11 Methods to Enhance E-commerce Class Pages for search engine optimization

  • December 31, 2022
  • elkenz
  • 24 min read

In case you’ve been doing search engine optimization for some time, you’ll perceive what I imply once I say class pages are a standard space search engine optimization and UX specialists disagree on.

And that is for one key motive: SEOs are likely to need to add extra content material and hyperlinks, and UX specialists need to prioritize clicks to merchandise.

Nonetheless, there’s a center floor the place we will retain the business nature of classes and embrace content material to assist customers make their buy choice.

All through this information, I’ll present methods to enhance your e-commerce class pages for search engine optimization whereas making certain the consumer stays on the core of your selections.

However first, why are classes so essential?

The significance of nice classes can’t be understated.

They’re the positioning space the place you’ll usually seize “The Fats Head” and “The Chunky Center” of search queries—the high-volume, less-specific queries that almost all bosses/shoppers need to rank for.

The search demand curve

That’s to not say classes can’t goal long-tail key phrases. However until you have got a number of SKUs, websites usually goal the long-tail with product pages.

Along with classes being important for capturing site visitors from high-volume phrases, in addition they assist:

  • Customers uncover your merchandise when navigating your web site.
  • You successfully distribute PageRank to essential subcategories and merchandise through your inner linking.
  • Customers and search engines like google and yahoo perceive your info structure (IA), i.e., the way you’ve organized your content material.

Earlier than we transfer on with some suggestions, I’ll introduce the 2 sorts of class pages you’ll discover on e-commerce shops:

  • Class itemizing pages (CLP) – Classes that predominantly checklist classes. 
  • Product itemizing pages (PLP) – Classes that predominantly checklist merchandise.

You’ll see CLPs throughout many well-liked e-commerce shops, and so they’re usually present in classes increased up inside a web site’s hierarchy.

For instance, here’s a CLP on ASOS:

Category listing page from ASOS

And right here is ASOS’ PLP:

Product listing page from ASOS

So why is knowing the distinction between CLPs and PLPs vital?

CLPs goal very broad subjects. A web site is unlikely to service the consumer’s necessities by displaying one product sort. For instance, on ASOS’ males’s clothes CLP, it doesn’t know the particular sort of males’s clothes a consumer needs to see, so it hyperlinks to a combination of various kinds of merchandise.

CLPs exist to assist customers navigate to a extra particular web page. Websites do that, as they received’t be certain particularly what the consumer needs but—so that they present them a number of all related product varieties.

With PLPs, then again, websites know what a consumer needs. If a consumer searches for “males’s black boots,” the intent is evident—so that they present them black boots.

Whereas we should always nonetheless assist customers navigate to a extra particular class (if attainable), we all know exhibiting an inventory of black boots for them to buy will fulfill their necessities.

Key parts for classes

Your typical class web page is straightforward and appears just like the PLPs I’ve simply described. They’ll doubtless have:

  • An H1.
  • A bit beneath the H1 with some intro copy.
  • A listing of merchandise, doubtless with pagination.
  • Faceted navigation to assist customers filter the merchandise.

Nonetheless, there are way more parts you may embrace to assist customers and search engine optimization on each PLPs and CLPs.

Right here’s a mockup of the vital parts you must think about for each sorts of classes that each customers and search engines like google and yahoo will love.

Critical elements of a category page (mockup)

I’ll now broaden on the above factors all through the remainder of the article that will help you enhance your class pages.

On this state of affairs, useful content material will assist the consumer make a buying choice.

When you’ve got an “engagement ring” class, writing about the historical past of engagement rings isn’t useful.

Worthwhile supplementary content material on this state of affairs will likely be answering questions like:

  • How have you ever sourced your diamonds/metals?
  • Are your diamonds lab-grown or pure? 
  • Why did you choose these? Metals obtainable? What makes yours higher?
  • What’s the most well-liked model?

You’ll be able to briefly reply key ache factors beneath the H1, normally in round 30–60 phrases. However then you may also add additional info decrease down the web page, both in a generic content material block or an FAQ part.

Where to add helpful content on a category page

Not solely is this convenient for a consumer, but it surely additionally helps you rank.

In an interview with Marie Haynes, Google Search Advocate John Mueller mentioned:

When the ecommerce class pages don’t have some other content material in any respect, aside from hyperlinks to the merchandise, then it’s actually arduous for us to rank these pages.

John Mueller

Google wants some content material to know the web page’s content material, and customers who don’t know your model want one thing to assist them resolve whether or not you’re the only option.

So we all know priceless content material helps. Nonetheless, that is generally taken to the intense, leading to a considerable amount of content material that no person will learn beneath the fold.

One of many worst offenders is eBay, with many pages together with over 1,000 phrases of textual content positioned on the backside of the class.

Too much "helpful content" from eBay

In the identical interview, John mentioned this about that observe.

I’m not saying all of that textual content on the backside of your web page is unhealthy, however possibly 90%, 95% of that textual content is pointless. However some quantity of textual content is beneficial to have on a web page in order that we will perceive what this web page is about.

John Mueller

So it’s doubtless not serving to. However is it harming? The reply is probably going—sure.

Our algorithms generally get confused after they have an inventory of merchandise on high and basically a large article on the underside when our algorithms have to determine the intent of this web page.

John Mueller

Nonetheless not satisfied about eradicating the content material? 

Right here’s a case research.

On the finish of June 2021, I completed a four-week rollout of recent class web page content material. 

I up to date 191 pages with 70 phrases of content material above the fold. Beforehand, as much as 800 phrases have been above the fold, hidden by a “learn extra” toggle.

Right here’s the site visitors for the next weeks (“A” marks the purpose the rollout completed):

Traffic weeks after removing excessive content

Listed below are some snapshots of the rating for key phrases on the highest site visitors pages. Every of those moved from 800 phrases to round 70 phrases (they beforehand have been instructed extra content material equals higher, so that they added extra content material to their high pages). 

Rankings after removing content

Right here’s the fifth-largest, non-brand question: 

Fifth-largest, non-brand query—rankings after removing content

And right here’s the sixth-largest, non-brand question:

Sixth-largest, non-brand query—rankings after removing content

And the long-term influence? 

The location has been steadily rising.

Long-term impact of removing content

There may be by no means one single motive for search engine optimization development—however this modification definitely did no hurt.

As all the time, do your individual testing. However my expertise and feedback from John have proven that filler content material on classes doesn’t assist.

To summarize class content material: 

  • Reply questions that assist customers make buy selections
  • Reply questions succinctly
  • Don’t stuff content material

2. Manage classes logically

Most e-commerce options present a approach so that you can set guardian/little one relationships between classes.

Right here’s an instance of that performance for a WooCommerce product class:

Parent category function in WooCommerce

Organizing your classes right into a logical hierarchy leads to your web site outputting breadcrumbs appropriately; right here is an instance on my search engine optimization Toolbelt useful resource:

Organizing your categories into a logical hierarchy results in your site outputting breadcrumbs correctly

Breadcrumbs assist customers by indicating the place they’re in your web site, and so they assist search engine optimization by distributing PageRank to the classes inside the breadcrumbs.

In addition they assist Google, because it makes use of inner hyperlinks to know web site construction.

We do use the interior hyperlinks to higher perceive the construction of a web page.

John Mueller

Nonetheless, breadcrumbs are one thing a number of UX professionals are reluctant to introduce, normally as a result of they:

  • Take up numerous room.
  • Are typically fairly ugly.
  • Promote customers to navigate to classes fairly than merchandise the place they’ll convert.

The excellent news is that breadcrumb placement doesn’t matter for search engine optimization.

I’m all the time cautious about introducing breadcrumbs, as expertise has proven UX specialists are proper. At any time when I’ve shoppers run an A/B take a look at, breadcrumbs have negatively impacted conversion charges.

Nonetheless, the workaround is straightforward: transfer breadcrumbs decrease down the web page.

3. Internally hyperlink classes

On each CLP and PLP pages, you must make sure you’re linking to different related classes the consumer might discover useful. On e-commerce websites, I advocate for a combination of automated inner linking and manually positioned hyperlinks.

Automate hyperlinks to guardian/little one classes

For giant e-commerce shops, with out automation, managing hyperlinks will likely be an admin nightmare.

Take GetYourGuide, for instance. On its “issues to do” on the U.S. web page, it has a block of inner hyperlinks decrease down the web page to totally different areas within the U.S.

Regions in the U.S.—automated internal links

If we head to Colorado, scroll all the way down to the identical space. Now, it shows cities.

Cities in Colorado— automated internal links

When you go to Boulder, you’ll see hyperlinks to exercise classes.

Things to do in Boulder—automated internal links

It most undoubtedly automates these hyperlinks.

How? The location understands the guardian/little one relationship between classes. That’s the way it may show static breadcrumbs above the footer.

Static breadcrumbs above the footer generated automatically

It’ll be dynamically querying a database for the kid pages of the present web page after which displaying these to customers.

Site structure: source of automatically generated breadcrumbs

The explanation why that is so helpful is that:

  • You recognize you received’t get orphan classes resulting from a human error.
  • In case you create a brand new subcategory and set the guardian class, the guardian class will hyperlink to the subcategory robotically.
  • Your inner hyperlinks will all the time point out your web site construction, e.g., Google will perceive that Louisiana is a subcategory of the U.S. class, as you hyperlink to Louisiana in your U.S. web page.

One other appreciable profit is that you just’ll robotically create a pyramid web site construction, the place broader pages hyperlink to extra particular ones.

Pyramid site structure

We all know this helps Google perceive web site construction, as confirmed by John.

The highest-down strategy or pyramid construction helps us much more to know the context of particular person pages inside the web site.

John Mueller

Automate hyperlinks to comparable classes

Much like the above, you’ll additionally need to hyperlink comparable classes. You’ll be able to automate this, but it surely doesn’t go well with each web site.

Again to the Boulder web page on GetYourGuide, it additionally hyperlinks to different well-liked cities.

Automated links to similar categories

For these hyperlinks, will probably be querying a database, getting the guardian class of the present web page, after which itemizing the mother and father’ little one pages.

Two-step process of querying a database for parents' child pages

Subcategories of the guardian are doubtless related to the present web page, which is able to assist customers discover different pertinent classes and assist search engine optimization by sharing PageRank between them.

Manually hyperlink well-liked classes

You’ll now have baseline for inner linking. However it’s additionally important to take editorial management of hyperlinks, particularly on CLP pages.

Generally, you may have a excessive search alternative web page deep inside the web site hierarchy, so counting on guardian classes linking to little one classes may end up in “excessive alternative” classes being too deep.

Due to this fact, you have to additionally make sure you manually add hyperlinks to well-liked/essential classes to pages nearer to the homepage, corresponding to your CLP pages.

Manually add links to popular/important categories to pages closer to the homepage, like your CLP pages

4. Pagination and linking to merchandise

A basic goal of classes is to hyperlink to merchandise, however there are a number of nuances on how to do that finest.

Hyperlink to well-liked merchandise

For bigger shops, prioritizing linking to well-liked merchandise is commonly higher than linking to all merchandise with pagination.

Take Sports activities Direct within the U.Okay., for instance. On its broad CLP pages, fairly than linking numerous merchandise, it consists of hyperlinks to solely its finest sellers.

Links to popular products

That is useful for customers and in addition consolidates PageRank into these URLs, enhancing how nicely they rank.

PageRank of one distributed to four pages

Doing it is a a lot better possibility than linking to extra merchandise (however ones which might be much less well-liked), which ends up in the favored traffic-driving merchandise receiving much less PageRank and rating worse.

PageRank of one distributed to 10 pages

Contemplate view-all pages

When you ought to intention to hyperlink to well-liked merchandise for pages increased up in your class hierarchy, as you get deeper into the positioning, customers are likely to need to see as many merchandise as attainable.

Usually, the easiest way to realize that is through the use of view-all pages, which is one thing Google discovered customers favor (albeit again in 2011).

Google prefers view-all pages

The primary caveat with a view-all web page is that customers need quick load occasions (as talked about in Google’s view-all article), and Core Net Vitals can influence rankings.

View-all pages can impact site speed

In case you’re going to implement view-all pages, think about that it’s going to trigger PageRank to be diluted between all of the pages you hyperlink to from that class.

Don’t go overboard with pagination

You don’t want to point out all of your merchandise inside your pagination.

As an alternative, hyperlink to extra particular variants of the present class, particularly should you can match that to look demand (extra on that shortly).

For instance, on ASOS, its “ladies’s clothes” class has 176 pagination element pages.

Long pagination on ASOS website

Each time it hyperlinks to a “ladies’s costume” element web page, it dilutes PageRank. This successfully causes ASOS to lose some PageRank to deep element pages which might be most unlikely to rank.

Relatively than linking to 176 element URLs, it might restrict the pagination and consolidate PageRank into different extra particular classes by linking to them as a substitute.

Typically, this can even be useful for UX.

If a consumer reaches web page #20 of your pagination, you doubtless want to assist them refine what they’re in search of—possibly by linking to “ladies’s costume” classes by sort or colour—as urged by John.

When creating your pagination technique, you must think about whether or not sequential linking like ASOS or linking to a number of element pages is the higher selection.

Sequential linking causes the primary set of element pages to have stronger alerts, which is able to end result within the product pages they hyperlink to additionally having stronger alerts, as confirmed by John.

In case you hyperlink sequentially, what is going to usually occur is the primary web page of your web site could have loads stronger alerts within the sense that your most important content material hyperlinks to the primary web page, after which it type of like incrementally drops and drops and drops because it goes by means of the pagination set.

John Mueller

Due to this fact, if you need rating alerts to be unfold throughout all merchandise in a class, hyperlink to extra element pages. If you wish to consolidate alerts into merchandise earlier inside pagination, hyperlink to fewer.

Aren’t certain which strategy you must take? Do some testing!

5. Create long-tail classes

A well known tactic to enhance your classes is to create long-tail, extra particular variations of broader classes.

Right here’s my favourite approach of doing that utilizing Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer.

First, enter the question a broader class is focusing on, e.g., “engagement rings,” and seek for it within the software.

Keyword research starting from a broad category in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Subsequent, head to the Matching phrases report.

KD for "engagement rings"

Within the second left sidebar that now seems, click on “Mum or dad Subjects.” This may group key phrases with comparable search outcomes into the very best quantity key phrase.

Long-tail variants for "engagement rings"

We’ve now found many long-tail variants of our “engagement rings” pages that we will create on our web site.

By creating pages focusing on these queries and higher protecting the subject space of “engagement rings,” we’ll rank higher for broad queries inside that subject. 

SEOs usually check with this as “subject experience”—and we didn’t make this up.

John confirmed it’s a part of Google’s algorithms.

It’s one thing the place if we will acknowledge that this web site is admittedly good for this broader subject space, then if somebody is trying to find that broader subject space, we will attempt to present that web site as nicely. We don’t must purely deal with particular person pages, however we’ll say oh, like, it seems to be such as you’re in search of a brand new laptop computer like this web site has a number of info on numerous aspects round laptops.

John Mueller

Wish to know extra? Learn Ahrefs CMO Tim Soulo’s information on the long-tail key phrase technique. 

6. Choose a faceted navigation technique

A vital ingredient that may go improper on class pages is the way you take care of faceted navigation (sometimes called “filters”).

Right here’s an instance of 1 on the Nike retailer:

Faceted navigation example

I like to recommend studying my faceted navigation information for all the main points, however the main search engine optimization concerns are to:

  • Limit crawling – Do make sure you stop Google from crawling all aspect hyperlinks (as there could be hundreds of thousands of potential combos, losing your crawl finances).
  • Forestall indexing of low-value aspects – In case you don’t, Google can index lots of of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of basically duplicate pages that aren’t helpful for search.

In case you’re going for an excellent implementation, you’re going to need to:

  • Apply aspects client-side with AJAX, and don’t embrace <a href> hyperlinks.
  • Present alternate crawl paths to essential aspects you need to be listed.

This subject is undoubtedly a technical one—and one you’ll need to get proper. So I like to recommend you learn my information so that you don’t simply stop search engine optimization points with aspects however benefit from the advantages. 

Information from Reevoo suggests optimistic evaluations lead to an 18% uplift in income on common—so that they’re fairly essential.

Many websites prohibit evaluations to product pages, however they’re additionally nice to incorporate in classes.

Fanatical is a good instance, an e-commerce retailer promoting Steam Keys for PC video games.

Reviews on a category page

It consists of suggestions from different avid gamers all through its classes.

This provides distinctive content material to classes and helps customers discover well-reviewed video games. Crucially, well-reviewed video games (which usually tend to convert) get extra PageRank and rank higher.

8. Helpful guides and instruments

As talked about, one ingredient usually missed in classes is that you must present content material to assist customers make a buying choice.

Whereas including written content material to the web page helps, it isn’t meant to be overly detailed. That is why you also needs to hyperlink to in-depth guides.

Take Sephora, for instance. Its CLPs have hyperlinks to guides to assist customers resolve on a product.

Guide on a category page

For search engine optimization, this additionally helps the weblog posts rank, as they’ll obtain extra PageRank. Additionally, it helps Google higher perceive your subject experience, as you have got numerous interlinked content material.

9. Choose an optimum URL construction

There may be loads of recommendation on URL construction already obtainable, however the principle ingredient to think about is to choose a format you received’t want to vary.

John said that URLs are identifiers for content material.

For probably the most half, we deal with URLs as identifiers of content material.

John Mueller

Altering URLs (and redirecting them) is commonly deemed dangerous exercise—you may’t be certain how lengthy it’ll take Google to consolidate alerts into the brand new URL.

Due to this fact, it’s finest to not change URLs until you have got motive (such as you’re rebranding).

Stopping URL modifications for classes comes all the way down to maintaining them easy and pre-planning.

For instance, it’s possible you’ll inform your builders to construction URLs primarily based on the guardian/little one relationships between classes:

  • www.instance.com/mens/
  • www.instance.com/mens/trainers/
  • www.instance.com/mens/trainers/white/

However what occurs should you change your web site hierarchy?

Say the enterprise begins promoting boots. You’ll doubtless need to introduce a “Footwear” class into the hierarchy because the guardian of the “Trainers” web page and the brand new “Boots” web page.

Your URLs will now change to be:

  • www.instance.com/mens/
  • www.instance.com/mens/sneakers/
  • www.instance.com/mens/sneakers/trainers/
  • www.instance.com/mens/sneakers/trainers/white/
  • www.instance.com/mens/sneakers/boots/

We’ve now simply precipitated redirects for the “Coach” URL and any subcategories it had.

Herein lies the problems with hierarchical structured URLs.

However what’s the answer?

Hold them so simple as attainable to cut back the necessity for modifications. 

Right here’s an instance: If for the “white trainers” URL above, we instruct builders to take the very top-level class (which is much less more likely to change) after which embrace the final class, the URL will likely be this: www.instance.com/mens/white-trainers/

Now, if any of the guardian classes of the white coach’s class change, it received’t influence the URL however will nonetheless have an effect on the breadcrumbs.

However wouldn’t or not it’s higher to take away the construction and have a flat URL like this: www.instance.com/mens-white-trainers/?

My private expertise right here is that structured URLs influence rankings, regardless of what Google mentioned on the subject.

Right here’s a latest instance: 

Structured URLs impact rankings, as shown in line graph

This uplift solely impacted the modified URLs. We altered nothing else however noticed a right away influence.

Take a look at this your self. But additionally, as I’ve talked about, altering URLs is dangerous.

Fortunately, for my above instance, we didn’t want to vary too many URLs, and the income danger to the enterprise wasn’t vital vs. the reward I’d had doing this for different shoppers.

I’m not writing a key phrase analysis article, and that you must begin there earlier than you resolve on H1s and title tags. However the recommendation right here is that you must use H1s and title tags in your web site that match the language customers use to seek out your product.

For each H1s and title tags, you must take a look at and study what works finest on your web site. However there are some basic guides and issues you may strive out.

Use templates

Typically, it would be best to have a templated title tag construction that intently matches your H1

Why?

Ahrefs information exhibits Google will rewrite your title tag in 33.4% of circumstances after altering the way it created web page titles in August 2021.

Google was more likely to rewrite titles in September 2021 than in June 2021

When Google rewrites your title tag, Ahrefs information exhibits Google will change it to your H1 tag 50.76% of the time.

When Google ignores titles, it uses H1s

The easiest way to make sure you have a title tag that Google received’t rewrite is by templating it so it’s generated primarily based in your web page’s H1

Right here’s an instance: [Page H1] – [Brand Name].

You might need to add some selection to the web page title, however what works finest comes all the way down to testing.

Take a look at, take a look at, take a look at

There are a lot of totally different exams you may run to see what works finest for you; listed here are some examples:

  • Use dashes (-) over pipes (|)
  • Embrace a worth – [Page H1] ranging from X – [Brand name]
  • Add “Purchase” at the beginning of your title tag – Purchase [Page H1] – [Brand name]
  • Add secondary key phrases – [Page H1] – [Secondary Keyword] – [Brand Name]

You’ll additionally need to think about how templates might range by size. Google is 57% extra more likely to rewrite titles over 600 px.

Google was more likely to rewrite title tags over 600 px in September 2021 than in June 2021

In keeping with Google, lengthy titles are additionally a motive why it’ll rewrite those you add to your pages.

Google listing length as one of the reasons for rewriting titles

I’ve tackled this earlier than by individually customizing a template for an extended class title or utilizing totally different templates—relying on the size of the generated title tag.

You’ll be able to add a number of structured information varieties to your class pages to assist Google higher perceive your content material and purchase wealthy outcomes.

The primary relevant varieties Google recommends in its search gallery are:

Including these will immediately influence your SERP snippet.

For FAQs, it enhances them by displaying the FAQs on the SERPs, which is the technique Journey Advisor takes.

FAQs coming from schema markup

For breadcrumb structured information, Google exhibits the breadcrumbs on the SERPs. Right here’s an instance of Google doing that for Currys within the U.Okay.

Breadcrumbs coming from schema markup

You’ll be able to see the structured information it’s added within the Schema Markup validator:

Schema code via Schema Markup validator

Outdoors of these two varieties, Google has no suggestions for product class structured information.

However you don’t must cease there.

On a “Search Off the Report” podcast, Ryan Levering (workers software program engineer engaged on structured information at Google) answered whether or not structured information past what Google recommends is effective (like what yow will discover on schema.org).

So it’s arduous to convey that in a few of our reporting and stuff that we truly discover this [structured data] helpful as a result of it’s a nuanced calculation.

However when there’s issues detecting it [what the page’s content is about], we will use it as an additional sign.

So it’s normally on the sting circumstances the place we discover that stuff helpful.

Ryan Levering

Whereas including additional structured information ought to be a secondary focus, I are likely to take the strategy of leaving as little for Google to determine as attainable.

The 2 most important further issues I’d think about including are:

As well as, you may also add mainEntity to CollectionPage and add the ItemList inside that. By doing this, you inform Google the principle a part of the web page is the checklist of merchandise, serving to it higher perceive that it is a class web page.

Right here’s a easy instance of what that may look like:

  "@context": "http://schema.org",

  "@sort": "CollectionPage",

  "mainEntity":

    "@sort": "ItemList",

    "numberOfItems": "[number of products]",

    "itemListElement": [

      

        "@type": "ListItem",

        "position": 1,

        "url": "[Item URL]",

        "title": "[Item Name]"

      ,

      

        "@sort": "ListItem",

        "place": 2,

        "url": "[Item URL]",

        "title": "[Item Name]"

      ,

      

        "@sort": "ListItem",

        "place": 3,

        "url": "[Item URL]",

        "title": "[Item Name]"

      

    ]

  

PRO TIP

You’ll discover I haven’t talked about evaluate or product markup. E-commerce shops usually add this markup to class pages—and also you shouldn’t.

For evaluations, Google mentions explicitly within the technical tips to not add evaluate markup if the principle content material is a class itemizing gadgets.

Google advises not to use review markup on product category pages

It offers the identical instruction for product structured information.

Google advises to use markup for specific products rather than categories or lists

Last ideas

There’s loads to think about to make glorious class pages for search engine optimization. However hopefully, this information has made that course of extra painless.

Obtained a query about optimizing e-commerce classes? Tweet me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *