Magento is an incredibly popular ecommerce platform, but as with most CMSes, it needs some tweaking to make it search engine friendly. Magento does have some decent SEO options built-in, but you will need to enable them and set them up correctly to ensure that your site gets indexed properly by the search engines. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Make your URLs Search Engine Friendly
The first thing that you should do after installing Magento is configure your URLs to be search engine friendly. Under the Search Engines Optimization section of your control panel, find the URL Options menu and change “Add Store code to URLs” to No. In addition, change “Use Web Server Rewrites” to Yes. This will ensure that your URLs are human and search engine readable, and that they don’t have “index.php” in them.
You should do this before you launch your website, so that you don’t end up with broken links from outside sources who linked to the less-SEO-friendly URLs that are generated by the default options.
2. Let Search Engines Index Your Site
Under System > Configuration > Design > HTML Heads, you will find the default setting for your robots.txt file. Change this to “INDEX,FOLLOW” so that search engines know that they are allowed to explore and index your site. All of the major search engines obey the contents of the robots.txt file, so if it is set to “NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW” your site may as well be invisible to the search engines.
3. Avoid Duplicate Content Penalties
This option is frequently overlooked, but it is an important one to get right. Go to the System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization section and set “Use canonical link meta tag for products” to Yes. This will ensure that you don’t end up getting hit with a duplicate content penalty if you display the same product in more than one category. Duplicate content is an incredibly bad thing in Google’s eyes, but setting this option will tell Google what the “official” link for a page is.
4. Link Your Site to Your Google Webmaster Tools Account
Google’s Webmaster Tools offering is one of the most useful SEO tools there is. Claim your site in Google Webmaster Tools by adding your site verification tag to the miscellaneous scripts section of your HTML Header. This will give you access to a wide range of analytics information, including incoming links, indexed pages, broken links, site errors and more.
5. Add Useful, Keyword Rich Content
Google likes websites which are updated regularly with informative and keyword rich content. Online stores frequently struggle to rank well because product descriptions tend to be quite short, and if you’re using the manufacturer’s descriptions you could end up being flagged for duplicate content. Adding extra content to your site, such as reviews, how-to guides, buyer’s guides or even topical opinion pieces can help you to improve your rankings.
6. Don’t Neglect Off-Site SEO
Once you have your site set up correctly, it’s time to start building links. Distribute some press releases, do some guest blogging, and network with other people in your niche. A popular site with lots of high quality incoming links will attract Google’s attention more quickly than a site that no-one uses.
When not writing blog posts for CWCS, Crispin Jones loves nothing more than to read about the very same topics he writes about from hosting to servers to wordpress and SEO.