Optimizing E-commerce Category Pages for Users & SEO

By Garrett Nafzinger

If you operate an e-commerce website, you know that category pages are pivotal navigation hubs. They’re not just for show; these pages substantially influence your search engine rankings and user experience, thus affecting sales. This guide delves into effective strategies to optimize your e-commerce category pages.

Understanding Category Pages: Types and Roles

Let’s clarify what we’re dealing with:

Category Listing Pages (CLPs)

Consider CLPs as your e-commerce store’s welcome page, functioning much like a directory in a shopping mall. These pages direct visitors to the appropriate categories and subcategories as a preliminary guide to your product offerings. They often highlight featured items or best-sellers to encourage deeper engagement with your store’s inventory.

Product Listing Pages (PLPs)

Once visitors navigate the CLPs, they will arrive at the more detailed Product Listing Pages (PLPs). This is where customers make informed decisions. Each PLP is a specialized showcase for a particular category or subcategory, offering essential information like product images, descriptions, and customer reviews. Additionally, PLPs often feature filter and sort options, allowing for a tailored shopping experience based on specific criteria such as price or customer ratings.

Typically, visitors first encounter CLPs, which guide them through the product categories they’re interested in exploring. Then, PLPs take over by offering an array of choices complete with vital details like price and availability. This structure allows customers to compare products and make educated purchasing decisions effectively.

Category Listing Page examples are below:

  • Category Listing Page on the Bestbuy.com website
  • Category Listing Page on the Walmart.com website
  • Category Listing Page on the Nieman Marcus website
  • Category Listing Page on the Academy website

Product Listing Page examples are below:

  • Product Listing Page on the Bestbuy.com website
  • Product Listing Page on the Walmart.com website
  • Product Listing Page on the Nieman Marcus website
  • Product Listing Page on the Academy website

Must-Haves for E-Commerce Category Pages

  • A descriptive page title and H1. They will likely be similar but don’t have to be identical. Don’t forget the meta description. 
  • The ability to filter based on the product type and user needs. For an online shoe store, shoe size and style are critical filters. If you are dealing with Wi-Fi equipment, the ability to filter by Wi-Fi protocol, such as 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax (wifi 6), is vital.
  • A list of products and/or subcategory pages, often in list or tabular format. Including product images, descriptive product names, reviews, and best sellers.

Keyword Research for Category Pages 

When conducting keyword research for category pages, finding relevant keywords that align with users’ search intent is essential. To delve deeper into this keyword research, you can refer to resources such as Shopify’s guide to e-commerce keyword research, which provides detailed steps and insights into finding the right keywords for your e-commerce website.

Optimizing Page Titles, URLs, and Meta Descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions impact click-through rates and search engine rankings. A well-written page title should be concise, descriptive, and include relevant keywords.

A mediocre page title would be “Shoes,” while a more effective and specific one would be “Women’s Running Shoes for All-Day Comfort”.

Similarly, a good meta description should provide a compelling summary of the category page’s content and entice users to click through to your website. Consider the features and benefits of the products or your store’s value proposition(s).

Writing Helpful Descriptions 

A category description is the text that appears alongside subcategories or products on your category page. Limiting category descriptions to one paragraph is generally recommended. Focus on explaining what users will find in the category. You can also highlight key features or benefits of the subcategories or products. If your products have descriptive names or you’re a huge e-commerce giant like Amazon, you may get away without using category descriptions. 

Internal Linking 

In addition to internal linking within the content, breadcrumbs are crucial in optimizing category pages for SEO and user experience. Breadcrumbs provide a clear navigational path for users, allowing them to backtrack and explore other related category pages easily. From an SEO perspective, breadcrumbs provide valuable data to search engines, helping them understand the hierarchical relationship between categories, subcategories, and product pages.

User Experience on Category Pages

Usability is a critical factor in optimizing category pages. Ensure your category pages are visually appealing, easy to navigate, and provide a seamless user experience.

Implement clear navigation menus, logical filters, and sorting options to help users refine their search within the category. Optimize page load times and ensure mobile responsiveness to users accessing your category pages on different devices.

Analyzing Performance 

Google Analytics provides valuable insights into user behavior on your website. You can use a few metrics to understand how your category pages perform once someone lands on your site, such as: 

  1. Conversion Rate After Landing on a Category Page. Indicates how successful the category page is in driving conversions.
  2. Total Revenue or No. Of Conversions From Those Who Land On a Category Page. Measures the financial impact of the category page on the overall e-commerce business.

Google Search Console is crucial for understanding how your website and category pages perform in organic search. You can segment your page categories and analyze their performance separately using URL filters or regular expressions. This allows you to identify opportunities for improvement, especially when you notice a high number of impressions but low click-through rates. Improving search rankings through the optimization steps in this guide can lead to increased clicks and conversions.

In Conclusion

Optimizing e-commerce category pages is vital to improving your website’s visibility, attracting targeted traffic, and driving conversions. Continuously analyze and optimize your category pages based on user behavior and data insights to achieve long-term e-commerce success.


For more on optimizing your e-commerce category pages, check out these resources. 

  1. 11 Ways to Improve E-commerce Category Pages for SEO
  2. The Guide to Creating and Optimizing Category Pages for E-commerce SEO