BigCommerce offers a wide range of useful plugins to help you make the most of the platform for your store. A handful of the plugins are built specifically for SEO use. In this post, we will review how to use the BigCommerce apps marketplace and install plugins, and review the plugins built for SEO use.
The BigCommerce Ecommerce Apps Marketplace
The Ecommerce Apps Marketplace is where you can find plugins to expand BigCommerce's capabilities or simplify or automate certain tasks on the platform. Before we discuss specific SEO and marketing plugins, let's go over how to use the marketplace.
Going To The Marketplace
To get to the marketplace, you can just go to https://www.bigcommerce.com/apps/ in your web browser. You can also open it from inside your store admin within a few clicks.
To open the marketplace from your store admin, click on Apps in the left sidebar:
You will automatically be navigated to Apps > Marketplace in the left sidebar. Click the BIGCOMMERCE.COM/APPS button within the interface:
A new browser tab will open that will take you to the Apps Marketplace.
Finding An App
To look at relevant apps, you can click the drop down menu next to the search bar. It will say All Categories by default. Select which type of plugin you are looking for. The Analytics & Reporting, Marketing, Sales Channels, and Site Tools categories will be especially helpful for SEO and marketing purposes:
After selecting a category, you can type a keyword or keywords into the search bar to see relevant apps within the category. Of course, you can also do this without selecting a category to search all categories. The search will be performed automatically. You do not need to click the magnifying class or press Enter on your keyboard.
You can use the left sidebar to further narrow down your search by selecting a subcategory, see all apps or only free ones, see all apps or only apps with a certain review rating, and see all apps or apps only available for a certain plan tier:
To see all of the apps marked for use specifically for SEO in the marketplace, clear your search from the search bar if you made one (by clicking the x), click Marketing from the category drop down if you haven't already, then click on the Search Engine Optimization subcategory in the left sidebar.
To clear your search and go back to seeing apps in all categories, you can click the x in the search bar to clear your search, and click the Home link in the breadcrumbs underneath the category drop down menu to see all categories:
To see some of the most important apps in the marketplace, scroll down to the More app collections section of the Marketplace homepage. We especially recommend reviewing the Must Haves apps, and suggest reviewing the apps in the other collections for any that apply to your business.
Installing BigCommerce Apps
To install a BigCommerce app after finding it in the marketplace, click anywhere on the app description to visit the page for that app:
On this page, you can review the app features and see user reviews. Click the GET THIS APP button to start the installation process:
You may be asked to log in to your BigCommerce store before continuing. Assuming you have an account, click the Log in button:
You will be taken to a listing for the app within your store's admin. Click the Install button to continue:
You will be notified that the app is requesting permissions to some of your store's functionality. Click Confirm to grant the app these permissions if you still want to install the app:
The app will begin installation. Once the installation is complete, your app will load automatically. You will also see that your app has been added to the left sidebar under Apps:
BigCommerce SEO Apps
As we mentioned above, you can see all of the BigCommerce apps marked for SEO under the Marketing > Search Engine Optimization subcategory, or just navigate your browser to https://www.bigcommerce.com/apps/search-engine-optimization/:
As of the writing of this blog post, there are six apps marked specifically for use in SEO. Over the next few sections, we will review these plugins.
The most popular SEO plugin for BigCommerce by far is FavSEO, which has also earned a 5/5 rating from reviews left by users. Since FavSEO is so ubiquitous among BigCommerce users, we will just assume you are going to use it and go over how to use some of its features.
The FavSEO dashboard gives you a bird's eye view of the SEO on your site. Clicking on any element in the dashboard will take you to a FavSEO screen with more details.
Across the top, you will see SEO scoring for your products, categories, pages, brands, and blogs. You will see how many of each were audited, the number of them that are "good" and the number that are "bad."
On the second row, you will see your home page SEO score percentage, your mobile and desktop page speed score percentages, and, once you've connected with Google Webmaster Tools, your average position in search results.
The third row includes these stats from Google Analytics once it is linked:
- the number of organic search traffic visitors
- bounce rate percentage (the percentage of visitors who only saw one page)
- the number of orders placed
- the amount of revenue generated
You will need ecommerce tracking enabled and set up in Google Analytics for the last two metrics to be accurate.
Also on the third row, you'll see two more pieces of data from Google Webmaster Tools: information about your sitemap, and crawl error data.
Clicking on the pencil in the left sidebar will take you to the Fav Editor:
From the Fav Editor you can easily update the page title and meta descriptions for your products, pages, brands, blogs, and categories. You can also set a target keyword for each to better evaluate your SEO score, and for all but blog posts you can also set a name.
To switch between products, pages, brands, blogs, and categories, click the green drop down button up top.
Clicking FIX IT next to an entry will take you to the SEO details, with recommendations and, where applicable, a FIX IT button that will take you to the page where you can make the suggested change.
Click the encircled star in the left sidebar of the FavSEO plugin to go to the SEO Score screen. You can get an SEO score for any URL, whether or not it is on your own website, allowing you to check your competitors. In the left side of the screen, enter the URL you want to check as well as a keyword you are targeting, then click the ANALYZE button.
Allow some time for FavSEO to analyze the URL, then your score will appear on the right hand side of the page. Click the DETAILS button to see the recommended changes to improve your score.
A checklist will appear for the various SEO recommendations used in generating the score. Next to each recommendation is a button that says either FIX IT or GOOD. For most of the recommendations, you can click the FIX IT button to go to the page in your BigCommerce admin that will allow you to make the recommended change. You can also hover your cursor over the question mark next to each recommendation to see an elaboration on the recommendation.
The SEO Score feature and its recommendations are very helpful. However, as SEO professionals we would caution against taking the recommendations as gospel. Following the recommendations as a default is a good idea, but there are circumstances where it is better to ignore the recommendations in favor of testing an SEO theory or because a conflicting SEO goal takes priority.
We also recommend taking a look at our audits for a much more comprehensive and in depth examination of everything you can do to improve your site's SEO.
Clicking the A text symbol in the left navigation takes you to the keyword suggestor. Enter a keyword in the Enter Keyword field and click the SHOW SUGGESTIONS button to get a list of Suggested Keywords in the bottom left field of the screen. You can use these to find keywords to use in your titles and content. If you have linked FavSEO to Google Webmaster Tools, you will also see a list of your top performing keywords from the Google Search Console in the bottom right.
Clicking the stopwatch in the left sidebar takes you to the Page Speed screen. Click Analyze here to get a detailed speed report. You can toggle between results for MOBILE and DESKTOP with the associated buttons. You will be shown a list of recommendations with either Good or FIX IT as in the previous sections.
The FavSEO bulk editor is one of FavSEO's most useful features, and it is accessible from the list icon in the left sidebar. You can use this to set how FavSEO automoatically generates SEO metadata for your store.
The template drop down button up top allows you to switch between templates for titles, meta descriptions, and image alts.
The template editor on the left allows you to select variables to be automatically populated in your SEO metadata. You can switch between templates for product, category, brand, and page by selecting these options above the text field. Below the text field you can choose selections for these placeholder variables:
- Store Name
- Product Name
- Product SKU
- Product Price
- Product Condition
- Product Brand
With the exception of the Store Name, these will enter the placeholder variable in brackets, like:
Clicking Store Name will simply enter your store name without a bracket placeholder.
You can add text to the template like so:
Get [product_name] for only [product_price]
Which, assuming you are setting title templates for products, will make your product pages automatically generate titles like:
Get plaid shirts for only $15.99
Clicking the Update Product Titles button (or the similar, appropriately named button for each type of metadata) will automatically update all of your product tiles (or, again, the metadata type you have selected).
We will briefly go over the remaining tools in the FavSEO left sidebar:
The first four remaining icons are all powered by Google Webmaster Tools (the Google Search Console) and require you to add your account:
Reviewing these next four icons:
- Fav Rank Tracker: The chart icon takes you to a page where you can see details about your historical rankings
- Sitemap: The tree icon takes you to information about your XML sitemaps
- Crawling Errors: The exclamation point takes you to pages that are generating crawl errors like 404 pages
- Search Queries: The magnifying glass takes you to information about what types of queries your pages are showing up for
The pie chart icon is a slide out menu for to see your AdWords and Organic search data, which requires you to link Google Analytics
Finally, the question mark icon is another slide out menu with Knowledge Base and Contact Us options.
SEO Doctor By Kudobuzz
As of May 8, 2019, the plugin claims to be "migrating" upon installation:
The two most recent reviews of the plugin are from 2017 and 2018 and both complain of issues being unable to use the plugin. At this point it seems reasonable to assume the plugin has been abandoned, but if not, we can't comment on its features, because we are unable to use them.
JivoChat is a business messaging app that customers can use to interact with you and ask questions. It's poorly categorized as an SEO plugin since messaging apps don't directly impact your SEO, but we will go over a few features regardless.
After installing the app, users will be able to message you using a chat pop up that appears in the bottom right corner of their screen and scrolls with them:
Clicking the pop up opens it up to reveal an interface where they can type a message and click Enter to send it to you. They can also click the paper clip icon to select a file and send it to you, or click the smiley face to use some common emojis. An encircled "X" at the top left corner of the pop up allows them to minimize the window back down to its original size:
On the back end, you can send messages and set your account settings using either a desktop app you can download or through a web app:
To navigate through all of the features in the JivoChat web app, you will use the icons in the left sidebar:
Each section allows you to do the following:
- Inbox: The left side shows you users who are online to chat. Messages appear in the center, where you can accept or reject them. In addition to typing, sending attachments, and choosing from emojis, you also have the option to select from a list of common phrases (which you can add to), translate, and click a "target" icon to see the page the user is on.
- My Dialogs: This page and the Inbox page are identical, except that the Dialog page is used for ongoing conversations, while the Inbox page allows you to accept messages from new users.
- Archives: See records of all previous conversations.
- Phone: Set up JivoChat for sending and receiving calls.
- Team: See your team members and their stats and ratings, and add new agents.
- Visitors: See which visitors are currently on your site, how many times they've visited, how many times they've chatted, how many pages they've seen, if they are connected to chat, and what source sent them to your site.
- Manage: Add more channels to send and receive messages from, add new agents, integrate with other CRM services and plugins, and adjust your settings and profile or log out.
Google Maps By Elfsight
Allows you to place a Google Maps widget on your site.
After installing the app and selecting it from your left sidebar, you will be asked to create a Google Maps API key:
Follow Google's prompts to create a Google Maps API key associated with a Google Cloud account and, if necessary, a Google billing profile. Copy the API key and return to the Google Maps by Elfsight screen. Click I already have a key and paste your key, then click the Save APK key button:
After saving the API key, a map will appear with a default destination set for the widget:
At the top right is a text field that, by default, reads Untitled widget. Edit this text to change the name of the widget.
Beneath that, under the CONTENT tab, you will see Locations, featuring the default Googleplex location. You can click the trash icon to delete this or the Duplicate item icon to make a copy of the location. When there is more than one location, you will be able to use the handle on the left side of the location to drag and drop the location to change the order of the locations users can see in the widget.
Below the locations you can click +Add to add a new location. If so, you will be asked to provide:
- Position: an address or coordinates for the location
- Name: a name for the location
- Category: select a category from the drop down. no categories exist by default, you can create them using the interface as described below
- Icon: select the type of icon you want to represent the location
- Description: clicking on this will allow you to add detailed text and an image for the location
- Action on marker click: select whether you want it to open an info window, take the user to a URL you specify, or do nothing when the user clicks on the location
Below the locations you can click Categories to create categories you can use to group your locations. If you use a lot of locations this will make it easier for the user to filter locations down to the relevant ones.
Clicking Localization allows you to set which language you want the widget to use and whether to use miles or kilometers.
Use the MAPS tab to set the type of map, where to center the map and how much to zoom it, and several user feature settings.
Use the PANEL tab to set whether a location panel is displayed for the user, allowing them to see and select other locations. Adjust search and information settings here.
The STYLE tab lets you adjust the theme color for the map as well as select from map styles and alter the CSS for custom design.
After clicking Save, your widget will be added to a list of widgets on the main screen. From here, click Add to website to add the widget to your store. You will need to purchase a plan to take any further steps.
This app could be considered a competitor with FavSEO. Let's take a look at a few of the features.
You will use the sidebar to do the majority of the navigation through the app after installation:
Let's go over each section.
The dashboard summarizes the data throughout the rest of the app. Across the top row is a list of SEO audit results for your categories, products, blogs, and brands.
The next several rows show data from Google Analytics (after you link it) including revenue, conversion rates, transactions, average order value, various traffic statistics, recent traffic over time, percent of search traffic from each search engine, which search terms generate the most money and average cart size, and which keywords are most popular both internally and externally.
This screen tells you which plan you're on, and tells you whether your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools are connected. You can connect these profiles from here by clicking the Connect link for each.
This section is divided into four subsections:
The Optimize Store section allows you to set the meta title, meta description, and focus keyword for your store's categories, products, blogs, brands, and pages. It also scans them for SEO issues and informs you if any are present. For each, you can also select from a list of actions to deal with your SEO issues.
The keyword planner allows you to enter keywords and see suggestions and data. You can select from a long list of search engines and locations for each keyword. The keyword planner takes several hours to collect the data.
This feature includes three sections: Google Search Console rankings, Bing Webmaster Tools rankings, and a native SERP tracking tool that tracks your positions for keywords you define.
This includes various metrics from Google Analytics once it is linked. The metrics are divided into traffic metrics and ecommerce metrics.
Use this to monitor data from Google AdWords
This lists crawl errors from the Google Search Console.
Allows you to enter a competitor's domain. After several hours, the program will give you useful SEO metrics and information about your competitors.
Comparison with FavSEO
The functional differences between FavSEO and ProSEOTracker are mostly moderate. The primary benefit of FavSEO over ProSEOTracker is the bulk editor. The main benefit of ProSEOTracker over FavSEO is the competitor analysis tool.
This plugin appears to be abandoned. Upon installation the app asks you to register your store, but says it is having trouble setting up your store and asks you to remove the app and try again without offering any way to register the store:
The only review for the app is currently 1 star and says that the app has no effective customer support.
That concludes our post. Please feel free to refer back to it at any time for guidance on how to use the BigCommerce app marketplace and how to install apps, as well as a review of the features in each of the available SEO plugins. Don't forget to take a look at our other posts about BigCommerce and SEO.