Sneaky Little SEO Tip for BigCommerce And Interspire Shopping Cart

Maximising your internal linking structure really does make a huge difference to your “On Page SEO” efforts. Each page on your site passes a certain amount of PageRank through to every page that is linked to from that particular page.

Theory goes that the more often a page is linked to the more important it must be.

Taking this theory into account means we must hand out “link equity” fairly conservatively when putting our pages together, making sure you only link to pages that you have to, or are of utmost importance ie categories and products pages.

Now taking “link equity” into account, one thing that continues to bug me (and some may think that I am a bit pedantic) is the way that Interspire/BigCommerce have set up their templates to handle all these “Add to Cart” and “Choose Options” links that are scattered throughout the site (see image below).

Add to Cart Links

Unfortunately each of these links will pass a little bit of PageRank through to the Shopping Cart Page, which is really not a page that is likely to bring in a lot of search engine traffic. So it makes sense that we really don’t want to link to this page unless it’s absolutely necessary (i.e. the product page).

Now Interspire/BigCommerce do allow you to turn these links off via your administration panel (see image below), but unfortunately the technique that they use to make these links disappear doesn’t really make them totally disappear and they definitely don’t prevent search engines from following the links.

Add to Cart Dashboard

The way that the software application prevents you from seeing these links is through the use of the CSS display:none element. What happens is the link disappears from view on your browser but behind-the-scenes it is still there ready to be followed by the search engine spider. You can see this by looking at the HTML source code (see image below).

Add to Cart Source Code

The only way to really get rid of these links is to go into your template code and remove them manually. The code that you need to remove will look something like this:

<div class="ProductActionAdd" style="display:%%GLOBAL_HideActionAdd%%;">
<a href="%%GLOBAL_ProductURL%%"&gt;%%GLOBAL_ProductAddText%%&lt;/a>
</div>

The files that you will find this code are in the snippets folder and are as follows:

BrandProductsItem.html
CategoryProductsItem.html
HomeFeaturedProductsItem.html
HomeNewProductsItem.html
HomeSaleProductsItem.html
ProductVendorsOtherProductsItem.html
SearchResultProductGrid.html
SelectGiftWrapping
SideCategoryNewProducts.html
SideCategoryPopularProducts.html
SideCategoryTopSellers.html
SideNewProducts.html
SidePopularProducts.html
SideRecentlyViewedProducts.html
SideTopSellers.html
SideTopSellersFirst.html
SimilarProductsByCustomerViewsItem.html
TagProductsItem.html

As I said earlier some people may find this a bit pedantic, but I can assure you that if your chasing traffic in a competitive niche you need to do everything in your power to make sure that your link equity is getting through to your category and product pages, not your add to cart or login page.

Comments

  1. Great advice… and a good catch! ~~ As it turns out, this is an edit that I had already made… but *not* for the very good reasons that you explained. It never crossed my mind. ~~ In my case, I was merely trying to optimize my web pages by reducing the amount of unnecessary HTML. (Obviously, this was a minuscule improvement… but a little here, and a little there… it eventually adds up.)

    Thanks for your great site and information you provide!

    • Dave Beck says:

      hi Charles – you’re right in saying that, on page optimisation really is about “a little bit here and a little bit there”.

      I personally believe that we are seeing more and more focus on crawl efficiency as well. It only makes sense for Google to prefer websites that are easy to crawl, imagine the cost savings that they can make by judging a site by its “crawl equity”. You definitely don’t want to waste this by linking 20 times to your “add to cart” Page.

  2. Great spot. I actually switched the add to cart off for this reason, but didn’t think to check that the links had gone! Just come across your website and love it. Keep up the good work and the great info!

    • Dave Beck says:

      @Leon thank you for the feedback. It’s a shame that they didn’t use server side language to control this issue.

  3. Wouldn’t it be better to simply apply a no follow tag to these links so we don’t lose the functionality of the quick add to cart?

    • Dave Beck says:

      That’s a fair point Tim, and something that you would definitely want to do if you decide to use the add to cart functionality.

      Personally I’m not sure whether the nofollow tag is a good long-term solution. I would sooner just get rid of those links especially when they are being hidden with CSS. As I said in another comment it’s a shame they didn’t allow this to be controlled via a server side command.

  4. Wouldn’t adding the shopping cart URL to your robots.txt achieve the same result in retaining pagerank value?

    • Dave Beck says:

      @Rod — Whether you use robots.txt or nofollow you’re still going to leak some PageRank, especially when you consider how many times the add to cart page is linked. The only real way to prevent any PageRank leaking is to remove the links. The other problem with both of these methods is that they do not let any of the PageRank that the page acquires flow on to pages that are linked from the page. It certainly can get very messy.

  5. Having now had a look at my bigcommerce robots.txt file all the shopping cart options apperar to have already been included in the robots.txt

    I would be interested to know how to make the Home Page top line navigation menu Followme links and Nofollow on the other pages for all links other than the home page so I can direct the otherpages pagerank value back to the home page.

  6. Should this also include BrandProductsItem.html snippet? I’ve done the rest (thank you!) but of course there is still a quantity add to cart box on the Category browsing page.

    Codes a little different of course:

    %%GLOBAL_AddToCartQty%%

    Great stuff, using the SEO module too, glad I found you. I’m fairly clueless about SEO and seems like something comes up everyday but you’ve plugged some big holes and the results are obvious if no where else but my Google reports.

    • Thanks for the feedback Jeff, it’s always good to hear things are working well for others.

      I have just checked the article and BrandProductsItem.html appears to be in the list of files that are nominated for updating. Let me know if I have misunderstood you.

      %%GLOBAL_AddToCartQty%% refers to be drop-down menu or input text field that is located on the category and product pages. You don’t need to worry about removing this as it only refers to the quantity of products to add to the shopping cart. It’s also important to remember this method of adding the product to your shopping cart it is much more search engine friendly as it takes place in a form unlike the other add to cart method which is posted via a link.

  7. Lol, all day on an annoying little bug, must have pasted the wrong file name in my haze though I did post the correct Global. 1 out of 2 isn’t bad right?

    I did in fact make the edit to BrandProductsItem.html and meant to talk about the file you’ve responded to (CategoryProductsItemList.html).

    Just wanted to make sure that the text field/block, in my case, was ok to leave as is and that it wouldn’t adversely effect me.

    I laugh now when I think of how many duplicates I had on an old cart in addition to the already non-SEO Urls there. Your module is awesome and love the no brainer stuff (given the lack of brain).

    I’m anxiously waiting for you next article, I have to believe I’m STILL missing something that would help.

    Thanks for the super quick responses too which I didn’t expect.

  8. Wow, I never thought of this before, and I didn’t know that those links will have any impact on the pagerank of the page. But you are right, if you are in a really competitive niche, we should take the trouble and remove the links completely. Good tips!

  9. A little over a year ago I removed all of those options via the source code and noticed a fairly significant increase in rankings. While that is not the sole reason, I believe it certainly helped. I have also done other under the hood tweaks that seem to be working very well. Great article!

  10. Hi Dave, some fantastic articles you have on the site, I have followed a few and found the way you teach to be excellent for people who dont have a lot of knowledge about CSS, have bookmarked your site and gave you a +1, brilliant keep it up.

    Thanks ..John

  11. Hi thanks for the tip
    I have applied them because we need all the edge we can get in this market

    angela

  12. I have a question when it comes to removing the Add to Cart links. When you remove them, does that decrease your conversion rate at all? What do you do instead of using those links…? Can you explain a little bit about how you’d recode it…?

    • It definitely could affect your conversion rate, so any recommended change such as this comes with the caveat that you must test and that results will vary widely from site to site.

      Personally for my sites I just remove the link as I really haven’t found it has any negative impact on conversion rates.

      As for how you would code the add to cart link, the easiest solution for most would be to use a nofollow. The other more popular option would be to embed the link inside a form, which traditionally is not followed by a search engine.

  13. Rather than remove these links, is it possible to simply make them no follow? Any experience with this? I’m moving a client from the GoDaddy cart to BC right now. I may try this with a test store this week.

    By the way, your blog is a gem. This is probably one of the most useful shopping cart blogs I’ve come across. So many “eCommerce” blogs are loaded with useless posts. This is all actionable stuff that is highly valuable. Plus, knowing little tweaks like this gives me an edge, which is especially helpful when my strong suite is conversion optimization, tracking, and sales.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. Yes, Moved this links will can help SEO, but is there Nobody click this likes to buy the products?

    • Like any significant change you make you really need to make sure that you’re performing split testing and then weigh up the risk averse reward of making such a change.

  15. Also include the file – Snippets/SideCategoryNewProducts.html.

    Thanks.

  16. Thank you, Dave!

    I was looking for the solution on how to remove the “Choose Options” and found your wonderful article. I am going to study more on how I can improve my website.

  17. Hi Dave,

    I on working on this new project of mine using big commerce and I am using a lot of Add to Cart Links on my front page as part of the design and I think it is also a good call to action. Do you know of a way to make “add to cart” button no-follow rather than remove it completely?

  18. thank you, i like it
    I on working on this new project of mine using big commerce and I am using a lot of Add to Cart Links on my front page as part of the design and I think it is also a good call to action. Do you know of a way to make “add to cart” button no-follow rather than remove it completely?

  19. Dave,

    Thanks for the great write up. How about the following (BigCommerce has likely changed since you wrote).

    CategoryProductsItemList.html
    SearchResultProductList.html — Definitely should be removed!

    Pretty sure they should both be gone! I’ve removed with success.

    Thanks again.

    Alex

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