CMS & WordPress
We have an online store selling automotive parts and our product catalog is provided by a third party company, and unfortunately it has basically zero SEO potential. And we do not have an option to modify it.
So we need to resort to developing SEO friendly pages to represent all the various product categories and various vehicle makes and models. I have lists already prepared in Excel format that represent every Vehicle Make and Model, as well as every Product Category and type.
So we basically need to have pages that represent all possible combinations of each vehicle name and product category.
Honda Civic Alternator
Honda Civic Starter
Honda Civic Timing Belt
Honda Civic Brake Pads
Toyota Camry Alternator
Toyota Camry Starter
Nissan Maxima Alternator
Nissan Maxima Starter
.....You get the idea
So our goal would be that eventually these pages would be ranked reasonably well in the search engines, driving targeted traffic to our product catalog. We would also use them for our targeted Google Adwords campaigns.
The pages wouldn't actually show products that can be purchased, since you are required to enter into our product catalog for that (by selecting your vehicle year, make, model). But the pages would just contain general information regarding the particular product category/type and vehicle make/model.
All the content about each product category and type, we would create ourselves for these pages. Much of the product descriptions could be used dynamically across the board for the various vehicle makes and models.
How I need your Help / My Question to you guys:
Disclaimer: I am not a web developer, so forgive me if this is a simple question. That is why I need your help
What is the most efficient ways to create all these pages and manage them long-term? Since we're looking at hundreds of pages, they need to make use of dynamically generated content. Should we have a database that the stores all the information? Should we use a CMS? A friend who is a web developer thought that Wordpress might be a good solution, for example. Should we do something custom? Or just manually create a bunch of PHP pages and use PHP includes? That seems like too much work though.... seems like there should be a better way than that.
I would greatly appreciate some suggestions on how to accomplish this. If you need any further clarification from me on anything too, just let me know. I tried to keep it fairly short.
After re-reading your post, I don't know if wordpress or any of the usual CMS systems out there is your best bet.
What it sounds like you're looking for is a way to just pass a few variables in to the URL and let the page essentially be created on the fly based on the params passed to it from the URL.
Example: http://www.yourwebsite.com ?product=alternator &make=honda &model=civic
And no, don't click on the link. But note how the URL is broken down to pass the product and the make, etc.
For something like this, I think you need to look at a simple web development framework. My recommendation would be just something very simple, like Code Igniter. You'll need a decent enough developer to put it together for you. You would want him to put together just a very rudimentary CMS with it tht would allow you to manage the content using just a simple editor to make some of the content -- like the kind you use to write your posts on this site, actually.
I would imagine it might take a few days worth of time to whip something like this up. The right CMS could probably do this for you as well, but it would need to be a "framework-based" CMS platform like Silverstripe or Drupal (Worpress or similar would likely require some hijacking), and you'd need to have a developer do it for you either way. I'd estimate the job at between $500-1000 depending on the experience level of the developer, and how complex your requirements -- give or take.
HI I've written this about 5 times and I keep erasing it because my mind is thinking up solutions so fast, haha! I agree with your web designer friend about Wordpress. If you don't have a consistent web developer that can manage a hand-coded php site, I don't think you should do it. Wordpress will offer structure to your site and keep things organized. There might even be a way you could import your excel spreadsheet as blog posts, and use the blog posts as "info sheets" ( you could remove the meta info that looks "bloggy" like the time you posted it, etc. ) After that, your viewer could click "honda" ( created as a category) , then narrow it down by whatever sub-category or categories they want to look at.
I suck at explaining things, but tell me if this makes sense.
ps; if you don't know much about wordpress; there are developers all around the world who create plug-in's , free of charge, making almost anything possible ( SEO plug-ins, gallery plug-ins, they may even have a "product category for auto parts" plug-in
This makes sense and is great advice. Thank you for taking the time to help me out!
Excellent advice! Thank you for your help. I'll let you know if I have any more questions
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I don't mean to rain on your parade with this, but I just don't see how this is going to be practical, knowing how things are organized with Wordpress.
Essentially, with this method, you're creating a new post for e-v-e-r-y possible combination of model and part.
That's way too much duplication. The OP mentioned that they wouldn't necessarily need that. And I'm going by this part of the post:
The pages wouldn't actually show products that can be purchased, since you are required to enter into our product catalog for that (by selecting your vehicle year, make, model). But the pages would just contain general information regarding the particular product category/type and vehicle make/model. .... Much of the product descriptions could be used dynamically across the board for the various vehicle makes and models.
What you need is a means of dynamically generating a page, based on what the user enters in to a form or a dropdown list; i.e. select make/model, then select part ... then "submit." From there, the CMS pulls the information about the make/model ... then combines that with the information about the part, and lists your options. That's only two entries you have to write, and the CMS just puts them together. Unless I'm reading something wrong or missing something ... with BZCastell's method ... you're creating this combination yourself, for every single possible combination, and that's just not practical.
Just off the shelf, I'm almost positive that you could achieve something like this using Druapal taxonomy, or by using a quick and dirty framework with a rudimentary CMS -- as long as the CMS is simple enough, you're not going to need a developer to maintain it. You don't necessarily need a big and complex CMS; just an administrative section where you could enter and edit your info.
Sent you a PM
The trickiest part of this by far will be moving the data from the excell file to database table(s). That alone will probably cost upwards of 1K. Especially so if it will not be just a one time import but something that is able to update existing parts on a monthly, annually, etc basis. I mean surely there is going to be much more data than just a name associated with these parts such as images. Regardless of the CMS it will be a complete custom job to build an import script. That is probably the biggest hurdle unless your willing to enter everything manually via forms, which I doubt. Though I would question whether this is really worth the time and money in the first place in regards to "SEO". What are some concrete goals of this project? If your only goal is more SEO than you have been probably severely misinformed and are better off spending the money elsewhere. However, if your goal is to have more control over the presentation of parts, branding, ads – that would be another story. Those would mainly be the reasons making this a worth while investment – not just "SEO".
Yes, the goal of it is both for SEO and to have control over presenting product information, etc. Do you have a better idea for SEO?
The whole reason I'm doing this is because it is not possible to have any search engine optimization for the actual product catalog itself. The catalog we have is provided by a 3rd party, and all it is is a portal into a very bland catalog that that just shows product part number, basic description, and thumbnail image.
In order to even reach any of the items contained in the product catalog, you are required to select your vehicle year, make, model, engine size, etc. And we have zero control over this and the content inside the catalog after you select your vehicle....as you can see, this makes any product contained within the catalog impossible to have found in the search engines without coming up with another solution.
Knowing this, how else are we supposed to have someone find our website in an organic search when they do keyword searches? The only way I can see is to create content targeted to the keywords people will be searching by, no?
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