In the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, having a strong online presence is crucial for success. One such powerful platform that enables businesses to create and manage online stores is Magento. With over 250k Magento merchants worldwide, the platform is classed as the ninth largest online. To ensure maximum visibility and organic traffic to your Magento-based website, understanding the fundamentals of Magento SEO is essential.
In this guide, we’ll dive into how to implement effective SEO strategies specific to the platform to help you improve your overall organic performance.
What is Magento?
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform which gives developers a high level of flexibility and customisation through adding their own code or using extensions. This open-source nature allows for greater optimisation of technical SEO factors than most other platforms, as developers can finely tune things like URL structure, metadata, caching, and other technical elements that impact SEO success.
There are two main versions of Magento:
- Magento Open Source: This platform version is free and is self-hosted. While Magento Open Source provides a robust set of e-commerce features, it may require additional development or integration of third-party extensions for certain, advanced functionalities. It is suitable for small to medium-sized businesses looking for a cost-effective solution.
- Adobe Commerce: Formerly known as Magento Commerce, this is a premium, paid version of the platform. It includes additional features and functionalities not available in Magento Open Source. Businesses using Adobe Commerce pay for both licensing and hosting costs, making it a more comprehensive, but also more expensive, solution.
Our Magento expert, Dan Coleman explains why Magento Open Source is an adaptable platform compared to other e-commerce platforms:
“Unlike most platforms, which limit you to what the vendor has built & what they will allow you to do, Magento and it’s vendor-supported counterpart Adobe Commerce are fully open source. This means that the platform can be infinitely customised and extended by developers in order to meet the needs of the business.
“From a technical SEO perspective this means there are few, if any, blockers to ensuring that the platform meets best practice when optimising for organic search. This is not the case for other major platforms, such as Shopify or SFCC.”
What is Magento SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving your website’s ranking and relevance in the organic results of search engines. SEO can help you attract more qualified and relevant visitors to your website, who are more likely to convert into customers.
Magento SEO refers to optimising an ecommerce store built on the Magento platform for search engines like Google and Bing. Again, the main goal is to improve rankings in search results and visibility in organic searches. A strong SEO strategy leads to more traffic, brand awareness, and conversions for a Magento store
How to ensure your Magento SEO storefront ranks well
There are three key elements which need to be focused on to ensure search engines can efficiently crawl your website. It is also important to increase your ecommerce storefront’s signals through relevancy to help your pages rank higher than competitors.
The three pillars are:
- Technical SEO: This refers to the underlying technical foundation of a website that enables search engines to easily discover and understand its content.
- Content Optimisation: Creating high-quality, useful content that satisfies search intent is key to establishing topical relevance.
- Trust and authority signals: Links from external sites help build domain authority and trust. Earning links from credible sites signals to search engines that your content is reputable.
Whilst the above three pillars are essential for any SEO strategy, and can be applied to any platform, below we cover the key best practices on how to apply these to enhance SEO for Magento.
Technical SEO for Magento
Technical SEO establishes the foundation to make a Magento site accessible and crawlable for search engines. Here are some key considerations:
Crawling & Indexing
Crawling refers to the process of search engine bots exploring and discovering pages on the internet. Crawl bots are automated programs that systematically browse the web. They follow links and navigate websites to find new and updated content. Crawlers scan pages and send data back to search engines for indexing.
Indexing is what search engines do with the data that crawlers find. Pages need to be indexed before they can appear on search results. Crawling brings new content to the search engines, while indexing makes the content discoverable and sets rankings.
When it comes to crawling and indexing your Magento store pages, there are a few caveats that can hinder your SEO performance. Below are best practices for ensuring that your Magento storefront can be crawled and indexed correctly:
Canonical tags are used to tell search engines which page is the primary page. For example, if you have a product which falls into various categories, this will generate different URLs and will be considered duplicated content. By using a canonical tag, you are telling crawlers to only index one page.
Canonical tags should also be used for pages such as the homepage and category level pages. By default, in Magento, the self-referencing canonical tags are switched off, to turn on the configuration, follow these steps:
- Log into the Magento 2 admin panel
- Navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration.
- Then choose Catalog > Catalog and go to the Search Engine Optimization section.
- Here you can set “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” and “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products”
Sitemaps are XML files that provide search engines with a list of all the pages on a website. They serve as a guide to help crawlers more efficiently index a site. Magento can automatically generate a sitemap.xml file containing all products, categories, CMS pages, etc.
To enable automatic sitemap generation in Magento:
- Go to Marketing > SEO & Search > Site Map
- Set “Generate Sitemap” to “Yes”
- Configure sitemap settings like frequency, priority, etc.
- Save and refresh cache.
Pro tip: Use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap file(s). This helps index new content, faster.
Robot.txt file gives instructions about accessing and crawling your website. It allows you to specify sections of a site you want to block from crawling or indexation.
The robots.txt file must be placed in the root directory of the website. Like the implementation of canonical tags, the robots.txt file can be used to prevent crawling of duplicate content. A well-structured robots.txt improves crawl efficiency.
Like the sitemap.xml configuration, you can also configure robots.txt filed in Magento. To enable the robots.txt automatically in Magento, follow these steps:
- Navigate to Content > Design > Configuration > Edit > Search Engine Robots
- Default Robots should be set to INDEX, FOLLOW at all times, unless your website is under development
- You can also add custom rules in the ‘Edit custom instructions robots.txt file’
- You can add other paths like /checkout/ and /customer/ to block pages from crawling
- Use “Disallow:” and specify path or file names to block
- Use “Allow:” to undo any blocking for valid pages that should be indexed
- Save and refresh cache so changes take effect
Pro tip: If you are adding custom rules to your robots.txt file, it’s important to test the rules to ensure that these are configured correctly. Furthermore, if you have large catalogues, you can consider disallowing paginated versions of category pages or low value filter options to preserve crawl budget.
Faceted navigation allows users to filter and narrow down product listings by applying multiple filters. Magento utilizes faceted navigations which can cause crawling issues and can also waste your crawl budget. Some SEO challenges of using the Magento faceted navigation include:
- Creating separate URLs for each filter combination, leading to a large number of dynamically generated pages.
- Filtering URLs which often have duplicate or thin content.
- The URL parameters (?cat=123&size=xl) are not always crawler-friendly.
- Pages deep in the filtration tree have low visibility for search engines.
Auditing your faceted navigation will help identify low quality pages which may be causing duplication and hindering your SEO performance. To address the challenges associated with the faceted navigation, it’s important to:
- Consider a faceted navigation extension like Amasty Shop By Brand to create relevant, ‘spiderable’ URLs for filtered categories
- You can also ask your website development team to help customise the platform by adding Improved Layered Navigation, which provides a user-friendly filtering systems to improve your rankings
- Use canonical tags to point low quality filter URLs back to the main category or product listing page
- Implement noindex tags on non-critical filter pages to remove them from indexing
- Ensure important filter page URLs are ‘spiderable’ and have unique meta data
- Create static versions of important filter URLs and use redirects where needed
- Optimise critical filter pages with rich content, not just products to enhance the credibility of those pages
The key is balancing faceted navigation for users while still maintaining a clean, search engine-friendly structure.
URL structures in Magento
Magento usually automatically adds a “.html” to the end of every URL. The basic format of a Magento URL is domain.com/path/to/page. Individual product URLs follow domain.com/category/sub-category/product-name.html. The URLs are created using categories and product names, and it is very important to organise your catalog into a logical category architecture.
Whilst the length of the URL does not directly impact SEO, it is always better to have short and concise URLs for user experience. The current default URL generation means that the URLs can be quite lengthy, and a user might find it harder to read them.
To ensure a cleaner URL structure, here are some best practices which should be applied:
- Remove the “.html” extension from both the product and category pages to prevent potential issues in the future.
- Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) or spaces in URLs. Hyphens are treated as word separators by search engines.
- Don’t overwhelm URLs with excessive keywords. Focus on organising by theme/topic.
- Ensure your product URLs are set within the correct top-level category to make it easier when it comes to tracking SEO performance.
- Enable the ‘Create permanent redirect for URLs if URL key changes’. This will ensure that your old URL is automatically 301 redirected to the new URL if you decided to change a keyword within the URL.
Pro tip: Only remove the “.html” at the end of your URL if your website if new and starting from scratch. Getting rid of the “.html” if your website has existed for a long time will result in new URLs being generated and you will need to redirect your old URLs (with the “.html) to the new URL (without the “.html”)
As a robust ecommerce platform, Magento demands significant server resources to deliver optimal performance. Choosing a hosting infrastructure specially configured for Magento is vital for the speed and success of your online store. To check your Magento storefront speed use the PageSpeed Insights tool to help you identify which elements are causing slow site speed.
It’s important that your hosting and Magento platforms are configured correctly. To fully harness the capabilities of Magento, ensure that:
- Caching features like full page caching and block caching in Magento’s configuration are enabled. This can significantly improve load times.
- A CDN is configured to serve static content. Distributing static files from multiple geographic servers speeds up delivery.
- Images are optimised by compressing file sizes, enabling lazy loading, and removing unnecessary images.
- Server load is reduced by optimising database queries and using a specialised hosting infrastructure like Varnish.
- Server-side compression is setup for resources like HTML, CSS, JS, and media files.
- Check for slow third-party scripts that may be bogging down page load speeds.
- Browser caching directives are implemented via HTTP headers for static resources.
Pro tip: The pro version of Magento Open-Source, Adobe Commerce has a hosted model which takes care of infrastructure best practice for you, like Fastly Content Delivery Networks (CDN), Image Optimisation (IO), and enhanced security, to ensure your storefront is correctly optimised.
On-page optimisations in Magento
Having a strong strategy with targets both technical SEO and on-page content is key for success. Targeting both pillars together will help you perform better than your competitors. On-page SEO not only helps search bots understand the intent of each page, but it also enhances user experience and satisfaction on pages.
Page titles & meta descriptions
Magento auto-generates page titles and meta descriptions depending on the category/product name and the content on the page. This can lead to unoptimized page titles and meta descriptions, and it’s important to go through your key pages to ensure they are optimised.
It’s always important to double check your page titles to ensure that they are optimised with the right keywords. For instance, on Magento, if your “Homepage” is labelled as “homepage”, this will be replicated on the page titles. You want to ensure that your homepage page title is labelled with the correct keyword as well as your company name.
Conduct keyword research and mapping to ensure you are targeting effective keywords on your page titles and meta descriptions. Ensure that your meta descriptions are focusing on defining the page purpose and highlighting unique value propositions.
Pro tip: For product pages, include key product identifiers like brand, item name and colour to help drive high-quality traffic to your Magento storefront. Remember, a person searching for specific product information has a high intent of converting and it’s important that they can find your pages easily on results pages.
Category & Product page content
Category page content is usually overlooked and is a great way to not only give users an overview of your pages, but it also helps search engines identify the connection between category pages and product pages.
We often see duplicated product content and it’s so important that each product offering has unique content and is providing users with relevant information. Optimising your storefront with relevant content also enhances your SEO signals and helps increase your rankings as well as improve your keyword landscape.
It’s important to know the best practices of optimising your content for both categories and product pages to improve your SEO for Magento:
- Conduct keyword research to identify high-value target keywords and optimise pages accordingly. Focus on long-tail keywords
- Create unique, engaging product descriptions, category pages, and blog content. Avoid duplicating the manufacturer’s product specs
- Incorporate keywords naturally into content and avoiding keyword overstuffing. Include them in titles, meta descriptions, image alt text, etc
- Format content well with headers, bullets, images, and videos to improve readability. Avoid long blocks of text
- Update product information like prices, inventory, images frequently. Outdated content frustrates customers
- Curate content around specific themes and topics customers care about, beyond just products
- Link internally between related products and categories to aid site navigation. Vary the anchor text used
- Ensure a consistent tone of voice and branding across all product/category pages
- Make content easy to scan with summaries, tables of contents, ratings, comparisons
Magento’s related products feature allows stores to showcase complementary or comparable items on individual product pages. Implementing related products can enhance your site in several keyways:
- It improves user experience by exposing shoppers to additional relevant items they may be interested in purchasing. This caters to the customer’s current search or shopping mission
- Displaying related upsells provides opportunities to generate more revenue. Customers get presented with add-on purchases and bundled offerings tailored to their needs
- The internal links built between the currently viewed product page and the related products helps search engines discover connections in your catalog. This can distribute authority and page rank juice to more of your inventory
Within Magento’s admin, merchants can manually select “Related Products” for each product page. Navigate to a product and find the “Related Products, Up-Sells, and Cross-Sells” section. Choose “Add Related Products” to connect complementary SKUs you want to showcase together. This will dynamically display them in a section at the bottom of the product page.
Utilisation of the ‘related products’ feature not only keeps customers engaged, fuels additional sales, but can improve your on-site SEO. It’s a best practice for both ecommerce conversion and organic visibility.
Structured data, often referred to as ‘Schema Markup’, is a code that is added to website pages to structure and organise data in ways search engines can understand. When correctly implemented on Magento, schema markup can help increase clickthrough rates, improve rankings, and boost visibility.
Structured data enhances how search engines interpret and represent your content in search results by clearly identifying content types, relationships, and data. It also allows richer presentation of content in results snippets such as knowledge panels and rich snippets.
Magento storefronts can sometimes be quite large, and adding structured data is a very effective way of helping crawl bots understand your website. Adding structured data for product listings, reviews and pricing can help boost your overall organic performance. This markup can be configured on Magento, however here are ways you can optimise the markup:
- Use schema.org to refer to the different categories, products, and article formats needed
- Focus on Product, Review, and Breadcrumb schemas at minimum. Product markup tells Google about the particular product SKU which allows better visibility of the product. Review schema markup enables star ratings on Google’s results pages which can enable higher clickthrough rate. Finally, breadcrumb schema markup helps search engines better understand the hierarchical relationships between pages on a website which improves topical relevance signals
- Use testing tools like Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to identify and debug issues
- Validate markup meets Google’s guidelines to prevent structured data errors
- Keep schema code up to date as you add new content types and make site changes
To implement the structured data, you can add the markup to your Magento website by either manually editing the HTML of your product page or by installing the Magento module and setting configuration options.
By implementing schema markup effectively on your Magento e-commerce site, you can enhance your SEO efforts, make your products more visible in search results, and provide users with richer information about your offerings which, ultimately, improves your chances of attracting and converting customers.
Building trust and authority signals
Improving your overall organic performance requires a solid all-rounder SEO strategy. As well as focusing on improving your technical site health and optimising your on-page content, you also need to develop trust and authority signals to convince search engines your store deserves prominent placement.
Off-page factors that influence authority and trust carry tremendous weight in search ranking algorithms. By cultivating quality external signals, you can communicate credibility and perform better than your competitors in results pages.
Here are some powerful tactics to build authority for your Magento store:
Earn high-quality backlinks
The most important trust signal comes from websites linking to your store. You should focus on building a diverse and sustainable mix of relevant, authoritative backlinks, such as:
- Links from recognised industry media sites and brand mentions
- Contributor articles on authoritative niche sites
- Interviews on relevant podcasts and blogs
- Links from vendors, partners, and industry directories
- Customer testimonials and brand references
Avoid low-quality networks and spammy tactics. Slowly build a strong domain authority foundation.
Focus on customer reviews
Customer feedback, reviews, and testimonials carry weight as trusted signals. Proactively generate reviews through email follow-ups and incentivisation. Moderating and responding to reviews also helps build credibility. You should also address both positive and negative reviews to show customers sentiment.
Promote brand assets and content
Make company assets like whitepapers, reports, tools, and videos discoverable online, and promote your blog content on social media. These branded materials linked across the web impart trust.
Network and engage communities
Actively participate in relevant online communities like forums, Facebook Groups, Reddit, and LinkedIn. Engaging and networking can help with establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche which has an impact on your organic performance. Sharing expert knowledge on your product can also help earn trust.
Think about it – we trust doctors because they are experts in specific topics. For example, we would go to a dermatologist for skin issues and ophthalmologists for eye issues. Showing expertise and in-depth knowledge around your product offering through communities and social platforms will allow repeat sales and increased positive sentiment.
Optimise citations and local listings
Consistent NAP (name, address, phone) information on directories like Google Business Listings helps affirm your business credentials. Keep your listings updated.
Develop brand mentions
Outreach to get your brand mentioned as “references” on Wikipedia, news articles, and “best-of” roundups in your category. Unpaid brand mentions can also add validity.
Trust and authority cannot be built overnight. But by cultivating diverse, high-quality signals over time, you can gradually improve your shop front’s domain reputation and authority to rank higher in search. Be patient and focus on tactics that add real value to earn lasting trust.
Optimising your Magento website can sometimes be tricky because of all the different quirks. As we have unfolded, there’s a lot more to take into consideration when it comes to optimising your storefront. If you are struggling to find time or generally cannot get your head around Magento SEO, get in touch with our SEO experts at The PHA Group today for your bespoke SEO strategy.