If you are planning to start a new online ecommerce business, you’d probably be searching for a reliable eCommerce platform. Make sure you add ‘important SEO features’ in your research criteria.
You see, when we talk about building an eCommerce business, our focus instantly shifts to paid search mediums.
Don’t get us wrong. Paid search channels are very important in the eCommerce business arena. However, it does not undermine the value of free, organic traffic.
Yes, it’s hard to get free organic traffic from search engines for a new eCommerce online store. But if you do not even set yourself up for it, how are you going to get free traffic down the line? Is it wise to always rely on buying traffic?
That’s why choosing the right eCommerce platform, which provides you with important SEO features, is crucial. It is because no matter how good you are at SEO, unless you have the right tools at your disposal, you will always feel limited. An eCommerce platform without the necessary SEO features is a big limitation.
Without further ado, let’s see 4 important search engine optimization features your eCommerce platform must support.
1. Metadata Control at Page Level
The ability to control URLs and page titles at page level is extremely important.
You might be thinking that it’s too small a point to even mention, but you will be surprised that not all eCommerce platforms give you this option.
And without the ability to control URLs and keywords at a page level, you might face problems with duplicate content. In most circumstances, the URLs produced would be different, but they will be random URLs with random characters — which robs you of the opportunity to put in your main keywords in the URL.
For most eCommerce businesses, it becomes a requirement to use long-tail keywords as well as product and category related keywords in the URL structure. Unless you have full control over these meta elements (URLs and page titles), you won’t be able to do it.
You wouldn’t want to be stuck targeting the same set of keywords for every page, right?
Therefore, make sure that the eCommerce platform you are choosing gives you the ability to control URLs and page titles for each web page.
2. Integrated Blogging
Let’s face it.
You won’t be able to rank high in the search engines without a concentrated content marketing effort. And for that, you need an active and integrated blogging platform.
What if your chosen eCommerce platform does not give you that?
While it is possible to install WordPress in the /blog directory, but it is a hassle and not an ideal solution for ongoing content management. You will have to log in to your ecommerce platform to handle orders, sales, and store management, and then you will have to log in to your WordPress platform for content management.
In this regard, Shopify is a great platform that provides an integrated blogging platform with good overall SEO features.
3. Canonical URLs
Without going into too much depth, let’s first explain what canonical URLs and canonical tags are used for.
Canonical URLs are used to tell search engines which web page deserves all the SEO juice and deserve to be ranked in Google search engines. It becomes important when you syndicate your content on different websites.
Because you — and all the other websites where you syndicate content — will have the same content published, it’s important to tell search engines that your page — not theirs — is the original one and deserves to be ranked.
Moreover, it is also important when you have a product accessible under different URLs (based on the different filters you have available for your customers). The ability to create canonical URLs automatically enables you to tell search engines the most important page for a given product that should be ranked above other pages.
WooCommerce does a great job with canonical URLs, and you can access the feature in the paid as well as free versions of WooCommerce.
Automatic Redirection Management
One of the biggest problems most eCommerce platforms face is that of redirection and broken links. Because there are so many changes in products and URLs, some web pages get broken.
The problem is that you do not want to direct your traffic to a broken link. It leads to a bad user experience, and search engines may also penalize your website because of it.
Therefore, the ideal eCommerce platform should allow you to easily set up canonical URLs as well as 301 redirects to direct users and search engine bots to the right places. In our experience, SquareSpace does a great job with automatic redirection.
4. Editable Robots.txt File
You might be wondering, why would I even want an editable robots.txt file? Why would I want search engines to not index and rank certain pages in the search engines?
In a more traditional blog or website, it might not be an issue. But in eCommerce stores, it certainly is.
Here’s a scenario to help you understand.
In the case of online stores, it is a very common marketing tactic to tag users so you can follow them on the web and show remarketing ads. For example, Mr. Jon buys a laptop from your website. On the thank-you page, you tag him with a retargeting pixel, so you can later upsell a laptop carrying bag by displaying retargeting Facebook ads.
You do not want that thank you page to be ranked in search engines and drive traffic that would not have followed the sales funnel — in other words, bought the laptop. Otherwise, you would be selling laptop carrying bags to people who haven’t even bought the laptop from you.
This is why an editable robots.txt file is so important — so you can tell search engines which pages should not be ranked in the SERPs. In this case, that would be the thank-you page that you wouldn’t want search engine bots to index and rank.
So these are the 4 important SEO features that we believe every eCommerce platform must support. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
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