Although Siobhan Swainston’s talk was predominantly focused on the Fashion industry, the insights covered could be applicable to any eCommerce business. Her talk was split into 3 parts; preparing for seasonal demand, site structure, and product retire policy.
Preparing for Seasonal Demand
The main takeaway from “Preparing for Seasonal Demand” was for eCommerce webmasters to be proactive rather than reactive with the topics their site’s cover. We need to anticipate when search trends are going to happen throughout the year and prepare content to capture this ahead of time. Granted, this isn’t always possible as many shareable topics and stories usually arise unexpectedly online, but using trend software like Google Trends can help allow for this.
Siobhan then shared a great content approach to be able to execute this on-site. Firstly, create something as simple as a blog post so your site covers a speculative topic. Secondly, promote the content by linking to it internally (allowing also for link equity to pass) before finally sharing it via social media. As time passes, allow also for content updates to be uploaded. This will allow for your content to be increasingly more relevant and appealing in the eyes of search engines. From there, you’ll be able to analyse the volume of search traffic received around this topic and whether there is sufficient demand there to commercially pursue the topic further.
It was at this point that Siobhan also shared a great keyword research tool, Ayima Pulse, which allows users to see market share for various keywords within SERPs.
The second part to Siobhan’s talk was focused on site structure and in particular, category pages and facets. Siobhan raised an interesting point saying how category pages are not necessarily there to sell products – this is obviously the job of the product page – so there’s an opportunity here to get creative. One method of achieving this is by including video content at category page level.
She then advised to incorporate faceted navigation into category page structure in order to capture longer-tail keywords – something Barry Adams also talked about earlier in the day. However, eCommerce SEOs need to be mindful of exactly which keywords to target pages whilst also being wary of indexation and duplicate content problems.
Product Retirement Policy
Siobhan concluded her talk with best practice approaches to dealing with out of stock products and their associated pages. Her best practice guidelines were dependent on time and how long a product has been out of stock:
- If the product has been out of stock for a few days, leave the page live whilst presenting alternate links to the user. This will allow them to navigate to similar products that are in stock providing a better user journey.
- If the product has been out of stock for a few weeks or months, canonicalise the product page back to its associated category page.
- Finally, if the product is permanently out of stock, 301 redirect the page to an associated category page or home page, or consider removing it entirely from your site.
Ultimately, it’s important to be mindful of your out of stock pages; they provide a negative user experience and, depending on how they’re formatted, can also provide thin and duplicate content resulting in wasted crawl budget.