Magento is an excellent platform and chances are that if you are reading this, you agree. However, the platform only enables the first part of owning and growing an online business (the owning part). Unless you are able to drive traffic to your Magento store, having an excellent store is no good.
Most ecommerce store owners, regardless of the platform they use, choose paid advertisement as their first go-to source of traffic, and for good reason. Be it search engine ads or social media ads, they deliver almost instant results and are great for earning your first few thousand dollars.
However, the ecommerce stores that truly thrive don’t solely depend on paid traffic. Ecommerce store owners that have a long-term vision for their store know the value of organic traffic.
While it is true that driving organic traffic to your ecommerce store, especially with an undertaking like search engine optimization (SEO) is a time consuming and effort intensive task, the results are worth all the trouble.
Besides the well-known challenges involved in driving organic search traffic to your ecommerce website, there is one, rather little known challenge that prevents a lot of hard working business owners from enjoying the fruits of organic traffic. This challenge is not knowing where to begin optimizing their Magento store for better search engine performance.
If you too, relate with the same, this article is for you.
In the following sections, we will be discussing some basic SEO tips that will help you get started with optimizing your website to attract organic traffic. If, however, you think basic tips don’t cut it, here’s an article containing advanced SEO tips for ecommerce store owners.
In this article, we will be discussing a few simple yet clever ways that we use at my SEO agency. These are all tasks that you can do on your own, even if you don’t have any technical expertise or experience.
Without further delay, let’s begin:
Make Your URLs SEO Friendly
Let’s understand one thing before we start talking about URLs and SEO- what Google and other search engines want.
Besides ad revenue, these search engines want to provide their users with an excellent user experience. This way, they can ensure that the users keep coming back for more delightful experiences and the search engines can continue charging businesses for ads. To this end, websites that help search engines provide their users with a delightful experience are rewarded by the search engine with organic traffic.
Now, what function do search engines serve? To put it simply, they present users with information. A user enters their search query in the search bar and the search engine algorithm presents it with web pages that are most likely to contain the information they are looking for.
Naturally, the search engine algorithms need to understand what information is present on your website pages in order to rank them for relevant search queries.
Optimizing your URLs helps search engines do exactly that. Magento recommends that your URLs should look something like this:
- Category page: website.com/category/
- Sub-category page: website.com/category/sub-category/
- Product page: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name/
If you have a large product catalogue, you can further optimize your product URLs by presenting them like: website.com/product.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Click on ‘Stores’> ‘Configuration’> ‘Catalog’>’Search Engine Optimization’
- On the resultant page, set ‘Use Categories Path For Product URLs’ to ‘No’
- Turn ‘Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories’ to ‘Yes’
The above steps will ensure your product page URLs are optimized. To ensure all of your URLs are optimized, make the following changes on the search engine optimization page:
- Enable ‘Popular Search Terms’
- Remove the .html from ‘Product URL Suffix’
- Remove the .html from ‘Category URL Suffix’
- Check ‘Yes’ on ‘Create Permanent Redirect for URLs if URL Key Changed’
- Check ‘Yes’ on ‘Use Canonical Link Meta Tags for Products’
Besides the above steps, you can also remove the ‘index.php’ part from your URLs. To do this, go to ‘Stores’>’Configuration’>‘General’>‘Web’>’Search Engine Optimization’. On the resultant page, set ‘Use Web Server Rewrites’ to ‘Yes’.
To further optimize your URLs and remove original store generated product codes from them, go to ‘Admin’>’Stores’>’Configuration’>’General’>’Web’>’URL Options’>’Add Store Code To URLs’>’No’.
Optimize Meta Titles And Descriptions
Meta titles are the blue coloured text that appears at the top of the search results. The description presented under the meta titles is known as the meta description.
Besides influencing the ranking of your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs), the meta titles and descriptions play a critical role in convincing users/prospects to click on your website in the SERPs.
So, how do you optimize meta titles and descriptions. Here’s how:
- Make sure your meta titles are short and succinct and contain your primary target keyword. Ideally, the length of meta titles should be limited to 50-60 characters.
- Meta descriptions can be made a little longer and thus, can contain both your primary and your secondary keywords. Their length should be limited between 50 and 160 characters.
With the above advice in mind, make sure you aren’t overstuffing your meta titles and descriptions with keywords. Remember, they are meant for humans as much as they are meant for the search engine algorithms. Make sure they make sense to humans and don’t feel spammy.
Optimize Internal Linking
Internal linking, as the name suggests, is the practice of adding links to other pages of your website on all pages of your website.
Internal linking has dual benefits. From an SEO point of view, internal linking enables search engine crawlers to easily crawl your website and understand its hierarchical structure.
From a user experience point of view, internal linking helps users easily navigate your website and gives them access to information that they are likely to find relevant.
The best part is, enabling internal linking on ecommerce stores built on the Magento platform is incredibly easy by introducing related products. How do you do that? Follow these steps:
- Go into ‘Catalogue’>’Products’ and select the product with which you want to show related products.
- Once on the product setting page, locate the ‘Related Products’ option. Here, go into ‘Up-Sells and Cross-Sells’>’Related Products’>’Add Related Products’.
- You will be shown a page where you can add the links to all the related products. Once done, save the settings and you’re good to go.
Doing this for all your product pages will be time consuming, especially if you have a sizable product catalogue. However, the resultant organic traffic will be well worth the effort.
Get Rid Of Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content is perhaps one of the most common SEO-related problems that ecommerce stores, regardless of the platform they have been developed on, struggle with.
When it comes to Magento Stores, however, duplicate content issues can usually be attributed to one of the following reasons:
- Product Filtering: Magento creates duplicate pages for every filter applied to product pages For instance, if you sell hoodies and you decide to filter them by colour, the URL would look something like:
Now, you don’t want Google to index all such pages and then think your website contains duplicate content. To avoid the same, you can use Google Webmaster Tools.
Simply log in to your Google Webmasters account and click on “Configure URL Parameters”. Here, you can see all the parameters of your website. Now, simply look for parameters that you don’t want to be indexed. In the ‘Crawl’ section, change the status to “No URLs” from “Let Google Bot Decide”.
Now remember, it may take some time to deindex these pages so just get this done and be patient.
- Pagination: Pagination occurs on pages on the sub-category or category level. It happens because of the following type of URLs:
Fortunately, solving pagination issues is pretty easy and can be done with canonical tags. Simply put a rel=canonical from the above kind of pages to www.myawesomewebsite.com/hoodies, and you’re good to go!
- Different Variations Of Same Products: This issue takes place on individual product pages that are dedicated to the variations of the same product. For instance, a page for a black hoodie and a page for a pink hoodie will have almost identical content, except of course, having photos of different hoodies.
In such a case, Google will consider the content on both these pages duplicate, unless you specify otherwise by using rel=canonical tags.
- Same Product Page In Different Categories: Owning an ecommerce store, you may have seen this happening a lot. The same product qualifies for being included in several different categories. For instance, a hoodie can be placed in the men’s/women’s clothing categories, winter clothing category, and casual wear category. Then there are popular and new arrivals categories where a lot of products are repeated.
Thankfully, this is another issue that can be solved with rel=canonical tag. Simply place canonical tags from all duplicate pages to a main product page.
Set Up XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file that contains all the pages of your website. It is designed in a way that helps search engine crawlers better understand the content on your website.
While it may sound like a technically-intensive job to generate an XML sitemap, Magento 2 actually makes it incredibly easy. Follow these steps to generate and submit your Magento stores’ sitemap to Google and other search engines:
Log in to your admin and go to ‘Stores’>’Settings’>’Configuration’>’Catalog’>’XML Sitemap’.
You can modify the settings for Category Options, Product Options, and CMS Pages from the drop down menu. Once done, open the Generation Settings and select ‘Yes’ for ‘Enabled’. Additionally, make the following changes:
Start Time: Set any time after 00:00
Error Email Recipient: Blank
Error Email Sender: Use System Value
Error Email Template: Use System Value
Next, under the Search Engine Submission Settings, you’ll find the option to ‘Enable Submission to Robot.txt’. Set it to ‘Yes’ and save the changes.
Voila! You’re done!
These were just a few of the things that will help you get the ball rolling for your Magento store’s SEO. Once you are through with these tasks, continue your research and continue optimizing your store. You can use a free website checker to find more optimization.