We recently switched over to Magento for a number of reasons. In the transition however, we realized one of the challenges of Magento: Search Engine Optimization. Through some research, experimentation, a few small changes and redesigning, we were able to improve Magento’s out of the box SEO and get back on Google’s good side. Here’s a quick summary of some changes you should consider, whether you’ve been using Magento for a while or you just started:
1. Optimize your URLs
Magento’s URLs are pretty ugly at first. With a little help from server rewrites we can easily clean them up.
- Set System > Configuration > Web > “Use Web Server Rewrites” to Yes. This allows you to have more user-friendly URLs, so instead of “yoursite.com/catalog/product/1870” you can have “yoursite.com/yourproduct.html”
- Set System > Configuration > Catalog > “Use Categories Path for Product URLs” to No. This prevents Magento from making several links all going to the same place. If this is set to yes, you’ll have a different link for every possible path a user could take to get to your product via categories.
- Set System > Configuration > Catalog > “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” to Yes. This tells search engines that your category page is the original (not the same page sorted by name, or showing only 12 of 36 products, etc)
Make sure your URLs aren’t too long. Keep them only as long as you need to make them relevant. For example, sweaters.com/red-wool-cable-knit-sweater.html is much better than sweaters.com/one-red-wool-silk-blend-cable-knit-style-with-stars-warm-washer-safe-sweater.html
2. Tweak your CMS, Product and Category Page Titles
Page titles are weighted heavily in a search engines’ view. Make sure they are relevant, less than 70 characters and put your most important keywords in the beginning of the title. Here’s how to change the page titles:
- CMS Pages: For CMS pages, your “Page Title” is the Meta Title.
- Products: Go to Catalog > Manage Products. Click the product you want to edit, click “Meta Information” on the left and edit the “Meta Title” field.
*Note: you probably already have hundreds of products and want to edit them in bulk. If so, go to System > Import/Export > Profiles. Click on “Export All Products”, tweak the settings for your export and run the profile. You can take that export file and work with it in Excel, editing the Meta Title column. When you’re done, save it as a CSV file and import it in Magento. It’ll update all the products with your new changes.
- Categories: Go to Catalog > Categories. Click the category you want to edit, and edit the “Page Title” field.
3. Design a Straightforward Navigation Menu
Big, data-rich dropdown menus and footers are in style – but they have a drawback. Too much information makes the rest of your pages look like duplicate content. If your navigation menu makes up 70% of the content on most pages, search engines think all of your pages only have 30% of original content, which hurts your ranking.
Too many links in the nav or footer can skyrocket your link count on every page, breaking the generally accepted 100 link per page limit, and you’ll look like a link farm to a crawler. You’re also spreading your link juice too thin, passing too little to each link instead of a concentrated amount to a few links. Take some hints from Apple.com, who has one of the most simple nav menus around.
4. Get it to Run Fast Without Switching Hosts
It’s no secret that Magento is unbearably slow, and that’s no good for SEO. Luckily speeding it up is a 1 step solution. I couldn’t say enough about TinyBrick’s LightSpeed. Their Magento caching solution is a bargain at $500 (trust me). Once it’s installed, it simply does it’s job working in conjunction with Magento’s own Cache Management system. Bring those page load times from 2,3 and 4 seconds down to less than 100 milliseconds.
Making these changes, along with other good SEO practices, will dramatically boost your search rankings and get you relevant, organic traffic as a result.