With the Holiday season coming closer and closer to wrapping up, now is a good time to evaluate your shopping cart. Granted, you should have evaluated your cart prior to the holiday season, but back then you didn’t have this helpful blog post to guide you, right? Well now you do, so you can finally look at that old shopping cart of yours and evaluate whether it is SEO friendly or not!

Anyways… What got me really thinking of this is that as of late I have had the pleasure of working with some great GREAT shopping carts (sense the sarcasm). Many have had these problems that I am about to go over. These problems (or feature deficiencies) can and will hurt your chances of getting ranked. This especially goes for smaller sites that are looking to make an impact on the search engines.

When we perform our SEO Site Audit, we look at as many aspects of the client’s site as we can. This allows us to give our clients the best information possible so they can fix their site and get those desired rankings, as well as help us meet the client’s goals, whether that is more traffic, leads, and/or sales. Some shopping carts can really hinder your search results if they are coded improperly.

If you are looking to improve your sales for the next year or you are looking to jump into the world of e-commerce, these capabilities are something your cart should be able to handle.

  1. Adding custom Titles and Tags to pages/categories/products
    • Are you able to add your own titles and tags to everything in your cart? Are you able to do it with ease? I have noticed some shopping carts give you this option, but it is scarce – meaning that only the category pages can have them or the product pages can have them, but you can’t put them on the home page or on any other types of content pages you have on your site. This is not very SEO friendly and won’t allow your website to rank as high as it potentially could if every page had the option for unique titles and tags. While the meta keywords and meta description are fairly weak in terms of ranking factors, the title is very important and most will argue as being the most important aspect in SEO.
  2. Is there an easy way to Edit the URLs
    • Take a look at the URL’s at the category and product level of your site. For example: “384. This is a very ugly URL and hard for the search engines to read, does your shopping cart allow for the URLs to look more SEO friendly? For example: . While this URL is long, you can see it is clear in what product you are on as well as the categories that product resides in. This type of URL allows the search engines to come in and really navigate through your site a lot easier which will give you more of an opportunity to get indexed easier as well as helping your page rank flow through your site easier.
  3. Does your Shopping Cart allow for easy redirection.
    • I have yet to see a shopping cart really do this successfully without having to do a little extra work whether it is with a mod rewrite or with the .htaccess file. This is still something you need to look at however. You want to make sure that you can do a redirection so you don’t run into a duplicate content issue with the www/non-www versions of the site as well as the index(default/home).php(aspx/asp). These can cause duplicate content issues that you don’t need nor want to have. Find out from the cart company as to how hard this is to fix and/or what it will take to fix.
  4. How hard is it to add new content to the shopping cart?
    • One of the most important pieces to SEO on any site is the ability to add new content. Search engines love new content and one of the reasons why blogs do so well in the search engines is because it is always being updated with new content on a regular basis. Whether you want to add new content on a weekly basis or on a monthly basis, the ability to do so should be relatively easy through a shopping cart CMS (content management system). I have worked with shopping carts that were completely the opposite and it was insanely difficult to add a new content page. Simply put, the easier it is to add new pages to the site, the more time you will have to work on the rest of your site.

Now I know there are many other cart capabilities out there that website owners think make “great” shopping carts and I hope you will share those with us and participate in the conversation. These are just some basic signs that I have picked up over the course of the past couple months working with some clients carts. While a cart could look all fancy on the outside make sure it is easy for you to use on the inside because your time is very important.