Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most reliable digital marketing tool that every online store uses. On average, natural search and SEO bring about 60% of visitors to any website, if properly configured. That, of course, is easier said than done.
Ranking algorithms take into account numerous factors like the responsiveness of hosting, users’ behavior, the quality of inbound links, social media parameters, etc. So, if you are looking to improve your Magento store’s SEO ranking, it may be difficult to know where to start. Today I want to share with you the most wide-spread technical issues that may be impacting your Magento SEO rankings.
Slow Page Speed
Google considers page speed as one of the primary ranking factors. Just as customers expect a website load in less than 3 seconds, so does google. Otherwise, both google and visitors will prefer your competitor for their better user experience.
Optimization of an online store’s speed isn’t the same as the optimization of a simple website with static content. The difference is that online stores have hundreds of products and lean heavily on the server to process each page.
The most-widespread page speed issues (in no particular order):
- Unused extensions
- Code conflicts
- Long web server request time
- Improper caching configuration
- Bot requests that consume server resources
- Uncompressed images
- Non-optimized JS, CSS, HTML files
When it comes to code and script optimization, leave it to a professional development agency, specializing in Magento. The reason is that every Magento store has its custom functionality, extensions, and data structures.
Simple Tips to Speed Up a Magento Store
Page elements optimization. Your main navigation shouldn’t include more than a handful of links. Remove unnecessary features and discard overlapping forms.
CSS instead of images. It’s better to use CSS to create shadows, gradients, etc.
Place scripts at the bottom of the page. This way, HTML content loads and renders first, and users don’t need to wait until every script downloads.
Compress images by 30-40%. Don’t trust a web browser to scale your images. Use Photoshop (or a free alternative) to resize your graphics.
Use Last-Modified / If modified since headers. Browsers can keep your site’s files and content. Users’ devices store these data when they visit a store for the first time. The next time these shoppers land on your site, it takes less time to load it as their browsers already keep some of the information.
No Sitemap and Improper Robots.txt
The process of adding your store’s pages to the Google index consists of crawling and indexing.
Crawling is the process of searching for the new pages on the Net and adding it to the Google database. The easiest way for Google to find the online store’s pages is to create a sitemap. Any sitemap is a list of website URLs that contain information about them. If you don’t have a sitemap, crawler bots may not find the content you offer to customers and show it in search results. As a result, you may lose organic traffic and conversions.
Indexing is the analysis of the website’s content (videos and pictures) by Google’s bots to define its relevance and estimate whether a page is worth showing in search results. If you want your online store to be indexed correctly, give directives to bots how to handle your webpages by the configuration of robots.txt.
Simply put, you need to create a sitemap and configure robots.txt to avoid page indexing issues. Moreover, you don’t need to be a Magento expert to configure everything properly. For more info check out Magento SEO Guide: Sitemap and Robots.txt Configuration.
While configuring your Magento store indexing you should also pay attention to:
- Robots txt
- Sitemap xml
- Categories and subcategories structure, layered navigation
- Canonical tags
- URL structure (folders and paths)
- Regional and Language versions’ (hreflang tags)
While indexing, the Googlebot tries to understand whether the page is worth being included in the index or not. Search engine crawlers look if there are other pages in the index that provide the same data. Simply put, duplicate content confuses crawlers and they may not include it to search results.
The most frequent duplicate content reasons:
- The same content on inside pages as on the main page;
- Products appear on multiple versions of a single URL;
- The same content in multiple languages on an international eCommerce site.
If you face the duplicate content issue, you have to correctly implement hreflang and rel=canonical tags to your sitemap (link is above). The rel=canonical tag tells search engines which page is original and has primary importance. The hreflang tag shows Google a language and country you are targeting, helping international customers to get search results in specific languages.
Improper Redirects and Broken Links
Over time the site’s content changes and customers may see 404 errors, leading to traffic and conversion losses. Moreover, when Googlebot sees 404 pages, it lowers their positions in search results or drops them from the index altogether.
If you change your URLs, use 301 redirects. It helps search engines to understand that users who land on an old page need a redirect to a new one. It also informs search engines to pass the advantages of the old page to the new page.
Non-Optimized Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a snippet that describes the content of a certain web page on the search results page. It helps bots to index a web page and provide descriptions to encourage potential customers to visit a site.
Although it’s an extremely simple SEO feature, lots of eCommerce sites miss it. All meta descriptions should be optimized to match the page content. Otherwise, customers won’t be interested in it. All your meta descriptions must have a clear call-to-action, page content description, and be no longer than 160 characters.
First of all, you should optimize your high-value pages. To determine your most important pages, look through your Google Analytics, and find the pages that bring the highest revenue. If you update or edit the content on a certain page, don’t forget to change meta descriptions too.
All meta descriptions can be set and changed in your Magento admin panel.
SEO for Magento Stores the Right Way
This post was brought to you by the Mobecls team, a development agency that specializes in Magento. Our 10+ years of eCommerce expertise helps us to fix any SEO challenges, knowing the Magento code imperfections.
If you need Magento SEO Support, feel free to visit our website and ask your questions to our SEO specialists.