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How to do basic technical SEO for Magento

5 July 2009 2 Comments

1. General Configuration

Magento is one of the most search engine friendly e-commerce platforms straight out of the box, but there are several known issues that can be taken care of to optimize your Magento SEO. The first step is to get the most recent release. Then, to get started, enable Server URL rewrites. You will find this setting under System => Configuration => Web => Search Engines Optimization. Another good thing to configure now you are on this screen is “Add store Code to Urls” under “Url Options”. In most cases it is better to set this functionality to “No”.

1.1. WWW vs non-WWW

Under “Unsecure” and “Secure” you can find the Base URL, where you can set the preferred domain. You can choose between the www and the non-www version of the URL. With changing the setting you don’t create a redirect from www to non-www or non-www to www but set only the preferred one. Therefore it is a good idea to create a 301 redirect through .htaccess with mod_rewrite. When editing the .htaccess file you can add the following code to redirect index.php to root.
Around line 119:


RewriteBase / RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9} /index.php HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index.php$ http://www.mydomain.com/ [R=301,L]

Or, when your Magento install is not in the root but in the sub-directory http://www.mydomain.com/magento/:


RewriteBase /magento/ RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9} /magento/index.php HTTP/
RewriteRule ^index.php$ http://www.mydomain.com/magento/ [R=301,L]

2. Header Settings

By default your Magento install has the title “Magento Commerce”. For your Magento shop to get the traffic it deserves you should keep at your mind:
• Search engines put more weight on the early words, so if your keywords are near the start of the page title you are more likely to rank well.
• People scanning result pages see the early words first. If your keywords are at the start of your listing your page is more likely to get clicked on.
First of all you should get rid off the default title “Magento Commerce”. Go to Configuration => Design => HTML Head. Choose a good and descriptive title for your website. This title will be used for several non-content pages without custom title, e.g. “Contact Us” and the “Popular Search Terms”.
To add your store name to all page titles, including categories and products, put your store name in “Title Suffix”. It is a better idea to keep the Prefix empty, for the reasons mentioned above. Also keep “Default Description” and “Default Keywords” empty. For a non-production environment, to prevent indexing of the site, it may be useful to set “Default Robots” to “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW” but for all other applications make sure it is set to “INDEX, FOLLOW”.
Now we are optimizing the of your web-store pages it is a good idea to add the new canonical tag. You can install the Canonical URL’s for Magento Module to add them to your head and improve your Magento SEO.
For some reason Magento turns non-set meta robots into a meta tag in this style:

This can result in some very strange behavior in the search engines, so we’ll remove it. To remove this empty metas from your code you can install the Yoast MetaRobots Module.

3. CMS Pages

At first sight Magento may lack some descent CMS functionality, but for most uses it will be flexible and powerful enough. Once you’ve given each CMS page some decent content, pick a SEF URL Identifier and page title, (while keeping in mind the points under 1.2), and go to the Meta Data tab to write a description for each CMS page that you actually want to rank with.
You can keep the “Keywords” empty. The description has one very important function: enticing people to click, so make sure it states what’s in the page they’re clicking towards, and that it gets their attention.
If you don’t use the meta description, the search engine will find the keyword searched for in your document, and automatically pick a string around that, which gives you a bolded word or two in the results page.

4. Category optimization

Magento gives you the ability to add the name of categories to path for product URL’s. Because Magento doesn’t support this functionality very well – it creates duplicate content issues. To disable this, go to System => Configuration => Catalog => Search Engine Optimization and set “Use categories path for product URL’s to “no”.
Now it’s time to set the details for each category. Go to Catalog => Manage Categories. The most important fields are:
• Meta Description: put an attractive description here; Keep in mind that people will see the description in the result listings of search engines.
• Page Title: keep this empty to use the category name including parents categories. When you customize it, the title will be exactly like your input, without the parent category.
• URL Key: try to keep a short but keyword rich URL. Removing stop words like “the”, “and”, “for” etc. is usually a good idea. Also note that you can set this only for all store views, for a multi-language store you should keep it language independent.
For each store view you can specify the Name, Description, Page Title and Meta data. For multi-language stores this is really a great feature.

5. Products optimization

Optimization of the Products pages is similar to Categories. An often-overlooked aspect of Magento SEO is how you handle your images. By for instance writing good alt tags for images and thinking of how you name the image files, you can get a nice bit of extra traffic from the different image search engines.
By default the images will be renamed to the product title, the same for titles and alt tags. With some extra effort you can set the titles and alt tags for each product image. Under the tab “Images” of the Product Information you can set the label for each product image, this value will be used for the alt and title tag. You can do this for each specified Store View.

Related posts:

  1. Magento Search Engine Optimization Techniques
  2. SEO for Magento Web Sites
  3. Magento SEO Development
  4. Magento SEO (search engine friendly Magento shopping cart)

2 Comments »

  • Udhay said:

    nice post

  • krbhola said:

    It is really helpful article and would help those who are seo beginners
    thank you