Let’s start this post off with a real-world example. An ecommerce client asked us to improve a high-priority category page’s rankings for its target keyword.

This keyword was a behemoth: very high competition with a volume of 40,000+… and their page was ranking #78 for the term.

Regardless, we rolled up our sleeves and within three months, the page ranked on the first page of search results for their target keyword.

stat screenshot

In this article, we’ll show you how we managed that feat with these 6 tips to optimize your category pages.

  • Find the right target keyword
  • Incorporate your target keyword on-page
  • Add relevant content
  • Consider your filters
  • Use alt-text
  • Add product schema markup

1. Find the Right Target Keyword

First things first. Ensure you’re targeting the keyword people are actually using to find your products.

A lack of initial keyword research and reliance on brand language can lower your visibility and confuse your audience.

The fact of the matter is: no matter how badly you want it to work, sometimes your brand’s keyword and your audience’s keyword just don’t align. And they need to break up.

Let me borrow an example from digital marketing expert Ian Lurie. Men’s clothing brand Haggar misses the mark on their target keyword, using the phrase “denim pants” instead of, you guessed it: “jeans”.

haggars denim jeans

A quick search in Ahrefs shows they may be missing out on a major traffic opportunity. About 45x higher, to be exact.

How to find your target keyword:

  • Plug a few top-ranking competitors’ corresponding category pages into your research tool (like Ahrefs or SEMrush) to find their top queries
  • Plug your own category page into your tool to see the keywords you’re ranking for, and compare with your competitors

Now you should have a better idea what your focus keyword is.

2. Incorporate Your Target Keyword On-Page

Now that you know the best keyword for your page, make sure it’s represented in your metadata and on-page. This includes:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • URL
  • Heading tags
  • Product names/descriptions

Make it as clear as possible to both users and search engines what your category page is promoting. For example, Wayfair’s category page for area rugs contains their target keyword in all relevant on-page signals:

screenshot wayfair metadata

3. Add Relevant Content

An ever-present issue when optimizing category pages is there’s just not much content to work with. That can be changed.

Adding content related to your category topic provides search engines with additional context. And in general, the more context you give search engines, the better.

Another example from Wayfair shows this tactic in action:

Wayfair screenshot

On Wayfair’s Kitchen category page, they include additional content at the bottom and cover questions users might have, like “how do I choose the right kitchen appliance for my home?”

Here are a few tips to get started adding content to your page:

  1. Google your target keyword and check out the People Also Ask boxes. Include these questions and your answers on your page.
  2. Use free keyword research tools like Keywords Everywhere or paid tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to uncover more keyword variations and related questions.
  3. Add this copy below the subcategories or product feed. Placing it beneath the products shouldn’t impact click-through-rates or user experience, and this copy can be helpful for users trying to find more information.
  4. When formatting the copy, tag the questions as headings, and answer the question directly beneath it. This makes your copy more “snippetable” and increases the chances of being pulled in a featured snippet or People Also Ask box.

4. Consider Your Filters

Your page filters are another place you can add context, as well as improve the user experience.

This is where competitive analysis can be helpful. Take a look at the top-ranking pages for your keyword. What specific filters and options do they include?

As you can see below, Wayfair’s filters and options aren’t overwhelming, but provide enough options that users will likely find what they’re looking for. Additionally, words like “seating capacity” and “table shape” provide context to search engines that this page is, indeed, about dining tables.

Wayfair filters

5. Use Alt-Text

Category pages generally contain a fair amount of images to showcase the products, so optimizing your alt-text is a must.

Alt-text makes images accessible by describing the image to visitors who are unable to see them. It also provides additional context to search engines about the images.

Make sure all your images contain descriptive alt-text. Include your target keyword in the text, but only if it makes sense in the description. For example, Wayfair’s first image uses the alt-text “olivia 3 piece breakfast nook dining set”. This describes what the image is about while also using the target keyword (dining set).

6. Add Product Schema Markup

Schema markup provides search engines with additional information so they can provide more details in search results. For products, this can include price, reviews and availability, which can impact click-through-rates.

wayfair screenshot

See Google’s guidelines for more details on product schema, and generate your markup with one of these schema generators.

Go Forth and Optimize

There you have it: 6 simple tips to optimize your category pages. These are tactics we’ve used to improve our clients’ pages, and we hope you find success with them as well!

Want to learn more about using this tactic for your business? Contact Uproer to find out how we can help your ecommerce business grow.