The subject of Search Engine Optimisation is enormous – you could easily pen a series of weighty books and not cover all the ins and outs associated with getting SEO right. However, for most Magento site owners it’s more a case of addressing the basics and building from there, as to implement the simplest SEO elements and techniques to make a big difference is not the biggest undertaking.
The problem facing each and every Magento store owner right now is simple competition. Not only are there thousands of stores in each and every niche trying to sell the same products, but most of these sites are also competing for the same keywords and the same high rankings in Google. As such, getting it right in SEO stakes can make the difference between flying high and going under in a disappointingly brief period of time.
It’s therefore lucky for users that the Magento backend has a fair few features that can help get things on course – here’s an overview of the simplest SEO tips to get your Magento store noticed by Google and Co.:
1 – Focus on Clear, Clean and Simple URLs
Simple URLs that use standard characters and are kept of an agreeable length can work wonders for your customers and your SEO efforts alike. It’s a case of keeping them as clear and clean as possible, which is made pretty easy by Magento. You of course need to be proactive yourself when choosing any URLs and page titles, but there are also some minor technical tweaks to make.
To make sure you’re on-point, head into System => Configuration => Web => Search Engines Optimization and from there choose the URL Options menu. Where it says Add Store Code to URLS you should set it to No in order to immediately make a difference to your URLs.
2 – Make Sure Your Sites Can Actually Be Indexed in the First Place
The major search engines cannot and will not index your site and its pages unless you give them express permission to do so. As such, you need to make sure your site is crawlable, which can be achieved by going into System => Configuration => Design => HTML Heads and making sure things are set to INDEX, FOLLOW.
3 – Make the Most of Metadata
Metadata should be revisited and examined from time to time as chances are there are improvements that can be made. It’s worth remembering that for each page of your Magento store you should be using a different set of metadata. After all, the description for one page will not be relevant and true for all pages across your website, which is important considering that this is the description people will see when you appear in the search rankings.
When choosing appropriate descriptions, make sure they are relevant to the page/topic and also that they contain the relevant keywords to help make sure you’re found in the first place.
4 – Use Logical Labels for Files
Another very quick though hugely useful tip is that of labeling files in a sensible manner. Just as an example, to label an image “red_shirt_large.jpg” makes a lot more sense for everyone that to call it “img992_284ie.jpg”.
5 – Beware Content Duplication
With a Magento site that sells a multitude of products that are for the most part very similar, it can often prove difficult to come up with genuinely unique text and content for each and every page. Sadly, Google has declared war on duplicate content and Magento site owners are in no way exempt from the campaign, which in turn means having to do your all to keep content unique as possible throughout. And in instances where pages need to be almost entirely duplicated shy of say an image or two, make sure these aren’t crawled and indexed by Google.
6 – Careful Use of Analytics
And finally, it’s of crucial importance for anyone involved in online retail to keep a near-constant eye on Google Analytics to get a first-hand look at what’s working and what isn’t. This is where you’ll see your SEO efforts paying off…or not as the case may be…right before your eyes. As such, it’s the only means by which you can determine which areas need additional focus and what strategies are paying off. With Magento, just as is the case with most other web ventures, there’s a deal of trial and error involved in getting it right, but SEO is something you really don’t want to risk getting wrong if you have any say in the matter.