UPDATED 05/13/2014: Welcome to our new series on “SEO Best Practices” in the CV3 environment. These posts will be tagged as SEO 101, SEO 201, and SEO 301 depending on how advanced they are. Please let us know what you think.
This post is about how to improve your CV3 site’s “On-site ranking factors” by customizing your page titles, meta descriptions and urls. These are things you can do on your site to make your pages more search engine friendly.
In my opinion, optimizing your title tags is the single greatest “bang for your buck” in SEO. That does not mean that keywords in your title are sufficient to get you ranking for keyterms, but they are an element that is easy to change and which search engines look at to determine what your page is about. It is an eCommerce best practice to take the time to come up with keyword rich page titles for the different pages of your website.
- Title tags should be no longer than 60 characters in length and not contain commas. You can use pipes, dashes and colons (“|”, “-“, “:”), but not more than once.
- Try to write it like a catchy title to an article.
- Keywords in the title should only be relevant to what is on the page and include brand name only at the end.
- Never use keyword phrase more than once and try to keep it toward the front of the title.
Bad: Red Tomatoes | Buy Red Tomatoes | Red Tomatoes Online | Your Brand
Good: Red Cherry Tomatoes Large Selection | Tomato.com (This page would be about cherry tomatoes)
A great way to tell if Google likes your title is to look at the search results for that page. If your title matches the title in the search results then you are good. If it does match the search results that means that Google does not like your page title and has come up with its own title for that page.
(To see what your page looks like in search results type in to Google search “site: http://Your URL)
Meta Keywords have been retired and are no longer used by search engines. (leave them blank).
The meta description field is important. It is sometimes used on the engines’ search results pages as the descriptor of the page that accompanies the clickable link. It is worthwhile to write a good meta description for your pages to help your search listings get more clicks. That is an important part of SEO often overlooked as people tend to focus on ranking alone.
- Limit your meta description to 140-155 characters.
- Try to use your keyword phrase in the description twice.
- Make sure that the description is relevant to what is on the page focusing on the product or service.
- Describe benefits of your product or service (marketing copy) this will increase click through rates.
Search Friendly URLs
Search friendly urls are urls that have words the search engine can read and understand. These urls can have keywords that tell the search engine that your page is about the keyword topic and therefore can help you rank for a keyword search in a way that a typical “dynamic url” can’t.
Always use dashes as opposed to underscores between words. Search engines view dashes as a space, but if an underscore is used Search Engines view it as part of one word. Always use lowercase and never use spaces, commas, quotations, apostrophes, parenthesis or dollar signs.
This url is not friendly:
This url is friendly:
This field is also important. You can use the same method you would for your meta descriptions. Include the search term for the product in the description. (You can use the Meta Description for your product description.)
When coming up with a product title, try to keep it short but descriptive.
For example, if you sell brown high heel shoes:
You would not want to have the title as “brown shoes” or “high heel shoes” you want it to be “Brown High Heel Shoes”. Better yet, include the brand if it’s one shoppers would be searching for like “Gucci Brown High Heel Shoes”
Keep in mind if this page is exclusively focused on “Brown High Heel Shoes” this should also be a part of your page title, Meta description and Product description.
How to Edit Title Tags and Meta Tags in CommerceV3
In the left navigation go to “Marketing” then click on “Meta Tags”.
Click on Default and you will see the edit Meta Tags interface:
You can fill in the Title Tag, Keyword and Description fields here.
Considerations for Title Tag
-Put your keywords first and any general info second, e.g. “Civil War Biographies – Rare Historical Books for Collectors”, “French Revolution Books – Rare Historical Books for Collectors”, etc
-Limit the title to 65 characters. Google will crop your title to the nearest full word.
-All titles should be typed in Title Case (or Proper Case)
Consideration for Meta Tags
Description- Depending on the page, you can either write 3-4 sentences about what the page is about (remember to use good keywords), or you can write out structured data, i.e. just the facts. I think this latter technique is especially good for product pages (see below).
Keywords- Pick 10-25 keywords or keyphrases and separate them with commas.
Category Pages and Product Pages:
CV3 does a great job of providing good page titles at the category and product level. By default, the page titles on category pages are simply the category name. In many cases this is a pretty good title. However, category names can be optimized for SEO by adding more keywords either before or after the category name. To do this, navigate to the Edit Category page in your CV3 admin (under Inventory in the left navigation) and then add your preferred page title in the “Meta Title” field in the Information section of the page.
The meta description and meta keywords fields are where you can edit your category page’s meta tags. The general rules for these fields are the same as described in the section above. However, remember to reinforce the category’s keyword themes in the meta fields.
For product pages, CV3 again does a fine job with titles. By default the page title for a product page will be [Category Name] –[Product Title]. That might be very good. However, sometimes you might want to do something different. For example, a bookstore might have the title of the book as the product title. It might be smart to make the page title include the Author’s name as well since people often search by author. To change Titles and Metas for products in CV3 navigate to the Edit Product page and edit the fields under Product Display -> Product Display.
CommerceV3 allows you to specify a unique title, description, and set of keywords for each “top level” template. This allows you each static template to be given unique meta information to further increase SEO. Top level templates are those like “viewcart.tpl”. Other templates, like _top.tpl, which are included within other templates will not have the custom meta information applied to the page.
Note: CV3 also provides ways to write title and meta tags automatically according to a formula. This is beyond the scope of this blog post. If you are interested in this topic, let us know and we will write a subsequent post specifically on this.
How to Make Search Friendly URLs in CommerceV3
CommerceV3 makes it easy to make search friendly urls for your categories and products. To make a search friendly category url, navigate to the Edit Category page and, expand the Options section and type the name you want to use for pages in this category.
For products, navigate to the Product, Expand Product Display -> Product Display and type the words you want to use in the url for the product.
Note: You should not use spaces in the category or product url fields. Separate the words with dashes instead.
With a little effort on these three areas – titles, metas, and custom URLs, you will have a solid foundation for optimizing your CommerceV3 website for search. Look for upcoming posts on more SEO techniques in the coming weeks, including using Google Webmaster Tools, the different types of Ranking Factors that determine your search position and ways to build inbound links. As always, please let us know if this post has been helpful to you.