BigCommerce SEO Bible - Prepare Your Store for The Big Fight of Ranking

Manuel C. Published on 07 December, 2011

Getting your Bigcommerce store online and showing up in Google isn't only a few clicks away. There are some things that need to be done while preparing to get organic traffic.
Traffic form Google is very important but please consider not relying only on this kind of traffic. You will need to be creative and get customers using other ways too. In this post I'll write down a few basic steps to help you prepare your shop.

Choose your store's domain name carefully

The first and most clever SEO thing to do is to choose a domain name that has the keywords for your business in it. Domains with keywords in their name rank higher for that given keyword.
If you name it like this: myawesomeshop.com you won't help Google much in deciding what your store is all about. Truthfully, everyone thinks that their shop is awesome, so that won't help at all. These days it's harder and harder to get a piece of the pie if your are a newcomer.
Google gives higher priority to established brands because they are big and have some years behind them. Being in the game for a long of time gives them authority. And authority is what Google likes. Yes, the rich get richer and it isn't that fair, but there are still businesses that are riding along.
In order to have better rankings you must choose domain names like best-french-cheese.com, if you sell french cheese, or cheap-reconditioned-cars.com, if you sell cars that have been reconditioned.
Domain name convention:

  • longtail keywords are nearing their end - SEO Book warns that Google has killed longtail keywords simply by using suggestions and word replacement. The infographic they show there explaines clearly how Google shifted the focus to more common terms used in our language. If you have a store with a longtail domain name do not worry too much because you are online for quite some time and established a position. It's harder for the newcomers to use that kind of domain names. So, instead of using cheapcars.com use cheap-cars.com.
  • avoid stop words and names that are too long - stop words are words that are too common. If you want a domain name like this-is-best-site.com, you are wasting your chances. This and is are seen as stop words and are ignored by the search engines. Try instead best-site.com. Also, if you'd like a domain name like thebestproductsyouwilleverfindandloveontheinternet.com then you need to shorten it to less than 60 characters and no stop words. For a list of stop words not to use in domain names or as keywords please see it here Please note that best is a stop word too. I have used it only to give examples so please avoid it. Cheap is fine, though.

Do keyword research and find out what keywords fit best for your products and choose a domain name accordingly. For a guide to help you run these searches please read this post.
What ever you sell please keep in mind that you need to be different from them, starting form the domain name. If you sell hats, and especially summer hats, then the first step you need to do in this research is to Google summer hats.
The stores that sell summer hats are you competition. Study those store. What domain name did they choose? Look at the source code of the page and see the description they chose, the keywords. Spend a few days doing this and going back and forth those sites to see what you could do different and what name you should choose.
When you feel you are ready use tools like Panabee, that combine the words you insert there and create new names. Tools like that also check if a given domain name has been already taken. Use it as much as you can.

While on trial use disallow in robots.txt

Most of BigCommerce store owners know that they can simply have a free store for 15 days during which they can understand the platform better, use the integration or create products.
Many do not know about a danger that lies with robots.txt file during this time. The standard lines of instruction from that file let crawlers index the pages and products you create while on trial.
That is an issue. Because during trial you create products, list your store in Google and the indexing begins. With the url to the trial store you have.
And when you buy a domain name and use it for the store you will see a lot of errors in Webmasters Tools which state that Google didn't find your product or you see your products listed in index with the old URL's.
This is not an incredibly big issue, but still it's a waste of time because you need to wait until the new links are crawled and then showed in Google. And this takes time.
In order to start well you need to go to Tools - Edit Robots.txt and remove the lines form there in a text file. Save these lines in a separate file on your computer, as you will need them after you go live.
Then, in the empty Robots.txt file simply put these lines of code:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /
This way, while on trial and using links which start with mystore.mybigcommerce.com, your store will not be indexed.
It is easier to have the pages indexed right from the first time, than to go and clean up the old links.

Choose a variant of WWW/No WWW Redirect and stick with it

Decide form the start if you want your links to have WWW in front or not and stick with it. Although redirection works when you change it if you suddenly changed your mind, but decide form the start what variant you want to use.
After you have chose the redirection type simply give people that link to your store. If you like to use www.store.com, then don't hand over store.com.
If you change it after the links have been indexed in Google, then the sitemap will change to the new link type and it will take a while until new links are indexed in Google.

Conclusions regarding preparing your store for SEO

These simple steps require a lot of initial attention but it is well worth it. Starting your online store the way you should will help you devote more time on marketing and creating a relationship with your customers.
Much better than just working overtime to patch things up. How did these pieces of advice help you? Do not forget to come back for the next post in BigCommerce SEO Bible series.

Manuel C. Published on 07 December, 2011