Thank You For Joining Us At The Imagine Commerce Conference And Hearing Us Speak!
We are excited to share our knowledge and help you along your journey. As promised our guide below shows step by step the different measures we take to optimize our client’s Magento websites.
Why we prefer Magento:
We prefer the Magento CMS over other CMSs for eCommerce stores because of three key reasons:
1) Keyword Rich URL Structure – it is easy to create keyword rich site structures that are very flexible. No weird tagging systems the CMS is very straightforward when it comes to site structure.
2) Advanced Features and Functionality.
3) Flexibility and Ease of Use.
The Magento platform is the perfect balance between advanced functionality and ease of use. It doesn’t take 6 months to implement simple optimization techniques and it is advanced enough to execute more advanced optimization techniques.
Goals Of This Guide:
The goal of this guide is to give you actionable items from our experience that will help you optimize your stores for search engines to gain valuable targeted search traffic and sales. We hate when someone says, “Create better content” this guide shows you step by step more advanced techniques you can use. Here are the three main goals and how we seperated the guide. Everyone generally falls into three steps with SEO: optimize the CMS and store, optimize your categories pages/products (on page), and then optimize other websites to give you more authority (off page).
1) Obtain a better understanding of how to use your Magento CMS to obtain a better search presence.
2) Learn how to use best on page SEO practices for your store for long term sustainability.
3) Learn how to use best off page SEO practices for your store for long term sustainability.
Magento Store Basics:
These are the basic things many Magento stores can improve through the CMS.
Redirecting the www. to non www. version
We want to either redirect the www.example.comto the example.com or the other way around. We basically only want one version, not two, which is what happens when you do not have it redirecting to the “base URL”. The reason for this is because Google will duplicate our website and backlinks could be pointing to the www. but not the non www. which splits our authority in half. Here are the steps you need to take:
Go to: System > Configuration > Web > URL Options > Add Shop Codes to URLs then Change Auto Redirect to Base URLs to “Yes”.
You always want clean keyword-rich URL strings. So, if your Magento Site has http://www.example.com/product/red-dress.html, you will want to remove the .HTML. To do this, stay on the same page as above, just scroll down to “Search Engine Optimizations”, and then remove the Product and Category suffix.
Site Speed Improvements
To obtain the most optimal performance, you want to check your page speed directly from Google. Go to Google’s Page Speed Application and analyze your website. Work with your development team/agency to increase your score. Usually it is simple things such as improving server response time or optimizing your images.
You always want people to write reviews for your products. The reason being is it produces more content for your website, and more likely, your products can rank for a wide variety of search phrases. You want other people to do SEO for you! If you do not have reviews enabled, select it by going to:
System > Configuration > Catalog > Allow Guests to Write reviews.
Make sure enable caching in each category. The reason for this is it speeds up the website and gives your users a better experience. It is annoying to have to clear it out manually sometimes but the time it takes is worth it. Go to System > Cache Management > And then enable all settings.
Site structure is critical to your success. Make sure to use the standard site structure:
1st Common Bad Site Structure –
2nd Common Bad Site Structure –
Even if your sitemap does this Google will still not be able to understand it. Having parents and subcategories is very important to your success. Follow the simple guidelines of example.com/category/subcategory/product.
#2 On Page Optimization
Now that we have our CMS perfected here is how we want to optimize our category pages. Here is how to use best on page (optimizing the website’s content) SEO practices for your store for long term sustainability.
Get organized with spreadsheets and keyword research
Creating spreadsheets for your category pages saves time and keeps you organized. Plus if you have 50+ categories it is important to keep this organized as we will be completing a lot of work.
Next, do the same for your products (note products are optional). Categories are because it is the main focal point.
Once we have our categories, we will want to do the keyword research. We personally use tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool or you can use the SEMRushtool.
For Google Adwords, go to Adwords, go to “Tools”, “Keyword Planner”, and then in “search for new keyword or ad group” put your URL in there, or you can put two to three keyword phrases in there like “red dresses”, “red dress”, “red dresses for sale”.
Once we have it downloaded and opened, we want to whittle it down to 5 to 10 phrases we think will be best for our specific category page. You want the most relevant phrases i.e. I sell red dresses so I want to go after red dresses. You want to look at average monthly searches and CPC. Both show you how valuable the phrases are. The higher the CPC the better the phrase. The more searches the more conversions we can get. For our red dress example, we would want phrases like “Red Dresses”, “Red Dress”, “Red Dresses for Sale”, “Red Dresses on Sale”.
Now that we have our research, let’s put it in our category sheet. Put the keyword phrase, the monthly search volume, and then the CPC (cost per click) next to your page. Note: We use CPC so we can estimate how competitive the phrase it is and estimate conversion rates. If the CPC is $1.00 on average our conversion rate could be .85% so the keyword phrase is worth $85 per customer.
Google loves unique and fresh content. It is difficult, but it is necessary to have unique product descriptions, body copy, meta titles, and more. We want to make sure all of our meta titles, descriptions, and body copy are aligned with best SEO practices.
Here are the things we look at when optimizing the category pages:
Meta Title Tags
Our rule of thumb is no more than one keyword per line item, so let’s say we are optimizing for “Red Dress”, “Blue Dress”, and “The best red dress”:
Good –The Best Red & Blue Dressesfor Sale at My Company
Bad –Red Dress –Blue Dress –The Bestfor Sale at My Company
You want to optimize it for users and not just stuff keywords in. Also, keep it around 45 characters. You want your stongest phrases to the left so if I try to rank for “long style red dresses” and “red dresses” I would say “Red Dresses in Long Style”
Meta Description Tags
Our rule of thumb is just like the meta titles. Make it readable, one keyword per line item, and make it built for users:
Good –The best red and blue dressesfor sale at My Company. We offer the best selection from our women’s wear and offer free shipping for orders over $100.
Bad –Red Dressand blue dressfor sale at My Company. We offer the bestred dressyou can find on the internet and the best pricing on blue dresses.
Use some good CTA’s like “free shipping” so you can increase your click through rate.
Body Copy and H Tags
The same rules for meta tags applies to body copy, but this is a little more subjective. You want less than a 1% keyword phrase density on your website and only one keyword per page title.
The same rules applies to your page title (generally H1, H2, or H3) as your meta title. Make sure your keywords are less than 1% on your body copy. You want your targeted keyword phrase in your first H tag whether it is an H1, H2, H3, etc…
Since Panda 2.0, we noticed with a large content distributor, they were taking a hit in their Google search traffic because their URL was the same as their H1 tags. We fixed it by shortening their URLs.
Example.com/how-to-quit-eating-apples was the URL for an article called, “How to quit eating apples”. This was causing his website to be “over optimized”, so we changed the URLs to example.com/quit-eating-apples. This increased his traffic 100% in 5 months alone.
We want to make sure our URLs are different from our H tags, but still contain valuable targeted keyword phrases. Make them shorter, longer, or different.
Clean the backlink profile out
We want to go through our backlink profile and make sure we disavow backlinks that can be hurting our rankings. We use tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, SEOProfiler, Majestic SEO, and, of course, Webmaster Tools. I would suggest using as many as you can and combining them together. Some will pick up some that others may not. For this example, we will use SEO Profiler.
You can see we had a link influence score of 46% and 1,512 backlinks. We will want to export these links to take a closer look.
Looking at the complete list, you can see the different columns and what they are looking at. Links with a high risk score called “risk” and low “lis” should be disavowed. You also need to use your judgement what a good link is.
Next, take your complete list of links and disavow them using the Google Webmaster Tools Disavow tool. Usually, the links you want to disavow are spam and cannot be contacted to remove them.
Here is an example of what it looks like:
Importance of body copy
There is a large fear and resistance to body copy on category pages. They think it will hurt the look and ultimately conversions. There is also a belief that putting copy below the products does not help. Below is a ranking chart. It went from “not in the top one hundred” to page two. The only different was a 300 word blurb.
On average, our client’s organic impressions and sales increase by 45% with body copy on their category pages underneath their products.
If you cannot put body copy on the category pages, you can write great blogs and interlink them to your category pages. This creates a solid site structure.
Off Page Optimization
Here is how to use best link building and social media marketing to gain authority so Google will value our website over our competitors for our different keyword phrases:
Power Page guest blogging
Power pages are gigantic or awesome pieces of content. These can be ultimate guides, reviews, lists, or blogs that are very popular. To create them, we want to research the industry and content and find an awesome topic.
Now that we have our topic, we need to write it. Either have a writer do it or your internal marketing team.
Once it is written, it is time to pitch! Make a spreadsheet of different authority websites your content would be aligned with their audience. Then contact the content editors and pitch your content.
I saw you published work about [keyword here] on [URL here]. My team and I spent a great deal of time putting together an in-depth article on [keyword here] and think your audience would absolutely love it. Can we send it to you and would you consider it for your next position on your content calendar?
Social signals are very important to increasing the quality of your website. It will not help you rank for phrases solely but it will help your other efforts in helping give social signals to backlinks and your content. Post your content on your social media platforms, and, more importantly, all of your backlinks/blogs you have written. Use social advertising tools to really get it out there to your target market. Use your Justreachout.io tool to show content editors your content. If they share it on their social accounts it can help you greatly.
Build content on your site.
Using the same methods for power pages, create compelling and awesome content for your blog and share it on social media.
Once you have the content built, you can also build links to it from popular social book marketing sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and more. You can also use your justreachout.io tool and tell content editors about your piece of content. The more you tell the more likely they will share it or link to it in their own content.
Things to keep in mind.
1) Quality over quantity
It is difficult to focus on quality because everyone wants instant results for their efforts but be patient. It works, it just takes time sometimes 6 months to a year.
2) Tier your link building
When you get an awesome guest post featured, tell the world about it. Go out and post it on social media and post it on social book marks. This creates a tier system and Google values your higher level backlinks more.
3) Do not spam anchor text
When you include hyperlinks, do not include your targeted keyword phrases. Make sure you only use your company name, your domain, or something non-related like “click here”, “visit it here”, etc…