Ecommerce (A.K.A. e-commerce) speaks to the exchange of valuable goods, services, and money from vendor to consumer, B2B, peer to peer (like E-bay), and by way of other models. If your business is researching new e-commerce website technology (platform) make sure the system you build, buy, or rent is friendly for SEO. The needs are basic and often overlooked.
Choosing Ecommerce Software
The homepage, catalog pages and shopping cart must allow you to update content attributes that help a page rank in the search engines. Most e-commerce content management systems allow you to update basic product descriptions, set prices, and upload pictures from your browser
A range of other features available in hosted turnkey e-commerce platforms you can subscribe to for a monthly or annual fee. There are locally hosted website platforms you install on your in-house web server- either Microsoft, Linux, Mac, or other platforms. No matter how sexy the feature set, the are some absolute minimums for SEO that must be included for you to seriously consider the platform. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen e-commerce platforms that are weak…immediate SEO deal killers!
At minimum the html code output must be clean if not XHTML compliment. Otherwise the Google™ , Yahoo®, and MSN™ robots may not be able to crawl your site and index the pages properly. Also folks who may view your site on mobile phone technology won’t get a clean look. Finally, potential shoppers with sight or hearing impairment need XHTML for their interpretive devices.
The Basic SEO Attributes
I don’t want to be forced in to rely on Flash elements as the singular navigation links into the site. Search engines index text better. Meta Description, meta keywords, and image alt tags are important to control. In a perfect e-commerce world you can edit link-text, file names, and directory structure. There are many SEO attributes which contribute to a page’s ranking, some of which are in your direct control. Rand Fishkin at SEOMOZ has published an authoritative list of known (and guessed) Search Engine Ranking Factors.
The ability to track paid placement conversion through the e-commerce platform interfaced with analytics like Google™ analytics or Web Trends is crucial to any e-commerce venture. Make sure you keep a close watch on unique visitors and conversion rates from paid and organic search engine results page (SERP) traffic.
Finally keep in mind that, regardless of the platform, content (the organization and presentation thereof) is KING. You can wrap junk up in bow but you can’t sell it. You have to have something people want. Your job with search engine optimization is to make your authentic content discoverable.
Ecommerce installations require as much control for SEO purposes as possible as you optimize your existing E-Commerce platform or build (or buy) another. Evaluating options and making the right decisions can have a profound affect on the outcome of your venture. Everyone knows organic (free) search engine prominence is critical. Make sure your platform supports attaining it.