Magento Developer’s guide to SEO
If you’ve ever used Magento before, then you’ll understand why it’s widely regarded as one of the most challenging e-commerce platforms available when it comes to SEO. Magento is a huge platform with a complex codebase. However, it can be quite straightforward to optimise once you know how to do it.
In this article, we’ll cover a range of technical Magento SEO issues that you’ll likely come across during the optimisation process – including product configuration, canonicalisation, headings, URLs, redirects and more. All of which is based on the impression that you already have some basic SEO knowledge.
Whilst a lot of these technical fixes may require some assistance from an experienced Magento agency, to make things more manageable, you may want to consider using the MageWorx extension. With it, you’ll be able to set up hreflang, improve canonical URLs, add structured data, assign noindex rules etc with minimal effort.
Product configuration – Simple and Configurable
When it comes to product configuration, some people prefer to use simple products (alongside configurable products) for different sizes, colours etc. so that they can be displayed independently on product list pages. For this particular case, we suggest that you have the duplicate variants as non-indexed. This is especially true if you’re not going to be adding unique content to each individual page. In that case, a canonical tag is also recommended, in order to emphasise that the simple products are variants of the main configurable product.
However, it is also worth mentioning that from a usability point of view, we strongly suggest that products are either displayed as part of a configurable or as standalone products. Otherwise, it can become convoluted and overwhelming for potential customers, but it also simplifies the management of inventory levels.
When you have different products and category pages, you want to ensure that the canonical tag points to the primary version of these pages at all times. You’ll find options to do just that in the backend of Magento. While this ‘should’ help prevent issues with dynamic variants of categories being indexed, if your pages are significantly different it won’t always work.
The solution to this, is to either implement a bespoke canonical tag or in the configuration section of Magento admin interface add the canonical tag to your home and CMS pages (manually). You’ll find that with the more recent versions of Magento CE and EE, it automatically uses the canonical tag to canonicalise the hierarchical product URLs (with category path) to the top-level URLs.
Product title tag conventions
Normally Magento will simply assign the name of a product as the title tag, but we suggest having a more thought-out naming convention. You can set a naming convention to include variables based on different characteristics – i.e. gender, colour etc. This will have to be coded. Or instead you can manually assign them, which, depending on your products, may be the better alternative.
Magento also has a well-known tendency to use headings incorrectly, most commonly assigning multiple H1s on different page types and at times no headings at all. As one of the top aspects of on page optimisation, it’s one of the most vital things to get right when it comes to search engines crawling your website. It allows Google, as well as other search engines, to ‘read’ the content in order to determine its ranking position but also more often than not, the issue is typically a result of using a theme/template.
There’s an option in the backend of Magento to set permanent redirects if the URL is changed – we would suggest that you set that to yes. Although, you should be aware that if you are going to be changing URL keys regularly or do a CSV upload incorrectly, you risk potential rewrite issues.
Magento gives you the ability to add categories to the path for your product URLs, however we would suggest you use top-level product URLs only. Largely because Magento doesn’t support this functionality well and it often leads to duplicate content issues.
These are just a few of the fundamentals and core considerations around configuring your Magento implementation. However, this is just part one. In the pipeline we still have a range of other technical Magento SEO tips ranging in complexity regarding other key areas that need to be factored into your Magento Community or Enterprise implementation.
Even with all the information highlighted in this blog, we know that getting SEO right for Magento takes a certain level of expertise and knowledge. If you require that development assistance to implement these key SEO implementations, our good friends over at Brave Agency have been working with Magento for a number of years now and know how to get the best out of it from an SEO point of view, it’s quirks and the opportunities.
Why not get in touch with them today, visit their site at www.brave.agency or call them on 0845 544 3626 to speak to one of their Magento Technical Developers.