If traditional content management systems (CMS) are out, headless CMS are most definitely in. They allow businesses to publish content to any platform or device. Rather than being stuck with a connected front- and back-end, you have the freedom to adapt, develop, and keep up with technological advancements. 

But if you’re not careful, headless CMS can wreak havoc on SEO. As 39% of all global eCommerce traffic comes from search, SEO should be a top priority. It’s worth taking the time to make it work for you. With this in mind, here’s everything you need to know about headless commerce and SEO. 

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is a form of eCommerce that has headless content management capabilities. Put simply, your CMS solution operates independently, with no ties to a front layer. Each is decoupled and kept completely separate.

Your front layer is also known as the presentation layer. It’s what your customers see and interact with. It’s likely to be a template or a theme. Your back layer is the application layer. It’s the code and where all your business’s content is kept. This is the layer that a business’s users will interact with.

In headless commerce solutions, application programming interface (API) calls are in charge of communicating between the front and back layers. If you’re a customer ordering a product online, when you press confirm order, an API call will travel from the front-end to tell the back-end to process the order. An API call is then sent back to the front to tell you that the sale is complete. The two layers can connect with each other but remain independent.

APIs are significantly enhancing the eCommerce experience for businesses and those that adapt are reaping the rewards.

Headless commerce can be better for keeping up with changing industries as they are more flexible. Platforms are easier to customise and you can adapt your front-end without interfering with any back-end code or vice versa. This means developers can customise front- and back-ends to suit both the consumers and users separately. It also means businesses can add their brand to any platform or device quickly. Rather than being restricted to a website, headless commerce means you can add your application layer to any number of templates or forms.

Advantages for SEO

With a decoupled front and back-end, you can test and trial different SEO approaches on each layer. You can trial new SEO methods on your application layer confident that your front layer won’t be affected. It can give you the opportunity to try two different methods at the same time. Because of this, you can learn what works for you and get to know your customer faster. It also means you can get new platforms up and running quicker and build up your ranking faster.

Disadvantages for SEO

When starting out with headless commerce, you’ll be building your front-end from scratch. This basically means starting again with SEO. A bespoke CMS will also bring up a variety of unique challenges that your team may have no previous experience with. In a lot of ways, it will be trial and error as a one-of-a-kind platform will be completely new territory.

Considerations to make

When moving over to headless commerce, start making SEO decisions early. The process will become a lot easier if you tackle SEO while in early development stages. A lot of SEO processes will need to be done manually. With traditional commerce, you’re likely to be used to a lot of pre-built systems. Always make sure you’re covering all the basics at every stage. API calls can interfere with dynamic URLs, so request static where possible. It can also be helpful to keep all URLs the same when transitioning over.

Headless commerce is a key way to keep up with current trends in eCommerce. It allows you a lot more flexibility and customisability than traditional commerce methods. But if done wrong, it can be counterproductive to SEO. It’s important you approach this transition carefully and go back to basics to ensure you cover all bases. 

At Shopit, we make headless commerce easy. The platform’s powerful set of APIs give every business full customisation, flexibility, and will get you up and running faster. Find out more here and sign up for a free trial today. 

Neil Balcombe
Neil Balcombe

Lead Shopit developer Neil offers insight and discusses new feature launches that boost the platform’s native strength.

Neil has experience running online shops himself and always seeks incremental or larger scale improvements