Magento is easily one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms on the planet today and for good reason. This open-source powerhouse is innovative, completely customizable, and ideal for small e-commerce shops looking to build a presence. It’s not always known to be the easiest when it comes to SEO efforts, though, and that can be a real drawback for store owners who want to deploy it but are concerned about search engine rankings. As you get started with your own Magento SEO efforts, where should you really begin? Take a look.
Thanks to tools like Google Images, pictures from your site can generate some serious web traffic, in most cases. Why the qualifier? If you don’t have your product’s images and photos optimized properly, you’re not going to gain interest from those customers who use services like Google Images because a crawler can’t see pictures the way people can. Instead, they have to rely on how well you’ve managed to optimize that image for their viewing. There are several facets of an image you can choose to optimize.
The file name is the first of these. Make sure that you use words that describe it accurately. Instead of a generic moniker like Shoe 3306, you want to go with something like Red-Leather-Pump. Don’t get too complex here, because that can be a problem in and of itself. You’ll handle this on your computer before you ever upload the image to Magento.
ALT text is the second place to consider optimisation. If a website can’t render the image (for a search engine or a potential customer) the ALT text appears. This is a great place to deploy your keywords, but don’t stuff it. Describe the image as best you can, using specific words. Keep it short – around 125 characters should do. Use those keywords, but use them accurately. Finally, avoid the words “Image of” or “picture of” because you have a pretty specific character count to which you want to adhere. To make this happen, log in to admin, then go to the products section and your catalog section. In configurable products, click on the thumbnail and select the detail page. Scroll down to the images and videos section, then click on images. Add the alt text where appropriate, and you should be more visible.
Finally, make sure your image size is appropriate. Page load times to factor into your site’s SEO, and if you have very large image files of your products, you’re going to decrease that page load time, damaging your SEO in the long run. Keep the file size as small as you can. If you want to provide an option for a pop-up or for your customer to view it larger on a different page, do that instead. If at all possible, make sure your images stay under 70KB.
We briefly discussed load time when we talked about image size, but now we need to talk about the load time of your site as a whole. The faster your page loads, the better your overall user experience, and that changes how search engines see you. Search engine giant Google has been using load time as a ranking factor since 2010. They’re looking at the time a visitor has to wait until the page is 100% loaded. In general, e-commerce sites usually take about seven seconds to load. That’s unfortunate because most customers are willing to wait about three seconds these days. To decide what’s appropriate for your site, Google compares you to your competitors, then offers a bonus to the fastest site. You certainly want that bonus.
Google has repeatedly referenced the fact that XML sitemaps are incredibly beneficial for large websites and new websites (especially those with just a few external links). They allow Google to crawl all of the important pages of your website because they literally list them out. It helps the search engine take a closer look at the entire structure of your website, which means they won’t miss anything as they work to crawl. In simplest terms, it’s an XML file that just contains each individual URL on your site. It works a bit like an archive, and if you make it easy to discover, a crawler will stumble on it, then index each of those pages.
Setting up an XML sitemap in Magento isn’t as difficult as you might have imagined either. You just need to log in to the admin side of things, then head over to your Stores menu. From there, select Settings, then choose Configuration. Select Catalog, and you’re going to see an XML Sitemap option. As with almost everything in Magento, you get to decide which options to include in your sitemap. You can select the categories, products, and CMS pages to better meet your needs. When you’re done, make sure your Generation Settings are enabled, have a start time, and include “Choose Daily” on your Frequency setting. The most important step in this process, though, is to select “Enable Submission to Robots.txt” under “Search Engine Submission Settings” and save your changes so that the search engines can actually find this essential file.
Magento may act tough when it comes to SEO work, but the reality is that with a few simple tweaks, you could have an amazing Magento-based site that performs well in the search engines.