Guide to Magento SEO: The Basics for Onsite Optimisation

Guide to Magento SEO: The Basics for Onsite Optimisation

Magento is one of the top e-commerce platforms that allows merchants to create a shop on their website and has a massive amount of functionality.  From the outset, it has a lot of SEO customisation built in but there are also many little changes that a business can make to maximise the SEO presence of their Magento website. With the help of Start Marketing Group, we have put together this useful guide.

Getting set up

The default settings of Magento make it one of the most SEO friendly e-commerce options without touching a single setting but there are also a few issues that should be dealt with at first.  One of the most important is ensuring you have the most up to date version of the software – this ensures that everything works as it should and that any changes to accommodate the latest algorithm updates are in place.

To ensure all the SEO settings work as well as possible, there are some defaults that you should check to ensure optimisation.  To do this, go to System then Configuration and Catalog and into Search Engine Optimisation.

There are several settings here and the recommended settings for them include:

  • Autogenerate Site Map – yes
  • Popular Search Terms – Yes
  • Product URL Suffix – leave at .html
  • Category URL Suffix – leave at .html
  • Use Categories Path for Product URLS – no (see below for explanation)
  • Create Permanent Redirect for URLS if URL Key Changed – yes
  • Page Title Separator – as preferred, for example / or –
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories – yes
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products – yes, if selected yes for above

Category optimisation

One known issue with Magento is that it doesn’t manage to name categories for product paths very well.  Therefore, it can be an idea to turn this function off and ensure that search engines can properly find their way from one way page to another and understand their relevance.  To do this, go into System then Configuration and Catalog.  Finally, under Search Engine Optimization set the ‘Use categories path for product URLs’ to no.

Header settings

The default setting on Magento uses the title Magento Commerce so this should be altered to make it work for your business.  A good descriptive title for your website should be put in place of this for both SEO and because people tend to scan the first few words before anything.  To access this, go into Configuration – Design – HTML Head and then change to your desired header.  You can also add the store name to all titles if you require by adding the name to the ‘Title Suffix’ section.

Alt tags

While the product details for Magento are very comprehensive, there is an issue with image Alt tags.  Naming your files before adding them to the website is a great way to add further SEO points to them – so if an image features Product 1, Variation X, then name the photo appropriately.  You can also go into the Production Information for each item and find the photo to then manually amend the Alt tag information.

XML Sitemap Generation

The sitemap is the way that search engines understand the whole of the website and Magento keep this up to date for you when you make a change.  But you do need to enable this before you start by going into System – Configuration – Google Sitemap.  You can also use the customisation settings in this section to ensure search engines give the right prioritisation to your pages, so product pages might be the most important, followed by privacy and shopping pages and so forth.

Using Google Analytics with Magento

Google Analytics is still one of the most popular analytics system and is free to use.  It is also very easy to use with Magento.  On the Analytics page, turn on the e-commerce tracking under Admin then get your UA-Tracking Number.  You can then put this number under the System – Configuration – Google API section to allow information from your website to be tracked by Google.

Conclusion

Many of the basics of SEO apply when creating a Magento site but the software itself can take care of a lot of stuff.  By ensuring a few customisations are in place and monitoring the results, you can ensure your website is as visible as possible to search engines and that you get the traffic you need.

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