Let’s see step by step how to optimise Magento for search engines.
Step 1) General SEO configuration
The first thing you have to do to optimize your Magento store is to enable through the script admin area ->System -> Configuration -> Web -> Search Engines Optimization the SEO function.
In the URL Options it is recommended to turn off the Add Store Code to Urls function.
Step 2) Site Title Optimization and Header Optimization
By default Magento uses the title “Magento Commerce“. Of course this must be changed following your SEO strategy.
To do this go to Configuration => Design => HTML Head.
Remember that the default title is used on the Home Page and in all those pages where you will not have a custom title, e.g. the contact us page.
You can also add your brand name to all page titles. To do this add the name in “Title Suffix”.
During the production period you might want to block search engine bots from your site. You can do this in “Default Robots” where you can add “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”. Remember to change it when you are ready to be visible!
Always in the header section it’s useful to add the new canonical tag. This will tell search engines which URL is the one you want them to index, in case of duplicate content. To do this you can install the Canonical URL’s for Magento Module. This module is very important because Magento creates loads of duplicate pages.
Last tip on the header optimization. Install Yoast Meta Robots Module to delete strange robot meta tags that can create problems during robot crawling.
Step 3) Category Optimization
Magento has a function that gives you the opportunity to add the name of categories to path for profuct URL’s. This function seems to create some duplicate content issues, so I suggest you to disable the option on System => Configuration => Catalog => Search Engine Optimization and set “Use categories path for product URL’s to “no”.
After this we can optimise all categories adding the needed details. Go to Catalog => Manage Categories.
The fields that you want to optimize are:
- Meta Description: use your SEO strategy and include call to actions.
- Page Title: If you want to show the category name ant the parent category leave this empty.
- URL Key: This is the url name for your category. Keep it short but keyword reach following your SEO strategy. Multi language shops should have language independent urls.
Note: For each store view you can specify the Name, Description, Page Title and Meta data. This is a great value for multi-language sites.
Step 4) Product page optimization
Once you have optimized your categories you will find it easy to go through the product page optimization because it’s very similar. You can set the Meta Information for the “Default Values” and for each “Shop View”. Note that for the “Meta Title”, this will overwrite the complete page title, including categories but except title prefix/suffix, and not just the product name.
Remember to optimize all your images with descriptive alt tags and image names.
Step 5) XML Sitemap configuration
Create your XML sitemap manually by going to Catalog => Google Sitemap => Add Sitemap, choosing a filename, path and store view, and then pressing “Save & Generate”.
Remember to add the sitemp url on your robots.txt file.
Every time you change your products on your shop you should generate again the sitemap. You can also set up a cron job on your server to do this in automatic in predefined hours of the day.
All the Magento modules you need to do a good SEO on your store:
For the canonical URL’s: Canonical URL’s for Magento
Clean header from strange meta robot tags: Yoast Meta Robots