About Meta Tags and Search Engines
Meta Tags do not carry the kind of page ranking importance that they did years ago, and today most search engines ignore the Keywords Meta Tag, and - according to some experts – Google's page ranking algorithm ignores both the Keywords and the Description Meta Tags.
Yet, Meta Tags still play a role in your overall search engine optimization strategy and experts agree that the Title Meta Tag is still a factor in Search Engine page rankings. Also, Keyword Meta Tags are used by ProductCart's storefront search script, so it's a good practice to enter relevant terms in the Product Keywords field (more on this *below). Also, under some circumstances, the meta description might be used as the description in the search engine result pages (SERPs), thus influencing the user to click on a given result. Providing a meaningful description has a positive effect on the click-through rate (CTR).
Beyond search engines, a Title that matches the page content definitely makes sense and allows for better bookmarks, for example. So take advantage of the features mentioned below to associate good Meta Tags - especially the Title - with your store pages.
ProductCart and the Meta Keywords* Since not all Web users search the same way, ProductCart's search logic is designed to cast the widest net possible when fishing for results... so if a visitor enters the search words: patio chair - the query looks for any results with the word 'patio' OR 'chair'... not just results that contain both. The search is performed against the specific Fields:
- Product Name
- Product SKU
- Product Description
- Product's Meta Tag Keywords (on the Product Details Page in the ProductCart Control Panel)
However, the Advanced Search Page (search.asp) allows customers to specify: "Search on exact phrase." if they want to limit results to Products that contain "patio chair" together.
How Meta Tags are handled
Imagine an e-commerce store that has 500 categories and 5,000 products: it would be close to impossible for the store manager to manually add Meta Tags to all of them one by one. The code that you have added to header.asp will take care of automatically creating the Title, Description, and Keyword Meta Tags for every page in the storefront (see Integrating ProductCart with your own store design for info on how to properly create a header).
ProductCart will automatically generate them based on product and category information available in the store catalog. Let’s take a closer look at this feature and see how you can take advantage of it. First, confirm that your header.asp file contains the following code towards the top of the page.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> <!--#include file="include-metatags.asp"--> <html> <head> <%Session.LCID = 1033 if pcv_PageName<>"" then%> <title><%=pcv_PageName%></title> <%end if%> <%GenerateMetaTags()%> <%Response.Buffer=True%>
Among these lines of code are the ones that deal with the dynamic generation of Meta Tags. The following include statement:
…loads onto the page the file that takes care of this task for you. The file is called include-metatags.asp and is found in the pc folder.
How Meta Tags are created
Meta tags are added to the page as follows, in the following order (e.g. think of a product details page):
- Store Manager-Specified Meta Tags
If Meta Tags have been specified for a product, a category or a content page (*) using the ProductCart Control Panel (when adding or modifying a category, a product or a content page), then that information is used on the corresponding product or category page. This feature was introduced with ProductCart v3.
- Automatically Generated Tags
If Meta Tags have not been specified, ProductCart automatically generates them using the category/product/page name for the Title, and a portion of the category/product/page description for the Description tag. If you have thousands of products and therefore are unable to manually enter optimized Meta Tags for each of them, this feature provides a sensible solution.
- Default Meta Tags
For pages other than product and category pages (e.g. “View shopping cart”, “Search”, etc.), ProductCart uses the default Meta Tags that are found in the file pc/include-metatags.asp.
(*) Meta Tags for Content Pages were introduced with the ProductCart v3.51 update, a free update for version 3.x users.
Editing the Default Meta Tags
Make sure to edit pc/include-metatags.asp before launching your store to replace the default content with yours. Otherwise, you will see that many of your pages carry the “ProductCart shopping cart software” Title tag. If that is the case, it means that the default tags still need to be edited.
To edit this file, do the following:
- Download pc/include-metatags.asp to your desktop using your favorite FTP program.
- Open it in Notepad or an HTML editor.
- Save a backup copy of the file before editing it so that you can revert to the original version if your edited version creates any problems on your storefront.
- Edit the file by locating the following code. Specifically, you need to edit the following lines:
- Const DefaultTitle = “ProductCart shopping cart software”
- Const DefaultKeywords = “shopping cart software, ecommerce software, asp shopping cart, shopping carts, ecommerce solutions, e-commerce, ProductCart, NetSource Commerce”
- Const DefaultDescription = “We offer shopping cart software to run ecommerce stores. Our shopping carts are used by businesses to build and manage an online storefront.”
As the comments in the file indicate, you should not need to edit any other area of the file. If you are an advanced user, you can choose to edit other sections of the file to further customize the type and number of meta tags dynamically generated by ProductCart.
- Save the edited version of include-metatags.asp and upload it to your server. Browse the store and pay attention to the page title shown by your browser to see if it properly changes as you browse your store catalog. If you are using Internet Explorer, select Source from the View menu to view the source code for the page. You can then see exactly what meta tags ProductCart generated for the page.