Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform used by over 100,000 self-hosted online stores. Since its original release in 2008, the software has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times, and it offers a powerful suite of features comparable to both Shopify and WooCommerce.
Similar to WooCommerce (which runs on the WordPress platform), Magento is self-hosted, meaning that store owners need to install and maintain the software on their own hosting services. Because of this, it requires users to be more technical-savvy than Shopify. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, Magento’s SEO benefits are clear.
What are the SEO considerations when cutting over to Magento?
The good news is that Magento is fairly-well SEO-optimized out of the box. But whether you’re starting an e-commerce store from scratch, or you’re migrating over from another platform, there are a variety of steps you should take to optimize your site.
Shopify, for example, requires fewer modifications due to the fact that stores are hosted on their own platform. Since Magento installations are self-hosted, though, you’ll want to ensure that you follow these e-commerce SEO tactics specific to Magento.
Magento SEO best practices: how to optimize a Magento storefront
As with any site, good SEO starts with thorough keyword research. You’ll need to know your marketplace, and high SERP rankings depend on building domain authority while delivering relevant and useful information to your potential customers. To learn more, check out how SEO can help increase your online sales.
Beyond keyword and market research, these Magento SEO tips can boost your site to the top of the search rankings, attract customers, and boost sales.
Magento SEO checklist
- SEO-friendly URLs
- Optimized keywords and product descriptions
- Generate a sitemap
- Modify robots.txt file
- Optimize images
- Avoid duplicate content
1. Optimize Magento for SEO-friendly URLs
While not a major ranking factor, presenting clean URLs does contribute to your site’s SEO scores. Above all, the URLs you use should be short, clean, and provide intuitive hierarchical information.
As with WordPress, Magento offers multiple URL options. By default, the system adds product and category codes, as well as “index.php” tags, which can make URLs messy and confusing. For best SEO results, choose a basic structure for pages such as:
Fortunately, changing URL structures in Magento is easy.
- Login to your administration panel and go to Stores > Configuration > General > Web
- For URL Options, select NO in the dropdown next to Add Store Code to URL. This will remove all product and category codes from your URLs.
- For Search Engine Optimization, select YES next to Server URL Rewrites. This will remove “index.php” from URLs.
- Select Save Config.
From this point on, your Magento site will have a clean URL structure that will help your site’s SEO value.
2. Optimize your titles, keywords, and product descriptions
Page titles not only affect search rankings, but they also affect your CTR and conversion rates. That’s why it’s critical that your page titles are optimized for search results, your keywords are included, and your product descriptions are top-notch.
Your title should capture attention while conveying the purpose of your page, with maximum impact. It should:
- Contain relevant keywords
- Include a call to action
- Be between 30 and 60 characters in length.
How to add descriptions and keywords for SEO in Magento
Using keywords and meta tags in your product descriptions is extremely important since these pages are likely to be captured by search engines. It’s equally important to make sure your main keywords are incorporated into your product categories.
Here’s how to add meta tags and meta descriptions for your products:
- In your administration panel, go to Products > Catalog
- Select a product and click Edit Product
- Scroll down to Search Engine Optimization
- In the boxes, add your meta title and meta descriptions. Leave meta keywords blank.
How to add meta tags and meta descriptions for categories:
- In your administration panel, select Products > Categories
- Select a category and click Edit Category
- Scroll down to Search Engine Optimization
- In the boxes, add your meta title and meta descriptions. Leave meta keywords blank
Which fields matter the most for SEO in Magento products?
While Google and other SERPs take metadata into account, it’s actually more relevant for search engine displays. That’s why even though there is a box for meta keywords, Google typically ignores it. But where it does come in handy is when you’re trying to make your search snippets look as enticing as possible.
When you’re creating your product fields for Magento SEO purposes, make sure you’ve included the following elements:
- A keyword-focused URL
- A meta description that is short but focused, with a clear call to action
- An optimized meta title that will serve as the ‘title’ of your search results
3. Generate a Magento SEO sitemap
Sitemaps help search engine crawlers map out and categorize websites, making them invaluable for SEO. Since it’s not generally done automatically (unless you use a Magento SEO plugin that does it for you), you’ll have to do it manually.
How to generate a Magento XML sitemap:
- In your administrator panel, click on Store > Configuration > Catalog > XML Sitemap.
- Set Enabled to YES
- Set Start Time to any time after 00:00:00
- Set Frequency to CHOOSE DAILY
- Leave other boxes as default settings
- Select Save Config
4. Modify your robots.txt Magento for SEO
After you’ve generated an XML sitemap, you’ll need to give instructions to search engines as to how you want them to crawl your site. Among other things, the robots.txt file sets your preferences and helps reduce duplicate content, so having it set correctly is important for SEO.
With most self-hosted websites, accessing robots.txt means going into your hosting and configuring it manually. Fortunately, Magento sets the defaults pretty well, so you probably won’t have to change it. If you do, it lets you do this fairly easily. Here’s how:
- In your administration panel, go to Stores > General > Design
- Next to Edit custom instruction of robots.txt file, add the pages you don’t want to be crawled. These should include disallows of /catalogsearch/, /search/, login pages, and filtering terms like size, color, etc.
- Select Save Config.
5. Optimize alt text for images
If your products have images, they’ll likely have names like IMG12345, which were assigned by your camera. These titles need to be changed and optimized for SEO, otherwise you’ll be at a significant disadvantage.
Follow these alt text for images SEO Magento best practices:
- Try to put your product keywords in alt-title
- Make your image file name related to the product
- Make image descriptions as relevant as possible without over-using keywords
To change the alt text images, do the following:
- Log in to your administration panel and go to Products > Catalog
- At the Configurable Products link, click on the image thumbnail
- Go to the Detail page, then double click on images
- Add or modify alt text in the field
6. Prevent duplicate content
Duplicate content happens when site content is indexed separately under different categories. For example, if you allow Google to crawl your site’s list of colors, or sizes, or inventory, it may result in the same product being returned three times. This can result in SEO penalties, so you’ll want to avoid having duplicate content at all costs.
Fortunately, Magento’s SEO settings let you prevent duplicate content simply by using canonical tags.
- In the administration panel, go to Store > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization
- Set Use Categories Path for Product URLs to YES
- Set Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories to YES
- Set Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products to YES
- Select Save Config
That’s it! Magento will ensure that your site isn’t returning duplicate results, and will force them to appear under certain circumstances only.
How to test the quality of SEO on a Magento website
It’s important to know how well your site is performing for SEO. A proper SEO audit will analyze key metrics and tell you which areas need improvements. Ideally, comprehensive SEO audits should be performed regularly.
When planning to test the quality of SEO on your Magento website, here are some invaluable SEO tools.
Magento SEO Tools to help your store rank on Google
This free tool is the gold standard for SEO analysis, as it lets you analyze data directly from Google itself. While there’s a bit of a learning curve, Google Analytics will tell you everything you need to know about your site’s performance.
Offering both free and paid versions, Screaming Frog is a desktop app that quickly crawls your site to determine its SEO health. Find broken links, analyze metadata, find errors, and more with ease. You can export the data and track your results over time, making it an invaluable addition to your SEO toolbox.
Best Magento SEO Extension: Advanced SEO Suite
While there is a cost to use this plugin ($149), Advanced SEO Suite automates a number of processes to ensure your store is in peak SEO health. Specifically, it lets you optimize your product categories for relevant search phrases, and provides templates to collect meta-information.
Boost your sales with these tried and tested SEO for Magento practices
Whatever your technological skillset or experience level, Magento makes it easy to optimize your online store to perform well in the search rankings. When you follow these Magento SEO tips and add these optimizations to this powerful platform, you’ll soon find yourself well on your way to more customers and improved sales.
Miromind’s team of Magento SEO consultants can work with you to ensure your e-commerce store outshines the competition. Contact us today to learn how we can help take your online business to the next level.