SEO For BigCommerce Developers
BigCommerce SEO is a walk in the park for SEO experts, I mean, that’s why they’re called experts right? However, for developers, SEO probably gives a lot of them a ”here we go again” feeling of no excitement. The concern is, SEO is so important in e-commerce that everyone needs to get a hang of it. That means even developers need to go out of their comfort zone to learn about SEO.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practice that is regularly carried out or put in place to help an e-commerce website generate traffic. The aim of SEO is to make a site show on the first page on search engines when related keywords are searched for. When a website’s SEO is done well, it will help push the website up the list of search results on search engines. This will eventually increase the website’s organic traffic.
There are so many practices that fall under the umbrella of SEO, however, to make things easier to understand, we are going to categorize them into two broad classes. Onsite SEO and offsite SEO.
Onsite SEO is a set of practice that is done on the site such as content quality, site markup and page loading speed. Onsite SEO will determine how search engines interpret the site’s content – keywords, meta tags, sitemaps, speed, etc.
Offsite SEO is a set of practice that is done outside the site, such as social metrics, link building and content sharing. Offsite SEO generate value from external sources for the site to improve the site’s authority and ranking on search engines.
Since developers have no business with offsite SEO, because as we mentioned offsite SEO is not done within the site, we are going to focus on onsite SEO.
Here are offsite SEO factors every e-commerce developer should learn about:
Google and other search engines are always looking for ways that they can serve internet users best. Site loading speed and page loading speed are some of the factors that determine user experience on a website. As a result, Google and other search engines consider both when calculating the ranking of a site.
For developers, this means that they must create sites and web-pages that load fast. To do so, developers must ensure that sites have a quick server response time, use CDN for image optimization. The site’s graphics and themes must be optimized for quick loading.
It is no longer rare to find someone browsing the from their smart-phone, actually, 50% of daily internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Search engines are also concerned about this and therefore counts it as a factor for determining a site’s rank on search results. Developers have to make sure that the sites they are working on are optimized for mobile devices. Therefore, the site’s themes must be mobile friendly. You can use Google AMP to measure a site’s mobile responsiveness.
When creating a site, it is important to choose the pages you want search engines to index and crawl. In doing so, you have to create a site-map listing all those pages and files along with the information describing the relationship between them. As a developer, when launching a new website, you have to submit the site’s sitemap to search engines.
In e-commerce industry, the URL of a site needs to be as vivid as possible so that internet users can have a good idea of what the site is about. So, as a developer, create a URL that shows what the site is about, using the keywords that relate to the site. Try to avoid repeating a keyword in many URLs as it can make the URLs look spammy. Also, we recommend creating a structure for the URLs, and avoid using special characters in the URLs. When creating a URL, use the important keywords first so that that’s what shows after search engines truncate the URL. The best practice is to keep the URL as short as possible – keep it within 512 pixels.
A Canonical URL is a set of meta-data in each web-page template that informs search engines bots which URL are to be ranked and indexed. Basically, ensuring that crawlers don’t index many versions of the same webpage so as to avoid duplicating contents. As a developer, you should know that it is important for you to generate canonical URLs and include them in the web pages of the site you’re creating. This is going to help avoid page ranking confusions on search engines.
301 redirect is used to transfer the value and rank of a web page to another. It informs search engines that the new page should now be given the old page’s rank. It will come in handy when you’re creating a new platform for a URL. For a developer, 301 redirect is important to an e-commerce site because it helps the site’s new platform or a webpage on the site to retain the old rankings instead of building again from scratch. It is best to always create 301 redirects after every update on the site.
Robots.txt file is used to inform search engines crawlers what content or pages on a site you want you want to be indexed and crawled. It also lets you choose the pages to be ignored by crawlers. In some cases such as when a site has paid links, site owners realize that it is a poor decision and want to undo it, robots.txt will be useful. For developers, when creating a site, you want to prevent crawlers from indexing unfinished contents that are still in development. You can use robots.txt to block the specific content from getting crawled by search engines bots. Since you can use robots.txt to point search engines bots to particular web pages and contents, crawlers will focus on them. As a result, you will be optimizing those pages for search results.
Content creation is the life force of e-commerce. Now, while developers domain doesn’t include writing contents, they can help with creating quality content.
As a developer, you have to keep familiarizing yourself with SEO trends so that you can always know which trends to learn about. The knowledge will come in handy when you’re creating new sites for your clients. You will be able to create quality sites that are well optimized for search engines.