I have worked on a number of Magento based e-commerce websites over the last couple of years. They are without a doubt one of the most popular off-the-shelf solutions available for setting up an e-commerce website for your business, but they do present some challenges when it comes to optimization for search engines. Here are my top five tips for optimizing Magento websites for SEO.
1. Page Titles & Meta Description For Content Pages
These 2 elements are a very basic factors in SEO. The title of a page plays a major part in helping search engines to identify page content, and as such should never be over looked. You can edit page titles for content level pages very easily in the Magento CMS by going to: Magento -> CMS -> Manage Pages -> Choose which page to edit -> General Information -> Page Title. From here you can edit the title of the selected content page. It’s important to remember that the optimum character count for a page title is 70 characters. You can also edit the page description by flicking to the meta description option on the page information sub-menu. The optimum length for a page description is 156 characters, so don’t get too carried away.
Page Title & Meta Description For Category Pages
Optimizing page titles and descriptions for category level pages is very similar to that of content pages as listed above. You can edit category pages by navigating to: Magento -> Catalogue -> Manage Categories -> Choose Category. Remember to make each category page title and description unique. If you are unsure if you have duplicated page titles and descriptions on your site then you can use Google Webmaster Tools to help find instances of duplicate titles and descriptions across your entire site
Page Title & Meta Description for Product Pages
If your Magento e-commerce site has tens of thousands of products that are updated or changing on a regular basis then the best option for updating page titles and descriptions is to automate it with a custom rule. If you don’t have the resources to create a custom rule then you can either have one developed for you or you can buy an external SEO extension. A custom rule will let you specify page titles and descriptions for the whole site. The most common rules will automatically generate a page title that follows a specified pattern. For example: “%PRODUCT%, %SUB_CATEGORY%, %CATEGORY%, keyword %COMPANY_NAME%”. In a similar vein you can also use this type of pattern to create automated Meta descriptions.
2. URL Rewrite Management
As we all know, search engine friendly URLs are one of the major factors when optimizing a website for search engines. This is of course no different for a Magento e-commerce website, and the URL Rewrite Manager is the best option for changing the dynamically generated URLs into search engine friendly URLs. It can turn a URL from a string of nonsense such as http://www.yoursite.com/catalog/product/view/id/1537/category/28 into a fully optimized URL such as http://www.yoursite.com/keyword-one/keyword-two.html. Utilizing this tool will enable you to create URLs that contain your targeted keywords.
3. Default Robot Options
By navigating to System -> Configuration -> Design -> HTML Head you can select what instructions to give to robots crawling your pages. These are noindex,nofollow; index,follow; noindex,follow; index,nofollow. It goes without saying that you should use these wisely.
4. Google XML Sitemap Generator
Magento has its own Google XML sitemap generator that you can use to easily create and submit an XML sitemap to Google. It can be found under System -> Configuration-> Google Sitemap. The tool easily lets you customise priority and frequency setting as well as letting you configure how often you want the XML sitemap to be generated, at what time of day it should run, and also specify a contact should a problem occur. Best practice is to save the sitemal.xml file to the root level of your server.
In addition to this there is also a Magento extension available that allows you to create an HTML sitemap. It can be found here.
5. Google Webmaster Tools & Analytics Integration
Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics are two tools that every SEO should utilise on a daily basis and both of these tools can be used to monitor a Magento site. The miscellaneous head feature in Magento can be used for adding the Google Webmaster Tools verification tag. By navigating to System -> Configuration -> Design -> HTML Head you can access the miscellaneous head feature to insert the Google WMT verification code. Of course there are other ways to verify your site, such as uploading a unique file to your server.
Setting up Google Analytics tracking is also very easy. Navigating to System -> Configuration -> Google API -> Google Analytics will allow you to enter the unique UA number for your site. The UA code can be found by logging into your Google Analytics account and it will be located on the account settings page. If you are keen to track e-commerce data on top of the basics, you can make full use of the GoogleAnalyticsPlus extension available on the Magento site here.