Scalable Content SEO for eCommerce

Optimizing the content of an eCommerce website is easier than you think. Ranking an e-commerce site takes a different approach than ranking most other websites. Often you have to work with a site that contains hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of pages and a lot of thin or duplicate content.

Wouter van der Meij
Wouter van der Meij
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With hundreds of thousands of pages, how to scale your content optimization?

Define content groups. What similar types of pages does your site have? Think about brands, groups of products, category pages, etc.

Find keyword gaps. Take a few individual pages from a group and find what keywords you're not ranking for but your competitors are. See if there is overlap.

Optimize the groups' templates. Often, when you've found a recurring topic for your keyword group, you can optimize it for all the pages within that group.

Use a URL pattern of a competitor to find keyword ideas for your category pages. You could enter this URL in Umbrellum to see what keywords each category ranks for.

Sometimes you hit gold: a way to optimize thousands of pages at once

Some more scalable content optimization ideas: 'Manual + product' (seen a lot for electronics).

Creating sentences of the product attributes to generate a more readable text: {PRODUCTNAME} has a {SPEC 1} camera and has a {SCREENSIZE} inch screen.

Bonus: you might end up in featured snippets and People also Asked questions as well.

There is a lot of SEO opportunity in filters and faceted navigation. The best would be if you can make some filtered pages indexable and optimized, and others not.

How to deal with duplicate content?

What you can do is add other elements like videos of the product, images, FAQs, more product specifications, and maybe turn a few specifications into a sentence automatically.

Ranking an e-commerce site takes a different approach than ranking most other websites. Often you have to work with a site that contains hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of pages and a lot of thin or duplicate content.

Although this guide talks about machine learning algorithms like Naive-Bayes and K-means clustering, the level of the content isn't only for advanced tech SEOs. Everything is laid out for you. Including easy to use free tools to use the machine learning algorithms mentioned in the guide.

Optimizing the content of an eCommerce website is easier than you think. There are some problems that often occur, but there are scalable solutions to them as well. In this section of the guide, I'll explain what types of problems often occur, how to diagnose the problem and provide solutions to fix them.

How to scale content optimization?

With hundreds of thousands of pages, how to scale your content optimization?

You can't optimize your site page by page. But you can optimize it, group, by group.

  1. Define content groups.
    What similar types of pages does your site have? Think about brands, groups of products, category pages, etc.
  2. Find keyword gaps.
    Take a few individual pages from a group and find what keywords you're not ranking for but your competitors are. See if there is overlap.
  3. Optimize the groups' templates.
    Often, when you've found a recurring topic for your keyword group, you can optimize it for all the pages within that group.

Step by step: How to find sitewide keyword opportunities

Let's take the following webshop in mind: a webshop selling books. This is a hard one. The books you sell will be exactly the same as the books sold anywhere else. The book descriptions will probably be the same as those of your competitors, so you'd have a lot of duplicate content. So how do you find sitewide keyword strategies that scale?

The first step you take is to define content groups based on the pages you have. For example:

  • Product detail pages (books)
  • Category pages
  • Filter pages (filtered categories)
  • Blogs

The next step is to take one of these groups and find keyword gaps within the group. What this means is that you're basically looking for all the keywords other sites rank with one of those groups and find ways to optimize all of your groups' pages for those keywords. Let's take the category pages for example.

Example

Let's take bookdepository.com for example. They have a well-optimized website we can learn from. Their category structure is based on a URL pattern: https://bookdepository.com/category/... . We can, therefore, use that URL pattern to find keyword ideas for your category pages. You could enter this URL in Umbrellum to see what keywords each category ranks for.

Once you see the keywords each category ranks for you can add these to the categories on your site as well.

Another example that I've seen with a client was that a lot of people didn't really know the title of the latest book written by an author. But, they were simply searching for 'latest book AUTHOR'. For example, the search volumes for the author Dan Brown are below:

This is not a lot of search volume, but it's only one author! Multiply this by tens of thousands of authors and you'll cover a lot of search volume in the market.

You can also optimize your content at scale by automatically showing the message '{BOOKTITLE} is the latest book written by {AUTHOR}' and automatically optimises your site for all these keywords at once.

Other examples of scalable content optimization I've seen are:

  • 'Manual + product' (seen a lot for electronics).
  • Creating sentences of the product attributes to generate a more readable text. (For example the {PRODUCTNAME} has a {SPEC 1} camera, is {WATER RESISTANT) and has a {SCREENSIZE} inch screen. Bonus: you might end up in featured snippets and People also Asked questions as well.
    Another example I've seen is adding 'The ISBN of the book {BOOKTITLE} is {ISBN-NUMBER}' for textbooks (there is a lot of search volume on ISBNs because students need a specific print of a book).
  • Indexable filters and facets. There is a lot of SEO opportunity in filters and faceted navigation. The best would be if you can make some filtered pages indexable and optimized, and others not. This way you can rank for 'blue dresses', 'red dresses', 'green dresses' (colour filter), but not for '20% off dresses' and '25% off dresses' (sale filter). But also combinations of multiple filters: 'blue summer dresses' and 'Black evening dresses' (colour + occasion filters combined with category 'dresses').

How to deal with duplicate content?

Don't sweat it too much. Duplicate content can rank really well, don't worry too much about it. Especially in eCommerce, it's impossible to rewrite everything to create unique descriptions. What you can do though, is add other elements, for example, videos of the product, images, frequently asked questions, more product specifications, and maybe turn a few specifications into a sentence automatically. Also, links add value to content. So if possible link to related products, related categories, brands and filters. That will create a more unique approach to seemingly duplicate content.