Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general is a vast subject to cover in a single blog post, optimization requires patience and experience. We will just deal with the basic steps one can take to optimize their Magento stores for better SERP (search engine results page) rankings.
Search algorithms of Google and other search engines are way complex and little information is available in the public domain. For example, even for a simple crawl bot rule such as rel=”nofollow”, each search engine has different interpretation of it. One thing to note is that e-commerce stores (running Magento or on any other platform) have to face a tough keyword competition as similar products are usually on sale on high traffic online stores, achieving the Domain or Page Authority for the product keywords is a slow process and if you are running a business, it is wise to hire a professional unless you are an SEO expert yourself.
Luckily Magento has some cool backend options to make them search engine friendly, let me show some of effective one’s.
SEO for Magento e-stores
1. Make your URLs clean and clear
Always use common characters and product related words for your URLs! It helps your links to be human readable too. Magento by default supports to simplify URLs. Go to : System => Configuration => Web => Search Engines Optimization.
* Enter “URL Options” menu, set “No” for “Add Store Code to URLS” to avoid store codes being added to your URLs.
Remove store codes from the Magento store URLs
* Enter “Search Engine Optimization” menu, set “Yes” for “Server URL Rewrites” to remove “index.php” from your URLs.
Remove “index.php” from URLs
2. Allow search engines to index your sites
Click through System => Configuration => Design => HTML Heads, and then change the “Default Robots” setting to “INDEX, FOLLOW”. You can also try this useful free Yoast Metarobots Magento extension to add nofollow specific non-content pages.
Be indexed for SERP inclusion
3. Use metadata
Update default metadata info for your store. It is recommended to avoid using the same metadata info for all pages. For example, metadata description for your site will not be appropriate for your specific product pages. Google and others show the metadata description below the link in the SERP. A description relevant to the searched keyword would surely convince the user to follow your link.
* Enter Admin Panel (System => Configuration => Design => HTML heads) and define generic rules for the whole site. To set the title and metadata on a page to page basis, go to individual categories and product pages in the catalog section of Admin Panel.
* Writing concise descriptions with relevant key words for your new categories, products and services help search engines to match user search query to your product link.
* label your files correctly. For example, Instead of “img2345_seo435.jpg”, image name as “gift_ribbon_pink.jpg” makes more sense for everyone. This should always be followed with “alt” tag for the image file in question.
Label filenames for optimizing search engines
* Creating a “URL Key” so that the URLs are specific for the product keyword.
Create URL Key
4. Eliminate Duplicate Contents
Don’t dive your site in the ocean of duplicate contents! Magento allows you to sort and easily navigate them all to categories.
Here to dismiss the duplications in URLs, click through System => Configuration => Catalog => Search Engine Optimization and set “No” for “Use Categories Path for Product URLs”.
Avoid duplicate contents for optimizing search engines
To avoid duplicating contents in case your items show off in various categories, set “Yes” to both “Canonical Link Meta Tag” boxes. Google do not like duplicate contents
Avoid duplicate contents
5. Google XML Sitemap Generator
Google XML Sitemap is an effective method to communicate with Google search engine. Through the XML sitemap, the structure and essential contents of your web site can be indexed directly.
A huge utility of Magento is that the system enables its own Google XML sitemap generator to help you create and submit an XML sitemap to Google with ease. Click through System => Configuration => Google Sitemap to select your own priority and configure the frequency and the time you want the XML sitemap to be generated. Just save the “sitemap.xml” file to the root level of your server.
Enable Google XML Sitemap Generator
To automate the work, just click through System => Configuration => Google Sitemap to hand in your sitemap automatically: Enter “Generation Settings”, enable sitemap generation and define the frequency according to your e-store frequency. Thus each time you get your web site update, Google gets your sitemap update, too.
Set sitemap settings upon adding a new category, product or page, so that the sitemap presents all the new items for sure.
6. Analytics Integration
Google Analytics Integration supplies the statistic not only about your visitors but also the keywords and traffic source. You can also see your best performing products and pages.
To enable Google Analytics Integration in your Magento system, click through System => Configuration => Google API.
Set “Yes” for “Enable option” and submit your Account Number.
Enable Google Analytics Integration