If there is one aspect of web development that produces more myths, unsubstantiated hunches and pseudo-science, it's SEO. Store owners understandably want to improve the rankings of their stores. But don't lose sight of the most important things to increase traffic - good content and good incoming links.

There is no magic wand, and anyone promising miraculous increases in traffic with minor tweaks to the format of pages or URLs should be regarded with some skepticism.

Kartris is designed to run on a single domain. If multiple domains are mapped to the same web, Kartris will 301-redirect any requests to the domain set in the general.webshopurl config setting. This helps channel page rank and links towards the preferred domain.

For example, many sites have both domain.xyz and www.domain.xyz pointing to their site. Kartris will redirect to the preferred one of these if someone uses the other one where necessary. While this has no real impact from an SEO point of view (there really aren't the duplicate content issues as we'll cover later), it does ensure that all users are using the same domain always, which is important for cookies

Meta-tags are three common HTML tags that appear in the 'HEAD' section of the HTML code of most pages:

<meta name="description" content="Content Here" />
<meta name="keywords" content="Content Here" />
<title>Content Here</title>

The 'title' tag contains the text that will display at the very top window bar when the page is open in a browser. It is also the page title that a search engine will typically show as the main hyperlink in its search results.

The meta tag for 'description' gives a summary of what the page contains. Typically this will be the additional test just under the hyperlink in a search engine result.

The meta tag for 'keywords' contains extra keywords that are relevant to the page but is not displayed in search results, and is not read by Google and most search engines. So we tend to leave this blank.

Because Kartris forms pages around a standard template, these tags are not present in the template; instead the tags are created dynamically by Kartris for every page.

You can set the Kartris defaults for the meta-tags using the following language strings:

ContentText_DefaultMetaDescription

ContentText_DefaultMetaKeywords

In places where no other data is available, Kartris will fall back on the values here. But in most cases, it will find more page-specific data to use if possible. As mentioned earlier, the meta-keywords tag is not read by Google and most major search engines, so is probably best left blank so as not to increase page sizes unnecessarily.

Kartris will do a fairly good job of filling meta-tags and page title for pages automatically. For example, on a product page, it will use the product name in the title tag, and fill the description with a truncated section of text from the product description. The keywords will generally use the ContentText_DefaultMetaKeywords value.

But you can override these default values in many cases.

For example, when creating or editing a product, category, knowledgebase article or custom page, you can open extra fields with the [+]SEO link. This allows you to override the default values that Kartris will insert, and specify the exact text you want to appear.

This can be useful if you want to keep the product or category name short and concise, but have the page title itself longer and with more keywords to help improve page indexing.

Kartris can format 'friendly' URLs. You may wish to optimize the text/name part of the URL for products and categories using the URL Name box. This allows you to replace the default value (normally the item name) with whatever text you prefer to use.

You should only enter keywords or text here, not full URLs. The values entered are used for the text part of the URL. But the numeric part and file extension are required and cannot be removed.

One frequent point that SEOs raise is the so-called 'duplicate content penalty'. The claim is that having a page accessible with multiple URLs will harm search engine ranking, or even (according to some SEOs) have you booted from Google for spamming.

In reality, as the official Google blog makes clear (see link below), you will not be penalized for this. In fact, Google will even do a good job of recognizing multiple URLs that point to the same page, pooling them and their page rank.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html

But in order to eliminate any doubt, Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo all now recognize the 'canonical' tag. This lets you specify within the source of a page which URL that page should be indexed as. So even if it is reachable through multiple navigation routes, you will tell Google the preferred URL to use. Kartris forms canonical links automatically within pages, so you don't need to activate anything in this regard.

Google's official position is that it takes the canonical tag as a strong hint, rather than obeying it absolutely.

301-redirects were commonly used as a method of getting the preferred URL indexed by search engines prior to the canonical tag being introduced. The problem with using 301-redirects is that it loses 'location awareness' in a URL. For example, a product 'laptop' can be in multiple categories, and the folder hierarchy in the URL will be different for the same item depending on the route you use to navigate to it.

Using 301-redirects means that end users, as well as search engines, only get to see a single URL, and therefore lose location awareness through the hierarchy and breadcrumb trail.

Using the canonical tag is better because it allows us to pass location specific information through the URL, giving users a clear idea of where the product lies within the category structure, while at the same time notifying search engines that it is a single page, with a preferred URL.

On database driven applications like Kartris, a single page such as Product.aspx is used to display every single product in the store. Since extra information needs to be passed to it to tell it which product to display, the URLs (web addresses) typically contain extra parameters and values passed to the page.

For example:

http://www.demo.xyz/Product.aspx?ProductID=10

As more information is passed, the URL can become longer and messier.

To overcome this, Kartris at default creates 'friendly' URLs, which appear like static page addresses (rather than a single page with dynamic information passed to it as parameters). When properly configured, this will make the site appear (both to users and search engines) as a collection of 'static' pages in a folder hierarchy, just as if every product was on its very own page and these pages were sorted into folders.

Despite what many SEOs believe, there is little if any evidence that the format of the URL has any influence on search results (though it may well have done many years ago). Google's official blog says that it doesn't, and even goes as far as to suggest not rewriting URLs.

The format of Kartris's 'friendly' URLs still includes numbers, just before the .aspx at the end. It is not possible to remove this as the numbers are used by the system to locate the content. This is very similar to the URL format used by Amazon and the BBC, that uses numbers within a static format of URL.

You can turn friendly URLs on or off from the general.seofriendlyurls.enabled config setting.

Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a 'Google Sitemap' since Google was the first to popularize this, it provides a direct route for search engines to find all the pages on a site without having to spider the site (following all links). On a large site in particular, it can help notify Google of new pages. It doesn't really help in rankings at all, it's purely a method of discovery, so smaller sites or sites where the content does not change regularly will get less benefit.


Versions 1.4 and earlier created the file in a 'temp' directory, but the file really needs to be in the root of the site to have an effect (as sitemaps can only cover pages below themselves), so would need to be copied across. Kartris v2 creates the file in the root of the site itself, though this will require write permissions there.

Google Products (formerly 'Froogle' and several other names) is a searchable system that requires highly formatted product data to be submitted. Unlike general web spidering where it must try to pick content from all manner of pages, the formatted nature of the data submitted means it has a clear unambiguous understanding of product names, prices and other details.

Kartris contains a tool to generate this feed automatically in the back end. Navigate to Miscellaneous > Generate Feeds and then click to to generate the Google Products feed file. The recommended format is RSS (XML). The page will tell you the location of the file produced so that you can submit it to Google.

It is important to note that Google Products has a number of required attributes. The required values are detailed here:

Google Product Feed Specification

By default, Kartris will create the following attributes in the feed:

<g:id>[the version code / SKU]</g:id>
<title>[the version or product name]</title>
<description>[the product description]</description>
<g:price>[the item price]</g:price>
<link>[the canonical URL of the item]</link>
<g:image_link>[link to the full size image file for the item]</g:image_link>
<g:condition>[value set in the dropdown when generating the feed]</g:condition>

To add further required values to the feed, you must create special use product attributes. In the the back end, navigate to Products > Product Attributes and click to create a new one. Name the attribute as Google requires (see their specification) and ensure you check the 'Google special use' checkbox. This attribute will then appear in the attributes tab when you edit a product, allowing you to add the appropriate value. This information will then be incorporated the next time you run the Google Products feed.

Because attributes are created at product level, if you have items with multiple versions that require different custom attributes to be sent to Google, these would have to be separated out to be single version products at present.

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