Simple mistakes made by e-commerce websites can drive away potential customers.
By Rohan Ayyar
Millions of Indians, young and a bit older, prefer to shop online rather than going to an offline store. However, the enormous success of relatively young online retailers such as Flipkart does not guarantee that every online store in India will succeed in it. What holds back such online e-commerce websites is the fact that many of them make mistakes that are very bad for business. Just a few such mistakes were captured by a recent SEMrush study which analysed 1,300 e-commerce websites and revealed how many such sites are unwittingly driving away potential customers. The mistakes captured by the study are described below.
To attract traffic, websites have to allow search engines to index their content. However, while many e-commerce sites allow search engines to index their content, such sites also have to be cautious and not allow search engines the freedom to crawl some parts of the site. This is because faceted navigation that allows people to search sites with the application of multiple filters can lead to the creation of duplicate content. Shockingly many e-commerce sites don’t take measures to prevent the creation of such duplicate content.
Broken internal linking
Website pages need to be linked internally as it allows users and search engines to find content on a site. As many as 900 websites had broken internal links.
Wrong page indexation
Sitemaps let search engines find content and inform them on updated content. Many pages that redirect or have no index tag should not have a place in a sitemap. However, it was found that firms were sending search engines information about pages which should not be in a sitemap.
Poor HTTPS implementation
Website security is a priority for all e-commerce stores because nothing scares away potential customers faster than a warning from a search engine that a connection is not secure. It is however common for e-commerce sites to have pages linking to an old HTTP version of their site and to pages with mixed content.
Poor website performance
People who shop online want a pleasant shopping experience. A website’s loading speed impacts how it is ranked by search engines. For every second of delay in loading companies can expect 7% decrease in conversation.
Absence of Robots.txt file
The robots.txt file allows a site to communicate with a search engine before the search engine begins to “crawl” a site. This allows a site to tell a search engine which area of a website should not be processed or scanned. However, 195 e-commerce sites did not have a robots.txt file.
Search engine optimised internationally
A site that does grow to sell globally should let search engines know that it has similar content for different locations. Hreflang tags help e-commerce sites do so however it was found that many sites with such tags had them configured incorrectly.
The writer is regional marketing manager India, SEMrush.