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I am relatively new to X-cart and have a designer building a customer template right now. X-cart does not handle URLs, meta tags or other SEO type things very well with the default installation. We are looking at a number of add-ons and the designer that we are working with has made a few recommendation, but I wanted to tap the experts on this forum. Any suggestions?
I use xcart for a client, but my setup is pretty custom and we only use xcart for specific purposes in the sites. The look of our sites do not resemble an xcart site at all, and even with all that I have been liking xcart less and less over the last two years or so.
Without knowing your setup, strategy and general investment, it's hard to give accurate advice. I could give lots of advice, but you may not be willing to pay your designer huge amounts to do it. Besides which, you don't want to over-invest in the initial stages. I'd suggest an incremental strategy if you're unsure.
In saying all that, here is some general advice I can give:
I would try and strip down the xcart shopping cart as much as possible. Shopping carts like xcart (and every other one I have seen?) are designed to be a 1 size fits all approach. You don't necessarily need all the initial features, and if you don't plan on using them within the next 6 months or so, I would have your template designer remove them.
Secondly, if you plan to use xcart exclusively, definitely follow moderngamer's suggestions for url rewriting.
Good luck, and feel free to PM me or ask here if you have any other questions.
To hazmat's comments, we will have a few other sections (e.g. community provided content) of our site, but for the most part it will be a retail shopping site powered by xcart. I would guess 95% of our pages on this site will be through xcart.
As I am new to xcart, what else besides url rewriting would you recommend that I look into for SEO? Where does xcart fall short in terms of SEO?
Bloated code and organization of the code are issues I have with X-Cart.
You'll also notice that if you have statistics turned on, the site will get slower over time. Do yourself a favor and separate the statistics into a database of their own - this way the site will remain relatively fast and not slow down over time.
Adding or fixing things can be a nightmare. It's just completely overcomplicated.
For example, setting up shipping needs to be changed in at least three different places:
Shipping Methods under Management,
Shipping Charges under Inventory, and
Shipping Option (in General Settings) which is under Administration
Oh, and before that will work you need to set Destination Zones back under Inventory.
I'm reinstalling a cart at the moment on one of my sites, so I'm feeling the frustration of it. :)
I haven't dealt with xcart specifically with SEO, as I basically just use it for the cart and transaction processing. I don't think SEO will be real bad for you, if you're using a SEO module. As long as you're not in a highly competitive market and can get some good content in there for link popularity, etc, you should be alright.
Usability is another problem, both on the customer side and the admin side. Hopefully your designer can help with the customer side.
Over the course of a few years, I am convinced I should have just coded the cart myself. The only reason I am continuing to use is due to time constraints.
If I could find a good cart that was simple I'd probably switch now. It is pretty hard to find something though.
Oh also, if you're planning to add a lot of products, don't use one or two categories or the front end will be very slow. You will need to go deep and/or broad probably to help.
Thank you to everyone that forwarded me private messages and responded to my threads. I will still be around of course, as we all have to stay on top of things, but my main recent rush is over. Good luck to everyone that sells things online with the economy slowing down.