We are extremely excited to announce that we deployed a major upgrade to BigTurns this morning. In this release we focused on two very significant features:
  • Customizable SEO Friendly URLs for Catalogs and Products to make your online stores easier for search engines to crawl and rank and easier for users to read the URL

Enabling SEO Friendly URLs

Because a number of existing BigTurns' sites relied on the way the legacy URLs were rendered to access images, CSS and Javascript links that use relative paths, the new SEO Friendly URLs feature has been deployed switched-off by default. To switch it on you'll need to go to "Admin > Google/Bing/Yahoo Optimization" and click the "Enable SEO friendly URLs" button in your sites Admin Console.

How Does it Work?

Once you switch the feature on, the system will automatically rewrite all the URLs for your catalogs and products so they become human readable in the format "http://www.domain.com/catalog/sub-catalog/product-name". For all new catalogs and products that you add from this point on, the system will automatically generate an SEO-friendly URL based on the name and also give you the option to edit the URL in the detail view of that catalog or product.

When automatically creating the URLs based on the name the system follows the following process to produce a URL that's optimized for SEO:

  1. Converts the whole product name to lowercase characters
  2. Converts any spaces and any special characters such as '&' and '%' into dashes ('-')
  3. If there is a naming clash with another folder, catalog or product, the system will automatically append a '-' followed by a number e.g "http://www.domain.com/catalog-1" to create a unique URL

Key Points to Note

  • Catalog and product URLs will have natural URL 'breadcrumbs' which increases the usability of your online stores. Users browsing your online stores will be able to guess the entry point URL just by typing the catalog name after the domain or move up a level to a parent catalog by deleting the product or sub-catalog segment of the URL.
  • When you edit a catalog URL, it will automatically update the URLs for all of the sub-catalogs and products that belong to that catalog.
  • External links to your catalogs and products will continue to function as normal because your legacy URLs are internally 301 redirected to the new URLs when the feature is switched on. This is done with the intention of maintaining SEO (i.e there's no duplicate content).

Known Issue #1: Product Import has been Updated

Due to an extra URL field being added to products, the product export/import feature required an update independent of whether the SEO-Friendly URL feature has been enabled for your site. This affects customers who keep a downloaded copy of their products and edit the file using Excel or similar before uploading the file again to update the products in their Online Store.

Solution: To fix the problem, re-export the products to get the updated product import version or download the updated file template. If you have an existing Products file you will need to add the "SEO Friendly URL" column in the 10th column (Column 'J').

Known Issue #2: Legacy 301 Redirects

An existing 301 redirect for a page pointing to a catalog with the same name generates a redirect error when the SEO-friendly URL is switched on. For example, if a 301 redirect for the URL “/example” page is forwarded to the catalog called "example", this will generate an URL redirect error.

Solution: To fix the problem, please remove any existing 301 redirects to the catalogs or products that are generating the error because they have the same name.

Known Issue #3: Special Characters disallowed in Product Name

Due to the requirement to maintain legacy URLs we have not been able to remove the special character restriction in product names even though the name and URL have been decoupled now. This is because if you choose to switch off the SEO-Friendly URLs feature, it may introduce incompatible product names.

Solution: Engineering is working on a solution for this in the near term future.

What's Next for SEO Friendly URLs?

Given that the engineering team has built up a lot of momentum and expertise around the SEO-Friendly URL architecture, our aim is to make this feature available across Web-Apps, Blogs, Announcements and other modules over the coming months so that the BigTurns platform becomes more SEO friendly. Additionally we are also looking to update the Search and the Sitemap functionality so that all search results and sitemap links are rendered with the SEO-Friendly URLs. Hope you enjoy this feature, the new URLs really are a joy to look at and use...