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I need help - PHP / OSCommerce Difficulty

eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
I had a new site designed by a web developer recently.  The developer designed it with PHP/OSCommerce technology using ZenCart as the shopping cart.  With this technology, my pages are not static.  There is one main index page and every other page is being dynamically generated - which means the Meta Tags/Keywords/Descriptions are not "out there" visible and available for SE spiders to crawl.  For successful SEO I need to individually assign the tags/words/descriptions and make each page a stand alone static one.  I currently do not know how to do this.  The developer seems to be at loss as well.  He keep indicating to be careful with the site`s code since any small error/change would ruin the site`s current content.
My options are 1) to pay someone and completely revamp the site into static pages (there will be close to 1000 due to so many products offered like my current site) and 2) to learn how to get my SEO objectives accomplished within the current site infrastructure.  I need help!!
I only know how to do SEO/SEM but I cannot do that without knowing how to solve my predicament with the new site.  As always, I will def appreciate the good advice you folks have been sharing around for so long.
Thank you in advance to everyone!


  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    How about option 3, fire the developer and hire a better one? ZenCart is open source which means you can modify the software to do exactly what you want. There are plenty of members on this site this, including myself, that could create a patch for ZenCart so that you can set the meta tags for each item separately.
  • eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
    the key words are added indeed to the pdct descriptions...the spiders will crawl just fine-true-but the not while the page is not up or active, which it will only become when a query is sent to call it.  am i wrong?  why do you say not to move to static?
  • eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
    How about option 3, fire the developer and hire a better one? ZenCart is open source which means you can modify the software to do exactly what you want. There are plenty of members on this site this, including myself, that could create a patch for ZenCart so that you can set the meta tags for each item separately.
    the developer was paid a one time fee to design the site...i did not foresee the issue coming up (my mistake solely since I do know what I need to do SEO).  in any case, what would the zen cart patch exactly do?  as it is, one can still go into zen cart and assign meta tags for each items in the item menu - however these are only visible once called upon (dynamically generated in response to a query).  will the patch solve this issue/how?
    thanks for the advice
  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    the key words are added indeed to the pdct descriptions...the spiders will crawl just fine-true-but the not while the page is not up or active, which it will only become when a query is sent to call it.  am i wrong?  why do you say not to move to static?I think you might be a little confused. The search engines will find your other pages by following links from your homepage to each product. It doesn`t matter that these pages are dynamic.
  • eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
    thanks guys,
    i certainly did have some misconceptions to begin with.  nhgnikole, thank u for the link!
  • vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    Actually a Zen Cart site should not have any problems getting the various pages/products indexed. 
    An important tip:  Name your "categories" and "products" carefully... as those names will be indexed.
    Also, there are modifications that can be added to help with your store`s SEO.
  • eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
    what is this modification Roland?  what does it do?
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    eGURU,I am an Oscommerce expert. I`ve been using OScommerce since it first came out. eGuru please keep in mind, Zencart is not Oscommerce. Although, they are very similar in the way they function, you can say Zencart is a low end version of Oscommerce. Here is your solution, adding keywords shouldn`t be a problem since the keywords are embeded on the header.php file. It doesn`t matter how many pages you create dynamically since the index.php file depends on the header.php file and so forth. In simple english, Oscommerce since it`s dynamic (database driven) it`s broken down into three sections

    header.php {calls the categories and content and depth of  your shopping cart}
    index.php {calls the modules such as new items and web content}
    footer.php {calls your banners, and kills the database queries}
    These, three files are what call your dynamic pages you`ve built(products). So having your keywords on the header.php, means you don`t have to keep adding keywords everytime you create a new page. as long as you have the correct keywords in the header.php the rest takes care of itself. Also, if you are optimizing your web site you need to get rid of your spider.txt file in your catalog. Replace it with a new one. (I have the new spider text file if you need it) what the spider.txt file in OScommerce does is, it allows for meta crawlers (search engine robots) to search your web site. As of the code? Yes, becareful when you are editing. As long as you start your meta tags after the <title></title> and before the <body></body> tags you shouldn`t have a problem. Remember to close your tags after you are done entering your keywords. Along with the meta tag name="keywords" include a meta tag name="description". and enter a short description of your web site No more than 160 characters including spaces. Again if you need help with this, please let me know I would be more than happy to help you. There is no need for you to redesign your web site to a static web site. Remember you have 1000 products, thats about 200 man hours, and redesigning is out of the question... As for your designer, fire the dude... Once you have all  your corrections made then you can submit your web site to all search engines and expect some results. Give me a call... or email me here at SUN and I can help you..Nuevolution2007-2-14 4:0:28
  • BWFBWF subscriber Posts: 0
    e Guru,
    Give this site a try I found it to be very useful. You can sign up for daily search engine tips for free also.
    http://www.onlinewebtraining.com</A>BWF2007-2-20 12:29:14
  • gderniegdernie subscriber Posts: 1
    I did a edited a similar php site and had to generate a header file for each page to be able to include different title, key and descripion tags.
    there are carts out there that generate individual html pages.
  • JoyfulmommakimJoyfulmommakim subscriber Posts: 0
    eGuru, if you log into your Zen Cart Administration, you will see that each product has it`s own metatags that you can set.
    I use Zen Cart on my self publishing website, and it has been a huge success for me. Many people have hit directly on my bookstore (the Zen Cart portion) from search engines, according to my site statistics, which tells me that Zen Cart works great for SEO.
    One thing to consider that may be a help if you are still concerned. Zen Cart is highly efficient way to store all of those products, but if you still want some static web pages, you could add some front pages in HTML, with a link to the store portion of your website. Because I have articles and free resources on my site, as well as the bookstore, this is what I have done. I have found though that people hit on both parts of my site equally from Google and Yahoo.
    You may also want to go to Google, and go to webmaster tools, and set up a Google Site map and also let Google know about your site, so that it would be indexed faster.
    Hope this has been a help to you,
    Kimberly Eddy
  • eGurueGuru subscriber Posts: 7
    Many thanks to all.  Once again the community has come through....Nuevolution thanks a ton for the great in depth feedback and more importantly for reviving this discussion.  I believe there are many of us that can benefit from this thread, as has already been witnessed in this very own chain thus far.  Hdean, Karri, Gdernie, Tom Sawyer and Kimbery Eddy, thank you all so much for the valuable input.
    What I have found so far to be the best solution is to go into the the individual items for sale and manually enter tags/keywords for each item (just as Kimberly said).  The problem I am running into with this is that although I am able to make adds/edits to the meta tags and keywords, the description does not seem to be working.  Is there a trick to make the description part work?  Has anyone run into this same issue? Though it will take time for the thousands of items I have, I am confident that this will boost visibility even further.
    The other issue with the infrastructure of the site is that it becomes hard to track the pages visitor are entering from.  As such it is hard to track where people are spending their most time and what is (what page in particular) causing them to leave.  This is difficult because the tracking script apparently recognizes only 3 pages all together, the main one being the index.php page.  I want to be able to track the traffic and through google analytics (or any other tracking device) be able to tell the behavior of my visitors.  Any solutions to this ?
    Once again, thank you all so much and let`s keep the ball rolling
  • JoyfulmommakimJoyfulmommakim subscriber Posts: 0
    Zen Cart has great tech support. i have not personally run into that problem with your description meta tag, but if someone else has you would find great info at the Zen Cart Tech forum.
    Kimberly Eddy
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    Now that is a good question, making Google analytics read every page. Here is the problem, since you would have to add the Script to the header, there wouldn`t be a way for it to track which page you are in. What I would suggest is adding it to the products.php page. but being that it`s dynamic, it would be hard to track each page individually.  You would only see points of entrance and how long they are staying on the web site, Here is what I would do, I would add the script to every page on your catalog, excluding the admin portion of it.
    Here is why, even though all pages are contingent to the header.php, they are only calling it as a run once file. I think that by you adding your google script to all pages such as newitems.php, categories.php, and every page in catalog.
    You can actually track which pages they are landing on the most. What type of Campaigns are you using on Google? Text, Image, Banners, or??let me know. Lets try to see how far we can go with this...
  • flawlessleeflawlesslee subscriber Posts: 0
    PHP Oscomerce and SEO is my area of expertise.
    You could do with some contributions being installed to the shop, Ultimate Seo Urls, Dynamic Header Tags and Google Sitemap Generator. These are free from the oscommerce contributions page but you will need some expert help to get them working with any existing modifications the developers made to your shop. (Can`t they install the Mods for you?)
    I have done this to many stores and found it works really well, listing every page under google
    NOTE: Dont over optimise you site as google doesnt appreciate it, name products correctly and dont over do the keywords, google use special algorithims to read your pages and they dont like over seo.
    Name the products exactly as what they are called by the manufacturers, so if your selling a sony viao fs315s then name it that, this may sound obvious but so many people name the products wrongly and believe me if i was looking for a sony viao fs315s then thats exactly what i will type into the search engine, so ensure your products are gonna be found by the search bots,  if someone types for example sony viao fs315s into google, its because there looking to buy one!
    You can email me directly at [email protected]</A> if you need a good seo Oscommerce Developer.
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