SEO for small ecommerce site

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Hi everyone,

I have been operating an ecommerce site for just over a year now. Prior to that, we sold the same items just on eBay. So now we sell both on eBay and on our personal site. We have one basic product (hand dyed fabric), but about 150 different color variations of the product, so we have a page with color photography for each item.

Sales have more than doubled over the year, so we're happy with that result. However, we still have a Page Rank of 0. Even with that 0, we're showing up between 11 and 16 on the Google SERP for our most important keyword on most days, so we'd like to bump that up a few notches to get on Page One.

Judging from Webmaster Tools, the only problem listed is Duplicate Meta Descriptions. Not sure how to overcome this, since all 150 items are the same product, just with different colors.

Also, we have keywords designated for each item, but of course they're nearly all the same keyword (since they're all the same product).

I think I should do the following (and I'm looking for encouragement or discouragement before I do this):

1) Relate all 150 product pages via canonical link to the home page of the site, so that the only relevant keyword link is to that home page.

2) Rewrite the 150 product descriptions. First, eliminate 3/4 of the content which is absolutely the same (i.e., shipping policies, return policies), and just provide links from the product page to the policies page elsewhere on the site.

3) Still not sure what to do with the duplicate meta descriptions, since all the products are the same thing. Suggestions?

Many thanks for your thoughts.
#ecommerce #seo #site #small
  • Profile picture of the author GGpaul
    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Hi everyone,

    I have been operating an ecommerce site for just over a year now. Prior to that, we sold the same items just on eBay. So now we sell both on eBay and on our personal site. We have one basic product (hand dyed fabric), but about 150 different color variations of the product, so we have a page with color photography for each item.

    Sales have more than doubled over the year, so we're happy with that result. However, we still have a Page Rank of 0. Even with that 0, we're showing up between 11 and 16 on the Google SERP for our most important keyword on most days, so we'd like to bump that up a few notches to get on Page One.

    Judging from Webmaster Tools, the only problem listed is Duplicate Meta Descriptions. Not sure how to overcome this, since all 150 items are the same product, just with different colors.

    Also, we have keywords designated for each item, but of course they're nearly all the same keyword (since they're all the same product).

    I think I should do the following (and I'm looking for encouragement or discouragement before I do this):

    1) Relate all 150 product pages via canonical link to the home page of the site, so that the only relevant keyword link is to that home page.

    2) Rewrite the 150 product descriptions. First, eliminate 3/4 of the content which is absolutely the same (i.e., shipping policies, return policies), and just provide links from the product page to the policies page elsewhere on the site.

    3) Still not sure what to do with the duplicate meta descriptions, since all the products are the same thing. Suggestions?

    Many thanks for your thoughts.
    Just customize each meta description. Add some type of variation even if you have the same product. For instance..


    Red Crayons
    Meta description : Check out our latest deals on our red crayons


    Red Crayons
    Meta Description: We have a ton of red crayons for you and your kids!

    But then you got to avoid any type of duplicate CONTENT + URLs.
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    • Profile picture of the author islander9
      Originally Posted by GGpaul View Post

      But then you got to avoid any type of duplicate CONTENT + URLs.
      Thank you GG for your comment.

      Would I still have to do that if I were including a canonical link from all of the product pages to the home page? In other words, if I did that link, there wouldn't be 150 listings on Google, each requiring a slightly different meta description, right? There would just be one meta description for the Home page?
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    1) Relate all 150 product pages via canonical link to the home page of the site, so that the only relevant keyword link is to that home page.
    That's a bad idea.

    Make each page have unique content/text, it doesn't take much text.

    Your basically working with an image gallery. This old image thread might help.
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    • Profile picture of the author islander9
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      That's a bad idea.

      Make each page have unique content/text, it doesn't take much text.

      Your basically working with an image gallery. This old image thread might help.
      I hear what you are saying, but it's hard to imagine writing 150 different descriptions for the same 1/4-yard piece of wool that has 150 different colors available. Sure, I can swap out the color from each meta description, but I suspect that's not enough to make it unique. Every piece is the same size, made of the same material and available with free shipping.

      It's almost as if Google has set up all these rules to trip up blogging content sites that are just spamming the same content to drive up page rank. But those rules aren't as relevant for ecommerce sites.

      Thanks for referring me to the other discussion forum; I'll go take a peek.
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
        Banned
        Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

        I hear what you are saying, but it's hard to imagine writing 150 different descriptions for the same 1/4-yard piece of wool that has 150 different colors available. Sure, I can swap out the color from each meta description, but I suspect that's not enough to make it unique. Every piece is the same size, made of the same material and available with free shipping.

        It's almost as if Google has set up all these rules to trip up blogging content sites that are just spamming the same content to drive up page rank. But those rules aren't as relevant for ecommerce sites.

        Thanks for referring me to the other discussion forum; I'll go take a peek.
        List the colors/fabric/pattern on the page as an <h1> tag & make sure to have unique page titles for each page similar to this:
        • <title>Flannel Solids - Classic Solid Bright Red Cotton Flannel Fabric</title>
        • <h1>Classic Solid Bright Red Cotton Flannel Fabric</h1>
        • Example source: hxxp://www.hancockfabrics.com/Classic-Solid-Bright-Red-Cotton-Flannel-Fabric_stcVVproductId137319891VVviewprod.htm

        If all your changing on the fabric/product is the color then you need to be optimizing for those types of keywords on the internal pages & aim to rank those internal pages.

        Example keyword: bright red cotton flannel fabric

        Look who ranks #1 (hxxp://hancockfabrics.com) because they've optimized for that page by targeting the specifics of the product (color, fabric type, pattern, etc...).

        You could test removing the meta description tag from all your product pages like Wikipedia does, Google will then customize each of the SERP descriptions based on each individual search query by pulling relevant text from your ranked web page/s.

        Use those internal pages that are all similar product to help rank your main pages/keywords (relevant internal links).
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        • Profile picture of the author islander9
          Yes, our h1s include color specifics. We're already ranking on first page for item specifics of our products (for example "purple hand dyed wool," etc.), so no problem on granular page ranks like that. It's the broader ranking for "hand dyed wool" or "rug hooking wool" that we're trying to nail down. About 4 or 5 of the sites above us are the eBays and Etsies of the world. But I swear there is no identifiable reason (other than maybe longevity) that the other 5 or 6 should be ranking ahead of us. I will test removing the meta description tag after seeing both you and Matt Cutts mention that.

          I have been avoiding listing the color names in the meta description, since they're already in the seo-optimized title and I didn't want to appear to be stuffing the ballot box, but that alone would insure that every one of my 150 product descriptions would be unique, so I may as well do that.

          Thanks again for your advice. Much appreciated.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Sales have more than doubled over the year, so we're happy with that result.
    What worked then? Do more of that.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    However, we still have a Page Rank of 0.
    Forget about page rank. Focus on what's important.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Judging from Webmaster Tools, the only problem listed is Duplicate Meta Descriptions. Not sure how to overcome this, since all 150 items are the same product, just with different colors.
    Write unique descriptions.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Also, we have keywords designated for each item, but of course they're nearly all the same keyword (since they're all the same product).
    Something doesn't make sense here. So you're saying you have...

    cool widget blue
    cool widget red
    cool widget yellow

    ....and so on?

    I'd have to see your site.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    1) Relate all 150 product pages via canonical link to the home page of the site, so that the only relevant keyword link is to that home page.
    DO NOT do this.

    You should be setting canonical links at the preferred url.

    Read this.

    https://support.google.com/webmaster...r/139066?hl=en
    https://support.google.com/webmaster...r/139394?hl=en

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    2) Rewrite the 150 product descriptions. First, eliminate 3/4 of the content which is absolutely the same (i.e., shipping policies, return policies), and just provide links from the product page to the policies page elsewhere on the site.
    Shipping polices, refunds etc should be dedicated pages on your site - not stuffed in every single product description.

    I still don't understand why you have hundreds of the same coloured product spread across hundreds of pages. Why don't you just have one product description and allow the user to CHOOSE a colour?????????????

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    3) Still not sure what to do with the duplicate meta descriptions, since all the products are the same thing. Suggestions?
    You need to hire someone to help you, otherwise you're going to make a mess of this.

    Here's some advice - get a blog on there and start publishing some content. You're just rearranging deck chairs otherwise.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Sales have more than doubled over the year, so we're happy with that result.
    What worked then? Do more of that.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    However, we still have a Page Rank of 0.
    Forget about page rank. Focus on what's important.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Judging from Webmaster Tools, the only problem listed is Duplicate Meta Descriptions. Not sure how to overcome this, since all 150 items are the same product, just with different colors.
    Write unique descriptions.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    Also, we have keywords designated for each item, but of course they're nearly all the same keyword (since they're all the same product).
    Something doesn't make sense here. So you're saying you have...

    cool widget blue
    cool widget red
    cool widget yellow

    ....and so on?

    I'd have to see your site.

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    1) Relate all 150 product pages via canonical link to the home page of the site, so that the only relevant keyword link is to that home page.
    DO NOT do this.

    You should be setting canonical links at the preferred url.

    Read this.

    https://support.google.com/webmaster...r/139066?hl=en
    https://support.google.com/webmaster...r/139394?hl=en

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    2) Rewrite the 150 product descriptions. First, eliminate 3/4 of the content which is absolutely the same (i.e., shipping policies, return policies), and just provide links from the product page to the policies page elsewhere on the site.
    Shipping polices, refunds etc should be dedicated pages on your site - not stuffed in every single product description.

    I still don't understand why you have hundreds of the same coloured product spread across hundreds of pages. Why don't you just have one product description and allow the user to CHOOSE a colour?????????????

    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    3) Still not sure what to do with the duplicate meta descriptions, since all the products are the same thing. Suggestions?
    You need to hire someone to help you, otherwise you're going to make a mess of this.

    Here's some advice - get a blog on there and start publishing some content. You're just rearranging deck chairs otherwise.
    Signature

    BS free SEO services, training and advice - SEO Point

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    • Profile picture of the author islander9
      @John Romaine

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Here are some responses:

      --The primary successful tactic has been email newsletters. I send out one a month to my database of 750 customers. It routinely generates a few thousand dollars of sales (as compared to the $15 cost of the monthly email).

      --I agree that Page Rank doesn't seem to be important, but I was mystified that I was still at 0 after more than a year. I assume it's the duplicate meta descriptions though, and I have been changing them one by one for the last day and a half.

      --The site is www(dot)sunandwindfarm(dot)com

      --You'll see I do have a blog there already, which includes content about our products, but also behind-the-scenes vignettes about life on the farm.

      --I will read up more on canonical links, thanks for the pointers.

      --The color issue is difficult. It's not like there are four colors that a customer can choose from on a dropdown box. These are hand dyed colors, each different than the other, and there are 150 of them. Color is our differentiator and so we give each color its own page.

      --We do have separate pages on the site for shipping, returns and other policies. I wasn't really focusing on them being in my product description, because the only thing Google Webmaster Tools is pointing to is the META description.

      --Once you see the site, you'll see that I'm already doing most of the things you suggest. Once I've changed all the meta descriptions, I'll have Google re-index and see if that makes a difference. The only competitors ahead of me in the SERPs are either the ecommerce giants, or a few competitors my size whose sites are not cutting edge and yet they have page ranks of 3 or 4.

      Thanks!
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      • Profile picture of the author stefansalvatore
        According to me Affordable SEO packages should be selected for small e-commerce website. There are various benefits of SEO services like -

        1. It helps is increasing the revenue of e-commerce company
        2. With SEO services you can advertise about your product.
        3. You can increase the traffic onto your website.
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        • Profile picture of the author dorankaren
          Today, you can find every Tom, Dick and Harry relying over search engines to find out information of their taste. Hence having a website is the primary requirement of the businesses who want to sustain in this fierce competition. However, by simply having a website will not suffice your requirement to beat the competition, for this you need sizeable amount of people coming on a regular basis over your site. This is where search engine optimization or SEO comes into picture. SEO are certain cost effective strategies, which help in making your website or blog more visible in the search engine results. You can easily implement a number of SEO strategies on your own, however, as far as a tangible results are concerned, you need professionals to crack this nut for you. In other words you need a competent SEO Company that can help you in chalking out a useful strategy. The following tips can help you in finding the right SEO consultant; let's check them out as under:
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          • Profile picture of the author arthuratkin
            As a little online retailer your existence could be really intense, particularly when you are simply beginning. seo singapore is an intense diversion to play for anybody, yet assuming that you happen to be in a space recently secured by a bigger retailer, (for example, the different Amazons of the planet) it might be difficult to get off the ground...Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    Originally Posted by islander9 View Post

    ...

    3) Still not sure what to do with the duplicate meta descriptions, since all the products are the same thing. Suggestions?

    Many thanks for your thoughts.
    I would pick 20 products at random and customise the title and description tags, wait a few weeks and see what happens. The products are different because they are different colours and probably have different uses because of the colours.

    You could do this sort of thing with your metatags:

    Title: Orange Tie-dyed Cotton Fabric - looks great on the beach - order online and save.

    Description: Looking for tie-dyed cotton fabric for that sundress or cute top for beach-wear or to lounge arounf the pool? Our orange tie-dyed fabric is light, hard-wearing and soft on the skin.
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