Magento SEO: A Definitive Guide

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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Magento is one of the most powerful and versatile eCommerce platforms available to retailers today. Part of what makes the Magento framework so mighty (in addition to its open source nature) is its SEO prowess.

The Magento SEO functionality available through the platform is virtually unrivaled by similar eCommerce services providers as the company offers unparalleled flexibility, in addition to its robust set of baked-in search optimization features.

Given the incredibly vital role that SEO plays in eCommerce success, it is no minor consideration that the platform provides its users with such an expansive library of Magento extensions, tools and capabilities for reaching the top of the SERPs.

For retailers that have adopted Magento but have yet to fully actualize the far-reaching capabilities of the platform’s optimization features, Visiture has you covered.

Here is everything retailers need to know about optimizing their Magento stores for peak performance in the SERPs.

 

Magento SEO: The Basics

Title Tags

When optimizing websites for search engine optimization (SEO), the goal is to increase the visibility of a site in the search engine results page (SERP). SEO can be achieved by modifying different search factors, like images, videos, keywords or HTML elements like Title Tags. Search engines display title tags as the “clickable headline” for a search query, and they are a key factor for SEO and web userability.

Seen as the blue headline in Google Search and in a users browser as the title of the open tab, the title tag can be found in the source code of any given pages as, <title> in the <head> section of the page. It’s designed to be an indicator for the content a user can expect to see by clicking through to the applicable webpage.

Title Tag Example

How Do I Know What the Title Tag of My Page Is?

Helpful Tools

URL-by-URL:

Slerpee (Free)

Moz Title Tag Preview Tool (Free)

Google SERP Simulator (Free)

At Scale:

Screaming Frog (Free Up to 500 URLs)

Sitebulb (Paid)

DeepCrawl (Paid)

 

Meta Descriptions

The gray text below the green domain name in Google Search results is known as the meta description. Though this text is not a direct ranking factor for each URL, it is still important for providing an accurate summary of the content forthcoming and can influence user engagement metrics such as click through rate (CTR).

Meta Description example

NOTE: Implementing text in the meta description tag does not guarantee its appearance in search results. Google may choose to ignore the meta description field and display instead what it believes to be the best summary of the content.

Editing the Title and Meta Description in Magento:

Magento 1 Implementation: Choose a CMS Page by browsing to CMS > Pages > Edit. Alternatively, you can choose a product or category by browsing to Catalog > Manage Products/Manage Categories > Edit.

Once in the Edit menu, you’ll want to click on “Meta Information” in the left-hand menu. This will bring up the familiar fields, Meta Title and Meta Description. Once changes are satisfactory, choose “Save”. Similar to the implementation below, if changes don’t seem to appear on the front-end for user, you may have to flush the Magento cache.

Magento 1 info

Magento 2 Implementation: Choose a CMS Page by browsing to Content > Pages > Edit. Alternatively you can choose a product or category to edit from the Products menu.

Once in the Edit menu, choose the “Search Engine Optimization” accordion header. Here you can update your meta title and meta description and it will display on the frontend to users upon clicking, “Save Page”.

Magento 2 Meta info

Note: If the data does not appear to refresh on the front end of your website, you may need to clear the Magento cache.

 

Section Headings

Initially intended to resize and style text for users, rather than act as waypoints that break long form content into more digestible chunks, section heading elements (H1-H6) are often improperly implemented. These HTML tags should perform as more of an index for a variety of user-agents (i.e. Googlebot) and users alike than a style element.

Heading Examples

Can I Easily Check Out My Existing Heading Hierarchy?

Absolutely. The tools below can help you get a birds-eye view without digging into any code. Another benefit of working with an ecommerce website is that many changes can be implemented via a global template versus URL by URL.

Helpful Tools

Free Chrome Extensions

SEO Minion

SEO Meta in 1 Click

Paid Software

Screaming Frog (Free Up to 500 URLs)

Sitebulb (Paid)

DeepCrawl (Paid)

Magento 1 Implementation: Implementation of HTML elements like heading is very user intuitive and can be done via the source code or the WYSIWYG editor shown below.

For source code, you’ll use <h1> through <h6> tags. Otherwise, feel free to select the text you’d like to classify as a heading and use the drop down menu labeled “format” to change the text.

Magento 1 Editor

Magento 2 Implementation:  If you’ve used Magento 1, you’ll see some striking similarities in the WYSIWYG editor for Magento 2. The same rules apply and implementation is as simple as editing and clicking Save.

Magento 2 Editor

 

Internal Linking

Internal links are a necessary component for search optimization. Not only does this tactic help search bots to crawl a website more effectively and understand its hierarchical structure more comprehensively, but it also enables user to navigate from page to page in a fluid, logical manner.

Retailers that develop cogent and coherent internal linking strategies are likely to increase the number of pages that a user visits and boost the overall time on site, while also increasing their chances of earning a conversion.

Broadly speaking, users should be able to reach all of a site’s most important pages in three clicks or less. The ability to do so is indicative of a well-developed linking strategy.

Fortunately, creating internal links is one of the less technical tasks that retailers will engage in when working with Magento as doing so requires no HTML knowledge.

Using the previously mentioned WYSIWYG editor, retailers can generate internal links by simply highlighting the desired text and clicking the link icon in the editor’s toolbar. From there, retailers will be prompted to enter the URL key for the desired page. Next, select if the page should open in the same window or a new one, enter in the tooltip text to display when someone hovers over the link and click “insert.”

 

External Linking

Equally as important to developing an internal linking scheme is to establish an external link building strategy.

External links serve to inform Google about the site’s authority and credibility. Therefore, it is essential that retailers opt to link to page’s that are highly relevant, trustworthy and respected. Linking to anything less could harm a site’s SEO performance.

There are a ton of tactics for building better backlinks; however, what is most important for retailers to keep in mind is only link to secure sites that are in no way spammy, unnatural or irrelevant to the content at hand.

 

Magento SEO: Getting Fancy

SEO-Friendly Images

Visual search and voice search as alternatives to traditional text search is becoming more and more prevalent. In data from Jumpshot compiled by Rand Fishkin at SparkToro we can see that  Google Image Search now makes up more than 20% of web searches as of February 2018. Some benefits of using seo-friendly images in your content include:

  1. Help explain concepts presented as written word and break up long-content with supplementary graphics.
  2. Alternate text embedded within an image can provide essential information to search engines about the object, place, or person it is representing.
  3. Written articles, videos, and images are the three most engaging types of content on social media according to a Clutch 2017 study. Adding images to your text can improve contents ability to go viral.

Chart of Web Searches

Magento 1 & 2 Implementation: As noted above, the WYSIWYG editors for both versions of the platform are strikingly similar. There will be no real differentiation in how you make images SEO-friendly.

That said, all the elements you’ll need to edit are in the source code or can also be accessed via the little image icon.

 

Open Graph Tags

Inspired by Microformats and RDFa, the Open Graph protocol was developed in 2007 by Facebook. Because of how sharable content is in this day and age, these tags are easily forgotten by new publishers. Don’t harm the shareability of your new content by forgetting to markup content with these highly visible elements.

Note: “OG Tags” can act as a failsafe when a page title is not available, as Google commonly looks to other forms of data when it cannot find text between the <title> elements.

How Can I Generate and Confirm Correct Implementation?

Helpful Tools

Documentation:

Facebook Open Graph Markup

Getting Started with Twitter Cards

Rich Pins Overview

Code Snippet Generator:

Web Code Tools

Mega Tags

Code Snippet Validation:

Facebook Open Graph Debugger

Twitter Open Graph Validator

Pinterest Rich Pins Validator

Magento 1 & 2 Implementation:

If you’re just looking to dabble in Open Graph, you could utilize some of the tools above to generate and validate code for a URL by URL basis. If you’re hoping to do OG tags at scale, there’s a number of extensions for this in the Magento Marketplace.

Meta Robot Instructions

 

Meta Robots Tags

The content your team produces will be useless if users can’t find it. Similar to the robots.txt file, the meta robots tag is designed to provide crawlers information about how to treat a certain singular URL in the search engine results.

What Instructions Are Available?

Note: Meta robots is a suggestion not a directive, so it’s still up to search engine’s if your URL is worthy and high-quality enough to include in search results.

In addition to the INDEX directive, you can also pass the following instructions via the meta robots tag:

NOINDEX – Tells a search engine crawler to exclude this page from their index

NOFOLLOW – Instructs the crawler to ignore following any links on the given page

NOARCHIVE – Excludes the particular page from being cached in search results

NOSNIPPET – Prevents a description from displaying below the headline in search results

NOODP – Blocks the usage of the Open Directory Project description from search results

NONE – Acts as a NOFOLLOW, NO INDEX tag.

 

Canonical Tags

The canonical tag is one of the most debated topics in SEO but can wreck your website if not implemented correctly. Duplicate content is the most common of problems with ecommerce websites.

What Does a Canonical Tag (rel=”canonical”) Do?

The canonical tag is a webmaster’s way of indicating to search engines that the destination URL noted is the “master copy” or the “single point of truth”. When implementation is successful, this should prevent multiple URLs with the same information from showing up in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Magento 1 & 2 Implementation: While implementation is possible on a URL by URL basis using the built in WYSIWYG editor, we recommend Amasty’s SEO Tool Kit, which makes the process much more efficient. This tool will hopefully prevent incorrect implementations/human error.

 

Page Speed Test

Ecommerce platform aside, a search engine’s main goal is to produce a quick answer for a particular question or topic search. Delivering a subpar user experience will likely lead to a user exiting. In a study from Google across multiple verticals, increasing page load time from 1 to 5 seconds increases the probability of a bounce by 90%. That could be a huge loss in revenue for a business.

Helpful Tools

Testing Speed Page by Page:

Google PageSpeed Insights (Free)

GTMetrix (Free & Paid Versions)

Pingdom (Free & Paid Versions)

Testing Page Speed At Scale:

Screaming Frog (Free Up to 500 URLs)

Sitebulb (Paid)

Simply understanding your audience will not be enough to craft successful content for your business. The more technical elements outlined above that pave your way to success or present a roadblock to if not addressed. As you think about producing a blog, an informational guide, or even a product page, don’t forget that user intent reigns supreme.

 

Conclusion

While things are likely to get technical when working with Magento, it is absolutely worth the extra effort as diving into the site’s mechanics and optimizing for elements such as meta robots tags, Open Graph tags, alt tags, section headings and other essential components is what helps retailer push their pages higher in the Google SERPs.

However, Visiture understands that not all eCommerce operations have the time or necessary understanding to really get under the hood with Magento and bring the platform to the pinnacle of its abilities.

For those merchants, it is recommended to reach out to a professional eCommerce marketing agency like Visiture as we provide eCommerce search engine optimization services. Additionally, as an award-winning Magento design firm, our team is intimately familiar with the ins, outs and upside-downs of the platform.

Ready to see your Magento product pages rise in rankings? Reach out to Visiture today for a free consultation.

 

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