Today people have smartphones to access the Internet whenever and wherever they wish. It makes online shopping easy and convenient for shoppers and becomes the prime cause of the growth of online businesses of all kinds.
Looking at the bright prospects, online startups, established brick-and-mortar stores and Omnichannel businesses rush to find a right ecommerce platform that enables them to develop an ecommerce website to hit success easily.
The significance of SEO in Success of Ecommerce
Unlike brick stores, attracting online traffic demands altogether different marketing approaches and tactics. If you look at the ecommerce source data on the web, you will find that more than half of your ecommerce traffic comes from organic search.
It means search engines prove the biggest source of your traffic hence your revenue. For the organic traffic, a ranking of your website on SERPs for your major business keyword is a determining factor that how much you gain. The more top positions your keywords attain in the SERPs, the more traffic and conversion your ecommerce store will have.
Selection of Best SEO-friendly Ecommerce Platform
Keeping the simple equation in mind, ecommerce startups and merchants tend to select the best SEO-friendly ecommerce platform right from the beginning. Today we have plenty of ecommerce platforms available on the web claiming to be SEO-friendly and confusing startups and brick store merchants to select the right one.
Majority of them depends on their developers to make a choice and developers have a hard time to make a right decision for an aligned or less known business with a handful of information.
Therefore, wise people always advice to do it yourself (DIY) by getting enough information to make a right decision. Now, you have to decide ecommerce website features that establish SEO-friendliness at first glance, and you need to search the availability of those features in your selected ecommerce platforms.
Based on the amount of SEO-friendly features, you can rank the ecommerce platform. Recently, some online researchers have tried to give a weighting of SEO features fall in known SEO criteria such as
- Easy editing
- Easy redirects
- Easy technical SEO
- Site speed
SEO Features of Ecommerce
Let’s see each factor and its weighting to compare SEO-friendliness of an ecommerce platform.
The majority of ecommerce platforms are based on PHP and its open source, so product pages generate dynamic URL based on the title/product name you have placed in the navigation. From SEO point of view, displaying odd product name like containing texts and numbers seems vague for bots to index and readers to comprehend.
Therefore, ecommerce platform must offer customized navigation link facility to enter custom and SEO-friendly URL.
Custom Page Title
The scenario is similar to custom URL of the navigation link. You need to enter the custom page title with SEO keywords and attractive texts to grab the attention of ecommerce visitors.
Custom Page URL
Just like a navigation URL, in most of the ecommerce platforms, web page URL is also generated dynamically based on the product name you have entered as the page title. Therefore, customization of page URL is essential to get page ranking advantages such as CTR.
Custom Meta Description
By default, Google and other search engines retrieve Metadata like title, description, and tags based on the algorithm they have implemented after scanning the entire page. However, in majority of the cases, bots pick up the various Meta Data tags placed at the beginning of web pages source and display it.
Most of PHP based open source ecommerce platforms offer by default fields for Meta Data. Otherwise, you can integrate appropriate SEO plugins to do so.
Custom Image Alt Tag
Ecommerce stores always have a lot of product images with non-descriptive names. The name of the image you have given during production or modification appears in SERPs or indexing. Therefore, it is imperative to give SEO-friendly (Keyword included) name to the all images that belong to your web page. It is possible with image Alt Tags. Search engines will index Alt tag of the image and display in SERPs.
The ultimate benefits of image indexing is that, Google display images in SERPs and a big portion of web traffic comes
from the image searches.
Google weight heading tags just after page title and the H1 tag is on the top of all heading tags. Therefore, try to include your business keywords in h1 to h6 tags and get good ranking in SERPs.
Search engines provide a provision for the duplicate pages or page URLs, which generates dynamically, and want to save from the penalties of duplicate content by pointing only one original page for indexing, and hide the rests of duplicate pages.
Blogs offer additional advantages in ranking in the search by being an interactive platform that grabs the attention of web visitors more often than a static web page can do. Unfortunately, most of the ecommerce platforms don’t offer blogging platform by default and external blog integration hardly provides benefits that a by default blogging platform can.
Today content marketing is a sure-fire way to get good traffic as well as ranking in the SERPs.
At present, social sharing is a leading ranking factor and Google weight social signal high in its algorithm. If your ecommerce platform is devoid of offering social APIs or displaying social icons at frontend by default, you might have a hard time to integrate all one-by-one.
There are two kinds of sitemaps found on ecommerce websites. The first is HTML sitemap that appears as a web page on the frontend of the site. The second is XML sitemap that remains hidden and available only in the backend. Search bots are used to index XML sitemap and start indexing the entire site based on the Meta Data or list of pages provided in it.
Most of the ecommerce platform missing it and need integration of extensions that accomplish the job.
Custom Domain Name
Unique domain name or website URL has a significant role in ranking as well as create a good impression on the visitor. If you have registered a unique domain name with your primary business keyword or brand name, you will have multiple advantages in your SEO campaigns.
Custom IP Address
Today shared hosting is a buzz, but it hardly works for ecommerce business because it lacks provision for allocating a unique IP address to each website hosted on shared servers. Some ecommerce platforms provide shared hosting provision by default and hardly allow you to leave for own hosting choices. So, avoid those platforms.
Default redirect URL and page often leads visitors to wrong types of pages and increase bounce rate. Moreover, in case of unavailable products or page content, default setting hardly works to convince visitors to go to similar pages where visitors can find something relevant and stay on the ecommerce website for longer.
Therefore, custom redirect page generation facility is important in ranking as well as improving conversions by redirecting traffic to appropriate pages.
By default robots.txt file in a web page indicates search robots to index or not index the page. If your ecommerce platform lets you or your developer edit that file easily, it makes the job easy to avoid indexing of website pages, which have duplicate content or under the production.
SEO Scores for the Leading Ecommerce Platform to Indicate SEO-friendliness
Based on the above-given criteria of required SEO features to get top position in SERPs, we can classify the leading ecommerce platforms in following ways.
SEO Scores (/100)
- Shopify : 98
- WooCommerce : 97
- 3DCart: 95
- Magento: 95
- BigCommerce : 91
- SquareSpace: 91
- Volusion : 88
- Weebly : 75
- Wix: 75
- GoDady : 60
- MoonFruit: 51
- PrestaShop : 40
- BigCartel : 30
- 1&1: 20
- Zen Cart : 15
- OsCommerce: 15
Today Shopify is residing on the top of the SEO-friendliness list, thanks to its framework that allows extensive customization. Moreover, it is easy to use for any skill level of users and also search engine friendly right from design to code levels.
WooCommerce is a set of WordPress plugins to grant ecommerce functionality, features, and everything to create a functional online shop. It is based on highly SEO-friendly CMS platform, WordPress. Therefore, it inherent SEO-friendliness by default and stay next to Shopify.
It is designed to deliver excellent customer experiences that supports search engines too. It has almost all SEO features that an ideal ecommerce store must have.
The following comparison table gives some good clues of SEO-friendliness of some leading ecommerce platform.
It is a king of ecommerce platform with highly complex code to deliver big scale ecommerce web portals with tons of features and functionality. Of course, it has easy to use SEO tools to get a good ranking, but lack of built-in blogging platform and some sophisticated approaches to do SEO keep it somewhat lower on the list.
It is indeed for big/enterprise-level ecommerce platform and stands next to Magento. It has URL duplication and lack of built-in blog like features that keep it back from the top ranking SEO-friendly ecommerce platforms.
Volusion is great in SEO aspects but is missing the built-in blog, Google verification process, and URL duplication privileges like SEO-friendly features. Therefore, the choice of Volusion is not bad if your ecommerce business needs to meet its other ecommerce features and packages for your budget.
There are various other ecommerce platforms which are on the list of SEO feature comparison, but we will not delve in-depth due to constraints of space and time. Therefore, I have given links to check SEO features individually.
We have seen a number of SEO features we can expect an ecommerce platform to have to rank top in SERPs. We also have explored the mechanism of ranking ecommerce platforms by giving each SEO feature a weight. Based on that weights, we have given ranks to the leading ecommerce platforms.
However, we tried our best to ease the selection process, but installation and configuration of an ecommerce platform is not an easy and neither a DIY thing that anyone can do. You need the assistance of experienced and expert ecommerce development team with adequate infrastructural facilities and a strong portfolio.