Product category pages are one of the biggest missed opportunities for eCommerce store owners.
If you’re serious about generating revenue, you need to understand product category page SEO.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to boost rankings with on-page and off-page strategies, plus you’ll learn methods for increasing conversion on those pages.
What to expect in a product category page
The goal for these pages is simple: each one should rank in the top three search results for the relevant keyword.
That’s easier said than done, but these techniques will help you get there.
Why do I say category pages are a big missed opportunity? Because on most eCommerce sites I visit, I see category pages that were clearly afterthoughts.
But this thinking is all wrong.
Category pages are one of the single most valuable assets you have as an eCommerce owner. There are three reasons why.
- They rank well. For a huge number of keywords, Google prefers category pages. They dominate so strongly that misunderstanding category keywords made it to my list of the biggest eCommerce keyword mistakes you can make.
- High buying intent. If someone is searching for a category page keyword like “affordable dirt bikes,” they’re already in a buying mode. Traffic from these keywords converts at a better rate than those who arrive after searching, say, “dirt bike reviews” or “what is a dirt bike.”
- Less competition. A caveat first—major competitors often dominate category pages, and the chances are slim that you’ll beat Walmart or Amazon. But for niche categories, your competitors usually don’t spend much time optimizing category pages.
In short, you should put time into improving your category pages because that effort can often reap outsized rewards.
Improving product category pages is one of the few SEO strategies I recommend all eCommerce businesses focus on from the beginning because it’s often more cost-effective than ads.
Here’s how to do exactly that.
Think of category pages as sales pages
Many store owners auto-generate category pages and leave it at that. And sure, automating this process is fine—as long as you take the next step.
Treat your category pages like they’re sales pages, because they are. If you run ads, you likely spend time planning your landing pages. Put at least as much time into planning your category pages.
Start with a custom text description. Most category pages just include a title (“Cabernet wines”) and nothing else. Go a step further and write a 100–200 word description explaining the product in more detail.
On a category page, the correct persona type is the “Buyer.” You’ll want to focus more on the logical side.
(Oh, and a human should write these descriptions. Content spinners and AI generators are cheap—and so is the text they produce.)
Next, you’ll want to include a custom image. It can be a proprietary product photo (best) or a relevant stock photo. Don’t include the same generic picture on all category pages. If the category is cabernet wines, then the photo should be of cabernet wines.
And finally, use a simple URL. This helps search engines find the keyword, helps users understand the product page, and looks nicer. Something like example.com/category/cabernet-wines is better than example.com/product/categories?product=wine&type=cabernet&list-size=25
Create more pages than you might expect
The more category pages that rank, the better.
A few categories are always easy to think of. A supplement company might have “preworkout mixes,” “protein powders,” and “vitamins.”
But go further. Do keyword research and find other phrases where category pages rank. So-called “long-tail keywords” with hyper-specific phrases can be a great choice.
A keyword like “soy-free vegan protein powder” or “healthy preworkout drink for women” might only get a handful of searches a month. But if you create a detailed category page for these niche topics, you stand a good chance to rank quickly.
And even if they each only get 50 searches a month, if you rank for 20 of those topics, that’s potentially 1,000 hyper-targeted buyers a month.
One client of ours in the consumer goods space created separate category pages for every size they stocked. Consider going that route, with category pages like “size 8 red tennis shoes.”
But a warning—it’s possible to create too many category pages. Duplicate content can hurt you, and auto-generated category pages are one of the biggest offenders I’ve seen on eCommerce stores.
Leverage non-category pages
Not every technique to improve your category pages happens on the pages themselves.
These three improvements around your site will help category pages rank.
- Include category links in the menu. Many stores already do this, and it can improve SEO results and boost customer engagement. As I shared in my article on boosting sales with internal links, linking to the most important category pages in the menu and footer can help these pages perform.
- Improve product pages. Category pages aren’t destinations in and of themselves—they’re essentially hubs for finding products. If your product pages are weak, your category pages will be, too. Improving product descriptions can help your category pages rank.
- Link to categories in content. If you use other types of content marketing, like competitor comparison reviews or product guides, link to category pages. Try to use anchor text that includes your keyword. In other words, it’s better if the underlined link says “premium headphones” and not “click here.”
How to boost conversions
The above techniques will help category pages rank. But it’s not just about ranking—we also want visitors to buy.
The first strategy to boost conversions is to choose relevant products. Fewer, relevant products mean higher conversions. If you’ve never sold a mousepad as a Mother’s Day gift, why include it on the “Mother’s Day Gifts” category page?
If you like, you can experiment with simplifying the buying process. Consider adding an “add to cart” button for products directly from category pages for low-priced items. And a “Quick Look” tool can make product selection faster.
For brands with category pages with hundreds of (relevant) products, ensure the site loads fast. If you use multiple pages, don’t include too many on each page, perhaps 25 as a maximum. And if you include everything on one page, add lazy loading, which tells the site to load new products only when the user scrolls down.
Large category pages can also include sorting features, as you see on Amazon’s sidebar. The faster a customer can find what they’re looking for, the better.
A shortcut to rank category pages
As you’ve probably noticed, the process for improving category pages involves quite a few steps. You’ll need to find a keyword, create the page, write a description, select a photo, adjust the technical side, add internal links, and more.
Our team can be the shortcut to help your category pages rank faster. If you have lots of pages to improve—or want to find new opportunities your competitors missed—just let us know.