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Search engine friendly Shopping Carts ?

I was told by a SEO company that the Shopping Cart for this
site, www.dcp3.com, was not Search engine friendly.
I'm a little confused about this.  Does anybody
know exactly what that means?  At first guess, I would
think they are referring to the URL.   thanks
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2 Solutions
Julian MatzCommented:
Hi Mike,

yes, you're right - the URLs and links are not SE friendly. They use query strings like this:

A lot of SEs do not like these type of links. It is much better in regard to SEO to use links like:

Anyway, that would be the biggest issue. There are also other things to consider. For example, does the shopping cart add proper content description and keyword meta tags?

It doesn't seem to because every page should only have 3 keywords for example.
The titles are also too long. Standard is 66 characters...
Julian MatzCommented:
One very handy way to make URLs SE-friendly is by using Apache's mod_rewrite. I don't know if it works on Windows though...

I can be difficult to do manually, depending on the site's complexity, but a lot of software these days have this feature already integrated and can be activated by "turning on SE-friendly URLs" for example...
MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
thanks julian . . I just changed the Title to:
Discount Catholic Medals and Catholic Rosaries Gift Store

Getting a URL rewrite for windows is not easy. I am going to
rewrite a lot of the code for the site instead. The rest of the
site has long URL problems also.
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Julian MatzCommented:
No problem!

Remember that the titles should be different for each page. It's not good to have the same title on multiple pages because each page should really be optimized for 3 keywords, and the title is very important to search engines, thus should have references to these...

I don't know if there is something similar to mod_rewrite on IIS. If your server is Windows-based then you probably have IIS... Or do you have Apache??
MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
it uses ASP.NET, so IIS is needed.
I should be able to dynamically write the Title for each
page, I can do it in the asp.net code I think.
see, i dont agree with you peps at all. mod-rewrite has not been proven to have any impact on rankings at all, if anything its being used now more for human friendliness. i facted useing some forms of mod rewrite just looks like errors (404 page not found) to search engines. and who said that search engines can not index dynamic  URLs, Google can, take a look it does all the time, if it can.

i use good seo on most of my sites and they all do very well in racking. a shopping carts does not need to be indexed by a search engine AT ALL! yes make it seo good  , good content, meta data, keywords, and w3c, but why on earth would you want a shopping cart to be indexed anyway? you want your poducts indexed, not the shoping cart, so unless the shopping carts is affecting the rest of your site dont bother!

anyway a shopping cart has to have data passed to run, if sessions are used etc no matter what you do the serach engines WILL NOT index them.
Julian MatzCommented:

Proper url rewriting does not give 404 status to SEs or browsers.

Google can and does index dynamic URLs, but not as much.

These are quotes from Google:

If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index.

I think what MikeMCSD means when refering to "shopping cart" is the products catalog, not the "cart".
MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
No Julian, I was actually referring to the Shopping Cart!
A SEO company said the Shopping Cart was SEO unfriendly.
I'm still trying to figure why a shopping cart would matter
to search engines???
Julian MatzCommented:
Well, when people refer to "shopping cart", they usually mean the shopping cart software, i.e. the whole application, not the actual "cart" that a shopper goes into when "checking out".

The actualy cart does not matter to SEs. Normally a shopper needs to log in to see their cart. SEs do not log in to sites, and they do not go internet shopping :)

Ask your SEO company again to clarify, but I'm pretty sure they were refering to the application rather than the actual cart...
MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
I did think the same thing . . he was referring to the whole
application, not the cart in particular. I didn't speak to the seo company
myself. The people who own the site did. I just built the site.
I think I can improve the seo myself, without using a seo company.
They just got a quote from one company: $33,000.00 for one year.
These companies are not cheap and their is no guarentee that
they will get the site in the top 10 rankings.
Julian MatzCommented:
Yes, that does sound very expensive.

Ok, well the dynamic URLs are not such a big problem in regards to whether SEs will index them or not.
The bigger factor is that they do not include keywords. URLs can play a big role in SEO because SEs will look for keywords in them... In your shopping cart software, the keywords are included with the query string and not the URL part. For example:

would be a lot better if it were:

This way the URL would include 3 keywords - "store" and 2x "baptism".

But apart from the URLs, you could use other basic SEO practices such as using headings.
For example, where it says "Categories for:  Baptism" you could put this inside a <h1> tag and choose a better word for "Categories for:".
There are other things you could work on aswel, and I would recommend to read this article for a little guidance:
MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
I spent yesterday reading a lot of that article and others and made
some changes to the alt, meta, and title tags. I now have the Title
tags changing dynamically for each page. I also plan to make separate
pages for all the categories (see my other open question).

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