There are lots of ways to drive shoppers to your Magento e-commerce store, but search engine optimization (SEO) is often one of the best methods that you can invest in. While paid advertising may bring shoppers to your store quickly, in order to receive targeted traffic to your website, you’ll always need to keep paying advertising networks like Google AdWords. With organic SEO, you can potentially drive much more long-term traffic, at a fraction of the cost.
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines use complex algorithms to create the natural website rankings that we’re all so used to seeing after a keyword search returns recommended websites. While the algorithms may be complex, SEO is as much an art as a science and requires diligent work to build up the “value” that search engines associate with the pages of your website for various keyword phrases. It’s an additive process that we like to compare to working your way up a mountain. The view from the summit can be spectacular, but you won’t make it to the peak overnight.
Whether you’re on Magento 1 or 2, Community or Enterprise, SEO is very much the same overall process. With that in mind, we’ve put together some helpful SEO tips that will apply to any Magento site:
1. Hit the books!
Research keywords, competitors and other key points in order to identify a winning strategy. Try to identify keyword phrases that are searched for often and directly relate to your products and services, but aren’t as competitive in the search engine results. Phrases that fewer strong competitors are already ranked for or that competitors have very generic content about will typically be faster and easier to optimize for.
2. Use the Fields, Luke!
There are fields in Magento that you use to manage content that shoppers can see. There are also fields that contain information that isn’t published visibly on the frontend of your website, but is however accessible to search engines like Google. This includes fields for meta keywords and meta descriptions. There are best practices for filling out these fields, so it may be a good idea to do a little research before filling these out or reach out to an SEO expert for guidance.
While you may have some products with a lot of similarity, you should be using titles, product descriptions, meta descriptions, and other content that is as original as possible and that speaks to the keywords that a unique product should be ranked for. Not using the same bland manufacturers descriptions verbatim can make a big difference in SEO too, helping you to stand out from the crowd.
4. Content is King
Search Engines were built to connect users with relevant websites. It’s therefore crucial that your website speaks directly to the keywords that you want to rank for. If your site doesn’t have unique content on a subject, it’s nearly impossible to rank for related keywords. Whether it’s including good content on category, product, or CMS pages, unique, quality content is a key to any Magento SEO campaign.
5. Use Magento Web-Development Best Practices
Magento is capable of automatically up-keeping Sitemap files that can help search engines find all of the pages in your website. Your site should have a Robots.txt file helping search engines to understand which parts of your website to read and anything to ignore. Lots of additional information is available to you in Webmaster Tools portals provided for free by both Google and Bing. This may include errors and other issues that could be hurting your rankings that you weren’t aware of.
6. Have a Kodak Moment
When saving your product image files before uploading them to Magento, use keywords in the file names. Then, when uploading your files, use alternative (Alt) tags to describe your photos with keyword phrases. Search engines can derive infinitely more information about your photos from proper naming and tagging than they can from the images themselves; this information is weighted into their algorithms just like they do for text content.
7. Quality / Relevant Linking
While you may have a great Magento website and great content, search engines want to know what others think about your site. They therefore look at backlinks - links from other websites to yours - as key indicators. Another site linking to yours acts as a recommendation of your site. However, not all links are equal. If search engines see links from spammy websites that are filled with links or mixed in with irrelevant content randomly, they can actually hurt your rankings. We recommend a mix of different offsite link building efforts, including submitting articles and blog posts to other relevant sites, publishing press releases, getting listed in major online directories within relevant categories and other healthy activities.
8. Social Networks
Social media buzz can act as a positive indicator to search engines in much the same way that backlinks do. Each social network is different and should be leveraged differently. If you want a strong return on your investment into social media marketing, consider actively engaging with shoppers through contests and other activities, and be prepared to invest at least a modest budget to boosting posts on platforms like Facebook.
While Magento gives you many opportunities to add content for SEO purposes, a blog can provide a much more effective area to add articles, posts, and other informative pieces. Each addition through the blog is another page that you can rank in the search engines. Blog pages can allow you to answer questions that many shoppers have, such as how to choose between particular products, helping you to attract active shoppers and prove that you’re experts in your field. With Magento, we recommend using a WordPress blog and connecting it with a free Magento Extension.
10. Spring Cleaning
Have you engaged in an SEO campaign previously? There are some things that you can’t simply sweep under the rug. Google and other search engines penalize what’s known as “black hat SEO”, methods of trying to unnaturally earn search engine rankings that may have worked years ago, but are now taboo. In some cases, remediation is needed to clean up negative factors, like toxic backlinks from spammy sites.
With enough time and resources, many businesses can run successful SEO campaigns on their own, however, most businesses aren’t staffed appropriately to address the many ongoing SEO factors that help you to earn and keep page 1 rankings in search engines. If you find yourself in need of help, consider getting help from a digital agency. At Rand Marketing, we offer a complimentary SEO audit and tailor our SEO campaigns to your website and your goals.