Magento is one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms available today. It comes with a number of features today’s online merchant’s love, and because it’s an open-source platform, there are continual updates and changes that are ideal for today’s changing marketplace. What’s more, though, is that it’s free, and you have full control over the design and functionality of your shop. SEO concerns with this platform abound, though. While it can be SEO friendly, there’s quite a bit of work on your side to make that happen.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is essential. You’ve probably heard that in nearly every blog about online marketing you’ve ever read. There’s a reason – organic search is a critical component to your ultimate sales numbers. Over the past two years, marketers have seen the power of SEO. In a MarketDive study, 82% reported that the effectiveness of SEO campaigns is increasing. 42% of those individuals said the effectiveness is increasing at a significant pace.
The reality is that digital marketing is becoming increasingly mature, and for an e-commerce store, that means one thing, every competitor is fighting for query power. If someone types your keywords into a search engine, you need to be at the top of those rankings, and SEO is still the single best way to get there.
The SEO-Magento Fears
Magento is widely regarded as one of the best e-commerce platforms available for startups, but it’s also thought of as one of the most challenging platforms from an SEO perspective. There are a few reasons for that. The rewrite engine is a complex space. Add that to the fact that it relies on dynamic content and a complex codebase, and you have a bucket of problems, especially if you’re new to the world of SEO initially.
The good news here is that Magento and SEO CAN play well together. In fact, they can play quite well together, but you have to know what you’re doing. These tips can get you started.
Magento SEO Best Practices
The single best thing you can do if you’ve deployed Magento to run your store is to ensure you’re using the header and title tags. The platform creates those tags automatically, but any good developer will tell you that you don’t want that automatic naming system on your side for SEO purposes. Instead, you’re going to want to create them manually. Your best option to help enhance your SEO? Create different product groups for everything you sell. That means you can predefine your title tags, then assign a single one for each product group.
Need a quick example? Imagine you sell dog collars. You can set the title tags based on the types of dog collars you offer. Set them by brand, by color, or even my style. Google will be able to see them more clearly and direct people to your site when you do that.
Your header tags matter in this space too. Many people overlook the importance of header tags, but you’ll want to be sure you’re deploying plenty of H1, H2, and H3 tags in the appropriate spots. H1 tags should be reserved for the topic of your page. H2 tags are like chapters in a book. They announce the major sections of a given article. H3 tags are designed to give you additional sub-headings within a section. Make sure you’re deploying good keywords in all of those header tags because search engines pay attention to those more than any other text on a page.
While header and title tags are helpful, you can’t stop there if you’re going for real SEO power. Instead, you need to think about many additional concepts.
- Product Page URLs: You want URLs that speak to your customers. Http://www.joesdogcollars.com/116507 doesn’t tell any customer exactly what’s on that page, nor does it tell a search engine what it should be looking for. Instead, you want to create URLs that tell your customer exactly what’s on the page. It makes it easier for a potential customer to know what to expect, and it makes it easier for a search engine to find it. In most cases, you’re only going to want to use top-level URLs.
- Dump Duplicate Content: You don’t have to be using Magento to know this SEO rule of thumb. Duplicate content is always a bad idea. Think you’re not using it? When was the last time you deployed a manufacturer’s product description instead of having one of your own written? If you just did that last week or your entire story is filled with manufacturer product descriptions, you have a duplicate content issue. The problem for Magento sites, though, goes a bit deeper. Duplicate content can affect your site because of product sorting issues or because you sell the same product in different categories. It may even hit you if you have variations of the same product (think red tablecloth, blue tablecloth, and yellow tablecloth). There are a couple of ways to avoid it. First, write your own product descriptions, even when it’s easier to deploy the version from the manufacturer. Second, use canonical tagging. Go to Stores >> Configuration >> Catalog >> Catalog >>. When you get there, scroll down to Search Engine Optimization on the right side of the page, and choose YES when you see Canonical Link Meta Tags for Categories and Products. That will help Google see that the red tablecloth is the same as the blue one, and it will help your store avoid duplicate content penalties.
- Think Sitemap: Your sitemap is the instruction book for any search engine that crawls your site. It tells it exactly what’s available. Use it to prioritize those categories and products on your site, but make sure your most valuable content is listed first. Magento doesn’t allow you to create an HTML sitemap by default, so you may need to deploy an extension to make it work.
So, can Magento and SEO work well together? Absolutely, but there’s a learning curve, so you’ll have to do a bit more on your end with this platform than you might with other eCommerce options.