Recently I had a bit of a discussion with Fathom, a fellow user on SEO Chat. The full discussion can be seen here: http://forums.seochat.com/search-engine-optimization-28/shopping-cart-easiest-optimize-480766.html this lead to a full discussion of benefits of a quality eCommerce product page. So i’m going to be expanding the post with some great examples from various sites around the web.
However lets approach this from an SEO perspective. Whilst I slightly agree with your “Ad copy was meant to help sell products not meant to rank products.” point of view. There are still flaws with this. Here are some things that can generally be missed by the lower quality shopping carts which hinder what you can achieve. Obviously still can be achieved, just more work to get there.
1. Schema Markup also known as Rich Snippets:
If your eCommerce software doesn’t have these implemented, then you’ll lose out on clicks in the serps compared to your competitors.
So some practical examples using the search term “Microfibre cloths”
a standard result:
a result with markup:
According to Yoast:
“For some of my clients I’ve seen as much as 20 to 30% uplift in the past, on the same rankings, when getting rich snippets, just because more people clicked on those results.”
According to BruceClay (http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/structured-data-superstars-smx-22c/):
“Can enhance your SERP listings, make them more attractive, and make them take up more real estate. CTR may improve 15-50% with Rich Snippets.”
2. Customer reviews. If you don’t have a proper system that can support customer reviews (a great way of getting unique content written by your customers) then you will miss the chance to add to your page.For eg if you have a site such as modernechild.com the reviews are very necessary.
3. Sitemaps, I have previously seen numerous sitemaps that have been generated 2+ years ago and the sitemap doesn’t automatically update yet the customer keeps requesting for Google to fetch the sitemap.
4. Quality blog/CMS. These are sometimes an afterthought. Meaning they’re difficult to use and also difficult to optimise your content. Some don’t have the ability to add HTML and can only use their horrible editor.
5. Product photo limitations. On some hosted solutions there are limits to how many photos you can have on one product. Whilst this is mainly for the customer, it does also apply for ranking. (How much is debatable).
6. Duplicate content issues. Some shopping carts handle products horrifically, along with bad customer knowledge they can be forced to categorise the same product into numerous categories. With different product ids and different urls. With no ability to set a canonical to the original.
7. Product videos. Relatively new concept, so plugins are required for even the more advanced shopping carts, but still an option. The best way to promote them is using likes provided from social media companies like themarketingheaven.com.
Now, adding on to your point of ad copy. I believe that a well written product description can do the following:
1. Describe the product. – obvious
2. Convert the customer. – push the product benefits and also the companies usp’s
3. Answer questions. – obvious (perhaps a tab showing FAQs allowing interaction – unique content again)
4. Rank well for a variety of search terms. – using quality description/questions should help rank for all the questions that are asked + product name + product code + product reviews etc.
5. Acquire links. – If you have a truly brilliant product page it will generate you links. You can get links from people writing reviews who are listing places to purchase this product.
Why would you not want the ability to be able to do all of the above? Rushing the decision and choosing a poor shopping cart. Surely having a thoroughly thought out plan so that these are all at least an option to you if you wish to use them.