With today’s competition online being fiercer than ever, e-commerce brands have a lot to optimize if they want to stay in the game. Consumer expectations have evolved and now require more touchpoints, more personalizations, better information, and a multichannel buyer journey, all of which means a lot more work for brands.
The best thing any brand can realistically do is focus on optimizations that bring multiple benefits at once. Investing in a better product photo collection, for example, will earn a brand a more modern look while also providing consumers with a better buying experience.
As it turns out, optimizing your product data also brings multiple windfalls. Not only does a brand have the opportunity to aggregate and clean up data, so teams can collaborate, it also improves product listing SEO.
In no uncertain terms, e-commerce product data is what drives SEO. Without that product data on the page, search engines can’t determine the “relevance” of product pages for user searches. Search engines work in the currency of characters, and product data holds the highest value language about what a brand offers.
Think of product data like a series of micro-communications between product listings and a search engine. Then ask yourself, what are you “saying” to search engines on your product listings right now?
There are a lot of ways to drive traffic to your product pages, but then we come back to the reality that brands are better off focusing on one thing at a time. This article describes the types of product data used in SEO along with the attributes of the data that earn better rankings, so you can focus on boosting your product pages and “speaking” the language of search engines.
Types of Product Data
Product data is traditionally broken down into two classes. The first is essential product data.
In the world of e-commerce, essential product data relates to product listings like a runner’s shoes relate to running. Without those shoes, a run isn’t going to happen.
In the world of product data, essential data includes:
- Product titles
- Product descriptions
- Product feature bullet points
- Hero product image
- Ingredients (when applicable)
- Contradictions (when applicable)
- Physical specifications like weight and size
- Technical specifications like speed, megapixels, etc.
The second class of product data is called enhanced data. Coming back to that runner, you can think of enhanced data like the GPS watch, heart rate monitor, running gels, hydration vest, and other equipment used for improved training. None of these items are essential, but they absolutely contribute to an improved experience for the athlete.
Traditionally, enhanced product data includes:
- Enriched product descriptions (with things like callouts embedded)
- 360-degree product tours
- “View inside” experiences
- Product comparison charts
- Instruction manuals
- Product photos and videos
- And more
It’s important to note that, although product photos are part of enhanced product data, consumer expectations are pushing them to the “essential” category fast. E-commerce revenue grew by almost 20% in 2020 and brought millions of new consumers to the market. People who never bought online before now do so regularly, and consumers overall are buying things they previously would have only bought in person. In the absence of being able to try a product on or even touch it, e-commerce brands are using product photos to fill that gap.
Product Data Attributes to Use for Better SEO Rankings
SEO really refers to the “relevancy” search engines believe your page has for specific user searches. Keywords are a big part of that, but search engines also look at metrics like how long users stay on the page and how many click that “buy” button.
You control those metrics through the information you provide about your products through product data. Here are the four key attributes of product data that ultimately drive your page rankings.
1. The completeness of product data
When data is incomplete, it weakens conversions and SEO. Consumers don’t find what they’re looking for and quickly navigate to someone else’s shop.
To appreciate the impact of complete product data, consider where consumers are in the sales funnel by the time they hit a product page. The average number of touchpoints a consumer has with a brand before even considering a purchase is three. The product page is often the last touchpoint where the consumer is finally ready to buy. The information he or she needs before clicking that button has to be right there on the page or the sale will be lost.
To optimize data for completeness, fill in each field a product page has. If you’re selling on Amazon, those fields and character limits will be slightly different than the fields on your e-commerce website. This requires different versions of data for each product, so you can ensure completeness on every channel.
2. The kinds of product data used
A product page with nothing but text-based product data will not convert like a page enriched with product images, videos, user guides, and other resources. Some of this enriched product data provides added information about the product, and some of it simply engages consumers in a more immersive way.
Providing an enriched experience on your product pages is about more than conversion. The words and images (and metadata linked to those images) also give search engines more information about what the page is about, and earn you added points for a better user experience.
When users do land on your page, they’ll also stay there longer, which feeds one of the key metrics search engines use to determine the value of content. Using more diverse product data (specifically, enhanced data) boosts your rankings and your traffic, and that same traffic boosts your rankings even more as users engage longer with product pages.
3. How product data is organized
Product data that’s poorly organized on a listing can be downright hard to read. It’s not responsive for different devices, either. It’s also ugly.
A mobile-responsive page that has product data organized attractively enables consumers to easily pick out the information they’re after.
How product data is laid out on listings points to web design as much as it does product information management. For example, even optimizations within product text can help the readability. Having bulleted lists and short paragraph size make details easier to find.
4. Product image metadata
Page metadata (or “behind the scenes” product data) also plays a role in your product listing’s SEO. Search engines look at image alt tags, for example, to determine the usability of a site for vision-impaired users who use screen readers.
These alt tags aren’t an opportunity to stuff keywords. Instead, they should describe image content in natural, conversational syntax, so screen readers can describe what’s in them. If the images on your page are of your own products (which on product listings they will be), that’s a win-win for usability and keywords at once.
The Bottom Line
In e-commerce, product data management is a fundamental part of SEO. Without aggregating and optimizing your product data, you won’t be able to optimize your search engine rankings.
There’s a lot of data to manage in e-commerce, from client data in your CRM to the thousands of messages from your team in your chat app. Managing product data can be simplified with its own devoted tool called a PIM, or product information management software.
Manage product data right, and you’ll boost your SEO, your conversions, and your brand. Next up, read about keyword research techniques to ensure the right keywords are woven into your product data.