E-commerce websites can become immeasurably huge – especially on systems where many product variations/selection paths create new pages. That’s why I’ve written this quick guide for you – hopefully allowing you to look through some of the common defaults and your processes to ensure things are as they should be.
Don’t forget to apply any codes/special meta tags for your services such as Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools. You may also be able to verify social media profiles – Pinterest for example does this – with these tags.
As alluded to above, your navigation options can sometimes create duplicate pages. Don’t go on a mission to remove them – they’re probably helping your customers navigate and narrow their search to exactly what they want. They’re being helpful. Google tries to figure out when you’re doing this, but to remove all doubt enable Canonical URLs if your system has such an option (Magento has this out of the box, WordPress running WooCommerce adds this functionality).
If you don’t have this as an option you can add it to your pages manually. However, be sure to do it the right way. The original page will normally refer to itself with a canonical tag, this can be optional, and every duplicate will also need to point back to this page too.
If you have too many products to do this manually and no automatic option it might be time to think about upgrading to Magento.
Default Meta Data Settings
Default meta data settings are handy for making sure titles and meta descriptions etc don’t go blank when you forget to fill them in. However, after the first page you do this on you’re simply creating duplicates. Go through and check for products/category pages/information pages with no set tags. Optimise them appropriately to the content – a nice quick win!
Robots and Sitemaps
With a little work your robots file can make life a little easier and potentially your site a little faster. Work through a full crawl to find URL patterns that don’t need crawling – these could be system files, on-site search results etc and add them with care. In fact, before you add them to the live site check out their effects in Google Webmaster Tool’s Robots.txt tester. Simply add the new rules and check pages with a similar structure to any disallow rules (in addition to important pages).
Sitemaps are rather boring but very important. Again, Magento will do this out of the box for you – but remember to set your update frequencies to the relevant time periods. To do this go into System -> Configuration. Go to the “Google Sitemap” section under “Catalog”.
With an SEO plugin such as Yoast, WordPress will also help make you a sitemap.
Made it? Good! Now go submit it in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster tools.
Make sure to add alt and title attributes to all your important images to help pages such as products rank well (it may also benefit image search). This will pretty much be everything except any theme images. If possible also set the file name to reflect the image contents. If you can do this automatically it will save you so much time. However you’ll probably need a developer at this point.
If you need help with your E-commerce site please get in touch with us!