Boosting sales in OpenCart - SEO tips and social media activity (Part 1)

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. It is a technique that helps search engines better understand websites. The purpose of the optimization is to communicate with Google, Bing and other searches in a way that they can recommend your website for other customers. This will result in increasing visitors and more sales.

In this two series of articles we will explore the best and effective practices for proper SEO. The tips below can be easily implemented by yourself even if you are not technical guru.

Do you really need SEO?

SEO can be very useful. It doesn’t matter if you already have a successful store or just a few sales. Correctly done, OpenCart optimization can boost your site visits. The more visits your store gets, the more orders you will have. It’s as simple as that.

Can SEO damage my store?

Search engine optimization can make things worse if not done well. There are some rules that you have to follow and I will talk about them later in this blog post. Keep in mind that if you are not doing the things below correctly or overdo them, you risk damaging your store’s reputation. All tips that you will find below are search engine friendly and will rank you higher in the search results.  

Be patient

Be patient! Don’t expect results after one hour or one day after the changes you make. It takes time for the search engines’ crawlers to visit your store again and read the updated content. That could happen after a week or even a month. It’s different for every website.

Let’s go to the important stuff now.

1. Avoid duplicate content.

Google and the other search engines do not like duplicated pages and you have to get rid of them. It’s a must-do.

Here is a common example of duplicate content: In most cases, your store can be opened from two URLs - http://www.yourstore.com and http://yourstore.com. Search engines think that these are two different sites and treat them as identical. This is bad for you and your store - you have to make sure that your store can be accessed from only one of the addresses. Here is how to do it for OpenCart.

Open the file .htaccess in your root folder and find the following lines:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

After these lines add the following code:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.(.+) [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*) http://%1/$1 [R=301,NE,L]

That code will redirect all www.yourstore.com queries to yourstore.com.

If you want to do it the other way around, replace the lines with the code below:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(?!www\.)(.+) [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*) http://www.%1/$1 [R=301,NE,L]

That code will redirect all yourstore.com queries to www.yourstore.com.

It doesn’t matter which way you will choose. Choose the one you like more.

2. Use unique Meta Description and Meta Keywords tags on your pages.

Search engines love unique content and rank it better. That’s why it’s a bad idea to use the same description and keyword tags for all of your pages. This basically tells the search engines that your pages aren’t that different one from another.  The good thing is that you can change these tags easily from the OpenCart administration settings.

First of all, choose unique description for your store. Go to System >> Settings >> Edit and navigate to the Store tab. There you will find the Meta Description field. Click Save when you are done.

You have to do this for your categories and products:

  • For categories: Go to Catalog >> Categories. When you click on the Edit link, you will find two fields - Meta Tag Description and Meta Tag Keywords. Fill them with the appropriate information. Click Save after that. Do this for all your categories.

  • For products: Go to Catalog >> Products >> Edit.  You will find the same fields. Again, fill them for all your products. It would be nice if your Product Tags and Meta Tag Keywords fields have the same content.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to write long descriptions or many tags. The optimal length for the Meta Description tag is 155 characters. Do not write more than 8-10 keyword phrases in the Meta Keywords tag.

3. Fast store = happy users + bigger profit.

No one likes slow websites. If your store loads slowly, the customers can be irritated by that and go to your competitors, which is a loss conversion. The search engines also measure your loading speed and that’s the second reason why you should take this step seriously.

You can test what is your store performance from this link - http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

If you are not happy with your store speed (below <60), there are various ways to speed up your site. You can start with smushing your images, caching your pages, combining your scripts and stylesheets, minify files and other techniques.

If you do not have programming skills or don't want to hire a developer, we would recommend you to use a caching solution. We would recommend NitroPack, which does everything with a single click. NitroPack is the fastest way to increase your store speed and does not require any technical skills.

NitroPack will help you boost your page loading speed to the sky. The extension uses special algorithms that will lower the HTTP traffic up to 80% and will increase your overall website performance up to 30 times. Learn how NitroPack can help your business by watching the 90 seconds Nitro video:

4. Use better URLs for your store.

By default, OpenCart URLs are not SEO friendly. If you have a product called Amazing iSenseLabs Product, the URL for that product would look like that:

http://www.yourstore.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=40

It’s obvious that neither the customers, nor the search engines can understand what they would find in this page just by looking at the URL address. This is how a good URL should look like:

http://www.yourstore.com/amazing-isenselabs-product

Much better, right?

The way to have properly looking URLs is:

4.1. Go to System >> Settings >> Edit and navigate to the Server tab. There you will find the option Use SEO URLs. Enable it and click on the Save button.

4.2. Add the following code to .htaccess below the lines that we added in the first step of the guide:

RewriteRule ^sitemap.xml$ index.php?route=feed/google_sitemap [L]
RewriteRule ^googlebase.xml$ index.php?route=feed/google_base [L]
RewriteRule ^download/(.*) /index.php?route=error/not_found [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !.*\.(ico|gif|jpg|jpeg|png|js|css)
RewriteRule ^([^?]*) index.php?_route_=$1 [L,QSA]

4.3. You are almost done. Now you have to add SEO keywords for all of your products. To do that,  Go to Catalog >> Products >> Click Edit on the desired product and navigate to the tab called Data. You will find the SEO Keyword field. Fill in the name of your product. For example: amazing-isenselabs-product.

CAUTION: Do not use spaces. Replace them with dashes (-) and make sure that the phrase is unique (not used for another product).

That’s it! Now the URL for the product Amazing iSenseLabs Product will be:

http://www.yourstore.com/amazing-isenselabs-product

Be careful with the names you choose. They have to be short, descriptive and easy to remember.

5. Be active in the Social Media Networks.

Start your own channels in the social networks. Create a fan page for your store in Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter. Don’t forget the other big players - YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

This will only be in your benefit. Why? Because the presence of your brand in the social networks is one of the main factors how well your store will be ranked in the search engines. Another advantage is that people would hear about you and the things you offer.

Another way to create social buzz is to put social comments to your store. By that your customers could easily give you feedback, which will also be displayed on their profiles in the social networks. The benefit here that is that your customers’ friends will also see your store and the products you offer. So do not hesitate to put Facebook Comments on your products page. The same goes for Disqus Comments and GooglePlus Comments.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the second part of the guide where I will talk about faster indexing, pinging, sitemaps, robots.txt and other ways to rank your store higher in Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Baidu and the like.

Part 2

The second part of the guide can be found here.

Join 11,000+ subscribers receiving actionable E-commerce advice

* Unsubscribe any time
comments powered by Disqus