SEO for Magento – It’s well known that, as far as e-commerce platforms go, Magento is one of the most search-engine friendly systems. To make an e-store more visible to potential buyers, there are many techniques within Magento that a website admin can implement to enhance his or her e-store ranking in search engine results.
These techniques are usually referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Here is a set of tips for optimizing SEO in Magento, to make sure customers find your store and find the right pages in your store when they are searching for items.
Planning a Keyword Strategy
All SEO optimization campaigns start with effective planning of a keyword strategy. This is also true when it comes to eCommerce platforms. While planning a keyword strategy for an eCommerce platform, we have to maintain an effective balance between three important factors:
Relevance means that the page optimized for specific keyword(s) should have relevant content on it. Purpose implies that the content of the page should also direct users towards the ultimate purpose of the website, i.e. to drive sales.
Structure means that page’s authority from an SEO perspective is inversely proportional to its depth in the website structure. Therefore, the homepage has more authority than a product or CMS page. Hence, a homepage should be optimized for more broad and competitive keywords, while the pages deep in the website structure should be optimized for more specific and less competitive keywords.
Effective keyword strategy
To have an effective keyword strategy, we have to consider each of these three factors. We have to ensure that our keyword resides on the page with enough strength to enable to it to perform, and we also have to guarantee that it is sufficiently relevant to the page’s content to keep the visitor engaged. This should all help in accomplishing the main purpose of the website.
SEO for Magento – Admin Panel Configurations for SEO
Once we have an effective keyword strategy developed, it’s time to start preparing our Magento store for Search Engine Optimization. The first place to start is with the Magento admin panel configurations, as they are the easiest and quickest configurations to update.
First of all, we’ll go to Magento Admin Panel > System > Configuration > Web. Here, from the URL Options tab, we’ll change the Auto-redirect to Base URL to Yes (301 Moved Permanently). This will remove the redundant index.php that is appended to the base URL.
Search Engine Optimization tab
Then, from the Search Engine Optimization tab, we’ll change Use Web Server Rewrites to Yes. This will auto-redirect to the base URL in case the domain is typed without the “www” prefix.
Next we’ll make a couple of changes in System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations. Here you’ll see these default settings:
On this screen, we’ll set Use Categories Path for Product URLs to No. The rationale behind this is that products can be accessed from two different URLs in Magento:
- With a category name in the URL, like http://mystore.com/category/subcategory/product.html
- Without a category name in the URL, like http://mydomain.com/product.html
When a search crawler accesses the same page through two different URLs, it thinks we are duplicating content across two pages. By setting Use Categories Path for Product URLs to No, we disable the product path with the category name in the URL, thus leaving only one path to access the product page. This will help us avoid duplicate content penalties.
Duplicate content penalties
To further reduce the chances of duplicate content penalties, we’ll turn Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories and Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products to Yes. A more in-depth explanation about canonical tags will be provided in the next article in this series.
Our next step will be to define store default settings for title, description, and keywords. Magento uses a fallback approach to determine the value of these tags.
First, it will look to see if any category or CMS page has specifically defined values for these tags. If it finds them, it will use them as first preference. If there is no such tag specifically defined for an individual category or CMS page, it will try to populate these itself by resorting to store default settings.
For products, however, it uses a different approach. For products it pre-populates product name as “title”, product description as “description” and product name as “keyword”. To edit the default settings, go to System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head.