What Makes A Shopping Cart “SEO Friendly”?

It’s a term I hear tossed about often, especially reading the sales site of countless ecommerce solutions and shopping cart software providers… Our shopping cart is “SEO Friendly”. What does that mean, exactly?

Depending on who says it, being “SEO friendly” can mean quite a few things. I’m going to cover the major features of an seo friendly shopping cart.

Knowing this can rapidly boost your free search engine traffic. Read on to find out…

1) Use “Static URLs” Rather Than Dynamic Ones

So, your cart should use URLs like http://www.xyz.com/myproduct.htm or http://www.xyz.com/myproduct.cfm. NOT something like http://www.xyz.com/products.asp?refnum=1234&catid=43&pagenum=873. Ideally, you should be able to CONTROL and CHOOSE your URL for your pages so you can include the keywords you’re targeting in the URL. http://www.xyz.com/mykeyword.cfm.

For some shopping carts, they stop at point (1) above and call their solution SEO friendly… but there’s more… quite a bit more, actually!

2) Optimized Internal Linking Between Pages On Site

When you think about “optimized linking”, you jump to the different ways to build incoming links from other sites. You think about getting links from articles, social bookmarking, social aggregators, press releases, etc. That’s all good. However, do you know that just having an optimized linking pattern between pages WITHIN your site can make a HUGE difference in your search engine ranking?

So, what’s “optimized internal linking”?

Each page on your site that you want ranked on the search engines should target 1-3 keywords. Let’s say you want http://www.xyz.com/bluewidgets.cfm to rank well for the term “blue widgets“. So, you want to make sure links that point to http://www.xyz.com/bluewidgets.cfm use the term “blue widgets” as the link text.

How does this apply to your shopping cart or ecommerce software?

Think about your product categories. Almost all shopping cart solutions list your categories in either the top, left or right menu. So, make sure the software uses plain text links when linking to your categories, not using images or some fancy Javascript. You can use fancy Javascript. Just make sure there’s a direct plain text link to the categories in the navigation menu. Then name your categories with the keywords you’re targeting.

Since your navigation menu appears on all your website pages, that instantly gives you quite a number of links to your product category pages. That’s great but there’s more…

The best shopping cart software will actually look through your product description and automatically embed links within your product description to other pages within your site. That way, you have pages within your site linking to each other using the target page’s keyword. Especially when targeting “long tail keywords” with little competition, sometimes just optimizing your internal linking will get you ranked in the top 10 for search engines like Google.

3) Publishes An Automatic RSS Feed Of Your Products

There are plenty of RSS aggregators and RSS search engines. Some RSS aggregators like FriendFeed.com or Mashable.com are actually VERY powerful and can by itself rank highly for long tail terms. So, it makes sense to publish an RSS feed of your products. Manually creating the RSS feed is both time-consuming and tedious. So, look for shopping carts that automatically creates an RSS feed of your products on-the-fly as soon as it’s added to your store.

Of course, the RSS feed is NOT just for SEO purposes. Visitors to your store can subscribe to the RSS feed and be INSTANTLY notified when you’ve added new products to your store. No need to rely on unreliable e-mail newsletters that may be blocked by spam filters and such. So, having an RSS feed of your products is a no-brainer!

4) Publishes Google/XML Sitemap

You want to help search engine spiders find your new content faster. That’s where the XML sitemap comes into play. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing now support XML sitemaps. So, make sure the ecommerce software you choose automatically creates an XML sitemap, updated with your important product and category pages.

5) Full Control Of Title Tag and Meta Tags

You absolutely need FULL CONTROL over what appears in your page’s <title> tag. That’s still one of the most important “on-page” factors that’ll get your page ranked on the search engines. Although keyword meta tags are pretty worthless nowadays, you still want to include a GOOD Description Meta Tag, with your targeted keywords weaved into it.


Although the top search engines don’t rank your page according what’s in the meta description tag, most do use it to describe your site if it contains the keyword the visitor’s searching. So, your Description Meta Tag is like your teaser copy to encourage people to click through to visit your site. If your description meta tag does not include the keyword people are using to find your page or you don’t have a description meta tag, Google will randomly grab content from your page that it thinks is relevant and use that as the description. You don’t want that!

Well, that’s the 5 tests your shopping cart must pass before they can reasonably claim to be “SEO friendly”. Of course, this is not all. There are other features like included social bookmarking, SEO page advisor and a myriad of other tools that can and should be included in your shopping cart. However, the FIVE I’ve listed above are absolutely necessary.

Of course, this being an InstanteStore blog, the InstanteStore solution does include all the features described above and more. With our proprietary SEO Wizard technology that gives you relevant and pertinent advise when you’re writing your product description, you can be sure your store pages will rank well on the search engines.

What do you think about these 5 SEO features? Do you have any other “must have” SEO feature that you think should be included in InstanteStore? Post your comments below!

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