Category pages are a crucial tool for conversion in eCommerce websites. But like all eCommerce site pages, you need to spend some time optimizing them properly to make sure they are delivering the best conversion rates possible.
In this step-by-step guide, you will learn tried and tested ideas to build high-converting category pages and make them work even harder for your eCommerce business. By taking into account these SEO tips:
you'll be able to supercharge your category page to the next level by:
Introduction to eCommerce category pages
Ecommerce category pages are the second most important pages of your eCommerce site after your homepage.
The goal of an eCommerce category page is to help shoppers find what they’re looking for. If they know they want a sofa, for example, but haven't decided which one, a category page can help them filter the options and glimpse the information before they click on specific products to find out more.
Here's a few actions customers can take on category pages:
Browse products in one place without clicking on specific items.
Filter and compare products and prices
Navigate to product pages to find out more
Add multiple products to cart without opening every individual product page
Next to the home page, eCommerce category pages have the broadest and highest-priority position on a site. In other words, they pull in visitors who have been searching some of the broadest and highest-volume keywords.
A simple structure on your eCommerce website should look like this:
That’s why it’s critical to properly optimize your eCommerce category pages to ensure they rank on search engines.
But it's not just about getting your eCommerce category pages seen by prospective customers - you need to convert more of those visitors when they land on the page.
That's why optimizing your category pages isn't just about search engine optimization, but also about creating a user experience that will make customers want to buy right there and then.
Why are eCommerce category pages important?
If there's one reason you should care about your category pages, here it is:
Category pages can help you achieve higher rankings.
See every category page as an opportunity to capitalize on keywords from an increased search volume and draw in shoppers who are looking for what you're selling.
We know what you're thinking... isn't that the job for product pages?
Here's the challenge:
Many eCommerce sites are unable to rank for individual product pages because the same products are available on all of the bigger websites too. That means there's lots of competition for the top spots in the search engine results pages.
Also, people don’t tend to use the individual product names to search for what they want. Often, they use more general terms to describe an item, especially if they aren't sure which brand or model they are buying just yet.
For example, let’s assume that you are selling climbing shoes like the example below.
Users are more likely to search for “climbing shoes” and not for the individual brand and model.
Having your site's category pages optimized for the general terms means you can catch more people who are looking for your products.
Opening a new eCommerce category page
Now you know eCommerce category pages are important, how do you know when you should open a new category page, and which categories to use?
Start with keyword research
Search volume tells you how much interest a particular keyword has amongst consumers.
If a keyword has a high search volume, you know it's a popular keyword and you’ll get more active searches for that keyword.
But you should also look at Cost Per Click (CPC) to see how much people pay per click when they buy Google Ads based on a specific keyword.
A high CPC indicates more competition for the keyword.
If you find valuable terms with significant search volume, bingo! You know there's an opportunity to attract shoppers to your site by targeting that keyword on a dedicated category page.
Everything starts with keyword research, the backbone of any content and SEO strategy.
When you approach this task, try and keep an open mind. Use different tools and methodologies, don’t be afraid to experiment.
Here is a list of resources you can use for keyword research:
Keyword Planner - this is best if you have a Google Ads account with decent spending
SEMrush - best for competitive keyword research
Look at your current rankings on search engines
Go into Google Analytics and check rankings for your category pages.
Is each category page ranking for the keywords you want?
You might find that you have category pages that are unintentionally ranking for something else.
This could be a great opportunity to create a new category page. Simply monitor the number of clicks the "unintentional" keywords are bringing in and track their search volume before making any changes to your site.
Another thing to look out for is if you have a category page ranking for different variations of the same product.
This might be an opportunity to create a subcategory page to attract visitors to a specific variation.
Now check your product pages.
Are product pages ranking on search engines for category-level terms?
This is where you really need to think about how you are structuring your category pages and product pages.
Look at how you can create category pages to capture those broad, high converting keywords.
Finally, look at whether your category pages are being outranked by your competitors’ subcategory pages for certain keywords.
If so, it's time to create some new category pages that will win back those visitors.
Check the competition
What is your competition up to with category pages?
It's easy to do a manual sweep of your key competitor sites to check out their site structure and keyword coverage.
Another way is to use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs.
SEO tips for eCommerce category pages
Targeting broad, competitive, high-volume keywords is the goal for your eCommerce category pages. Follow these tips for optimizing category pages and flood your site with organic traffic.
#1. Start with metadata
Your metadata, especially title tags and meta descriptions, are the most basic way to optimize your category pages.
Let's start with the title tag.
This little element is one of the most important aspects of on-page SEO. Your title tag tells Google what your page is about, while also being the first thing people see in the search engine results. So, they can have a direct impact on whether searchers click on your site or choose the competition.
Optimizing your category titles is easy:
Use up to 70 characters, but ideally stay under 60 characters to make sure you’re not cut off in the search results.
Include target keywords near the beginning of the category titles.
Like title tags, your category meta descriptions appear as snippets in search engine results.
In other words, both your title tag and meta description act as your site’s first introduction to the search world.
Now, the meta description does not have a direct impact on your category page's on-page SEO. But it will play a huge role in driving a higher Click Through Rate (CTR) simply because it shows people what the page is about and gives you an opportunity to compel them to click.
Here's a great example for the keyword "climbing shoes":
The site summarizes the products to clearly show that they sell what the searcher wants (climbing shoes) and uses compelling offers to encourage people to click.
Here are a few phrases you can use in your description meta tag to get more clicks:
Save X% off on ____
Show exclusive deals on _____
Huge selection of ____ at the lowest prices
Price match guarantee
#2. Make headings relevant
Headings are essential for SEO and user experience, as they tell both users and search engine crawlers what the page is about.
The category page should have only one H1 tag, which should be on top of the page.
It can be the same as the category title or different, but regardless, it should always contain your target keywords for SEO.
Don't forget to optimize all heading tags - H1, H2 and so on - to help search engines understand the context of a particular section of your category page.
#3. Body copy
Including some content in your category pages can have a positive impact on organic search performance.
When it comes to body copy, the content doesn't have to be long. You can simply add a few lines of content below the H1 tag.
Not sure what to write? Here are some ideas:
Talk about current products in the category and how products can be used,
Set the scene and help visitors visualize their life with the products
Highlight some popular products in the category
You can also use these body text to link to different products, other product category pages, and sales page from these texts. That helps you manage the authority of your pages.
Add a few sentences under the H1 tag and some more related content at the bottom of the category page to break up the content and not overpower the page.
Make sure it is relevant to your category -- your visitors will still read it!
#4. User experience
At the very basic level, if you want to rank well for competitive keywords, you need to optimize the user experience of your category pages.
Since mobile devices are the most popular way to shop, optimizing category pages for mobile is a non-negotiable.
Make sure your category pages are easy to use on mobile devices, with a clear design and collapsible menus for easy navigation.
Speaking of easy navigation, look at using simple navigation bars to direct visitors to specific actions.
Breadcrumbs are also an essential navigation element. These are clickable links at the top or bottom of your page which reveal the exact location and show users the trail from the homepage to the given page.
Site Speed Metrics
Fast page speed is a major ranking factor for Google.
But it's not just search engines you should care about: customers hate slow websites.
The slower your eCommerce site, the less likely visitors will spend time browsing and buying your products.
People expect your site to load instantly, especially when they're shopping on their mobile.
When it comes to slow site speeds, category pages can be a top culprit. Pay attention to the number of products you load onto one category page to make sure it's not pushing up your load times.
Take a look at PageSpeed Insights to see the speed of your category pages and what you can do to improve them.
Be mindful of Google’s Core Web Vitals update
Core Web Vitals is a set of performance metrics that Google uses to analyze the speed signals that are critical for a superior user experience.
To generate a total "page experience" score, Google takes into account three key factors: largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS).
Why does this matter for your eCommerce category page?
Because Google takes into account Core Web Vitals when working out where pages will rank. By making sure your category pages receive the best score possible, you can improve your ranking in search results.
#5. Optimize your category URLs
The goal with eCommerce category page URLs is that they should be short, clean and should match your audience’s search intent.
The user should be able to tell from the URL alone what the category is all about.
Take a look at some random category URLs on your site -- is it obvious?
Or are you using long, alphanumeric URLs that don't mean anything?
For example, if you have a category for climbing shoes, your URL should be:
As a visitor moves down the purchase funnel from category pages to subcategory pages and finally, a product page, the URL should indicate where they are on your website.
And it's not just users.
The URL also shows search engines how your categories, subcategories and products relate to each other.
For example, if you are selling rock climbing shoes, as a subcategory of climbing shoes, here's what the URL should look like:
#6. Image SEO
Images are necessary for any eCommerce site. Why?
Because Google Images account for nearly 23% of all web searches.
So take some time to ensure search engines can read and include them in search results.
That's where you need alt text.
Here's some quick tips to optimize your images:
Give each image file an informative name (e.g. red-running-shoes.jpg rather than IMG1234567.jpg), so that when Google crawls your images, it knows how to classify and index your images.
Write descriptive alt text to explain what each image is. Only include keywords if it's natural.
Tip: Only use high quality, optimized images, as bad quality images can cost you valuable customers.
Ideas to take your category pages to the next level
Conversion is everything for your category pages. We've already given you some SEO tips to improve your rankings, and now it's time to optimize your category pages to take your conversions to the next level.
This is all about making sure visitors to your site do not abandon carts, do not bounce off your category pages, and instead choose to spend dollars in your online store.
Here are proven ideas to turn your category pages into conversion machines:
#1. Help shoppers compare products quickly
When shoppers come to your site, they need enough information to take the next step towards purchase. That means you need to make it easy for them to see product varieties, discount rate, images, prices and even customer ratings so they can make an informed decision.
Help customers compare products at a glance, without needing to click on to each individual product page.
There are two ways you can do this:
Grid View vs List View
List view is where you show the products in a list, with a small picture on the left side, and product information on the right side. Use the information to highlight features that can help the shopper make a quick decision, such as price, customer ratings or availability.
Grid view is a grid of products that shows an image thumbnail with a small amount of information.
There are pros and cons to both, so you won't know which one works best for your site and shoppers unless you test them.
For example, the activewear store Sweaty Betty organizes its products in a grid view. They show a range of product features to help customers quickly compare:
In this image, you can see the product image, price, color options, product rating from customers, and even a special offer. There's even a quick view option to see more images and information.
Also, when you hover your mouse over the product, the product image changes.
Add product specifications to the product headlines
Provide customer ratings and product prices on the category pages to enable shoppers to compare products quickly
Tag best-selling products and those with free shipping to make decisions easier for shoppers
#2. Navigation bars
Use navigation bars to make it easy for shoppers to select categories and subcategories. The goal for every eCommerce category page should be to help shoppers navigate to their desired products with minimal effort.
That's where the navigation bar is an essential design element and will appear on almost every page of your eCommerce store.
Horizontal vs Vertical navigation bars
You can use a top (horizontal) navigation bar or a vertical navigation bar.
So, should you use vertical or horizontal navigation bars?
Use horizontal navigation bars when you want to conserve page space, show items in decreasing priority and use dropdown menus to expand categories. They also give the navigation high visibility because the top bars are easy to find.
The top navigation keeps the bar uncluttered and saves shoppers time because they don't need to dig through categories to find the one they want.
If you want to give equal weight to all categories or have a complex collection of items, use vertical or left side navigation menus.
Vertical categories sit in a single column, typically on the left, which means the number of categories can be endless. That's why it’s a good option for eCommerce websites with lots of product categories.
Pro tip: Keep category names simple, easy-to-understand and specific.
#3. Visual Cues
With eCommerce sites, it's important to always tell visitors where they are and what's being offered. If things get confusing, people will bounce off your page before you can sell them anything.
Create a series of visual optimization and search facilities on every category page to make it visually clear exactly where a visitor has landed on your site.
There are lots of ways to do this:
Include inspirational banners that stretch the full width of the page. Use the banners to highlight multiple items to show the range in the category
Change banners according to sales and seasons to keep the page timely and relevant,
Use a descriptive header with the banner to detail the type of products. Remember,, this is part of the category page SEO.
Pro tip: Use inspirational banners, imagery or supporting copy to signal to shoppers what page they have landed on.
#4. Display relevant filters
Product filters are one of the most essential elements to improve the user experience of your category pages. And with a better user experience comes higher conversions.
If your store is packed with products, filters are a must.
Think about it: Do you prefer to shop from a store with endless lists of products? Or one that lets you narrow them down according to your preferences.
Filters help users narrow down the broader category to find the products they want.
It's important to make sure the filter is relevant to the products. For example, take a look at how IKEA uses filters to help people choose the right sofa:
The filters are unique to the category of sofas.
Here's another example from Nike. See how the filters let customers choose the sizing, price, and more. Specific to this category is the Sizing filter, which lets customers choose Plus Size or Maternity.
Place the most frequently used filters at the top of all the other filters to help create an easier and faster user experience for shoppers.
Allow shoppers to apply more than one filter at once
Create unique filters that solve specific customer problems
#5. Showing urgency and scarcity to stimulate shopping
Generate demand by adding urgency and scarcity triggers to products on your category pages.
Highlight products with labels like “time is running out” offers or “limited supply”.
Pro tip: Have special category pages like “best sellers”, “new”, “sale” etc to persuade consumers into shopping.
#6. A/B testing
Even if you apply all these changes to your eCommerce category pages, how will you know they’re working?
That's where A/B testing comes in.
As with A/B testing for other digital marketing, the key is to create a new version of a category page and change just one thing. Then compare the metrics with the current category pages.
Through this method, you can test on page content such as:
Call to action
Navigation bar design
Grid size and type
Guesswork is not enough to get measurable results from your optimization efforts.
So, as you make more changes to your site, track the data to see what impact those changes are having on your category pages.
Use Google Analytics to collect and track your data, or checklist the metrics on your eCommerce site platform.
Standard metrics to track include:
Return on Investment
Average time on page
Page load time
Funnel drop off from home page to category page
Remember that A/B testing is not a one-time strategy.
To grow your traffic, you need to test, refine, test, repeat. Use every change as an opportunity to get more customers to your category pages, and to compel them to take the next step to product purchase.
Over to you
Use the ideas and insights in this guide to power up your eCommerce category pages and watch your conversions soar. By making a few well-considered changes to optimize category pages on your site, you can make a dramatic impact on your conversion rate and overall revenue.
But don't assume anything. Always use A/B tests to implement changes and find out what your shoppers will love. Need help optimizing your category pages? Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. Partner with Online Marketing Gurus and we will help you review your eCommerce pages and fine-tune your site for better visibility on search engines and massive conversion rate growth. Book your Digital Growth audit today – get in touch!