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On this blog we’ve written about e-commerce several times before – from getting more orders to how to use Google itself to help boost your SEO, and takeaways from Google’s Search quality guidelines. However, we haven’t yet written about technical SEO considerations for e-commerce stores, which can play a big part in how much revenue you generate. It’s worth saying before we get started that the larger your website is (in terms of the number of pages that it has) the more important technical SEO becomes, as it’s often possible to make positive changes that impact on thousands, tens or even hundreds of thousands of pages at the same time – which in turn can have a big impact on your search visibility.

With the above in mind, let’s get started!

Tip 1: Use keyword rich URLS

When choosing a URL structure for your site, it’s important to bear in mind that both users and search engines find logical, keyword-focused URL patterns a lot easier to deal with than other types of URL formations. Consider the 2 below examples:



The first example clearly shows the nature of products contained within it, whereas the second is a more random-looking assortment of letters and numbers. A user is far more likely to understand the former, and as having keywords in the URL is a moderately important SEO ranking factor we would always suggest to clients that they use keyword-rich URLs.

Fortunately, most modern platforms (such as Bigcommerce) automatically make use of SEO-friendly URLs, but some older systems may generate URLs based on database parameters. Although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend changing e-commerce platforms just to make the URLs more SEO friendly if the site is otherwise configured well, it’s something to bear in mind if the site has other issues.

Tip 2: Use a flat site architecture

Similarly to the above, another consideration when deciding on the setup of your e-commerce site will be how to structure your URLs. The most commonly advised setup to have is a ‘flat’ site architecture, which in practice would look something like this:


This has a number of SEO advantages:

  • It’s easy for users to find their way around the site.
  • It is also much preferred by search engines, as it makes it easier for them to crawl (visit) as many pages on the site as possible – using a large number of subfolders instead would make it less likely that the site’s pages will be visited.
  • Having a simple architecture also means that page authority in the form of external links will flow more easily through the site, which can help greatly with rankings.

Again, most modern content management systems should enable this by default.

Tip 3: Create an XML sitemap and submit it to search engines

Letting the search engines know about your content is a top priority; if they haven’t come across (discovered) or crawled (read) your site’s pages, they won’t appear in search results. This is therefore a crucial foundation step in setting up your site for good technical SEO.

Creating a Sitemap is fairly straightforward; the options are generally one of the following:

  • Your CMS may generate one automatically.
  • You can use a tool such as Screaming Frog to first crawl your site, then generate a sitemap from the results.
  • There are free XML sitemap generators online that can be an option for smaller sites.

Once you’ve generated the sitemap.xml file, upload it to your site’s root directory if it isn’t already there (the path will most commonly look like example.com/sitemap.xml) and submit it to Google Search Console and (optionally) Bing Webmaster tools. Once you’ve done this, you should see something like the below in Google Search Console:

Submitting your sitemap like this will make it much more likely that your content will be found and included in search results.

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Tip 4: Use canonical tags for product variants and other duplicated content

Your e-commerce store likely has product variants set up in the backend, with different URLs for different types of product. This could be different colours for the product, different sizing, quantities and so on. One important task is to check that these pages have ‘canonical’ tags set.

What is a canonical tag?

A canonical tag is a piece of HTML code that indicates to Search Engines that another webpage should be considered the ‘canonical’ or ‘main’ version of the current page.

Why do I need them?

In short, canonical tags prevent duplicate content issues, which can be a serious problem in SEO – this is where a site has large amounts of content on it that is substantially similar to other content on the site, and the ranking potential of those pages is reduced as a result – product pages may not rank well, may compete will each other in the search results (known as keyword cannibalisation) or they may not even be included in search results at all. To prevent this, ensure your platform has a good canonical structure by either crawling it with an SEO tool or checking with your developers that canonical tags are applied to pages that need them.

Tip 5: Ensure a good page speed

We may be stating the obvious here, but having your pages load quickly (ideally under 4 seconds) has a substantial impact not only on your conversion rates but also helps your ranking potential in the search results as well. According to Google:

The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.


A good way to check pagespeed is to use Google Pagespeed Insights, although we would recommend cross- checking with other tools as pagespeed insights sometimes doesn’t give the full picture when it comes to speed (also, the tests are conducted from US servers using certain preconfigured settings, and may not accurately represent what your users are experiencing – in this instance the Chrome UX report for your site may be more reliable)

Tip 6: Add schema data for your products

“Schema” data is additional code that can be added in to a webpage to give search engines more information about the content on the page, and in certain cases can enable a more feature – rich search experience. Many of the data types have little utility for ecommerce sites (such as recipe based data, or structured data for job listings) however, the one subset of data that’s certainly worth adding is product – based schema data.

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If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

In the below example, Dell have marked up one of their laptops with both rating and price based schema data, which enables the search listing to display the product rating and stars in the search results, as well as the price of the product.

It is also possible to display whether a product is in or out of stock, and if your product data is superior to that of your competitors (lower prices, better reviews, many products in stock for example) then it is more likely that potential customers will click on your listing in the search results.

Tip 7: Compress your product images

We’ve mentioned this on the site before, but it’s worth repeating – images that are too large, in terms of their filesize, can substantially slow pages down. Product images should be less than 500 kilobytes each at minimum, with 100kb or less being ideal. A tool we like using to compress images is tinyjpg (or its cousin, tinypng) although if your store has many products you may want to look at bulk image compression services or image hosting via a CDN (content delivery network)



Wrapping up

We hope you’ve found this post useful. Technical SEO is often overlooked, but it can make a big difference to your site’s traffic given the right circumstances. For example, one of our clients had an issue with page speed that was being caused by a server misconfiguration, and the result of fixing that one problem led to them generating an extra five figure’s worth of revenue year on year.

Do you have any questions, or need some help with your e-commerce SEO? If so please feel free to get in touch with us.


Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson is a SEO specialist at Agency51, and enjoys working on and writing about all aspects of technical SEO for a wide variety of websites and industries.

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