What SEO Features Should Your E-Commerce Software Offer?

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With thousands of individual product detail pages and category pages, e-commerce sites have many opportunities for great SEO. However, it is critical that you choose an e-commerce platform that allows you to control the many factors that are important for SEO.


Webmaster Tools Verification

When first completing an SEO audit or building a new e-commerce website, there are several key steps that can set up the website for success. This includes the verification of the website through Google and Bing Webmaster Tool. These platforms allow you to see crawl errors, update SEO settings for your website, and more.

Google Analytics Ecommerce

Another key feature you’ll need is the ability to setup Google Analytics or another traffic analytic tracking service. Google Analytics offers e-commerce tracking support that can display extensive information about user’s shopping behavior. To setup e-commerce tracking, your shopping cart will need to be able to pass specific data to Google Analytics via the order thank you page.

XML Sitemap

Once this is complete, it’s time to set up a dynamic XML sitemap. If your e-commerce platform can create an instantly updated XML sitemap, setup and maintenance of the sitemap will be much easier.

E-commerce sitemaps must be updated regularly, as products are often removed, edited, or added to the site. Once the sitemap is set up on the site (usually located at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml), it can be submitted to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, as well as other search engines, such as Ask and Baidu (China’s largest search engine).

Customized Product Detail Pages—Titles & Descriptions

Duplicate content is the enemy of successful e-commerce SEO, so you need the ability to edit almost anything on each individual product detail page. Being able to edit product page page titles and meta descriptions individually is critical.

Meta descriptions may not directly impact SERP rankings, but they definitely influence CTRs. They should never be the same or overly generic, such as “Clothes.com offers dresses, pants, and more for men and women.”

Instead, a meta description for a product page for a black lace cocktail dress should say something like, “This Jill Stuart black lace cocktail dress is perfect for parties, weddings, and other celebrations. Free shipping until Dec 24th.”

More Product Detail Page Tips

Each new product description page offers a variety of SEO opportunities that can help increase website traffic and online sales. Some of these include:

  • Keyword Image Alt tags: Be sure to have the alt tag for the photo on the page to include the title of the product.
  • Related Products: Use other product titles as the anchor text in a related products section near the bottom of the page that users may be interested in.
  • Utilize Video: Besides great photos and content, product description pages could include a video testimonial, review, or overview of the product. Zappos.com does this for the majority of their products. They have a Zappos employee model the product and then speak about its features. For clothing, shoes, and accessories, this can help the customer feel more certain about their purchase because they know what it looks like when held or modeled by a real person.
  • Adding social sharing tools, including Pinterest: Pinterest can be a traffic superstar for many ecommerce sites, especially when users pin images that directly go to the description page. Regularly check to make sure the social sharing tools are working (many times, a change in permissions or API logic can cause issues) and make sure the buttons are visible on the page next the image.
  • Keyword-Rich URLs: Make sure that the URL structure of product pages include high-level keywords. For the example above, a good URL would be yoursite.com/womens-dresses/jill-stuart-julia-cocktail or something similar. The URL doesn’t need to include all keywords, but the brand, model, and type is a good place to start.

Don’t Forget the Category Pages

The product details pages are important, but never forget SEO opportunities for the category pages. Your ecommerce software should support similar features for category pages that we listed for product pages:

  • Ability to edit page titles and meta descriptions
  • Ability to add social share buttons
  • Use of image alt tags
  • Keyword rich, static URLS

Another feature you should look for is the ability add custom text or HTML to category pages—a great way to provide useful text both for visitors and for googlebot.

SEO for e-commerce websites goes far beyond installing Google Analytics and adding a keywords meta tag. It’s critical that you choose an ecommerce platform that includes the SEO features you’ll need to succeed.

Mor Friedman
Mor Friedman is the Marketing Manager at Izzonet eCommerce Platform, a shopping cart platform with exceptional designs and features, including advanced SEO and marketing capabilities.
Mor Friedman

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  • Bill Sebald

    As an SEO who was tasked with creating the list of SEO features in a major ecommerce platform, I’d say you hit many of the big ones. Dynamic overwrites, URL parameter control, meta / robots controls, and easy custom landing page were big on my list as well. With the right platform you can turn a 60k mostly duplicate site into a tight highway of crawl efficiency.

  • Jan

    What about Rich Snippets ?

  • Robert Ayres

    Thanks Mor, you provide some good advice here. I think it’s also important to stress that since the Google Panda update earlier this year Google penalizes (i.e. demotes) sites that have large numbers of pages with little text and duplicated content – e.g. some ecommerce sites are like this.

    So your tips are all good: having useful, individual and relevant content on the product pages will help – but this will be of little use if Google penalizes your site because it also sees duplicated content. Therefore it is useful to have ecommerce software that can easily ‘noindex’ certain pages or directories to hide them from the search crawlers.

    This has implications for site design and production workflow. For example, if you sell a small range of unique products with individual descriptions that’s great, no problem. But if you are providing a large catalog with many similar products then you could be better off noindexing most of your site and concentrating your SEO efforts on some effective landing pages.

  • Paul Rice

    This is a short list, missing some major features that I find valuable. I would also add in rel=”canonical” functionality, 301 redirect functionality, open graph functionality, automated Google shopping feeds, and the list goes on.

    Good navigation is important for SEO too. I’ve used several ecommerce platforms that would not allow a sub-category to have multiple parent categories. This creates duplicate content if you must have the same sub-category under many parents. An easy example would be a “shoe laces” sub category. If you have one category with all your shoe laces, you may want to add that category as a sub-category to your “men’s shoes”, “ladies shoes”, etc. Every site is different and may or may not need this multi-parent for sub-category functionality, but it is a pet peeve of mine.

  • Eric Scism

    I found one of the most common issues w/ ecommerce sites is with canonical URLs . Depending on your search / filtering parameters you could end up tons of different URLs that all point to the exact same content ie:


    You have to be aware of this and the penalty G can lay down for too many dupe pages!

  • Sachin D.

    Great article. In my opinion, there should also be a facility to 301 the product pages (once the product is out of stock, the product page can be redirected to category) and specify custom canonial URL’s.