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How SEO Can Make Or Break E-commerce

Apr 16, 2008
Any business which hosts a website online does so with the purpose of promoting a particular product or a service to mass target audience. Business websites with an e-commerce facility give their customers an opportunity to order or purchase products or services from the comforts of their home or office without having to visit the brick-and-mortar-site. Having an e-commerce facility is also cost effective for businesses, as they only have to spend on designing a website to widen their target base. Online businesses also have the advantage of having their businesses open and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. E-commerce websites with comprehensive product or service information, purchase and shipping information will provide utmost convenience to customers. However, one disadvantage of an e-commerce site is that not many of the rank very highly when a search is queries in search engines. This results because of improper indexing.

An ordinary website with no e-commerce functionalities will not be able to reap the advantage of having impulse buying over the net by customers. However, when a search query is performed, if this non-e-commerce site appears higher in ranking than one with e-commerce functionalities, then the former is at a greater advantage. People generally scan through the first few sites that appear in their search in the belief that those sites are more worthwhile and credible. As the potential customers may never get to see the e-commerce site, which is ranked lowly in the search results, the business may tend to lose sales. On the other hand, while the non-e-commerce site is visited, the lack of online shopping functionality also causes the business to lose potential sales. This problem can be avoided if a shopping cart is created on the sites.

SEO & Shopping Carts

Many of these e-commerce sites with search engine optimization solutions had the solutions created only after launching the first product. Some shopping carts like OS Commerce and Miva Merchant were not designed to primarily rank high in search engine listings. In fact, many of these systems are more often than not, not well received by the spiders. They require an add-on to help with even the lowest order of SEO functionalities. As such, when spending on creating a shopping cart, ensure that it is able to handle SEO so that you end up spending more than you had initially budgeted.
What Can Be Done?

There are two ways to circumvent the problem. The first one would be to design a front-end website that is detached from the shopping. To explain this more clearly, it would man creating multiple well-designed pages that would be well received by search engine spiders. The disadvantage about this however, is that websites will tend to be limited in size as that would be dependent on the size of the front-end site.

The second solution would be to select a SEO friendly shopping cart. This is an arduous task and many factors should be considering before deciding on the ideal shopping cart for the site. These include customizing the capacity of the pages, page spiderability and the ease with which products are added. In fact, finding such a shopping cart system is so difficult that only one has been proven to be able to allow the complete customization of all the individual pages and these pages are even able to be spidered such that a PageRank is assigned.
Easy As Apple Pie

This one rarity is Apple Pie Shopping Cart from Rose Rock Design. Apple Pie shopping cart distinguished itself from the rest of the others because search engines were points of consideration during the conception stage of the shopping cart. The first step that the designers embarked on during the creation of the cart was to ensure that product pages could be easily customized and spidered.

In general, advanced shopping carts, which accommodate SEO pages, are more expensive. However, such shopping cart systems prevent businesses from spending on the development of front-end sites. If all the pages on a site can be spidered easily, more pages can be added to the site, giving businesses an edge in SEO. In fact, the profits reaped could more than exceed the cost of maintaining a shopping cart system.

Having said that, one should not think that Apple Pie shopping cart is the one-stop solution to a SEO-friendly e-commerce website. In fact, creators of this shopping cart are in the process of creating a more advanced system that would contain more features in tune with latest advancements in Internet marketing. When considering developing an e-commerce website, it is equally important to develop a marketing strategy that is apt for the site in question. While the initial costs may seem daunting, in the long run, a well built website with SEO capabilities will prove profitable.
About the Author
Moe Tamani is an Internet Marketing Consultant specializing in SEO Friendly e-commerce.
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