How to optimize PDPs, according to SEO experts from Sozy, Sixth City Marketing, & more
Even though consumers rank product detail pages (PDPs) as the most influential touchpoint across the searching and buying experience, only 37% of ecomm marketers optimize PDPs for search.
What does this mean? It means the PDP is the main place where consumers interact with your brand, yet only over a third of brands invest time and money on optimizing these pages.
But it also means there’s a huge opportunity for those willing to optimize. If you’re ready to attract more online shoppers, it’s time to optimize your product pages for search. According to the SEO experts, here’s what you need to do.
What makes a good product page?
A PDP is a page on an ecommerce site that provides detailed information on one specific product. Relevant product details include the product name, product description, images, videos, sizes, color, and more.
Here’s an example of a PDP from Everlane:
What makes this PDP good:
- Gorgeous images
- A descriptive, sensical product title
- Size guide
- A short, sweet, and creative product description
- Relevant product details
- A strong, visible CTA
- A note on sustainability
And, the best part? This PDP is optimized to stand out in the search results.
1. Start with the SEO basics
There’s a reason you hear SEO buzzwords four million times a day. You know—keywords, meta title, product title, image title, etc.
While old-school SEO practices like keyword stuffing and sparse content won’t get you anywhere, tackling SEO basics the right way will lay the foundation for well-optimized PDPs.
“When we work with new ecommerce clients, we often see a lack of keywords in the product name, metadata, photo title, alt tags, and product copy. So while the product’s use might be evident to people searching your site, those nuances don’t translate to search engine bots when they crawl the pages of your website.” Sarah Blocksidge, Sixth City Marketing
Monica Dema, President of Global Content at MDINC, shares core strategies any ecommerce company can use to boost performance.
“Prioritize the strongest products—easily sold and high ticket—and include complete info about the product specs and features. Also, write a creative hook that empowers your readers to buy." Monica Dema, MDINC
Research from Episerve supports Dema’s advice as 98% of shoppers will stop purchasing if the information about the product is incorrect or incomplete.
“If you only do one step, insert keywords into the headings, and use 3 to 5 headings within the content. From there, include a variety of short H2s and H3s to encourage scrolling. Use the primary keyword in the first sentence of multiple sections, and include a bulleted or numbered list and keywords when it makes sense.” Monica Dema, MDINC
But does simple SEO yield results? Yes.
The team at Sixth City Marketing agrees. Sixth City’s Marketing Manager, Sarah Blocksidge, shares impressive client results after an SEO campaign.
The focus was starting with SEO basics for Shop Athens Ohio’s PDPs—optimizing the meta title, description, product title (H1), image title/alt, and any other page content.
The results? After six months:
- Conversion rates went up 125%
- Transactions increased by 239%
- Revenues lifted by 310%
These impressive results correlate directly with improved keyword rankings, including:
- 77 keywords now rank in the top 10 results
- 25 product images now rank
Don’t underestimate how impactful the basics can be.
2. Optimize around consumer search interest
Search is 0% about you and 100% about the consumer. It’s up to you to learn your ideal customers’ language, wants, and interests so you can further optimize your PDPs and attract the right audience.
Focus on the product level of the awareness spectrum.
“PDPs exist at the product level of the awareness spectrum. Here, we can include fun copy that builds brand affinity, but we want to give customers everything they want to know to buy, often more than the technical specs." Brendan Hufford, SEO for the Rest of Us
But how do you find out what customers want to know and then optimize in a way that leads customers down the purchasing funnel?
Data. That’s how.
“The best way to optimize a product page is to pay attention to what customers are saying. I communicate regularly with the sales and support teams to determine what questions customers ask, what issues come up post-purchase, and the general feedback for products. This helps me know what details are important for our customers and what language they're using. By aligning the product pages with their language, we can slip into their minds and spell out their thoughts for them. It sounds creepy (it is), but it's an incredibly effective way to increase conversions.” Marquis Matson, Sozy
While capturing qualitative data helps marketers create PDPs that resonate with their ICPs, don’t stop there. Simple and accessible quantitative data collection tools that track consumer behavior are invaluable.
The team at Yinz Digital recommends:
- Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. These tools display where consumers go on your site, what they search for, and which pages get the most traffic.
- Google Search Console. This tool shows you what customers search for on Google and how they found your site.
- Google Trends. Google Trends helps you learn what consumers are searching for in a given region or time frame.
- Keyword Tools. Software like SpyFu, Moz, and SEMRush track content search volume, competitor rankings, etc.
- Heat Mapping. Tools such as Hotjar and CrazyEgg show you what sections of your site are the most popular and how long consumers dwell on those areas.
Tracking consumer search interest quantitatively doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when using the right tools.
3. Invest in ecomm first images
You’ve heard pictures are worth a thousand words. For ecomm sites, images are the lifeblood of your product detail pages.
When is the last time you purchased a product online that either didn’t have an image or had a low-quality image? I’d guess never.
Having a well-optimized product page with low-quality images not only makes you come across as spammy to Google, but poor photos also discourage conversions from customers.
A rule of thumb for PDPs: high tail it away from boring product package shots and focus on visual aspects that delight and convert.
“You want your images to answer all the questions a consumer intuitively knows by picking up your product in the store. For example, showing close-ups of detail, clearly informing how to use the product, and how it will look in use. All of these components encourage a buyer to select your product over competitor products.” Omer Riaz, CEO, Urtasker.com
Ilia is a brand that creates product images so gorgeous you can’t help but purchase. Let’s look at a few pics from one of their products, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, to show you what I mean.
- High-quality, professional images
- Not one, but seven pics of the product
- A pic showing there are 30 different shades available
- A cluster of pics for every skin tone
- Zoom in feature to see how the product spreads
- Pics of the actual product on humans of varying skin shades
- Close up shot of the product’s color
Ilia’s pics are delicious. Follow suit.
Since Google is still a robot, further optimize your images as follows:
- Assign images a descriptive alt text
- Offer an image description
- Compress images, so they don’t slow down your site
- Use product schema to mark up the page and to speak to Google’s algorithm (more on this later)
4. Amp up your page speed
There are over 200 SEO ranking factors, and site speed is critical for ecomm sites.
Stats show consumers won’t sit around and wait for a PDP to load. If it takes longer than two seconds, consumers will abandon ship and click on a competitor’s website. Two. Seconds.
“At the end of the day, clients need their product pages to rank well in search engines and perform well for shoppers, so making sure that PDPs are loading extremely fast is critical. Increasing page speed can have a big impact on merchants.” Robert Rand, JetRails
If we’ve learned anything about Google, it’s that it innovates at lightning speed. Thus, so do changes to SEO strategy. And Google updates that affect ecomm brands are coming soon.
“There is a significant change coming to Google's search algorithm in May that all ecommerce site owners need to be aware of—Core Web Vitals (CWV). CWV is Google's initiative to make the user experience a significant ranking factor. Ecommerce sites—typically heavily reliant on images—can be especially vulnerable to the new CWV ranking signal, as a crucial component of CWV is site and page load speed.” Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing
The advice for ecomm companies to boost site speed and achieve a better CWV ranking include:
- Compress site images to load faster
- Use tools like ShortPixel to optimize images in bulk
- Compress file sizes before uploading
- Remove unused scripts, CSS, or other coding
- Update your site’s theme
- Remove add-ons or plugins you’re not using
- Ensure your site loads quickly on mobile devices
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to decrease your page load times
- Check your server speed and scale up your web hosting plan as needed
Get a head start on making these site changes now, so you're ready for the update in May.
“Remember, a poor CWV score isn’t only bad for SEO. It’s bad for conversions. Google found that web pages meeting or exceeding CWV guidelines have 24% lower bounce rates than pages that aren't up to scratch.” Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing
5. Provide structured data to Google
Let’s get this out of the way. The use of structured data on its own isn’t a ranking signal. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
“While structured data doesn't give you any ranking benefits, it helps get more clicks from the search results. If you show that your product is available and loved by people (through AggregateRating), you have more chances to catch users' attention and drive them to the website from the search results.” Kristina Azarenko, MarketingSyrup
While achieving a high-ranking product listing on the SERPs will drive traffic to your site, providing structured data allows Google to display a more robust listing with rich product info.
“Structured data helps give standardized information to Google about the content and meaning of a page. It allows SEOs to classify different elements of their page to help Google understand what the page should rank for and potentially feature it in special search features like the Knowledge Panel, or Google’s rich results.” Alan Coholan, Terakeet
Product listing structured data can include:
- Product information
- Visual enhancements
- Shipping details
- Price drops
- Technical specs
Here’s how rich product content, gathered from structured data, translates visually on a SERP.
A listing for the keyword “Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner” with no structured data looks like this:
A listing for the keyword “Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner” with structured data looks like this:
Here are some super fancy product listings born from highly detailed structured data:
“Structured data in the form of schema markup is one way to get more Google real estate. You can show pricing, reviews, rating, availability, etc., with a proper markup so that customers know exactly what to expect about a product before even clicking onto your page. This not only increases CTR but also increases time on page as customers know what they're getting when they arrive at the page.” Marquis Matson, Sozy
Before moving forward, here’s something you must know: Google’s algorithms don’t automatically pull product data from your site.
If you want Google to display a more descriptive and eye-catching listing on the SERPs, you have to supply Google with the information via a structured data markup.
Schema.org is a good place to start.
“SEO professionals use in-page schema markup as their universal language to describe a specific page’s content. Schema.org contains a standardized list of markups that the major search engines—Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex—have collectively agreed to support.” Alan Coholan, Terakeet
If you're not hip to using Schema.org, try creating a product markup on your product page via your CMS or try using the Google Merchant Center.
6. Optimize for mobile
As of 2019, Google uses mobile-first indexing. This means Google evaluates the quality of your page based on the mobile version over the desktop version.
It makes sense why.
If looking around the room and seeing everyone’s face buried in their phone isn’t proof enough, consider the following stats:
- Over 211 million people in the US use mobile search
- Mobile search accounts for over half of all global web traffic
- Considerably more than half of online shopping takes place on a mobile device
With Google’s mobile-first indexing and conversions happening on mobile, prioritizing a mobile-first website is essential to boost website traffic, increase conversions, and decrease bounce rates.
“Since the vast majority of our users (~85%) are coming from mobile, it's crucial to be mobile-friendly. It's an important ranking factor as outlined by Google and a factor in user behavior once customers arrive at our site. If the page isn't mobile-friendly, visitors will bounce. The more often they bounce, the lower our rankings will drop. Google knows when users bounce and when they don't spend much time exploring your site. It’s critical to facilitate the mobile shopping experience so that users have zero barriers.” Marquis Matson, Sozy
If you’re ready to take your PDPs to the next level, here are some best practices for making your PDPs mobile-friendly:
- Keep product descriptions short and descriptive
- Place CTAs throughout the page so users can add products easily
- Limit the use of anything that detracts from purchasing (ahem...pop-ups)
- Optimize images for mobile
- Shorten text when possible (e.g., S/M/L vs. small/medium/large)
- Add a “tap and zoom” feature
- Include a small scrolling home and cart button to make navigation easy
- Make it easy to purchase via mobile device
Notice how Harry’s makes it easy to view its PDP on mobile:
Not sure if you hit the mobile optimization nail on the head? Run your PDPs through Google’s mobile-friendly test to check. Google will tell you the truth. Even if it’s harsh.
Remember, mobile-first PDPs lay the foundation for high conversions and future algorithm updates.
“Optimizing your PDPs for mobile will allow you to capture a market that is only going to continue to grow. By optimizing for mobile, you accomplish two things. You make the UI better so that your potential customers know whether or not your product is for them and create a seamless checkout. And you rank higher in the search engines, so you get more traffic to your pages. Each leads to more sales.” Greg Digneo, Founder, Content Guppy
7. Refresh your PDPs frequently
The world of SEO is constantly changing, full of surprise algorithm updates, and driven by consumer trends.
This is why there’s no such thing as a successful one-and-done SEO update.
Ecomm brands that lead the way treat PDP optimization as an ongoing practice, whether that’s refreshing pages a certain number of times per year, when there’s a major audience change, or when there are cultural or language trends that influence search, for example.
Brendan Hufford from SEO for the Rest of Us highlights the perfect example from Love Obsessed of why re-optimizing PDPs is so valuable, especially when search intent around a phrase changes.
Love Obsessed updated their PDP for wide-brimmed hats to fall in line with the “Coachella hat” trend.
“Often, we have one way of describing things, and our customers have another. We may want to call something the ‘wide brim hat,’ which is technically correct, but little things like that make a big difference. There are 100 searches per month for this term, and they're the only brand in the top 4 organic results.” Brendan Hufford, SEO for the Rest of Us
There are several other instances when refreshing PDPs is appropriate, including when you:
- Have evergreen content that feels outdated or stale
- Get access to telling new consumer data
- See low traffic and dismal conversion rates
- Experience changes in consumer needs
- Want to target a new customer profile
- Take new product images
- Offer sales, promotions, or new related products
- Have seasonal usage variation
- And more!
Simply put, Google loves fresh content, and so do consumers. When you take care of your website's content, it shows you care enough to provide users with the best possible customer shopping experience.
“Refreshing PDPs is an important ranking factor and also a good conversion tactic. Providing value = more sales. Plus, as you communicate with customers about products, you learn more about what they're interested in knowing more about the products, which you can then address in the descriptions and overall page content.” Marquis Matson, Sozy
Drive more targeted traffic to your website
It’s common for ecommerce brands to invest heavily in creating PDPs but then skimpon SEO. This is clear from the research from Catalyst’s The State of Ecommerce 2021 report referenced above.
Beautiful and conversion-oriented PDPs do little good for your brand’s bottom line if enthusiastic consumers can’t find them in the search.
So with only 37% of ecomm brands optimizing PDPs for SEO, you have a golden opportunity to get ahead.
Remember, the more you can drive transactional searches to your product pages, the more success you’ll see.