Magento SEO Guide: Simple Configuration

magento-seo-guide

Magento is widely regarded as the most search engine friendly e-commerce platform available on the market. However there are a number of major improvements you can make all from within the “System” tab in the Magento admin area. In this guide we will show you how to quickly implement these along with an overview of things to avoid.

URL Options

magento-url-options

System > Configuration > Web > URL Options

  • Add Store Code to URLS: No
  • Auto-redirect to Base URL: Yes (301 Moved Permanently)

By default Magento uses 302 (Temporary) redirects that do not pass link value. By changing this setting to use 301 redirects we ensure that former URLs are redirected to the the homepage along with their link strength.

Web > Search Engines Optimization

System > Configuration > Web > Search Engines Optimization

  • Use Web Server Rewrites: Yes

Web server rewrites will remove the unnecessary index.php from internal URLs, this makes them more search engine friendly and readable to users. If you start getting 404 errors on internal pages switch these off and contact your hosting company and ask them enable mod rewrites.

Web > HTML Head

magento-html-head

System > Configuration > Design > HTML Heads

  • Default Title: (Website Name)
  • Default Description: (Leave Blank)
  • Default Keywords: (Leave Blank)

If you forget to add any of the above fields when creating a page in Magento, it will populate them with the values in this section. For this reason you should only populate the “Default Title”, usually with the name of the website. By adding information into the “Default Description” you run the risk of having duplicates across the website. META keywords no longer carry any value and should be ignored.

Top tips

Do not switch “Default Robots” from “INDEX, FOLLOW“, this allows search engines to index your website and pass link values between pages. Use the “Miscellaneous Scripts” box to add things like a Google Webmaster Tools verification tag. However DO NOT add scripts like Google’s tracking or conversion codes in this section, instead use the “Miscellaneous HTML” in the “Footer” block (System > Configuration > Design > Footer).

Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations

magento-catalog-seo

System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations

  • Use Categories Path for Product URLs: No
  • Create Permanent Redirect for URLs if URL Key Changed: Yes
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories: Yes
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products: Yes

For some god awful reason by default Magento has “Use Categories Path for Product URLs” set to “Yes”, switching this to “No” is one of the most important changes you can make when configuring Magento from an SEO point of view. Many products will exist in multiple categories, by leaving the category name in the URL means that one product is accessible on a number of different URLs containing different category strings (category1/heisenberg-hat.html, category2/heisenberg-hat.html), which Google will see as duplicate content.

As a further preventative measure against duplicate content, switch both “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” and “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products” to yes.

Google Sitemaps

magento-sitemap-xml

System > Configuration > Catalog > Google Sitemap > Generation Settings

  • Enabled: Yes
  • Frequency: (Choose a setting that matches the frequency you add information to your store)

This will automatically generate an XML sitemap based on your chosen frequency and upload it to domainname.com/sitemap.xml.

If you wish to manually generate an XML sitemap you can do so by going to Catalog > Google Sitemaps and clicking the “Add Sitemap” button.

Google Analytics

magento-analytics

System > Configuration > Sales > Google API > Google Analytics

We strongly advise you to either manually add your tracking code into your theme footer.php file before the closing </body> tag or by pasting it into the “Miscellaneous HTML” box  in the “Footer” block (System > Configuration > Design > Footer). However if neither of the above are possible due to access or theme setup you can configure Google Analytics here. The reason we recommend using feature as a last resort is due to Magento placing the tracking code unnecessarily into the <head> section.

  • Enabled: Yes
  • Account Number: (Enter your GA account number here, it should be obvious in the tracking code provided by Google)

Merge JS and CSS Files

magento-css-js-merge

System > Configuration > Advanced > Developer > JavaScript Settings / CSS Settings

Please ensure you throughly test your website after applying the following settings.

  • Merge JavaScript Files: Yes
  • Merge CSS Files: Yes

Magento comes packed with a large number of Javascript and CSS files, although they add great functionality they can harm your SEO efforts and increase your load time by bloating your <head> section and the number of HTTP requests. By switching both of the above to “Yes” it will merge all the Jacascript and CSS into two neat documents (one .js and one .css).

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