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9 tips to help with Magento SEO

Magento eCommerce platform was built with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices in mind. If configured properly it needs no third-party extensions to be search engine friendly.

Make sure you address the 9 Magento SEO points listed below and your store will be ready to climb up to the top of Google search results page.

1. Enable Server URL rewrites

First thing you need to do is to remove index.php from site URLs. Go to site backend top menu System > Configuration > Web > Search Engines Optimization and set Use Web Server Rewrites to Yes.

2. Set default title, description, prefix, suffix

Now set Default title text. By default it is ‘Magento Commerce’ and that is not what google would expect if you sell shoes. Go to System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head and enter default title, title prefix, title suffix, default description and default keywords.

3. Auto-redirect to Base URL

If more than one domain is pointing to your site you might want to avoid duplicate content and set 301 redirect to your main domain. First enter your main domain at System > Configuration > Web > Unsecure > Base URL. Then set System > Configuration > Web > Url Options > Auto-redirect to Base URL to Yes (301 Moved permanently). 301 is a preferred way to handle redirects.

  • SEO tutorial: Understanding SEO and ecommerce | lynda.com
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    SEO tutorial: Understanding SEO and ecommerce | lynda.com

4. Site Speed

Faster sites tend to rank higher. They could be crawled faster as well. They also tend to convert more so it pays to speed up Magento.

Here are a few configuration settings that help increase magento site speed:

  • Enable cache at System > Configuration > Cache Management
  • Enable CSS/JS merging at System > Configuration > Developer > Javascript / CSS settings
  • Enable flat catalogs at System > Configuration > Catalog > Frontend > Use Flat catalog Category (Yes) and Use Flat Catalog Product (Yes)
  • Install Full Page Cache extension of your choice. If you run Magento Enterprise you already have one.

Here is 20 proven steps to increase magento speed and performance.

5. Sitemap autogeneration

First create your sitemap file at Catalog > Google Sitemap and submit it to Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. Then make sure you start cron process on your server. Finally make magento auto update sitemap file at System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations > Autogenerated Site Map (Enable) and System > Configuration > Google Sitemap > Generation Settings > Enabled (Yes).

6. Use Canonical URLs

To avoid duplicate content you might want to add canonical link meta tag to your pages.  Go to System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations > Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories (Yes) and Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products (Yes).

7. Have a responsive Theme

I strongly recommend that you have a mobile friendly version of your Magento store. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. Make sure your site is responsive – install a theme that adjusts to browser width.

One of the most popular responsive themes for magento is Porto theme – check it out.

8. go SSL

HTTPS is a ranking factor. Buy a ssl certificate and set your magento unsecure and secure Base URLs to https://. Enable SSL for frontend and backend at System > Configuration > Web  > Use secure URLs in Frontend (Yes) and Use secure URLs in Admin (Yes). Also redirect all http traffic to https.

9. redirect non-www to www

Set www version of your domain as Base URL at System > Configuration > Web > Unsecure (Secure) Base URL. Then make sure you set auto-redirect to base URL to yes. Now all non-www page requests should be redirected to www ones.

Konstantin Gerasimov is a site performance specialist and a magento developer. He runs a company www.goivvy.com that specializes in magento performance optimizaiton. You can contact him on twitter @goivvy