Having been on the rise for some time, e-commerce has surged over the past few months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With SEMRush data showing that traffic to e-commerce sites has been on the rise this year, here’s a look at some key e-commerce website mistakes that businesses, more than ever, should be looking to avoid.
Based on the analysis of hundreds of e-commerce websites using SEMRush’s Site Audit tool, low text to HTML ratio was the #1 SEO error experienced by US e-commerce sites – detected on 98% of the websites studied.
Less common, but still detected on the majority of websites, were missing ALT attributes (72%), missing meta descriptions (70%), duplicate content (67%) and links leading to HTTP pages for HTTPS sites (66%).
One approach suggested by SEMRush to address the most common error on US sites, low text to HTML ratio, is also the way to address duplicate content. With Google likely to penalize or de-rank sites using duplicate content, the data suggests that the time and effort involved in creating unique content is worthwhile. That said, it also points out that walls of text aren’t necessary.
In addressing the second-most common error on the studied sites, overly long title elements, the report suggests avoiding this with a well-optimized title tag – that is, 55-60 characters long, descriptive, relevant and including keywords to match search intent. This will avoid Google truncating title tags in SERPs and affecting a site’s click-through-rate.
Traffic Changes Since Pandemic
According to further SEMRush data, traffic to e-commerce websites has climbed to new highs since the pandemic, despite a dip in January 2020 after a seasonal high in December.
Even more illustrative of the necessary shift to online commerce as a result of stay-at-home directives is the significant increase in “buy online” searches. From a search volume of 14.8K in February 2020, searches of this kind shot to 27.1K in March, remaining at that level until May.
Previous research from McKinsey and Profitero has similarly noted that e-commerce is on the rise in various areas – including B2B sales and CPG – since the outbreak of COVID-19.
About the Data: Findings are based on US sites from an analysis of more than 2,000 e-commerce websites globally.