SEO I18n for an E-Commerce website

E-Commerce Internationalisation and Optimisation (including China)

Amalgam Fine Model Cars creates the very highest quality model cars and yachts, for designers, manufacturers and high-end collectors worldwide.

Formula 1 teams are supplied with large-scale models and replica steering wheels for presentation to VIPs and for the use of sponsors and team partners. Amalgam models are displayed in the offices of team owners, managers and chief designers as well as many F1 drivers. Amalgam also supply most of the world’s prestige and high-performance car manufacturers, offering personalised models to owners matching the exact specification of their real car.

Amalgam Home PageAmalgam Detail Page

The Problem

The Amalgam website had been developed three years previously but had never gone live. The original programmer had since left the company.

Developed with reasonable technical competency it was a sophisticated e-commerce website, however it did not quite work as expected. Nor did it fully meet the client's requirements.

The architecture of the website was in the head of the developer whose strength lay in PHP development rather than in relational databases. Although built on a basic (but sound) data model, there was no enforcement of rules and little data integrity causing "bugs" and unexpected behaviour in the website.

Furthermore different technologies had been utilised, rather than building the website from scratch. This is a common scenario which is not a problem in itself, however the developer had not finished tying up various "loose ends" causing further difficulties.

In the intervening time, the technology used to build the e-commerce website (PHP and mySQL) had moved on. Many of the components utilised in the application relied on depreciated functions which were no longer supported or indeed recommended. For example the PHP database access mechanisms were vulnerable to SQL injection attacks.

Finally our client wished to target China, however the i18n (internationalisation) support was not functional, and work had not yet been started with regard to the implementation of a Chinese payment gateway.

The Solution

Using our experience in data structures, we were able to address the underlying system problems in order to stabilise the website.

With in depth knowledge of all layers of modern website architecture, from the lowest levels of the mySQL InnoDB/ISAM database, through PHP frameworks, and onto higher level components we were able to quickly assimilate the problems and fix them in the most cost effective manner. Our understanding of I18N support and SEO enabled us to fix the mechanism that builds SEO friendly urls in multiple languages.

With a more stable website we were able to add new functionality such as integrating the product catalogue with the client's existing high resolution image archive. In addition, we improved the back-end maintenance system to provide enhanced navigation and product pricing control.

Future requirements include automatic geo-location of visitors which will direct them to web pages with content in the relevant language and currency. Search Engine Optimisation for other languages will be implemented, including Chinese specific SEO using pinyin which is used by popular search engines in China.