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Magento SEO: How to Optimise & Rank Your Magento eCommerce Store

Key Points You Need to Know

When it comes to Magento SEO, there are many important key points you need to know about, in order to rank the highest you can in search engines. As one of the world’s largest e-Commerce platforms, there is a lot to consider and a lot to do if you want your website to rank well – and that’s not even considering how your product data will look, this is all purely backend configuration we will talk about.

In this article, you’ll find important points about how to configure and use Magento SEO effectively and properly, to leave your site in the best place it can be on search engine rankings.

Post Contents & Navigation

We’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Page Optimization
  2. Magento Extensions
  3. XML Sitemaps
  4. Crawl Efficiency & Duplicate Content
  5. SEO Services – What do we offer?

Click on the above links to get to the section most relevant to you and find the information you need!

What You Will Learn:

How to optimize pages and categories properly

Tips on how to effectively create Meta Descriptions & Title Tags to enable you to look good on Search Engines and gain that click.

What Extensions can further enhance your Magento store

We have used the Mageworx SEO Suite Ultimate on clients in the past, and it’s got a host of features that can enhance your store further. Comes highly recommended.

How to avoid duplicated content across the site

Learn about how to use nofollow links and canonical tags in your store to avoid search engines penalising you for duplicated content. Also covers multi-site configuration.

How to use robots and sitemaps within Magento

Find out how robots and sitemaps are used in Magento to crawl (or not!) your site to be indexed in the search engines.

Page Optimization

One of the first things to know about Magento SEO, is the page optimization required to enable it to rank correctly. This can be divided into 4 areas: header, products, categories and static pages.

Header

Let’s literally start at the top of each page with the Magento Title tag. The earlier you get your key words in, the better! Try and contain a key word within your Title tag – users are more likely to click-through to your website then. It might also be a good idea to add a Title Suffix (appended to each page title) – traditionally, this would be your store name, so you don’t have to worry about it on every individual title across your website.

Adding a Title Suffix in Magento
Magento 1 Title Suffix Screenshot

System ConfigurationGeneral Design HTML Head

Adding a Title Suffix in Magento 2
Magento 2 Title Suffix Screenshot

Content Configuration Edit Store View HTML Head

Category Pages

Holding all your products, your category pages are important to get right – they need to rank well on Google, ideally, as they are often the gateway into your website for the end user.

In regards to Meta information, it is important to create a short, concise Meta description for each category page – this is important as it is what the user will see on the search engine frontend. Make it relevant! It is also important to know that the URL key needs to be short, but keyword rich – don’t include stop-words, but try and include a keyword for that category. We will speak more throughout the article about how canonical URLs and hierarchal URLs can help you with category page optimization.

Adding Category Meta Information in Magento

Catalog Manage Categories [your category] *Scroll Down*

Adding Category Meta Information in Magento 2

Product Manage Categories [your_category] Search Engine Optimization

It is also important to add a good category name, ensuring that it is a h1 tag, and around 150 words or more of unique content – this can sit at the top or bottom of the category page. The unique content can help boost rankings, as there is more content for search engines to crawl through and pick out keywords. It can also help your customers in searching and browsing across your store. To check if your content is truly unique, follow this link: copyscape.com and simply enter your URL. The site will then trawl the web to ensure that there is no duplicated content anywhere.

Product Pages

Similar to the category pages, it’s important to get the meta information right. It needs to be short, concise and briefly sum up the product in question – remember, this is what will display on the search engine!

Adding Product Meta Information in Magento

Catalog Manage Products [your_product] Meta Information

Adding Product Meta Information in Magento 2

Products [your_product] Search Engine Optimzation

It is important that all the content you add on a product page is unique – it can’t be duplicated from anywhere (either on your site or on the web), and it should not be copied directly from the manufacturers – think of all the other wholesalers who could be doing that! Thin content pages don’t rank well in Google unless the domain has high authority, so it’s important to get enough content on the pages to be indexed.

For stores who have a large range of products, you can work through the popular products and scale their importance. For example:

500-1000 monthly views – add 500 words

250-499 monthly views – add 300 words

49-249 monthly views – add 150 words

0-49 monthly views – add 50 words

Again, unique content can be checked using the copyscape.com url that was explained in the category section above. One important aspect to note about Magento SEO & Product Pages, is the duplicated content caused between configurable and simple products. It’s likely that a configurable product will have the same data across its variants (the simples) – we use canonical tags to get around this issue, pointing the data towards the main configurable product. We will go into more detail on this, later in the article.

Static Pages

As we’ve already spoken about, a static page will need a good meta description that will help entice users to click onto your website, whilst being short, concise and relevant to your page. If you don’t include a meta description, the search engine will just take a snippet of text from your page and display that – potentially not making much sense to the end-user, who may not know the context.

Adding Static Page Meta Information in Magento

CMS Pages [your_page] Meta Data

Adding Static Page Meta Information in Magento 2

Content Pages [your_page] Search Engine Optimization

It is important that all the content you add on a static page is unique – it can’t be duplicated from anywhere (either on your site or on the web). Try and fill your page with keywords relating to the page subject, but don’t overload it or force keywords in. Only use them where it naturally fits.

Magento Extensions

Not all Magento SEO is fully down to you, however! There are fantastic Magento SEO plugins available that can enhance your site’s SEO capabilities further, and we recommend Mageworx SEO Suite Ultimate, having used it on a number of sites beforehand. It boasts a number of features, including:

  • Solving Duplicated Content Issues via canonical tags both on one domain and multiple-domains, and using short category URLs.
  • Hreflang Tag Support is excellent if you are running a multi-lingual site. The plugin allows you to quickly add in a hreflang tag into the website header.
  • Cross Links allow you to quickly link any keywords to various products and categories within your website.
  • Magento Rich Snippets allow you to take search engine optimization further, by adding in (to search engine results) product images, ratings, pricing and availability (amongst others), allowing you to stand out in search engines against your competitors.
  • SEO Redirects can help you easily add in redirects (both 301 permanent and 302 temporary) for any products that you no longer need on the site.
  • Advanced Breadcrumbs essentially improve the standard breadcrumbs by making them more search engine friendly.
  • Category Page Optimization
  • HTML & XML Sitemaps lists all your store links in one place, allowing you to edit the links easily in one place. The XML sitemap is easily customisable and 100% error free guaranteed.
  • SEO Reports helps you to identify and fix any problems arising with your site’s SEO – are meta titles too long? Is there any missing meta data?
  • Create SEO friendly URLs for product review pages.
  • Effectively and easily manage canonical URLs, noindex rules and robots.txt

Feel free to check them out: https://www.mageworx.com/seo-suite-ultimate-magento-extension.html, to see all that they have to offer. The SEO Extension costs $250, and we have used it on clients in the past with good results. Here at BRAVE, we can install and configure the plugin at our normal support rates, view them here.

XML Sitemaps

They key thing to know about a Magento XML Sitemap is that, whilst they won’t help you get indexed in a search engine whatsoever, it will help you get indexed faster. If you don’t have an XML sitemap, Google (or whichever search engine) has to crawl your website manually – with a sitemap, it tells the search engine where to go to see that page via one file. This can be done manually in the Magento backend, meaning that there’s no excuses not to try and increase your indexation speed. If the search engine has to manually crawl your site via links found, it will take longer and put more strain on your site. An XML map will avoid this.

Within a Magento sitemap, you can configure the page priority and the frequency of updates required – particularly useful if you are constantly adding new products and lines into your store.

Enabling XML Sitemaps in Magento

System Configuration Catalog XML Sitemap.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: We would always set up an XML sitemap before we put a site live.

Crawl Efficiency & Duplicate Content

Robots

The Magento Robots.txt file should only really be used if search engines shouldn’t be accessing certain parts of your website – is there any need for them to access the checkout, for example? The robots.txt file prevents the robots from crawling and indexing areas of your website, as well as files & directories on your web server that don’t need to be indexed.

The XML file must always be submitted to the Google Search Console on every version of the site possible. This may include:

  • http://www.example.com
  • http://example.com
  • https://www.example.com
  • https://example.com

An example of how the start of a Robots.txt file might look is below:

# Directories
Disallow: /404/
Disallow: /app/
Disallow: /cgi-bin/

# Paths (clean URLs)
Disallow: /index.php/
Disallow: /catalog/product_compare/
Disallow: /catalog/category/view/
Disallow: /catalog/product/view/
Disallow: /catalogsearch/

# Files
Disallow: /cron.php
Disallow: /cron.sh
Disallow: /error_log

# Paths (no clean URLs)
#Disallow: /*.js$
#Disallow: /*.css$
Disallow: /*.php$
Disallow: /*?SID=

*This should be custom to your solution/theme and its functionality, additional entries will be required

Editing Robots.txt in Magento

Stores Configuration General Design.
However, for Magento 1, you will need to install it onto your server.

CASE STUDY: In a recent site launch, during our technical audit of the site, we found there was 84,026 indexable pages – this was as a result of the robots.txt file and Google Search Console not disallowing areas of the website not needing to be seen, such as a pricing filter in the url. The screenshot of Google Search Console below shows just some of the parameters that needed disallowing (or risk duplicated content). Eventually, after configuring the robots.txt file, the results came to 2,950 of unique products, categories and static pages (meaning there was on average 28 duplicate versions of each page).

Duplicate Content & Multi-Website Configuration

Duplicated content is one of the biggest penalties you can receive in Google – you need to try and avoid it where possible, and we are going to help you do exactly that. This can be through nofollow links, and canonical URLs, which we will explain more about further down the article.

Multi-Store Configuration is one of the easiest ways of falling into the duplicated content trap – just because it’s a different URL, doesn’t mean that Google will let you off using the same content! Our recommendation is to simply create a second lot of data and content for the second store. It doesn’t need to be massively different, but just different enough to rank well enough in search engines.

Hierarchal URLs

One of the easiest ways to avoid duplicated content in Google, is to avoid the use of what is known as hierarchal URLs. Typically, a standard URL for a product would look like this: www.example.com/category/product. The problem with this is, what if the product is in two different categories? Search engines would see two different URLs, both with the same content. The best practice with this is to disable hierarchal URLs altogether – this would be removing categories from the URL, giving the same URL across multiple categories, allowing your pages to index properly in search engines with no issues.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: We always disallow hierarchal structures in URL. We think you should too.

Enable Hierarchical URLs in Magento

System Configuration Catalog Search Engine Optimization Use Categories Path for Product URLs = No

Enable Hierarchical URLs in Magento 2

Stores Configuration Catalog Catalog Search Engine Optimization Use Categories Path for Product URLs = No

NoIndex/NoFollow Links

The nofollow links in Magento is used to prevent search engines from indexing pages – essentially hiding the pages from search engines whilst the nofollow links are in action. It is highly recommended to nofollow the entire site during development mode – would you want anyone to see your website whilst it’s being built? Just remember to remove the nofollow links when you make your site live.

We would also recommend putting nofollow links on pages that don’t really mean much in terms of content – this would include pages like logins, checkout and wishlist pages – there’s no need for them to be indexed by search engines. These generally need adding in the template phtml file, however, so will need server and development access to achieve this (it isn’t critical!). However, if there is a ‘follow’ link on the page then it is still at risk of being indexed – if you are unsure, always use the robots.txt file to disallow pages, or NoIndex as a master command.

Key points to know about the default robots setting:

NoIndex: This means that you’re telling the robots NOT to index pages in the search engine.

NoFollow: This tells the robots NOT to follow the link on the page.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: During development, never allow Google to index or follow your site. Once the site is live, ALWAYS allow index and follow areas of the site you want them to crawl and index ONLY

Adding NoIndex, NoFollow in Magento

Stores Configuration General Design HTML Head

Adding NoIndex, NoFollow in Magento 2

Stores Configuration General Design Search Engine Robots Default Robots

Canonical URLs

Magento Canonical URLs are used to prevent being penalised by search engines for duplicated content – it essentially instructs which page the search engines need to index, via the use of a canonical tag on the affected pages.

The following needs to change:

Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories to YES. This essentially tells the search engines that the category page is the same – regardless of anything new added to the URL, such as page number or sort terms.

Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products to YES. This is the same principle as above – it tells the search engines that the product details are the same as the main product. Ideally used for configurable products, when the simple variant products have the same product data and content as its parent.

The standard canonical URL setting is that the canonical tag points to the page WITHOUT the URL query string or pagination – for example the URL www.example.com/category.html is the master canonical, whereas the URL www.example.com/category.html?price=123 will have a canonical pointing towards the master.

However, that is irrelevant if you want the ‘view all’ URL to the be the master page in a category – that URL might look like this: www.example.com/category.html?view=all.

Key points to know about Canonical URLs:

An example of where you’d need to use canonical tags is if you have products in multiple categories.

If you have the following links:

www.example.com/category-one/product-one.html

www.example.com/category-two/product-one.html

www.example.com/product-one.html.

The canonical tag will be pointing towards the master canonical, which in this instance, would be the URL without the category URL. This ties in with the use of hierarchal URLs we mentioned earlier in the article, as well.

Master Canonical URLs https://www.seasprayswimwear.com/swimsuits
URL Query String #1 https://www.seasprayswimwear.com/swimsuits?price=0-21
URL Query String #2 https://www.seasprayswimwear.com/swimsuits?price=0-21&size=48
URL Query String #3 https://www.seasprayswimwear.com/swimsuits?size=48
URL Query String #4 https://www.seasprayswimwear.com/swimsuits?season=212&size=48

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Always set the above to Yes, and always add a canonical tag to the homepage.

Enabling Canonical URLs in Magento

System Configuration Catalog Catalog Search Engine Optimization

Enabling Canonical URLs in Magento 2

Stores Configuration Catalog Catalog Search Engine Optimzations

SEO Services - What do we offer?

Here at BRAVE, we are here to offer Magento SEO Services. We can offer a number of services, which includes using in-depth reporting to:

  • Eliminate thin content (and too much content!)
  • Find & Fix Broken Pages
  • Improve site speed
  • Improve User Experience
  • Help your site become mobile-responsive
  • Up to date Technical Audits, our team crawl and evaluate over 200 potential issues that fall under the following categories:
  • Indexable Pages
  • Non-Indexable Pages
  • Non-200 Status
  • Failed Urls
  • Uncrawled Urls
  • Titles & Meta Descriptions
  • Website Body Content
  • Java Script / css / Image Resources
  • Social Tagging
  • Canonical Tags
  • 301/302 Redirects
  • HTTPS/HTTP Issues
  • Hreflang language tagging
  • Pagination
  • URL Design
  • Internal Links
  • External/outbound links
  • Sitemaps
  • Landing Pages
  • Device Traffic
  • Traffic Issues
  • Backlink Audit/Recovery
  • Mobile/AMP Issues
  • Categorization
  • Fetch Time
  • Page Size
  • Web Crawl
  • Analytics
  • Search Console
  • Full Extraction

We also offer other Magento Services, including:

This is all included as standard in our Magento web development packages, but we also offer these services if you have a website already. Contact us now if you’re interested.

I hope you have found this article on Magento SEO useful, and that I hope it can help you to rank well in search engines. If you want to know more, or ask any questions, or even want to enquire about any of our services, please feel free to comment below or contact us directly.

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