Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Getting your site ranked in search results can be a confusing, time-consuming ordeal, but it’s pretty important to running your business online. The good news is that Big Cartel has already optimized your store for search engines, based on Google’s own recommendations. We use:

  • Unique titles and meta descriptions based on your products and pages
  • Valid HTML markup
  • Clean, search-engine-friendly URLs
  • Simple, clear navigation
  • Proper headers and anchors
  • Appropriately labeled alt tags on images
  • A robots.txt that points to an automatically generated sitemap
  • A canonical URL, which really helps with custom domains

If you have no idea what all of that means, don’t worry, you don’t need to. That’s what we’re here for!

Improving your search engine rankings

We’ve worked hard to optimize your store for search engines by default, but there are a few additional steps you can take to potentially increase your visibility in search engines:

  • Use a custom domain by following our directions.
  • Provide a good store description in the Settings area.
  • Write quality product descriptions for each product.
  • Get quality inbound links from friends and established sites.
  • Don’t spam or try to manipulate search engines.
  • Check out our resources: Marketing Field Guide and Social Media Guide.

More help


Why isn’t my store in Google search results?

Search engines will “crawl” your store periodically, so it can sometimes take a couple months before you will show up in their search results. Even then, the search engine needs to find your store valuable before it will rank it very well. Because of this, it’s common to have lower rankings when your site is still new and you may not have many inbound links yet.

Connecting your store with Google’s Webmaster Tools can really help–it offers diagnostic information about your visibility in search results. Google Webmaster Tools »

To be honest, it’s not always an easy process to become listed at the top of search results, especially if you have common terms in your store’s name or products. Rest assured, we’ve done everything we can on our end to help improve your search engine rankings.

In the meantime you can use your store’s direct URL on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, newsletters, and more to drive traffic to your store. We’ve got more tips for promoting your shop in our Marketing Field Guide »

How can I get my custom domain ranked higher than my Big Cartel URL in search engines?

All of our built-in themes include canonical HTML tags in the header by default, which indicate to Google that your custom domain is preferred over your Big Cartel URL in their rankings. It may take a bit of time for Google to pick up the changes if you’ve recently set up your store on a custom domain, but in time you should see your custom URL ranked higher up in search results.

What will my store look like when shared on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?

Our built-in themes include the meta tags that social networks require to display the right image thumbnails and descriptions of your links.

Translation: when a product link is shared, a thumbnail of your product image and the description will automatically appear in the post. Sharing your store’s home URL will show your store’s account image and store description. If a custom page link is shared, the account image and a snippet of the content on the page will show up.

And all of our themes are set up for Pinterest Rich Pins and Twitter Cards, which makes getting the word out about your shop and sharing detailed info about your products even easier!

Check out our blog post for the full rundown.

How do I verify my store with Google?

Google Search Console is a free tool that will show you useful info about how your store is indexed and ranked in their search results. To use it you’ll need to verify your URL with Google using a meta tag. Here’s how:

  1. Head to Google Webmaster Central and click Add a Property. Enter your Big Cartel URL in the field provided and click Continue.
  2. Copy the meta tag and head to Customize Design > Advanced > Layout in your Big Cartel admin in a separate window or tab. Click “custom” and paste the tag in after the opening <head> tag near the top.
  3. Click Done and Save, then click the Verify button in Google to finish.

How do I verify my store with Pinterest?

To take advantage of Pinterest’s rich pins feature, you’ll need to make sure you’ve verified your Big Cartel store URL with Pinterest. Since this requires adding a line of HTML to your Layout, your store will need to be upgraded to a paid plan.

  1. Log in to your Pinterest account and click your name at the top. Click the gear menu, then Account settings.
  2. In the Website field, make sure your store URL is entered, click Confirm website and copy the meta tag.
  3. In your Big Cartel admin, head to Customize Design > Advanced > Layout, click “custom” and paste the Pinterest meta tag in just after the opening <head> tag near the top.
  4. Head back to your Pinterest admin and click Finish (they’ll automatically check the meta tag and confirm your URL).

If you run into any trouble, you can use the Rich Pin Validator to check your links and make sure everything’s good to go.

Should I hire a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) service?

No, we recommend you avoid SEO services promising to increase your search engine ranking. These services typically use questionable methods that will often times get your store ignored or penalized by search engines. Google and other search engines reward quality content, so focus on that instead of trying to game the system. For more info, see Google’s SEO information page.

Can I edit my store’s meta keywords and description for SEO purposes?

Each Big Cartel theme dynamically generates the appropriate metadata about your shop for search engines to index. This includes the store description (set in Settings in the admin) and search keywords based on the content included in the page (product names, descriptions, custom page text, and so on).

So instead of needing to edit keywords by hand, your theme will automatically pick up on the detailed info from your shop and include it in the <head> section of your Layout page following Google’s recommendations. Your store will also be optimized for sharing on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!