This client came to us with an existing dirt bike parts e-commerce store built on the Wordpress/Woocommerce platform. Although the client was well aware of the value of SEO optimization for his e-commerce products, this particular situation was more complex than most. Typically, it's relatively trivial to classify an online store's products in a way that's easy for search engines like Google or Bing to understand. As trivial as it is, it's essential in order to ensure search engines will serve relevant links to the products in search engine results.
But this client's store is not the typical e-commerce store. As a dirt bike parts retailer, customers expect to find parts specific to their bike make, model and year -- after all, what fits one bike may not fit another, even down to the nuts and bolts! So if a shopper searches Google for "Front Brake Assembly for my 2002 Honda CR125R" they don't want something made for a 2014 Suzuki DRZ400, nor will the shopper click-through on a search result that's unspecific and generic like a "Dirt Bike Front Brake Assembly".
First, consider the broad range of bike makes and models -- from the Honda CR125R to the Yamaha YZ450F to the Kawasaki KX250 to the KTM 300, limited edition models, and hundreds of other bike makes and models.
Then consider that each make and model has variations specific to particular years, sometimes ranging across decades. For example, the Honda CR125R bike was in production from 1998 to 2007!
So put the hundreds of bike makes and models against 10 or more years of production, and you easily have a list of make-model-years that consists of over 1,500 bikes. That can make searching for the right set of bolts to mount the carburetor on a 2001 Honda CR125R quite challenging.
Our client has just over 350 core OEM parts that each fit many particular makes and models. Some parts may fit hundreds of bike make-model-years... other parts may fit thousands of bike make-models-years... and some parts may fit just a few bikes.
The problem is, if we want Google to understand that a part should appear in searches for, say, 200 different bike queries... and if we want the search results to reflect the SPECIFIC make-model-year of the bike... then we'd need to create over 200,000 individual products, each titled and described to reflect the specific makes, models and years they fit. Once again, when someone searches Google for a "Front Brake Assembly for my 2002 Honda CR125R", we want Google to deliver a link to a product page SPECIFICALLY for a "2002 Honda CR125R Front Brake Assembly" (and not the part for the 2003, 2004 or 2005 model, or for another bike etc.).
Having a catalog of 200,000+ products is not feasible on many levels, not the least of which being inventory control. Since a given part may fit thousands of individual bikes, it would be difficult if not impossible to synchronize inventory counts across thousands of "versions" of that part -- each being individual products in the catalog.
When it comes to e-commerce power, flexibility and the ability to be customized, the Woocommerce platform will perform very well "out of the box" for the majority of online stores. But it does have limitations. Fortunately, custom web development can overcome those limitations.
For example, when you consider this particular case, you have just 350 products -- that's a relatively small store for Woocommerce, and very easily managed with no impact to performance (website speed etc.). But when you start assigning of 1,500 product categories to many of the products, performance starts to suffer. And for e-commerce, sales are lost when pages take too long to load!
In our case, the best approach was to create a product category for each of the 1,500+ bikes for which there were parts. Then, we'd assign the relevant categories to each product depending on which bikes the product would fit. That made it easier to find the right part to fit your 2002 Honda CR125R bike... as simple as querying "show me parts assigned to the category 2002 Honda CR125R".
But having SO many category assignments to products in the Woocommerce system naturally has a negative impact on performance -- it's just how Woocommerce and Wordpress are built. The way around these performance issues is
(a) "rewiring" the ways Woocommerce queries the database,
(b) introducing indexing and product lookup systems outside of the standard Woocommerce platform, and
(c) integrating aggressive page caching and object caching (Redis Cache).
So with performance issues under control, the bigger issue remained to be solved... how do we turn 350 products into 200,000+ individual, SEO-optimized product pages for Google to index and serve?
Woocommerce does have a "product variation" feature, but it's not suitable for this particular case. Sure, it's great when you have t-shirts in Black, White and Navy Blue, and in sizes from Small to 4XL. You would just assign product variations to your "parent" product. But in this case, you simply can't have 1,500 different product variations (bike models) on a parent product. And even if you could, none of those product variations would appear to Google as a unique, SEO-optimized product page. Instead, all variations appear only under the page of the single parent product.
To make each and every one of the 200,000+ product variations appear as standalone, SEO-optimized product pages, we built a custom extension of Woocommerce to dynamically generate individual product variation pages.
The model for extending core products into category-based product variations looks like this:
Now that we could "drill-down" to parts specific to a given bike make-model-year, we created a "Browse By Bike" user interface that made it simple for users to find parts for their specific bike.
Next, we extended the reach of the store with XML product feeds for Google Merchant Center, Bing Merchants, Facebook and Pinterest. Every night, our system would dynamically build XML product feed files specific to each external shopping platform that consisted of all 200,000+ product titles, descriptions, prices, shipping costs, image links, SKU numbers, and more. (No existing plugin could do this -- our work is all custom!)
This extension of the store to other shopping platforms resulted in tens of thousands of weekly "clicks" to product pages IN ADDITION TO the organic traffic we were aiming to grow.
It takes a little time for search engines to crawl and interpret 200,000+ new product pages. Most of the growth occurred over the course of 60 days. But when looking at growth over a period of two fiscal quarters, the results speak for themselves: 197% increase in weekly ORGANIC page views, and a 227% increase in weekly ORGANIC users. From Google Analytics...
Thinking of building your own e-commerce store, or looking to grow your existing store's sales? Get real results from true experts. Schedule a FREE consultation now.
Last updated: May 1, 2022
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