In our last article we covered a range of technical Magento Developer SEO issues that you could come across with Layered Navigation. These included the use of noindex and canonical tags and much more. This was all explained based on the impression that you had some SEO knowledge in advance. Click here to read our previous article, Magento SEO Part 2
In this third installment we will be looking at more important SEO issues from sitemaps and URL rewriting, to search pages and secure pages, here we will be looking at how to resolve these issues in as easy way as possible, ensuring you optimise your Magento SEO as much as possible.
One very annoying issue with Magento is when catalogue search pages manage to get indexed by Google, it all depends on your catalogue size but sometimes this can amount for thousands of indexed pages. One of the ideal ways to prevent this is to disallow the assigning noindex, follow meta robots tags over to the search page as well as the children queries within the directory. Some people have issues with their crawl budget, then it is suggested that you use the robots.txt file instead of using meta robots tags.
Magento is fairly well known for being inadequate when it comes to creating XML sitemaps, it’s feature are very limited and don’t allow many other options than just creating one. The standalone sitemap you can contain pages that you don’t want to be indexed or accessed by search engines.
The best method for doing this is to create two XML sitemaps, one of them is for the products and the second for category and content pages; this allows for there to be better visibility of indexation pages (using Google Webmaster Tools) it also makes it easier for Google to access all of your pages if you have a particularly large site. For websites that are very large, it is always recommended that you split products out by their brand or type , which gives more insight into indexation. From here you have to ensure that you reference each of these different sitemaps in a central index sitemap.
Issues With URL Rewriting
Another common issue with Magento is URL rewriting, this can cause either category or product page URLs to switch back to their default /catalog/ URL structure, which does not even pull in the title of the page.
One of the best recommendations we can make is simply to block these URL’s and ensure that you keep an attentive eye on them as there is potential for issues arising, mainly around refreshing where all of the URL’s get reverted back to their original structure without any applicable 301 redirects being applied.
Another substantial issue with Magento rewrites is when Magento puts a number at the end of products and category URLs. The primary reason this happens is as a result of an existing URL path already being used, and as a result the rewrites are replacing the original URL without altering it. This can be a very big issue and in most cases requires developmental resource to resolve.
Another potential reason for the numbers being added to the URLs is when you are updating products via a CSV file. Should this happen you need to ask a developer to remove the rewrites from the rewrite table, although before applying this to your live site, this should be tested extensively before you even attempt to add it to a live site.
It is very common for secure pages to get indexed by Google, for non-secure websites. When you look at that from a duplicate content point of view that can be very annoying. For these specific pages we would recommend connocalising the http versions of the page or applying the a rewrite rule; both of these should be applied, ensuring you apply exclusions for pages that should be https, such as your checkout pages or account pages.
The issues with the https pages being indexed is caused by URLs no longer being absolute, resulting in them being crawled on https pages, they essentially visit the https version of the page.
Duplicate Product Page Content Because Of Hierarchical URLs
If you are using hierarchical URLs, which includes the name of the category within the product page URL path,you are setting yourself up to have duplicate variations of a product within multiple categories. With this reason in mind it is strongly advised that you use top-level product URLs, this will prevent issues such as this and most importantly allow you to have one single representative version of a product.
If category paths within your product URLs is something that you are already using, make sure you use a canonical tag to point to the primary version of each of the products; this will resolve most issues, although top level pages would be the best option.
We know as web developers, getting SEO perfect for Magento takes a high level of expertise and knowledge. Even with the tips we’ve highlighted in this post, be that URL Rewriting, or the use of search pages and sitemaps it is impossible to master every solution.
If you want a second opinion or help to implement these key SEO solutions, our friends 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.
They’re a friendly bunch, so why not get in touch with them, visit their website site at Brave Agency – visit website or call them on 0845 544 3626 to speak to one of their Magento Technical Developers or SEO team.
What to expect in part 4
Part 4 looks to be covering even more technical SEO aspects of Magento. We’re going to be looking at areas such as Pagination, Magento Performance, the use of multi-store and much much more. So stay tuned.