The Quick SEO Guide for Magento

Magento, the open source shopping cart has exploded in popularity in recent years. The free community version has seen over 4 million downloads, with users ranging from small start ups to large enterprises such as Paul Smith and North Face.

It is easy to see why Magento has become so popular, the main reasons include:

  • Free – The community edition is free to download for anyone.
  • Large pool of experts – Based on PHP & MYSQL there are a large pool of developers and experts ready to work on Magento projects. Just have a browse on sites such as Elance & People Per Hour.
  • Extensions – If you have a feature you want on your site, chances are some one else has built it already and you can usually download an extension. AheadWorks is a good store for extensions available for Magento.

The common problems

When you setup your Magento shop it is important to make sure you get the simple on-page SEO correct from the start.

Force Server rewrites

This will ensure the URL’s of your website are search engine friendly and improve the user experience.

Magento Server Rewrites

Find: System >> Configuration >> General >> Web

Redirects (non www to www)

Little bit of housekeeping but do make sure that only one version of your site available to be indexed. You need to make sure the non www of your site is 301 redirected to the www version (or other way around if you prefer).

Make sure you change the default Magento settings which are 302 redirects and change these to 301 redirects instead. Changing this is changing from a temporary to a permanent search engine friendly redirect.

301 redirect Magento

You will find this setting in System > Configuration > Web > URL Options

Ensure Product pages only have one URL path

You may have products in multiple categories therefore you want to make sure that you do not have multiple URLs for the same product page. A way to ensure this does not happen is to not use category paths in the product URLs.

Set category path to no Magento

This setting is found in System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimisation.

Rel canonical tag

On an e-commerce website where there is the possibility of a page having more than a single URL, it is essential that you implement that rel=canonical tag to show the search engines which is the correct page for them to index rather having the same page content across multiple URLs. This article from Inchoo will give you further info..

Getting text on Category Pages

It is essential that you get some content onto your category pages! Follow the basic SEO content principles. You don’t need to write tons of content but a couple of hundred words are all that is usually necessary.

If your using layered navigation then you may consider this extension from Amasty to get unique text on the page.

Making Layered Navigation SEO Friendly

Layered navigation is fantastic, I really love this feature as a shopper as it allows me to see only the products I’m really interested in rather than having to scroll through those I’m not.

However, it does not come without problems from an SEO perspective. Just watch this video from Inchoo:

Another solution to the problem is one offered by Rand at SEOmoz where you can offer elements in layered navigation in Ajax (which is invisible to the search engines).  I would advise reading the comments to this video as they explore issues around clocking and alterative methods.

Problem of product pages (duplicate content)

I often see websites that have product descriptions written by the manufacturer, the problem with this, is that all the other retailers the manufacturer supply usually have the same text and therefore it is duplicate content.

One of the best ways to boost traffic on an e-commerce site is to write your own descriptions for your products.

Schema E-commerce mark up

You can now use micro formats on your category and product pages to highlight various attributes of the products. These attributes will then be visible in the search results resulting in an increased click through rate.

Once implemented you can check if the rich snippets will appear in the search results.

Video SEO for product page

A lot more e-commerce sites are taking advantage of videos to showcase their products and it is easier to see why with boosts to both conversions and SEO.

Read this great article on Video SEO and see how you can implement into your website.

Category pages with multiple pages

It is common to see ‘page 1 of 5’ on a category level page in an e-commerce store.

This issue is called pagination and you should watch this video to see the effects of paginated content and how to solve this problem.

Integrating WordPress with Magento

WordPress is by far the best blogging platform available! You can install a WordPress blog into your site simply enough with the WordPress blog just having its own directory or if you decide that you want to integrate the blog further (e.g. show sales products in sidebar etc..) then you can….

Best way to implement mobile technology (Same URL or m. Sub domain?)

If you’re serious about e-commerce then you will invest in a mobile theme for your site so that users on smart phones are presented with a mobile version of the site.

I would advise making sure the mobile version of the site is on the same URL as your desktop version of the site.  You may see some sites have the mobile version as the sub domain (m.example.co.uk) but I would advise keeping to a single URL for SEO purposes.

This article from Search Engine Land discusses this in more detail.

Who to go to for Magento SEO consulting

If your looking for an SEO to work on your Magento site then I would advise choosing a person or company who has experience of working on a Magento site. They will understand the common problems, solutions to these issues and also have knowledge of the backend of the website.

Depending on budget, here are some SEO individuals and companies I would advise for magenta consulting:

How to get help free (Magento boards etc…)

If your budget is restricted then there is plenty of free advice available and extensions to help. Check out the active forums at Magento boards or some of the common Magento SEO extensions available.

Magento Hosting

One of the common complaints of Magento is that it is very slow! You need to push out the boat in terms of spend on Magento hosting and find a host who can handle it, often the hosting environment should be optimised for Magento.

In the UK I would advise checking out the following companies for hosting:

Disclaimer

Before you install any extensions you should take a full backup of your site, as if the extension is not compatible with your version of Magento then you can undo the changes.

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