With the expansion of internet access, we have seen thousands of online e-commerce stores over the past few years.
Starting an online e-commerce store does not require a lot of money, efforts, or technical expertise. You can start a basic online store with very few resources — compared to starting a local brick-and-mortar store. It gives entrepreneurs and small business owners the opportunity to quit their day-jobs, start their ecommerce stores, and start earning money online right away.
Although you do not need a lot of resources, software, or money, you would need an e-commerce platform to power your online store. It’s one of the fundamental things you need to start an e-commerce store.
Once you buy an e-commerce platform, set up your website, and start the store, you start asking the more important questions, i.e., how are you going to get traffic to your store?
Because, as you must know, no online store can succeed without a consistent stream of traffic. You’d need lots and lots of traffic — with a potentially good conversion rate — to have any chance of sustainable success. Therefore, it is important to remember that you need to leverage every possible traffic acquisition channel if you want to be successful.
Unfortunately, when we talk about generating traffic for an online e-commerce store, we almost exclusively think of paid channels, e.g., Google AdWords, banner ads, Facebook marketing, etc.
We are not undermining these paid channels at all. Those are all brilliant sources of driving instant traffic, and you will have to use one or more of those paid mediums to get things rolling.
However, when you plan for long-term, you’d realize that you cannot depend on paid traffic forever.
Eventually, you will like to increase your profit margins, and that’s why it is important to start getting some free organic traffic down the line so you could minimize paid expenditures and increase profit ratios.
But here’s the problem.
Apart from the paid mindset of e-commerce starters, most e-commerce platforms aren’t that optimized for search engine optimization and higher search engine rankings.
As a result, most e-commerce store-owners fail to leverage the full SEO potential of their online store and end up relying on paid channels completely. Many entrepreneurs never get to explore free organic traffic and the endless possibilities that come along with it.
What’s the Solution?
The solution is rather simple.
- You need to pick the right e-commerce platform that has the essential SEO features you’d require to propel your website in the SERPs.
- Secondly, you need to actively focus on optimizing your online store for higher search engine rankings, instead of totally relying on paid channels.
In this blog post, we are going to solve the first problem, i.e., picking the right e-commerce platform.
No, we are not going to recommend an ecommerce platform. Instead, we are going to highlight a few important SEO features that your ecommerce platform must have so that — equipped with the right knowledge — you can make the best decision on your own.
1. A Seamlessly Integrated Blogging Platform
Do you know why so many e-commerce stores fail to get ranked in search engine results pages? It’s because they do not leverage content marketing as much as they should.
Content is king, and you can’t rank in search engines without it.
This is why it is extremely crucial to have an ecommerce platform with a built-in and seamlessly integrated blogging platform. It ensures that you are pumping out consistent content that your potential customers find interesting, engaging, and useful.
With an active content marketing strategy, you will not only be able to drive more traffic to your online store, but you will also be able to generate leads and nurture them via email marketing later.
A blog is a company’s voice, and it is importance can never be underestimated.
2. Granular Control on Metadata
Obvious, isn’t it?
You will be surprised to know how many (popular) ecommerce platforms do not offer the required granular control on metadata.
They won’t allow you to control and edit URLs and page titles at a page level — which is an essential aspect of on-page search engine optimization.
There are multiple problems if you do not have this level of control in your own store:
- First, you might face an issue of duplicate content (duplicate URLs and page titles)
- You might end up with unoptimized URLs (URLs with special random characters and without any important keywords)
- You will not be able to optimize page titles with keywords.
For pretty much every e-commerce online store, long-tail keywords are extremely important. It is very difficult for an online store to survive and thrive in a competitive landscape without the ability to target long-tail keywords.
In order to successfully do that, you need metadata control at a page level. So make sure that your selected e-commerce platform offers you that.
3. Link Redirection & Management
Unlike a more traditional blog or website, an ecommerce store is full of different URLs (because of hundreds and thousands of different products).
Sometimes, those products retire or get merged into different products or migrated into different categories. In such scenarios, you end up with lots of broken links.
Does your selected e-commerce platform offer an easy link redirection and management system so you can rest assured that everything is in perfect order?
The ability to set up canonical URLs and 301 redirects is important for online store-owners. Broken links lead to a bad user experience, and search engines really don’t like a bad user experience. They will rather penalize your website and demote it in SERPs.
4. Editable Robots.txt File
Apart from an integrated blogging platform, an editable robots.txt file is one of the most important SEO features that your chosen ecommerce platform should have.
Let’s briefly discuss what robots.txt files are used for, and then we can jump into why we need an editable robots.txt file.
The primary purpose of a robots.txt file is to tell search engines not to index certain web pages and rank into search engine result pages. But if you want organic traffic from search engines, why would you tell search engines not to rank a certain webpage?
It’s important for ecommerce online stores. Let’s explain why.
How do you record a conversion? The most common way is to set a destination goals in Google Analytics. As you know, destination goals require specific URLs. Usually, it is a thank-you or an order-confirmation page.
The key point here is that if people haven’t bought your product, they should not be allowed to reach the thank-you or order-confirmation page. Otherwise, it would record a conversion which never really happened.
However, what if — for some reason — it gets indexed in search engines?
You will be getting inflated conversions, which wouldn’t present the true picture.
This is a very basic example of why you need editable robots.txt files so that you could block such thank-you and order-confirmation pages in SERPs.
E-commerce platforms are crucial in setting up your online store. When you are finalizing one, just make sure it has the right SEO features that would help you propel your website in search engine rankings.
The above-mentioned four SEO features may appear basic, but they are extremely important. They help you build the right foundation upon which you can build a search-engine optimized online e-commerce store.