Beginners Guide to SEO for Magento Store

Early days it was not so easy to sell products online. However, thanks to the booming of blogging and website building tools, nowadays anyone can easily create online store. There are different platforms available for you to create an online store. After choosing one, you should consider customization options and improvements to rank well in search results. It is very important that you know how to configure the platform to overcome your competition. In this guide we will cover all aspects of SEO for Magento store for beginners.

Related: Beginners guide to WooCommerce setup in WordPress.

What is Magento?

It is an open-source platform that offers merchants and online business owners the opportunity to develop their store in a very easy, practical and simple way. It has a quite flexible shopping cart system. And, it allows you to have control over each of the elements of the content and functionality of your store. The version 2 has a wide variety of tools for search engine optimization, marketing, and information management.

There will be much confusions when you want to learn about Magento’s history. Many companies owned Magento including eBay and Adobe is the current owner of the platform.

Magneto Versions

Again, you will be lost to know the version history of Magento. Currently it offers two platforms:

  • Magento Open Source (previously known as Magento Community Edition). This is a free and open source version where shop owners can find plugins from developers and enhance their store.
  • Magento Commerce is premium version offered in two variations – platform as a service and on-premises. Depending upon the scale of your business, you can choose of the premium version to build your online store.

Magento 2 Benefits

Regardless of ownership and versions, Magento is currently one of the most popular e-commerce platforms powering many popular online stores.

  • It is simple to operate: This platform is designed so that it can be used by users who do not have knowledge of developers. The important thing is that you have a clear vision of what you want for your business.
  • It integrates with all processes: Unlike other options in the market, Magento has the ability to analyze and be part of each of the business processes that are carried out in the company.
  • It is customizable: You can adapt your online store depending on the requirements you have. In case, you do not have the tool you need, you have the option to download add-ons or consult web design experts.
Magento Store
Magento Platform

SEO for Magento Store

Magento is one of the most search engine friendly online store platforms. But this does not mean that you should neglect SEO optimization for your e-commerce store. So below, we will give you some optimization tips to improve the SEO of your store in Magento.

1. Configure User Friendly URLs

Many people misunderstand that URL has an impact in the search engine result ranking. However, the truth is not directly. Forums software like phpBB and may other platforms have machine generated URLs to show it in numbers. Even the poplar WordPress content management system by default and permanently generates an ugly URL link. The point is you can change this ugly URL to a user friendly URL so that users can remember the link easily. This in turns indirectly improve the usability of your webpages. On other hand, there are many other factors like adding category base, store code, www or non-www, etc. can affect the user-friendliness of your structure.

On Magento platform, it has different options like redirecting the www version to non-www version and adding or removing the store code to URL. These are the basic settings that decide the URL structure of your store and should be one of the first optimization tasks that you perform within the platform.

  • Login to the backend of your store and navigate to “Stores > Configuration > General” and finally “Web”.
  • You can view multiple options under “Web” section.
  • Decide you want to add the store code and redirect the non-www version. With this action, you will avoid having problems with duplicate content. If the user performs a search by placing the name of the store with or without www, the result will be shown in the same way.
  • In case, you notice that your address shows “index.php” do not worry. You can delete it by selecting the “Use web address rewrite” option to “Yes” under “Search Engine Optimization” section.
  • Setup different base URLs for your store view.
URL Setup in Magento
URL Setup in Magento

For most of these options, you can simply select the “Use system value” to use the default settings. You need to disable the “Use system value” checkbox to modify the option. With the basic settings, you are ready to go with your store.

2. Setup Redirect for URLs

It is common to change and update your product and category URLs. Whenever you do so, ensure to setup a redirect to retain your search engine ranking.

  • On your Magento 2 backend, go to “Marketing > SEO & Search > URL Rewrite” section.
  • Click on the “Add URL Rewrite” button to add a new redirect.
  • You can have a custom redirect by adding target and source URL details. Otherwise, select the option product, category or content page against “Create URL Rewrite” dropdown.
  • Let’s take an example of a product redirect to a category page.
Add Rewrite in Magento
Add Rewrite in Magento
  • Browse through all your products and choose the correct one for the source.
  • Next, choose the category for destination or target.
  • You can see the selected options in the redirect section.
  • Choose 302 for temporary and 301 for permanent redirection.
  • Save your changes.
Add Product to Category Rewrite
Add Product to Category Rewrite

3. Optimization of Titles and Meta Tags

For your e-commerce store to increase its traffic, you must take into account the use of the correct keywords in these tags. In order to optimize titles and meta description that come by default in the platform, you must adjust the HTML headers. Following in the below instructions:

  • Go to “Content” and click on “Configuration” under “Design” section.
  • Edit the default store view, scroll down to find “HTML Head” under “Other Settings” section.
  • Add proper page title and meta description for your store.
Add Meta Tags to Store
Add Meta Tags to Store

In addition to setup title and meta description for your store, you can also add them for individual products.

  • Go to “Catalog > Products” and select the product to edit.
  • Go to “Search Engine Optimization” section and add meta title and meta description for that product.
Add Meta Tags to Product
Add Meta Tags to Product

Similarly, add title and meta description for categories and content pages.

Notes on Meta Tags:

  • Add unique and valuable information in title and description as both of them will show in the search results.
  • Limit your title to 50-60 characters and description to 120-158 characters length. This will ensure the information is not truncated in Google search result page.
  • Add title and meta description for each product, category and store view.
  • Use our free meta tags generator tool to create all relevant tags for your store.

4. Check Robots.txt File

It is also important that you verify that the Robots.txt meta tags have the “INDEX, FOLLOW” configuration. This allows different search engines to index your site quickly and easily. When you are on the “Default Store View” page, scroll down to “Search Engine Robots” section. Ensure the “Default Robots” option is set as “Index, Follow”. If you are store is under construction, then set as noindex. You can also add custom instructions to block products from search engines.

Check Robots Text File
Check Robots Text File

5. Improve Loading Speed

Site speed is one of the important factors to attract more customers. No customer will wait long time for the product page to load. Magento offers multiple options to improve the site speed, however we recommend you host your store on good platforms like SiteGround.

  • Go to “Stores > Advanced > System” and scroll down to “Full Page Cache” option.
  • Magento by default will use the “Built-in Cache” option. Ensure this is selected or choose varnish cache which is a recommended option. However, ensure your webhost will support varnish cache on the server.
Setup Varnish Cache in Magento Store
Setup Varnish Cache in Magento Store

You can also merge CSS and JavaScript files under “Developer” section.

6. Create an XML sitemap

A sitemap is nothing more than a list that contains each of the URL available on your store. The basic purpose of XML Sitemap is that it informs the search engines when you create new URL or modify the existing content. In this manner, search engines like Google can instantly know the new and changed content on your store which otherwise may take long time.

Magento allows you to easily create and submit XML Sitemap to search engines through Robots.txt directive. Go to “Stores > Configuration > Catalog > XML Sitemap” section.

XML Sitemap in Magento
XML Sitemap in Magento
  • Define the frequency and priority for categories, products and CMS pages. In general, setup the frequency value to “Daily” which should be the default system value in Magento. The priority depends on how many products or categories you have on your store. Let’s say, you have lots of products with few categories (which is a common and default value setup) then make the priority 1 for products and 0.5 05 0.6 for categories.
  • Setup the Sitemap generation settings and error reporting by choosing the “Yes” value for “Enabled” under “Generation Settings”. We recommend you using the default value of daily for Sitemap generation.
  • You can also setup the file and URL limit of Sitemaps. The default value of 50,000 is too much and many servers will not support that many URLs in a single Sitemap. The problem is when Google tries or crawl, it will try to find the updated content among those 50,000 URLs in a single Sitemap. The best option to limit the numbers to 500 or 1000 based on the number of products and your server’s capacity.
  • Finally, select “Yes” for “Enable submission to Robots.txt”. This will add the URL of the generate XML Sitemap in Robots.txt file as a directive to tell search engine the location of your Sitemap.  

Related: SEO guide for WordPress.

7. Use Canonical URLs to Avoid Duplicate Content

The product on your store appears in different places like main product page, category views, product filtering and searching, etc. When someone search a relevant keyword relevant to your product, basically the product page should appear in the search results. The reason is that you might have added valuable content to showcase your customers on the product page. Therefore, it is important to tell search engines like Google about the primary page to display in the search result. In SEO world, you can use canonical meta tag on the duplicate pages to inform search engines about the URL of the original product page.

In Magento, you can easily setup canonical URLs by navigating to “Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog” section. Scroll down and go to “Search Engine Optimization” section. Enable the two canonical link meta tag options for categories and products.

Setup Canonical URL in Magento
Setup Canonical URL in Magento

In addition, you can also decide to add or remove the category path in the URL.   

8. Other SEO Factors in Magento

  • Images – add resized image with smaller size that fits your layout and avoid uploading huge file for showing normal product that customer can easily understand with the description. In addition, ensure to have alt text for all the images that explains the product.
  • Create a blog – well, this is the trend for businesses to stay online actively. Though you need a plugin to install blog on your Magento store, it is easy and free to do.

Points to Remember

  • Magento does not offer tooltip help for options. You need to play around and configure the suitable settings for your store.
  • Disable the “Use system value” check box to modify with your custom value or select different value from the drop-down.
  • After making changes, ensure to click on the “Save Config” button that will float on the top right corner.
  • Ensure to have the latest and updated Magento 2 platform to have all the options.

Conclusion

We hope the above explained search engine optimization tips will help you to optimize your Magento store and improve search engine rankings. However, always remember that whatsoever is the optimization you do, focus on the actual product page to explain the products in detail to convert visors to customers.

Editorial Staff at WebNots are team members who love to build websites and share the learning with webmasters community. Connect with us in Facebook and Twitter.

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