Many of the most popular shopping carts have been around since before the era of search engine friendly-ness. Because of the age of the carts and their reliance on already-developed code, many of them have had difficulty shifting focus to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO shopping carts are especially important for ecommerce web sites because for many, the entire site consists of the shopping cart software. If search engines can't index the the site, it gets a huge penalty on search engine result pages.
Because of the incredible lack of search engine optimized shopping carts out there, I thought I would give shoppers in the market for a shopping cart some compelling reasons to look a little past the surface of a cart and see if the cart is actually that "friendly."
Reason 1: To Get More Traffic to Your Shopping Cart
Most people find ecommerce web sites through search engines. The more highly search engine optimized your shopping cart is, the more likely that it will show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). High rankings on search engines means that your site is in front of more eyes that are looking for what you sell. More eyes means more traffic to your shopping cart.
Traffic from search engines is particularly valuable because if a potential customer finds your site on a search engine, they have likely typed in keywords that match the subject matter of your ecommerce web site.
By using a SEO-ed shopping Cart, you can increase the search engine traffic to your shopping cart by incredible numbers.
Reason 2: Search Engine Optimization Means Quicker Indexing
When a search engine knows that it likes indexing your shopping cart, it will set up a schedule to come back and index and changes or new pages you have added to the web site. The easier you make it for the search engine spiders, the faster they will return, and the quicker they will do their work. Imagine adding a new product to your shopping cart and having it show up in the search engines the same day. It can happen!
Reason 3: Moving an SEO-ed Shopping Cart Later Means All New Pages
Each shopping cart using their own file naming scheme, meaning that the URL's of product pages will be different from one shopping cart to another. The search engines rely on these URL's to identify what pages are which. When a filename changes, the search engines interpret that as one file disappearing and another, unrelated page, being created.
Search engines take into account the age of a web page when it comes to ranking, so a newly named page won't get the same kind of rank as an older, more mature page. In addition, any incoming links that have developed over time to your shopping cart pages would be linking to a nonexistent page.
Keeping all that in mind, you can see how helpful it would be to get it right the first time. With a search engine optimized shopping cart, the URL's will be constructed especially for search engines, rich in keywords and without unnecessary characters. These provide a good foundation for the SEO of the rest of the web site, so you will see improved ranking as a result.
If you start out with a non-search engine optimized shopping cart, eventually you will want to move to one that is and when that happens, all of your pages will disappear.
Reason 4: An SEO-ed Shopping Cart Retains PageRank Better
Most shopping carts on the market were designed to be easily programmed and altered. This makes it easier for the shopping cart programmers to add new features or alter existing ones. Because of this focus, often times the same pages in a shopping cart will have several different URL's each. This means that when a search engine comes to index your site, they might see 500 pages where there are only 50.
Initially this might sound like a good thing, but ultimately it reduces the power of your web site. Google - the most widely used search engine in the world - uses something called PageRank to measure the value of a web site, and thus to determine what its rank will be in the search engine result pages. When one web page links to another web page, it takes some of its PageRank and passes it on to another page.
When there are 10 URL's for the same page, it means that PageRank is being split 10 ways, rather than being focused on a single page. This makes the pages far less powerful when it comes to showing up on the SERP's.
A search engine optimized shopping cart will take the PageRank into consideration, and will create a single URL for each web page, making each page on your shopping cart as powerful as possible.
Reason 5: An Search Engine Friendly Shopping Cart Helps Usability
A search engine optimized shopping cart will use a little code as possible to display a page. This is because search engine spiders will only spend a certain amount of time on each website, and on each page on a site. The less code there is for a spider to wade through, the more chance a site has of getting all of their web pages indexed.
What this inadvertently causes are changes in the code that actually make the pages load more quickly than they would otherwise. Part of this is due to file size (which will save you bandwidth), but it also makes it easier for web browsers to display a page without thinking as hard.
While there aren't a lot of search engine friendly shopping carts on the market today, it pays in the long run to do a little research about which ones are out there and choose from those. There are numerous reasons to start off on the right foot with some good software so that you don't have to eventually lose all the positioning you've gained by moving to another shopping cart.
Keep in mind that just because a shopping cart says it's search engine optimized, it doesn't mean it is. Get familiar with search engine optimization techniques before starting your shopping cart research.