If you’ve ever undertaken a replatforming or rebuild of your ecommerce store, you will no doubt have come to understand the importance of technical SEO and how getting it right contributes to a seamless, smooth transition, and getting it wrong can banish your ecommerce store to the deep and darkest wilderness of the Search Engines and completely reverse years of hard work and search performance.
Certainly, the best time to undertake technical SEO is during the web build, but in many instances technical SEO is often an after-though in the web development process. Without a considered approach during this phase, post go live, time consuming technical SEO audits may be needed to identify and fix any arising issues, so it pays to keep SEO front of mind during your website development.
Not forgetting, technical SEO does extend beyond the site build and has implications for any search engine updates, which is why it’s a good idea to keep Technical SEO on the agenda of a Digital Marketing Game Plan.
Technical SEO is essential for optimising for Search Engine Bots. If technical areas of your ecommerce website are not optimised, there may be an issue with indexing. If a website has indexing problems, no amount of onsite content or links will help achieve higher ranking positions in the SERPS. Put simply, if a website is not indexed, it will not be ranked.
We’ve pulled together some top SEO recommendations when creating your website, with the help of Econsultancy’s most recent SEO best practise guide published in January 2017, along with our own Williams Commerce SEO checklist we undertake during the development of our websites.
- Prioritise Site Speed and optimise this in several ways, image sizes, minifying code, caching solutions and more.
- Adopt a sensible site architecture and don’t bury pages more than four levels within the site, enabling the search engines to regularly crawl, cache and index pages.
- HTML Markup – use this to enhance information to web crawlers, markup will help your content to be best formatted and examples include title, description and header tags and structured data markup, to show rich snippets in search.
- Care about categorisation, dividing your product catalogue in appropriate categories and assigning clean URL structure. Naturally many products will sit in several categories and adopting Canonicalization will support this.
- What is canonicalization? The process of choosing a preferred URL when there are several choices for an individual page. Tags and redirects are the solution to solve any issues which occur, so that the likes of Google can understand that it’s not a case of duplicated content.
- Correct use of meta tags is important to ensuring your site can rank effectively for paginated content.
- What is Pagination? Pagination is often used for ecommerce categories when displaying lots of products can result in issues such as duplicate content of diluting the relevancy of content.
- Redirection, use 301 redirects to ensure users receive the most relevant content. 301 redirects are permanent redirects, whilst 302 is a temporary redirect.
- Use robots.txt to block out irrelevant URLs, as well as URLs that generate dynamic content to a website.
- Avoid dynamic URLs and instead use static URLs. Dynamic links may result in creating duplicate content and worse.
- Use descriptive URLs that have keywords of the content a website wants to rank for, to help your pages rank more highly.
- Avoid website cannibalisation with unique copy throughout your site applied to category and product pages. Thinking about the content you want to rank highest for and giving due consideration to the best possible structure for internal linking, subdomains and international sites to enable this.
There’s much more to consider. Engaging the support of an SEO team during your web build can help you ensure you build a strong foundation for future success.