Major SEO Ecommerce Category Page Mistakes to Avoid

Why is ecommerce category page SEO important?

SEO is essential for ecommerce website marketing. Allow me to explain. We enjoy discussing how to employ long-tail keywords to get consistent, diverse organic traffic. The majority of your ecommerce content marketing and product pages target long-tail keywords that generate incremental gains, one piece of content at a time, that build up to a big total.

If you don't use the power of your category pages to target the strong hitters, your incremental plan may fail. Examine what is already ranking for your target keywords. This strategy elucidates the search intent underlying those searches. You may then construct category pages that offer the greatest answer to your users (and Google).

Key Points

  • One of the most significant difficulties stifling ecommerce category sites is duplicate content.
  • Improve your URLs, meta data, category titles, and H1s.
  • Support your category pages with relevant blog content that solves the difficulties of your users.
  • Make a link-building strategy centred on your category pages.

If your firm is like the majority of ecommerce businesses, your ecommerce category pages are probably among your top organic landing sites. Category pages, after the home page, have the largest and highest-priority position on an ecommerce website. That is, they attract searches for some of the most broad and high-volume keywords. As a result, effectively optimising your ecommerce category pages for SEO is crucial.

Isn't it simple? Even among the Fortune 1000, it's common to come across category sites that are:

  • Misaligned with how customers think
  • There is no keyword optimization.
  • I was concentrating on the incorrect terms (or too many keywords)
  • There are no direct external backlinks.
  • And so much more...

This tutorial will assist you if you can check any of those boxes on your own website. I'll show you how to optimise your ecommerce category pages so that they rank at the top of Google SERPs and bring in important traffic. I'll also explain the most typical SEO ecommerce category page blunders, as well as how to avoid them in order to achieve results like this:

Targeting broad, competitive, high-volume keywords, on the other hand, represents significantly larger opportunities. Your category pages are an excellent opportunity to target these high-value keywords that drive organic traffic to your site.

If you're Home Depot, for example, your site benefits from the gradual accumulation of hundreds of helpful DIY posts and other interest-focused material, such as this post titled 5 Ways to Maximize Bathroom Space.

A post like that can target long-tail keywords such as bathroom storage ideas (7,900 Google searches per month in the United States, according to Ahrefs) and small bathroom storage solutions (100 searches per month). When combined with the additional long-tail keywords from your other content, those keywords can generate a significant amount of traffic.

However, a keyword like bathroom vanities (137,000 searches per month), which you'd use for your Bathroom Vanity category page, generates a lot of traffic on its own.

Ecommerce category page site architecture

Ecommerce SEO success is dependent on proper website architecture. A straightforward, well-organized site layout makes it easy for search engines to discover your most significant pages. But it's also beneficial to users because it makes it easier for them to locate exactly what they're looking for.

Creating an understandable site structure begins with selecting the appropriate categories. Let's take a look at some of the most typical category page blunders:

Mistake 1: Combining categories that are unrelated

In order to improve the customer experience, large retail firms frequently merge website product categories. Merging unrelated categories, on the other hand, may harm your search engine optimization efforts, as well as user experience and, eventually, conversion rates.

For instance, many large retailers, such as The Home Depot, combine two high-level category pages: Bedding Bath. While grouping those categories may have advantages, it is crucial to consider the following consequences:

  • Customers who are just interested in bedding products will be forced to search through bath products on the same page, resulting in an inconvenient user experience.
  • The combination of categories dilutes the thematic relevance. That could be one of the reasons appears on the fourth page of Google SERPs for bedding, a valuable keyword with over 90,000 monthly searches.
  • While the term bedding and bath appears to be more broad, it has no search volume.

Mistake 2: Content on category pages that is similar or redundant.

As a huge retailer with billions of dollars in revenue from different products, you may be tempted to highlight your top performing categories in multiple places on your website. However, supplying too many options to searchers may harm both user experience and category page rankings.

For instance, the Home Depot website has multiple bath-related category sites, including Bath, Bedding Bath, and Shop by Room Bathroom. What's the issue with that approach?

  • Users are forced to guess which product category page contains the information they want.
  • For bath-related inquiries, search engines won't know which website to show users.

How to Avoid These Errors

Regardless of how many things your company sells, your navigation must be basic and straightforward. Choose distinct category pages and make them easily accessible. The larger your site, the more crucial it is to properly categorise your products into relevant categories and subcategories that your buyers are actually searching for.

An example of a well-structured ecommerce website

Take a look at Moz's internal linking pyramid. The pages at the top of the pyramid receive the most traffic and accumulate the greatest link equity. At the bottom of the pyramid, traffic and equity cascade down to more targeted ecommerce product pages.

Why are you concentrating your efforts at the bottom? Because we know less about someone's needs as they get closer to the top of the pyramid. As their search becomes more specialised, we may begin to limit their possibilities to categories and subcategories rather than the entire site. As they become more particular, we will be able to show them our products and associated material.

This method enables users to locate exactly what they are looking for in a natural manner.

If you're adding pages to the pyramid that don't match the search intent or category of the other pages in the same tier, it's time to reassess where that page should go. Thinking architecturally initially might also help you uncover chances to construct additional category pages.

URLs to ecommerce category pages

Mistake 1: Failure to use short, keyword-focused urls.

Ecommerce category page urls should be concise and descriptive, and they should reflect the search intent of your audience. Avoid using long, alphanumeric urls that are difficult to remember.

Mistake 2: Failing to include subcategory folders in your URLs.

Your url structure should identify where visitors are on your website as they travel down the purchase funnel (MoFu, BoFu) to subcategory pages and eventually products. This also assists search engines in determining how your products and categories relate to one another.

Consider The Home Depot's Comforters ecommerce category page url:

Now consider the breadcrumb path below:

The breadcrumbs show that comforters is a subcategory of bath bedding, which is a subcategory of home, but the address does not.

How to Avoid These Errors

Consider your urls to be departments in your store. Your home design store offers a bedding section where you may buy comforters. Similar categories should exist on your website, and your urls should reflect that hierarchy, just as breadcrumbs do. Here's an example of a page address for the stronger comforters category:

Page titles and meta descriptions for categories

Mistake: Not optimising title tags and meta descriptions for clicks.

As an example, consider Target's Men's Clothing page, which has the following title tag and meta description:

Avoiding: Keep in mind that your title tags and meta descriptions appear as snippets in search engine results.

That's an obvious statement, but consider what it means: your title tag and meta description are your site's first presentation to the whole search audience. SEO prioritises keyword-rich title tags that include your category and important product names. However, Target's title tag Men's Clothing Men's Fashion: Target squanders a chance by being just keyword-rich. With a width of 317 pixels, this title tag has capacity for at least another 2-3 sentences before reaching the 585-pixel restriction.

Those words could be adjectives such as trendy or stylish, or verbs such as shop or explore, making the website more appealing to the visitor without changing any keywords. Examine your competitors' results again to determine the best combination of search intent and clickability. Title tags from Macy's, HM, and Asos are fantastic instances of this in action:

Target's page meta description is likewise questionable. Including a CTA and multiple incentives is an excellent place to start. However, the lack of clarity in the description and an odd opening phrase give it a generic, auto-populated air that may leave the reader wanting more. It also has too many characters, which cuts off the description before the message is finished.

Create page names that are optimised for SEO and clicks.

To avoid issues like this, consider your organic results in the same way you would consider an advertisement. You wouldn't run a full-page ad in Vanity Fair with a stunning photograph and generic text:

While engaging meta descriptions and title tags aren't always associated with higher rankings, your meta description language should be just as click-driven as your ad material. After all, ranking on page one is useless if no one clicks through to your website.

That is why it is critical to collaborate with an enterprise SEO firm like Stridec that knows your brand's marketing objectives. When search engine optimization is matched with larger company goals, it is always more effective.

Category page h1 tags for ecommerce

Using numerous H1s on the same page is a mistake.

Avoid this by training your designers in SEO best practises.

If your site has several different H1s on a single page, it was most likely designed that way. For example, a designer may select H1s to break up the material on the page since the CSS stylings for the H1 fit the size and weight the designer want for that purpose. What is the solution? Systematize best practises in SEO across departments.

Your designers will find it simple to employ H1s as intended for SEO purposes as the page's main header and break up their material with H2s or H3s (which they are free to use as many times on one page as they want). However, they must first be aware of the best practises.

We've also permitted clients to wrap non-primary H1 tags in section tags, signalling that those are the headers for a specific segment of the page's content. The basic H1 then rests unsectioned above them all.

Design of an ecommerce category page

Failure to templatize your category pages is a common blunder.

How to Avoid: Create a common template and use it for each category.

It's tempting to design each page layout separately, coming up with unique methods to highlight each category. However, this will be a UX (and webmaster) nightmare. Using a single layout and maintaining it similar across categories sends an implicit message to the user that they are on a category page. It teaches the user what to expect and then delivers on that promise with each additional category. It also significantly improves scalability for large ecommerce sites with a high number of categories.

That is not to say you will not create unique content for each category page. You'll still need a lot of product photos (with alt text) and clickable product descriptions. However, if one category page has a full-width header with superimposed text, all of the category pages should have full-width headers with overlaid text.

Site loading speed and time

Failure to test the speed of your category pages is a common blunder.

Avoid this by incorporating page speed testing into your QA process.

Category pages are particularly prone to slowing down your site's performance. Pay close attention to the quantity of products you load onto a single page to avoid slowing down page load time. If it does, think about pagination, sluggish loading, or hiding products behind a see all button.

Because it is the same tool that Google uses, PageSpeed Insights, now powered by Lighthouse, is one of the best tools for testing site speed.

Internal hyperlinking

Mistake: Failing to adhere to standard practises for internal linking in SEO.

How to Avoid: Only include links that are relevant to your content. The content on your category pages should truly highlight the category. Introduce customers to subcategories, direct them to the next best place to visit, or highlight intriguing product descriptions. These are all excellent places to provide a link because it is relevant and valuable in context. However, if you merely list 16 possibilities and link to each one within your on-page content, those links will become far less valuable. Choose just a handful to concentrate on, taking into account where the consumer might want to go next.

If you own an apparel store that continually discontinues and replenishes stock, linking to products within your content might be a dangerous game. In-content links are easy to overlook. And you'll have a lot of broken links on your hands over time. You won't have to worry about this as often if you sell evergreen products.

Multi-Faceted Navigation

Mistake: Faceted navigation that does not mirror the architecture of your site.

How to Avoid: Add each menu item exactly as it appears in your hierarchy, beginning with separate high-level categories and working your way down to sub-categories. If you have deeper subcategories, you can remove them from the main menu and incorporate internal navigation into each primary category page. Alternatively, you may use a giant menu to display deeper categories in an appealing, UX-friendly manner. Navigation is a strong interlinking strategy that tells search engines which pages on your ecommerce site are the most significant.

User encounter

Mistake: Looking at each category page as a means to an end rather than a destination in and of itself.

Counter-Example: We've already mentioned Target, so this time we'll highlight something they do well. Every category page on Target's website, including this kitchen dining category page, is purposefully created. There is a built-in flow that guides the customer through a variety of alternatives, including visually appealing subcategories, merchandising spaces with personalised collections such as Wedding present ideas, brand call-outs, and more. Because there is such a wide range of items at this level, faceted navigation is not introduced until the user selects a subcategory, such as this one.

We'd also suggest developing your on-page material more strategically, rather than dumping everything at the bottom of the page like Target. Target's category pages, however, are a far cry from the header image/product list/robotic copy at the bottom standard that plagues many ecommerce sites.

How to Avoid: Recognize that a customer's visit to a category page is more than just a stopover on their internet journey.

Yes, they've come to find the next product or subcategory they're looking for. However, the manner in which you enable that process can either leave them wanting more or drive them away to compare shop. Your category page, like a landing page, should have a look and feel that suits the essence of your brand. Offers, incentives, and value propositions that will sell your products should be provided. Maintain the emphasis on easy navigation, like Target does, and then construct the additional call-outs and collections that will begin to inform the customer's purchasing choice.

Content strategies for ecommerce category pages

Making the mistake of assuming that your category page isn't part of your content strategy.

How to Avoid: Create category pages that allow for the addition of material. Then, include the webpages into your content plan by designating each as a pillar for related material.

One issue that many ecommerce sites confront is category pages that just show products. While products are the primary focus, category sites that aren't designed to hold content severely limit SEO options. So, first, create category page templates that allow for the addition of content.

Then consider what pain points and solutions are associated with that category. During the Awareness stage of the customer journey, what category-related information would a user be seeking for? Can you create content that is useful, instructive, or entertaining in relation to the category? How about the Decision stage? Once you've identified those pain areas, use keyword research to connect those ideas to actual search phrases.

Content-enabled category pages provide you with another another option to showcase your brand's personality. Those are drawn to people who have personality, right? The same is true for brands. A distinct brand personality is what distinguishes you from the competition and attracts your ideal customer. And your category pages are just another way to show off your personality.

Creating links for an ecommerce category page SEO

A link-building approach that focuses solely on your home page is a mistake.

Avoid pitching articles and ideas that aren't clearly related to your category pages.

When individuals mention your website or brand in passing, they virtually invariably connect to your home page. If they are interested in a particular product, they will click over to the product page. That leaves a gap in terms of your category pages; there just aren't as many excellent reasons to link to a category page on the spur of the moment.

Google is concerned with whether or not link profiles appear natural, and they understand that your homepage will be the natural target for the majority of your backlinks. So don't be concerned about changing the natural, user-friendly flow of your incoming links. However, you should work on supplementing your backlink profile with link-building pushes that target certain category pages.

Pitch tales and concepts that put your categories and subcategories in the spotlight, giving people an incentive to visit them instead of the home page. Create genuinely exceptional category pages that offer a one-of-a-kind experience, for example. In roundup articles, marketing sites love to talk about (and link to) the finest ecommerce category pages. You can even offer to create the articles yourself or to author byline articles, giving you more control over where the links lead.

Out-of-the-box off-page SEO tactics

Category pages are also excellent for less PR-driven link-building techniques. They are ideal targets for broken link building, which is the process of locating broken backlinks to your competitors' websites. You can then contact the linking sites and provide a similar page on your site as a substitute. This method allows you to target only the type of links you want: those that lead to category pages. And, because the content already exists, you've completed a portion of your work.

What is the most common SEO blunder when it comes to ecommerce categories? Ignoring them entirely. Consider the following five prominent ecommerce sites and navigate to their category pages. Only a few of them are likely to be SEO-optimized at all.

Give your category pages the attention they deserve if you want to compete with Amazon. Make them the focal centre of your SEO, content, link building, digital marketing, and user experience strategies. Discover what Google believes is the search purpose for your keywords and create category pages that correspond to that search meaning. As a result, you will receive more internet traffic that is eager to purchase.

If you're serious about getting backlinks, we've covered all of the most efficient off-page SEO tactics right here.