With eCommerce gradually becoming more popular, the number of platforms you can use to build your online store is increasing each day. In fact, there are now more than 500 eCommerce platforms to choose from.
Regardless of whether you are building your first store or looking to expand, choosing the right platform out of so many options can be difficult.
One of the most important factors to look for is how well a platform supports SEO. It may be great for all kinds of other initiatives, but if you don't choose an SEO-friendly eCommerce platform that makes it easy to rank, it’s going to make it difficult to turn a profit, too.
The Best eCommerce Platforms for SEO – Which One Is King of the Hill?
As I mentioned earlier, you’re not lacking for options when looking for eCommerce platforms. Even if youonlyfocus on the best ones for SEO, you’ll still have plenty to consider.
If the thought of assessing the pros and cons of dozens of different platforms doesn’t somehow sound like the perfect way to spend the next few weeks, I’ve put together a list of seven that I think are the best eCommerce platforms for SEO on the market.
One of the top players in eCommerce platforms is BigCommerce. Among the many advantages that make BigCommerce so popular is that it’s super easy to use, especially for those with little-to-no technical knowledge.
The SEO Advantages of BigCommerce
Because it’s very easy to use, BigCommerce has become popular among eCommerce owners who lack technical skills but don’t want a site that reflects this. For these owners, this eCommerce platform offers the flexibility they need to create their site without having an extensive grasp of coding.
Complementing this flexibility is that BigCommerce also has an extremely user-friendly interface. Along with several features that help make the shopping experience more enjoyable, italsooffers more than 40 payment options, which means it’s super convenient for customers.
BigCommerce offers several SEO-friendly features. One of the best is that it has built-in 301 redirects. As products are discontinued or categories are updated, many eCommerce site owners simply delete their outdated pages and create brand-new ones to replace them.
Unfortunately, this kills off any SEO benefits the old page had brought to the overall site. With built-in 301 redirects, anyone can quickly create them to redirect any visitors who used the old link to the new page.
BigCommerce lets you customize your URLs and, again, no coding required. This makes it easy to create SEO-friendly options that are descriptive while still including plenty of relevant keywords for Google to scan.
Being able to edit robot.txt files means you can specify the URLs that you don’t want robots to crawl. This is another SEO-friendly operation BigCommerce supports through its interface, so you can block search engines from crawling non-HTML pages (ex., pdfs) - a big waste of your precious crawl budget.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of BigCommerce
Slow Load Times
One of the biggest drawbacks of using BigCommerce is slow-loading pages.
Let’s face it--no one likes to stare at a screen waiting for a page to load, especially when shopping online. That’s why 40% of visitors abandon websites that take longer than three seconds to load. Slow site speed repels customers, leads to less site traffic, and will lower rankings in search results. In fact, slow-loading pages lead to $2.6 billion in lost revenue every year!
Price also plays a big role when choosing an eCommerce platform. Unfortunately, BigCommerce can get fairly expensive.
If you’re currently making under $400,000 in sales in a year and you don’t foresee that changing anytime soon, BigCommerce is affordable. You’ll be able to pick from any of the three following plans they offer:
Obviously, as you go up in price, you’ll enjoy more features.
That said, once you exceed $400,000 in sales, you’ll need to pay an extra $150 a month per every $200,000 you add. For a lot of companies, this would easily take them into Magento territory, one of the best eCommerce platforms for SEO, but also one that comes with a hefty price tag.
If your store is generating millions a year, it might be worth considering the many benefits of using Magento.
In fact, let’s look at its SEO advantages right now.
Another big player in eCommerce platforms is Magento. It’s fully customizable, which gives you complete control over its design and selling features.It This level of customization will give any eCommerce site owner the ability to sell products efficiently and effectively no matter how big their inventory is.
The SEO Advantages of Magento
Magento is super adaptable because it’s open source, so it gives site owners the ability to change any of its features based on their needs. If you want a custom-designed checkout process or a unique layout that would be better for SEO, you are free to change these components as much as you want.
Magento’s flexible and customizable design is a major advantage because it allows maximum creativity, not to mention the ability to adapt as the needs of your expanding business changes. At IWD, we’ve made a number of these kinds of changes for clients specifically for SEO reasons.
Because of how customizable it is, Magento is definitely one of the best eCommerce platforms for SEO. You can add any coding necessary to improve your rankings and search results. There’s no limit to the number of alterations you can make to increase traffic and maximize your sales.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of Magento
Steep Learning Curve
Now the bummer--Magento’s highly-customizable interface depends heavily on technical acumen. If you have no technical experience with building a site, you should consider Magento off-limits. The countless advantages of this eCommerce platform also make it incredibly complex, so unless you want to spend at least a year learning all of its ins and outs, you’ll need to hire someone to help.
There’s no way around it: Magento costs a lot. Just the basic version with limited features can run you about $20,000 per year. If you need your version to come with extra features, that’s going to cost you more.
For many, spending roughly the same amount to hire a web design company is a more attractive prospect as they could customize much of their site that way from scratch.
Shopify has grown in popularity in recent years because it offers great, easy-to-use tools for beginners. Most business owners who are on their first site choose Shopify for this reason. They don’t want to wait months to start selling.
Compared to other platforms, Shopify is a fairly affordable option for business owners who are working with tight budgets. Shopify’s pricing is broken down by plan like this:
There’s also an enterprise-level option for this popular eCommerce platform. Shopify Plus is priced accordingly with plans starting at $2,000/month.
The SEO Advantages of Shopify
For those who have little coding knowledge (or none at all), Shopify is super easy to use because it lets you pick a template, design your layout, and add any apps and features you need to build and launch your online shop.
It also offers one of the strongest tracking features among eCommerce platforms. Tracking your site metrics is extremely important for getting the most out of your SEO strategies. Shopify integrates with Google Analytics, so you can monitor your leads, conversions, and overall site traffic. This kind of built-in functionality makes Shopify the most user-friendly interface of the seven SEO-friendly eCommerce platforms on our list.
That said, if you do need to hire a Shopify developer, you won't lack for options because of the platform's popularity.
Blogs are still crucial to a successful SEO marketing strategy no matter what industry you are in. The easier it is for business owners to create SEO-optimized blogs for their sites, the easier it will be for them to start attracting traffic from Google.
Shopify has built-in blogging features that are great for driving more site traffic. It couldn’t be easier to publish engaging content that addresses the specific needs and wants of your target audience.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of Shopify
Uneditable Robots.txt Files
Shopify is not without some SEO shortcomings, though. A big one is that you can’t edit your robots.txt files. In SEO, robots.txt files tell search engines which pages to crawl.
When you can’t edit your roberts.txt file, it’s more difficult to control which pages Google will crawl. Your site becomes vulnerable because a search engine like Google might inundate it with too many requests. Those requests might not always be for the right pages, either, making their load times slower.
No Custom URLs
Another big drawback is that you can’t customize your URLs to better reflect the topic and content for a page, which is vital to do in SEO. Google uses your URL to understand the context of your eCommerce site. Having a fixed structure for your URLs may also make it more difficult for customers to remember what your site was about at first glance.
Shopify is a great beginner tool for your SEO-optimized eCommerce store, but keep in mind that it’s limited customization abilities with robot.txt files and URLs are major trade-offs because it becomes more difficult for search engines (and your customers) to understand your pages.
One of the more cost-effective SEO eCommerce platforms is Squarespace. Not only is it very affordable. It also offers more than 100 templates for creating your online store.
Squarespace’s pricing is broken down by plan:
So, how does it do with SEO-related features?
The SEO Advantages of Squarespace
Great for Bloggers
Squarespace is another eCommerce platform that is great for blogging and content marketing. You can quickly create content on your site that will generate traffic from Google. It’s fairly comparable to Shopify in terms of how user-friendly its blogging feature is.
Mobile-Friendly Out of the Box
In today’s digital world where so many of your potential customers are always on the go, mobile-ready features are essential for any eCommerce platform that claims to support SEO initiatives. More than 90% of customers shop on their mobile devices, making it all the more important for your platform to be mobile-responsive.
Fortunately, Squarespace works great on smartphones and has great mobile-friendly capabilities.
Squarespace offers great support services with its community of users. It creates a channel for exchange and dialogue between users of the platform, users you can reach out to for any problems or questions about optimizing your site for SEO.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of Using Squarespace
Site owners frequently complain about the usability of this platform. Squarespace lacks some of the essential features for building an eCommerce site, including the ability to undo or autosave changes.
It’s not that this has a direct effect on SEO, but when you’re constantly trying to optimize your site, nothing is more frustrating than having to go back and redo work that you forgot to save.
Unsuitable for Large Businesses
Squarespace offers a simple platform that is not as suitable for large enterprises with complex structure and navigation. It also doesn’t support multiple languages or currencies, which is essential if you are a global company or hoping to be so at some point in the near future.
Volusion offers another very user-friendly eCommerce platform that’s great for SEO. It’s alsoanotherwith a very reasonable price range:
Here are some of its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to SEO.
The SEO Advantages of Volusion
SEO-Friendly Right Away
Volusion offers numerous SEO-related tools that make it much easier to optimize your site. These include custom URLs and 301 redirects, which are two of the most important aspects of any SEO-ready website.
Lots of Free Resources
One of the best things about Volusion is that it offers a lot of tutorials and free resources if you get stuck.
Oddly enough, this really does set Volusion apart from the majority of eCommerce platforms. Far too many of them come with little-to-no instruction or help with troubleshooting technical problems.
Having a lot of technical guides and support will make setting up your store a much smoother experience.Potential SEO Drawbacks of Volusion
No Built-In Blog
One of this eCommerce platform’s major SEO downfalls is that it doesn’t come with a built-in blogging tool. If content marketing is your priority and you are looking for a fast and easy way to create the content you need for your site, Volusion becomes a less attractive choice because you’ll need to find an alternative for adding blogs to your site.
Slow Loading Times
As I mentioned earlier, if your site’s pages load slowly, your chances of SEO success are going to suffer significantly.
Of course, even if visitors are able to find your site, slow load times will increase bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, and overall rates of users hating your site.
None of those are good things.
WooCommerce is a great option for those with an existing WordPress website because the plugin offers eCommerce features specific for this platform. As such, many of its SEO advantages relate directly to how well it works with WordPress.
The SEO Advantages of WooCommerce
Again, because it can be used with dozens of plugins specific to WordPress, WooCommerce is super customizable. That’s great news if you need an especially unique website for your especially unique business.
However, this level of customization is also awesome for giving your eCommerce site lots of SEO-friendly features you can use to get an edge on the competition.
Great Customer Support
Since WooCommerce works alongside WordPress, it gives you access to WP’s huge support network. As one of the biggest open-source website-building platforms, WordPress continuously changes and offers new and improved plugins. You’ll have tons of support from users who can help answer questions or troubleshoot any issues with these plugins, so you’re always able to use them to their full potential.
Loads of SEO-Friendly Features
Like some of the other platforms on this list of SEO-friendly eCommerce platforms, WooCommerce offers a lot of helpful features for driving traffic. These include custom URLs, built-in blogging, robot txt.files editing, and a mobile-friendly interface.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of WooCommerce
There’s a Decent Learning Curve
In a way, WooCommerce’s biggest advantage is also its biggest drawback.
Because as effective a WordPress plugin as it is, you need to have a WordPress site and understand how to optimize it in order to use WooCommerce for SEO. Otherwise, get ready to spend a lot of time learning about the platform, which will take valuable time away from growing traffic to your store.
You’ll Need to Download Lots of Plugins
One of the main reasons I can’t call WooCommerce the best eCommerce platform for SEO (shoot - spoiler alert) is because, while there are so many plugins to choose from, you still have to comb through them all to find the right ones for your specific website.
Then, you need to actually go through and install them and, oh yeah, learn how they work, too. Even after all that, you have to double-check to make sure all of your new, shiny plugins will play well together. Otherwise, forget SEO, you’ll have enough trouble just getting your site to work.
Originally an open-source blogging platform, WordPress has become hugely popular for building SEO-optimized eCommerce sites. Part of its appeal is that it offers a free (with ads) customizable platform.
Another is that users are constantly creating new functionality for WordPress by adding new themes, extensions, and functionalities. WordPress’s potential is nearly limitless and not just where SEO is concerned, either.
Best of all, WordPress is very affordable. It’s arguably the best eCommerce platform for SEO if you’re on a tight budget as you can start a site for free (not including hosting fees, etc.). Of course, you'd also want help from an experienced developer to make the necessary changes to turn your WordPress site into one that was ready for eCommerce.
Nonetheless, let’s move on to the matter at hand: how WordPress does with SEO.
The SEO Advantages of WordPress
Plugins. Plugins. Plugins.
WordPress has a tonof plugins, which make it easy to customize your eCommerce site for SEO purposes – among other things.
The Yoast Plugin is a perfect example of a WordPress plugin that will instantly improve your eCommerce site’s SEO. Yoast has become an SEO authority in its own right over the last decade, so it should come as no surprise that their user-friendly plugin helps with generating traffic, too. This plugin can do a lot, including giving you immediate feedback on how optimized a page is before you even publish it.
This is especially helpful if you’re brand-new to eCommerce SEO.
A GIGANTIC Community for Support
WordPress site owners not only enjoy an endless supply of plugins but many technical guides, tutorials, and troubleshooting resources, too. With a big community of users, you’ll be able to quickly overcome obstacles that may be hurting your chances of generating traffic.
Potential SEO Drawbacks of WordPress
Not So “User-Friendly”
WordPress has a reputation for being user-friendly, but this can be misleading because, at times, using WordPress can also be extremely overwhelming.
If you want to create an SEO-friendly eCommerce website with dozens or even hundreds of pages, you’ll have to dedicate a significant amount of time mastering this platform first - something you won’t be able to do over the weekend.
To optimize even a modest WordPress eCommerce site for SEO will also require a good deal of technical experience. If you don’t have that, you can’t expect a quick setup process, even with so many plugins at their disposal.
And Not SEO-Friendly
Keep in mind that SEO tools do not work as built-in features in WordPress starter templates. So, you have to find and add these features as you build your site, which makes the platform, by default, not so SEO-friendly.
Just like with technical experience, WordPress can be a great eCommerce platform for SEO if you already have a handle on what’s required to generate traffic. Among other things, you’ll know exactly which plugins will help you get those valuable visitors.
But if you don’t have that experience just yet, it’s going to be a steep uphill climb optimizing your eCommerce site for SEO.
And the Best SEO eCommerce Platform Is…
…it depends (sorry).
If you have the budget and the learning curve isn’t an issue because you plan on hiring experts to help, the best eCommerce platform for SEO isprobablyMagento.
Between its ability to support thousands of pages, the complete customization it offers, and how SEO-friendly it is right out of the box, Magento is an easy platform to recommend –ifyou can afford it.
In fairness, that’s definitely a big “if.”
Otherwise, you still have plenty of options. Here’s how I would choose an eCommerce platform that’s good for SEO depending on your business:
- For Business Owners Prioritizing Price and Ease-of-Use:Shopify, Squarespace, Volusion
- For Medium-Sized Business Owners: BigCommerce, WooCommerce, WordPress
- For Business Owners with a Large Budget:Magento
Of course, I know it’s a little more complicated than that.
There are plenty of exceptions to the “rules” above.
And, as I touched on earlier, the right eCommerce website development services are important to make the most out of any of these opportunities.
So, if you’re looking for an eCommerce platform that will make SEO a breeze, we’d be happy to make a recommendation. Contact our eCommerce consultants and they'll use their experience to help you make the best possible decision for your unique business.