Right out-of-the-box, Magento 2 is by far one of the most search engine friendly e-commerce platforms available today. At our SEO agency, we love using Magento for large eCommerce projects.

As already mentioned, this is thanks to its sheer levels of flexibility and unparalleled customization options, along with a robust set of built-in SEO features such as product meta tags, SEO-friendly URLs, prefixes and suffixes for title tags, rich snippet extensions, the ability to edit robots.txt file, and much more.

But while Magento is a powerful platform for SEO, if you wish to make the most of it and dramatically boost your organic traffic, you must configure it properly and follow some best practices.

In other words, with a combination of on-page, off-page, and some advanced SEO techniques, along with picking the right theme and extensions, you can conquer top rankings for your e-commerce store.

While both modules and extensions extend the features and functionality of Magento 2, there’s a slight difference between them.

When you develop a custom extension for the Magento store, then that extension is called Module, which is a piece of code that extends Magento’s functionality. That is, an extension is a packaged module (System > Magento Connect > Package Extensions) that can be submitted to the Magento Marketplace.

As such, you can use these terms interchangeably and a Magento extension is akin to a WordPress plugin, which you’re likely familiar with.

Here are some examples of the best Magento 2 extensions for SEO:

  • SEO Suite Ultimate by MageWorx and SEO Toolkit by Amasty are two great for advanced on-page optimization (discussed later).
  • Landing Pages by MageWorx for creating high-converting, search-friendly landing pages for promotions, holiday offers, new product launches, etc.
  • Layered Navigation by Aheadworks to equip your store with neat and intuitive site navigation, enabling your customers to combine several options and search items by various product attributes like color, price, star rating, and more. It includes a number of SEO features like short and appealing URLs, and customized meta tags.

We’ll list out more such useful Magento 2 extensions later in the guide. With these extensions added in your SEO arsenal, following the optimization tips and steps in this guide would be much easier.

Like any other website, ranking your Magento store on Google takes a considerable effort, consistency, and patience. As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot that goes into optimizing your website for search.

But in essence, ranking your store is about:

  • On-page optimization: This includes improving your site’s relevance by correctly incorporating keywords in various elements of your site, along with creating useful content to satisfy your visitors.
  • Off-page optimization: To build your store’s authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of Google and customers, off-page tactics like building backlinks and earning user-generated content is key.
  • Technical optimization: This involves some advanced optimization techniques such as using structured data, optimizing images, and minifying the code.

Now, before we dive into the various improvements, tips, and techniques, let’s draw inspiration from some of the...

As mentioned in the beginning, SEO is a vast subject and there’s a lot you can do to improve your site’s rankings in the search engine’s result pages (SERPs). Before you proceed with all the advanced optimization techniques, make sure you get the basic on-page and off-page SEO right.

Magento 2 On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your website’s internal pages to achieve better search engine rankings. It consists of several factors such as the quality of your code, text and visual content, the hierarchy and navigation of your site, the overall user experience of your store, and more.

All these things are totally under your control. Here’s how to go about it:

Optimize Title Tags and Headings in Magento

The quality of your page title and meta description have a direct impact on both your rankings and your click-through-rate (CTR). So, it is important to write page titles that satisfy search engine crawlers and human visitors.

buy-almond

Now, Google only displays the first 50–60 characters of most page titles, so keep your titles under 60 characters so they aren’t truncated in the SERPs. Furthermore, always try to include your main keywords near the beginning of the title, in case the title does get truncated. Search engines prefer early keywords, too.

First off, edit the default title and description of the homepage of your store. Go to Content > Design > Configuration and look for Default Store View, click the Edit link after it to adjust the Default Store View homepage’s meta information.

default title and description

Here, fill in your brand’s title and description. You can put your brand’s name into the Title Suffix, so it will be appended to each title tag and thus, help with consistent branding.

To edit titles for product pages, go to Admin > Products > Catalog, click on Edit Product and go down to Search Engine Optimization. Here, you can fill in the Meta Title and Meta Description (discussed in the next section).

Search Engine Optimization

Follow the same process for Categories and Content pages. Create persuasive page titles that people can’t help but click. A good title is easy to read, includes keywords, and prompts action from the user.

Also, make sure that you have one and only one H1 tag on each page. Use subheadings H2, H3, and so on in a proper hierarchy and try to include your primary keywords in all the subheadings as well.

Optimize Meta Descriptions in Magento

The meta description refers to the short text displayed below the title and the URL in the SERPs. As with the title tag, not only does your meta description need to please the Google crawlers with the help of keywords, but the description also needs to be compelling for real people so they click through to your store.

When writing meta descriptions, think about your value propositions. Do you provide free/fast shipping, or is there an offer/sale? For instance, to encourage more click-throughs to its online store, Our Client uses the meta description to convey that they provide free shipping and cash on delivery is available.

meta descriptions

You can edit the meta description of your store’s home, product, category, and content pages as just described in the previous section.

As writing meta descriptions for each and every page from scratch will be very time consuming, it is a good idea to use an extension like SEO Meta Templates to create templates which you can reuse and quickly edit for all pages. For example, here’s a meta description template for category pages:

“Looking for $categoryName? Check out our huge collection of $amountOfProducts T-shirts at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Looking for Track Pants? Check out our huge collection of 10,000 Track Pants at Jack’s Tracks” .

meta description template

And here’s one for product pages:

“Buy a $productName starting from $productPrize. Shipping time: $shippingTime. Only at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Buy a Black Track Pant for as little as $10.99. Shipping time: 48 hours. Only at Jack’s Tracks!”.

Again, keep your meta descriptions short – under 155 characters, otherwise they risk being truncated in the SERPs. Try and include all relevant keywords in the description.

Create SEO-Friendly URL Structure in Magento

A good, user-friendly URL is an important factor used to rank a website by the search engines. In fact, according to Google, “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans”.

As opposed to a URL like www.example/women/product35574.com, the URL www.example/women/product.com is much more readable for both search engines and potential customers. Essentially, your URLs must be succinct, consistent, and lowercase.

So, you must rewrite URLs to make them SEO- and user-friendly.

Go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web. There you can define the settings for the URL structure. In particular, pay attention to the sections URL Options and Search Engine Optimization.

If you’d like to remove the .html extension, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization. At the top of the page, select the right Store View you want to adjust the settings for. Next, you’ll find the fields Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix.

Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix

Both fields have .html value. Removing that value from both fields will lead to URLs that look like:

  • http://example.com/category for category page
  • http://example.com/product for product pages

Moreover, it's a good idea to use the top-level product URL without including category and subcategory hierarchy in the URL itself. By default, your URL may look like this:

http://www.example.com/category/subcategory/product-url.html

This can create duplication issues in Magento, as multiple variations of the same products are on separate URLs. To dodge this, use the top-level product URLs option which results in a single version of the URL format which will be used in different categories for the same products.

As a case in point, let’s say you have a black shirt in men’s clothing. It goes in two categories:

  • Category 1: http://www.example.com/mens/shirts/
  • Category 2: http://www.example.com/mens/new-arrivals/

The top-level product URL is:

http://www.example.com/mens

To get this product URL, go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Categories Path for Product URLs and set it to ‘Yes’.

Lastly, don’t forget to include keywords in all your pages’ URLs, while keeping URLs short and sweet by avoiding filler words (such as “the” and “for”).

Optimize Content and Product Copy in Magento

Apart from titles, meta descriptions, and URLs, it’s important to optimize all your website content – blog posts, product descriptions, the “about” page, and so on – for primary and secondary (or “semantic” i.e related) keywords.

While on the subject of content, publishing keyword-optimized long-form content such as how-to guides and listicles on a consistent basis will go a long way in hitting top rankings on Google.

By consistently putting out such useful content, you can target various keywords that have different user intent. That is, some of your pages (such as blog pages) can target searches for information (e.g. “what is jumpsuit”), while other pages (such as product pages) can target lower search volume keywords that hint a purchase intent (e.g. “buy women’s jumpsuits”).

Moreover, proper internal Linking throughout your site is important as well. In every piece of content, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.

Setting up HTTPS in Magento

Displaying an SSL certificate on your store’s URL is absolutely essential for success. This is especially true for online businesses as potential customers will have to enter their sensitive credit card information to complete the purchase. HTTPS ensures a secure environment for customers and builds trust.

So, if you haven’t already, you must enable HTTPS in your Magento 2 store.

Configuration

Set up HTTPS by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Then, expand Base URLs (Secure) and change the values of Secure Base URL and Secure Base Link URL so that they start with https. Finally, change the value of the Use Secure URLs on Storefront, Use Secure URLs in Admin, Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) and Upgrade Insecure Requests fields to ‘Yes’.

Magento 2 Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is all about the things you can do outside of your own website to raise your rankings in Google. In essence, these activities will make your store more credible and authoritative in the eyes of Google.

Let’s take a detailed look at the two pillars of off-page SEO that you must focus on:

Create a Backlink Strategy

Backlinks are the external links on other websites that point to your website. Google considers the amount, quality, and relevancy of these links in its ranking algorithm. Truth be told, the number and quality of backlinks is one of the most influential factors that decide where your store will be ranking in the SERPs.

Google views links as signs of trustworthiness and authority, and without a proper backlink strategy, your site won’t make it to the first page of SERPs.

So, to build high-quality backlinks to your store, here’s what you need to do on a consistent basis:

  • Guest Posting:

A well-established, time-tested way to earn quality backlinks and improve your online brand visibility is guest posting.

Guest posting is about creating and contributing quality content, such as blog posts and infographics, to authority websites and publications. Besides boosting rankings on Google, guest posting also helps in capturing new audiences, gaining their trust, and building your brand’s thought leadership.

  • Blogger Outreach:

As you know, every niche (food, tech, fitness, travel, etc.) has countless blogs and some of those blogs have massive followings. The content posted by these top bloggers is trusted by a huge community of like-minded people.

Blogger outreach is a technique in which you partner up with bloggers to create authentic, useful content that promotes your products or brand. In this way, you leverage their influence to gain more brand exposure.

It involves hunting down and identifying authority bloggers in your industry. Next, you pitch them in a personalized way and let them know what’s in it for them (such as free access to your products, or a sponsored fee, etc.) and what you want them to do for your brand. Finally, once the content is published, you and the blogger both promote it on your own respective channels which leads to next-level brand exposure to new audiences for your business (and the blogger).

The content the blogger produces for your brand can be a sponsored post, a product review or feature, or even a giveaway contest. You may assist the blogger in creating content that results in a win-win for both parties while being true to the audience.

  • Promoting Linkable Assets:

Another excellent way to build backlinks to your website is to create and publish highly-shareable content known as linkable assets. These can be in-depth how-to guides, entertaining listicles, or interactive infographics, that you publish on your own website and then pitch them to high authority blogs and media publications in your industry.

Not everyone would be keen on republishing and/or promoting your content on their own web property, but if your content’s truly high-quality, you won’t have trouble finding some (or even many) that’ll be happy to do it.

  • Link Reclamation and Broken Link Building:

Link building isn’t just about putting out fresh content. Your brand may already be mentioned on several websites without being linked to. Use tools like these to find such unlinked mentions and then contact those publishers and ask them to link to your site along with the mention. This technique is called link reclamation.

Also, you can do some digging on the web for broken links on relevant niche websites. If you find a broken link for products/content similar to those you offer, reach out to the owner of the site, let them know about the broken link, and request them to replace the broken link for a valid link to your site instead.

As broken links negatively impact a site’s SEO, this is a mutually beneficial activity for both parties – they get to fix a broken link and you get a free backlink.

Typically, when it comes to backlinks, the more the merrier. However, keep in mind that the quality of links pointing back to your website is equally crucial, if not more. So, a handful of natural backlinks from high authority websites far outweigh hundreds of links from low authority or spammy sites.

Garner Brand Mentions and Social Proof

Sure, backlinks generate SEO juice for your website, but even unlinked brand mentions on high authority publications (such as Entrepreneur Magazine) carry substantial weight.

To learn which publications you should target, you can analyze your competitors’ referring domains and media mentions using a tool like SEMrush Brand Monitoring, and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly so as to earn press mentions for your own brand.

Brand Monitoring

Additionally, having a strong, authoritative presence on various social media platforms is also essential. While it doesn’t directly boost your search rankings, a solid social media presence means your branded social profiles will also rank high on Google, and these profiles ultimately bring more visitors to your store.

Social media helps make your business more “human”. It allows you to have casual conversations with your followers, provide customer support, and boost brand engagement – things that are pivotal to building online credibility for your store and its long-run success.

Leverage user-generated content (UGC) on social media by asking open-ended questions, hosting hashtag contests, encouraging honest product reviews, and so on. All this constitutes for a strong social proof, motivating potential customers who are on the fence to take the plunge with your brand.

Install an extension like Yotpo Reviews to garner more reviews from customers and showcase those reviews on your storefront. Using this extension, you can easily incentivize customers to write reviews and engage with your customers in the form of community Q&A.

Install an extension

Besides boosting brand awareness and loyalty, all these social signals indirectly yet significantly add to your website’s SEO.

Now that you’re aware of all the basic on-page improvements you can do, as well as how to go about building your brand’s off-page authority, it’s time to kick things up a notch.

Advanced SEO refers to the more technical on-page optimization you can do on your site to further improve the odds of ranking on the top of SERPs. Let’s dive in.

Page Speed Optimization in Magento

Page speed is a metric that’s not just an official Google ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches but is also vital to user experience. So, having a slow loading store is simply unaffordable. It’ll not only kill your rankings on Google but will frustrate potential customers and result in a high bounce rate.

Run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your Magento store performs and what you can do to improve your store’s speed.

Now, there are various things you can do to optimize your Magento 2 store’s page load speed, which includes:

Magento Image Optimization

You must compress all images on your website so that file size is as small as possible while maintaining high quality. Because having bulky product images will result in a sluggish load speed which hurts rankings.

Ideally, the file size for images should be under 100 kb. Also, prefer JPG (not PNG or GIF) format for all product images as it provides the best quality for the smallest file size. Use a free extension like Compress JPEG & PNG Images to automatically compress the file size of images while maintaining good quality.

Compress JPEG & PNG Images

Besides, ensure all your images have a short, descriptive file name (black-shirt.jpg instead of something like 258492107.jpg) and descriptive alt tags that illustrate what each image is. Not only is this helpful for search engine crawlers to better understand your content, but also for visually-challenged visitors who use screen readers.

To add alt text, go to Product > Basic Settings > Images and Videos > Alt Text and then add your alt text in the field. Plus, make sure to include keywords in both the file name and alt text of all images.

Minify CSS and JS in Magento

It is possible that the comments and whitespaces in your source code i.e. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files are taking up too much space and slowing down your site. Minification compresses the code by removing extra characters like spaces and comments, combining common styles, using shorter variable and function names, and so on.

This makes the file size smaller and lighter, which means fewer bytes will be transmitted from your server to your customers’ web browsers which makes your site pages load faster.

Modify your store’s JavaScript and CSS settings by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > Developer.

 JavaScript and CSS settings

There, expand JavaScript Settings and change the value of Merge JavaScript Files, Enable JavaScript Bundling, and Minify JavaScript Files to ‘Yes’. Likewise, expand CSS Settings and change the values of Merge CSS Files and Minify CSS Files, and – if your theme supports this – the value of Use CSS critical path to ‘Yes’.

Use a free extension like Minify HTML CSS JS to easily minify your HTML code.

Using AMP in Magento

Today, over half of your store’s visitors (and conversions) are from mobile devices and this number is increasing with each passing day. So, it is crucial to reduce your store’s page load times on mobile devices.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), is an open-source framework developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, which renders better, faster experiences on mobile devices. It is a framework that allows you to build lightweight experiences for mobile by simplifying the HTML code and following streamlined CSS rules.

For some searches, Google shows AMP content in a special slot above organic results. So, enabling AMP can be your key for achieving top rankings on mobile search results.

Using the Accelerated Mobile Pages extension to automatically generate Google AMP Pages for home, category, and product pages easily and quickly amp up your website’s mobile speed to get that lightning bolt next to your search result listing on mobile.

Configure Caching in Magento

Caching is the process of storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage location so that they can be accessed more quickly.

To enable the built-in caching features in Magento 2, navigate to System > Cache Management, and then mark all checkboxes, select Enable from the drop-down box, and hit Submit.

Cache Management

To enable full page caching, navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > System. Under “Full Page Cache”, you’ll find the Caching Application field. By default, it’s set to Built-in Cache, and you must change that to Varnish Cache. In the Varnish Configuration, fill in the details according to your hosting provider.

Full Page Cache

Setting Up Redirects in Magento

First off, for your domain, you can either have “example.com” or “www.example.com”. Both are fine from the SEO perspective. Regardless of which one you choose, you must give a permanent redirect (301) from the non-preferable URL for the preferable URL.

Navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Enter your selected base URL in the fields for the Base URL and Base Link URL. Next, under Search Engine Optimization, set Use Web Server Rewrites value to ‘Yes’. Lastly, under URL Options, set Auto-redirect to Base URL to Yes (301 Moved Permanently) and click Save. This ensures that the link authority from incorrectly placed links is passed on fully to the correct URL.

Auto-redirect to Base URL

Now, having broken links (“404 not found” error) on your website hurts both SEO and user experience. So, when a page on your store becomes inactive – such as when you remove a product or category – you must redirect that page to another relevant page on your site, giving visitors (and crawlers) a new destination instead of a disappointing error.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply redirect deleted/inactive pages to the homepage or to an unrelated page. Only redirect to a page that’s relevant to the deleted page.

Magento 2 has an elegant built-in redirection tool you can use to set up 301 redirects which permanently transfer the SEO juice from the previous page. Go to Marketing and click on URL rewrites.

Click Add URL Rewrite. Here you can see Create URL Rewrite on the dropdown list, leave this on its default setting (Custom).

URL rewrites

Next, fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields. The Request Path is the original path and the Target Path is the new path that corresponds to the new web page. This will be the target URL for your redirect.

fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields

For the Redirect Type, choose 301 and hit Save.

Also, note that any time you change a URL after it has gone live, remember to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, or you’ll generate a 404 error on your site.

Robots.txt Optimization in Magento

Essentially, the Robots.txt file provides instructions to the search engine crawlers about which pages to crawl and how to index your site.

For e-commerce stores, it’s vital to leverage the robots.txt file to send search engine crawlers in the right direction and keep them from touching the wrong URLs so as to avoid duplicate content issues and optimize crawl budget.

Your Magento 2 store consists of some URLs that you don’t want crawlers to access, such as:

  • /customer/account/login/ – login pages.
  • Internal search result pages.
  • URLs containing SID and PHPSESSID parameters.
  • Filtering criteria such as price, color, and size.

So, you must make some modifications to your robots.txt file. Go to Content > Configuration (Under Design). Click Edit for the main website.

Design Configuration

Next, scroll down to Search Engine Robots where you can define your robots.txt content. Keep Default Robots as INDEX, FOLLOW, and enter your custom instructions in the text box provided after that.

Search Engine Robots

Disallowing the aforementioned URLs translates to robots.txt instructions that look something like:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /catalogsearch/
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /customer/account/login/
Disallow: /*?SID=
Disallow: /*?PHPSESSID=
Disallow: /*?price=
Disallow: /*&price=
Disallow: /*?color=
Disallow: /*&color=
Disallow: /*?size=
Disallow: /*&size=

To verify if your modifications took place, go to the homepage of the site in your browser and view the source.

Structured Data in Magento

If you want your store’s listing to be super prominent in the Google SERPs, you need to add structured data markup to your Magento 2 site.

That is, if you provide Google a bunch of data in a specific, structured format (hence the name “structured data”), you can have your product pages stand out in the SERPs:

structured data

Such a listing immediately captures the user’s attention and is way more compelling to click on as opposed to conventional results. What’s more, an increased click-through-rate (CTR) will hint Google that your site merits a higher ranking in the SERPs.

Simply put, structured data markup gives search engines more information about your store and its content. In the context of e-commerce, structured data (or schema markup) can provide Google with useful information about your products (such as pricing, availability, rating, number of reviews, and so on), which Google can then display in the SERPs in the form of rich snippets.

Now, there are various structured data formats you can use:

  • JSON-LD
  • RDFa
  • Microdata

However, using JSON-LD is recommended by Google as it’s the easiest to add and update, and it is compatible with dynamic data.

For e-commerce websites such as your Magento 2 store, product schema is the highest priority structured data as it helps pull in potential customers from the SERPs by presenting valuable information such as reviews, price, and availability.

product schema

The easiest and most effective way to implement rich snippets for the products on your website is to use an extension like Rich Snippets (free) or Rich Snippet Suite. You don’t need any coding knowledge – the set up of these extensions is extremely straightforward and you can get started with structured data implementation right away.

XML Sitemap in Magento

The XML sitemap is a file containing all the pages of your website, which makes it much easier for search engine crawlers to see the complete layout of your site and understand your content. Configuring and submitting your store’s XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console can help you get indexed faster.

Magento 2 comes with XML sitemap functionality. To configure the XML sitemap, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > XML Sitemap.

XML Configuration

By default, the options for categories, products, and CMS pages are configured correctly and images are included in the XML sitemap.

You can define how often the XML sitemap needs to be regenerated under Generation Settings. Your sitemap should be updated as frequently as the content on your site changes, which might be daily, weekly, or monthly. By default, the Enabled field is set to ‘No’. Change this to ‘Yes’, because you want your XML sitemap to be regenerated automatically.

generation settings

Keep the value of the Frequency field set to Daily to make sure the XML sitemap is regenerated every day. However, if the content on your store only changes once a week, you should choose to regenerate the XML sitemap once a week.

As an example, setting Start Time to 03:00:00 means that the XML sitemap is regenerated at 3 AM. You must change this value to the quietest time of day for your store, as regenerating the XML sitemap can temporarily make your Magento store slower.

Next, you can set the Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size. Keep the former set to default and set the latter as 52428800, which equals 50 MB.

Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size

Finally, under Search Engine Submission Settings you’ll find the field Enable Submission to Robots.txt, which has a default value of ‘No’. Change it to ‘Yes’, as you want your robots.txt file to reference your XML sitemap.

Once the configuration is done, it’s time to create the XML sitemap. Navigate to Marketing > Site Map (under SEO & Search) and click the orange Add Sitemap button on the top right.

sitemap

Add the filename as sitemap.xml and then choose the path which it needs to be placed (typically in the root folder). Click the Save & Generate button, and you’re all set.

new sitemap

The only thing remaining is to head over to Google Search Console and submit the sitemap URL.

Magento 2 Template Optimization for SEO

There are some really great templates, or themes, available on the Magento Marketplace. However, not all of them are optimized for SEO. There are things you may need to explicitly take care of. If you need a custom-designed Magento website, you can always look at our web design and development services.

Typically, optimizing your Magento 2 template or theme for SEO involves things that are already covered such as minifying CSS/JS, caching, and image compression. But there’s more you can do, such as:

  • Cleaning up the code:

In many themes, there are lots of unused code written which leads to unnecessarily big file sizes. All that additional JavaScript and CSS you might have in your template files, move that to an external JavaScript and CSS file, and keep your templates clean and light.

This ensures your visitors can cache those files on the first load, and search engines don’t have to download them unnecessarily. You may need to consult a developer to help clean up your template’s code.

  • Using a CDN:

A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It is a technique to deliver content on your website more quickly and efficiently to people based on their geographic location.

Essentially, a CDN is made up of a network of servers (“points of presence,” or POPs) in locations around the globe. The CDN server nearest to a user is known as the “edge server” – when people request content from a website served through a CDN, they’re connected to the closest edge server, ensuring the fastest possible response times.

Thus, your content, such as product images, are cached on a CDN so it’s delivered from the edge server to your visitors much faster than if it had to be delivered all the way from the origin.

If you’re on Magento Commerce (Cloud), Fastly CDN is included and its set up is well-documented. If not, you need to set up a CDN of your choice in Magento 2.

To do so, navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration. Click on the Web under the General tab.

Base URL

Expand Base URLs and do the following:

  • Update the Base URL for Static View Files with the URL of the location on the CDN where static view files are stored.
  • Update the Base URL for User Media Files with the URL of the JavaScript files on the CDN.

Do the same for the Base URLs (Secure) section, then click Save Config. Besides Fastly, recommended cloud CDNs include Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront.

  • Creating CSS Sprites:

CSS or Image sprites can considerably optimize your page load speed. An image sprite is a collection of images put into a single image and called via specific CSS classes so that page doesn’t send multiple server requests and consequently, doesn’t take a long time to load.

Using image sprites will help save bandwidth. In other words, CSS sprites reduce the total number of HTTP requests, can reduce the total size of the images, and ultimately decreases your page load time. Again, you may need to take the help of a developer to use CSS sprites.

Here are some of the best SEO extensions (free and paid) for your Magento 2 store that we recommend:

Apart from these, an important extension you must install is Google Shopping by Magmodules. Knowing that hundreds of millions of people use Google for their shopping needs, the Google Shopping tab is a great place for e-commerce brands to list their products.

In the past, the Google Shopping tab consisted only of paid listings, but starting late April 2020, free listings will appear alongside paid ads in relevant search results. In fact, the Magento platform is a Google e-commerce partner, and the aforementioned extension by Magmodules is a turnkey solution to seamlessly connect your Magento products with your Google Merchant account.

You don’t need any coding or API knowledge, just a simple initial set up and you’re good to go. So, make sure to leverage this extension to get your products listed on Google Shopping.

That being said, it’s crucial to only install extensions that you truly need. Obviously, you won’t purchase extensions that are irrelevant to your goals but keep in mind that just because an extension is free doesn’t mean you must install it.

Bloating your website with unnecessary modules and extensions will slow it down which, consequently, will negatively impact your SEO. Thus, ensure you pick out and install only the required extensions.

Now that you’re aware of the various on-page, off-page, and advanced SEO improvements you can do for your store, how about leveraging some tried-and-tested e-commerce SEO tips that work well for all platforms alike.

Specifically, let’s take a good look at some actionable best practices to boost the search engine visibility of your store’s home, category, product, and blog pages.

SEO Tips for Magento Homepage

The homepage is your storefront, not just for potential customers but for search engine crawlers. So, optimizing your homepage to make it welcoming for search bots is equally important as making it look appealing for customers. Here’s how:

  • Use only one H1 tag that includes the primary keyword of your business.
  • Write a subheading under the title and a meta description that describes your business with keyword-optimized copy.
  • Include all the broad and relevant keywords in your homepage’s copy.

SEO Tips for Magento Category Pages

Category pages group products together and are valuable for SEO because you can target various types of keywords on these pages than would be possible for individual product pages.

Besides optimizing titles and meta descriptions of your category pages, here’s what you can do to attain better rankings:

  • Create a unique copy for each page so there’s no duplicate content.
  • Target long-tail keyword phrases for each product in the category.
  • Write a detailed description of the category in order to boost that uniqueness score for each page. Avoid creating a tedious wall of text by using bullets and bolding keywords.

SEO Tips for Magento Product Pages

If you’re able to achieve first page rankings for your product pages, rest assured you’re going to witness a huge surge in sales. Here are some best practices to optimize your product pages:

  • Have a neat hierarchy with proper use of headings, subheadings, and bullets which will make it convenient for visitors and crawlers to scan through the page.
  • Write a crisp, amazing product copy with your brand’s unique tone.
  • Highlight your unique value proposition – what are the unique benefits and features of using your products or brand that visitors can’t find elsewhere?
  • No jargon – write easy-to-read copy with succinct sentences and paragraphs.
  • Optimize for the head, medium, and long-tail keywords but don’t stuff them for the purpose of ranking. Readability remains the priority.
  • Anticipate and address any potential doubts that may arise in the minds of prospective customers.
  • Include product and FAQ structured data.

SEO Tips for Magento Blog

Everyone knows the importance of having an active business blog in terms of boosting SEO and overall online presence.

Follow the tips below for a successful business blog that actually aids your rankings and results in more traffic:

  • Focus on making each blog post useful and comprehensive rather than churning out a large number of useless posts that nobody wants to read or share.
  • Be consistent with your posting schedule and aim for at least a couple of high-quality long-form posts each month.
  • In each article, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.
  • Your content should educate, inform, entertain, and delight the readers which, in turn, makes for great user experience – something that’s crucial for Google.
  • Ensure your posts are factually and grammatically correct.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that guides the reader to take some desired action, such as to check out your
  • product catalog or subscribe to your email newsletter.

With so many customization options and built-in features, Magento 2 is undoubtedly one of the best e-commerce platforms for SEO. Nevertheless, there are some SEO issues that may need fixing from your end, such as:

Duplication Caused by Filters for Configurable Products

Magento allows you to create configurable products wherein you can provide multiple options like size, colors, and other customization options to users and on each option, you can set different prices. Each option selected is actually a separate simple product with a unique SKU, which makes it easy to track inventory for each product variation.

Now, the problem of duplication arises due to these customization options and faceted navigation. In fact, the duplicate content issue is a high priority issue that frequently plagues e-commerce websites.

Duplicate content occurs when either the same or similar content exists on two separate URLs of the same website. This creates a problem for search crawlers as they may not be able to determine which of the two pages should be considered as the “preferred” or canonical version. To help Google determine the primary version of the page which you’d like to be indexed, use the rel=”canonical” tag.

Simply put, a canonical URL is the most authoritative URL of the page you want search engines to see and is considered as the most representative page from a set of duplicate pages on your site.

In Magento 2, you can turn on the use of canonical tags and avoid such duplication due to faceted navigation by simply doing this:

Go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products > Select ‘Yes’. Do the same for Categories and then click Save Configuration.

Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products

This will result in both product and product-category pages having canonical URLs, which helps to prevent duplicate content in your store.

You can also use an extension like Improved Layered Navigation which allows easy set up of canonical URLs.

Pagination Attributes

By default, Magento does not use the prev/next pagination attributes link on paginated pages to explain the relationship among these pages. While Google states that it no longer needs this attribute to make sense of a series of paginated pages, ranking on other search engines may be affected.

So, use the SEO Toolkit to:

  • Add page number to meta title
  • Add page number to the meta description

Furthermore, follow these best practices when it comes to pagination:

  • Apply self-referencing canonicals to paginated pages.
  • Do not apply noindex robots directives to paginated pages.
  • Do not disallow paginated pages in your robots.txt file.

/catalog/ URLs Can Get Indexed

Magento often generates category and product URLs that change back to the original /catalog path as well as duplicate URLs based on page titles. It's crucial to look out for these URL rewrites and block them in the robots.txt file so they don’t get indexed.

URLs With a Number in Them

We’ve already discussed the creation of an SEO-friendly URL structure in Magento 2, however, due to the ability to filter products and the internal site search, URLs may be appended with numerical values and this isn’t great for SEO.

In Magento 2, URLs with query parameters are indexable by default. For instance, if you’re on a category page and you’re filtering on prices between $50 and $100, you’d be sent to a URL such as https://example.com/category/?price=50-100. You don’t want that URL to be indexed, because it’s just showing a subset of the category products.

Similarly, if visitors also want to see the products in a category sorted from cheapest to priciest, they’ll be sent to a URL such as:

https://example.com/category/?price=50-100&product_list_order=price&product_list_dir=asc

This page just shows the same products in a different order and adds no value from an SEO perspective, so you don’t want these pages to be indexed either.

Plus, you can insert query string parameters into your URLs to track information about a click, such as session IDs, languages, and other data. But query string parameters can lead to multiple variations of the same URL all directing to the same content which, again, is not good for SEO.

To solve this URL parameter problem, you need to use an extension like Suite Ultimate.

Site Search Results Getting Indexed

By default, internal search result pages in Magento 2 are robot-indexable which is bad for SEO, as this can lead to an enormous number of low-quality pages being crawled and indexed which can create indexation bloat and impact crawlability.

An effective way to fix this is by adding noindex, follow meta robots tags to all internal search result pages.

Knowing that the official support for Magento 1.x versions will end after 2020, if your store is running on any earlier versions, it’s about time you upgrade to Magento 2.x. As such, Magento 2 is better than previous versions in terms of better site speed, more user-friendly admin interface, a streamlined 2-step checkout process, and greater mobile-friendliness.

Thus, to stay competitive and ensure top-level security for your website, you must migrate as soon as possible.

Now, before you start the actual migration process, consider doing the following:

  • Make a full backup of the Magento 1 store including all files, folders, and the database.
  • Remove outdated and useless data from the database. This includes logs, recently viewed products, compared products, and so on.
  • Create a clone of your Magento 1 store. Do not use the live store for the migration process. Migrate the data from the cloned database of the Magento 1 store.
  • Analyze your store. Review what needs to be kept or removed from the new Magento 2 website.
  • Check whether your current theme(s), extensions and custom code are compatible with Magento 2.

While the migration process is well-documented, maintaining your store’s rankings on Google when upgrading can be a challenge.

You will most likely notice a temporary drop in rankings, even if everything goes well without a hitch. That’s because every time Google sees a big change, it will take a step back to reindex and reanalyze everything. So, whether it’s a migration or a domain change, you’re going to see a temporary drop in rankings.

That being said, you can greatly reduce the time that your rankings take a hit by taking the following steps:

  • Submit a new sitemap via Google Search Console as soon as you launch the new version of your store.
  • Analyze changes in the website’s robots.txt file and XML sitemap generation to ensure that unnecessary pages don’t get indexed and impede crawl efficiency. Also, ensure that you aren’t blocking any JavaScript or media files.
  • Make sure that your XML sitemap is updated and has all the structure of your new website.
  • Identify and fix all 404 errors on your site. Navigate to Index > Coverage section in Google Search Console and make sure to fix them before the migration process.
  • Ensure that you have properly set canonical tags for all the static pages of your website. Canonical tags enable the passing of link juice to the right pages in case of duplicate pages.
  • Don’t modify meta tags as they could leave an impact on your SERP performance.
SERP performance

Consider using an extension like Migrate From M1 to ensure a seamless and secure migration process. The extension is easy-to-use and performs the data migration while rendering 100% uptime for your store, along with 24/7 support.

Phew! There’s so much you can do to boost your store’s search engine rankings. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with all the aforementioned SEO tips and tasks that need to be done, then here’s a crispy SEO checklist you can tick off as you make progress:

On-page SEO:

  • Use only one H1 tag on each page
  • Compose compelling page titles (around 60 characters) and meta descriptions (under 155 characters)
  • Create SEO-Friendly URL structure
  • Set an alt text and descriptive file names for all images
  • Publish useful long-form content such as how-to guides, listicles, and blog posts
  • Optimize all content and product copy for the right keywords
  • Setup HTTPS in Magento

Off-page SEO:

  • Build backlinks to your store via guest posting, blogger outreach, link reclamation, etc.
  • Earn brand mentions from authority publications and social proof in terms of customer reviews along with better social media presence

Advanced SEO:

  • Make sure your site is indexed correctly
  • Create and submit the XML sitemap to Google
  • Eliminate duplicate content using canonical tags
  • Optimize the robots.txt file
  • Incorporate structured data for rich snippets
  • Implement 301 redirects when needed
  • Ensure fast page load speed by optimizing images, minifying CSS and JS, using AMP, and caching
  • Optimize themes

This list sums up all that has been covered in the guide. While not every point may be useful for your business, it doesn’t hurt to be more knowledgeable

And voilà! That covers pretty much everything you need to get started on the right track towards ranking your Magento store on the first page of Google.

Start with the basic on-page optimization techniques, be consistent with off-page optimization (building backlinks, earning media mentions, and social proof), and then step up your SEO game using structured data, AMP, caching, and other advanced techniques.

As you can see, with Magento, things are going to get a bit technical, and sure, it’ll take a handful of months to see the fruits of your labor, but all that effort is going to be super worth it in terms of higher rankings, authority, visitors, leads, and ultimately, sales!

If you need help with optimizing your Magento store you can call our SEO agency on 1300787753 or drop us a message.

Ultimate Magento SEO Guide 2020

Right out-of-the-box, Magento 2 is by far one of the most search engine friendly e-commerce platforms available today. At our SEO agency, we love using Magento for large eCommerce projects.

As already mentioned, this is thanks to its sheer levels of flexibility and unparalleled customization options, along with a robust set of built-in SEO features such as product meta tags, SEO-friendly URLs, prefixes and suffixes for title tags, rich snippet extensions, the ability to edit robots.txt file, and much more.

But while Magento is a powerful platform for SEO, if you wish to make the most of it and dramatically boost your organic traffic, you must configure it properly and follow some best practices.

In other words, with a combination of on-page, off-page, and some advanced SEO techniques, along with picking the right theme and extensions, you can conquer top rankings for your e-commerce store.

While both modules and extensions extend the features and functionality of Magento 2, there’s a slight difference between them.

When you develop a custom extension for the Magento store, then that extension is called Module, which is a piece of code that extends Magento’s functionality. That is, an extension is a packaged module (System > Magento Connect > Package Extensions) that can be submitted to the Magento Marketplace.

As such, you can use these terms interchangeably and a Magento extension is akin to a WordPress plugin, which you’re likely familiar with.

Here are some examples of the best Magento 2 extensions for SEO:

  • SEO Suite Ultimate by MageWorx and SEO Toolkit by Amasty are two great for advanced on-page optimization (discussed later).
  • Landing Pages by MageWorx for creating high-converting, search-friendly landing pages for promotions, holiday offers, new product launches, etc.
  • Layered Navigation by Aheadworks to equip your store with neat and intuitive site navigation, enabling your customers to combine several options and search items by various product attributes like color, price, star rating, and more. It includes a number of SEO features like short and appealing URLs, and customized meta tags.

We’ll list out more such useful Magento 2 extensions later in the guide. With these extensions added in your SEO arsenal, following the optimization tips and steps in this guide would be much easier.

Like any other website, ranking your Magento store on Google takes a considerable effort, consistency, and patience. As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot that goes into optimizing your website for search.

But in essence, ranking your store is about:

  • On-page optimization: This includes improving your site’s relevance by correctly incorporating keywords in various elements of your site, along with creating useful content to satisfy your visitors.
  • Off-page optimization: To build your store’s authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of Google and customers, off-page tactics like building backlinks and earning user-generated content is key.
  • Technical optimization: This involves some advanced optimization techniques such as using structured data, optimizing images, and minifying the code.

Now, before we dive into the various improvements, tips, and techniques, let’s draw inspiration from some of the...

As mentioned in the beginning, SEO is a vast subject and there’s a lot you can do to improve your site’s rankings in the search engine’s result pages (SERPs). Before you proceed with all the advanced optimization techniques, make sure you get the basic on-page and off-page SEO right.

Magento 2 On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your website’s internal pages to achieve better search engine rankings. It consists of several factors such as the quality of your code, text and visual content, the hierarchy and navigation of your site, the overall user experience of your store, and more.

All these things are totally under your control. Here’s how to go about it:

Optimize Title Tags and Headings in Magento

The quality of your page title and meta description have a direct impact on both your rankings and your click-through-rate (CTR). So, it is important to write page titles that satisfy search engine crawlers and human visitors.

buy-almond

Now, Google only displays the first 50–60 characters of most page titles, so keep your titles under 60 characters so they aren’t truncated in the SERPs. Furthermore, always try to include your main keywords near the beginning of the title, in case the title does get truncated. Search engines prefer early keywords, too.

First off, edit the default title and description of the homepage of your store. Go to Content > Design > Configuration and look for Default Store View, click the Edit link after it to adjust the Default Store View homepage’s meta information.

default title and description

Here, fill in your brand’s title and description. You can put your brand’s name into the Title Suffix, so it will be appended to each title tag and thus, help with consistent branding.

To edit titles for product pages, go to Admin > Products > Catalog, click on Edit Product and go down to Search Engine Optimization. Here, you can fill in the Meta Title and Meta Description (discussed in the next section).

Search Engine Optimization

Follow the same process for Categories and Content pages. Create persuasive page titles that people can’t help but click. A good title is easy to read, includes keywords, and prompts action from the user.

Also, make sure that you have one and only one H1 tag on each page. Use subheadings H2, H3, and so on in a proper hierarchy and try to include your primary keywords in all the subheadings as well.

Optimize Meta Descriptions in Magento

The meta description refers to the short text displayed below the title and the URL in the SERPs. As with the title tag, not only does your meta description need to please the Google crawlers with the help of keywords, but the description also needs to be compelling for real people so they click through to your store.

When writing meta descriptions, think about your value propositions. Do you provide free/fast shipping, or is there an offer/sale? For instance, to encourage more click-throughs to its online store, Our Client uses the meta description to convey that they provide free shipping and cash on delivery is available.

meta descriptions

You can edit the meta description of your store’s home, product, category, and content pages as just described in the previous section.

As writing meta descriptions for each and every page from scratch will be very time consuming, it is a good idea to use an extension like SEO Meta Templates to create templates which you can reuse and quickly edit for all pages. For example, here’s a meta description template for category pages:

“Looking for $categoryName? Check out our huge collection of $amountOfProducts T-shirts at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Looking for Track Pants? Check out our huge collection of 10,000 Track Pants at Jack’s Tracks” .

meta description template

And here’s one for product pages:

“Buy a $productName starting from $productPrize. Shipping time: $shippingTime. Only at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Buy a Black Track Pant for as little as $10.99. Shipping time: 48 hours. Only at Jack’s Tracks!”.

Again, keep your meta descriptions short – under 155 characters, otherwise they risk being truncated in the SERPs. Try and include all relevant keywords in the description.

Create SEO-Friendly URL Structure in Magento

A good, user-friendly URL is an important factor used to rank a website by the search engines. In fact, according to Google, “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans”.

As opposed to a URL like www.example/women/product35574.com, the URL www.example/women/product.com is much more readable for both search engines and potential customers. Essentially, your URLs must be succinct, consistent, and lowercase.

So, you must rewrite URLs to make them SEO- and user-friendly.

Go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web. There you can define the settings for the URL structure. In particular, pay attention to the sections URL Options and Search Engine Optimization.

If you’d like to remove the .html extension, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization. At the top of the page, select the right Store View you want to adjust the settings for. Next, you’ll find the fields Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix.

Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix

Both fields have .html value. Removing that value from both fields will lead to URLs that look like:

  • http://example.com/category for category page
  • http://example.com/product for product pages

Moreover, it's a good idea to use the top-level product URL without including category and subcategory hierarchy in the URL itself. By default, your URL may look like this:

http://www.example.com/category/subcategory/product-url.html

This can create duplication issues in Magento, as multiple variations of the same products are on separate URLs. To dodge this, use the top-level product URLs option which results in a single version of the URL format which will be used in different categories for the same products.

As a case in point, let’s say you have a black shirt in men’s clothing. It goes in two categories:

  • Category 1: http://www.example.com/mens/shirts/
  • Category 2: http://www.example.com/mens/new-arrivals/

The top-level product URL is:

http://www.example.com/mens

To get this product URL, go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Categories Path for Product URLs and set it to ‘Yes’.

Lastly, don’t forget to include keywords in all your pages’ URLs, while keeping URLs short and sweet by avoiding filler words (such as “the” and “for”).

Optimize Content and Product Copy in Magento

Apart from titles, meta descriptions, and URLs, it’s important to optimize all your website content – blog posts, product descriptions, the “about” page, and so on – for primary and secondary (or “semantic” i.e related) keywords.

While on the subject of content, publishing keyword-optimized long-form content such as how-to guides and listicles on a consistent basis will go a long way in hitting top rankings on Google.

By consistently putting out such useful content, you can target various keywords that have different user intent. That is, some of your pages (such as blog pages) can target searches for information (e.g. “what is jumpsuit”), while other pages (such as product pages) can target lower search volume keywords that hint a purchase intent (e.g. “buy women’s jumpsuits”).

Moreover, proper internal Linking throughout your site is important as well. In every piece of content, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.

Setting up HTTPS in Magento

Displaying an SSL certificate on your store’s URL is absolutely essential for success. This is especially true for online businesses as potential customers will have to enter their sensitive credit card information to complete the purchase. HTTPS ensures a secure environment for customers and builds trust.

So, if you haven’t already, you must enable HTTPS in your Magento 2 store.

Configuration

Set up HTTPS by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Then, expand Base URLs (Secure) and change the values of Secure Base URL and Secure Base Link URL so that they start with https. Finally, change the value of the Use Secure URLs on Storefront, Use Secure URLs in Admin, Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) and Upgrade Insecure Requests fields to ‘Yes’.

Magento 2 Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is all about the things you can do outside of your own website to raise your rankings in Google. In essence, these activities will make your store more credible and authoritative in the eyes of Google.

Let’s take a detailed look at the two pillars of off-page SEO that you must focus on:

Create a Backlink Strategy

Backlinks are the external links on other websites that point to your website. Google considers the amount, quality, and relevancy of these links in its ranking algorithm. Truth be told, the number and quality of backlinks is one of the most influential factors that decide where your store will be ranking in the SERPs.

Google views links as signs of trustworthiness and authority, and without a proper backlink strategy, your site won’t make it to the first page of SERPs.

So, to build high-quality backlinks to your store, here’s what you need to do on a consistent basis:

  • Guest Posting:

A well-established, time-tested way to earn quality backlinks and improve your online brand visibility is guest posting.

Guest posting is about creating and contributing quality content, such as blog posts and infographics, to authority websites and publications. Besides boosting rankings on Google, guest posting also helps in capturing new audiences, gaining their trust, and building your brand’s thought leadership.

  • Blogger Outreach:

As you know, every niche (food, tech, fitness, travel, etc.) has countless blogs and some of those blogs have massive followings. The content posted by these top bloggers is trusted by a huge community of like-minded people.

Blogger outreach is a technique in which you partner up with bloggers to create authentic, useful content that promotes your products or brand. In this way, you leverage their influence to gain more brand exposure.

It involves hunting down and identifying authority bloggers in your industry. Next, you pitch them in a personalized way and let them know what’s in it for them (such as free access to your products, or a sponsored fee, etc.) and what you want them to do for your brand. Finally, once the content is published, you and the blogger both promote it on your own respective channels which leads to next-level brand exposure to new audiences for your business (and the blogger).

The content the blogger produces for your brand can be a sponsored post, a product review or feature, or even a giveaway contest. You may assist the blogger in creating content that results in a win-win for both parties while being true to the audience.

  • Promoting Linkable Assets:

Another excellent way to build backlinks to your website is to create and publish highly-shareable content known as linkable assets. These can be in-depth how-to guides, entertaining listicles, or interactive infographics, that you publish on your own website and then pitch them to high authority blogs and media publications in your industry.

Not everyone would be keen on republishing and/or promoting your content on their own web property, but if your content’s truly high-quality, you won’t have trouble finding some (or even many) that’ll be happy to do it.

  • Link Reclamation and Broken Link Building:

Link building isn’t just about putting out fresh content. Your brand may already be mentioned on several websites without being linked to. Use tools like these to find such unlinked mentions and then contact those publishers and ask them to link to your site along with the mention. This technique is called link reclamation.

Also, you can do some digging on the web for broken links on relevant niche websites. If you find a broken link for products/content similar to those you offer, reach out to the owner of the site, let them know about the broken link, and request them to replace the broken link for a valid link to your site instead.

As broken links negatively impact a site’s SEO, this is a mutually beneficial activity for both parties – they get to fix a broken link and you get a free backlink.

Typically, when it comes to backlinks, the more the merrier. However, keep in mind that the quality of links pointing back to your website is equally crucial, if not more. So, a handful of natural backlinks from high authority websites far outweigh hundreds of links from low authority or spammy sites.

Garner Brand Mentions and Social Proof

Sure, backlinks generate SEO juice for your website, but even unlinked brand mentions on high authority publications (such as Entrepreneur Magazine) carry substantial weight.

To learn which publications you should target, you can analyze your competitors’ referring domains and media mentions using a tool like SEMrush Brand Monitoring, and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly so as to earn press mentions for your own brand.

Brand Monitoring

Additionally, having a strong, authoritative presence on various social media platforms is also essential. While it doesn’t directly boost your search rankings, a solid social media presence means your branded social profiles will also rank high on Google, and these profiles ultimately bring more visitors to your store.

Social media helps make your business more “human”. It allows you to have casual conversations with your followers, provide customer support, and boost brand engagement – things that are pivotal to building online credibility for your store and its long-run success.

Leverage user-generated content (UGC) on social media by asking open-ended questions, hosting hashtag contests, encouraging honest product reviews, and so on. All this constitutes for a strong social proof, motivating potential customers who are on the fence to take the plunge with your brand.

Install an extension like Yotpo Reviews to garner more reviews from customers and showcase those reviews on your storefront. Using this extension, you can easily incentivize customers to write reviews and engage with your customers in the form of community Q&A.

Install an extension

Besides boosting brand awareness and loyalty, all these social signals indirectly yet significantly add to your website’s SEO.

Now that you’re aware of all the basic on-page improvements you can do, as well as how to go about building your brand’s off-page authority, it’s time to kick things up a notch.

Advanced SEO refers to the more technical on-page optimization you can do on your site to further improve the odds of ranking on the top of SERPs. Let’s dive in.

Page Speed Optimization in Magento

Page speed is a metric that’s not just an official Google ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches but is also vital to user experience. So, having a slow loading store is simply unaffordable. It’ll not only kill your rankings on Google but will frustrate potential customers and result in a high bounce rate.

Run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your Magento store performs and what you can do to improve your store’s speed.

Now, there are various things you can do to optimize your Magento 2 store’s page load speed, which includes:

Magento Image Optimization

You must compress all images on your website so that file size is as small as possible while maintaining high quality. Because having bulky product images will result in a sluggish load speed which hurts rankings.

Ideally, the file size for images should be under 100 kb. Also, prefer JPG (not PNG or GIF) format for all product images as it provides the best quality for the smallest file size. Use a free extension like Compress JPEG & PNG Images to automatically compress the file size of images while maintaining good quality.

Compress JPEG & PNG Images

Besides, ensure all your images have a short, descriptive file name (black-shirt.jpg instead of something like 258492107.jpg) and descriptive alt tags that illustrate what each image is. Not only is this helpful for search engine crawlers to better understand your content, but also for visually-challenged visitors who use screen readers.

To add alt text, go to Product > Basic Settings > Images and Videos > Alt Text and then add your alt text in the field. Plus, make sure to include keywords in both the file name and alt text of all images.

Minify CSS and JS in Magento

It is possible that the comments and whitespaces in your source code i.e. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files are taking up too much space and slowing down your site. Minification compresses the code by removing extra characters like spaces and comments, combining common styles, using shorter variable and function names, and so on.

This makes the file size smaller and lighter, which means fewer bytes will be transmitted from your server to your customers’ web browsers which makes your site pages load faster.

Modify your store’s JavaScript and CSS settings by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > Developer.

 JavaScript and CSS settings

There, expand JavaScript Settings and change the value of Merge JavaScript Files, Enable JavaScript Bundling, and Minify JavaScript Files to ‘Yes’. Likewise, expand CSS Settings and change the values of Merge CSS Files and Minify CSS Files, and – if your theme supports this – the value of Use CSS critical path to ‘Yes’.

Use a free extension like Minify HTML CSS JS to easily minify your HTML code.

Using AMP in Magento

Today, over half of your store’s visitors (and conversions) are from mobile devices and this number is increasing with each passing day. So, it is crucial to reduce your store’s page load times on mobile devices.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), is an open-source framework developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, which renders better, faster experiences on mobile devices. It is a framework that allows you to build lightweight experiences for mobile by simplifying the HTML code and following streamlined CSS rules.

For some searches, Google shows AMP content in a special slot above organic results. So, enabling AMP can be your key for achieving top rankings on mobile search results.

Using the Accelerated Mobile Pages extension to automatically generate Google AMP Pages for home, category, and product pages easily and quickly amp up your website’s mobile speed to get that lightning bolt next to your search result listing on mobile.

Configure Caching in Magento

Caching is the process of storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage location so that they can be accessed more quickly.

To enable the built-in caching features in Magento 2, navigate to System > Cache Management, and then mark all checkboxes, select Enable from the drop-down box, and hit Submit.

Cache Management

To enable full page caching, navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > System. Under “Full Page Cache”, you’ll find the Caching Application field. By default, it’s set to Built-in Cache, and you must change that to Varnish Cache. In the Varnish Configuration, fill in the details according to your hosting provider.

Full Page Cache

Setting Up Redirects in Magento

First off, for your domain, you can either have “example.com” or “www.example.com”. Both are fine from the SEO perspective. Regardless of which one you choose, you must give a permanent redirect (301) from the non-preferable URL for the preferable URL.

Navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Enter your selected base URL in the fields for the Base URL and Base Link URL. Next, under Search Engine Optimization, set Use Web Server Rewrites value to ‘Yes’. Lastly, under URL Options, set Auto-redirect to Base URL to Yes (301 Moved Permanently) and click Save. This ensures that the link authority from incorrectly placed links is passed on fully to the correct URL.

Auto-redirect to Base URL

Now, having broken links (“404 not found” error) on your website hurts both SEO and user experience. So, when a page on your store becomes inactive – such as when you remove a product or category – you must redirect that page to another relevant page on your site, giving visitors (and crawlers) a new destination instead of a disappointing error.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply redirect deleted/inactive pages to the homepage or to an unrelated page. Only redirect to a page that’s relevant to the deleted page.

Magento 2 has an elegant built-in redirection tool you can use to set up 301 redirects which permanently transfer the SEO juice from the previous page. Go to Marketing and click on URL rewrites.

Click Add URL Rewrite. Here you can see Create URL Rewrite on the dropdown list, leave this on its default setting (Custom).

URL rewrites

Next, fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields. The Request Path is the original path and the Target Path is the new path that corresponds to the new web page. This will be the target URL for your redirect.

fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields

For the Redirect Type, choose 301 and hit Save.

Also, note that any time you change a URL after it has gone live, remember to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, or you’ll generate a 404 error on your site.

Robots.txt Optimization in Magento

Essentially, the Robots.txt file provides instructions to the search engine crawlers about which pages to crawl and how to index your site.

For e-commerce stores, it’s vital to leverage the robots.txt file to send search engine crawlers in the right direction and keep them from touching the wrong URLs so as to avoid duplicate content issues and optimize crawl budget.

Your Magento 2 store consists of some URLs that you don’t want crawlers to access, such as:

  • /customer/account/login/ – login pages.
  • Internal search result pages.
  • URLs containing SID and PHPSESSID parameters.
  • Filtering criteria such as price, color, and size.

So, you must make some modifications to your robots.txt file. Go to Content > Configuration (Under Design). Click Edit for the main website.

Design Configuration

Next, scroll down to Search Engine Robots where you can define your robots.txt content. Keep Default Robots as INDEX, FOLLOW, and enter your custom instructions in the text box provided after that.

Search Engine Robots

Disallowing the aforementioned URLs translates to robots.txt instructions that look something like:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /catalogsearch/
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /customer/account/login/
Disallow: /*?SID=
Disallow: /*?PHPSESSID=
Disallow: /*?price=
Disallow: /*&price=
Disallow: /*?color=
Disallow: /*&color=
Disallow: /*?size=
Disallow: /*&size=

To verify if your modifications took place, go to the homepage of the site in your browser and view the source.

Structured Data in Magento

If you want your store’s listing to be super prominent in the Google SERPs, you need to add structured data markup to your Magento 2 site.

That is, if you provide Google a bunch of data in a specific, structured format (hence the name “structured data”), you can have your product pages stand out in the SERPs:

structured data

Such a listing immediately captures the user’s attention and is way more compelling to click on as opposed to conventional results. What’s more, an increased click-through-rate (CTR) will hint Google that your site merits a higher ranking in the SERPs.

Simply put, structured data markup gives search engines more information about your store and its content. In the context of e-commerce, structured data (or schema markup) can provide Google with useful information about your products (such as pricing, availability, rating, number of reviews, and so on), which Google can then display in the SERPs in the form of rich snippets.

Now, there are various structured data formats you can use:

  • JSON-LD
  • RDFa
  • Microdata

However, using JSON-LD is recommended by Google as it’s the easiest to add and update, and it is compatible with dynamic data.

For e-commerce websites such as your Magento 2 store, product schema is the highest priority structured data as it helps pull in potential customers from the SERPs by presenting valuable information such as reviews, price, and availability.

product schema

The easiest and most effective way to implement rich snippets for the products on your website is to use an extension like Rich Snippets (free) or Rich Snippet Suite. You don’t need any coding knowledge – the set up of these extensions is extremely straightforward and you can get started with structured data implementation right away.

XML Sitemap in Magento

The XML sitemap is a file containing all the pages of your website, which makes it much easier for search engine crawlers to see the complete layout of your site and understand your content. Configuring and submitting your store’s XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console can help you get indexed faster.

Magento 2 comes with XML sitemap functionality. To configure the XML sitemap, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > XML Sitemap.

XML Configuration

By default, the options for categories, products, and CMS pages are configured correctly and images are included in the XML sitemap.

You can define how often the XML sitemap needs to be regenerated under Generation Settings. Your sitemap should be updated as frequently as the content on your site changes, which might be daily, weekly, or monthly. By default, the Enabled field is set to ‘No’. Change this to ‘Yes’, because you want your XML sitemap to be regenerated automatically.

generation settings

Keep the value of the Frequency field set to Daily to make sure the XML sitemap is regenerated every day. However, if the content on your store only changes once a week, you should choose to regenerate the XML sitemap once a week.

As an example, setting Start Time to 03:00:00 means that the XML sitemap is regenerated at 3 AM. You must change this value to the quietest time of day for your store, as regenerating the XML sitemap can temporarily make your Magento store slower.

Next, you can set the Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size. Keep the former set to default and set the latter as 52428800, which equals 50 MB.

Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size

Finally, under Search Engine Submission Settings you’ll find the field Enable Submission to Robots.txt, which has a default value of ‘No’. Change it to ‘Yes’, as you want your robots.txt file to reference your XML sitemap.

Once the configuration is done, it’s time to create the XML sitemap. Navigate to Marketing > Site Map (under SEO & Search) and click the orange Add Sitemap button on the top right.

sitemap

Add the filename as sitemap.xml and then choose the path which it needs to be placed (typically in the root folder). Click the Save & Generate button, and you’re all set.

new sitemap

The only thing remaining is to head over to Google Search Console and submit the sitemap URL.

Magento 2 Template Optimization for SEO

There are some really great templates, or themes, available on the Magento Marketplace. However, not all of them are optimized for SEO. There are things you may need to explicitly take care of. If you need a custom-designed Magento website, you can always look at our web design and development services.

Typically, optimizing your Magento 2 template or theme for SEO involves things that are already covered such as minifying CSS/JS, caching, and image compression. But there’s more you can do, such as:

  • Cleaning up the code:

In many themes, there are lots of unused code written which leads to unnecessarily big file sizes. All that additional JavaScript and CSS you might have in your template files, move that to an external JavaScript and CSS file, and keep your templates clean and light.

This ensures your visitors can cache those files on the first load, and search engines don’t have to download them unnecessarily. You may need to consult a developer to help clean up your template’s code.

  • Using a CDN:

A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It is a technique to deliver content on your website more quickly and efficiently to people based on their geographic location.

Essentially, a CDN is made up of a network of servers (“points of presence,” or POPs) in locations around the globe. The CDN server nearest to a user is known as the “edge server” – when people request content from a website served through a CDN, they’re connected to the closest edge server, ensuring the fastest possible response times.

Thus, your content, such as product images, are cached on a CDN so it’s delivered from the edge server to your visitors much faster than if it had to be delivered all the way from the origin.

If you’re on Magento Commerce (Cloud), Fastly CDN is included and its set up is well-documented. If not, you need to set up a CDN of your choice in Magento 2.

To do so, navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration. Click on the Web under the General tab.

Base URL

Expand Base URLs and do the following:

  • Update the Base URL for Static View Files with the URL of the location on the CDN where static view files are stored.
  • Update the Base URL for User Media Files with the URL of the JavaScript files on the CDN.

Do the same for the Base URLs (Secure) section, then click Save Config. Besides Fastly, recommended cloud CDNs include Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront.

  • Creating CSS Sprites:

CSS or Image sprites can considerably optimize your page load speed. An image sprite is a collection of images put into a single image and called via specific CSS classes so that page doesn’t send multiple server requests and consequently, doesn’t take a long time to load.

Using image sprites will help save bandwidth. In other words, CSS sprites reduce the total number of HTTP requests, can reduce the total size of the images, and ultimately decreases your page load time. Again, you may need to take the help of a developer to use CSS sprites.

Here are some of the best SEO extensions (free and paid) for your Magento 2 store that we recommend:

Apart from these, an important extension you must install is Google Shopping by Magmodules. Knowing that hundreds of millions of people use Google for their shopping needs, the Google Shopping tab is a great place for e-commerce brands to list their products.

In the past, the Google Shopping tab consisted only of paid listings, but starting late April 2020, free listings will appear alongside paid ads in relevant search results. In fact, the Magento platform is a Google e-commerce partner, and the aforementioned extension by Magmodules is a turnkey solution to seamlessly connect your Magento products with your Google Merchant account.

You don’t need any coding or API knowledge, just a simple initial set up and you’re good to go. So, make sure to leverage this extension to get your products listed on Google Shopping.

That being said, it’s crucial to only install extensions that you truly need. Obviously, you won’t purchase extensions that are irrelevant to your goals but keep in mind that just because an extension is free doesn’t mean you must install it.

Bloating your website with unnecessary modules and extensions will slow it down which, consequently, will negatively impact your SEO. Thus, ensure you pick out and install only the required extensions.

Now that you’re aware of the various on-page, off-page, and advanced SEO improvements you can do for your store, how about leveraging some tried-and-tested e-commerce SEO tips that work well for all platforms alike.

Specifically, let’s take a good look at some actionable best practices to boost the search engine visibility of your store’s home, category, product, and blog pages.

SEO Tips for Magento Homepage

The homepage is your storefront, not just for potential customers but for search engine crawlers. So, optimizing your homepage to make it welcoming for search bots is equally important as making it look appealing for customers. Here’s how:

  • Use only one H1 tag that includes the primary keyword of your business.
  • Write a subheading under the title and a meta description that describes your business with keyword-optimized copy.
  • Include all the broad and relevant keywords in your homepage’s copy.

SEO Tips for Magento Category Pages

Category pages group products together and are valuable for SEO because you can target various types of keywords on these pages than would be possible for individual product pages.

Besides optimizing titles and meta descriptions of your category pages, here’s what you can do to attain better rankings:

  • Create a unique copy for each page so there’s no duplicate content.
  • Target long-tail keyword phrases for each product in the category.
  • Write a detailed description of the category in order to boost that uniqueness score for each page. Avoid creating a tedious wall of text by using bullets and bolding keywords.

SEO Tips for Magento Product Pages

If you’re able to achieve first page rankings for your product pages, rest assured you’re going to witness a huge surge in sales. Here are some best practices to optimize your product pages:

  • Have a neat hierarchy with proper use of headings, subheadings, and bullets which will make it convenient for visitors and crawlers to scan through the page.
  • Write a crisp, amazing product copy with your brand’s unique tone.
  • Highlight your unique value proposition – what are the unique benefits and features of using your products or brand that visitors can’t find elsewhere?
  • No jargon – write easy-to-read copy with succinct sentences and paragraphs.
  • Optimize for the head, medium, and long-tail keywords but don’t stuff them for the purpose of ranking. Readability remains the priority.
  • Anticipate and address any potential doubts that may arise in the minds of prospective customers.
  • Include product and FAQ structured data.

SEO Tips for Magento Blog

Everyone knows the importance of having an active business blog in terms of boosting SEO and overall online presence.

Follow the tips below for a successful business blog that actually aids your rankings and results in more traffic:

  • Focus on making each blog post useful and comprehensive rather than churning out a large number of useless posts that nobody wants to read or share.
  • Be consistent with your posting schedule and aim for at least a couple of high-quality long-form posts each month.
  • In each article, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.
  • Your content should educate, inform, entertain, and delight the readers which, in turn, makes for great user experience – something that’s crucial for Google.
  • Ensure your posts are factually and grammatically correct.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that guides the reader to take some desired action, such as to check out your
  • product catalog or subscribe to your email newsletter.

With so many customization options and built-in features, Magento 2 is undoubtedly one of the best e-commerce platforms for SEO. Nevertheless, there are some SEO issues that may need fixing from your end, such as:

Duplication Caused by Filters for Configurable Products

Magento allows you to create configurable products wherein you can provide multiple options like size, colors, and other customization options to users and on each option, you can set different prices. Each option selected is actually a separate simple product with a unique SKU, which makes it easy to track inventory for each product variation.

Now, the problem of duplication arises due to these customization options and faceted navigation. In fact, the duplicate content issue is a high priority issue that frequently plagues e-commerce websites.

Duplicate content occurs when either the same or similar content exists on two separate URLs of the same website. This creates a problem for search crawlers as they may not be able to determine which of the two pages should be considered as the “preferred” or canonical version. To help Google determine the primary version of the page which you’d like to be indexed, use the rel=”canonical” tag.

Simply put, a canonical URL is the most authoritative URL of the page you want search engines to see and is considered as the most representative page from a set of duplicate pages on your site.

In Magento 2, you can turn on the use of canonical tags and avoid such duplication due to faceted navigation by simply doing this:

Go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products > Select ‘Yes’. Do the same for Categories and then click Save Configuration.

Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products

This will result in both product and product-category pages having canonical URLs, which helps to prevent duplicate content in your store.

You can also use an extension like Improved Layered Navigation which allows easy set up of canonical URLs.

Pagination Attributes

By default, Magento does not use the prev/next pagination attributes link on paginated pages to explain the relationship among these pages. While Google states that it no longer needs this attribute to make sense of a series of paginated pages, ranking on other search engines may be affected.

So, use the SEO Toolkit to:

  • Add page number to meta title
  • Add page number to the meta description

Furthermore, follow these best practices when it comes to pagination:

  • Apply self-referencing canonicals to paginated pages.
  • Do not apply noindex robots directives to paginated pages.
  • Do not disallow paginated pages in your robots.txt file.

/catalog/ URLs Can Get Indexed

Magento often generates category and product URLs that change back to the original /catalog path as well as duplicate URLs based on page titles. It's crucial to look out for these URL rewrites and block them in the robots.txt file so they don’t get indexed.

URLs With a Number in Them

We’ve already discussed the creation of an SEO-friendly URL structure in Magento 2, however, due to the ability to filter products and the internal site search, URLs may be appended with numerical values and this isn’t great for SEO.

In Magento 2, URLs with query parameters are indexable by default. For instance, if you’re on a category page and you’re filtering on prices between $50 and $100, you’d be sent to a URL such as https://example.com/category/?price=50-100. You don’t want that URL to be indexed, because it’s just showing a subset of the category products.

Similarly, if visitors also want to see the products in a category sorted from cheapest to priciest, they’ll be sent to a URL such as:

https://example.com/category/?price=50-100&product_list_order=price&product_list_dir=asc

This page just shows the same products in a different order and adds no value from an SEO perspective, so you don’t want these pages to be indexed either.

Plus, you can insert query string parameters into your URLs to track information about a click, such as session IDs, languages, and other data. But query string parameters can lead to multiple variations of the same URL all directing to the same content which, again, is not good for SEO.

To solve this URL parameter problem, you need to use an extension like Suite Ultimate.

Site Search Results Getting Indexed

By default, internal search result pages in Magento 2 are robot-indexable which is bad for SEO, as this can lead to an enormous number of low-quality pages being crawled and indexed which can create indexation bloat and impact crawlability.

An effective way to fix this is by adding noindex, follow meta robots tags to all internal search result pages.

Knowing that the official support for Magento 1.x versions will end after 2020, if your store is running on any earlier versions, it’s about time you upgrade to Magento 2.x. As such, Magento 2 is better than previous versions in terms of better site speed, more user-friendly admin interface, a streamlined 2-step checkout process, and greater mobile-friendliness.

Thus, to stay competitive and ensure top-level security for your website, you must migrate as soon as possible.

Now, before you start the actual migration process, consider doing the following:

  • Make a full backup of the Magento 1 store including all files, folders, and the database.
  • Remove outdated and useless data from the database. This includes logs, recently viewed products, compared products, and so on.
  • Create a clone of your Magento 1 store. Do not use the live store for the migration process. Migrate the data from the cloned database of the Magento 1 store.
  • Analyze your store. Review what needs to be kept or removed from the new Magento 2 website.
  • Check whether your current theme(s), extensions and custom code are compatible with Magento 2.

While the migration process is well-documented, maintaining your store’s rankings on Google when upgrading can be a challenge.

You will most likely notice a temporary drop in rankings, even if everything goes well without a hitch. That’s because every time Google sees a big change, it will take a step back to reindex and reanalyze everything. So, whether it’s a migration or a domain change, you’re going to see a temporary drop in rankings.

That being said, you can greatly reduce the time that your rankings take a hit by taking the following steps:

  • Submit a new sitemap via Google Search Console as soon as you launch the new version of your store.
  • Analyze changes in the website’s robots.txt file and XML sitemap generation to ensure that unnecessary pages don’t get indexed and impede crawl efficiency. Also, ensure that you aren’t blocking any JavaScript or media files.
  • Make sure that your XML sitemap is updated and has all the structure of your new website.
  • Identify and fix all 404 errors on your site. Navigate to Index > Coverage section in Google Search Console and make sure to fix them before the migration process.
  • Ensure that you have properly set canonical tags for all the static pages of your website. Canonical tags enable the passing of link juice to the right pages in case of duplicate pages.
  • Don’t modify meta tags as they could leave an impact on your SERP performance.
SERP performance

Consider using an extension like Migrate From M1 to ensure a seamless and secure migration process. The extension is easy-to-use and performs the data migration while rendering 100% uptime for your store, along with 24/7 support.

Phew! There’s so much you can do to boost your store’s search engine rankings. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with all the aforementioned SEO tips and tasks that need to be done, then here’s a crispy SEO checklist you can tick off as you make progress:

On-page SEO:

  • Use only one H1 tag on each page
  • Compose compelling page titles (around 60 characters) and meta descriptions (under 155 characters)
  • Create SEO-Friendly URL structure
  • Set an alt text and descriptive file names for all images
  • Publish useful long-form content such as how-to guides, listicles, and blog posts
  • Optimize all content and product copy for the right keywords
  • Setup HTTPS in Magento

Off-page SEO:

  • Build backlinks to your store via guest posting, blogger outreach, link reclamation, etc.
  • Earn brand mentions from authority publications and social proof in terms of customer reviews along with better social media presence

Advanced SEO:

  • Make sure your site is indexed correctly
  • Create and submit the XML sitemap to Google
  • Eliminate duplicate content using canonical tags
  • Optimize the robots.txt file
  • Incorporate structured data for rich snippets
  • Implement 301 redirects when needed
  • Ensure fast page load speed by optimizing images, minifying CSS and JS, using AMP, and caching
  • Optimize themes

This list sums up all that has been covered in the guide. While not every point may be useful for your business, it doesn’t hurt to be more knowledgeable

And voilà! That covers pretty much everything you need to get started on the right track towards ranking your Magento store on the first page of Google.

Start with the basic on-page optimization techniques, be consistent with off-page optimization (building backlinks, earning media mentions, and social proof), and then step up your SEO game using structured data, AMP, caching, and other advanced techniques.

As you can see, with Magento, things are going to get a bit technical, and sure, it’ll take a handful of months to see the fruits of your labor, but all that effort is going to be super worth it in terms of higher rankings, authority, visitors, leads, and ultimately, sales!

If you need help with optimizing your Magento store you can call our SEO agency on 1300787753 or drop us a message.

Ultimate Magento SEO Guide 2020

Right out-of-the-box, Magento 2 is by far one of the most search engine friendly e-commerce platforms available today. At our SEO agency, we love using Magento for large eCommerce projects.

As already mentioned, this is thanks to its sheer levels of flexibility and unparalleled customization options, along with a robust set of built-in SEO features such as product meta tags, SEO-friendly URLs, prefixes and suffixes for title tags, rich snippet extensions, the ability to edit robots.txt file, and much more.

But while Magento is a powerful platform for SEO, if you wish to make the most of it and dramatically boost your organic traffic, you must configure it properly and follow some best practices.

In other words, with a combination of on-page, off-page, and some advanced SEO techniques, along with picking the right theme and extensions, you can conquer top rankings for your e-commerce store.

While both modules and extensions extend the features and functionality of Magento 2, there’s a slight difference between them.

When you develop a custom extension for the Magento store, then that extension is called Module, which is a piece of code that extends Magento’s functionality. That is, an extension is a packaged module (System > Magento Connect > Package Extensions) that can be submitted to the Magento Marketplace.

As such, you can use these terms interchangeably and a Magento extension is akin to a WordPress plugin, which you’re likely familiar with.

Here are some examples of the best Magento 2 extensions for SEO:

  • SEO Suite Ultimate by MageWorx and SEO Toolkit by Amasty are two great for advanced on-page optimization (discussed later).
  • Landing Pages by MageWorx for creating high-converting, search-friendly landing pages for promotions, holiday offers, new product launches, etc.
  • Layered Navigation by Aheadworks to equip your store with neat and intuitive site navigation, enabling your customers to combine several options and search items by various product attributes like color, price, star rating, and more. It includes a number of SEO features like short and appealing URLs, and customized meta tags.

We’ll list out more such useful Magento 2 extensions later in the guide. With these extensions added in your SEO arsenal, following the optimization tips and steps in this guide would be much easier.

Like any other website, ranking your Magento store on Google takes a considerable effort, consistency, and patience. As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot that goes into optimizing your website for search.

But in essence, ranking your store is about:

  • On-page optimization: This includes improving your site’s relevance by correctly incorporating keywords in various elements of your site, along with creating useful content to satisfy your visitors.
  • Off-page optimization: To build your store’s authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of Google and customers, off-page tactics like building backlinks and earning user-generated content is key.
  • Technical optimization: This involves some advanced optimization techniques such as using structured data, optimizing images, and minifying the code.

Now, before we dive into the various improvements, tips, and techniques, let’s draw inspiration from some of the...

As mentioned in the beginning, SEO is a vast subject and there’s a lot you can do to improve your site’s rankings in the search engine’s result pages (SERPs). Before you proceed with all the advanced optimization techniques, make sure you get the basic on-page and off-page SEO right.

Magento 2 On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your website’s internal pages to achieve better search engine rankings. It consists of several factors such as the quality of your code, text and visual content, the hierarchy and navigation of your site, the overall user experience of your store, and more.

All these things are totally under your control. Here’s how to go about it:

Optimize Title Tags and Headings in Magento

The quality of your page title and meta description have a direct impact on both your rankings and your click-through-rate (CTR). So, it is important to write page titles that satisfy search engine crawlers and human visitors.

buy-almond

Now, Google only displays the first 50–60 characters of most page titles, so keep your titles under 60 characters so they aren’t truncated in the SERPs. Furthermore, always try to include your main keywords near the beginning of the title, in case the title does get truncated. Search engines prefer early keywords, too.

First off, edit the default title and description of the homepage of your store. Go to Content > Design > Configuration and look for Default Store View, click the Edit link after it to adjust the Default Store View homepage’s meta information.

default title and description

Here, fill in your brand’s title and description. You can put your brand’s name into the Title Suffix, so it will be appended to each title tag and thus, help with consistent branding.

To edit titles for product pages, go to Admin > Products > Catalog, click on Edit Product and go down to Search Engine Optimization. Here, you can fill in the Meta Title and Meta Description (discussed in the next section).

Search Engine Optimization

Follow the same process for Categories and Content pages. Create persuasive page titles that people can’t help but click. A good title is easy to read, includes keywords, and prompts action from the user.

Also, make sure that you have one and only one H1 tag on each page. Use subheadings H2, H3, and so on in a proper hierarchy and try to include your primary keywords in all the subheadings as well.

Optimize Meta Descriptions in Magento

The meta description refers to the short text displayed below the title and the URL in the SERPs. As with the title tag, not only does your meta description need to please the Google crawlers with the help of keywords, but the description also needs to be compelling for real people so they click through to your store.

When writing meta descriptions, think about your value propositions. Do you provide free/fast shipping, or is there an offer/sale? For instance, to encourage more click-throughs to its online store, Our Client uses the meta description to convey that they provide free shipping and cash on delivery is available.

meta descriptions

You can edit the meta description of your store’s home, product, category, and content pages as just described in the previous section.

As writing meta descriptions for each and every page from scratch will be very time consuming, it is a good idea to use an extension like SEO Meta Templates to create templates which you can reuse and quickly edit for all pages. For example, here’s a meta description template for category pages:

“Looking for $categoryName? Check out our huge collection of $amountOfProducts T-shirts at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Looking for Track Pants? Check out our huge collection of 10,000 Track Pants at Jack’s Tracks” .

meta description template

And here’s one for product pages:

“Buy a $productName starting from $productPrize. Shipping time: $shippingTime. Only at $shopName!”, which can be edited to: “Buy a Black Track Pant for as little as $10.99. Shipping time: 48 hours. Only at Jack’s Tracks!”.

Again, keep your meta descriptions short – under 155 characters, otherwise they risk being truncated in the SERPs. Try and include all relevant keywords in the description.

Create SEO-Friendly URL Structure in Magento

A good, user-friendly URL is an important factor used to rank a website by the search engines. In fact, according to Google, “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans”.

As opposed to a URL like www.example/women/product35574.com, the URL www.example/women/product.com is much more readable for both search engines and potential customers. Essentially, your URLs must be succinct, consistent, and lowercase.

So, you must rewrite URLs to make them SEO- and user-friendly.

Go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web. There you can define the settings for the URL structure. In particular, pay attention to the sections URL Options and Search Engine Optimization.

If you’d like to remove the .html extension, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization. At the top of the page, select the right Store View you want to adjust the settings for. Next, you’ll find the fields Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix.

Product URL Suffix and Category URL Suffix

Both fields have .html value. Removing that value from both fields will lead to URLs that look like:

  • http://example.com/category for category page
  • http://example.com/product for product pages

Moreover, it's a good idea to use the top-level product URL without including category and subcategory hierarchy in the URL itself. By default, your URL may look like this:

http://www.example.com/category/subcategory/product-url.html

This can create duplication issues in Magento, as multiple variations of the same products are on separate URLs. To dodge this, use the top-level product URLs option which results in a single version of the URL format which will be used in different categories for the same products.

As a case in point, let’s say you have a black shirt in men’s clothing. It goes in two categories:

  • Category 1: http://www.example.com/mens/shirts/
  • Category 2: http://www.example.com/mens/new-arrivals/

The top-level product URL is:

http://www.example.com/mens

To get this product URL, go to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Categories Path for Product URLs and set it to ‘Yes’.

Lastly, don’t forget to include keywords in all your pages’ URLs, while keeping URLs short and sweet by avoiding filler words (such as “the” and “for”).

Optimize Content and Product Copy in Magento

Apart from titles, meta descriptions, and URLs, it’s important to optimize all your website content – blog posts, product descriptions, the “about” page, and so on – for primary and secondary (or “semantic” i.e related) keywords.

While on the subject of content, publishing keyword-optimized long-form content such as how-to guides and listicles on a consistent basis will go a long way in hitting top rankings on Google.

By consistently putting out such useful content, you can target various keywords that have different user intent. That is, some of your pages (such as blog pages) can target searches for information (e.g. “what is jumpsuit”), while other pages (such as product pages) can target lower search volume keywords that hint a purchase intent (e.g. “buy women’s jumpsuits”).

Moreover, proper internal Linking throughout your site is important as well. In every piece of content, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.

Setting up HTTPS in Magento

Displaying an SSL certificate on your store’s URL is absolutely essential for success. This is especially true for online businesses as potential customers will have to enter their sensitive credit card information to complete the purchase. HTTPS ensures a secure environment for customers and builds trust.

So, if you haven’t already, you must enable HTTPS in your Magento 2 store.

Configuration

Set up HTTPS by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Then, expand Base URLs (Secure) and change the values of Secure Base URL and Secure Base Link URL so that they start with https. Finally, change the value of the Use Secure URLs on Storefront, Use Secure URLs in Admin, Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) and Upgrade Insecure Requests fields to ‘Yes’.

Magento 2 Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is all about the things you can do outside of your own website to raise your rankings in Google. In essence, these activities will make your store more credible and authoritative in the eyes of Google.

Let’s take a detailed look at the two pillars of off-page SEO that you must focus on:

Create a Backlink Strategy

Backlinks are the external links on other websites that point to your website. Google considers the amount, quality, and relevancy of these links in its ranking algorithm. Truth be told, the number and quality of backlinks is one of the most influential factors that decide where your store will be ranking in the SERPs.

Google views links as signs of trustworthiness and authority, and without a proper backlink strategy, your site won’t make it to the first page of SERPs.

So, to build high-quality backlinks to your store, here’s what you need to do on a consistent basis:

  • Guest Posting:

A well-established, time-tested way to earn quality backlinks and improve your online brand visibility is guest posting.

Guest posting is about creating and contributing quality content, such as blog posts and infographics, to authority websites and publications. Besides boosting rankings on Google, guest posting also helps in capturing new audiences, gaining their trust, and building your brand’s thought leadership.

  • Blogger Outreach:

As you know, every niche (food, tech, fitness, travel, etc.) has countless blogs and some of those blogs have massive followings. The content posted by these top bloggers is trusted by a huge community of like-minded people.

Blogger outreach is a technique in which you partner up with bloggers to create authentic, useful content that promotes your products or brand. In this way, you leverage their influence to gain more brand exposure.

It involves hunting down and identifying authority bloggers in your industry. Next, you pitch them in a personalized way and let them know what’s in it for them (such as free access to your products, or a sponsored fee, etc.) and what you want them to do for your brand. Finally, once the content is published, you and the blogger both promote it on your own respective channels which leads to next-level brand exposure to new audiences for your business (and the blogger).

The content the blogger produces for your brand can be a sponsored post, a product review or feature, or even a giveaway contest. You may assist the blogger in creating content that results in a win-win for both parties while being true to the audience.

  • Promoting Linkable Assets:

Another excellent way to build backlinks to your website is to create and publish highly-shareable content known as linkable assets. These can be in-depth how-to guides, entertaining listicles, or interactive infographics, that you publish on your own website and then pitch them to high authority blogs and media publications in your industry.

Not everyone would be keen on republishing and/or promoting your content on their own web property, but if your content’s truly high-quality, you won’t have trouble finding some (or even many) that’ll be happy to do it.

  • Link Reclamation and Broken Link Building:

Link building isn’t just about putting out fresh content. Your brand may already be mentioned on several websites without being linked to. Use tools like these to find such unlinked mentions and then contact those publishers and ask them to link to your site along with the mention. This technique is called link reclamation.

Also, you can do some digging on the web for broken links on relevant niche websites. If you find a broken link for products/content similar to those you offer, reach out to the owner of the site, let them know about the broken link, and request them to replace the broken link for a valid link to your site instead.

As broken links negatively impact a site’s SEO, this is a mutually beneficial activity for both parties – they get to fix a broken link and you get a free backlink.

Typically, when it comes to backlinks, the more the merrier. However, keep in mind that the quality of links pointing back to your website is equally crucial, if not more. So, a handful of natural backlinks from high authority websites far outweigh hundreds of links from low authority or spammy sites.

Garner Brand Mentions and Social Proof

Sure, backlinks generate SEO juice for your website, but even unlinked brand mentions on high authority publications (such as Entrepreneur Magazine) carry substantial weight.

To learn which publications you should target, you can analyze your competitors’ referring domains and media mentions using a tool like SEMrush Brand Monitoring, and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly so as to earn press mentions for your own brand.

Brand Monitoring

Additionally, having a strong, authoritative presence on various social media platforms is also essential. While it doesn’t directly boost your search rankings, a solid social media presence means your branded social profiles will also rank high on Google, and these profiles ultimately bring more visitors to your store.

Social media helps make your business more “human”. It allows you to have casual conversations with your followers, provide customer support, and boost brand engagement – things that are pivotal to building online credibility for your store and its long-run success.

Leverage user-generated content (UGC) on social media by asking open-ended questions, hosting hashtag contests, encouraging honest product reviews, and so on. All this constitutes for a strong social proof, motivating potential customers who are on the fence to take the plunge with your brand.

Install an extension like Yotpo Reviews to garner more reviews from customers and showcase those reviews on your storefront. Using this extension, you can easily incentivize customers to write reviews and engage with your customers in the form of community Q&A.

Install an extension

Besides boosting brand awareness and loyalty, all these social signals indirectly yet significantly add to your website’s SEO.

Now that you’re aware of all the basic on-page improvements you can do, as well as how to go about building your brand’s off-page authority, it’s time to kick things up a notch.

Advanced SEO refers to the more technical on-page optimization you can do on your site to further improve the odds of ranking on the top of SERPs. Let’s dive in.

Page Speed Optimization in Magento

Page speed is a metric that’s not just an official Google ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches but is also vital to user experience. So, having a slow loading store is simply unaffordable. It’ll not only kill your rankings on Google but will frustrate potential customers and result in a high bounce rate.

Run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your Magento store performs and what you can do to improve your store’s speed.

Now, there are various things you can do to optimize your Magento 2 store’s page load speed, which includes:

Magento Image Optimization

You must compress all images on your website so that file size is as small as possible while maintaining high quality. Because having bulky product images will result in a sluggish load speed which hurts rankings.

Ideally, the file size for images should be under 100 kb. Also, prefer JPG (not PNG or GIF) format for all product images as it provides the best quality for the smallest file size. Use a free extension like Compress JPEG & PNG Images to automatically compress the file size of images while maintaining good quality.

Compress JPEG & PNG Images

Besides, ensure all your images have a short, descriptive file name (black-shirt.jpg instead of something like 258492107.jpg) and descriptive alt tags that illustrate what each image is. Not only is this helpful for search engine crawlers to better understand your content, but also for visually-challenged visitors who use screen readers.

To add alt text, go to Product > Basic Settings > Images and Videos > Alt Text and then add your alt text in the field. Plus, make sure to include keywords in both the file name and alt text of all images.

Minify CSS and JS in Magento

It is possible that the comments and whitespaces in your source code i.e. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files are taking up too much space and slowing down your site. Minification compresses the code by removing extra characters like spaces and comments, combining common styles, using shorter variable and function names, and so on.

This makes the file size smaller and lighter, which means fewer bytes will be transmitted from your server to your customers’ web browsers which makes your site pages load faster.

Modify your store’s JavaScript and CSS settings by going to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > Developer.

 JavaScript and CSS settings

There, expand JavaScript Settings and change the value of Merge JavaScript Files, Enable JavaScript Bundling, and Minify JavaScript Files to ‘Yes’. Likewise, expand CSS Settings and change the values of Merge CSS Files and Minify CSS Files, and – if your theme supports this – the value of Use CSS critical path to ‘Yes’.

Use a free extension like Minify HTML CSS JS to easily minify your HTML code.

Using AMP in Magento

Today, over half of your store’s visitors (and conversions) are from mobile devices and this number is increasing with each passing day. So, it is crucial to reduce your store’s page load times on mobile devices.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), is an open-source framework developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, which renders better, faster experiences on mobile devices. It is a framework that allows you to build lightweight experiences for mobile by simplifying the HTML code and following streamlined CSS rules.

For some searches, Google shows AMP content in a special slot above organic results. So, enabling AMP can be your key for achieving top rankings on mobile search results.

Using the Accelerated Mobile Pages extension to automatically generate Google AMP Pages for home, category, and product pages easily and quickly amp up your website’s mobile speed to get that lightning bolt next to your search result listing on mobile.

Configure Caching in Magento

Caching is the process of storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage location so that they can be accessed more quickly.

To enable the built-in caching features in Magento 2, navigate to System > Cache Management, and then mark all checkboxes, select Enable from the drop-down box, and hit Submit.

Cache Management

To enable full page caching, navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Advanced > System. Under “Full Page Cache”, you’ll find the Caching Application field. By default, it’s set to Built-in Cache, and you must change that to Varnish Cache. In the Varnish Configuration, fill in the details according to your hosting provider.

Full Page Cache

Setting Up Redirects in Magento

First off, for your domain, you can either have “example.com” or “www.example.com”. Both are fine from the SEO perspective. Regardless of which one you choose, you must give a permanent redirect (301) from the non-preferable URL for the preferable URL.

Navigate to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > General > Web.

Enter your selected base URL in the fields for the Base URL and Base Link URL. Next, under Search Engine Optimization, set Use Web Server Rewrites value to ‘Yes’. Lastly, under URL Options, set Auto-redirect to Base URL to Yes (301 Moved Permanently) and click Save. This ensures that the link authority from incorrectly placed links is passed on fully to the correct URL.

Auto-redirect to Base URL

Now, having broken links (“404 not found” error) on your website hurts both SEO and user experience. So, when a page on your store becomes inactive – such as when you remove a product or category – you must redirect that page to another relevant page on your site, giving visitors (and crawlers) a new destination instead of a disappointing error.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply redirect deleted/inactive pages to the homepage or to an unrelated page. Only redirect to a page that’s relevant to the deleted page.

Magento 2 has an elegant built-in redirection tool you can use to set up 301 redirects which permanently transfer the SEO juice from the previous page. Go to Marketing and click on URL rewrites.

Click Add URL Rewrite. Here you can see Create URL Rewrite on the dropdown list, leave this on its default setting (Custom).

URL rewrites

Next, fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields. The Request Path is the original path and the Target Path is the new path that corresponds to the new web page. This will be the target URL for your redirect.

fill in the Store, Request Path, and Target Path fields

For the Redirect Type, choose 301 and hit Save.

Also, note that any time you change a URL after it has gone live, remember to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, or you’ll generate a 404 error on your site.

Robots.txt Optimization in Magento

Essentially, the Robots.txt file provides instructions to the search engine crawlers about which pages to crawl and how to index your site.

For e-commerce stores, it’s vital to leverage the robots.txt file to send search engine crawlers in the right direction and keep them from touching the wrong URLs so as to avoid duplicate content issues and optimize crawl budget.

Your Magento 2 store consists of some URLs that you don’t want crawlers to access, such as:

  • /customer/account/login/ – login pages.
  • Internal search result pages.
  • URLs containing SID and PHPSESSID parameters.
  • Filtering criteria such as price, color, and size.

So, you must make some modifications to your robots.txt file. Go to Content > Configuration (Under Design). Click Edit for the main website.

Design Configuration

Next, scroll down to Search Engine Robots where you can define your robots.txt content. Keep Default Robots as INDEX, FOLLOW, and enter your custom instructions in the text box provided after that.

Search Engine Robots

Disallowing the aforementioned URLs translates to robots.txt instructions that look something like:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /catalogsearch/
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /customer/account/login/
Disallow: /*?SID=
Disallow: /*?PHPSESSID=
Disallow: /*?price=
Disallow: /*&price=
Disallow: /*?color=
Disallow: /*&color=
Disallow: /*?size=
Disallow: /*&size=

To verify if your modifications took place, go to the homepage of the site in your browser and view the source.

Structured Data in Magento

If you want your store’s listing to be super prominent in the Google SERPs, you need to add structured data markup to your Magento 2 site.

That is, if you provide Google a bunch of data in a specific, structured format (hence the name “structured data”), you can have your product pages stand out in the SERPs:

structured data

Such a listing immediately captures the user’s attention and is way more compelling to click on as opposed to conventional results. What’s more, an increased click-through-rate (CTR) will hint Google that your site merits a higher ranking in the SERPs.

Simply put, structured data markup gives search engines more information about your store and its content. In the context of e-commerce, structured data (or schema markup) can provide Google with useful information about your products (such as pricing, availability, rating, number of reviews, and so on), which Google can then display in the SERPs in the form of rich snippets.

Now, there are various structured data formats you can use:

  • JSON-LD
  • RDFa
  • Microdata

However, using JSON-LD is recommended by Google as it’s the easiest to add and update, and it is compatible with dynamic data.

For e-commerce websites such as your Magento 2 store, product schema is the highest priority structured data as it helps pull in potential customers from the SERPs by presenting valuable information such as reviews, price, and availability.

product schema

The easiest and most effective way to implement rich snippets for the products on your website is to use an extension like Rich Snippets (free) or Rich Snippet Suite. You don’t need any coding knowledge – the set up of these extensions is extremely straightforward and you can get started with structured data implementation right away.

XML Sitemap in Magento

The XML sitemap is a file containing all the pages of your website, which makes it much easier for search engine crawlers to see the complete layout of your site and understand your content. Configuring and submitting your store’s XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console can help you get indexed faster.

Magento 2 comes with XML sitemap functionality. To configure the XML sitemap, head over to Stores > Configuration (under Settings) > Catalog > XML Sitemap.

XML Configuration

By default, the options for categories, products, and CMS pages are configured correctly and images are included in the XML sitemap.

You can define how often the XML sitemap needs to be regenerated under Generation Settings. Your sitemap should be updated as frequently as the content on your site changes, which might be daily, weekly, or monthly. By default, the Enabled field is set to ‘No’. Change this to ‘Yes’, because you want your XML sitemap to be regenerated automatically.

generation settings

Keep the value of the Frequency field set to Daily to make sure the XML sitemap is regenerated every day. However, if the content on your store only changes once a week, you should choose to regenerate the XML sitemap once a week.

As an example, setting Start Time to 03:00:00 means that the XML sitemap is regenerated at 3 AM. You must change this value to the quietest time of day for your store, as regenerating the XML sitemap can temporarily make your Magento store slower.

Next, you can set the Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size. Keep the former set to default and set the latter as 52428800, which equals 50 MB.

Maximum No of URLs Per File and Maximum File Size

Finally, under Search Engine Submission Settings you’ll find the field Enable Submission to Robots.txt, which has a default value of ‘No’. Change it to ‘Yes’, as you want your robots.txt file to reference your XML sitemap.

Once the configuration is done, it’s time to create the XML sitemap. Navigate to Marketing > Site Map (under SEO & Search) and click the orange Add Sitemap button on the top right.

sitemap

Add the filename as sitemap.xml and then choose the path which it needs to be placed (typically in the root folder). Click the Save & Generate button, and you’re all set.

new sitemap

The only thing remaining is to head over to Google Search Console and submit the sitemap URL.

Magento 2 Template Optimization for SEO

There are some really great templates, or themes, available on the Magento Marketplace. However, not all of them are optimized for SEO. There are things you may need to explicitly take care of. If you need a custom-designed Magento website, you can always look at our web design and development services.

Typically, optimizing your Magento 2 template or theme for SEO involves things that are already covered such as minifying CSS/JS, caching, and image compression. But there’s more you can do, such as:

  • Cleaning up the code:

In many themes, there are lots of unused code written which leads to unnecessarily big file sizes. All that additional JavaScript and CSS you might have in your template files, move that to an external JavaScript and CSS file, and keep your templates clean and light.

This ensures your visitors can cache those files on the first load, and search engines don’t have to download them unnecessarily. You may need to consult a developer to help clean up your template’s code.

  • Using a CDN:

A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It is a technique to deliver content on your website more quickly and efficiently to people based on their geographic location.

Essentially, a CDN is made up of a network of servers (“points of presence,” or POPs) in locations around the globe. The CDN server nearest to a user is known as the “edge server” – when people request content from a website served through a CDN, they’re connected to the closest edge server, ensuring the fastest possible response times.

Thus, your content, such as product images, are cached on a CDN so it’s delivered from the edge server to your visitors much faster than if it had to be delivered all the way from the origin.

If you’re on Magento Commerce (Cloud), Fastly CDN is included and its set up is well-documented. If not, you need to set up a CDN of your choice in Magento 2.

To do so, navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration. Click on the Web under the General tab.

Base URL

Expand Base URLs and do the following:

  • Update the Base URL for Static View Files with the URL of the location on the CDN where static view files are stored.
  • Update the Base URL for User Media Files with the URL of the JavaScript files on the CDN.

Do the same for the Base URLs (Secure) section, then click Save Config. Besides Fastly, recommended cloud CDNs include Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront.

  • Creating CSS Sprites:

CSS or Image sprites can considerably optimize your page load speed. An image sprite is a collection of images put into a single image and called via specific CSS classes so that page doesn’t send multiple server requests and consequently, doesn’t take a long time to load.

Using image sprites will help save bandwidth. In other words, CSS sprites reduce the total number of HTTP requests, can reduce the total size of the images, and ultimately decreases your page load time. Again, you may need to take the help of a developer to use CSS sprites.

Here are some of the best SEO extensions (free and paid) for your Magento 2 store that we recommend:

Apart from these, an important extension you must install is Google Shopping by Magmodules. Knowing that hundreds of millions of people use Google for their shopping needs, the Google Shopping tab is a great place for e-commerce brands to list their products.

In the past, the Google Shopping tab consisted only of paid listings, but starting late April 2020, free listings will appear alongside paid ads in relevant search results. In fact, the Magento platform is a Google e-commerce partner, and the aforementioned extension by Magmodules is a turnkey solution to seamlessly connect your Magento products with your Google Merchant account.

You don’t need any coding or API knowledge, just a simple initial set up and you’re good to go. So, make sure to leverage this extension to get your products listed on Google Shopping.

That being said, it’s crucial to only install extensions that you truly need. Obviously, you won’t purchase extensions that are irrelevant to your goals but keep in mind that just because an extension is free doesn’t mean you must install it.

Bloating your website with unnecessary modules and extensions will slow it down which, consequently, will negatively impact your SEO. Thus, ensure you pick out and install only the required extensions.

Now that you’re aware of the various on-page, off-page, and advanced SEO improvements you can do for your store, how about leveraging some tried-and-tested e-commerce SEO tips that work well for all platforms alike.

Specifically, let’s take a good look at some actionable best practices to boost the search engine visibility of your store’s home, category, product, and blog pages.

SEO Tips for Magento Homepage

The homepage is your storefront, not just for potential customers but for search engine crawlers. So, optimizing your homepage to make it welcoming for search bots is equally important as making it look appealing for customers. Here’s how:

  • Use only one H1 tag that includes the primary keyword of your business.
  • Write a subheading under the title and a meta description that describes your business with keyword-optimized copy.
  • Include all the broad and relevant keywords in your homepage’s copy.

SEO Tips for Magento Category Pages

Category pages group products together and are valuable for SEO because you can target various types of keywords on these pages than would be possible for individual product pages.

Besides optimizing titles and meta descriptions of your category pages, here’s what you can do to attain better rankings:

  • Create a unique copy for each page so there’s no duplicate content.
  • Target long-tail keyword phrases for each product in the category.
  • Write a detailed description of the category in order to boost that uniqueness score for each page. Avoid creating a tedious wall of text by using bullets and bolding keywords.

SEO Tips for Magento Product Pages

If you’re able to achieve first page rankings for your product pages, rest assured you’re going to witness a huge surge in sales. Here are some best practices to optimize your product pages:

  • Have a neat hierarchy with proper use of headings, subheadings, and bullets which will make it convenient for visitors and crawlers to scan through the page.
  • Write a crisp, amazing product copy with your brand’s unique tone.
  • Highlight your unique value proposition – what are the unique benefits and features of using your products or brand that visitors can’t find elsewhere?
  • No jargon – write easy-to-read copy with succinct sentences and paragraphs.
  • Optimize for the head, medium, and long-tail keywords but don’t stuff them for the purpose of ranking. Readability remains the priority.
  • Anticipate and address any potential doubts that may arise in the minds of prospective customers.
  • Include product and FAQ structured data.

SEO Tips for Magento Blog

Everyone knows the importance of having an active business blog in terms of boosting SEO and overall online presence.

Follow the tips below for a successful business blog that actually aids your rankings and results in more traffic:

  • Focus on making each blog post useful and comprehensive rather than churning out a large number of useless posts that nobody wants to read or share.
  • Be consistent with your posting schedule and aim for at least a couple of high-quality long-form posts each month.
  • In each article, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and category pages.
  • Your content should educate, inform, entertain, and delight the readers which, in turn, makes for great user experience – something that’s crucial for Google.
  • Ensure your posts are factually and grammatically correct.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that guides the reader to take some desired action, such as to check out your
  • product catalog or subscribe to your email newsletter.

With so many customization options and built-in features, Magento 2 is undoubtedly one of the best e-commerce platforms for SEO. Nevertheless, there are some SEO issues that may need fixing from your end, such as:

Duplication Caused by Filters for Configurable Products

Magento allows you to create configurable products wherein you can provide multiple options like size, colors, and other customization options to users and on each option, you can set different prices. Each option selected is actually a separate simple product with a unique SKU, which makes it easy to track inventory for each product variation.

Now, the problem of duplication arises due to these customization options and faceted navigation. In fact, the duplicate content issue is a high priority issue that frequently plagues e-commerce websites.

Duplicate content occurs when either the same or similar content exists on two separate URLs of the same website. This creates a problem for search crawlers as they may not be able to determine which of the two pages should be considered as the “preferred” or canonical version. To help Google determine the primary version of the page which you’d like to be indexed, use the rel=”canonical” tag.

Simply put, a canonical URL is the most authoritative URL of the page you want search engines to see and is considered as the most representative page from a set of duplicate pages on your site.

In Magento 2, you can turn on the use of canonical tags and avoid such duplication due to faceted navigation by simply doing this:

Go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization > Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products > Select ‘Yes’. Do the same for Categories and then click Save Configuration.

Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products

This will result in both product and product-category pages having canonical URLs, which helps to prevent duplicate content in your store.

You can also use an extension like Improved Layered Navigation which allows easy set up of canonical URLs.

Pagination Attributes

By default, Magento does not use the prev/next pagination attributes link on paginated pages to explain the relationship among these pages. While Google states that it no longer needs this attribute to make sense of a series of paginated pages, ranking on other search engines may be affected.

So, use the SEO Toolkit to:

  • Add page number to meta title
  • Add page number to the meta description

Furthermore, follow these best practices when it comes to pagination:

  • Apply self-referencing canonicals to paginated pages.
  • Do not apply noindex robots directives to paginated pages.
  • Do not disallow paginated pages in your robots.txt file.

/catalog/ URLs Can Get Indexed

Magento often generates category and product URLs that change back to the original /catalog path as well as duplicate URLs based on page titles. It's crucial to look out for these URL rewrites and block them in the robots.txt file so they don’t get indexed.

URLs With a Number in Them

We’ve already discussed the creation of an SEO-friendly URL structure in Magento 2, however, due to the ability to filter products and the internal site search, URLs may be appended with numerical values and this isn’t great for SEO.

In Magento 2, URLs with query parameters are indexable by default. For instance, if you’re on a category page and you’re filtering on prices between $50 and $100, you’d be sent to a URL such as https://example.com/category/?price=50-100. You don’t want that URL to be indexed, because it’s just showing a subset of the category products.

Similarly, if visitors also want to see the products in a category sorted from cheapest to priciest, they’ll be sent to a URL such as:

https://example.com/category/?price=50-100&product_list_order=price&product_list_dir=asc

This page just shows the same products in a different order and adds no value from an SEO perspective, so you don’t want these pages to be indexed either.

Plus, you can insert query string parameters into your URLs to track information about a click, such as session IDs, languages, and other data. But query string parameters can lead to multiple variations of the same URL all directing to the same content which, again, is not good for SEO.

To solve this URL parameter problem, you need to use an extension like Suite Ultimate.

Site Search Results Getting Indexed

By default, internal search result pages in Magento 2 are robot-indexable which is bad for SEO, as this can lead to an enormous number of low-quality pages being crawled and indexed which can create indexation bloat and impact crawlability.

An effective way to fix this is by adding noindex, follow meta robots tags to all internal search result pages.

Knowing that the official support for Magento 1.x versions will end after 2020, if your store is running on any earlier versions, it’s about time you upgrade to Magento 2.x. As such, Magento 2 is better than previous versions in terms of better site speed, more user-friendly admin interface, a streamlined 2-step checkout process, and greater mobile-friendliness.

Thus, to stay competitive and ensure top-level security for your website, you must migrate as soon as possible.

Now, before you start the actual migration process, consider doing the following:

  • Make a full backup of the Magento 1 store including all files, folders, and the database.
  • Remove outdated and useless data from the database. This includes logs, recently viewed products, compared products, and so on.
  • Create a clone of your Magento 1 store. Do not use the live store for the migration process. Migrate the data from the cloned database of the Magento 1 store.
  • Analyze your store. Review what needs to be kept or removed from the new Magento 2 website.
  • Check whether your current theme(s), extensions and custom code are compatible with Magento 2.

While the migration process is well-documented, maintaining your store’s rankings on Google when upgrading can be a challenge.

You will most likely notice a temporary drop in rankings, even if everything goes well without a hitch. That’s because every time Google sees a big change, it will take a step back to reindex and reanalyze everything. So, whether it’s a migration or a domain change, you’re going to see a temporary drop in rankings.

That being said, you can greatly reduce the time that your rankings take a hit by taking the following steps:

  • Submit a new sitemap via Google Search Console as soon as you launch the new version of your store.
  • Analyze changes in the website’s robots.txt file and XML sitemap generation to ensure that unnecessary pages don’t get indexed and impede crawl efficiency. Also, ensure that you aren’t blocking any JavaScript or media files.
  • Make sure that your XML sitemap is updated and has all the structure of your new website.
  • Identify and fix all 404 errors on your site. Navigate to Index > Coverage section in Google Search Console and make sure to fix them before the migration process.
  • Ensure that you have properly set canonical tags for all the static pages of your website. Canonical tags enable the passing of link juice to the right pages in case of duplicate pages.
  • Don’t modify meta tags as they could leave an impact on your SERP performance.
SERP performance

Consider using an extension like Migrate From M1 to ensure a seamless and secure migration process. The extension is easy-to-use and performs the data migration while rendering 100% uptime for your store, along with 24/7 support.

Phew! There’s so much you can do to boost your store’s search engine rankings. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with all the aforementioned SEO tips and tasks that need to be done, then here’s a crispy SEO checklist you can tick off as you make progress:

On-page SEO:

  • Use only one H1 tag on each page
  • Compose compelling page titles (around 60 characters) and meta descriptions (under 155 characters)
  • Create SEO-Friendly URL structure
  • Set an alt text and descriptive file names for all images
  • Publish useful long-form content such as how-to guides, listicles, and blog posts
  • Optimize all content and product copy for the right keywords
  • Setup HTTPS in Magento

Off-page SEO:

  • Build backlinks to your store via guest posting, blogger outreach, link reclamation, etc.
  • Earn brand mentions from authority publications and social proof in terms of customer reviews along with better social media presence

Advanced SEO:

  • Make sure your site is indexed correctly
  • Create and submit the XML sitemap to Google
  • Eliminate duplicate content using canonical tags
  • Optimize the robots.txt file
  • Incorporate structured data for rich snippets
  • Implement 301 redirects when needed
  • Ensure fast page load speed by optimizing images, minifying CSS and JS, using AMP, and caching
  • Optimize themes

This list sums up all that has been covered in the guide. While not every point may be useful for your business, it doesn’t hurt to be more knowledgeable

And voilà! That covers pretty much everything you need to get started on the right track towards ranking your Magento store on the first page of Google.

Start with the basic on-page optimization techniques, be consistent with off-page optimization (building backlinks, earning media mentions, and social proof), and then step up your SEO game using structured data, AMP, caching, and other advanced techniques.

As you can see, with Magento, things are going to get a bit technical, and sure, it’ll take a handful of months to see the fruits of your labor, but all that effort is going to be super worth it in terms of higher rankings, authority, visitors, leads, and ultimately, sales!

If you need help with optimizing your Magento store you can call our SEO agency on 1300787753 or drop us a message.