SEO Friendly URLs – Each product should have its own unique URL and should not have parameters.
Example.com/blue-widget/ – good
Example.com/product?id=123 – bad
While search engines are much more sophisticated than they used to be and can understand parameters in URLs, the fewer things you do to complicate the issue the better. You should be able to specify the keywords in the URL, keep the URLs as short as possible, use only keywords, remove stop words, and don’t stuff with extra keywords. If you change the product slightly or modify any of the information, you should be able to keep the URL intact.
Each page should have a unique title that is not identical or similar to any other product you are selling. Unless you are a Fortune 100 Company or are a household brand name, the name of the product should come before the name of your company or store.
Product Meta Description
While this isn’t a direct ranking factor, it still is important that every item has a unique meta description. Having multiple products with identical or nearly identical meta descriptions is a signal of low quality.
HTML and XML sitemaps
Every eCommerce store with more than 100 items should have an HTML and XML sitemap. It should automatically update as you add or remove products.
Breadcrumbs are the small text navigation that shows where you are in the eCommerce hierarchy. They often look like this:
Home > Shoes > Women’s Shoes > Sneakers
Each word should be a link back to its category or sub-category page
Category & Sub Category Pages
If you have more than 100 items, you will need some categorization or breakdown so customers can shop. The URLs should be SEO friendly
Example.com/shoes/womens-shoes/sneakers/ – good
Example.com/category?id=5678 – bad
Again, search engines can figure out complicated URLs, but it’s in your best interest to keep it simple, easy to understand, and to inject some keyword value wherever you can. If you want your category pages to rank, you will need to add some editorial content, like a picture and text. If you are using images and text on the category pages, make sure both link to the product page for usability. Use the product name as the alt tag for usability and SEO value. If you have any sorting features, such as sort by price or relevancy, don’t let those URLs get indexed by the search engines. Block them using a meta tag. You should also be able to control the default sorting order of the products.
Navigation and Crawlability
Your eCommerce website should be easy for users to navigate and for search engines to crawl. You can test this with any free or commercial spider simulators such as screaming frog. The more complex your navigation and the more levels deep your products are, the less likely it is that search engines will fully index all of your products.
In the early days of eCommerce, products could only be in one category, but this is not a limitation that modern shopping carts should have. You should be able to put products in one primary category and multiple other categories or featured departments. This gives you the ability to create special, holiday, or other themed groupings.
Your eCommerce solution should give you the ability to create directly or create a file to control how the homepage of your store looks. Ideally, you should be able to have both graphic and textual elements. If you can have editorial feature shots, that’s a plus. If you can have multiple editorial items that rotate or display randomly, that’s better. The more control you have to prioritize things, the better. The items on your homepage should be the most important from an SEO perspective.
You want to keep your pages loading as quickly as possible. Use good sized images, but don’t serve a 1000×1000 pixel image and display it at 300×300 using CSS or HTML. Keep external scripts, images, CSS, and other elements to a minimum.
Block everything from the shopping cart into checkout and completion from being indexed using the nofollow tag. It serves no value in a search engine.
From an SEO perspective, the more of these items you can have built in or customized into your package, the better.