On-Page Optimization in OpenCart
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most important part in any online business web site today. Not only because a well optimized website will help increase your traffic and then boost your sales but its been proven to be far more rewarding than online promotional methods like advertising and sales promotion. There are tons of SEO techniques, some are allowed and acceptable by Google while some are not. In this post, we will focus on the most aspect of SEO as it aplies to OpenCart ecommerce.
Understanding OnPage SEO
On-Page SEO is also often referred to as on-site SEO and involves optimizing internal elements of your website pages to make them more search engine friendly. On-page SEO helps search engines understand your website better, to gauge if your content would be relevant to people seeking for information about anything online using a set of keywords.
If you’re planning on using SEO as an integral part of your Internet Marketing campaign, it would be to your greatest advantage to have a clear understanding of the basics and importance of On-page SEO.
The Importance of On-Page SEO
In recent years, other Internet marketing channels have appeared, taking sizable bites of the online marketing space. Many shifted their online campaigns to some very popular channels like social media marketing and dropping their SEO efforts without carefully analyzing real data. Many have succumbed to the myth that “SEO is dead” and is not a relevant factor anymore in driving targeted traffic to websites.
SEO is still the most important source of targeted traffic to websites. In a report by Forrester Research, organic web search or natural search engine results still sits at the top of traffic sources used by survey respondents. The report also states that this percentage is growing at a steady rate and is expected to continue growing in the next couple of years.
That is why it is very important to optimize your On-Page SEO if you want to have targeted visitors knocking on your online doorstep. However, it doesn’t mean that you choose one Internet marketing channel over the other and drop the rest altogether. To get the maximum results, you need to explore each of these channels and select which can be combined with SEO to get the best results. But before you can dive-in to all these in greater detail, it would be best to proceed and understand a bit more information about the basics of on-page SEO.
On page optimization ordinarily covers, but not limited to, these 6 critical areas:
- Page URL
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- Header H1 Tag
- Page Content (page description)
- Page Speed
1. Title Tags
The title tag is the most important places to include keywords. Search engines place importance on keywords although keywords should not be the only focus in writing titles leading to the neglect of the majority of other elements within a page. A well optimized title tag should include the target keywords while also influencing the searcher to click to the page from the search results.
Good Keyword: It’s best to use your most important keywords in the beginning of the title tag. Search engines place more weight on keywords at the beginning which can have a stronger impact on your rankings.
- Length – Try to keep title tags 70 characters or less since anything longer will get cut off on the search engine results page.
- Branding – It’s generally a good idea to include your website name at the end of the title tag for additional brand exposure.
A good example would be::
Best News reporter – Top stories and breaking news from Port Harcourt | Brand name
This title tag is much more readable while containing many of the target keywords. It is a coherent title which will have a much better chance of grabbing the searchers attention. Also, it also contains the name of the website and falls under the 70 character rule.
To add Title tags for OpenCart page, please go to:
- Category Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Categories -> General -> Meta Tag Title Field
- Product Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Products -> General -> Meta Tag Title Field
2. Page URL
It’s important to include the main keyword in the page URL. Luckily OpenCart makes it easy to add the target keywords in the URL. Don’t worry about fitting in all the different keywords you identified. Trying to “over optimize” and stuff in excessive keywords can negatively impact rankings. Instead, focus on the main keyword. For the laptops page, it would be best to have a simple URL such as: your-site-url/apple-cinema. This way we have a simple URL with our main keyword in place.
To enable SEO URL, please go to your Opencart admin > System > Setting > your default theme editing page > Server > then enable the SEO URL field.
To add SEO keyword for category and product, please go to:
- Category Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Categories -> Data -> SEO Keyword Field
- Product Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Products -> Data -> SEO Keyword Field
3. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is the two lines of black text listed below websites on the search engine results page. There is a 156 character limit before search engines start cutting off the meta description. Unlike the title tag, meta descriptions are not used as a ranking factor by most major search engines. Having a dozen keywords or zero keywords won’t have any direct impact on a page’s rankings. However, having a well written meta description can have a large impact on the number of searchers who actually click to your website.
Just like with Google AdWords, the ad copy can make a huge difference on the page’s click-through rate (the percent of people who click to the website). The same applies with SEO. A compelling meta description can increase traffic just by grabbing the attention of searchers and influencing them to click to the website. A good meta description typically includes the following:
- Target Keywords – Even though keywords in the meta description don’t have a direct impact on rankings, they can still affect the click-through rate. When a searcher sees their keyword(s) within the meta description it tends to makes them think it’s more relevant and a better fit for their query. Also, search engines usually bold the searcher’s keywords which can help grab their attention.
- Unique Selling Points – Just like with any form of advertising it’s generally a good idea to include your unique selling points.
- Call to Action – Many studies have found that having a call to action can motivate searchers to click to a website. Including a call to action at the end of a meta descriptions is a simple and effective way to improve traffic to pages.
To add a custom meta description to your OpenCart store, use the following navigational paths:
- Category Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Categories -> (Category to Optimize) -> General -> “Meta Tag Description” Field
- Product Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Products -> (Product to Optimize) -> General -> “Meta Tag Description” Field
4. Header Tags
Header tags, also known as <h1> tags, aren’t as significant of a ranking factor as they used to be but are still worth optimizing. The header tag can be seen on the page itself and is usually the name of the page. When optimizing header tags it’s best to only use the most important keyword phrase rather than trying to squeeze in a bunch of keywords. Also, since the value for the header tag will generally be used in the website navigation it’s best to keep it simple.
For the laptops page on the OpenCart demo store, a simple and optimized header tag would be “Laptop & Notebook Computers.” Since we saw many people searching specific for “laptop computers” rather than just “laptops,” it’s a good idea to include the word “computers” to help capture the additional searchers.
To modify header tags in OpenCart, please go to:
- Category Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Categories -> General -> Category Name Field
- Product Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Products -> General -> Product Name Field
5. Page Content
An other important thing in on-page SEO is page content. Including the keywords in the content of the page itself is one of the most important places to leverage keywords for rankings. Search engines rely on content and the keywords within the content to understand the focus of the page and determine relevancy.
Important notes when adding content to a page to maximize search engine rankings and traffic.
- Content Length – Typically the more content you have on a page the better chance it has to rank higher. Instead aim for at least 150 words of content for category and product pages. Feel free to go past well past 150 words but keep in mind that a significant amount of content on category pages can push down the actual products on the page and negatively affect conversion rates.
- How to use Keyword: It’s important to use your target keywords throughout the content. However, make sure that the content reads naturally and doesn’t come across as keyword stuffed. In SEO, if your pages are “over optimized” you risk losing rankings as a result of a penalty.
- Unique Content – All things considered equal, pages that contain unique content almost always outrank pages with duplicate content. Duplicate content occurs when two different pages have the same or near identical content. This could be between two pages on your website (internal duplicate content) or between a page on your website and another website (external duplicate content). Either way, search engines have a strong bias towards ranking unique content over duplicate content. For eCommerce sites, duplicate content tends to occur on product pages since often timesmany different websites will sell the same product and just use the manufacturer’s generic product description. Just by rewriting your own product descriptions it’s possible to get a boost in rankings for product related keywords. If you have hundreds or even thousands of products just start with the best sellers, highest margins, or most search volume.
To add content to category and product pages in Opencart, please go to:
- Category Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Categories -> General -> Description Field
- Product Pages: Admin Home -> Catalog -> Products -> General -> Description Field
6. Page Speed
Ordinarily, OpenCart is a lightweight E-Commerce platform, which makes it fast and easy to work with. However, these steps will furthet speed up your OpenCart website:
- Good web host that offers good server reliability and uptime scores (At least 99.5% or more uptime score), security (Firewalls, monitoring services, customer support), site backup availability (Daily back-ups are an advantage), customer service (24/7 support is a necessity and reliability factor).
- Choose your theme wisely. Choose or design your theme by keeping performance in mind. A lot of store owners believe that the more features their website has, the better. This comes at a price which can have a bad impact on your store speed.
Install a caching plugin. This is the most critical in speeding up your OpenCart website.