All Ecommerce Software providers claim to be Search Engine Optimized. SEO matters, because if your online store is easily found using a google search, this means you will get a lot of “free” traffic. Every online store should try to achieve a healthy percentage of organic search acquisition. Shopify claims to be “Search engine optimized”, Bigcommerce even boasts about “Search Engine Dominance”, and SEOshop writes: “The SEOshop platform was specially developed – and is continually being refined – for optimal performance in search engines.” So what Ecommerce Software provider to trust on their claims? Which of these three has SEO killer features? Ecommerce Income finds out for you!
If you are not completely sure what this is all about, you can brush up your knowledge of SEO here. Check out this page to find out how you can analyze where your visitors come from by installing Google Analytics.
SEO is as important as it can be challenging for the (starting) ecommerce entrepreneur. I am not so much discussing the possibilities Shopify, Bigcommerce and SEOshop offer in way of search engine optimizing your online store in this blog post. What I will look at in this blog post, is how the basic structure of their stores affect SEO. If I will come across some other SEO features that are distinctly different among the various Ecommerce Software providers, I will devote a new blog on that. Please do leave a comment below in case you have any suggestions.
So should you choose your ecommerce software provider based on how beneficial their basic structure is for SEO purposes? Probably not. But it can be, just like the completeness out of the box (see also here), the software foundations that do contribute to your ecommerce success. Because if there is less of a need to tweak and upgrade your ecommerce software package, you save time and money to do what you are good at – sell products.
Does Shopify’s specific site structure affect SEO?
Shopify‘s site structure, however, is different. And this is quite likely to impact SEO.
Shopify, as I already shortly discussed in the Shopify review of design and ease of use, uses the following structure: domain.com/collections/collection/products/product. It is not possible to change these URLs, or to make a different structure. Likewise, if you add content, you will have the structure – .com/pages/pagename.
I have seen many Shopify merchants as well as potential Shopify users who are not happy with this site structure, and especially with the inflexibility of the approach. For some websites, it may work absolutely perfectly, but others just want to have more control.
One example. In case you sell various brands of furniture, you will want the URL to reflect both the type of furniture and the brand. With Shopify, you can’t have this structure: domain.com/furniture/chair/woood-brand/rocking-chair/. Somebody selling clothes may encounter the same problem. In the URL domain.com/collections/collection/products/product, “collections” and “products” do not convey much information.
This is how the collection editing page looks in the Shopify admin
How bad is Shopify’s site structure for SEO?
Google’s search engine is becoming more and more “intelligent”. It doesn’t need as many hints anymore to understand what it is you are selling (from the perspective of you, the seller) or what it is you are looking to buy (from the perspective of the potential customer). Still, when you are looking to search-optimize your online store, it is advisable to do everything you can. And also when considering both memorability and attractiveness, some may want to opt for another URL and site structure.
As it is not really possible to measure SEO, it is not easy to say to what degree Shopify’s different site structure affects SEO. I browsed the Shopify discussion forums and found the following annoyed answer by a Shopify employee, in reaction to the n-th question of a merchant who wants to have an alternative site structure: “Since I see Shopify stores making millions, your theory on SEO is poof, bang, empty balloon”. Well, you can’t proof them false – but did those Shopify stores make those millions because of, or despite the site structure? You can’t say. But what you can say, is that Shopify could (should?) consider giving their customers the freedom and flexibility to have the site structure they choose, corresponding to their SEO requirements.
As SEOshop and Bigcommerce do give you more choice how to organize your ecommerce site’s structure, I prefer their platforms, when only judging from this particular angle.