SEO has always been at the forefront of internet marketing; recognised as a highly effective way of bringing additional traffic to your site. However, in ecommerce, SEO is often an underutilised tool. While SERP optimising their blog or corporate site, businesses tend to forget about SEO when it comes to their ecommerce offering. This is why, in the latest Magento, browser optimisation has been made easier than ever. You can now SEO your site from within your platform via a few simple steps; presenting huge returns for a relatively small amount of effort. Though many options are available, in this article, we highlight the most effective ones.
What’s new in Magento SEO for M2?
The full list of new SEO related features for Magento 2 are:
- Ability to edit the robots file in the back-end
- Customisation of XML sitemap for different page types
- Canonical tags now available for layered navigation
- Canonical tags now available for pagination pages
- Images come with labels for SEO
- Rich snippets directly integrated in Magento 2
- Schema.org template built into Magento 2
- Ecommerce tracking via Google Analytics and AdWords
In what follows, we’ll look at the most important features to use in your on-site Magento SEO.
1. Optimise Magento 2 Store URL
A Magento website contains a significant amount of pages which your buyers navigate through. In most cases, these pages are based on the following template pages: Homepage, Product category, Product detail, Cart page and Checkout. Having clear and SEO-friendly URLs greatly streamlines the user experience.
Aim to optimise your Magento 2 URLs in the following format:
- Homepage: yourdomain.com
- Product Page: yourdomain.com/product-name
- Category Page: yourdomain.com/category-name
- Sub-category Page: yourdomain.com/category-name/sub-category-name
Each type of page has its own URL depending on variables such as category name, product name, cart value and so on. Setting up URLs in a way that’s logical in structure not only helps the visitor to navigate your site, but also helps search engine crawlers categorise them.
Remember, in Magento URls are executed via the store view level. To implement the URLs in this format, you’ll need to follow these steps:
Select the Store view that you wish to alter and navigate to Stores –> Configuration –> General –> Web.
From there, simply follow the URL formats shown above.
2. Duplicate Pages/Canonical URLs
Duplicate content is one of the most common problem for website owners. Although seemingly unimportant, these unintended duplicates can cause significant problems for any browser crawling your pages.
More often than not, duplicate content errors occur due to the following reasons:
- Product filtering
- Product sorting
- Same product listed in different categories
- Variations of the same product listing
Of these reasons, the most common is probably ‘variation of the same product listing’.
For example, if you sell clothes and you have a separate page for each colour e.g. www.yourdomain.com/dresses/red-dress and www.yourdomain.com/dresses/white-dress but the characteristics, description, layout are the same, Google will treat these pages as duplicates.
As a solution, you can easily resolve the problem in the following ways:
- Choose one page and insert the rel=canonical tag for all variations.
- Write unique content for each page. Though time-consuming, this will greatly improve your SEO.
To use the simpler method of adding a canonical tag, rather than omitting the duplicate content, go to Stores –> Configuration –> Catalog –> Catalog –> on right side scroll down to Search Engine Optimisation and set Canonical LINK Meta Tags for Categories and Products to Yes.
3. Input Meta Data
Optimising metadata begins with keyword research. Once you’ve chosen several keywords to target for each page, it’s important to insert them liberally into your metadata. Over time, you can fine-tune the meta data to better reflect the buying patterns of your customers. Ideally, a meta description should be between 150-160 characters in length, although the field will accept 255 characters in total.
To implement these changes in Magento, first, go to System –> Configuration. Then, on the left menu, choose Design. Dropdown the HTML Head menu, you can edit Title in Default Title and Meta description in Default Description.
For best practice, your meta title should include your target keyword(s) to help the browser or site better understand the user’s search query. The meta title should not come to more than 60 characters in total.
While it is always a good idea to enter meta title, this is another function that Magento can perhaps automatically – pulling through the category name and parent categories, assuming they include relevant keywords, it will generate an optimised meta title. This function is called: Fields Auto-Generation. It helps to set templates for products meta data. They are applied on a global level.
The new setting can be found under Stores –> Configuration –> Catalog –> Catalog –> Product Fields Auto-Generation
4. Optimising The Alt Tags
Alt tags can be thought of as metadata for images. They tell the spiders that crawl your site the data your images contain. Without an SEO tag, search engines will be effectively blind to any images you place on your site, therefore it is important – for the sake of visibility – to include them.
Within Magento, alt tags allow Google to better determine the topic of the product image, as well as helping drive more traffic to your products – where the image alt tags and product descriptions are related.
To change the alt text of existing images, go to the Magento Commerce directory, then go to Catalog –> Manage Products.
Each product will have an images section, and under that section a header named “label.” The label is the alt text for the image, this can be customised for each product.
5. Creating an XML Sitemap
In SEO, having a site map is essential: it improves the way your store is indexed by search engines, helping it find pages that might otherwise be overlooked. Within Magento 2, XML sitemaps can now be generated automatically.
To set up a Google sitemap in Magento, start from your Admin Panel, go to Catalog –> Google Sitemap.
From there you can begin creating your sitemap. For Filename add sitemap.xml and for Path enter root – “/”. Then, choose Store view from the drop down menu.
Thereafter, from within the System –> Configuration –> Google Sitemap menu, you can set about customising your XML sitemap. For instance, category pages can be set to automatically regenerate on a daily basis while content pages, which change infrequently on an individual level, can be refreshed weekly. In practice, your sitemap should be updated as frequently as the content on your site changes, e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly.
Please note: an XML sitemap only works for search engines. If you want a sitemap that works for users as well, you should use a Magento module to generate an HTML sitemap. Once these are put in place, they can be automated in much the same way they were created.
6. Measuring Results: Google Analytics
With ecommerce, there are a multitude of ways to measure your results. Since it is a relatively new feature within Magento however, we’ll focus here on Google Analytics.
The importance of this integration cannot be stressed enough: with Google Analytics you can see which pages get most views, and which receive the highest bounce rates. With this information, you can redesign your pages to reflect customer demand and the overall user experience.
Within Magento, you have two main options: Ecommerce Tracking and Page View Tracking.
Ecommerce Tracking enables you to measure the number of transactions and the amount of revenue made by your website. Page View Tracking shows where your web store visitors came from.
First you need to a create an account with Google Analytics. You will receive a Google Analytics account number. Write this down as you will need it later to configure your account with Magento.
Once this has been completed you can setup Google Analytics in Magento itself.
Go to System –> Configuration, then navigate to the Sales tab and click on Google API, then click ‘Yes’ from the drop-down menu in the Enable field. After that, enter the Google Analytics account number in the ‘Account Number’ field, and click ‘Save Config’. The correct code will be added to all necessary pages on the Magento website, allowing full tracking and analysis.
7. Summing Up
Though only covering a small number of SEO features in Magento 2, we’ve hopefully covered the most important ones and helped you understand their use a bit better. SEO is essential to running any online business, and running an online store should be no different. If you want to get more in depth with these functions, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Otherwise, post a message over on the Stack Exchange where any one of the posters on there is sure to help.
Want to find out more about Magento? Please see our Complete Magento Ecommerce Guide for more details.