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    E-Commerce Category Pages: Start Doing Them Right

    On an e-commerce website, a category page is a page that shows every product falling under a certain classification. On a clothing site, for instance, all of the shirts on that site might appear under a category page called “Shirts.” Category pages are some of the most vital pages on any e-commerce site – and if you don’t agree with that statement, chances are that you’re not doing things right.

    No matter what the specific niche of your website may be, you want your site to rank well on Google for as many different keywords as possible because that’s what brings organic traffic. Category pages are crucial to the overall SEO of your website because they represent your best opportunities to rank for broad keywords that receive very high search volume.

    How much search volume are we talking about?

    An analysis of the top 30 e-commerce websites in the United States published in 2020 showed that category pages drive over 400 percent more traffic than product pages. That ought to get your attention.

    Category pages are also important for the overall quality of the shopping experience, and we’ll explain why in this guide.

    Stick around to the end, because we’re going to conclude by spelling out exactly what you need to do with your category pages if you really want to turbocharge your e-commerce site’s traffic and sales numbers.

    A category page on an e-commerce site can and should be much, much more than just a list of products. You’re about to learn why.

    Why Are Category Pages Important for SEO?

    People sometimes talk about SEO as if it’s almost like a form of black magic. In truth, though, SEO is nothing more than helping Google understand what your site is about so it can be indexed and ranked correctly. Category pages are crucial for giving your website a logical structure that helps Google’s algorithm understand your content perfectly.

    Why is that?

    Think about your website in terms of its main ideas. Returning to the example of a clothing seller, the main idea of your site might be a very broad term like “Clothes.” Category pages represent more specific topics falling under that main theme, such as “Shirts,” “Pants” and “Shoes.” Under those top-level categories, you might have narrower categories representing even more specific topics like “Short-Sleeved Shirts,” “Dress Pants” and “Leather Shoes.” Some people call this type of website structure a “silo structure.”

    If your website’s category pages are organized correctly, each subcategory reinforces the relevance of the category above it. For example, subcategories such as “Leather Shoes,” “Dress Shoes” and “Running Shoes” all reinforce the relevance of the main “Shoes” category – this is a good place to find many different types of shoes.

    At the same time, top-level categories like “Shirts,” “Pants” and “Shoes” all reinforce the relevance of your website’s home page for the main keyword “Clothes.”

    Giving your website a well-organized silo structure expresses your e-commerce website’s main ideas to Google very clearly and helps to ensure that your site will be indexed for the right keywords.

    If your site isn’t listed anywhere in the top 100 on Google for a broad keyword that’s directly relevant to your business, the problem is most likely a technical one relating to your site’s content or structure. Doing the right things with your category pages can greatly help here. You shouldn’t concern yourself with off-site SEO at all if Google doesn’t have your site indexed for the correct keywords.

    Why Are Category Pages Important for the Customer Experience?

    Your website’s first goal is to attract traffic, and we’ve established what category pages can do to help your site in that area. The second goal is to convert those visitors into customers, and category pages perform a crucial function there as well because they help potential buyers find what they want.

    Some people know exactly what they want to buy and search specifically for the names of those products. More often, though, a potential customer is interested in buying a certain type of product and wants to see what’s available in that category before selecting just one.

    That’s what a category page does – it allows a potential customer to view everything that might interest him or her in one place.

    When you develop the category page structure for your e-commerce site, remember that you can use category pages for more than just types of products. Categories can also apply to brand names, colors, flavors and many other product characteristics. Any product classification that applies to your business can be appropriate for a category page.

    How to Create a Category Page That Ranks Well and Converts

    We’ll conclude this guide by putting together all of the ideas that we’ve expressed so far and walking you through the process of creating a perfect category page like this one step by step.

    Create an Appropriate Structure

    First, create an overall plan for your site’s category structure. Think of the category structure as a tree in which the trunk represents the main idea and each branch leads out to narrower and more specific ideas. If a computer can analyze your category structure and determine what your website is about, you’re doing things right. Computers do the best job of analyzing text when the ideas expressed are very direct and specific.

    Add Helpful Text to the Page

    A category page should always have text that’s descriptive, helpful and not copied from another website. The text should introduce the products on the page, and it should also provide additional information that helps people choose the right product.

    Remember that that when people use the types of broad product-related search terms that lead to category pages, they’re looking for products to buy – they’re not trying to find out what those products are. The text on a category page should focus on satisfying the intent of someone who has progressed well into the shopping process and is now ready to buy something. Don’t waste time defining the products on the page – focus on closing the sale.

    Add Appropriate Metadata to the Page

    Every page on your website should have a title tag and a meta description. Many e-commerce platforms such as Shopify can add this information to the page automatically, but you can do a much better job if you write your own titles and meta descriptions instead.

    • The title should include the page’s main keyword, and it should clearly explain what’s on the page.
    • The meta description should include any additional information that might make people want to visit that page if they find it on Google. This information might be a list of some of the brands carried in that category, or it could be a free shipping offer – anything that’s relevant for that page or for your site as a whole.

    Make the Page Visually Appealing

    A category page should always include high-quality pictures of the products shown on that page. You can use stock photos, but it’s better if you can provide your own pictures. Original photography helps to set your business apart from its competitors. It also improves your odds of appearing on Google Images, which can be another valuable source of traffic.

    Add Social Proof

    At each step in the sales process, your goal is to encourage the customer to proceed to the next step. That’s what you’re doing when you write an appealing meta description that makes people want to click through to your site from Google’s search results.Now, you need to do the same thing on the category page itself – you want to make visitors click through to the product pages.

    Adding social proof can be an excellent way to encourage people to view the products on a category page. If your website collects customer reviews – which is almost always a good idea – you should configure your category pages to display numbers or star ratings under each product. This provides some evidence that other people have bought and enjoyed those products.

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