Google’s recent changes, while in some cases overly aggressive have all been about removing low quality and spammy content from their results. I can certainly appreciate that as, like you, I am a searcher as well. I would like to say that searches are better now than they were a few months ago… But that would be a lie. So logically speaking, we can expect more of the same from Google until they get it right.

Every shop owner should be taking steps to eliminate low quality content, duplication and improper formed content throughout your websites. No one expects to complete this in a day, to be honest I have a couple of days to spend in my own shops and we have never duplicated content EVER. So, do not think you are going to be “okay”, rather take the steps to update your content and store’s SEO now while Google is still experimenting.

First let me start by saying I mention SEO in the truest sense of the process and not in the manner most of you *think SEO is about. SEO is very simply managing the website’s ability to be properly crawled and indexed by search engines. Notice the complete and utter lack of words like keywords, stuffing, spam, tags…etc. That’s simply because that stuff is garbage marketing and NOT SEO.

While just like anything else new, there is a lot involved… We are going to concentrate on 3 main areas that ecommerce shop owners can should be able to control. These areas are duplication, quality and architecture. I’ve decided that these areas are likely to provide the greatest impact for shop owners and help you to create better habits ongoing as well.

Duplication

Duplication of content can happen in may ways and comes in many forms. For ecommerce websites we will canonical duplication, copied text, lack of text and repeated text as the top areas of concern.

Canonical duplication:

This is simply the duplication caused by the same content being loaded on more than one url. For example www.domain.com, domain.com, domain.com/index.php?main_page=index etc… you get the picture. Serving up the correct canonical page for your content is crucial and this is a task that is easily met. For your www/non www provide a 301 permanent redirect to the correct version. For the index pages, provide a 301 permanent redirect to the domain/shop root such as domain.com. We specialize in Zen Carts, so we can provide some extra tips for not so normal canonical duplication such as /index.php?main_page=products_new and /index.php?main_page=products_new&disp_order=6&page=2 for example. The issue with new products, specials, featured and even sorted product index pages is that they have the same content, but different urls. The easiest way to combat this is to upgrade to Zen Cart version 1.3.9H, which has native canonical support via the rel=”canonical” tags for these and other pages.

Copied Text:

Copied text is just that… If you copied the text in full or part from ANY other web page (including your own), it’s duplicate. This also includes using manufacturer’s provided descriptions that 9 million other shops are using as well. The simplest way to fix this issue is to “stem” the content. If you add or change a word every 5 words, the content should then be unique to you.

Lack of  Text:

This one is a little more confusing. The most common cause (see image below) is that shop owners do not provide enough page unique text to overcome the common template textual areas which are duplicate on every page.