E-commerce Application Development and SEO

Building E-commerce applications for Web sites may take loads of time and require patience on the part of the customers, waiting for their “new money-making toy”. The outcome of such a project can be very beautiful, much like a custom design motorcycle may look to an owner once completed.

Unfortunately, these applications can also scare off automated search engine crawlers that try to index the sites leveraging these applications. This can degrade the rankings of the website pages within search engine results for related queries.

Just as with large-scale web site designs/redesigns, neglecting SEO until the site is complete can be a very expensive mistake. There is a case study that showed an example where a site owner could have saved over $100,000 by introducing SEO into the interactive design plan instead of going back and making changes to an existing site in order to carry out SEO best practices.

It is important to clearly distinguish between “SEO-friendly” and “optimized,” because statements of work have to be explicit in describing the finished product. Typically, ‘SEO-friendly’ means that the application will be flexible if a full SEO campaign launches in the future. ‘Optimized’ means that enterprise-level SEO was carried out during the development of the application, and the final product is likely to rank within search engines.

If you plan to include SEO in the development of an e-commerce application you have to consider three important issues, namely: internal process, out-of-the-box functionality, and content equity.

Internal process

Usually, it’s difficult to easily exchange learnings and experiences between different development teams in real time, but the common SEO bond has helped speed up some of this sharing. Each team involved in the project has slightly different internal communication dynamics, but one common bond is the use of tracking tasks and their corresponding owners. There are businesses that rely on documentation clearly explaining the “what” prior to getting to the “how”. If there is no well-balanced system to ensure that issues are being settled, it could be a nightmare for a project manager to stay on top of things and prioritize properly. Without this order, developers who don’t have the necessary skill set may overlook SEO ramifications.

Out-of-the-Box Functionality

Some e-commerce application developers do take their time to consider SEO, and they are often happy to learn that many systems, including Websphere Commerce, have some extra SEO-friendly functionality. Making use of these out-of-the-box (OOTB) features can be very helpful when designing a more search-friendly application.

Content Equity

Many e-commerce applications simply gather and distribute related products onto dynamically generated pages. Oftentimes no consideration is made for HTML content that describes the particular product instead of database-driven descriptions. Unfortunately, in many cases this content is too hackneyed, and has already been published on numerous pages across the Internet. Taking the time to write unique product descriptions is an indispensable procedure which can hardly be overestimated.

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