SEO Optimization

Guidance for improving ranking in search engines

Best Practices for Optimizing SEO

First and foremost, make sure you understand who your customers are, how they write their search terms when seeking for something you offer, and what their real needs/wants are. Specifically, understand what problems your products actually solve and how your customers will feel after they buy the product you offer for solving those problems.

Then use that information in your category, product, page content and metatags.

Specific areas to focus on:

  • product descriptions and titles. Make sure that the most-likely search terms for each product are reflected in title and description. Ideally 2-3 times on the page. (Never “stuff” keywords dozens of times on a page.)
  • product metatags: title, description, and keywords. Make sure to optimize these for search engines to show in search results.
  • category names and descriptions and metatags. Make sure that the common search terms for each category’s products are found in the category description and metatags

Keywords: defined

“keywords” = “popular search terms”, specifically the terms used to shop for any specific product or research a certain category of products.

To clarify again, the point here is: when you think about “keywords”, don’t think about “a magical term”. Think about “the phrases people search with” when they’re shopping for a solution to their problem, for which your product provides a solution.

Think in the mind of the customer who is looking for an answer to a problem. This is the added “edge” that a lot of people never consider, and adjusting to this can boost your results.


Consider that the category/subcategory pages drive most of the visitors to your site from search engine results. You should find a lot of traffic to these pages.

Secondarily you also want to see a decent share of traffic coming to product pages from long-tail search terms/phrases (longer, more product-specific search queries).

Analyze performance (which products/pages get decent traffic) 3-6 months after making changes. Then go through and adjust. Even consider removing things that don’t get traffic or don’t sell.


For EVERY INDIVIDUAL page, category, product on your site, look at these parts:

Parts To Look At
Page Title (Product/Category Name, or EZ-Page Title)
Page Content (eg: Product/Category description, or Article text)
Metatags Title (This will be shown in search results)
Metatags Description (This is the sub-text shown in search results)
Metatags Keywords (These are used by your own store’s search, and can be partially helpful to search engines)

And ask yourself these questions:

Questions To Ask About EACH Part
Is it helpful?
Is the content Unique? (Not the same as on any other website)
Does it use phrases a customer would search with?
What problem does it say it solves/answers for a buyer? Is that what the customer would ask a search engine?
For images, do they provide value to the shopper? Are they unique (not the same as on any other website)?
Why do customers want to buy your products/services? (Ask them directly!) Work those answers into content on your site.
Do customers think in the same “terminology” words that I’m writing on my website and products and category names and descriptions?

Category pages

Good quality category pages that line up well with popular search terms is key, as that’s where the bulk of traffic comes in on ecommerce websites.

Find out what popular keywords your site is already ranking for on pages 2 or 3 of Google and other search engines. Make sure that your category and subcategory pages line up with those keywords, by building those search phrases into your category descriptions and metatags.

And then work on ways to establish good links to those pages from other websites. (See “backlinks” below).

Product pages

Focus first on your top 10 to 50 products.

Identify the popular (high search-volume) search terms for each product you sell. Not only on your own website, but everywhere. Then optimize your product pages for those search terms by building those phrases into your content.

Make sure that you write unique valuable text on these pages – DO NOT use stock manufacturer text that could be found on any other website.

Be sure to have a paragraph of three or four sentences and build in the primary keyword (search phrases) into that text at least twice, in a way that feels totally human and natural.

If there are a lot of different keywords/phrases that relate to your product, consider writing Articles/Blogs that use those words/phrases more heavily than your product descriptions do. The “authority” given to your product by the “other page” can be more beneficial than having too many of those words in the product description itself.

Links to your site, from other sites, are important. While it’s ideal if those other sites are in the same industry that’s not always important. If what you sell is useful then there are certainly related sites out there writing about “how to use” your products, etc.

Consider being a guest on a popular podcast whose listeners would use your products, as “links to your site in their site’s show notes” can be beneficial.

You could publish YouTube videos related to your products, such as how-to-use them, what exact “real world problems the product solves”, etc. Be sure the videos contain meaningful content, and aren’t posted just to create a link. Remember: meaningful content is more important than just creating links or stuffing keywords.

Be creative about other similar possibilities.

Internal Linking

Zen Cart cross-links product and category pages extensively in a way that’s logical for most visitors

However, if you write content on EZ-Pages or other places on your site, you should include links to the specific products that your page content is referring to.

And, if you have products that are related to other products, where it feels like it would be logical to link to another product from its description, add links to connect them.

Articles and other content

EZ-Pages can be a place to write articles that can educate customers, celebrate creative uses of your products, and highlight success stories.

Articles should contain keywords (phrases) that your customers are searching for. And these articles should contain links to the products that your articles are referring to.

Work on getting backlinks to your articles which line up with popular search terms for your site or the products discussed on those pages.

Consider some of the following references:

Plugins To Consider

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified May 13, 2024 by Scott Wilson (8e14df8).