SEO for headless-powered eCommerce websites

Last updated: 05 Apr 2019

Online search is a vital part of the customer lifecycle. As stated by Forrester Consulting, 71% of consumers in the US use a search engine to discover new products, brands, and services. And even if a consumer doesn’t end up buying a product online, 65% of them still do research online before making any final purchase decisions.

When it comes to combining SEO efforts with headless commerce architecture it is one of the many considerations that your frontend development team has to take into account during your website build. In the post we’ll share a few key areas that should be at the top of your list when planning and developing your headless-powered eCommerce website.

 

SEO strategy

Well-thought SEO ensures that your product is easily discoverable and therefore leads to more conversions and purchases! Even if you don’t get the purchase, SEO can help consumers find your brand or website and aid them in making more informed buying decisions.

SEO is not something you should think about once you have your store set up online. Ideally, you should think about your optimal SEO strategy before you enter the development stage. The way a website is structured and built will have a great impact on your SEO. Here’s some characteristics that play a major role in how high your website shows on a search result page:

  • Use of HTTPS protocol
  • Use of keywords in the URL
  • Human-readable URL
  • Clear structure of a website
  • Quick loading time

As you can see, SEO is definitely something that should be considered before you start building a website, especially if you’re thinking about adopting a headless approach, and has to be accounted for in the development of a headless-driven website. 

 

Good SEO practices to consider

The most commonly used search engine, Google, uses links to find out what content on your site is related and the value of that content, so the URL structure and the metadata you use (page titles, image captions, etc.) are vital for ranking.

Moreover, search engines are all about structure when crawling your site. By following links and metadata they can work out the relationship between various pages, posts and other content. The clearer the structure, the more likely you are to attain higher rankings.

Below, we list the most important aspects of any good SEO strategy and give you some examples on how you can use it to your advantage.

 

URL structure

The URL structure of your site is important to get right, they should be both friendly for humans and robots. Whether that means nesting categories in logical URI segments through to the product URI.

For example, the category structure for the URL can be concatenated with the product name and type. If you’re implementing a Moltin powered site, you can create a hierarchical category tree that reflects your website structure and organise your products into these categories. Out of the box Moltin objects contain the “slug” resource that is a lower case, uri friendly string (i.e. no spaces). You can use these slugs to build your site structure and page URLs.

Below you’ll find an SEO-friendly URL structure that has been divided into the sub-elements.

url_anatomy


Metadata

Metadata (page and meta titles or descriptions, etc.) can be driven from data stored in the backend and accessed via APIs just like the content that you render to your customers on the page visibly. With Moltin you could use the product title & description to create and populate meta tags (primarily or as a fall back), or if you’re looking for more fine grained control, it’s possible to extend the core Moltin product entity by creating a product flow and adding custom fields for “title”, “meta description”, and more.

Whilst not strictly for SEO, social and open graph content tags that you place on your page can also be managed from your backend and pulled through into your website page view in a similar way. It’s recommended that you do this, as you can attain more control over how your site links appear on social networking sites, e.g., Twitter cards or Facebook posts pulling in the correctly optimized and sized image URL and content for this medium.

 

Crawlable

One of the most critical aspects beyond well-structured sites, pages and content is to make sure that this is crawlable by the search engine bots. These may or may not run JavaScript so some caution is advised here depending on what technologies and framework you are using to develop your site.

JAMstack architecture is a good choice, as essentially this stack means you already have all the pages and URLs generated at build time, the bot is simply going to crawl your HTML/CSS/JS without issues as the content (including commerce data that was snapshotted at build) is static.

If you're dynamically building a page with a JavaScript framework alone, you might want to look into serving up cached versions of the pages to the bots. You could use something like https://prerender.io/ that is compatible with all JavaScript frameworks and libraries, and allows to dynamically built websites to be crawled by the search engines.

 

Summary

Online search results are almost monopolized by Amazon, Walmart, and other retail giants with whom it’s hard to compete for best ranking. Nevertheless, SEO is something that you, as a retailer, must definitely take into account, otherwise, your amazing enterprise will drown in the sea of companies that scream louder online.

Taking all of the above points into account, with a minimal amount of development effort and following SEO best practices you can easily utilize headless commerce architecture like Moltin to power an eCommerce website that is well-structured, crawlable, and rankable for search engines.