Site architecture for ecommerce

When it comes to SEO ecommerce, how the pages on your site are organized and structured affects your search engine rankings. It also affects your user experience (UX). Basically, you want to make it easy for actual visitors and search engines to find stuff in your store.

Easier said than done.See more about SEO.

As you add and remove products and categories, site structure gets complicated quickly. If you can get this right from the beginning, you’ll save yourself a ton of time down the road. So:

  1. Make sure your site structure is simple but easy to scale as your store grows.
  2. Make sure every page of your site is as few clicks from your homepage as possible.

Simplicity is underrated. You don’t want to have visitors relying on the back button to get around your site, running in circles trying to find what they’re looking for. You also don’t want to have to reorganize and rearrange your site structure every time you add a new product category, for example.

Most of your link authority is on your homepage, because that’s the most common page other businesses link to when referring to your website on theirs. So, it makes sense that the more clicks away from your homepage a product page gets, the less authority it has.

“Use the supply and demand principle to identify which levels of the website structure—from categories to attributes, brands or filters listing pages—are worthy to index and optimize for, as they fulfill an actual audience demand.”

For those of you wondering, “index” is another name for the database used by a search engine. So to “index” a page is to have it added to that database. In other words, Google has discovered your page and added it to search results.

“This is because one of the most common issues for ecommerce sites is thin content, as well as content duplication issues. Many of the thin content and content duplication scenarios happen because there are many internal levels of the website structure, such as filters and attribute-focused pages that have very few products, which are also included in other pages.”

Thin content is the idea that there’s not much actual text on an ecommerce site compared to, say, a blog or software site. Imagine dozens and dozens of thin content pages created because of random product attributes and product filter pages. Some of those pages might only list one or two products. Adding blog content to your online store’s website is a good way to help counter thin content on your website as a whole.

Content duplication is as straightforward as it sounds.

“The easiest, and very common, way to handle this situation is to just noindex, or canonicalize, to others, these types of pages. However, you can also create relevant and useful content for those pages to become different, relevant, and competitive. After all, although noindex or canonicalizing pages might be the most straightforward way to handle this, it is not the best way to make the most out of the existing search opportunities and effectively address the user search behavior with your content, and product, offering.”

Canonicalizing a page is a way of telling Google that a URL is the “master version” you’d like to display in search results. This is helpful in duplicate content situations, because Google certainly picks up on them. Without canonical tags, Google might:

  1. Miss unique content while wading through too much duplicate content
  2. Dilute your ranking ability
  3. Choose the wrong master version for you

Note that if you’re using Shopify, auto-generated canonical tags are added to pages to prevent duplicate content from appearing in search results.

DH SEO  suggests going beyond noindex or canonicalization when you’re ready, though:

“It’s then fundamental to assess first if there’s enough search queries around the specific product’s characteristics, types, or brands that you’re offering with each level of your ecommerce content, in order to identify if it’s worth it or not to index it. And if so, if there’s enough content offering on the specific page and if it’s aligned with the way the user searches for it or if you should take additional effort to expand and optimize it to make it relevant and competitive.

“If there isn’t and it’s also not optimized and you need to take additional effort with it, then you know it’s going to pay off, as you have already validated that there’s a demand, with enough searches for it.”

That’s a lot of information, especially for someone new to ecommerce SEO.

Pro tip: Add breadcrumbs to your product pages to improve website navigation for people and Google. Breadcrumbs tell Google how your site is structured and let people know where they are on your site.