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The 80 Most Common E-Commerce Website Mistakes

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The 80 Most Common E-Commerce Website Mistakes

This post is in English
Elena Terenteva
This post is in English
The 80 Most Common E-Commerce Website Mistakes

The number of online shops is growing exponentially, and the competition level facing entrepreneurs is growing with it. Having the best product is far from enough! You can lose customers over the smallest details, so the transactional journey you provide should meet the highest standards.

To help out the business community we have conducted research powered by SEMrush Site Audit to find out which issues e-commerce websites are struggling with most. We have scanned 1,300 online shops for 80 technical and SEO issues, varying widely from mild nuisances to severe business-damaging errors.

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We have gone over all the common on-page and technical SEO issues, including problems with HTTPS implementation, hreflangs, crawlability, site architecture, and more.

Guess what? Even the biggest retail websites have errors! Our research will help to give you an educated overview of your website’s health and find new ways to improve your business.

Paul Lovell, international SEO & PPC consultant and Founder at Always Evolving SEO, shared his expertise and concluded the research. We’ve also asked industry experts from all around the world to share their advice.

Paul Lovell,International SEO & PPC consultant and Founder at Always Evolving SEO

SEMrush Study: The 80 most common e-commerce website mistakes

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Comments from SEO experts

Ana Belén LeíñoHead of SEO, Valor de Ley

@Anabelenlei

One of the biggest mistakes in e-commerce is not giving user experience the top priority.

The first big issue is the loading speed of e-commerce websites. Page speed is very important for an excellent user experience, especially on mobile devices. But when it comes to providing product information to the customers who are deciding if they want to purchase, the speed of the website’s response is critical.

Once this speed is optimized, it’s important to retain users and make their stay on the website a pleasant one. Browsing, picking products, and getting detailed information should be easy and enjoyable. A common thing that a lot of e-stores do not provide is product suggestions. Similar to the offline shops, we must make our site the store with the best showcase, and the best products, and the best customer service.

A good user experience will not only increase the conversion rate, but also positively affect important SEO metrics, like page views, time on page, and bounce rate.

Felipe BazonHead of SEO and partner in Hedgehog Digital

@felipe09

I think the biggest problems of e-commerce sites in Brazil are related to crawlability issues. The vast majority of SaaS or Open-Source platforms generate many irrelevant pages that are 99% of the time crawled and indexed by bots. 

More on this What are Crawlability and Indexability of a Website? Post Elena Terenteva

The concept that states “the more indexed pages the better” is one of the most common misconceptions that exist in today's SEO. Therefore, we need to look very carefully at the pages that are generated by the e-commerce platform and define what should or should not be crawled and indexed. A good starting point is a crawlability report in SEMrush Site Audit or the new Log File Analyzer tool. I recommend blocking the crawling and indexing of the faceted navigation (filters) and all internal search to avoid indexing irrelevant pages and keyword cannibalization.

Thiago CazzaroSEO consultant and partner in AtivaClick

@thiagocazzaro

Of all mistakes, the most critical are surely the technical ones relating to crawlability. If there are difficulties for the search engine bots, the pages will not be indexed and ranked! Then everything else is compromised.

However, if you’ve already resolved all technical and SEO issues on your e-commerce website, pay attention to the images. Do not underestimate their power in your strategy, upload large original images (not just the manufacturer's, which are replicated extensively on the web), use semantic file names, make the alt texts descriptive and rich with related keywords.

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Olivier DuffezSEO Consultant, WebRankInfo founder, Ranking Metrics co-founder

@webrankinfo

I think the most important issue is “Low word count”. One major problem I often find on e-commerce sites is the lack of effort for editorial content.

A category page should not be just an H1 tag and a list of products with duplicated snippet texts. It must explain to the user where he arrives, what he will find and, if possible, give him a way to choose a product and go to a detailed page.

If you sell the product, you should know it well, so explain in the description why it is interesting, useful, effective, etc. Complete by answering the frequent questions that customers ask about this product.

Fernando Ferreiro Responsible for SEO in Indexando Marketing

@profesordeseo

You wouldn’t believe some mistakes that websites have, especially with clients who previously used an SEO agency.

There are always several issues with sitemaps. From sitemaps that weigh more than is allowed to sitemaps that are not found or that still have URLs in protocols different from the current one (links lead to HTTP pages for HTTPS site).

I think webmasters are a bit afraid to make deep segmentations. I have domains with more than 60 sitemaps and there is no problem with that. We shouldn't just divide the sitemaps for large projects - it is always a good way to see more specifically where we have problems on the website. And as an additional advantage, we can use sitemaps to set up SEMrush Site Audit and take specific actions on a domain that way. Moreover, we can divide the programming budget or SEO.

Craig CampbellSEO Consultant & Trainer

@craigcampbell03

E-commerce websites for me always have issues with the technical side, whether that's crawlability or other technical issues caused by the platforms they are built on. But we also have the fact that e-commerce sites are so big that even the basic SEO aspects are also part of the problem. Website owners are not always SEO savvy and may not realize that using a supplier’s product descriptions will lead to duplicate content issues, or that product variants, for example, black leather shoes, size 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, are all URLs that are being indexed and we only need one of them to work for us from an SEO point of view.

Get the basics right first and foremost, but also regularly run site audits and strive to better this area as much as you can.

Buzz Carter Head of Outreach & Digital PR, Bulldog Digital Media

@BulldogBuzz

One of the worst mistakes (from a CRO viewpoint) you could make with an E-Commerce website is not having product reviews on your product pages. Once people are on your site and looking at pages, you just need to convince them to buy!

According to a study on Moz, 67% of online consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by reviews, so not having product reviews on your site can cut off a large number of your potential customers. Furthermore, online reviews can encourage potential customers to spend more, which makes adding reviews a no-brainer when you’re trying to maximise your conversions.

On top of all this, reviews have a few benefits for SEO, they can be used with Schema to have a star rating displayed in the SERP, which helps increase your click-through rate. Additionally, pages also act as fresh new content, which Google treats favourably in the SERP rankings, so product reviews can be an easy way to keep your pages fresh and expand your keyword set, by ranking for reviews of the products you’re selling.

Nitin Manchanda Global Head of SEO, GoEuro

@_nitman

E-commerce websites are no different than other websites when it comes to some of the core issues like crawlability, performance and interlinking, which hurts your crawl budget at the end of the day. The increase in popularity of JS frameworks due to great UX metrics brings more crawlability issues to the table and makes it tough to grow organically. My recommendation would be to get the basics right and make your website worth user’s time, you’ll surely make search engines happy in the process, I bet.

One other big thing I want to focus on here is about finding and grabbing the opportunities rather than just focussing on what you have. An e-commerce might be optimising for the categories they have (for example “Shoes”) and also ensuring the filters are not exposed to search engines for obvious reasons, but then they’re missing the opportunity to generate traffic for some of the trending search patterns like “Black Adidas Shoes”, which is a combination of category, brand and color. So, while keeping an eye on optimizing what you have, my recommendation would be to keep the nother eye on what can bring more opportunities for you and grabbing it with both hands.

User-generated content is another powerful weapon which can help you provide a great user experience by helping users decide what they want. Obviously, search engines love seeing unique and fresh content on your website along with great engagement metrics. So, this is another area I would recommend investing in, for getting both benefits.

Jason Woodford CEO SiteVisibility

@JasonAEWoodford

Voice search is becoming more important in everyday life and it’s really important for retailers and e-commerce sites to try and capture this traffic.

By 2020, voice will account for 50% of all searches and 40% of adults already use voice search once a day. Although Amazon have their own products, like Alexa, voice search on phones, tablets and computers is much more powerful and capable of delivering much better results for the user.

We haven’t come across any sites that have got this nailed yet so it’s a great opportunity and worth the effort to get in early and get this right.

Regarding voice search for e-commerce sites, we think that you should be:

  • Optimizing your site for key terms (voice and text search often have different syntax and semantics and as such you should be considering both)
  • Marking up all your products correctly. This includes things like size, type, make, model, range, price, stock levels, rating, brand, material, SKU etc. to ensure the search engines have the most info possible to index them.
  • Providing information for a user. We believe that all of the things required to rank for featured snippets/position zero will work for voice too. This could be listed information, answering specific questions, creating user guides, solving common queries etc.

It’s worth noting that a lot of these tactics also work very well for traditional search, so double the reward for getting it right!

You can also find a more detailed breakdown of this in a post that our Content Marketing Manager Dave Gregory wrote.

Ross Tavendale Managing Director, Type A Media

@rtavs

The most common SEO ecommerce errors we see are user generated errors where the clients team add and remove products and create 404s. To make sure we don’t miss any pages going down we make sure to crawl the site with SEMrush every 3 days to pick up any major changes or issues. The great thing about using the SEMrush regular crawls is that you get email summaries so you know when you need to take action. Double that up with GA alerts and you have a really robust system.

A common issue we see is poor canonicalisation when it comes to configurable products. For example, if you are a lighting manufacturer, you can have a mixture of shades, bases and bulbs - all of these combinations spit out unique URLs which shouldn’t be in search. Having a strategy for handling canonicals is one of the most fundamental points for ecommerce SEO.

A soft mistake that I see a lot is a random internal linking structures that indiscriminately point to the “star product”. Although this isn’t technically a bad thing, it is an improper use of internal links. In an ideal world you want to group products and blog content together that fit a similar thread and use them to internally link to one another. By siloing content like this, you are sending stronger topical signals to Google and are more likely to get the right content ranked in the right SERP with the perfect search intent.

Lukasz Zelezny B2B SEO Consultant and Conference Speaker

@LukaszZelezny

My advice is you should not underestimate new search console.

It’s a powerful and free tool that will give you a 360-degree view on what is going on with your website. Aside from keyword performance you now have a deep dive into indexation issues. You may in some cases see plenty of pages that you may not want or you should not Index. Additionally, you can build an amazing dashboard linking new search console with data studio.

Conclusion

If your website generates revenue for your business, checking its technical health is a must and should be carried out regularly. As we can see from auditing over 5 million e-commerce pages, there are many basic SEO factors that even some mega brands have problems keeping on top of.

We hope that our research provides a comprehensive overview of what needs to be improved in e-commerce sites, and how smaller e-commerce brands can compete by ensuring that they keep a close eye on the highlighted issues and follow the best practices.

Check out your website health

with SEMrush Site Audit

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies.
Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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Comments

2000
Rashid Rasheed
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

As per article title, I was expecting more.. but you only mentioned simply SEO issues. How about UX issues such as poor images, unfriendly returns either from checkout or any other page, suspicious reviews, unwieldy navigation, poor content and product description, inaccurate stock mentioned on store, questionable poor customer service, marketing automation setup, hut big forms, exit optins, payment or checkout problems, sloppy fulfillment and delayed or missed deliveries??

These are the very common mistakes and you should come up with such improvement suggestions isn't?
Moin Shaikh
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

It's great to see UX becoming a central focus area in order to improve overall CX and SERP positions for websites. I'd like to add "Accessibility" as an added advantage, or perhaps, a neccessity of today's digital world.
John Rampton
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

I agree that not enough thought is given to user experience. User testing has helped us better understand that in our own online presence.
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

John Rampton
Hi John! It could be another great piece - I agree it's a very crucial topic and quite wide, let me know if you are interested in some collab and research around this topic.
Ankit Sharma
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Much obliged to you for these accommodating pointers. I am a bit flummoxed regarding how to maintain a strategic distance from the copy content mistake, however.

My organization Provide Web Development Services with Latest Technology. Our items all comprise of practical/defensive gatherings combined by linkers or isolated by spacers.

I welcome any proposals.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

#1 mistake of every e-commerce website is missing out on Google SERP localization bonus. 2nd is HTTPs bonus

Create dynamic localized landings pages and see a 200% increase in organic traffic.
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Thank you for these helpful pointers. I am a bit flummoxed as to how to avoid the duplicate content error, though.

My company sells specialty chemicals. Our products all consist of functional/protective groups joined together by linkers or separated by spacers. Products are grouped by the type of reactive or protective function. Within each group, based upon customer demand, we may have 3 - 5, possibly as many as 8, different linkers or spacers. Each different linker/spacer results in a different product number. Each product needs a description. It is quite challenging to write descriptive, helpful content for one product. How am I supposed to avoid duplicating content when the only variant is the linker/spacer length?

I welcome any suggestions.
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Robert H. Woodman
Hi Robert! Well, frankly speaking - there is almost no way, it's a problem of many websites, not just ecommerce. Thing is that it's not a penalty worthy issue - good news. So since you don't use content in order to manipulate your rankings, but actually providing users with descriptions they need to see you have nothing to worry about.
Shannon Bambling
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

These are all great tips to look at. One thing I have found difficult when working with e-commerce sites is the variation between different content management systems (CMS). Some systems automatically generate the Sitemap.xml and Robots.txt file and don't allow any changes which caused much headache, but luckily other are quite good to work with.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Shannon Bambling
A great development team always helps when stuck on certain projects or at worst crawl the site yourself and create a much better sitemap/sitemaps and you can use GTM to implement similar rules to what you might want to place in robots.txt
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

I think more than 80% websites have the same issue which are mentioned in this Info graphic, especially Duplicate Content and Log Meta Titles. I am working as Freelance SEO and optimized many E commerce sites with large database. Mostly are focusing on PPC and wants to generate sales from their advertising campaigns.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Faisal Ismail
Most do focus on PPC as it is looked at as a profit centre and when large scale PPC account are managed well it is easy for these large brand to do well, Large brand have a ctr of over 20% in ppc just due to the fact of there branding. when is comes to seo you only need to look at ASOS to see how this can go wrong with bad advise, but wen Ecom SEO is done right the return is massive
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

The root of website/apps marketing related issues lies with industry and largely clients itself. These all are basic requirements. Why these continue hurting businesses, because they deserve it. Why they deserve it, because they don't give much value to marketing part. They have jumbo budget for shoddy development and tiny pocket for marketing. Thanks for a marvelous much needed documented study.
Amit Ghosh
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Not only e-com sites but all the sites have this mistakes in common. Duplicate and no use of meta desc is the most common. Un till they cover up on page seo no one should move up with off page seo.
Raviraj Tak
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Hey Elena that's a Awesome & Insightful article. I do remember that when I was working for a client who never bothered to do such type of Recommendations on the website was losing the Business in this competitive world. After several discussions he agreed and finally implemented those changes which jumped his traffic to double and ranked most of the keywords in search engine. Its just a matter to make them understand how much necessary are these parameters.
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Raviraj Tak
Hi Raviraj! Thank you for your feedback! By the way -- if you want to share this case on our blog you are very welcome!
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

This is excellent - and I've shared to my team. If only the awesome info in the infographic was crawlable by Googlebot you could've got a decent featured snippet ;)
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Marie Turner
Hi Marie! Thank you :) And also thanks for an advice - we are preparing new research and we'll make infographic crawlable.
Dave Brown
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

@JasonAEWoodford dropped some knowledge on this post that's going to help businesses tremendously in the next couple of years.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Dave Brown
Yes it was great to have jason and the others expert share some of ther knowledge on this subject as well
Bella Willson
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

It's too informative but I have a question that if we do some mistake but it works means our website generate the traffic so it is useful for our future or not?
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Bella Willson
HI Bella! I'm not sure i've got your question correct . Do you mean that even with some mistakes your site is still generating good traffic?
Kalu Charan Parida
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Superb Insights ! I want to understand having such issues in the websites, how companies generating revenue from online?🤔🤔😳😳
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Kalu Charan Parida
Thank you, Kalu!
This was the purpose of our study - to draw attention to the fact that website owners may miss huge part of the traffic and, thereby, profit, only because they are not managing their websites properly.
Kalu Charan Parida
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Elena Terenteva
😊😊
Adeel Khan
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Most of the E-commerce sites are lacking to make blog page to their E-commerce site to generates the traffic through on-page SEO! This article really helps them to know the importance of Blog page on E-commerce.
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Adeel Khan
Hi Adeel! Thanks a lot for your comment!
Hugh Beaulac
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Great job, Elena! So many insights to learn
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Hugh Beaulac
Hi Hugh! Very glad you found this data helpful!
Himalayan Summit
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

very nice post.Thanks for sharing this information.
Elena Terenteva
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Himalayan Summit
Thank you, Himalayan!
Nathan Bradshaw
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

it is important to build your ecommerce website in a way that provides world class customer experience. Great customer experience can not only pave the way for repeat purchases by your customers but also spread positive word-of-mouth from these customers. It can also help you steer above your competition and boost sales.
another consideration is the ease of navigating your ecommerce website. Customers should not only be able to search and find you, but they should also land on a relevant page when they click on your links.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Nathan Bradshaw
Good point Nathan, the user experience on Ecom sites is very important as it will effect the businesses revenue, the use of proper A/B testing tools is very important as what we think as seos/website owners my not always be the solution as far as CRO is concerned and I know I always let the data do the talking when making these decisions
kalpesh dudhat
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

I will make sure that I will not try to resolve these E-Commerce mistakes on my site.
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

The common site mistakes are majorly related to technical SEO, and it is quite understandable why this problem arises. Businesses optimise their content with keywords, but they generally forget about the other technical aspects of using the keyword in metadata including title, H1 tag, etc. Also, sitemap creation and active Robots.txt file are other common technical SEO problems that significantly affect your site's SERP rankings. So, refer to this article and the experts' advice to contain yourself from committing such common mistakes.
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Sahil Kakkar
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sahil

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