BigCommerce SEO and 404 pages

As we mentioned a couple weeks ago in this post, we recently had a need to come up with a new way of fixing Webmasters Tools Errors. With the introduction of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates (not to mention Penguin 2.0) into the wild, RT1 Guitars had amassed thousands of Webmasters Tools errors on their site. The majority of these errors were 404 errors, and the switch the BigCommerce brought on even more.

One issue we discovered was that BigCommerce’s 404 page did not generate a meta robots rule telling search engines to not index, but follow the pages. This caused any and all pages that produced a 404 in the header to just pile up as 404 errors, rather than dropping out of the index.

Unfortunately in BigCommerce you cannot institute conditional statements (eg: if this page is a 404 page, display this content in the header) so we weren’t able to dynamically add the code we needed to eliminate these 404 errors. The positive side of this is that each page uses the same variables in the header so what we ended up doing was taking the output of a 404 page and analyzing what was in the header. We took the HTML content that was output by the variables and hardcoded it into the 404 template page (404.html) replacing the HTMLhead.html panel that was calling all of those variables onto the 404 template. This enabled us to add <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow” /> to the HTML that was outputting between the <head> tags.

By instituting this change, the 404 errors finally peaked at 24,851 and have been dropping steadily ever since! This is just one of the many ways that we’ve been improving upon previous methods and creating new methods for handling SEO on BigCommerce and other e-commerce platforms! If your site needs a fresh pair of eyes we would be happy to take a look! Contact us today for BigCommerce SEO!

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