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Ecommerce Forum

Search Engine Friendly Shopping Carts
Gets all pages spidered
ecommerce man

 1:03 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)


I get asked quite often to optimise ecommerce sites. The problem is that many ecommerce packages make links that are unspiderable. Some of the problems include URL parameters and session ID problems.

I've been using Interchange now for about a year. What has shocked me is how many pages I'm getting into google. I did a site recenly with 4000 products I managed to get 4020 pages into Google! All with unique contenet and titles.

So I'm throwing down the Gauntlet, soes anyone know of any other truly search engine friendly shopping cart packages?



 2:27 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Last year a created a few shopping cart sites that are SE friendly. I did it by coding the cart by myself, using included files and file system objects.

It took a bit more work on my part, but got the job done nicely.

In the end the only querystrings in the entire site are pagename.asp[/php]?page=2


 3:20 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have looked into this in great detail. Static html will usually give a high search ranking. Of dynamically generated pages, php is definitely the best.

The following carts creates static html pages which link onto their dynamic pages.


Therefore besides having their php pages indexed, they will have static html pages indexed as well which should give them a much higher ranking in search engines.

In our case, we are still using a handwritten html site and do not dare to change yet because the search ranking for all our products are usually within the top 5 results.


 3:23 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Of dynamically generated pages, php is definitely the best.

Respectfully disagree. The file extension (and the server-side language used) doesn't matter to the engines, as far as I've seen.

As far as SE friendly carts, roll your own. It's not too terribly difficult if SE spider friendliness is a design goal. Just make it a priority in your plan, and stick to it. Your pages will come out better anyways for it, and you'll get cool stuff such as dynamic link titling and alt text built in from the database.

If you can't, find someone who can, and spend the money. It's a good investment to roll your own cart, IMHO.


 3:32 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have not never seen an asp cart that is indexed extensively or at all by Google. Of the popular carts, Miva merchant and clickcartpro are not indexed either.

However almost all the php carts I have seen are indexed correctly. e.g.

e-commerce templates (php version)
os commerce

If you could name some asp carts that are indexed correctly, I would be interested.


 3:38 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you could name some asp carts that are indexed correctly, I would be interested.

Mine. :) And paladin's, it sounds like. But seriously, that's why I encourage everyone to roll their own. I think paladin shares the same opinion, having rolled his own.

Commercially available carts are not adequate from my experience in several areas. Most notably coupons, tiered discounts, and shipping. Granted, there are no commercially available ASP carts I've found that I particularly like. Scratch that, there are no commercially available carts in general that I've found suit my needs for my (and clients) sites.

If you're serious about your e-commerce efforts, I really do encourage you to roll your own.

But just because a piece of software may be coded without SE friendliness in mind doesn't mean that the search engines treat that particular coding language any differently. If what you say was true, why wouldn't everyone just change their .asp pages to .php and remap the mime-type in IIS? If you did that, the search engines would never know....


 3:47 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

indexed correctly. ... os commerce

Derek, I have not found this to be true with the default installation. session ID is included in the URL? I think static HTML files may have broader compatibility with the smaller niche engines, but I don't see a ranking difference based on file extension.

Commercially available carts are not adequate

Although it might be best to roll your own, it may not be an option due to time constraints or inability to program.

Another service that has good SEO and static HTML files is shop4site.


 4:09 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi, I am not sure why commercially available php carts are better at being spidered than non-php carts. Besides the name extension, it could be that php pages are called up more rapidly from the server thus making them easier for googlebot to crawl.

Besides being spiderable, I would like a cart which would allow the title metatags on individual pages be changed. It is beyond my expertise to roll out my own cart.

I have spent over a year looking for the ideal cart but I am still undecided. I am seriously considering x-cart at the moment. It is one of the few carts that is more powerful than OS Commerce. I just find OS Commerce too daunting. Cubecart, which is an OS Commerce clone do not have all the features we need.


 4:15 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Besides the name extension, it could be that php pages are called up more rapidly from the server thus making them easier for googlebot to crawl.

File extensions have no bearing on search engine rankings.


What you're seeing is most likely a result of poor coding. But that does not mean that carts programmed in any server-side parsed language are more visible to the search engines than another server-side parsed language. In fact, the engines can't even tell what server-side parsed language you're using: the extension can be falsified!

Two ASP cart owners have just told you that their carts have been successfully spidered with good results.

Now, back on topic:

sun818 is right - time constraints may stop you from rolling your own cart. In that case, you may have to pick an available one which suits your needs. The original poster asked for a recommendation though, and mine is to roll your own (or find a good programmer who can).


 4:26 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't use miva myself, but I have noticed several miva driven sites ranking very well lately - apparently the results of an add-on program.


 7:22 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)


in that year you spent looking for a good cart, i could have built you an ASP cart that will get every single product crawled :) . i have built my own ASP cart, and have had nothing but success with it in a niche market. there is no advantage with having PHP, or ASP, or HTML, or anything else for that matter. what it all comes down to in the end is:
- querystrings with minimal variables
- no session id's in the querystring
- good coding practices



 8:52 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nexternal Solution's e-commerce software has a feature called the Search Engine Friendly Catalog. It creates a static .html page for each product in the merchant's product database that is inherently designed to be attractive to the search engines. When someone searches Google for a specific product name, the static page is listed in the results. That page then links into the corresponding .asp page of the catalog where shoppers can add the item to the cart. To see some examples of how this works, search Google for some of the following terms:


The first non-sponsored listing for these terms is a page that was created by Nexternal's Search Engine Friendly Catalog feature.

[edited by: TallTroll at 1:24 pm (utc) on Oct. 13, 2003]
[edit reason] no specifics please [/edit]


 8:58 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

first non-sponsored listing


Well, I guess you could say it's search engine friendly alright! Static enough, I guess. Get many conversions on that one? ;-)

BTW - Judging by your previous posts, you may want to snip yourself up there. It's only a matter of time....

[edited by: TallTroll at 1:25 pm (utc) on Oct. 13, 2003]
[edit reason] repeat of specifics from previous post [/edit]

ecommerce man

 4:36 pm on Oct 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

One thing about Interchange is that it can identify spiders coming on the site. When it spots a spider it turns off all session handling so it does not confuse the spider.

It's also easy to get rid of the URL parameters by using actionmaps which pass paramters in the path:


I've managed to get every page (all dynamically generated) into Google for the latest sites I've done. I've also added some tweaks to Interchange so you easily generate unique, relevant page titles and <h1> etc. Which all helps get my sites high positions, traffic and sales!


 6:37 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I run a company that builds search engine friendly ecommerce web sites. Our catalog pages are very search engine friendly, and the content is easily updateable by the merchant. We have over a dozen web sites using our technology, and they are all doing very well. Shoot me an email or message and I can show you some examples of web sites using our code base.


 9:17 am on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Derek, I have not found this to be true with the default installation [of oscommerce]. session ID is included in the URL? I think static HTML files may have broader compatibility with the smaller niche engines

There's a toggle option in the osC admin to turn off Session strings (Can be found in Config > Sessions > prevent spider sessions). Additionally, there are contributions (read: plugins) for search engine friendly URL (imaginatively titled SEF links or suchlike) re-writing.


 1:18 pm on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have spen considerable time looking at this specific issue. And the only cart that I found that was actualy search engine frindly by default was shopsite 6. It is way more expensive than any other carts I found at around $1200, but it actually outputs static html, not dynamic with some crappy looking static pages for the spiders but real static catalog pages. That being said, I did not choose it. I made the mistake at first of choosing Miva merchant. It seemed good in at the start of the project, but that soon changed. Absolutly HORRIBLE cutomer service, take my advice and stay away. I setteled on 2 options as I have 2 sites i am working on. One is custom as the developer had a pre-built solution. The other due to time constraints was Edatcat. I have to say edatcat has been great. I like to use dreamweaver mx 2004, edatcat has a extension for dw that makes the intergration of the site and cart very fast and easy. This is the best cart I have found for design ease. You build the cart around your site rather than the site around the cart. It is genereated through your cgi bin and does have variables in the url (though not nearly as many as miva). I am getting around that problem with a little mod-rewrite action on my apache server. Edatcat was about $495, same as x-cart I think which was was second for me behind edatcat. I mostly did not choose x-cart due to the dw extension available for edatcat. I also did not particuarly like the way x-cart handeled product options.


 5:37 am on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

As an answer to the question of whether there is a search engine friendly shopping cart, I have found one that meets and exceeds all requirements I have placed on software and services I would recommend.

Just so you know who I am, I am The Web Doctor, host of The Web Doctor's Radio Show.

The shopping cart I would recommend is the Apple Pie Shopping Cart. For a web site owner the price is extremely reasonable and well worth the money.

[edited by: TallTroll at 12:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 27, 2003]
[edit reason] URL and sig file drop [/edit]


 8:58 am on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)


prepared to get snipped :)

[webmasterworld.com ]


 2:23 pm on Nov 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dear. All

I want shopping cart that can create static html.
These are software. I have $ 1000.
Which one is wll?
Could you kindly tell me?

e-commerce templates (php version)
os commerce



 11:18 am on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

We use Actinic here and it's pretty search engine friendly. When you upload a site it creates static html pages it generates prior to upload.
By default it includes the section name in the title as well so careful selection of the section names helps with rankings.


 4:04 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

[soapbox=1]I think the distilled conclusions from this thread are that there are some OTS carts available that will meet ecommerce_man's criteria. I think we can agree that while there are pros and cons to the various carts (which we can debate adnauseum) a custom built cart is probably the best of all worlds - providing you have the skills and time to roll your own.

Unfortunately, there are many folks who wish to get into ecommerce and do not have the skills to build their own. They must rely on either an OTS product or a programmer. To get up and running as quickly as possible an OTS product is the safest bet. Now I'm not saying that a programmer like one of you couldn't get someone set up quicker and with a better product. I am saying that when a business person sets out to get an ecomm solution in place they face a few daunting issues: 1) there are very few ways that they can locate someone of your skill set and 2) they have even fewer ways to determine whether or not to trust you.

I've seen many business people get burned hiring a website designer/developer/programmer/guru because they didn't know the questions to ask. This is one of the primary reasons OTS packages have so much appeal - the business person can implement the darn thing themselves. It may not be the best or the fastest but it does what they want and does it for a fixed price - which translates into they know what they're getting into.

I think we do these business folks a great disservice to suggest they get involved with oscommerce or other free carts and especially a roll your own solution unless they really express a desire to learn how to program. Even then my take on it is they should sit down with an experienced programmer and look over their shoulder while they build the solution.

The underlying point I want to make is that we as ecommerce people wear different hats and we need to bare in mind which one we're wearing when we suggest solutions. I don't think anyone here has been out of line with their suggestions but I do think we need to establish a point of reference so that other folks that read this thread will be able to use it in order to make an informed decision for themselves.[soapbox=0]

So - SE friendly URLs in a cart? If you're a programmer - choose one of the pre-existing cart scripts and edit it if you have the time and the patience to wrap your head around another programmers work. IF you don't then buy an OTS solution or hook up with a programmer you can trust. Of the existing options already offered, I'm only familiar with osCommerce and X-Cart.

osCommerce is a free script that does not come ready to go with all of the bells and whistles installed. It does have a lot of power but you'll need to add the functionality you want. It does have the ability to support SE friendly URLs.

X-Cart is an OTS product that comes with the SE friendly URLs already to go. For a bit of extra $$ the company will customize the cart to your needs.


 4:50 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have not never seen an asp cart that is indexed extensively or at all by Google.

I don't know about the rest of you but, I'd rather not have a bunch of static html pages sitting there in the directories if they don't have to be there.

I'm with others that have participated in this thread, roll your own or, purchase the cart that fits your needs and then modify it using a rewrite program that fits with your server technology.

I've watched these sort of topics with great interest and I see many who do the static html pages. Forgive me for being dense but, why have hundreds or thousands of dynamically generated html pages sitting there? Why not just set up a few templates and let the pages be generated on the fly per the request?

I've dealt with nothing but asp generated carts which we've developed from scratch using a core cart interface that was rolled a few years ago. I believe you could take any commercially available cart product and make it SE friendly through a URI Rewriting routine. Much less expensive and you don't have to sit on thousands of static html pages.


 5:12 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

One important aspect that I failed to mention above with the static pages is duplicate content. If you are generating static pages from your dynamic pages, then you need to make sure that your dynamic pages are Disallowed in your robots.txt file. This will prevent duplicate content issues. Google and other SEs are getting better at indexing URIs with variables in the string.


 5:29 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

> rather not have a bunch of static html pages sitting there

Why is that? I'm seeing more web host offer lots of disk space even with a basic plan. Why not use the space? Is it a maintenance issue that you are concerned with?

> duplicate content

Another thought for people generating static pages for products in multiple categories, you will want prevent one of those static pages from being indexed.


 5:34 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Why is that? I'm seeing more web host offer lots of disk space even with a basic plan. Why not use the space? Is it a maintenance issue that you are concerned with?

Why clutter your directory structure with hundreds or thousands of static pages? Disk space is an issue with some although that would not be my main concern. Yes, maintenance would be an issue although most of those static page generating programs make the maintenance easy.

I think I'd rather have a sub-directory with one or two templates and then have the pages generated dynamically per the request complete with SE friendly URIs.

There is no reason to have to generate static pages if you structure your content properly and provide a map for the spidering SEs.


 5:42 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> Another thought for people generating static pages for products in multiple categories...

Can we continue this conversation over here [webmasterworld.com]?


 6:30 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

> There is no reason to have to generate static pages

Static HTML is still faster than serving up dynamic content. There is also no dependency on the database server or scripting language that could fail. Content can be placed any web host. I also want to be thoughtful about the system resources I use since I am on a shared host.


 12:30 am on Nov 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

We also use Actinic on some of our sites. If you know what you are doing it is easy to it to a high standard.



 1:40 am on Nov 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

One thing that is tedious is that if you make any change to the template, all your static pages have to be touched again which requires FTPing all the files to the web host again.

ecommerce_man, have you looked at ShopSite.com? They have search engine friendly product pages.

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