The Ultimate 2020 Guide to Magento SEO (complete)

Chapter 1: So, You Want To Take Your Magento SEO To The Next Level?

Are you looking for the most effective and efficient ways to boost your Magento e-commerce business sales? Well, you’ve come to the right place. With a little help from the team at Adaptify, we can help you develop and grow your Magento website so that it maximises every opportunity to entice and convert your virtual visitors.

It is fair to say that Magento – an open source e-Commerce platform written in PHP – is a powerful and commonly used digital foundation for online stores worldwide. It is also one of the most search engine friendly platform in its most basic form. While it is a decent out-of-the-box solution for businesses dabbling in online sales, it is by no means a perfect tool without customisation.

With this in mind, there are so many hints and tips that will transform a functional Magento website into an impressive and essential part of your brand.

An obstacle that hinders most emerging businesses from trying new things is that fear of change or simply becoming too comfortable with existing systems to take the plunge with an innovative, fresh approach. Sure, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix. But what if your current online marketing strategy could be better? What if all it takes is a little push in a new direction to really get the ball rolling?

Taking a deep dive into the technical nitty-gritty of what makes a Magento website a spectacular success is a breeze with Adaptify.

Naturally, you want your Magento website to see a massive rise in organic traffic as well as better domain authority on the world’s most used search engines so that you generate the page views and the conversions you need to strike it rich. Measuring key performance indicators at the most basic level, site traffic and the number of sales you make from your products and services listed online are very telling.

Our tried and tested Magento SEO advice will help you and your business pick up the pace and realise better results.

We are about to show you how to best optimise your Magento website so that you can make the most of your digital presence every day by simply doing what is best for brand visibility for search engine hits as well as direct queries from your shoppers.

A caveat before we get stuck in, generally speaking, every website is tailored a specific way so some of our Magento hacks may not be applicable to your Magento website. And that is ok. What we are about to present is what we consider best industry practice so please do take advantage of what will work for your specific context.

Another little thing to get out of the way, which version of Magento do you use? Now, this will make a difference as we work through our magic because each iteration of Magento has its own mix of features and updates that will influence how your search engine optimisation will work.

Not sure how to find out which version of Magento you are using? Simply log into the backend of your site and find the Magento admin footer. From there you should be able to determine the version you are running.
Magento Blog

Chapter 2: How To Make Your Magento Website SEO Friendly – Indexing Best Practice & Google XML Sitemap

Website search friendly
A fundamental part of improving your chances of being seen online is ensuring that your Magento website is properly indexed.

It is this indexing process that tells search engines how to read your pages and rank them accordingly.

This technical step requires the modification of the Robots.txt document – the file that provides search engine robots with the explicit instructions they require when determining which pages to crawl.

Did you know that robots.txt is part of the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP) and also includes other directives for page, sub directory and site-wide instructions? Essentially, you can define user agent parameters for allowing and disallowing certain aspects of your site from being crawled.

The Magento SEO specialists at Adaptify can walk you through this technical site indexing step. This is a process that you do not want to get wrong. Worst case scenario being that you accidently close off access to important areas of your site and potentially hamstring your inbound marketing goals by limiting your search engine visibility.

So, why dabble with Robots.txt in the first place? Well, by expertly modifying this file, in addition to optimising your Magento website for SEO purposes, you can prevent duplicate content from appearing in your Search Engine Results Page (SERP), keep specific areas of your site private, keep internal search results from appearing on a public SERP, specify the location of your sitemap, prevent search engines from indexing images on your website and set a crawl delay to prevent your servers from overload in the event that robots load multiple items of content simultaneously.
Source Code

(Image: Source code of Woolworths’ sitemap landing page.)

What was that about a sitemap, you ask? The XML sitemap is an important file that lists the pages of your Magento website. This hierarchy – an ordered listing of your website landing pages – assists those robots with their task of finding and making sense of your content.

The XML sitemap is important for indexing because it gives the search engine crawlers a clear picture of what your Magento website looks like and shows how other pages link to each other. This file will also prevent certain pages from being overlooked, too.

A Magento website typically saves this file as sitemap.xml and can be tweaked to accommodate your preferences for update frequency and content priority.

Once you’re happy with your sitemap, if you haven’t already, you should submit it to Google Search Console. Also consider other search engines such as Bing and Yandex. Each has their own fairly straightforward set of instructions for uploading sitemaps.

Again, if this proves to go beyond your comfort zone, check in with the Magento website experts at Adaptify for all of your sitemap optimisation needs.

Chapter 3: Optimising Your Magento Websites URLs

Magento URLs
Is your office tidy? If someone asked you for a pen and a stapler, for example, how easy would it be to find those items? A cluttered workspace might take you a minute or so to produce said pen and stapler whereas a clean desk with clearly designated spaces for stationery would probably see you delivering the goods in mere seconds.

Well, apply that logic to a website, an e-Commerce platform. On the front-end, you want an online store that is functional, easy to navigate and user friendly. On the backend of the site, it too should be orderly.

Google and other search engines rely on website links to determine where your content will fit in search results.

Optimising website URLs is an incredibly vital part of boosting your Magento SEO. Here, we take a closer look at product pages and blog URLs as well as content and category pages.

Good news: Magento has URL support in the platform itself. Some versions of Magento even allow for URLs to be rewritten to specify products and categories.

For a more in-depth and tailored walkthrough, contact the Magento SEO specialists at Adaptify.
URL Information
Similarly, setting up 301 redirects for inactive pages, removing default store codes from your URLs and deleting duplicate information is also highly recommended.

As for your homepage, the default Magento installation does not by default create a redirect for other versions of your homepage URL. It is good SEO practice to stick with one homepage URL and arrange for the other variations to redirect to it.

To set up your domain:

  • Select the base URL in the respective fields for ‘Base URL’ and ‘Base Link URL’.
  • After this, find ‘Use Web Server Rewrites’ under ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, and select ‘Yes’.
  • Under ‘URL Options’, change ‘Auto-direct to Base URL’ to Yes (301 Moved Permanently)’.

If you require assistance with checking the configuration files used by your servers, we recommend giving Adaptify a call.

Chapter 4: Avoiding Duplicate Content On Magento Websites

Duplicate Content
A commonly acknowledged downside to the Magento platform is its tendency to add a product in a category in addition to its own URL.

Why is this a bad thing?

Consider those search engine robots. If the likes of Google cannot make sense of duplicate product URL addresses – that a glance seem to hit the same parts of a website – your digital presence will suffer in the authority department.

In other words, the search engine will defer to what it thinks is the better page. This could result in variant website pages not getting the attention they probably need.

So, how do we address this debilitating dilemma?

The answer is canonical tags. A canonical URL will tell search engines what page they need to index. Where you would have one product with several variants, a canonical tag can help search engine crawlers with indexing priority.
SEO Blog
Canonical URLs, by default, are turned off.

By using this simple trick across category and product pages, you should see a marked improvement in your Magento website SEO. Like all things search engine optimisation, it may take time for these changes to take effect.

Chapter 5: Handy Magento Website SEO Tips

website seo tips
Whether you launched a Magento website straight out of the box, have experimented with a little customisation or are even starting out fresh, you may notice that there are details that should be tinkered with in order to get the most out of this glorious e-Commerce platform.

Posting content on a Magento website is relatively easy and the SEO seems to do all the work of its own accord. The convenience of automated title and meta description text when you are in a hurry is welcome however some care should be given to curating more search engine friendly content.

What will make you stand out from other online stores is how well you can customise your default site titles and meta descriptions – the snippets that will appear on search engine results pages, the SERP.
Google Search Adaptify
Why bother with this level of detail? Well, this is a relatively easy way to achieve better organic SEO results for your Magento website pages

Do you have a particular keyword or phrase that you know will draw the attention of our virtual visitors? Place that word or keyword string as early as you can in the title and the description.

For more guidance on optimal keyword placement, page title and meta description optimisation, check in with the digital agency, Adaptify.

In addition to fine-tuning those website words, also consider the optimisation of your product images.

Did you know that product images are actually very important where SEO is concerned? It’s also a detail that many online stores either ignore or simply forget.

To ensure your Magento website images are optimised for search engines, go to town on their tags. Writing a simple product description is recommended. Keep it brief. Short and sweet text will ensure that the image is optimised.

Go a step further by using keywords or informative words in your file names. It makes sense that red-running-shoes.jpg is more useful than IMG10002.jpg. Again, it’s these little words that the likes of Google will consider when ranking content for relevance.

Aside from the word play, compressing images prior to upload is recommended for ensuring quicker upload and download times. Do this consistently across your Magento website and you should be able to provide a better user experience. After all, a media library chock full of high-resolution pictures can bloat your site and negatively impact page loading times.

Chapter 6: Magento Website SEO – The Final Countdown

Website SEO Checklist
We have covered a lot of ground when it comes to getting the most out of your Magento website SEO.

Check which version of Magento you use. Understand the limitations and advantages of your iteration of Magento before proceeding with a detailed plan. This could save you time in planning and execution, particularly if you cannot leverage certain features that simply not available to you.

Review your site indexing via Robots.txt. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to optimise the crawling instructions for those helpful search engine robots.

Establish an XML sitemap. This important file is crucial for optimal indexing.

Tidy those website URLS. Re-write Magento website links to complement your index activities.

Action URL redirects. Ensure linking to your preferred homepage URL is consistent.

Prevent duplicate content. Utilise canonical tags and other measures to optimise website indexing.

Improve default meta data. Curate original meta descriptions and titles while considering keyword optimisation and best SEO industry practice.

Don’t forget about the images. Tag your product images and alter the file names for better SEO results. Also, compressed files are better for your page load speeds.

Consult the professionals. Make the most of your Magento SEO strategy by running it by the experts at Adaptify.

Frequently Asked Questions About Magento SEO

Every iteration of Magento is known to have its own strengths and weaknesses. Quite often, upgrading to the latest version of Magento is necessary to resolve page loading issues, improving site security or implementing a new extension. To find out which version of Magento is running simply log into your admin panel and it should appear in the footer of the page. In the event that you have changed the theme and cannot see the version number listed, try checking System > Magento Connect > Magento Connect Manager … Consult an expert if you are not able to find the version number from here. Some versions of Magento will show the version if you add /magento_version to the website address. To summarise, the main methods to find the version details include checking the admin dashboard, checking the composer.json file, checking the composer.lock file, checking via a command line, using a Chrome extension, checking the URL and using other online tools.
A canonical URL or canonical tag refers to an HTML link element found in the head element of a Magento website. It specifies to search engines the preferred URL. That means the canonical URL element informs Google and other search engines to crawl a website in addition to which URL to index that specific page’s content under. There are many factors to consider where variations in the URL can lead to similar content. By tagging a URL with this special tag it helps inform those search engine robots which pages should take priority where indexing is concerned.
Search engines such as Google are not able to realise that all Magento duplicate product URL addresses target the same location without explicit instruction to say otherwise. As a result, different variants of your Magento website will often not get the exposure they should get, negatively impacting page authority. Naturally, users will be directed by search engines to the most relevant version of the website URL but not necessarily the one that you prefer your virtual visitors to see. Without the proper configuration, the likes of Google may not crawl new content. A simple way of testing this for yourself is to run a search query on keywords you rank for in Google. Look at the results. If you find a URL that is not suitable or multiple pages with the same content, you will have proved to yourself that there is indeed duplicate content across your Magento website.
If you have a Magento e-Commerce website you will at some point need to action 301 redirects. When a page is permanently moved, it is advisable to implement a 301 redirect to that website visitors and search engines are referred to the live, up-to-date page. By not committing to this helpful process i.e. Magento 301 redirects, users may find themselves with a 404 page not found error. Make the user experience as easy as possible so that you do not lose sales. It is also not a good idea to redirect to a redirect as search engine robots rank that journey quite poorly, negatively impacting your Magento SEO.
Query strings or URL parameters are the parts of a web page address that you frequently see after the question mark. Did you know that you can insert query string parameters into your URLs to track information about a click, too? Indexing these long-winded strings can be a nuisance in Magento, leading to multiple variations of the same URL all leading to the same page. As you can imagine, these query strings are not particularly search engine friendly. The remedy, commonly rectified via a plugin, is not necessarily straightforward. To make your Magento website SEO friendly will take a number of other key SEO considerations that include tools to prevent duplicate content, meta data templates for products, categories, titles and descriptions as well as other Google integrations.
Backlinking, that is the process of referring other websites to link to your website or linking landing pages with other areas of your website, has proven to be a tried and tested tool in building relationships and strengthening a Magento website SEO strategy. In addition to developing an internal linking scheme, it is recommended that you also develop an external link building strategy. External links help to inform Google about a site’s authority and it could also be noted that it can add to a site’s overall credibility. For e-Commerce, this makes sense if retailers are linking to pages that are especially relevant.
The primary objective of a search engine is to find the quickest answer for a question, search topic or query. If you deliver a less-than-average user experience via your Magento website, do not be too surprised if your ranking position on Google tanks. Studies support the notion that page load times between one and five seconds increase the probability of a bounce, i.e. a user leaving your website, by 90 per cent. When you consider the purpose of your website, to sell products and services, slow pages could be a reason for why you might be losing sales. The web dev specialists at Adaptify have the expertise and the tools to help you on your digital journey.
The team at Adaptify can work with you to action a detailed, efficient Magento SEO improvement plan. Our key areas of focus include the domain, ensuring all search engines crawl and index the www or non www versions of your site while also checking HTTP / HTTPS versions. It is not an ideal situation if those search engine robots index multiple versions of your site so we do a deep dive and rectify all issues by setting all configuration and web options to their optimal conditions. We also review the structure or hierarchy of your website data from product listings and reviews to listings and other links. Our team, with access to industry leading tools, expertise and technology, can determine which options will position your brand for greater success. A major bane of the Magento SEO space is duplicate content. It is a frequent issue and can be fixed by updating domain settings and getting fancy with canonical link meta tags among other useful activities. The XML sitemap will also need a look-in as this is essential for your overall Magento SEO strategy. Without this sitemap, search engine robots will not be able to effectively index your site. We will also review the title tags and meta data of your landing pages to increase the chances of users clicking their way to your products while also helping the likes of Google to find your content relevant in a broader sense. And of course, the speed of your websites is not to be underestimated. Our team will work with you to ensure your Magento website is streamlined for a faster and efficient user experience. Write unique meta titles and descriptions for product and category pages
Magento SEO hinges on the optimisation of product pages. Here we walk through the basics of what you should think about when making content changes that will better position you in the market. What is the name of the product category? Is the name descriptive, to the point? Is it a category that users would be inclined to look for? Try entering your proposed category name in a google search? Does it automatically populate? That can tell if you are on the right track. Obviously, if your product category is a little more unique, with low search volume, it would make sense that you would run with the most apt descriptors. This is especially relevant for high value items where it is more relevant to be seen in your specific market than to appeal to a more generic but broader keyword string. When in doubt, consult a specialist in the field like Adaptify. The next consideration for your product page is the description. Is it helpful and informative? It is best to avoid keyword stuffing. You want it to read well. You also don’t want it to ramble on for too long. By keeping it sharp you are also helping to maintain a focus on the purpose of the product page. Stuffed keywords tend to confuse search engines and your virtual visitors. A title tag should ideally be about 60 characters in length and feature the main keyword as close to the start as possible. Magento settings can also be configured, depending on the version, to include the brand at the end of it. As for the meta descriptions, stick to 160-180 character lengths. Less is often better though. This should also have your primary keyword.
Google, in recent times, has pushed for security or SSL certificates to be a factor in its ranking algorithm. Irrespective of the SEO perks of ensuring your security certificates are sorted, you want to give your customers peace-of-mind when they shop online. Need assistance with organising your SSLs? Hosting providers should be able to give you precisely what you need but it is also worth noting that there are additional levels of security to consider where these certificates are concerned. Ultimately, so long as you have covered your SSL bases, your Magento SEO strategy, at least in this regard, should be relatively optimised. If you need professional guidance on whether your SSL certificates are set up correctly or you are interested in considering other encryption options, the team at Adaptify can lead the way. To provide your customers with safer online shopping, an expedient user experience and Magento SEO that works, give Adaptify a call.
Do not underestimate the power of Magento’s search functionality. Rather than follow the website navigation, users often complete direct search queries to find the products they are looking for. For these potential shoppers, you should do all you can to make their user experience as simple and as efficient as possible. Prevent a bounce and make a sale in the process. Did you know that Magento records details about the searches that are completed on the respective website? This can be used to your advantage. In terms of general interest, these queries in the Magento search bar may give you an idea of what your target audience is looking for. This could help you expand your product range or tailor your existing selection. You may also notice particular turns of phrase that are not leading users to the right pages due to gaps in your Magento SEO strategy. Consider updating page titles and meta descriptions to better align with market sentiment. When in doubt, give the diligent, dedicated team at Adaptify a buzz.

Learn More About Magento SEO With Adaptify

Adaptify, Australia’s most adaptive digital marketing agency, will customise your Magento SEO strategy to maximise website traffic, leads, sales and online presence. As a full-service online marketing agency, we will help your e-Commerce business amplify visibility, growth and profitability. For more information about our core service offering and to guide you on your online sales journey, get in touch with our Magento specialists today.

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