Other than the home page, a website’s most important content is product pages. For lead or revenue generation, the products — the things you actually sell — must attract a lot of website traffic. By putting care into how you set up your product pages, you’ll improve their organic visibility on Google, and take full advantage of your SEO opportunity to drive more leads and revenue.
Keyword Selection and Page Organization
The first thing to do, of course, is select the right keywords for which to optimize your various product pages. At Straight North, we often talk to companies whose product pages are underperforming because they have focused on the wrong keywords, or on too many of them. Here’s a simple, two-step process to run through.
1. Identify one keyword phrase — the most important keyword you can find — for each product or product group you want to target in your SEO campaign. No duplicates, no overlap.
2. Then, determine if you have a specific product page on your website that matches with each keyword phrase.
Often, the existing product pages don’t match, so new pages have to be created or the existing content reworked. It’s worth the effort. Once you have your high-priority keywords connected to the relevant product pages, you are optimizing from a solid foundation — because now Google can clearly see what product matches with what their search engine users are looking for.
Internal Linking Structure
With your product pages properly structured, the next step is to make sure your top navigation links to those pages, ideally using the same keyword phrases you’ve selected as your top one for each page. As always, you must balance your SEO content with user experience, so make sure your navigation labels make sense for human readers, and are easy to scan.
Also, by linking other pages of your website to your high-priority product pages, you’ll send a signal to Google that those product pages are important. If Google thinks those pages are important, it will rank them higher. You have to be careful how you do this; in the old days, companies would put tons of internal links in the footer of each web page, but this mass-production internal linking technique is no longer as effective. Instead, link judiciously, making sure your internal links include a mix of footer links and inline text links where they are relevant. Quality (i.e., relevance) of the internal link is more important than the sheer number of times you are linking to a given page.
Images of products and applications on the product pages could be low-hanging SEO fruit. Remember, image search is popular, and if you sell a product that lends itself to image search, it’s criminal not to optimize those images. Good image optimization includes:
• Writing a caption for the image that highlights a key feature or benefit — and one or two keywords, if possible.
• The file image name should include keywords, and exclude (to human readers and Google) programming gibberish.
• Create alt tag descriptions that are truly descriptive, again including a keyword or two.
• Make sure your images are properly sized for desktop and mobile view.
• Make sure your images are stored and served in such a way that page- loading time is minimized.
Meta tags, content that Google crawlers see that is behind the page or supplemental to it, require a certain amount of SEO handling. In particular:
• Title tags continue to be very important, as they tell Google exactly what your product page is about. It’s best to include your top keyword for that page at the beginning of the page title.
• Meta descriptions, snippets of text that appear below links on Google search engine results pages, should also be written carefully and persuasively to get Google users to click on the link when your product page appears. Even though meta tags no longer have direct SEO value, their indirect value in improving conversions is quite important.
Finally, it’s time to talk about what’s actually on the product page. I’ll keep it short.
• Quality is key. Product page content MUST be as informative, relevant, clear, concise, useful and carefully edited as possible. (Google crawlers can interpret quality.)
• Word count is whatever it takes to get the message across. If you want a benchmark, see what pages rank at the top for the page’s top keyword, and strive to match or exceed that word count.
• Put keywords in the H1 title tag and other H tags, but also make those tags appealing to human readers — SEO content is worth nothing if it doesn’t convert!
• Make sure your product pages include a strong offer and call to action. This goes without saying (I hope) for e-commerce pages, but for lead generation websites, this massively important technique is overlooked time and time again.
• One or two mentions of, say, two to five keyword phrases should be sufficient for each product page. Repeating keywords too often is not necessary or could be counterproductive, and the keyword phrasing doesn’t have to be exactly the same, as it did in the old days. Google can catch your drift if you’ve followed the rest of the suggestions discussed here.
There you have it — product pages to which Google will pay attention. It may take some time to get this content up to speed, but it will be well worthwhile if it produces more traffic and sales opportunities.
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This is a guest post by Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing companies in Chicago that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Smashing Magazine, American Marketing Association and Forbes.