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"How to optimize your e-commerce SEO with PIM"

Excerpt: Search engines and marketplaces define their own ranking factors, algorithms and product data feeds that determine the visibility of products. We show how a PIM system can help to optimize various ranking factors automatically - for every relevant output channel.

In today’s online retail business, customers and prospects (in both B2C and B2B sectors) expect detailed information about the products they are buying – right from the start of their customer journey. For most prospects, this begins with a search engine inquiry. In Europe, this is mostly Google, with a market share of over 93% (source: indexlift.com. 2020). As customers have more and more specific requirements for a product, their search queries also become more specific. According to a recent study by SEO-Suedwest, most search queries therefore contain five or more words (so-called long-tail keywords).

Customers want to see the relevant product information displayed directly in the search results so that they can make an informed purchase decision more quickly. This applies both to search results in search engines and to search results in marketplaces such as Amazon, ebay and co. Manufacturers and retailers who sell their products online should ensure that their products are prominently visible on the relevant online platforms in response to relevant search queries.

"Complete and correct product data is also a service feature that customers appreciate. People who know what they are buying are more satisfied. For 81 % of the suppliers, product data is one of the most important levers for reducing returns."

Source: Dezzain, SEO Research 2020

Better visibility with e-commerce SEO

"Search engine optimization (SEO) is the application of techniques to improve the qualitative traffic to websites. SEO analyzes the characteristics and intent of search queries to produce the most relevant search results and an improved user experience.''

Source: Gartner Glossary, Definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

E-commerce SEO helps online retailers to improve the visibility of their products in search engines and marketplaces by optimizing the relevant ranking factors. How many ranking factors there are for search engines and what weighting each factor has cannot be answered across the board. However, according to Matt Cutts, a former software developer at Google, there are over 200 content and technical factors that influence the ranking of a website/product page in search engines. The most important and well-known factors include:

Onpage factors:

  • Content quality and relevance
  • Mobile appearance
  • Page structure
  • Consideration of keywords
  • Media mix (images, videos, virtual reality, etc.)
  • Metatags
  • URL path
  • Sitemap

Offpage factors:

  • Domain Authority
  • Number of backlinks
  • Social media shares
  • Consideration of ratings

Technical factors:

  • Pagespeed / loading times
  • Structured data (Schema.org)
  • Indexing
  • SSL encryption

On marketplaces, on the other hand, fewer ranking factors are used for ranking (approx. 15-30 factors, depending on the marketplace). These focus primarily on the optimization of product content and catalogs. Each marketplace has its own algorithm to evaluate the ranking factors. The most important factors that evaluate a search query include:

Direct (influenceable) factors:

  • Correct product categories
  • Meaningful titles
  • Meaningful product descriptions
  • Appropriate product attributes (manufacturers, dimensions, colors, etc.)
  • Use of multimedia (product images, product videos, 360-degree visualizations, etc.)

Indirect factors (user behavior):

  • Click rate
  • Dwell time
  • Conversion rate

Performance factors:

  • Price
  • Payment options
  • Deliverability
  • Shipping options
  • Number of negative/positive reviews
  • Return policy
  • Retailer rating
  • Rate of returns

"In a survey conducted among search engine optimization (SEO) professionals worldwide in 2021, 24.6 percent of respondents said that the depth and accuracy of product information are among the most important factors affecting search rankings."

Source: Statista, Leading SEO Factors for Search Rankings Worldwide, 2021.

Implementing an SEO strategy is very complex due to the numerous factors involved, regardless of whether merchants sell on just one marketplace or on several. Optimizing ranking factors on your own is hardly feasible, as search engines and marketplaces have their own algorithms and continuously add new factors. So how can a PIM system help improve e-commerce SEO?

Enhanced SEO with PIM

In a PIM system, companies can bundle all product-relevant information from various source systems (ERP, CMS, DAM, etc.). In this “single source of truth”, they record, manage and add product data as well as digital media such as images and videos. A PIM system structures, classifies and translates all product data. In this way, it optimally prepares them for the shop system and for the various output channels.

Making product data analyzable:

Product information of a webshop has to be readable for search engines. Metadata (title, description) are important information for correctly displaying the preview in the search results pages (snippets). In a PIM system, it is possible to define which data should be read by the search engine as meta information. Automated workflows ensure that all products or product variants are provided with the unique and correct meta information. In addition, keywords can be created almost automatically with a PIM system by structuring product data hierarchically and inheriting keywords across categories, master products and product variants. In this way, each product receives many keywords, which improves the ranking in search results.

Making media assets analyzable:

Images, videos and other digital assets are very important for users in the purchase decision process. Therefore, they are also very relevant for search engines – as long as they can be processed and interpreted properly. Since the relationship between products and digital assets is managed in the PIM system, the relevant meta information (tags, title, description, lang) for the media files is automatically set. The information thus appears directly SEO-optimized in the webshop and can be correctly indexed by search engines.

Automatic generation and transmission of feeds:

For online stores with a large product portfolio, it makes sense to communicate assortment changes to search engines and marketplaces via product data feeds in order to ensure a high degree of actuality. These product feeds are usually exchanged via XML data. Here, the correct product attributes are mapped in numerous data fields. Search engines and marketplaces each have different requirements for their feeds and query different product fields. Manual feed management is therefore hardly feasible and is also very error-prone. A PIM system offers a high degree of automation here. For example, all the information required for a feed can be output to an XML with one fingertip. Finally, the improved evaluation of feeds opens up new sales opportunities for online retailers. For example, the cleansed feeds allow for a “long-tail keyword strategy,” making products more likely to be included in search results for more precise queries.

Discover the advantages of PIM for your industry

A PIM system makes it easier, especially for online retailers with an omnichannel strategy and a large, growing product range, to implement important e-commerce SEO factors. Product data and digital media are converted into interpretable content – and with the highest possible degree of automation. 

We will be happy to demonstrate to you in a free online demo how you can use PIM to significantly improve the rankings of your products in search engines and marketplaces and also significantly reduce the manual effort required in product data management.

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