Search Engine Optimization Tips for Magento

Published May 12th, 2014 by Michael Farin

Who’s looking for your online store? Who’s finding you? And who’s completely missing you when they don’t have to? Magento’s one of the most search-engine-friendly e-commerce platforms out there, so take advantage of the Google love. Here are a few tips for optimizing SEO in Magento – boosting your rankings and hopefully bringing you more business.

First, make sure you’re using the latest Magento version. Then go to System > Configuration > Web > Search Engine Optimization and follow these steps:

  • Go to the “URL Options” menu and set “Add Store Code to URLS” to NO. (Search engines don’t want to see this.)
  • Go to the “Search Engine Optimization” menu and set “Server URL Rewrites” to YES. (This will remove “index.php” from your URLs, making them more search-engine-friendly.)

Then go to System > Configuration > Design > HTML Heads and follow these steps:

  • Go to the “Default Robots” setting and change it to “INDEX, FOLLOW,” allowing search engines to crawl and display your website in search results.
  • Go to the “Default Description” and “Default title” boxes and create default meta-content. This way, all pages you create in the future will automatically have titles and descriptions. Search engines can’t see blanks!

Now, create a robots.txt file that directs search engines to your preferred URLs, and steers them away from URLs you don’t want to appear. Here are some good directions for how to create this file and write the commands.

In order to avoid duplicate URLs, go to System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization and set “Use Categories Path for Product URLS” to NO.

And to keep Magento from creating duplicate content for multiple categories that show the same product (duplicate content: another big Google no-no), go to “Canonical Link Meta Tag” on the same path, and hit YES.

One tip that’s often overlooked: create search-engine-friendly titles for your images. Google sees words, not pictures – and “Maytag_stainless_steel_refrigerator.jpg” will get you more hits than “image3765.jpg”. Don’t forget to create alt tags, either – search engines will read that extra bit of mouse-over content, too.

Last but not least, write good content! You need compelling descriptions for your products, pages and categories – designed not just for Google, but for all your potential customers. As we learned during the recent Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates, Google rewards good content and penalized keyword stuffing. Write well – and watch your site rise in search engine rankings.

In the end, Magento SEO isn’t that different from regular old search optimization – you just have to learn a few extra tricks. Take our word for it – it’s not that hard to play the rankings game. Just jump in, start optimizing and watch your star begin to rise.

For more tips on creating a search-engine-friendly website, click here.

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