Common E-Commerce Technical Errors That Hurt SEO

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May 27, 2024

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Common E-Commerce Technical Errors That Hurt SEO

Common E-Commerce Technical Errors That Hurt SEO

As an SEO consultant, I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous e-commerce clients over the years. And let me tell you, the technical challenges they face can be downright maddening. It’s like playing a high-stakes game of “Where’s Waldo?” with Google’s algorithm – except Waldo is actually a pack of ravenous wolves in disguise, ready to destroy your hard-earned search rankings.

But fear not, my fellow e-commerce enthusiasts! In this comprehensive article, I’ll be diving deep into the most common technical SEO errors that can sabotage your online store’s performance, and I’ll arm you with the knowledge to slay those pesky wolves once and for all.

The Perils of Buggy Plugins and Apps

Let’s start with a tale of woe from one of my clients, a pool supply store that had the brilliant idea of integrating a mobile-optimization app onto their site. Sounds like a good plan, right? Well, not so fast, my friends. This app had a nasty habit of adding a meta robots tag to the mobile templates, effectively blocking Google from indexing those pages. Meanwhile, the desktop pages were still being indexed, creating a Jekyll and Hyde situation that had us scratching our heads.

As the Inflow team discovered, apps and plugins can be like the junk drawer of the internet – they can break your SEO in all sorts of unexpected ways. The moral of the story? Always, always, always run multiple crawls after adding new software to your website, including a mobile-specific crawl, to ensure you’re not inadvertently sabotaging your hard work.

When Robots.txt Goes Rogue

Speaking of technical nightmares, let’s talk about robots.txt files. These little buggers can be the bane of an SEO’s existence, as one of my clients in the home renovation/building materials niche discovered.

Apparently, this client was using eight load-balancing servers for their website, and one of those servers was delivering a staging environment version of the robots.txt file that blocked all crawlers except AdsBot. Cue the sound of a thousand SEO professionals collectively face-palming.

The lesson here? When you’re running a multi-server setup, you need to ensure that every single one of those servers is serving up the same, pristine robots.txt file. Otherwise, you’re just begging Google to find the one with the mistake and use that as the reference point, effectively shutting down your entire site’s indexability.

The Curse of Dynamic URLs

But wait, there’s more! Let’s dive into the world of dynamic URLs, where the pages in your navigation menu keep changing like a game of musical chairs. One of my clients in the home renovation/building materials niche was the victim of this particular curse, with their category page URLs changing every single day.

Imagine the horror of seeing your site’s traffic plummet because Google couldn’t keep up with the constant URL changes. It’s a nightmare scenario, to be sure. The only saving grace was that the client’s dev team was able to stop the daily URL changes and implement 301 redirects to the correct pages. But the damage had already been done, and it took time for the site to recover.

The moral of this story? If your e-commerce platform is causing your URLs to change like a chameleon in a paint factory, it might be time to consider a platform upgrade. Your SEO and your sanity will thank you.

When Platforms Become the Problem

Speaking of e-commerce platforms, let’s talk about another client of mine, this time in the grocery/foods niche. This platform was the gift that kept on giving – in the worst possible way. Seemingly random updates would consistently impact the client’s organic performance, from blocking Googlebot to causing all sorts of other technical nightmares.

As an SEO professional, it was incredibly frustrating to watch this client struggle with issues that should have been easily avoidable. But alas, the platform they had chosen was more like a nemesis than a partner in their e-commerce success.

The moral of this story? When it comes to e-commerce platforms, choose wisely, my friends. A platform that’s great for your business may not necessarily be great for your SEO. Do your research, read the reviews, and make sure the platform you choose isn’t going to undermine your hard work at every turn.

The Peril of Divided Platforms

But the technical woes don’t stop there, oh no. Let’s talk about another client of mine, this time in the grocery/foods niche, who had the brilliant idea of hosting their store on one platform and their blog on a separate CMS.

Well, let’s just say that brilliant idea quickly turned into a security nightmare when the client’s WordPress blog was hacked, giving the hackers access to the e-commerce platform as well. Talk about a recipe for disaster (pun intended).

The moral of this story? If you’re going to have multiple platforms for your e-commerce business, make sure they’re all secure and that you’re not leaving any vulnerabilities for the bad guys to exploit. And if you can, try to consolidate everything onto a single platform – your SEO and your sanity will thank you.

The Tangled Web of Canonicalization

Now, let’s dive into a particularly insidious technical issue that can sneak up on even the savviest of SEO pros: canonicalization. I’m talking about the delicate dance between your internal search result URLs, your canonical tags, and your noindex directives.

One of my clients in the home renovation/building materials niche learned this the hard way. They had thin, low-quality content on their internal search result pages, so we recommended adding canonical tags to point back to the main search page. But then we discovered that the main search page had a noindex tag, which created a whole new problem.

Long story short, by the time we got everything sorted out, Google had started ignoring the canonical tags and indexing a ton of those low-quality URLs. It was like a game of SEO Tetris, where one mistake just led to another, and another, and another.

The moral of this story? When it comes to technical SEO, speed is of the essence. If you find an issue, fix it right away – don’t let it fester and create a whole new set of problems down the line. Your rankings and your sanity will thank you.

Putting It All Together

As you can see, the world of e-commerce technical SEO is a minefield of potential pitfalls, from buggy plugins to rogue robots.txt files to the curse of dynamic URLs. And the worst part? These aren’t even the “common” SEO mistakes that get talked about all the time. These are the sneaky, unexpected errors that can hide in the shadows, just waiting to sabotage your hard-earned search rankings.

But fear not, my fellow e-commerce enthusiasts! By partnering with an experienced SEO agency like MCR SEO in Manchester, UK, you can rest assured that your online store will be protected from these technical nightmares. Our team of SEO experts will leave no stone unturned, uncovering even the most elusive technical errors and helping you fix them before they can do any real damage.

So, don’t leave your e-commerce success to chance. Reach out to us today and let’s get to work on making your online store a technical SEO powerhouse. Your rankings, your traffic, and your peace of mind will thank you.

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