When it comes to ecommerce development, Magento ranks second as the most used ecommerce solution on the planet. As a Content Management System, Magento is truly made for ecommerce.
Just like many open-source website hosting solutions, Magento offers ecommerce focused features that can be customized according to wants and needs of a business. When it comes to providing customizations, Magento gives serious competition to other online retail CMS providers.
When it comes to SEO, Magento can be both rewarding and frustrating. Considering it is an open source CMS, it provides the power to make as many SEO adjustments and automations as you can.
However, such tasks are not as easy as you want them to be. The built-in SEO module in Magento 2 is adequate for starting you up, but you will need some external help if your aim is to grab those top rankings on Google search pages.
Fear not! By following this guide, you will be able to set up a SEO-friendly Magento 2 store in no time.
1. Use SEO-Friendly URL Structures
Every webpage, regardless of the solution it’s made on, needs to have a URL. It is important for a website owner to have easy to read, unique, and SEO friendly URLs.
One of the biggest mistakes web store owners make is that they allow CMS solutions like Magento handle the URL structuring. This can be disastrous for your website’s SEO. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on the URLs Magento is creating for your store. Make sure each URL is:
- Simple to understand
While no one types out a webpage’s URL these days, it’s important to create a URL structure with your users in mind. Just in case there is a need to type a URL.
Avoid using unnecessary words and numbers in your URL. Only use words (or numbers if any) that actually define your category or products. The same rules apply for CMS or policy related pages.
While it’s argued that URLs do not have a lot to do with website rankings, you need to understand that SEO has a direct link with user experience. When you build for your users, you are setting up a path for quick SEO success.
Better URL structures, especially those that may contain popular search phrases, will help your store in gaining top ranks of the Google search page.
If you are looking for a good example to follow for URL creation, feel free to use the following examples as your guide:
- For category pages, you should use /category/ in the URL
- For subcategory pages, you should keep the structure as follows: /category/sub-category/
- For product pages, you may follow this standard: /category/sub-category/product-name/
Here is how you can do this in Magento 2:
- Navigate to Stores >> Configuration > General > Web.
- Click on the Search Engine Optimization
- Select yes to Use web server rewrites, and click Save Config.
To further optimize the URL structure of your website, you can take this secondary step:
- Make your way to Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization
- Select “Yes” for Use Categories Path for Product URLs.
- For the option “Create Permanent Redirect for URLs if URL Key Changed”, choose “Yes”.
- To eliminate duplicate content issues for category pages, surf to Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories and select “Yes”.
- Repeat the process for product pages, go to Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products and select “Yes”.
2. Set Titles and Meta Descriptions Category and Product Pages Correctly
The basic metadata, i.e. title and meta description, is very important for your website’s ranking. While Google can create custom metadata from a webpage depending on a user’s search query, you can’t leave this important step untouched.
Like all popular platforms, Magento can create titles and descriptions for you. However, you won’t get those rankings if you rely only on Magento as the system will never include the required keywords that are important for gaining higher SERPs or Search Engine Ranking Positions.
As a practice, Magento may create a “default” description using the information it may have. For category pages, this may work. However, it’s a big no-no for Product and CMS (or Policy) pages as Magento might pull the first 160 characters for default description.
This means you will end up confusing a user when they’ll see the title and description of your webpage on Google. Furthermore, there is a good chance that Magento might leave these important fields empty!
Empty fields never rank, even for branded URLs.
One more thing to avoid is the use of manufacturer’s description. Ideally, you want each page to have descriptions that explain what the page is about. A manufacturer’s description is generic and it might get used by other stores. This means you are inadvertently relying on duplicate content. This is again a bad practice.
To add a new description, just use this path: Content > Configuration > Design > HTML Head > Default Description.
3. Deploy Your Site on Fast Magento Hosting
You might have heard it from many and it is true. SEO is about many things but it is primarily all about optimizing your online store for superior user experience.
Load times are an important ranking factor. No SEO expert will ever disagree on this fact! If your website performance is slow, you will never outrank your competition.
When it comes to Magento hosting, you need to be wise. Yes, you can start out with a low-cost shared hosting plan, but that might never give you the results as such providers are usually made for small websites with simple goals.
An ecommerce website is a complex profit- focused system. If you are aiming to create an online shop, you should always go for an affordable cloud host. Devrims is one of the best Magento hosting providers with fully-managed cloud servers on Amazon and DigitalOcean for Magento stores of all scopes and sizes.
By the way, when you are creating a Magento store, you should always host in a region that’s near to your targeted user base. For example, if you want to open up a clothing brand for European markets, you should choose to host somewhere like the Netherlands or Germany.
With Devrims, you can host on any of the provided 25+ locations depending on your cloud infrastructure provider.
4. Focus on Product Images Optimization
When it comes to product image optimization, you need to work on two facets:
- Size Optimization
- Tag Optimization
Generally, webstore owners tend to forget about these optimizations as they consider text based content important for getting those high SERPs.
Wrong! The verdict is still out on whether Googlebot (and search engines) can scan images or not. It is generally believed they can’t. This point will be discussed in the next few paragraphs, but here we need to understand one thing: Googlebot scans all aspects of your webpages, including loading times.
If your webpages carry unoptimized and heavy image files, the load times are not going to be as light as you want them to be even if you are using one of the best Magento hosting services.
Therefore, it’s important to use web-friendly image formats like JPG and WebP for your Magento shop.
Now, let’s focus on tag optimization. It’s a good practice to name your image files with useful (and if possible, targeted) keywords. A good example is “mens-white-formal-shirt.jpg”. Avoid generic filenames like “image1.jpg”.
Plus, the image filename will become a part of the image URL. This way, you get an additional chance of getting ranked on Image Search.
Remember, your image filename should be easy to read and understand as these can be used as “alt” text by Magento. However, we prefer you to place such data by yourself.
For optimizing the alt text on images, you should navigate to: Products > Catalog > in Configurable Products. Then, double click on the desired thumbnail > Go to the detail page > scroll to Images and Videos > Double click on images > add alt text in the required field.
5. Improve Your Site Speed
It is a known fact that users do not wait for too long for a page to load. In some cases, they may jump off within 2 seconds.
Many hosting services, like Devrims, can cut down loading times considerably for Magento websites. However, it’s important to complete a few tasks with the help of your web host and a developer.
Deploy Redis or Memcached services, so static data can be served to your users quickly. You can ask Devrims support for recommendations.
Last but not the least, you should deploy a CDN service to serve dynamic content (images and videos) quickly.
6. Complete Your Site Map Configuration
Google loves to know all about your website. However, it can only do this if you have your XML sitemap configured properly. Read this updated documentation by Adobe to ensure that you have correctly configured your sitemaps.
Without site map submission, Google will not be able to spot your website and it will not index your landing pages. Therefore, keep a close look on this aspect. Google Search Console keeps you updated about site map submission activities of your website. It can also provide guidance if anything goes wrong.
SEO Needs Continued Efforts
SEO is not a one-time task. It needs maintenance and upkeep. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to create an SEO checklist for your business. Keep a check on your brand’s SERP and your website’s load times. Remember, slow and badly designed pages do not rank well. Therefore, pick a website hosting service that gives you optimal results at all times.