Product Discovery on the web (SEO)
You can find thousands of books and blogs on Ecommerce Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the practice of increasing the traffic to your website through organic search results. My goal here is to introduce the main SEO concepts and tools that are important to know when implementing digital commerce for your organization.
Most ecommerce sites are quite complex and have many products. Search engine crawlers come to your site and index your pages, but they might not be able to find them all. While most pages are customer-facing, some pages are not accessed by customers but could be essential for SEO.
Google introduced the sitemaps protocol in 2005. It tells the crawler which of your pages are most important and provides other vital details about them. Sitemaps advise search engines on what to crawl and are known as URL inclusion protocol. The XML sitemap lists all URLs from the site, including pages that would not otherwise have been foundable. It gives page crawl priority and also contains two optional tags. The first one, “lastmod’, informs when a page last changed. The second one, “changefreq,” tells how often a page is likely to change.
You should only use a canonical version of the URL in the sitemap. A canonical URL is specified as a snippet of HTML code in the Head section that identifies the main version for duplicate or similar pages. Quite often, ecommerce sites have the same content available under different URLs. Use canonical tags to specify the main page, which should be indexed.
On the other hand, the robots.txt is an exclusion protocol that tells search engines what not to crawl.
Without robot.txt, a search engine robot may crawl your shopping cart links, wishlist links, admin login pages, test links or development site, or some other content that you might not want to expose. Crawls could even find personal information, temporary files, or admin pages.
Be very careful when making changes to robots.txt as it can cause significant parts of your website to be inaccessible to search engines.
To achieve good SEO, you need to specify meta tags for all your products, categories, and landing pages. Meta tag title & descriptions are displayed on the Google search results to encourage users to click on the link.
All Ecommerce systems provide tools to manage SEO either as a standard feature or an add-on.