If you could pick only one SEO strategy to boost organic traffic for your ecommerce store, optimizing category/collection pages would be the ultimate go-to.
First, category pages allow for broader keyword targeting by bringing together a specific set of products that fall under a broader theme or topic.
Consequently, a collection page can target many long-tail keywords that are relevant to the overall category.
Second, because search engines like Google prioritize user experience over anything, they are very likely to bring up collection pages when a user types queries like “summer dress”, “bunk bed”, “bamboo plate”.
Yes, even if the queries are singular in number.
That’s because category pages allow visitors to browse and compare options easily, making it more likely for them to find what they’re looking for.
Types of e-commerce category pages
Before we dive into a step-by-step breakdown of the best optimization strategies, let’s explore the different types of e-commerce category pages with examples.
|Mega Category Pages
|The top-level pages that encompass a wide range of subcategories.
|Men’s clothing, women’s clothing, and children’s clothing for fashion stores:
|These pages are nested within main category pages and provide more specific product groupings.
|A women’s clothing store might have sub-category pages for dresses, pants, and tops: https://www.nordstrom.com/browse/women/clothing/dresses
|Pages for Intermediate levels of categorization, allowing users to navigate and explore products within a more focused and specific context.
|Types of dresses will likely be organized under subcategories such as
“Short sleeve dresses”, “Maxi dresses” “Cocktail dresses” , etc.:
Comprehensive optimization techniques for e-commerce category pages
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed as you’re trying to develop a working optimization strategy for the collection pages of your store.
There are so many things to take into account, starting from website structure to UI/UX, and content.
If you want to be strategic about your optimization, I recommend first focusing on foundational components in your ecommerce SEO plan.
We ensure to accurately establish and prioritize these essential elements of SEO at Loopex Digital.
URL structure optimization
Page architecture is the organization of category pages on a website. It involves determining how categories and subcategories are presented, navigated, and displayed. There are 2 ways to organize categories and subcategories:
1. Flat structure
All pages of a website are located at the same hierarchical level, without any subdirectories. AllBirds is an example of an ecom store that utilizes a flat structure.
All of the URLs of its collection pages are on the same level following their /collections/ subfolder:
Flat structure may be an ideal option for smaller to medium-scale ecommerce stores. Such stores focus on niche markets or specific product categories.
Having a limited number of products, smaller ecommerce stores use navigation that makes it faster for both users and crawlers to find all content. SEO-wise, the advantages and drawbacks of a flat URL structure include:
- The bot easily finds, crawls, and indexes your pages (provided the sitemap isn’t the only place you have linked them)
- Navigation is simple and easy to follow for users
- Being simple, the website structure can be easily changed later if you introduce new categories
- Lack of logical organization
- Google may have difficulties understanding how URLs relate to one another
- It may be harder to build topical authority
So if you decide to go for flatter navigation make sure to:
- Include all your important URLs in the Menu (which may turn into a Mega menu)
- Focus on internal linking: Without hierarchical subfolders, the relationship between pages is not easily indicated.
2. Deep structure
Pages are located several levels deep within the site’s hierarchy in multiple subdirectories.
Larger ecommerce stores often make use of this website organization strategy to organize logically the great number of collections and products they have.
Cuckooland is a prime example of a store rocking the deep structure:
Now let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a deep website structure.
- Allows for more detailed and logical organization and categorization of content
- Enhances search engine understanding of URL relationships
- Provides better chances to build topical authority
- Makes targeting long-tail keywords and keyword variations easier
- A deep structure can lead to long and complex URLs
- Google may find it more difficult to crawl and index your pages if you don’t have proper internal linking
If deep navigation is the structure your ecommerce uses, here are a few tips for maximum SEO-friendliness:
- Plan a deep, comprehensive internal linking strategy to distribute relevance and authority across pages, especially those in the lower tiers of the hierarchy
- Keep your URL slugs short and nice
- Include at least second-tier URLs of the hierarchy in the menu
Also, pay attention to these general good practices for URL optimization:
a) Keep URL structure clean, simple, and descriptive:
- No: /catalog/product?id=12345
- Yes: /clothing/mens/t-shirts/graphic-tees
b) Use hyphens to separate words.
c) Include the primary keyword, but avoid keyword stuffing.
Search engines want you to adjust your category pages in order to make them as convenient for users as possible.
It’s pretty straightforward, right?
You don’t want your prospects to visit the page and then bounce in a minute because your website takes forever to load, has technical errors, confusing navigation, and whatnot.
I’ll summarize the most important aspects of UX you want to pay attention to:
Provide users with a seamless and intuitive browsing experience by utilizing faceted navigation. Make your facets relevant and meaningful.
For example, if you have a clothing store, on your category page you can have facets like “Gender” at the top level, followed by “Type of Clothing,” “Size,” “Color,” and so on.
Here’s an example of good faceted navigation.
Caveat: Great as it is, faceted navigation can become a headache if you don’t properly handle the URL variations it is generating. Ensure you have the upper hand over these URLs by preventing them from getting crawled, indexed, and causing duplication issues. Here’s a great guide on how to handle it.
Ensure that the category page and its elements load quickly to avoid user frustration.
Optimize image sizes, minimize unnecessary scripts or plugins, and utilize caching techniques to improve overall page performance.
Relevant and compelling product displays
Display products in an organized and visually appealing manner. Include high-quality product images, concise and informative product titles, and relevant details (e.g., price, ratings, availability).
Use product thumbnails to display multiple images of the same product. This can help users see different angles of the product and make informed purchasing decisions.
User reviews and ratings
Display user-generated reviews and ratings for products whenever possible. This social proof helps build trust, allows users to evaluate product quality, and supports their decision-making process.
To give you an idea of just how important mobile-friendliness is, here is a screenshot from the Search Console of a popular UK ecommerce store.
It’s getting the vast majority of its clicks from mobile devices – three times more than desktop!
Hence, Google’s emphasis on mobile-first indexing.
So I’d recommend highly prioritizing:
- Responsive design
- Intuitive UI
- Mobile speed
- Constantly monitoring your site’s mobile friendliness using GSC’s “Mobile Usability” report
Optimizing ecommerce collection pages through keyword research can boost their visibility and attract relevant traffic.
Long tail keywords present amazing opportunities due to their specificity.
To follow the example of bed collections, targeting “bunk beds with trundle” is a valuable long-tail keyword you can consider besides the more generic “bunk bed” keyword.
By focusing on long-tail keywords, you can tap into a niche market, attract more qualified leads, and improve your chances of conversions.
To find long-tail keyword opportunities:
- Go to KWFinder tool
- Type in the seed keyword
- Choose the country
- Select the “Related keywords” tab
- Look for long-tail keywords in the list below
- Pay attention to search volume and keyword difficulty
Incorporating content at the end of your category pages is a great SEO practice if you keep the content relevant and to the point.
It’s an additional opportunity to answer buyers’ questions regarding products, naturally incorporate your primary and secondary keywords, as well as add internal links to relevant collections, products, and informational content you have on the website.
Let me stress one thing, though, you don’t want to turn your collection page content into a 2000-word blog post and confuse search engines regarding the intent of the page.
To give you an example, a good content piece for a category page selling bunk beds would include answers to questions like:
- What age are bunk beds suitable for?
- What types of bunk beds are available at your store?
- What size mattresses do users need to buy with the bunk bed?
- Do you offer assembly services?
Pro tip: To find relevant questions to answer in your content, go to Mangools’s KWFinder tool again, put the relevant query in the search field, and go to the Questions tab. KWFinder will suggest questions related to your primary keyword that users are searching for:
A well-thought-out internal linking strategy is crucial for the SEO success of your category pages.
You need to create a sort of network of internal links that provides smooth navigation for users and crawlers.
However, it’s important to establish a logical connection between child and parent categories.
- For example, a “princess beds” collection would link to “girls beds“, but not to unrelated categories like “gaming beds.”
- Utilize visually attractive buttons at the top of collection pages to link to relevant categories.
- Incorporate internal links from relevant informational content into your collection pages. For instance, a guide about bed sizes can link to collections featuring different bed sizes.
- Use breadcrumbs on category pages to offer users an intuitive way to navigate through your website, as well as provide search engines with clear pathways to crawl and index your category pages.
Meta title and meta description
- Keep meta titles and meta descriptions within 60 and 155 characters respectively.
- Use the primary and secondary keywords.
- Incorporate words like “Buy”, “Purchase”, “Fast Shipping”, etc
- Optimize for better CTR – make them compelling, include a call to action, and test, test, test.
- Use H1 for Page Title: Each page should have a single H1 heading that contains relevant keywords and accurately reflects the page’s content.
- Organize Content with H2, H3, etc
- Use CSS for Styling: Define the visual appearance of your headings, such as font size, color, and formatting.
Number of products listed in the category Page
Pay attention to the number of products you are presenting on your category pages in comparison to your competition.
A substantial number of products can indicate a comprehensive and well-curated selection, enhancing the overall user experience.
While too few products may cause users to bounce.
Implemented structured data for an e-commerce category page can make the listing stand out in SERP with product ratings, images, prices, etc.
Here’s an example of what implemented structured data looks like in SERP.
And most importantly, a correctly-picked schema markup helps bots understand and interpret web content: the context, meaning, and relationships between different elements on a webpage.
First things first, I’d recommend that you test your category pages with tools like the Rich Results test and the Schema Markup Validator to ensure that the structured data is correctly implemented and recognized by search engines.
If you discover any errors or recommendations, ask your developer to implement the corrections in the code.
Some possible structured data and schema markup recommendations for category pages may include:
- Local business
- AggregateRating schema
- FAQ structured data
Implementing canonical tags on category pages helps avoid duplicate content issues by specifying the preferred version of the page.
Let’s say you have a collection page for “Men’s T-Shirts.”
However, due to your website’s structure or dynamic filtering options (discussed above), multiple URLs can lead to the same collection of men’s t-shirts, resulting in duplicate content issues.
URL 1: https://www.examplestore.com/collections/mens-t-shirts URL 2: https://www.examplestore.com/collections/mens-t-shirts?color=black
To solve that, you would add the following canonical tag to both URLs:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.examplestore.com/collections/mens-t-shirts"
Including category pages in your XML sitemap ensures search engines can discover and index them efficiently, improving their overall visibility and organic search potential.
Depending on your niche, acquire links from relevant domains with high authority, decent traffic, and a good backlink profile.
For example, if you are a furniture store you could focus on home decor blogs, interior design websites, and furniture review platforms.
Strategies like outreach to bloggers and influencers in the home decor niche, guest posting and link insertions on relevant websites, PR for link building, and 3-way exchange can be effective for acquiring links.
Find out more about ecommerce link-building strategies.
Monitoring the success
Now that the lion’s share of the work is done, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the results!
Track your website traffic and rankings using tools like Google Search Console – Performance report or set up a rank tracker for convenience and to save time.
Mangools’s SERPWatcher tool allows you to set up an easy-to-use keyword tracking to monitor ranking for chosen keywords within a set timeframe, showing an increase/decrease in positions.
How well you organize and structure your e-commerce category pages predicts the success of your website in effectively showcasing and selling products to your customers.
The strategy stage of your search engine optimization plan is the most critical and foundational phase.
Take your time to understand your target audience, assess competitors, and set achievable goals.
And don’t forget that optimization is an ongoing process that needs continuous analysis and adjustments over time.