Magento 2 SEO: out-of-box settings and issues overview

Magento
 
04 July 2018 704

There are many advantages of Magento, and flexible search optimization is one of them. While you have endless additional options to manage content and design with both build-in and third-party tools, there’s no way you can avoid dealing with SEO. Outside search visibility, any beautiful, customized  and comfortable to use websites will never get its visitors. But before diving into compex stuff, you should know there are also native Magento settings that can help you level up your SEO after a few simple steps.

If you had nothing or little to do with SEO before, this article is a right place to start. It will provide you with basic knowledge on optimizing your store, and inform about issues that are common specifically for Magento and can be fixed in no time.

This is what you need to do for a better SEO:

1. Start with vivid competitor analysis

If you look at your store and don’t see clear disadvantages, don’t celebrate just yet. Start your optimization with a thorough comparison of your store to a few other stores on your market.  Let’s say you need at least top 10 websites that come up when you search anything related to the products you sell. It is important to choose stores that are more popular than yours, or ranked higher, and not the random ones. Look them through, check out usability, product cards, catalog structure, in other words, search for things that are better and different from your store. But don’t overdo the ranking thing: there is no need to compare your business to the industry giants like Amazon, since you need to see the picture for exactly your business scale. Although, you can learn from bigger sellers in terms of how they handle product catalog design.

This quick analysis will give you clues where to move with your SEO in the nearest future. But before adding something new, it is vital to set up what you already have. The tips described below are a good way to start.

2. Fill out metadata fields

Magento is heaven for perfectionists, as it allows you to edit titles, descriptions for each page or category from Admin Panel. Metadata is meant both to direct your potential customers and to inform search engines on who you are and what you do.

To access metadata settings, open your Admin Panel and proceed to  Content > Design > Configuration, click “edit” and scroll down to the HTML Head settings. After Magento installation, there will be Title and Description generated by default, but if you want customers to choose your store link in the search results, you need to take your time and fill out the fields properly. Nothing works better to tell your customers they need your services than a hand-written, coherent and clear description. Make sure to add at least 5 keywords related to your business and the page purpose. For the best results, meta-tags should be updated for every category.

3.  Generate XML-Sitemap for your store

Sitemap availability is not a ranking factor, but having a sitemap helps search engines to find where the content is on your site and therefore index it faster. Magento has built-in functionality to generate an XML sitemap in a few clicks from the Admin Panel.

The first step is to add Sitemap. For that, go to Marketing > Site map and click “Add Sitemap button”. To configure the file you have created, Go to Stores > Configuration > Catalog> XML SiteMap/

 

After you have configured the XML file, you can view it via the following URL: https://domen.com/folder/sitemap.xml. Keep in mind that sitemap should always be regenerated once something is changed in your inventory. Probably, you would like to consider automating this process with cron jobs.

4.  Configure Google Analytics

It is a must-have tool in online business, because it helps to traffic and conversion rate. Magento 2 is compatible with Google Analytics and can convert gathered information specifically for online store needs. For example, you can enable ecommerce tracking, including purchase activity, demographics and statistics. Configuring Google Analytics for Magento may seem a complicated task, but here we will break it down.

To enable Google Analytics on your website, go to Stores > Settings > Sales > Google API and pick the “yes” options form the Enable field.

  1. First of all, you need to have a Google Analytics account or create one.

  2. To link Google Analytics account to your store, log into it, go to ADMIN and get the Tracking ID.

  3. Then, you will be redirected to the Tracking Code tab. Google needs Tracking Code to monitor your website statistics.

  4. To enable Google Analytics on your website, go to Stores > Configuration > Sales > Google API, choose ‘Yes’ in “Enable” field, insert the Tracking Code you got from Google Analytics into “Account Number field,  and you are good to go.

5. Configure redirects

Redirect usually means a rule or set of rules which helps to forward the user from one URL to another URL. Correctly configured redirects help your customers to find what they need and contribute to the search optimization of the website by making it more search-friendly. Usually, the redirect rules are edited in .htaccess file, but Magento has a more simple way to rewrite redirect rules from the Admin Panel.

To start, follow the next path from your Admin Panel: Marketing > SEO & Search >URL Rewrites, and here you are. You can add a new URL Rewrite, attach the links and indicate the type of the redirect, and it is ready. Next time there is something changed in your site, you can fix all SEO structure.

Main SEO  issues of Magento

Except for certain advantages, there are some typical issues which webmasters will face with during Magento store optimization.

Too functional but too slow

For all Magento benefits that already come with standard installation, you pay with the slow loading speed. And this price is a luxury an online store can’t afford, since search engines can’t stand pages that are loading more than a couple of seconds and put them lower in the search results. Needless to say, your customers hate them too. But it is not that bad once you know what to do. There are a few tips to speed up your store:

  • Enable browser caching;

  • Optimize images;

  • Optimize JavaScripts;

  • Compress HTML and CSS;

  • Reduce server response time.

For more information about the specific issues your store has, check Google PageSpeed tools.

Magento is guilty of creating page duplicates

No one likes duplicate pages. They confuse your customers, SEO specialists and even Google, but Magento still produces a fair amount of them while working with layered navigation, sorting options and  variations of the same product in different categories. There are two ways you can fight this and get rid of numerous pages that don’t make sense:

  • Finding and then disallowing these pages in robots.txt file.

  • Suggesting a preferable URL for each page. This can be made with canonical tags In Magento settings. To access this particular feature, go to  Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization, and choose Yes in both fields  “Canonical LINK Meta Tags for Categories/Products”.

h1 headlines issue

By default, Magento uses your store logo as h1 headlines for all the pages of your webstore. It would be really helpful, if it wasn’t wrong from the SEO point of view. Hierarchy implies that not all the pages of your store are equal: the homepage includes category pages, and product pages are located under category pages. Leaving h1 titles as it is won’t break your store, but won’t benefit it either. H1 headlines are widely used by Google in analyzing the content on the page, and therefore it influences the search results ranking. So, if you are planning on massive content optimization, start with the adding proper headlines. H1 is the main headline, so there is no chance to get it wrong. Homepage requires your store name, category pages should be tagged by category name, and product pages should be named after according products.   

To sum it up

Thorough and profound SEO optimization, of course, takes a little more than configuring a few settings in Magento, although, one can’t underestimate the potential this platform has. With no other tools but a standard Magento installation a skilled professional is able to push your online store very much forward.

 

About the author

Oksana Mikhalchuk is Content Manager at NEKLO, a software engineering company with a primary focus on ecommerce development for Magento. Oksana is dedicated to writing about marketing, web design and, of course, everything Magento-related.