It is well known that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can make or break a site. However, it is even more important for an eCommerce sites as the sales and growth are both dependant upon the number of people visiting the store. If there is no traffic, however great the product/service offering is, it doesn’t really matter.
Even research identifies that on an average, website that rank on Page 1 of Google have an average Click-Through Rate (CTR) of 71.3%, while page 2 and 3 combined get a CTR of average 5.6%. Not just this, but the variation is even higher between the positions on page 1 of Google too. The top position gets an average of 31.2% clicks while, the number two position gets just 14% clicks. Further down the percentage reduces even more. The statistics can be studied further but the bottom line is that your magento eCommerce store needs to win the SEO tussle in order to get revenues.
Magento Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tips that almost make it certain for your magento eCommerce store to succeed
Here are a few sure-fire tips that will make your magento store rank well in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If you wish to optimise your magento store like a Magento SEO expert, here is a checklist for you:
1) Upgrade to the latest version of Magento
First and foremost, it is always good to upgrade your store to the latest version of Magento available as a best practice for Magento SEO. The latest versions will have better SEO support features and will also include security improvements, bugs fixed and performance enhancers. All these directly or indirectly affect the search engine rankings of your store.
It is important to note that if you are still running a 1.x Magento version, now is the time to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2 as the official support for Magento 1 would come to an end in June 2020.
2) Avoid content duplication using rel=canonical
Duplicate content is one of the major causes of low Google rankings for several Magento stores. In Magento, causes of duplication of content could be – product sorting, product filtering, variations in same product, pagination, multiple listing of same product in different categories, etc. Not just this, duplicate page could be because of the unique URLs created. E.g.
All these might look similar to us humans and we will just refer to it as your store’s home page. However, for search engines, these are separate URLs to be crawled separately unless otherwise instructed.
One of the best ways to ensure duplicate content stays at bay is to use canonical tags. But what is a canonical tag? To tell the search engines how to treat a specific URL as the master copy of a page and that should appear in the search results in place of other similar pages, a canonical tag is used. This tag is also called rel=canonical.
Why not use 301 redirect instead? A 301 redirect essentially redirects the user to another URL. One shall use a rel=canonical tag when you do not want the user to be redirected and the page remains accessible but just telling the search engine crawlers that there exists a master copy of this URL.
Which all pages shall you put canonical tag on? The answer is as many as appropriate. Check social media page links, referral links or any other inbound references that create separate paths to access the same URLs.
Why is canonicalisation important? Canonicalisation is important to for your magento eCommerce store because duplicate content or pages negatively affect the search engine rankings of the eStore. The search engine ranking results might be split between the multiple pages if more than one is indexed by the search engine. This might impact the original ranking of the master copy of the page.
3) Optimise Magento store URLs
Even though URLs do not constitute a major ranking factor in search engine ranking results, they are still an important factor. Not just for Google crawlers even for improving the user experience. Would you like a page URL full on numbers or random alphabets? It is always good to read a URL which makes some sense just on the face of it.
It is good to check in the magento backend under Store > Configuration > General > Web > URL Options that the “Add Store Code to URL” is set to “No.” This will disable the automatic addition of store code to the URL. Also, to remove index.php from the URLs select “Yes” for “Use Web Server Rewrites”.
Furthermore, for an SEO friendly URL, here is what works better:
Category Page: www.yourstore.com/category-name/
Sub-category Page :www.yourstore.com/category-name/sub-category-name/
Product page: www.yourstore.com/category-name/sub-category-name/product-name/
To set the global search engine optimisation configuration in the magento admin, go to Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization and check the values for the following fields:
Popular Search Terms: Enable
Product URL Suffix: .html
Category URL Suffix: .html
Use Categories Path for Product URLs: Yes
Create Permanent Redirect for URLs if URL Key Changed: Yes
Page Title Separator: –
Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories: Yes
Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products: Yes
4) Optimise product images
It is really important to optimise product images since search engine crawlers cannot read the images. Adding appropriate image alt tags that describes the image helps a lot in SEO of your magento store. This can be done from the magento admin by clicking on the Catalog > Products. Double click on the thumbnail in configurable product and click on “Go to details Page”. Scroll down to “Images and Videos” and click on the image to add alt text.
Apart from adding an alt text, a precise and relevant name of the image rather than a random text can also help in providing clarity to search engines on what the image is all about. E.g. Kids unicorn t-shirt.jpg gives way more information that image00898.jpg.
5) Your magento store’s search engine rankings is directly proportional to load times
Fast page load speed is one of the major factors that affects the bottom line. If your magento store loads quickly, the visitors will like to access it and the search engines will reward you for it. Even though Magento is robust when it comes to providing good page load speed there are several ways to enhance it further. Some of them include:
-First and foremost, enable all caching features. This can be done from magento admin by going to Stores > Configuration > Advanced > System > Full Page Cache
Here, set the caching Application to “Varnish Cache”. This is also recommended by Magento. Further, there is a need to set a few Varnish configurations and server end connectivity and support and the pages start loading faster without much load on the servers.
-Flat catalog categories: A flat catalog contains all the needed data about a product or category in a single table and is updated automatically. Thus, a flat catalog indexing can significantly speed up the processing of catalog and cart price rules.
To enable flat catalog categories, go to Store => Configuration => Catalog => Catalog => Storefront
-Reducing the number of external files that can be downloaded from the server can also help enhance the speed of your magento store.
Read our detailed guide on ‘HOW WE ACHIEVED MAGENTO 2 LOAD TIME UNDER 1 SECOND’ for more details
6) Tell search engines what to crawl and what not to
Robots.txt file instructs the search engine crawlers what not to crawl including any web pages, posts, multimedia files, db files, etc. Generally, the robots.txt file can be accessed from here: https://www.yourstore.com/robots.txt. This file can be edited easily from the Magento admin backend to include paths not to be indexed by the search engines.
You can edit the file in the Magento admin by going to Content>Design> Configuration> Store View> Search Engine Robots
7) Set up XML sitemap
XML sitemap holds a lot of importance as they provide information about all the links in your site to the search engine crawlers. Since a magento store is generally loaded with a lot of pages and information, it is all the more important to set up a detailed XML sitemap so that the search engines have complete and correct information about your magento ecommerce website.
Magento 2 is equipped with better XML sitemap functionality. It offers an option to define various variables including product, category and other pages individually.
To configure in your magento 2 admin, go to Stores> Settings> Configuration> Catalog> XML Sitemap
Set the Categories Options, Products Options and CMS Pages Options as per your specific requirements. Further set the Generation Settings and Search Engine Submission Settings.
8) Edit Magento default title and description
Page title and description are crucial to get higher rankings and also improving the Click Through Rates (CTR). It is important to edit the default magento titles and description and make them descriptive and SEO-friendly. This can be done easily from the Magento admin by going to Content>Design>Configuration> Edit Store view. Scroll to HTML Head. Here you can add a title and description.
In a nutshell
Magento 2 has certainly improved by leaps and bounds to offer features and functionality to boost the eCommerce business offerings and it’s usefulness from SEO perspective. However, simple steps can help a great deal in taking full advantage of what this robust platform has to offer. If you wish to optimise your magento store or take professional magento ecommerce consulting services, we are just a message away.