Giving SEO Equal Significance in the Design Phase of E-Commerce Web Development
Over the years, I have written variations on this topic, but as rapidly as the internet changes and the world of e-commerce, so too does the need for my content. As an SEO agent before all else, it is second nature to look at any and all websites with a different “eye” so to speak. A graphic designer probably looks at the aesthetics first, much like a car mechanic has a natural instinct to listen for a “knock” under the hood as the car goes by.
I have come to grips with the fact that not all web designers are search engine optimizers – much like most SEO agents may not be web developers. Put the two together at the right time, and you are setting yourself and your new ecommerce site up for success “out of the starting gate”.
There are many scenarios involved here, and they all come down to spending money later that in unnecessary to put it mildly.
A quality web designer is naturally going to go over the needs of the client. How many products, product lines, how in depth does the ecommerce aspect need to be? Some ecommerce requires an equal amount of content, while others have little content, and is very heavy on the product offering. Whatever the set-up, this will help the web developer to determine the type of content management to use for their site. This is a critical but generally easy decision when using a quality web developer.
Out-of-the-box ecommerce content managers are great if you know what you’re doing. If not, they can be a nightmare. Before the project even begins, having a fairly clear outline of your categorization, and navigation layout will have you leaps and bounds ahead where SEO is concerned. This whole concept will eventually lead to one tremendously important part of the site, which is a clearly defined sitemap – usually in the form of Extensible Mark-up Language (XML). This is what Google loves.
The first step any web developer needs to take is to set all URLs to “SEO Friendly”. Basically this takes gibberish that is naturally generated by the content manager and converts the URL into something humanly understandable. Most of the time these are customizable, and you can really put some SEO power behind the site here. Lets show an example:
- “Unfriendly” URL – www.yournewsite.com/?=category_2&product=12/ This is of course a made-up example. For the site administrator or webmaster, it may be indicative of category #2 – Men’s Clothing, and product 12 – A blue button down shirt. Not really that great for the user. Search engines don’t care for the set-up too much either.
- “Friendly” URL – www.yournewsite.com/mens-blue-button-down-large/ Much better, right? If this is done during the design phase, your site will have a fighting chance.
New sites that hit the stage running really need their best foot forward. Rest assured that you will have a huge uphill battle if you don’t ensure that each page has the proper title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc. Consult a professional SEO agent if you need clarification to ensure that the development stage squeezes all of the “SEO juice” available. Even the contact form page can be taken advantage of. It’s all content. It all has potential.
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