Did you know that your choice of ecommerce shopping cart is critical to the success of your online business? It’s true. The search engine optimization of the shopping cart you use, and in particular, the way that the shopping cart software deals with products and creates pages can make it impossible or easy for your product pages to show up directly in search engine results.
One key issue is that some shopping cart designs are constructed in a way that prevents the search engine spiders from crawling product pages, so even product phrases that specifically match your offerings won’t show up through natural search engine rankings. Other shopping carts are designed to make the spiders welcome, having what is sometimes called “spiderability,” and that’s the kind you want to choose.
A second important element for an SEO shopping cart is forming URLs for products, categories, and other content that are keyword rich, rather than centered on product numbers or other difficult to interpret elements. Closely related is a feature that creates canonical URLS for pages that have other URLs pointing to them. This could happen, for example, for products that fit into multiple categories. Another URL feature that any SEO shopping cart should have is the capability to use hyphens (and not just underscores) in URLs.
Of course, many shopping cart features are designed especially to make selling to customers easy once they reach your site and while they may optimize your site, it’s not search engine optimization. But there are some other features to look for in an SEO shopping cart besides those already mentioned, that can help get customers to you in the first place. They include:
- Automatic generation of an XML sitemap of the kind that Google, Yahoo! and other search engines use. Submitting an appropriately formatted sitemap to Google, for example, makes Google aware of the pages on your website that are available for indexing, which makes sure the spiders are deployed to all desired pages.
- Underpinning the sitemap is the ability to create the site the way you want it, so another key feature is completely customizable templates that don’t force an etailer into any corners in terms of site design
- Dynamic generation of unique meta tags, particularly title tags, which are considered an important contributor to page rankings.
Finally, it is being suggested that shopping cart software that generates HTML web pages, rather than using languages such as PHP, Perl, and ASP, will make more headway with search engines. This claim is worth considering as you make your SEO shopping cart choice.