You’ve just upgraded your ecommerce site to Magento, and like any store you want customers to be able to find it. But before any traffic will come to your site you need to make sure it’s optimised for search engines.
This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes into play. By optimising your site you can help Google figure out exactly what each page is about and how it may be useful for a searcher – your potential customer.
SEO is a great way to improve the quality of your website, and in the process, it will make it more user-friendly, faster to use and easier to navigate.
Google takes into account over 260 ranking factors when it decides where to rank your site, from keywords to backlinks. But today we’re going to focus on 5 common SEO mistakes we always see new Magento users make.
We work with Magento on a daily basis, on our web development and SEO projects using our skills and the best SEO tools. So we’ve created the following list to make sure your sites gets off on the best foot and:
1. NOT CHANGING THE DEFAULT META TITLE OR FAVICON
We see this one a lot. And it’s a shame because the Meta Title Tag is a great place to include your shop name and some relevant keywords, and the favicon provides a great branding opportunity.
Below, we can see by not changing the default meta title or favicon, example.co.uk has missed out on a good opportunity:
By default the homepage on Magento will simply be titled ‘Home page’, and this is an SEO’s nightmare. For all meta titles it’s good practice to use a descriptive title, including keywords and your business name.
The title tag is key for on-page SEO as it helps to indicate to Google what a page is about, and more than this it shows searchers what a webpage is about.
As we can see from the example above, if you’re looking for an ‘SEO optimised title tag’, the bottom one is more likely to receive your click.
Optimising the title tag increases your visibility in the search engine results page (SERPs) and will lead to a higher click through rate. Here are 3 ways to change your title tag in Magento depending on the type of page:
1) You can change the default title that will be seen on every page of Magento:
SYSTEM > CONFIGURATION > DESIGN > HTML HEAD > DEFAULT TITLE > SHOP NAME
2) To change the title tag on a CMS page:
CMS > PAGES > CLICK ON THE PAGE > PAGE TITLE
3) To change the title tag on a product page:
CATALOGUE > MANAGE PRODUCTS > CLICK ON PRODUCT > META INFORMATION > META TITLE
Also, don’t forget to change your site’s favicon. It’s a small brand identification graphic displayed in the address bar of a browser, or next to the site name in a user’s list of bookmarks.
A familiar favicon can help a user remember your site, and it’s another great place to put your logo, or a part of it.
We’ve included some well-known favicons above, and if you have any great favicons to share please leave a message in the comments. Our personal favourite is the third from the left!
Remember that a favicon is a very small image, so don’t add too much detail and keep it simple. You can use a favicon generator like this to help make things a little easier.
Once you’ve created your magnificent favicon simply follow these steps to upload it onto your Magento site:
SYSTEM > CONFIGURATION > DESIGN> HTML HEAD > FAVICON
2.NOT USING REL=”CANONICAL”
Magento product categories can be sorted by list, position, name, price and numerous other ways. Each of these combinations will bring back identical content but on a different URL, and this is bad for SEO as it can cause duplicate content.
One way to avoid these duplicate pages is by using the rel=”canonical” tag. In short, this is a way of telling search engines which URL it should treat as the ‘main page’ out of a series of duplicate, or similar pages. Moz gives a great explanation of canonicalsation.
But if you still don’t fully understand canonical tags, lucky for you, Magento has a built in setting that makes your life a little easier. Just follow the instructions below:
SYSTEM > CONFIGURATION > CATALOGUE > SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATIONS
Make sure that both of the options below are set to ‘yes’:
- “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products”
- “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories”
In the example below we have 3 different URLs that will display exactly the same content, so once you’ve set the canonical option to ‘Yes’, the “/spoons” URL will now become the canonical (main) URL. Google will only index this URL in the SERPs, and any backlinks built to the other URLs will pass their link juice down to the canonical URL.
3. META ROBOTS TAG SET TO “NOINDEX”
When your new site is being designed, and is on a development server, the dev team will use the “noindex” meta tags across the whole site. This is normal, and when a page has a noindex meta tag it tells Google to drop the page entirely from the SERPs.
The tag is located in the <head> section of your page and will look something like this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”>
There is nothing to worry about if you see this tag whilst your site is being developed, but if you see it after your site has been put live you’ve found your reason for no traffic.
You’d be surprised at how many times we’ve seen a page with a noindex tag after it’s gone ‘live’. So make sure this doesn’t happen to your Magento store by simply following these steps:
SYSTEM > CONFIGURATION > GENERAL > DESIGN > HTML HEAD > DEFAULT ROBOTS “INDEX, FOLLOW”
4. DEFAULT META DESCRIPTIONS
Another Magento SEO sin is using the built in ‘Default Description’ setting. Using this will apply a default meta description across your whole site, and you’ll be left with a load of duplicate meta descriptions, something Matt Cutts recommends against.
Writing meta descriptions for your high-traffic pages is a good tactic as you can have control over what Google shows in the SERPs. They can also be optimised to include keywords, like in the example below, which get bolded when a searcher enters them into Google:
To check you don’t have default meta descriptions you can look here in Magento:
SYSTEM> CONFIGURATION> GENERAL> DESIGN> HTML HEAD> DEFAULT DESCRIPTION
As well as the default meta description it’s important you don’t have default meta keywords such as ‘Magento, Magento e-commerce’ on your site.
To find and remove these look in the same place as the default description, but here are the instructions again:
SYSTEM> CONFIGURATION> GENERAL> DESIGN> HTML HEAD> DEFAULT KEYWORDS
5. NO PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS
The fifth and final mistake that we always see is when a Magento store has no product descriptions. This isn’t just a Magento problem, but many e-commerce sites out there fall victim to this SEO blunder.
Product descriptions are a great place to show your passion for the items that you sell. If you walked into a high-street shop and asked about a product you’d expect the salesperson to know his stuff. And if he couldn’t help you’d walk out, and the same goes for your brand new Magento store.
Writing unique product descriptions for a large e-commerce site may seem like a big task, but it is well worth the effort. Begin with the products that have the highest margin, and work your way down.
Unique product descriptions can help to increase your rankings, and it will also help you avoid Google’s dreaded panda algorithm penalty. Panda stops low-quality sites from ranking, and nothing screams low quality like multiple pages with ‘thin’ content. However, it’s also important you don’t copy the manufacturer descriptions as this will cause duplicate problems.
So to avoid this problem and add a product description:
CATALOGUE > MANAGE PRODUCTS > CLICK ON A PRODUCT > DESCRIPTION > NOW ADD AN AMAZING DESCRIPTION
We hope by outlining these 5 Magento SEO mistakes that we’ve helped you out. You can also go through a complete SEO guide that will help you optimize your website.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or follow us on Twitter for more SEO and digital marketing news @bestresponseuk