For many merchants, organic listings of their products are a gift from the gods, but perhaps just as elusive. Retailers often have a hard time achieving top rank for their products, often because the basic rules for creating an SEO shopping cart orientation aren't followed. Sometimes there's little they can do about it – particularly if the shopping cart software they are using doesn't offer what's easiest and best for the search engines to pick up on. But, even in these cases, there are many work a rounds that can be performed. Here are some of the most important ones.
Having a true SEO shopping cart that is optimized for search engine placement can start with simple checks like seeing how many pages of your site are indexed in Google using their "Site:yoursite.com" command as shown above.
You would hope that people search for your product by it's name, one of it's characteristics or something that you describe about it. But that's not always true. Doing a little keyword research (number of searches for that term and how many/what strength of competitors it has) will go a long way to being listed. But that's just the beginning. Where should that term appear in an (SEO) Shopping Cart?
Many shopping cart programs still extract the metatag title from the title of the product's main page. If that's the case, be sure to include the target keyword in that title. If the product descriptions are bulk uploaded or pulled from another application like your accounting program, try to include custom title tags/headings rather than building a "box-car" style headline like this series which basically follows the structure of:
PART NUMBER + PRODUCT CATEGORY + PRODUCT SIZE
MR01 Magnetic Ribbon Ring Boxes- 2 1/8" x 2 1/8" x 1 1/2"H
MR11 Magnetic Ribbon T-Earring/Pendant Boxes- 2 3/8" x 2 3/8" x 1
MR21 Magnetic Ribbon Pendant Boxes- 2 1/8" x 3 1/8" x 1 1/8"H
The problem with the above approach is that Google may consider the pages as duplicated content and relegate them to (what used to be called) "supplemental" search results, which aren't often displayed. Worse, you lose the chance to have each product brought up in response to a specific, high volume/low ranking search term. If you must create bulk-generated titles and descriptions because you have too many to individually write them (you still might take your top volume or most promising products and give them unique titles and descriptions), consider using text "spinning" software or randomizing a series of modifiers in a spreadsheet and offering a bit more variety such as:
RANDOM MODIFIER + Stylish Never Tarnish Beyond Elegant
To tell if there is a linking problem (or perhaps other problems like duplicate content), you can either download Google's index of your site using the Google's site command or check the pages in Google's Webmasters Tools control panel to see which are indexed and compare it to your listing of files on the site. If you have a large number of unindexed pages, start investigating with whether the pages have a clear link path, and if not, build other manual links to them from the home page (via a sitemap or similar link center) and/or other higher volume pages.
While you're at it, make sure you've declared in Google's Webmasters tools which way you'd like your site to be referred to, either with the www or without the www as in www.mysite.com versus mysite.com. This decreases the chances that Google will consider content duplicated and it can make your internal linking conventions easier to setup.
And finally, take a page out of the SEO Pro's book and "fire" links from pages you know have the most traffic to ones you'd like to build up. This internal "voting" helps you increase the stature of pages that may benefit you more.
Your Site's Organization Drives Your SEO Shopping Cart's Search Engine Visibility
Form can follow function, but it can also be reversed when it comes to setting up your product organization in the SEO shopping cart world. Google tends to increase the ranking of sites that are clustered around a tangible category. This also goes for subcategories, and most shopping sites to a pretty good job of initial groupings. The problem is that a product can be categorized in more than one department and create a file path like:
This makes updating the product links difficult, but also can lead to duplicate content as noted above and even create circular references with related/suggested items. It might be better just to use the file structure at the product level and/or redirect menus to these items rather than create duplicated link paths. If you must create alternate paths for the same product, you can designate the "main" path for indexing using the canonical metatag on the "real McCoy" page.
And speaking of keeping pages current, best practices suggest that when an item is out of stock NOT to turn the page off. That means pages already indexed in Google, Bing, etc. will return a "page not found" (404) error which tells the user to look elsewhere rather than giving you a chance to offer an incentive to back order the product, or suggest an alternative.