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.
Why does this matter? For ecommerce sites, category pages are a crucial part of their buyer’s journey. Just like a brick-and-mortar store where similar items are grouped together, category pages organize a site for easier searching. Customers use category pages to navigate your site and discover products.
Since category pages are broader search terms, they’ll have much higher search volume than specific products. This presents one of the biggest opportunities for an ecommerce company to earn traffic for non-brand keywords. Driving more qualified traffic can increase conversions, and can also improve your paid media opportunities to retarget these visitors.
In this article, we offer 6 tips to optimize your category pages, so you can drive more traffic to the pages that matter.
- Find the right target keyword
- Incorporate your target keyword on-page
- Add relevant content
- Consider your filters
- Build internal links between categories
- 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”.
A quick search in Ahrefs shows they may be missing out on a major traffic opportunity. About 45x higher, to be exact.
How to conduct keyword research:
- Choose your topic. Use a keyword research tool (like Ahrefs or SEMrush) to determine search volume and competition level of that keyword.
- Look at Related Keywords for more relevant or higher volume variations. This can also be a good place to find secondary keywords and subtopics for your page.
- Use Google autofill, Related Searches and People Also Ask boxes for insight into the language people are using to describe this product.
- Plug top-ranking competitors’ corresponding category pages into your research tool to find their top queries.
- Plug your own category page into the tool to see the keywords you’re ranking for. Compare with 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, you need to make sure it’s well-represented. Make it as clear as possible to users and search engines what your category page is promoting. Your metadata and on-page content should contain your target keyword and variations. This includes:
- Page title
- Meta description
- Heading tags
- Product names/descriptions
- Image alt-text
For example, Wayfair’s area rug category page contains their target keyword (you guessed it: “area rugs”) in all relevant on-page signals:
Additionally, all product titles and images use descriptive text which contains the target keyword. Example: “Calion Handmade Shag Cream Area Rug.”
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:
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:
- Google your target keyword and check out the People Also Ask boxes. Include these questions and your answers on your page.
- Use free keyword research tools like Keywords Everywhere or paid tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to uncover more keyword variations and related questions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Feature select customer reviews on the category page. Testimonials build relevant content on the page and add social proof, one of the most important factors in a purchase decision.
4. Consider Your Filters
Your page filters are another place you can add context, as well as improve 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.
5. Build Internal Links Between Categories
Internal linking between category pages can improve the authority of those pages for target keywords. This also can help users navigate to other relevant sections of the site.
For example, on Wayfair’s Kitchen & Dining Room category page, their additional content could include internal links to table runners, dinnerware and centerpieces.
Make sure to use descriptive anchor text when building these links. For instance, if we wanted to build a link to our Amazon SEO page, we’d use the anchor text “Amazon SEO“.
6. Add Schema Markup
Schema markup provides search engines with additional information so they can provide more details in search results.
Markup to include could be Breadcrumb or Product schema. Breadcrumbs allow users to understand the exact location of the product they are looking at, and help them understand how to navigate the rest of the site.
For Product schema, this can include price, reviews and availability, which may impact click-through-rates.
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.