Search Engine Optimization or SEO is not a dying art, as some people seem to assume, but rather a method to increase your website’s position in the search engine results pages, which will result in more traffic and sales. If you have an e-commerce website then there is a good chance that it is a Megento store, which, although this may be great for managing the sales portion of your website, doesn’t offer much benefit in regards to search engine optimization
In this article we will be showing you the best tips, tricks, and practices for optimizing your Magento stores effectively, to ensure their good rankings. As a webmaster, you really do need to respect SEO as a practice as it can really skyrocket your earnings.
SEO Plugins for Magento
When it comes to Magento stores and Search engine optimization there is actually quite a lot of work that can be done to improve and optimize your store and, by using professionally coded plugins, you can save yourself a lot of work and change settings at the touch of a button.
As we will mention later on search engine visibility can play a huge role in rankings. Search engines index websites by utilising “Crawlers”, which search the internet looking for websites and links, so that they can appear in relation to a keyword.
Improved robots.txt works by creating guidelines for well-known crawlers, showing them the best way to index your Magento store. This means that SE robots will target the most important pages, improving your page rankings. If you would like to add “Improved Robots.txt” to your Magento ecommerce store, then you can purchase it here.
Advanced SEO Suite:
If you have ever done any search engine optimisation on a WordPress website then you will most likely have heard of the plugin called Yoast SEO. Well “Advanced SEO Suite” is Magento’s own version of that and it is basically an all-in-one SEO tool and, although there are better plugins for more specific things, in general it is great!
Some of its main features are the options to create a template for optimising product groups and categories, easily change META tags and Headers(We will talk about their significance later), and much, much more. If you would like to add “Advanced SEO Suite” to your Magento ecommerce store, then you can purchase it here.
Randomising product data
Possibly the worst part about Magento stores is, after you have been up and running for a considerable amount of time, some duplicate content always finds its way onto the site. This can be bad news for, not only SEO, but advertising revenue because your advertising network and Google may penalize you for “Lack of quality content”.
The reason that duplicate content appears on your website is because, when you create a new product, by default Magento creates two pages for it. The first URL It creates it /category/product_name and the second one is just /product_name, which is called a TLP URL (Top level product URL). This means that when Google’s robots, which we allowed onto our site in the previous step, crawl the site, they will notice that there are two pages with identical content.
The fix, just as before, is to go into the Administration panel. From there you will need to locate system, followed by configuration, where you should then see catalogue and then SEO. On this screen, you should see a lot of options, but you need to look out for “Use categories path for product URL”, where you should select no. Once you have done this then your Magento store should only create one link for new Products, which removes the risk of Google discovering copied content and penalizing your site in rankings.
If you would like to read more about why copied content is bad, then you can do so here.
Although you have now removed the duplicate pages, you are not totally in the clear. For example, if you have a large-scale store that sells a wide-variety of products in all different shapes/ sizes, you may end up with “Product X” as well as “Product X in Size Z in Colour Y”, which could become a problem for the search engine robots we talked about earlier.
To get around this issue you can let the robots know which variation of the product to index by adding a rel canonical tag. To do this you need to go to Magento’s Admin panel, where you then need to select “Manage products” from the Catalog tab.
You will then be directed to a page that should list all of the products that are in your store. You should now select the product that you know has duplicate content, as well as the other variations that have these duplications (If you don’t know what pages have the duplicate content you can use CopyScape to check)
After locating the products with duplicate content, you then need to click on the menu called “Design”. From there you should see a box called “Custom Layout” and there you need to add the following code:
<reference name="head"> <action method="linkRel"> <rel>canonical</rel> <href>http://www.yoururl.com/</href> </action> </reference>
After changing the information to fit the product that you want the robots to notice and index, you then need to paste the same code into the other products with the same text. For example, if your product link is blog.com/shoe and you also have blog.com/shoe-red, then on the red shoe’s design tab, you need to make sure that the canonical links to just the /shoe.
Important settings for SEO
It has to be said that Magento stores are optimized for search engines fairly well out-of-the-box, however, there are a few things that you, as a webmaster, can do to aid your site with rankings. Although none of these settings will guarantee your site will rank number one, together they will give it a really big push.
Optimize the titles of the page:
One of the most common mistakes with Magneto Store Webmaster, as well as a lot of other online platforms, is to generate random, and obscure, page and product titles. While some SEO experts argue whether you should put your exact keyword in your URL slug, everyone agrees that it is incredibly important to have a relevant title.
This is important because when someone searches the keyword you are targeting on Google and sees your website, then instead of being greeted with an enticing, self-explanatory title, they can often be met with an obscure title. One thing you can do to fix this problem before it starts is to set universal guidelines for page titles. By doing this you can set a prefix, or alternatively a suffix, for all the pages on your site. For example, if you have a micro-niche e-commerce store about “Cat food”, you could set the prefix of your titles to that so that they would read “Cat food – Article Title”.
To do this you will want to make your way over to the Administration Panel for Magento, and then head into the system section. From there you should see configuration, and then Design. Finally, you should see the Heads option, which will take you to a screen where you can set: The default title, Title prefix Title suffix, default description, default keywords, and so on. Once you have set up all of these options then your titles should be optimized site wide, which incredibly handy for Google.
If you would like to read more about optimizing titles, then you can do so here.
Search engine visibility:
As you may, or may not know, websites actually have the option of not being indexed by Google. This can be hand in some cases, but when you are relying on search engine traffic to make sales if your site is not indexed then you can be in big trouble. By default, quite a lot of Magento e-commerce stores are actually not set in an SEO friendly way. An easy fix for this is to go into the Magento HTML header file, and make sure that the default robots setting is set to “Index” as well as “Follow”. This ensures that Google’s robots, which crawl the internet looking for websites and links, can identify the website as well as any links, which allows Google to index them.
If you want to read more about search engine visibility, then you can do so here.
Creating a site map:
Quite possibly the best thing a webmaster, who is using Magento, can do is take advantage of the XML sitemap. A site map is, as the name suggests, a map/ list containing all of your site’s pages, as well as the links that they contain. This means that once the Google Robots stumble across the sitemap they can easily find all the other pages, maximizing their chances of ranking.
Just like the previous steps, this is set up in Magento’s administration panel. Once you are there you want to navigate yourself to configuration and then straight to Google Sitemap. From here you need to enable your sitemap by heading to the catalog section, and then the sitemap section. After this, all that is left to do is submit your sitemap in your Google Webmaster account.
In case you would like to read more about Sitemaps, you can visit this link.
Configuring the images text:
Last, but not least, we gave image configuration. It is one of the most important, yet most neglected ways in which you can make your Magento Store SEO friendly and if done right the effect can be massive. You may notice that when you save an image from a well-established website that it will usually save as “relating_to_image” whereas if you go to a site lower down in the SERPS, images are often saved as “18127282uhjnbjfh37yy3fh83fh3f8f3b738gf3hnf3.png”.
This step really is quite simple and all you have to do is make sure that your Image’s alt text relates to the product/ keyword, and is not just an irrelevant string of characters and numbers. This also helps to gain SERP rankings for the “Images” Section of Google, which is often forgotten about by webmasters and content creators.
If you would like to read more about image texts, then you can do so here.