Optimizing SEO for Product Category Pages

Paul Wynter
July 31, 2020

The whole point of having a functioning eCommerce store is to attract customers to your pages and sell your products. We all know about the power of SEO for online selling, but what about applying it to the actual pages that we’reworking on? How do you best use it in your online store? One of the critical details to focus on is a category page. While some online shops forgo thisvital landing page, it can make the difference between earning a sale or not and its prime real estate for SEO optimization.

Howis a category page helpful?

Theformat of a category page may change depending on what website design you’reusing and what your category pages are displaying. Still, you can expect thesekinds of benefits from putting proper time and effort into your category pages:

• Iteducates customers and welcomes them in: The category page is similar to alanding page. Your customer uses what they see to help them determine if theywant to buy or not. If they see nice little blurbs of text that aren’t too longand are focused on the category products, they’ll stay awhile and take a lookaround. Your customer becomes educated on your products, often leading to asale.

• Ithelps search engine rankings: When keywords are used in the categorydescriptions, you help search engine crawlers rely on more to rank you. You’llbe able to rank even higher than you would have otherwise simply because youhave more keywords and your content is better organized.

• Itgets the customer where they need to go: A category page also serves as adirectory for your customer. It allows customers to scan a page quickly, clickon the right products within the category and get back to shopping with nointerruptions.

• Ithelps you look professional: Lastly, having properly designed categorydescriptions that effectively use SEO strategies helps distinguish you from thecompetition. Your site will look professional even to a smart and experiencedonline shopper. When you have a list of products with not even an attempt for acategory description, it can lead the reader to think that you don’t care.

Howcan you make SEO work on your category pages?

Sonow that you’re convinced of the importance of SEO, let’s take a look at how itcan work for your category pages. Here are some important details to keep inmind on your pages:

• Linkdirectly to other categories and specific products: Find a way to use yourresearched and chosen keywords in the category description you’re using. Forsome, it could be the brand name or a descriptor of a product. Use thosekeywords naturally in the content — as you do with the product descriptionitself — and then add direct links to other categories or even specificproducts within the category. This creates more SEO benefits and it’s helpfulfor your customer.

• Workwith your web page design: An important detail to make optimization work foryou is to keep in mind your page's design. Ideally, the category descriptionshould be between 250-500 words. But having 500 words worth of content willpush your actual products below the fold and lose customer interest. Chunk the description up into paragraphs and/or bullet points and move it around the pageuntil it works with your design. If you need to go shorter to make it work,then do it. The goal is to have the category description framing the productsso that your customer can see everything with a single glance and then read,skim or just scroll. No lost interest and no backtracking.

• Help your customers get where they want to go: The best way to optimize yourcategory descriptions is to remember that their purpose is to get customerswhere they want to go. Educate them on what they’ll find in the category —products, sizes, features, etc. — and then lead them onto the products theycame to look for. You can also leave links to other categories so they can hopto another one right from that page if they’re looking for something else (orthey clicked in the wrong place by mistake). This helps SEO but also staysfocused on helping the customer.

• Encouragecustomers to click and look around: The category description should focus onthe category and the products within it. Use bullet points or short paragraphsto list key features of the category and its products. This will help thecustomer know what to expect when they start clicking on links and betterunderstand what you offer. Customers will be encouraged to take a look aroundand see what else you’ve got on your page. It essentially welcomes them in andhelps them make sense of your brand and store.

Everycategory page must have its own description that is customized to the productswithin it. Repeating the same description with just a few keywords changed willlook amateur and sloppy, not to mention it could get you in trouble with searchengine crawlers.

Thebottom line is that category descriptions are often under-utilized or they’reput into action in the wrong way. You want to use this valuable space toeducate your customers on what they’ll find in the category, show them a tasteof your products, give them key features they should know about, and displaycontent that will help you rank higher with search engines. It seems like alot, but having them in the right place, as determined by your website designand the category you want to describe, can make a positive difference to SEOand your customer’s overall satisfaction.