80 Most Common Ecommerce Website Mistakes in 2020 Explained

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If you’ve tried running an ecommerce website, then you already know how fierce the competition is out there. The number of ecommerce businesses is increasing quite exponentially because we all want a piece of the action- especially considering that the volume of digital buyers globally in 2019 is about to hit 2 billion.

Now, let’s face it- there are winners and losers in the online shopping space. If you dig deeper into the ecommerce business analytics, you’ll notice that the gap between these two groups is always expanding. And the fact is, it goes beyond just the product quality.

Well, here’s the thing. Believe it or not, the bulk of ecommerce websites are losing prospective shoppers before they even get to learn about product quality. There are many reasons why this is happening, but in a nutshell, it’s all connected to poorly optimized user experiences.

Fortunately, we can now identify the most common ecommerce website errors, thanks to research conducted by SEMrush (read our SEMrush review). It used its well-renowned site auditing tool to scan 1,300 online stores and, consequently, identify recurrent issues spanning across all types of businesses.

Now, hang on a moment. Before we even proceed, how exactly was SEMrush able to analyze all that? What exactly is a site audit tool?

What Is A Site Audit Tool?

A site audit tool is essentially a website diagnosis system. It dives deep into your website’s structure to methodically scan every single element in detail and, eventually, generate comprehensive insights about your site’s overall SEO health. It relies on an expansive database loaded with all the relevant search engine algorithm parameters to accurately recognize potential SEO errors.

And since you’ll want to rectify the problems, the most effective audit tools go beyond typical site analysis and issue detection, to give you helpful rectification pointers.

Well, that’s pretty much how SEMrush was able to study all those online stores.

So, to help you understand what you should look out for, here are detailed insights about 80 of the most common ecommerce website mistakes in 2019:

Ecommerce Website On-Page SEO Mistakes

I bet you’ve guessed it already. That the most prevalent issue affecting online stores has got to be poorly optimized ecommerce website pages.

Interestingly, on-page SEO optimization doesn’t require any advanced skills. You just need basic SEO marketing knowledge to tweak a couple of parameters, and then manage them for the long haul. Yet surprisingly, many ecommerce websites are repeatedly getting it wrong, and subsequently missing out on a steady flow of traffic.

Now, SEMrush analyzed the whole thing holistically and grouped the results accordingly to give you a clear picture of everything- the ecommerce website content, meta description, title tags, and image optimization errors.

It’s worth noting that the blue sections illustrate the fraction of ecommerce websites affected, while the attached orange sections clarify the average percentage of the corresponding webpages affected by the problem.

Ecommerce Website Content Mistakes

Content has always been the center of search engine optimization. Google and other search engines principally rank your site based on how your content relates to various search terms, plus the corresponding content quality.

Now, before we even evaluate quality, you’d expect an ecommerce website to, at least, have a decent amount of content. And then subsequently, we may be lenient enough to give some online stores a pass for a couple of content quality mistakes here and there.

But, guess what? It’s a total disaster, to say the least. 73% of ecommerce websites have a low word count problem. Their product descriptions plus page articles cannot manage to meet Google’s SEO guidelines because the content is too thin.

And it gets worse when it comes to duplicate content. It turns out that many of the ecommerce businesses that manage to escape the low-word-count net only do so because they’ve copy pasted stuff.

Ok, we can understand that it’s getting more difficult to come up with a unique description for each product, but c’mon- let’s be honest here- isn’t a rate of 82.97% shockingly high for ecommerce websites with duplicate content?

But then again, you could argue that content duplication only affects an average of 7.10% of their web pages. Fair enough.

However, they are not as lucky when we look into their text to HTML proportion. In essence, an unbelievable 96.96% of ecommerce websites are running on low text to HTML ratio. And the issue is so widespread that it affects, on average, 84.47% of their web pages.

Ecommerce Website Meta Description Mistakes

When was the last time you clicked on a search engine result link without scanning through its corresponding meta description?

Come to think of it, meta descriptions have grown to become extremely vital pieces of information on the search engine result pages. They provide a brief overview of what you should expect once you click on a link. Pretty much like movie trailers.

So, of course, it’s not surprising that search engines continue to heavily factor meta descriptions into their result ranking algorithms. Google, for instance, requires your online store to come with solid meta descriptions on all its pages. And they should not only be unique but also contain relevant keywords.

That notwithstanding, SEMrush discovered that 72.24% of ecommerce websites have not fully implemented meta descriptions. About 17.29% of their pages are missing meta descriptions.

If your ecommerce business happens not to be among the affected ones, then get this- it turns out that quite a substantial fraction of online stores with meta descriptions have not been able to create unique ones.

To be more specific, 89.43% of ecommerce websites use duplicate meta descriptions in various capacities. 13.20% of their web pages, on average, contain copied meta descriptions.

Ecommerce Website Title Tag Mistakes

If there’s ever anything like the first line of defense in search engine marketing, then it has got to be the title tags. All things considered, they are fundamentally critical in creating a great first impression of your online business among search engine users. They get to know essentially what a ranked page is all about as they scroll through the results.

Make no mistake though. It’s not only surfers who’d be interested in your title tags. Google bots will also analyze your title tags and heading tags to identify your site pages, plus their corresponding topics.

That said, it has always been advisable to set up unique title tags for each page, complete with relevant keywords plus a brief, informative text.

But, it turns out that only a small number of online businesses have been able to do that correctly. The rest are still struggling with various title tag issues.

So far, about 34.75% of ecommerce websites have missing title tags on some sections. On the bright side, however, only 5.58% of their web pages have been affected.

The corresponding H1 tags situation is quite the contrast, I’d say. Because a whopping 87.60% of online store websites have missing H1 tags. And that basically applies to about 16.59% of their web pages.

Moving forward, I find it a bit amusing that although the majority of businesses have already implemented title tags comprehensively, the simplest part of it all still proves to be a challenge. More specifically, they haven’t been able to come up with appropriate lengths for their titles.

Consequently, 89.43% of ecommerce websites now have title elements that are just too long. This issue, on average, spreads across 17.94% of their site pages.

Well, it doesn’t end there. We also have online stores that, on the other hand, have gone overboard with the whole process of making the titles brief. Subsequently, 55.67% of ecommerce websites now have title elements that are too short- affecting, on average, 3.46% of their pages.

That said, the biggest problem, as we’ve seen with meta descriptions, is lack of distinctiveness. So far, 90.11% of ecommerce websites have duplicate title tags- affecting 10.30% of their pages. As a matter of fact, 58.02% of businesses have gone beyond that to create H1 tags that are identical to their corresponding title tags.

Ecommerce Website Images Mistakes

Last in our list of common on-page optimization issues are errors relating to images. While this might be expected in other typical sites, image optimization problems come as a surprise in the ecommerce industry.

You see, unlike the rest of the internet, ecommerce depends significantly on images. You need to have great images if you intend to sell something over the web. There’s no two ways about it.

But, it seems like quite a number of online merchants are only uploading their product images, and leaving it at that. They fail to fully include relevant alt attributes that would optimize their pages for image search.

And to put that into perspective, the portion of ecommerce websites that have missing alt attributes is 86.24%. The problem has spread as far as 17.67% of their pages.

Thankfully, things are not that bad when it comes to broken images. Only 13% of ecommerce websites have broken external images, while 29.51% have set up broken internal images. This affects 4.51% and 1.08% of their pages respectively.

Ecommerce Website Technical SEO Mistakes

This is the technical side of SEO that most people would consider advanced.

Don’t get me wrong though. It’s still incredibly relevant to search engines. As a matter of fact, it’s the technical side that provides a framework for optimizing your site’s underlying structure.

Now, considering this is less straightforward than on-page optimization, we’d expect to find way more ecommerce website mistakes relating to technical SEO.

Well, fact is, the mistakes here are not few at all. Online stores continue to commit numerous onsite and off-site errors that are proving to be exceedingly detrimental to their overall ranking. The most common ones are:

Ecommerce Website Crawlability Mistakes

Search engines typically unleash their crawlers to move around analyzing sites and identifying content for indexing. Therefore, optimizing your online store to make it crawlable is critical if you intend to have your content on Google’s search results.

Sounds about right, at first. But then again, and rather ironically, it’s worth noting that you might not want to let the crawlers into every part of your website. The ecommerce industry tends to apply slightly different rules than standard sites when it comes to search engine crawlability.

And the reason is simple. Unrestricted crawling could harm your online store’s ranking over the long haul. If you’ve integrated a dynamic website search tool with numerous filters, for instance, you might trigger duplicate content problems by allowing the crawlers to index all sections.

Well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Things get even more complex when we dive deeper into other crawlability parameters. And that, ultimately, translates to an increased potential for errors and omissions.

As a result;

  • 23% of ecommerce websites are experiencing issues with temporary redirects, affecting 32.60% of their pages.
  • 58% of ecommerce stores have various 4XX errors, affecting 2.54% of their pages.
  • 70% of online stores have blocked bots from crawling accordingly, affecting 15.67% of their pages.
  • 25% of ecommerce websites are experiencing permanent redirects on 4.73% of their web pages.

Ecommerce Website Robots.txt Mistakes

Closely related to the whole crawlability aspect is Robots.txt. In a nutshell, this is a file that you feed search engines to let them know the precise website areas they can scan and index, plus the sections you’d prefer excluding from the search results.

Therefore, considering its fundamentally important role, Robots.txt is an asset that no ecommerce site can afford to ignore. However, and rather, surprisingly, SEMrush found out that 16.81% of ecommerce businesses are yet to leverage Robots.txt. And then among the ones who’ve implemented it, 10.11% do not have a valid Robots.txt format

Ecommerce Website Internal Linking Mistakes

Admit it. The process of linking internally within your site is pretty straightforward. By linking related pieces of content between your web pages, you’ll be helping both search engines and your site visitors to establish the connection.

That said, this is arguably the last place you’d expect to find many recurrent mistakes. But, sadly, 75.89% of ecommerce websites are hosting broken internal links.

Nonetheless, the most outstanding problem here is inadequate linking, since 95.97% of online stores have pages with only one internal link- affecting 26.20% of their web pages.

Other Common Ecommerce Website Mistakes

38.86% of ecommerce sites do not have sitemaps.

38.63% of online stores have incorrect pages in their sitemaps.

22.28% of ecommerce websites have URLs that are too long

27.53% of online stores are using too many URL parameters

54.83% of ecommerce businesses have underscores in their URLs

51.33% of ecommerce sites have uncompressed JavaScript and CSS files.

79.54% of online businesses have unminified JavaScript and CSS files.

79.85% of online stores are experiencing slow page loading speeds. 

How To Avoid The Common Ecommerce Website Mistakes

While most of these ecommerce website mistakes can understandably be complex, we’ve also explored a couple of surprisingly simple issues. I’m talking about problems that we previously assumed serious online stores would not be facing in 2019.

But then again, in all fairness, ecommerce is an extensively demanding ecosystem with numerous variables and trends that morph on a regular basis. Even Google itself updates its search algorithm hundreds of times a year- further complicating things for all business sites.

So, let’s face the facts here. It’s literally impossible to keep up with all the potential ecommerce site requirements. However, I guess you could make everything much easier by taking advantage of assets like site audit tools. Read our detailed reviews to learn how you’ll capitalize on them to identify and rectify even the most technical ecommerce website errors.

Featured image via Shutterstock

Davis Porter

Davis Porter is a B2B and B2C ecommerce pundit who’s particularly obsessed with digital selling platforms, online marketing, hosting solutions, web design, cloud tech, plus customer relationship management software. When he’s not testing out various applications, you’ll probably find him building a website, or cheering Arsenal F.C. on.

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