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Your BigCommerce site: prerequisites of the online store

Problem

A client – start up online apparel store – requires a set up of necessary functions & tools to quick-start an e-Commerce project on the web.


Approach

I want to share my experience with BigCommerce users who consider the minimum necessary level of engagement to quick start a eCommerce project on the web. The report covers the following issues: 
 
  1. Product and Category URL settings 
  2. Product Category attribution 
  3. Microdata (Google Reviews) 
  4. Bigcommerce Rich Snippet Breadcrumbs 
  5. Global meta data - Home page meta data (title, description) 
  6. Category and Product meta description 
  7. MailChimps integration (you must be store owner) 
  8. Temporary URL settings (you must be store owner) 
  9. Google Merchant Center set up (you must be store owner) 
  10. E-Commerce Tracking 
  11. Goal tracking 
  12. View filter adjustment in Google Analytics


CRAWLABILITY 

If your site is a brand new one remember, the more links to your site on the web, the more likely it is that Googlebot will stop by for a visit. Once Google starts crawling your site more often, you'll notice that Webmaster Tools will begin to show more detailed data, and that this data is updated more often. 

To make a quick progress I suggest to submit your sitemap to Google index in the first place. For example, my client has had 40 pages of the site in Google index before submitting the sitemap. In ten days after the sitemap was submitted the number of indexed pages doubled.

In the second place - build some backlinks.

 

SITE STRUCTURE


URL path


URL path shows a physical structure of folders on your database. Basically, setting a clear URL path is a method of physical siloing, i.e. establishing themed website architecture through a clear product listings’ structure. For more details about building themed website architecture see Matt Cutt’s of Google video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H49pOqkQPF4

My client was using a Default (short) product URL settings. It does not show relation between product and product category in the URL path. If you do so, your whole site’s architecture may be obscure for Google bot. For example, see a picture below – men’s wear page, a Category, has to subpages (subcategories): Hoodies and T-Shirts. 


 

Still, when one clicks on a subcategory page, there’s no reference on where it belongs on the URL path (see below).



When you want to go deeper with it – and click on the individual product’s page, there is no Category / Subcategory attribution either.

I recommend changing the URL structure to group the content pages under one, highly organized directory. Without a clear directory structure, visitors and search engines are easily lost as to the purpose and theme of the site.

URL structure settings can be accessed in Setup & Tools › Customize your store (Store Settings), under the URL Structure tab. You will want to change 

Product URL settings to SEO optimized (Category) and

Category URL settings to Custom, type the following: /%parent%/%categoryname% – see below.




Products’ category – subcategory attribution

BigCommerce has its own way of showing product categories on the product page. Suppose you want to have a your Green Men's Hoodie listed on the Mens Category, Men's Hoodies Category, Sale as well as Sale Hoodies Category. It's strange but it's true - you have to create and check each of these categories so that your Hoodie is visible there - see below.


Suppose you skipped Mens category and checked a Hoodies sub-category only - the Hoodie won't simply be seen on your site's Mens page (if you have one). The same concernes Sales. See how it looks on your site's Product Page



To attribute a product to a cartegory go to Products > View Products, check the ones you want to edit and click Bulk Edit Selected. Alternatively, you can edit each product separately - Products > View Products, choose a Product, under Details tab.


SEARCH APPEARANCE


Snippets — the few lines of text that appear under every search result—are designed to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query. If Google understands the content on your pages, you can create rich snippets—detailed information intended to help users with specific queries.

Rich snippets are designed to summarize the content of a page in a way that makes it even easier for users to understand what the page is about in Google search results. For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range; the snippet for a recipe page might show the total preparation time, a photo, and the recipe’s review rating; and the snippet for a music album could list songs along with a link to play each song.

These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, and may result in more clicks to your pages.


Breadcrumbs


Once done with Product URL setting, you will want to enable breadcrumbs (a set of navigation links) to further visualize your enhanced directory structure. According to https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/185417?hl=en, a breadcrumb trail is a set of links (breadcrumbs) that can help a user understand and navigate your site's hierarchy.

They allow for both greater user experience (easy navigation) and greater Click through Rate (CTR) as they are visible directly on the search results page. For an example of how a Rich Snippets (Breadcrumbs) looks on Google – see below.




So, first, you need to make product breadcrumbs show up on product pages with BigCommerce. To do that you shall change Display Setting. Display store settings can be accessed in Setup & Tools › Customize your store (Store Settings), under the Display tab.





Secondly, you need to make changes to the pages templates to tag breadcrumbs in a way that Google will understand (may be a little tiresome). See how to do that by the link:https://websiteadvantage.com.au/Bigcommerce-Rich-Snippet-Breadcrumbs 


Product reviews

Product Reviews are another form of Rich Snippets used by Google to add greater user experience to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Please how it looks below. 



To enable Product Reviews in Big Commerce select Setup & Tools, Integration (Comments), under Built In tab. Click Enable for Product Reviews.



So, then you need to put micro data mark up on your product description. By the contrast to the BreadCrumbs microdata tags, BigCommerce has gone an extra mile to help you ou here.

Now, go to Design and click on Edit HTML/CSS. Copy the following code, then paste it at the bottom of the ProductDetails.html file (use CTRL+F (Windows), Command+F (Mac) to find the file). 

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
<meta itemprop="name" content="%%GLOBAL_ProductName%%">
<meta itemprop="description" content="%%Page.MetaDescription%%">
<meta itemprop="image" content="%%GLOBAL_ThumbImageURL%%">
<div itemprop="aggregateRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating">
<meta itemprop="worstRating" content="1">
<meta itemprop="bestRating" content="5">
<meta itemprop="ratingValue" content="%%GLOBAL_Rating%%">
<meta itemprop="reviewCount" content="%%GLOBAL_ProductNumReviews%%">
</div>
<div itemprop="offers" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer">
<meta itemprop="price" content="%%GLOBAL_ProductPrice%%">
<meta itemprop="priceCurrency" content="USD" />
<link itemprop="availability" href="http://schema.org/InStock" />
</div>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
<meta itemprop="name" content="%%GLOBAL_BrandName%%">
</div>
</div>

Save your changes and you are done.


Global Meta data

Page Title as well as Page Description do not influence your listing's position with Google but can really influence your potential customer's decision to click on your listing on the Search Results Page. Default Meta description may be not attractive (see example below).





To change that, go to Setup & Tools › Customize your store (Store Settings). Scroll down to Search Engine Optimization, type preferred Home Page Title and Meta Description. You may skip Meta Keywords - Googlebot will disregard them.

Also, I recommend makeing a redirect of users to a canonical version of your site - I prefer redirect no www to www. This will help Google Analytics to gather more accurate data on your traffic. See the illustration below.





Category and Product Meta Description


In the same fashion, your Category and Product pages will also need good Meta Descriptions.
To update your Category Meta go to Products > Product Categories > Edit Category and scroll down to Search Engine Optimization. 
 
To update your Products Meta go to Products > View Products > Edit Product, under Other details tab (scroll to Search Engine Optimization). You may leave Page Title blank - the page will show your Product title and your site's name.



STORE OWNER TIPS


Below are some ideas for a smooth and handy start with your BigCommerce online store that are only available to store owners (not other users that have access to a BigCommerce account).

Integrate email marketing with BigCommerce

In order to gain more traffic and leads I suggest integrating email tools (MailChimp) with your BigCommerce account. To do that, please follow instructions set forth by the link: https://support.bigcommerce.com/questions/1163/Integrating+MailChimp+with+Bigcommerce


Temporary URL settings 

By default each BigCommerce store has a temporary URL Structure. It's not a very nice path that shows in your customers browser once he/she proceeds to check out – see below.
  


This is in the format of http://store-xxxxx.mybigcommerce.com. These URLs are assigned by BigCommerce and are used before you have purchased an SSL certificate for your purchased domain name. If you think you need to install your own SSL Certificate, steps to Purchase an SSL Certificate by the link: https://support.bigcommerce.com/questions/925/Do+I+need+my+own+SSL+Certificate%3F


Google Merchant Center & Shopping Campaign set up

If you are thinking about using Google Adwords for your eCommerce Store, consider creating Product Listings Ads (called 'Shopping Campaign').

To make it easier for you to connect with consumers and promote your products online, Shopping campaign, a new campaign type for Product Listing Ads (PLA), streamlines how you manage and bid on your products, report on your performance, and find opportunities to grow your traffic from Google.  

So, Shopping campaign is premised on 1) a setting up Google merchant Account, 2) submitting your product feed to Google Shopping and 3) setting the campaign up with your Adwords. On average, shopping campaign are more cost efficient and allow for retail-centric campaign management. For example, if you sell women’s wear, you can see all the types of wear in your data feed, and create campaigns for the types of shoes you want to promote.   

Setting a shopping campaign is rather easy as BigCommerce is a ‘Shopping-ready’ platform and each step is already well documented with BigCommerce.

So, to create a Google Merchant Account, please, follow the instructions by the link: https://support.bigcommerce.com/questions/1533/How+do+I+create+a+Google+Merchant+Account%3F

Once you have verified your site, you are ready to enable your products for Google Shopping. To do that, please follow instructions set forth with Selling on Google Shopping article. Here you will want to: 
  1. Map your categories, 
  2. Enable Your Products Individually 
  3. Create a Data Feed in Google 
  4. Submit Your Products to Google 

e-Commerce Tracking

Before Google Analytics can report ecommerce activity for your website, you must enable ecommerce tracking on the view (profile) settings page for your website. To do that, Log in to your Google Analytics Account, Go to Admin > ECommerce Settings, click Enable ECommerce.

After that, you must implement the e-Commerce tracking code through your BigCommerce Account. In this way, Analytics can link a specific referral source to a conversion or purchase.

So, to do that you will need to paste the E-Commerce Tracking Code as indicated below into your Bigcommerce Control Panel under Setup & Tools › Web Analytics. Importantly, you need to type your Google Analytics Tracking ID and your domain as indicated below.

To find your Tracking ID go to Admin > Property Settings.
Your domain is your site's URL.
Example of the correct script string below:

ga('create', 'UA-50767245-1', 'cnn.com');


E-Commerce tracking code


<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');


ga('create', 'YOUR GOOGLE ANALYTICS TRACKING ID', 'YOUR DOMAIN');
ga('send', 'pageview');
ga('require', 'ecommerce', 'ecommerce.js');


function trackEcommerce() {
this._addTrans = addTrans;
this._addItem = addItems;
this._trackTrans = trackTrans;
}
function addTrans(orderID,store,total,tax,shipping,city,state,country) {
ga('ecommerce:addTransaction', {
'id': orderID,
'affiliation': store,
'revenue': total,
'tax': tax,
'shipping': shipping,
'city': city,
'state': state,
'country': country
});
}
function addItems(orderID,sku,product,variation,price,qty) {
ga('ecommerce:addItem', {
'id': orderID,
'sku': sku,
'name': product,
'category': variation,
'price': price,
'quantity': qty
});
}
function trackTrans() {
ga('ecommerce:send');
}
var pageTracker = new trackEcommerce();
</script>
 


Goal tracking

There are a number of site analytic goals that you can and should track in your Bigcommerce store. The three ‘must have’ goals that any site owner should track are order placed, newsletter subscription and contact us made. For a nice and handy guide how to create these goals please see http://www.ecommercecounts.com/blog/bigcommerce-google-analytics-goals



Search and Replace Filter in Google Analytics


If you have not put no redirects for www / no www hostname's version as provided for in Global Meta data section above, you may receive a Redundant Hostname notification with Google Analytics. It means that your data come from different hostnames and a part of it may be missing. So, there is a way to cure that right in the Google Analytics. It;s called Filter View.

Go to Admin > Filter > Create New Filter. I named it Hostname Consolidation.

Choose Custom Filter Type tab. Select Search and Replace, Filter Field Hostname, Search String ^www., Replace String - leave empty (see example below).




Well, guys. Now you're all set for a successful eCommerce activity. 

Good luck!


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