Senior SEO Consultant

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Following on from my SEO review of EKM Powershop, a UK based e-commerce platform a small number of other e-commerce solutions have reached out to me asking for similar reviews.

One such outreach was Anna from 3dcart. It’s worth going on record now to say that I haven’t received any payment or gifts in exchange of this review, I’ve conducted this review in the same fashion as my EKM review — I’ve used client websites advertised on the company website and then a variety of SEO tools to assess.

So on the 3dcart homepage there is a claim, this is “We can help you increase visitors and sales with the leading ecommerce software for SEO”. Now, despite the fact that “ecommerce software” is bolded using deprecated <b> tags, this is a bold claim and one I aim to assess throughout this review.

The 3dcart websites I’ve used (that are advertised on the website as clients) are:

  • https://www.superberries.com/
  • https://www.floridatobaccoshop.com/
  • https://www.li-lacchocolates.com/

It’s also worth noting that a couple of the stores on the 3dcart showcase have moved to other ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify.

Common 3dcart SEO Issues

Based on analysis of the websites I’ve put together a list of common “issues” and improvements that can be made.

I’ve also tried to filter out site specific issues to focus on common SEO themes that are platform-wide and not site-specific.

Meta Keywords & Abstract

It’s apparent that the 3dcart CMS allows users to input meta keywords for specific web pages. Whilst Google have publicly ignored meta keywords for a decade now, and I haven’t found any 3dcart websites targeting Russia or China (as Yandex and Baidu still like to use them), this field being included frustrates me.

More often than not it’s smaller businesses who use “all in one” ecommerce platforms such as these and they often run on fine margins and are time poor, so this field is a distraction – takes time and effort to fill in and that time is then an opportunity cost as it brings no benefit.

It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen the meta abstract tag out in the wild. Again, another distracting field users are being asked to complete.

<meta name="abstract" content="a very short description of your website ">

Again this is another tag ignored by Google, so taking the time to fill this in is just another opportunity cost.

Also, abstract is deprecated in HTML 5, and from looking at the websites they are using a <!doctype html> declaration, meaning the codebase is HTML5 — so similar to the <b> tag usage on the main marketing site, there is some deprecated code being used.

Flat URL Structures

Part of 3dcart’s features page talks about it’s “SEO friendly” URLs and uses the below URL as a benchmark of “good”

www.yourstore.com/brandname-itemname-20-inch-weatherproof-laptop-bag.htm

This URL is then followed by an explainer and the line that if a URL is “missing valuable keywords [they] are poor for SEO”.

The issue with flat URL structures such as this is that reporting is made a lot harder, and the information architecture suffers. Traditionally a good structure for ecommerce URLs is to go something like this:

  • homepage.com
  • homepage.com/product-category/
  • homepage.com/product-category/sub-category/
  • homepage.com/p/product-name

Or

  • homepage.com
  • homepage.com/c/product-category/
  • homepage.com/c/product-category/sub-category/
  • homepage.com/p/product-name

This way you have /c/ and /p/ hooks to report on, and you can also nest products under multiple categories without duplication. Whilst you can nest products under multiple categories with a flat URL structure, you lose the information architecture and ability to create value subfolders.

The blog on 3dcart also sits flat:

  • /blog/
  • /blog-post/

Even though one of my pet hates with Shopify is the forced URL structure, the ability to have nested URL structures to me is important in creating a strong website ecosystem.

Canonical Handling

Another feature that 3dcart talks about openly on their website is the ability to determine canonical URLs from the CMS, which is pretty much a standard feature nowadays.

However, on the websites I looked at, one site had a large number of relative canonical URLs, and another was missing canonicals altogether.

When it comes to GoogleBot going through the HTML Tags where the actual hyperlinks are present; then placing an absolute link is way much better to help the bot understand what this link is all about then showcasing it with the relative link.

Common Speed Issues

Whilst a lot of speed issues are site-dependent, the below issues were common themes across the websites analyzed – this makes me think they are platform issues / shared across the codebases:

  • URLs contain one or more single point of failure
  • URLs don’t contain critical (Above-the-fold) CSS in the head
  • URLs contain a large number of asynchronous JavaScript requests
  • HTML content is not minified

Common Mobile Friendly Issues

Similar to the site-speed issues, all sites tested contained the below mobile-friendly errors:

  • The viewport <meta> tag has a maximum-scale set
  • The viewport <meta> tag prevents the user from scaling

How SEO friendly is 3dcart?

In my opinion 3dcart platform is definitely one of the better “all in one” ecommerce platforms available, and is better than other alternatives like EKM or Wix.

I would look at Shopify as a better alternative, or if you have the resource and want to be on a single platform that can scale with your business, I’d go with WordPress WooCommerce. But for the price point and with some application of knowledge, this is a feasible ecommerce solution.

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