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e-Commerce Industry News

September 16, 2014
Missing content can be a serious setback for retail websites
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September 16, 2014
Search engine presence is a must for retailers. Search engine presence is
a must for retailers.
Search engines play a pivotal role in driving people to retail websites. According to the College of Marketing, as many as 93 percent of all online activities begin with a simple search through a site such as Google, and that includes shopping.

As such, retailers need to pay special attention to their websites and search engine optimization. Of course, retail sites should always be designed with the customer in mind and in a way that encourages them to make purchases. But search engines should be the second target audience, as appearing high on the search engine results page can greatly improve traffic.

So, what is the biggest flaw that many retail websites encounter? According to Practical eCommerce contributor Jill Kocher, missing content can present a huge hole in SEO attempts. If certain pages no longer function or there are broken links, search engines often have difficulty crawling and indexing pages, which can negatively impact SEO efforts.

"The most frequently seen errors bear a server header status of 404 file not found and 500 internal server error," Kocher explained. "Any error in the 400 to 500 range will prevent search engines from crawling some portion or all of your site. The team that manages your server knows all about these errors and works to prevent them, but 400-range errors in particular tend to be page-specific and more difficult to root out."

This can be devastating to retailers' online sales efforts, as when crawlers cannot access a site, these pages essentially do not exist.

With many retailers relying on omnichannel retailing to engage prospects, the website is a core part of these operations. SEO is a must, and people will have trouble finding a retailer's digital presence if it does not appear on search engines.