SEO Optimization for Magento Websites
This blog post is by Robert Kent, Systems Manager at Creare.
SEO Optimization for Magento Websites
There are many guides about how to improve the visibility of your Magento website in search engines, but not many of them look at the problem through the store owner’s perspective.
My two-part post is about using some basic content management skills and, more importantly, your knowledge as the business owner to help improve the content and layout of your Magento website. In doing so, you will help to improve the online experience of both your customers and search engines alike.
Knowing Your Business and Writing Content
One of the biggest factors that influence rankings and improve your presence in search engines is writing unique, engaging content for your website.
As the business owner you are in the best position to speak about your products. It is highly recommended you do this yourself or at least provide enough information to a third-party copywriter to get your unique perspective across on the page.
Time is of the essence for small- and medium-sized businesses, and it is far easier to use your supplier’s stock content for your product descriptions. And why not? It has all the information you need and takes a matter of seconds to copy and paste, right?
Well, that may be true, but, unfortunately, you can bet that 70% of your online competitors have already done the exact same thing. As a result there are already tens, if not hundreds, of pages on search engines with the same content as yours. This will not do your Magento website any favors and in some cases could have an adverse effect on those pages where the non-unique copy is present.
For best results (where possible):
- You or one of your trusted employees should create the content or outline for product/category descriptions.
- Ensure your content is unique for each page and is personal to your business.
One of the easiest ways to improve organic listings is to simplify and correctly organize the navigation menu. Yet this is something most eCommerce storeowners fail to implement correctly. Within Magento this means simplifying and organizing your category structure.
All too often, an eCommerce category structure follows the convention of more=more, perhaps double-categorizing and subcategorizing every possible combination of product, brand, and color.
Too many choices can be overwhelming to an online visitor and can actually reduce his or her engagement with a website. Less engagement with a customer unfortunately leads to less and less respect being earned from search engines.
The aim should be to narrow the number of choices presented to a customer as he or she moves through the categories toward the end-product.
- Ensure that your navigation and category structure is uncluttered and self-explanatory.
- Avoid over-complicating the navigation by doubling up on brands / colors and other elements that could be filtered within layered navigation (product attributes).
Using Magento’s Built-In SEO Tools
Magento comes complete with many built-in SEO tools and, although these are covered in many articles around the web, it is still worth pointing out here a few of the basics that any Magento user can implement.
Making Sure Your Website Is Seen By Search Engines
The Meta Robots tag is one of the most crucial elements that should be configured when your website is live. This will typically be set to NOINDEX when your Magento website is in development—meaning that search engines should not add these pages to their results listings.
However, it is imperative that you ensure that the Meta Robots tag has been set to INDEX, FOLLOW when your website is live. You can find this within System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head > Default Robots.
Meta descriptions for products and categories are still an important factor to consider when enticing potential customers to your website from the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Redirecting Broken Pages
When disabling products or removing categories, any link that a customer follows, whether through a search engine or referral, may result in a 404 – Page not found error.
It is well worth monitoring how many of these errors you receive and implement a 301 redirect in order to automatically relocate the customer (and search engine) to the most relevant live page.
Typically, this is to ensure that the user experience is as smooth as possible through any entrance into your Magento website.
Delivering a Single Page to Search Engines
Search engines only want to discover one version of your page on a single URL. Magento has the ability to double-categorize products to give flexibility over categorization, but this means that in some instances a single product could be accessible through any number of URLs.
Fortunately, Magento allows us to correct this for search engines by enabling canonical tags. This allows us to use the double-categorization within Magento without confusing search engines as to what single page our product or category should exist on. Canonical tags help developers and site owners eliminate self-created duplicate content within the index. Canonical tags tell search engines the page in question should be treated as though it were a copy of a specific URL and that all of the link and content metrics the engines apply should technically flow back to that URL.
XML Sitemap Generation
One of the easiest ways to keep search engines up-to-date with changes on our website is to offer them an XML sitemap.
Magento provides us with the ability to generate an XML sitemap automatically (as long as the Magento CRON has been enabled on the server) every time we create or remove a product / category and CMS page.
Speed and Usability
Speed is a well-known ranking factor for websites. Search engines take the usability of a website into account as they do not want to serve their own users with slow, poor-quality websites.
Can we include a DIY tool where someone can test the speed of their site? I need to dig to find the one I’m thinking of but know that there are free tools available to at least “assess the speed of your site.”
Ensure that your hosting provider has a track-record of hosting Magento websites and that their servers match or exceed theminimum requirements.
A few easy solutions:
- Make your meta descriptions informative and inviting
- Enable canonical tags for products and categories
- Set-up your XML sitemap to auto-generate and submit to Google
- Pick a good server and set up the CRON