, the mobile user experience will not be optimal. This leads to poorer SEO performance and fewer conversions.

Are you taking the top points into account when optimizing the SEO for your web shop? Then, as a web shop owner, you can ensure that the web shop performs optimally. This is how you maximize its visibility and the revenue you turn.

Below are the components of SEO for web shops

Below, I have mapped out the components of SEO for web shops along with the priority and timeframe for implementation.

SEO ComponentPriorityEstimated Time Frame for Implementation
Keyword ResearchHighResource – conducting thorough keyword research may take some time, but it is a crucial step that lays the foundation for other SEO activities.
Optimization of Meta Tags (such as title tags, meta descriptions)HighMedium – depending on the size of the webshop, optimizing meta tags can take some time, but it is an important task that needs to be addressed.
URL StructureHighMedium to High – optimizing URL structure can be drastic, especially for large web shops, but it is important for both user experience and SEO.
Mobile-friendlyHighMedium to High – ensuring mobile-friendliness can be a big job, depending on the current state of the Web shop. However, it is a top priority given the growth of mobile usage and the impact on SEO.
Speed OptimizationHighMedium to High – speed optimization can vary in complexity, but is essential for user experience and SEO.
Implementation of SSL (secure connection)HighLow – Implementing SSL is usually a relatively simple technical task, but is critical to user security and trust, and has SEO benefits.
Optimization of Product DescriptionsMediumMedium to High – optimizing product descriptions can be time-consuming, depending on the number of products, but it can help improve visibility in search engines and is good for user experience.
Implementation of Schema MarkupMediumResource – Schema markup helps search engines better understand Web site content, which can lead to better search results.
Setting up a Blog (for content marketing and link building)MediumMedium to High – setting up a blog and producing quality content can take considerable time and resources, but it can have great benefits for SEO and customer engagement.
Link BuildingMedium to HighHigh – link building is an ongoing effort that can take considerable time and resources, but it is an important part of SEO.

Crawl budget problems are common

The crawl budget is the amount of time and resources a search engine spends to crawl a website(1). If you do not properly optimize an online store for SEO, the search engine cannot crawl the pages properly. This causes your web shop to perform worse in search results. Here are some common crawl budget problems in SEO for web shops:

  • Excessive use of JavaScript: This can slow page load time and reduce search engine crawl budget. It is important to use JavaScript efficiently and ensure that pages load quickly(2).
Excessive use of JavaScript
  • Redirect chains: a redirect chains is a situation where a URL is redirected to another URL. The search engine then has to go through several pages before it reaches the final page. This reduces the crawl budget. Therefore, it is important to avoid redirect chains and use 301 redirects when necessary.
  • Poor internal link structure: a poor internal link structure makes it difficult for search engines to find and index certain pages. A clearly structured internal link structure is essential for your pages so that search engines can easily find and index them.
  • Pages with little content: pages with only a few words or images reduce search engines’ crawl budget. Search engines need enough content to understand what the page is about.
  • Outdated content: outdated content can reduce search engine crawl budget. This is because these don’t want to crawl your pages again if there is no new information. Therefore, it is important to update your content regularly and also add new content.

By solving crawl budget problems, you further optimize your shop for SEO. After all, you make sure that search engines crawl your shop regularly. This way, all your pages are included in the search results. This leads to a higher ranking and improved visibility, which contributes to your shop’s sales.

Getting started with SEO for web shops: where to start?

SEO for web shops requires some specific concerns that differ from those for regular websites. Below I have noted some of the important things you need to pay attention to when it comes to SEO for web shops:

  1. Product pages optimization: product pages are the most important pages for an online store. Each product page should have a unique and optimized title, descriptions and images. Also, the page needs relevant keywords. .
  1. Product feed: a product feed is a list of products available on the web shop. This is important because it allows search engines to better index the products.
  1. Optimize category pages: make sure category pages have optimized titles and descriptions. Also, the pages should be clear and easy to navigate.
  1. Structured data: structured data helps search engines better understand the content of the web shop. This helps display rich results in search results. Structured data should be added to product pages, category pages and other important pages.
  1. Reviews: customer reviews are important for online shops and can help improve SEO. It is important that you allow customers to add reviews. Also, those reviews should be visible on product pages.
Reviews on webshop
  1. Mobile-friendliness: mobile-friendliness is critical for web shops. Make sure the webshop is optimized for mobile devices and that load times are fast.
  1. E-commerce tracking: it is important to implement e-commerce tracking. This helps you gain insight into the webshop’s performance. This way, you can identify bottlenecks in your web shop and then improve it to increase its SEO performance.
  1. Duplicate content: do not copy content from other websites. Write unique product descriptions, category descriptions and meta titles. This sets you apart from other web shops.
  1. Keyword research: as with a regular website, keyword research is important. However, with web shops, it is also important to look at so-called long-tail keywords. This is because searches are often focused on specific products.

So far, you have been able to read about the pitfalls and points of interest in improving SEO for web shops. By paying attention to these areas of improvement, you will ensure that your shop is more visible in search results and thus performs better. Below I go into a little more detail on each point.

Optimizing product pages for webshop SEO

Do you want your product pages to be found better in search engines so they generate more traffic and conversion? Here are some tips for optimizing product pages for webshop SEO:

Use unique and optimized titles: each product page should have a unique and optimized title. It should contain relevant keywords, such as the brand name, product name or important features.

Create an optimized description: a unique and optimized description of the product is important for both search engines and visitors. In fact, they are looking for more information about the product. The description should be relevant and include the main features of the product. Also, don’t forget to add keywords to the description.

Add images: high-quality images are important for product pages. Make sure you have images from different angles and optimize them for speed. Also include relevant alt text; this will help search engines better understand the images.

Use optimized URLs: create optimized URLs for the product pages. A URL with the product name and relevant keywords makes the page rank better(3).

Add reviews: customer reviews are important for product pages and help improve SEO. So in your online store, create an option for your customers to add reviews. These should also be visible on the pages of the respective products.

Add relevant internal links: relevant internal links pointing to other product pages or category pages help search engines crawl your shop. This also improves the user experience.

Optimize for mobile: optimize product pages for mobile devices. This is important because many users today store on mobile.

Use schema markup: schema markup also helps search engines better understand the information on product pages. This helps display rich results in search results.

By following these steps, you can better optimize your shop’s product pages for SEO and generate more traffic and conversions.

Optimize product feed for your webshop SEO

A product feed is a list of products available on your webshop. When you optimize this list, the visibility of your products in search results increases. This also improves your webshop SEO. Below I give you some tips to optimize a product feed for the SEO of your shop:

  • Use relevant keywords: use relevant keywords in the product feed. This allows search engines to better understand the content of the feed. Use these keywords in product titles and descriptions.
  • Add images: add high-quality images to your product feed. This improves the visibility of your products in search results.
Add images to webshop
  • Keep the product feed up-to-date: make sure the information in the feed is always correct and current. This not only improves the SEO of your shop, but also the user experience of the visitor.
  • Use product identifiers: use product identifiers such as GTIN, EAN or UPC. Also in this way, search engines can better understand the content of the feed and manage to identify the products.
  • Use an optimized feed format: examples include XML or CSV. This brings structure to your product feed, which improves its readability for search engines.
  • Optimize URLs: optimize the URLs of the product pages in your product feed. Add relevant keywords so that the products rank better.
  • Add price and stock information: price and stock information improve your webshop SEO and your visitors’ user experience.
  • Use product categories: using product categories in the product feed allows search engines to understand this feed even better. As a result, they manage to categorize products better.

By following these steps, you can better optimize your shop’s product feed for SEO and improve its visibility in search results.

Category pages optimized for webshop SEO

Category pages are an important part of an online store. In fact, they play an important role in attracting organic traffic. Here are some tips for optimizing category pages for your web shop SEO:

  1. Use unique and optimized titles: each category page should have a unique and optimized title. Add relevant keywords to the title. Consider the category name and key features.
  1. Create an optimized description: an optimized category description is important not only for search engines, but also for visitors. After all, they are looking for more information about the products in that category. The description should be relevant and include the main features of the products. Be sure to include keywords.
  1. Use internal links: internal links on category pages make it easier for visitors to navigate to other relevant pages on the shop. This also helps improve web shop SEO.
  1. Add images: high-quality images improve the user experience of visitor as well as your webshop SEO.
  1. Use category tags: category tags help search engines better understand the content of category pages. So they can actually categorize the categories properly.
  1. Optimize for mobile: many users today store on mobile. So your category pages should be optimized for mobile devices.
  1. Use schema markup: schema markup is code that helps search engines better understand the information on category pages. This can help display rich results (“rich snippets”) in search results. These have a higher click rate.
  1. Provide a clear structure: a clear structure and hierarchy on category pages helps improve user experience and SEO(4). Main categories should be at the top and subcategories below.

By following the steps above, you can better optimize your shop’s category pages for SEO. That way, you’ll attract more organic traffic.

Structured data specific to a web shop

Structured data is code you add to your web page. The goal is to help search engines better understand the content of the page(5). This allows them to better index the information. Optimizing structured data for an online store improves your SEO. It also makes rich results show up better in search results. Below I give you some tips to optimize structured data for your webshop:

  • Use schema markup: with schema markup, you can better structure and label the content of the web shop. This can help improve search results and display rich results.
  • Add product markup: add product markup to the webshop’s product pages. This improves product visibility in search results.
  • Add breadcrumb markup: with breadcrumb markup, you show the structure of the page. Useful for users, but also for search engines: it allows them to better understand the structure of the webshop.
  • Add sitelink search box markup: the sitelink search box markup is a search bar within the organic search results. Are you adding this to your webshop? Then search engines can better find and index a search box. This has a positive impact on the SEO of your web shop while improving the user experience.
  • Add social media markup: with social media markup, search engines can better understand your shop’s social profiles. This improves your shop’s visibility in search results.
Add social media markup
  • Add review markup: by adding review markup to the webshop’s product pages, you improve the visibility of your reviews in search results.
  • Optimize markup for local SEO: Does your website also have a physical location? Then add local business markup to the shop. This way you improve local SEO and search engines display your shop in local search results.

By following these steps, you can better optimize your webshop’s structured data for webshop SEO. In addition, it improves the display of rich results in search results.

The impact of reviews on your shop’s SEO

Reviews have a great impact on an online store’s SEO. Reviews can affect SEO in several ways. Below I explain some examples of this to you:

  • Unique content: customer reviews are unique content for your shop’s product pages. Unique content contributes to improved SEO. It also increases the visibility of your products in search results.
The impact of reviews on SEO for an online store
  • More content: more reviews automatically means more content on your shop’s product pages. This larger content improves your SEO and increases the visibility of your products in organic search results.
  • Long-tail keywords: customers often use long-tail keywords in their reviews. When a search engine user performs a search using these long-tail keywords, your shop becomes more visible to them.
  • Higher click-through rate: product pages with reviews often have a higher click-through rate (CTR) in search results. This makes your products’ visibility in search results higher. It also improves your shop’s SEO.
  • Increased authority: does your shop have many positive reviews? That increases his authority. This will improve your SEO and make your shop even more visible in search results.
  • Lower bounce rate: reviews can lower your webshop’s bounce rate. Is the number of visitors who visit your webshop and leave immediately decreasing? Then this will have a positive impact on your webshop SEO and increase its visibility in search results.

You get positive reviews with high-quality products and strong customer service. Not only collecting reviews, but also responding to them helps improve your web shop SEO.

The influence of mobile friendliness on your shop’s SEO

More and more people are shopping online and using a mobile device to do so. Did you know that research shows that over half of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices? If the mobile experience is poor, visitors are more likely not to make a purchase than they are. This results in fewer conversions and thus less revenue for your shop.

Why is the mobile friendliness of your webshop so important? Below I have listed a few reasons:

  • User experience: mobile-friendly web shops offer a better user experience. After all, the pages load faster and are easier to navigate. In addition, they are more readable on smaller screens. A good user experience leads to more satisfied customers and more conversions(6).
  • SEO: mobile-friendly web shops are more likely to rank higher in search results. For Google, mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor. Web shops that are not mobile-friendly can drop in search results, reducing visibility.
  • Competition: is your shop not mobile-friendly? Then chances are you are missing out on potential customers; they will make their purchase from competitors who do have a mobile-friendly web shop. Nowadays, customers want quick and easy shopping on their mobile devices. If an online store cannot accommodate that, then people will store elsewhere.
  • Increased conversions: mobile-friendly web shops lead to higher conversions. This is because visitors can find and checkout products more easily. This in turn leads to higher webshop sales.

In short, mobile-friendliness is essential for online shops because it leads to a better user experience, higher SEO and more conversions. It also gives you a better position relative to your competition. All this makes it important that your web shop is optimized for mobile devices.

How do you perform an e-commerce tracking implementation?

E-commerce tracking is the collection of customer data in your webshop. It is an important method to measure your shop’s SEO performance because it tells you how your shop visitors behave. Below I briefly tell you the steps to perform an e-commerce tracking implementation:

  • Create a Google Analytics account: if you don’t have a Google Analytics account yet, create one and link it to your shop.
Create a Google Analytics account
  • Configure goals: set goals for the web shop, such as completing a purchase or filling out a form. This way you can better track important conversions.
  • Set up e-commerce tracking: enable e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics and configure it for your webshop.
  • Add tracking codes to the webshop: examples of tracking codes in your webshop are the Google Analytics tracking code and the e-commerce tracking code.
  • Set appropriate values: set appropriate values for the transactions. Examples include amount of purchase, currency and product information.
  • Test the implementation: testing the implementation is important because it allows you to verify that all tracking codes have been implemented correctly. Only then will transactions be tracked correctly.
  • Analyze the data: analyze the data you collect through e-commerce tracking to gain insight into your shop’s performance. Then you can make improvements where needed.
  • Keep tracking performance: keep tracking the performance of the web shop and adjust the implementation as needed. This way, your webshop will continue to perform optimally.

By following these steps, you as a Web shop owner can implement e-commerce tracking. This gives you important insights into the performance of your shop. Regularly checking and updating the implementation is important, as this will help keep the data accurate. This keeps your webshop performing optimally.

Solving duplicate content within an online store

Duplicate content can be a problem for Web shops because it reduces SEO performance. You can solve duplicate content in a few ways. Below I give you some tips:

  • Canonical tags: use canonical tags tell a search engine which page it should consider the original page. This way you can avoid penalties for duplicate content.
  • Robots.txt file: use the robots.txt file to tell search engines which pages they should and should not index. This also helps prevent or resolve duplicate content.
  • Noindex tags: with noindex tags, you tell search engines not to index certain pages. This also reduces the likelihood of duplicate content.
  • Unique product descriptions: every product page in your shop needs unique product descriptions. With unique texts, you avoid duplicate content.
  • Pagination: with pagination, you tell a search engine which pages belong together and how they follow one another. In other words, you are actually specifying the order in which a search engine may crawl. This also helps prevent duplicate content.
  • Removing duplicate pages: remove duplicate pages from the web shop. This not only improves the SEO of your shop, but also the direct user experience of the visitor.
  • 301 redirects: with 301 redirects, you let search engines know that content from one page has been permanently moved to another page. This permanent redirection prevents a search engine from also indexing the old page and seeing it as duplicate content.
301 redirects

Resolving duplicate content in an online store can take a while. Once you have this in place, it is still important to check on this regularly. By following the above steps, you will improve your shop’s SEO performance as well as optimize the user experience.

A keyword research for a web shop

With keyword research for an online store, you identify the right keywords. You then use these in your content, metadata and other parts of your shop. Below, I’ll explain the steps involved in conducting keyword research for an online store:

List the most important products: make a list of the most important products sold in the web shop.

  • Identify keywords: use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest to identify keywords. These are words that are relevant to the products you sell in your webshop. Keywords can range from broad keywords to specific long-tail keywords.
  • Analyze competitors: analyze competitors’ websites to find out what keywords they are using. This way, you will be more successful in identifying keywords on which your shop can compete.
  • Search volume and competition: analyze the search volume and competition for the selected keywords. The analysis tells you which keywords are most relevant and feasible to use in your web shop.
  • Make a list of keywords: make a list of the keywords most relevant to the web shop. This list will help you create content and optimize the shop’s metadata.
  • Use the keywords: use the selected keywords in the content, metadata and other parts of the website. This increases your visibility in search results and improves the SEO performance of your shop.
  • Keep optimizing: keep monitoring and optimizing the keywords to ensure that the webshop continues to perform properly in the search results.

By following these steps, shop owners can conduct effective keyword research and improve their shop’s SEO performance. It is important to keep monitoring keywords regularly. Update them as needed to keep your web shop performing optimally.

The faceted navigation

Faceted navigation is a way to help webshop visitors filter or refine products based on different criteria. You can think about brand, color, size and price. There are several types of faceted navigation you can use for your web shop, including:

  1. Vertical filters: vertical filters are filters on the side of the web page . These filters are easy to find and use, but can interfere with the layout of the page.
  1. Horizontal filters: horizontal filters are filters at the top of the web page. These filters have less impact on the layout of the page, but at the same time can be less intuitive for users.
  1. Dynamic filters: dynamic filters are filters that are automatically adjusted based on the user’s search query. They allow the user to make fewer choices, improving the user experience.
  1. Layered navigation: layered navigation is a combination of vertical and horizontal filters. This combination helps the user quickly and easily navigate through the various filters.
  1. Numeric filters: numeric filters are used by web shop owners to filter products based on numeric criteria. These are criteria such as price, ratings or popularity.
  1. Attribute value filters: you use these to filter products based on specific attributes, such as size, color or brand.

It is important to choose the right faceted navigation for an online store. You do this based on the specific needs of the shop and the user experience. A well-designed faceted navigation improves the user experience and makes it easier for users to find the products they are looking for.

Faceted navigation for webshop SEO optimization

Faceted navigation is a useful feature for web shops, provided you optimize it properly for SEO. If not, it can have a negative impact on the SEO performance of the web shop. Below I’ll give you some tips that will help you optimize faceted navigation for SEO:

  1. Avoid content duplication: faceted navigation can lead to content duplication if the same products are displayed on multiple pages. So you need to make sure that each page has unique content, because you want to avoid penalties for duplicate content.
  1. Use canonical tags: with canonical tags, you let search engines know which page it should consider the original page. This helps with avoiding penalties for duplicate content.
  1. Use URL parameters: URL parameters inform search engines about the filters that apply. This also reduces the chance of duplicate content.
  1. Use clean URLs: clean URLs make navigation easier for users and search engines. Dynamic URLs with many parameters are best avoided.
Use clean URLs
  1. Avoid indexing irrelevant pages: avoid indexing irrelevant pages. These are pages that contain no or few products or non-relevant content, for example. When search engines don’t index them, you optimize their crawl budget.
  1. Make use of robot.txt: use the robots.txt file to tell search engines which pages they should and should not index(7).
  1. Provide a good internal link structure: a good internal link structure helps search engines find and index the pages in the faceted navigation.

By following these tips, website owners can optimize faceted navigation for SEO. This will improve the search engine performance of the web shop. Check faceted navigation pages regularly to ensure that SEO performance remains optimal.

Conclusion

There are some challenges associated with performing SEO for an online store. In particular, the amount of landing pages combined with faceted navigation creates many different pitfalls. A long-term strategy and a clear vision of URL structure, crawl budget and faceted navigation are essential. That way, you can rank for many (mainly long-tail) search terms at the same time with your shop.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 11 October 2023. The last update of this article was on 16 January 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.