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NetSuite product page SEO – a DIY guide

Leveraging NetSuite’s Built-In Web Site Template Capabilities

Product pages. For most Internet retailers, these are the most numerous pages on their site, and a perfect place to optimize for long tail keywords. In this guide, I will cover the options within NetSuite’s template driven e-commerce platform for optimizing product pages for search engines, and give the pros and cons of those choices.

A Note About Category Pages
It’s important to keep in mind that no matter which option you select under set up website for the format of your search engine friendly URLs, this will only affect product pages, and will not affect the URLs NetSuite generates for any other type of page. Here’s a brief description of how NetSuite handles these other types of pages.

  • Information Items: The URL will be directly off the root: e.g. http://www.domain.com/informaiton-item.
  • Published knowledge base ( FAQ) solutions: currently, these cannot be assigned a URL component, so they will have ugly URLs like: http://www.domain.com/s.nl/ctype.KB/it.I/id.161/KB.70/.f?category=2
  • Tier/Category pages: Top level categories in NetSuite are called tabs, and their URLs come off the root of the domain, e.g. http://www.domain.com/tabname. Categories that are underneath another category or tab will display the URL components of the each of the parent categories, e.g. http://www.domain.com/tabname/category1/category2. If you have several levels of category structure, it’s a good idea to use short URL components to avoid the appearance of keyword stuffing URLs.

NetSuite Product Page SEO Best Practices

Here are my top tips for optimizing product detail pages, with the most important first:

  1. Use a unique page title, up to 70 characters or so, focusing on one long tail keyword leading off, then typically the name of the product.
  2. Modify your item template so that within the content of the page you use a H1 tag that also addresses the same keyword. Make sure this is written more for users than the title, since it is much more likely to be read by the user.
  3. Populate the URL component on the item record with one to three words, separated by a dash. It’s a good idea to reinforce that same keyword from the title – if you enter ‘sony-plasma-tv’ (without the quotes) in the URL component field, it will display as: http://www.domain.com/sony-plasma-tv
  4. It’s important to have enough text on the page – at least 100 words, employing some of the same keywords as above, along with many of the other related words that someone might use in a search. again this will be read by users, so make sure to focus on readability over keyword stuffing for search engines.
  5. It’s helpful to provide search engine readable links to related categories, items, or articles that a user might find useful. Search engines also follow those links, and will improve your internal link structure.
  6. And all tags for your images to improve image search
  7. Employee microdata formats from schema.org – this is an entire mini project by itself, and I will write more about it in a future post.
  8. Submit your items in a product feed to Google product search, and other comparison shopping engines.

Product Page URL – 2 Formatting Options

NetSuite provides two options for how search engine friendly URLs will be displayed for product pages. The setting is found under setup > Set up website > set up website. Your choices are:

  1. /tab-name/category-name/item-name
  2. /item-name

There is also a checkbox option to add a .html extension to the page’s URL. This option doesn’t affect SEO, and is more of a personal preference. It might be worth doing it, if only to make it easier to identify product pages in web analytics reports.

Option 1: Using Nested Categories

The first option (/tab-name/category-name/item-name) will structure the URL for product pages by including the parent categorys’ URL component to appear like parent folders. Here are some examples:

  • http://www.domain.com/tabname/item1 (if you have items that live in a top level category/tab)
  • http://www.domain.com/tabname/category1/category5/item1 (if the item lives in a 3rd-level category)

Pros

  • If most of your items only live in one category, and you have short URL components for your categories, this can be a good option for you.
  • By including the parent category in the URL, it can help teach users and search engines about the structure of your site as well as optimizing for those specific keywords. him for example, if you have a bunch of items in a category named after a manufacturer, that all those items could be optimized for that manufacturer’s name – e.g. http://www.domain.com/sony/lcd-tv-60
  • If you use the default tag to generate the canonical meta tag, like this:


    It will generate a canonical URL that includes the ‘default’ category for that item (although not always the one you expect). For example:
    <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.domain.com/tab1/category1/item1">
    This is at least consistent, so search engines will get the same canonical URL even if the user browsed to the item through a different category.

Cons

  • If an item lives in multiple categories, the product page will have a different URL depending on how the user got to that page. This can cause duplicate content and canonical URL issues ( more on that later).
  • If your category structure is several levels deep, or you have more than one word in the URL components for your categories, the URL could get pretty long and may appear to be stuffed with keywords to a search engine. This can trigger an over-optimization penalty (like Google’s notorious Panda update).
  • The URL in the XML site map the NetSuite generates will not match the ‘preferred’ category on the item record, i.e. the URL you see when clicking to the product page from its primary listing page.
  • When a user performs a search on your site, the links to the product pages on the search results page will not include the default category structure, instead the item will appear to be directly off the root of the domain e.g. http://www.domain.com/item1.

Option 2: Item URL at Domain Root

This option will generate product URLs that do not have any category structure in front of them, for example:

  • http://www.domain.com/item1
  • http://www.domain.com/item2

Pros

  • If you have a multiple levels deep category structure or multiple words in the URL components for your categories, this will avoid potential over optimization penalties from to me keywords in the title. Users may also prefer the shorter URL.
  • The sitemap.xml file that NetSuite generates will have the correct URL for each item, making it more likely that search engines will index the proper format of the product page URL.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, there is a pretty big downside to the way NetSuite generates these links on product listing pages. Instead of the link looking like this:
    http://www.domain.com/item1
    it will look like this:
    http://www.domain.com/item1?sc=9&category=34
    NetSuite adds the query string for the cabin category to the end of the link, which causes canonical URL issues. The canonical URL tag on the product page could be made to look like the first link, but it’s the listing page that passes link authority to the product page, and those URLs don’t match. Some link authority is always lost when search engines have to make this extra leap.

    This is a costly & unfortunate bug, but it might not affect items if they only live in one category.

  • Some of the SEO value of including the category in the URL is lost compared to option one.
  • The extra query string information that NetSuite appends to the end of the URL doesn’t really do anything. If you delete the question mark and everything after it, the page will render just fine, and will default to the deferred category if the item lives in multiple categories.
  • The built-in NetSuite tag for the canonical URL will include the query string information. Having the extra stuff at the end of the URL doesn’t necessarily harm SEO, but it would be far cleaner to not have it there. You will need to decide which to use as the primary URL – with or without the query string information.
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I have been working with computers and web sites for 20+ years, and have enjoyed mastering many areas of technology. I have been building websites for about 15 years, and working with NetSuite for more than 10. I have worked with dozens of small and medium-sized companies in that time, helping them to understand and leverage the latest tools to grow their business. My business is all about helping you to maximize your business, and I prefer to establish long-term relationships with clients who are dedicated to embracing smart ways to optimize and expand their business.

1 comment… add one

  • Corey January 28, 2013, 7:46 am

    Nice to have another NS blog to read. It was nice seeing you again at the NUG 🙂

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