nopCommerce is a superb e-commerce platform, there's no doubt about it. But one thing that it doesn't perform that well is in the area of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). And guess what? You can invest as many dollars as you like on social media or PPC (pay-per-click), but in the long term you are going to rely heavily on SEO to do the trick for you. SEO is not someting you can afford to miss.
This article serves as the starter of a series documenting various nopCommerce SEO problems and how you can tackle them to enjoy an SEO-friendly webstore. First of all, let's begin with something simple: Meta Description tag.
Duplicate Meta Description on Multiple Pages
If you are like many good owners of e-commerce stores, you've probably set the default Meta Description tag in your nopCommerce website, like below:
From first sight, this doesn't look like a big problem at all. But if you happened to check your Google Webmaster Tools (or any other SEO tools), you'll be warned of Duplicate Meta Description:
From the above picture, you can see that there are 25 pages (and possibly more) with the same Meta Description, and Google isn't very happy about it. In fact, Duplicate Meta Description can be disastrous to the overall SEO of your website.
The culprit is actually the Default Meta Description setting in nopCommerce - the fact that it is the DEFAULT Meta Description means that any page that doesn't explicitly set this tag is going to fallback to the default one. But then although you don't want duplicate Meta Description, you still want a Meta Description for your home page.
The cure? Enter the SEO Optimizer plugin. The plugin is currently in Beta, so you can download it for free.
After downloading the plugin, please clear your Default Meta Description and make it empty. You can do so under Admin -> Configuration -> Settings -> General and miscellaneous settings -> SEO Settings. Then, in the SEO Optimizer plugin, set the Home page Description to the desired Meta Description.
Like this you'll get rid of duplicate Meta Description, and only have a unique Meta Description on your home page; and Google is going to like you!
Unimportant and Unnecessary Pages
You probably have used Product Tags to tag your products to provide easy navigation and grouping for your customers. If you write a blog on your nopCommerce store like how Pro nopCommerce does, you'll also have Blog Tags for the same purpose.
It isn't obvious that these tag pages can be harmful to the SEO of your store, but they actually can. With Google rolling out various Panda updates, it is focusing more and more on quality content. The result is that low-quality, index-like and SERP-like pages that has shallow and possibly duplicate content is going to harm your website. Below is an example of how Google views your tag pages (adapted from reference article mentioned below).
I am not going to talk about this topic any deeper, but if you want to know more you can read this page or just do a search on "Google Panda Tag Pages". In any case, the thing you have to do right now is to tell Google not to index those pages. You still can keep these pages for the convenience of your users, just hide it from Google.
Now you might want to search around your nopCommerce installation searching for that very file, only to find that it doesn't actually physically exist on your website. But if you visit http://yourwebsite.com/robots.txt, you do get the file.
The reason is that nopCommerce 2.XX is producing the file dynamically in MVC way. In other words, there is no easy way for you to add entries on that file - because the file doesn't actually exist physically. Now to the solution: the SEO Optimizer plugin handles just this by allowing you to add new entries to the Robots.txt file.
Again, download and install this plugin if you have not already done so. Now, set the values of any pages you want to remove from Google Index, seperating each entry by semi-colons (;).
3 entries that are highly recommended to be entered are /producttags/ and /blog/tag/ and /blog/month/. You can visit http://www.robotstxt.org/ if you want to know more about the URL formats of various kind of URLs that you want to block.
We actually have not concluded yet, as this is going to be a series of blog posts documenting the various SEO issues with nopCommerce. So let's download SEO Optimizer today, and join me in the journey of supercharging the SEO of your nopCommerce webstore!
NOTE: SEO Optimizer is still in it's Beta and is ready to evolve into the perfect SEO plugin for your nopCommerce. If you have any SEO ideas / suggestions that you think is missing in nopCommerce and is worth adding into SEO Optimizer, please feel free to contact me.
Disclaimer: The first picture is taken from http://digisite.be/web/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/seo2.jpg.