In the growing online marketplace, online business owners are being faced with a double-edged sword. On one hand, they can reach more and more customers each and every day. As more and more people go online, there is a larger and larger pool of potential consumers that will be interested in their business. On the other hand, as more and more people go online, there are more and more online businesses opening in an attempt to compete.
If you are running, or thinking of starting an online store, one of your top priorities should be to make sure that the growing pool of customers finds you. Search Engine Optimization is, in my opinion, the first thing any webmaster should look into when creating a website. I won’t go into too much detail about what SEO is, as there is a lot of information already available online, and I recommend further reading if you are unfamiliar with it. When working with a Magento site, there are a number of things that you can do to help your website stand out from the crowd. Below I have listed the best 9 Magento SEO tips that I’ve discovered over the years. I’ve broken them into two groups: Admin Configuration and Theme Changes.
The first place to start optimizing a Magento site is within the SEO Options in the website configuration. Go to System->Configuration->Web on the admin panel of the website. Under URL Options, you can change the setting “Add Store Code to URLs” to “no”. This will help to keep unnecessary keywords out of the URL. In the same section, under Search Engine Optimization, set “Server URL Rewrite” to “yes”. This will remove “index.php” from all URLs for the same reason.
In the metadata of your CMS pages, ensure that you have filled out the keywords and description for the page. Be sure to include at least 5 keywords that are relevant to both the page and your business and a detailed description about the page and your business. Search engines will use this data, in part, to determine how relevant a users search term is to your page and website. For the page content, remember my first rule of SEO: Content is King. I generally tell people to think of it this way. Your website is an employee who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and never takes vacations. Tell this employee as much as you can about your company.
This might sound obvious, but these are sometimes the easiest ones to miss. Ensure that the robots.txt file allows robots to crawl the site. After all, if search engines cannot crawl your site, then all the work in the world is not going to make a difference.
4. Product Pages:
The core of any online store is the products. There are a number of places that you can give your website a leg up on product pages. Remembering, my first rule, keep your content detailed, but don’t let it drag out. Make sure that you fill in the meta data section with detailed information about the product. This will be how many people find your store. Also update the URL Key. This will create a more search engine friendly URL for your products.
Images are often an over looked element in SEO. An online store will often have many product images so this is a section that will have more effect on a store than on other kinds of websites. Always try to use meaningful files names for your images. Something that describes what the image is. Also remember to use title and alt tags on your images wherever possible. This will help give spiders information about the page that they would not otherwise be able to get.
6. No Duplicates:
Go over your website a few times. Make sure that you do not have any duplicate content. This includes all CMS pages AND product pages. Resist the temptation to use the same content for different products. This will have the added benefit of giving your customers an individualized description of the products.
The tag structure of your pages should follow a basic format. On Product Catalogue Pages, use H1 tags for a Catalogue Name and H3 tags for the Product Names. These 2 tags tell spiders how important each piece of information on the page is. On the Product Pages, use H1 tags for the Product Name.
2. Template Files:
When building your template files, don’t include and CSS of JS in your code. Use external files, and include them. This keeps your code clean, and easier for spiders to crawl.
3. Fast Theme Files:
Make sure that your theme files execute fast. This will have a double effect. It has long been known that spiders will give more weighting to faster sites. It has also been long known that customers favour sites that load quickly. This is one of the tactics Google used in their early days to gain popularity.
4. Optimize your PHP:
While this is not specifically related to themes, I feel it is equally important to ensure that your PHP code executes quickly. Running speed tests and optimizing your PHP code will have an added effect on the speed of your site. It is also true that more efficient code tends to be less buggy and error prone due to the time and attention that is often given to the code.
SEO Catered to Magento’s eCommerce Solutions
There are many more things that you can do to speed up your website both with traditional means and with methods more specifically catered to Magento. No article is going to cover everything, but I hope that I have given you a fairly solid starting point for your own research. The Search Engine Optimization industry is changing everyday, and that means that we need to change with it. If you are interested in learning SEO, it is important to do continual research, and if you are going to hire an expert, you need to make sure that you find someone who knows both the industry and Magento code.