Your e-commerce platform helps you set up shop online. However, without strong SEO features, your shop will not get discovered through searches.
This is the main way to attract visitors to your website. So, look for some essential SEO features in the e-commerce platform you use.
The Essential SEO Features in an Ecommerce Platform
Look for the following features in ecommerce platform to enable better SEO for your store:
- Customizable Links, URLs, Titles, and Tags
The best ecommerce platforms make it easy for beginners to set up shop online by automatically generating link, titles, urls, headings etc. Eventually, sooner rather than later, you need to customize all these elements. Your ecommerce platform should allow you to customize the following:
The Navigation Links: Your navigation should be well designed, and the text for the links should be meaningful. For instance, a link text that says 10445-Cotton-Skirts-354-blue (because that is the code name you have assigned to a specific category of cotton skirt in your database) is not as friendly as one that says Long Blue Cotton Skirts.
The Page Title: This is the text that is displayed on the tab for that page in your browser. A page title that says Peanut Butter Dog Treats is more readable and also more like a search term than one that says Treats-Dogs-1234.
The URL: The page url should also be readable, instead of an automatically generated link with question marks and obscure numbers. Which of these 2 URLs do you think is better?
The Meta Description: This is the text that is shown under the page title in search engine results. This has to be a very short but very relevant description for that page.
A good Meta Description for a Calcium Supplement for Dogs page would be - “Help your pets stay healthy and active for long, enhance their bone strength with calcium supplements.”
You should also be able to customize H1 tags, image ALT texts etc.
- XML Sitemaps
Your ecommerce platform should automatically generate an XML sitemap that helps search engines locate your pages and index them. This is different from the HTML navigation that you design to enable customers to find their way through your web store.
XML sitemaps help search bots find and index your pages. The robot.txt file tells the bots which pages should not be tracked. This could include checkout pages, internal business process pages, etc. Most ecommerce platforms automatically generate a robot.txt file based on a set of rules.
Er, no that does not confer sainthood to your ecommerce business.
Canonicalization tells Google which the primary URL for a specific page is. You may have a multi-department structure for your shop. In this case, the same product or product category can appear under more than one department.
For instance, let us say you stock a brand named TopPetCare that has lines of dog and cat foods, treats and health supplements. One product that is called TopPetCare BoneBoost Calcium Tabs can appear under Pet Nutrition, under Pets/health supplements, under Pets/ Dogs/Calcium Tablets.
The navigation link from each department will have different URLs. Google treats each URL as unique. If it finds the same content for different URLs, it perceives this as duplicate content, which is a big no-no for SEO.
Canonicalization is a method for you to set one single URL for that page as the Primary URL. This helps consolidate all the links to that page under one specific URL, and prevents Google bots from wasting time crawling duplicate urls.
- 301 Redirects
At some point in time, most websites undergo a redesign, products are dropped, or put on a new url structure, the site moves to a new domain etc. In these cases, the old page links will lead to the dreaded 404 page not found. This can put off customers and you also lose all the SEO value that link has gained over time. 301 page redirection helps you redirect dead links to the new URLs smoothly, until customers and search engines get more familiar with the new link. Many ecommerce solutions like Shopify provide you an easy way to setup URL redirects.
- Integrated Blog Setup
Good content is key to your website ranking on search engines. A blog associated with your store where you post relevant content frequently can help boost your site’s SEO. That blog should be under your shop domain name so that all the value generated by that content, the backlinks that blog articles get, can all contribute towards your ecommerce site SEO.
Shopify provides a built-in blogging platform with SEO features. You can also install Wordpress and setup your blog in a subdomain or www.yourshopname/blog.
Most ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento etc support other requirements like responsive design for mobile shopping, social media sharing through social media buttons, having your own domain name etc.
Your ecommerce business goes beyond setting up shop with an attractive online store. You need to focus on SEO and customer experience to derive the real benefits. The best ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and SquareSpace have support for all the essential SEO features to attract traffic to your websites and keep them coming back.