So you just built your brand new website using Magento Commerce. You’ve customized your design, added products, created categories, and have the store configured perfectly. But there’s one problem. Your website has no traffic and consequently zero sales. That’s a huge problem and we’re going to give you some free advice on how to fix it. This article is perfect for beginners and non-tech savvy store owners but even those with advanced skills may learn something!
Setup Google Analytics
This isn’t really SEO advice perse, but you won’t know where your traffic is coming from if you don’t have some type of analytics. We recommend Google Analytics because a) it’s free, and b) it’s awesome. If you’ve already created your Google Analytics account, login to Magento and go to System > Configuration > Sales > Google API > Google Analytics and paste your account number in the Account Number field. It should look something like this: UA-XXXXXXX-X. Magento works with Google Analytics out of the box so you don’t have to do anything else to integrate the two.
Register Your Site with Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is great for website owners. You can view exactly how Google see’s your site and find any problems that may occur when they crawl your pages.
Auto Redirect Base-URL using 301 Redirects
It’s important that Google only see’s one version of your homepage. For example, most websites can be accessed by visiting http://mydomain.com and http://www.mydomain.com. Magento has a solution to this but the default setting is for a 302 Redirect instead of a 301. The difference is that the 301 Redirect will pass some “link juice” and a 302 Redirect doesn’t. So let’s say you get a bunch of links to your website without the WWW in the URL. Magento will redirect any visitor that accesses the non-www URL to the correct WWW URL. This is great for visitors, but if the redirect is a 302 Google won’t pass any link love to the correct URL. To change this, login to Magento and go to System > Configuration > General > Web > URL Options. We want to change the “Auto-redirect to Base URL” to “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)”. Click Save or remain on the same page for the next tip.
Enable Web Server Rewrites
We want our Magento URL’s to look pretty so under System > Configuration > General > Web > Search Engine Optimization, make sure “Use Web Server Rewrites” is set to Yes.
Avoid Duplicate Content by Disabling Category URLs
This is a tip that is often over looked. By default, Magento will use the category structure in the product URL. For example, yourwebsite.com/category-name/product-name.html. This is a bad idea because you may have some products that exist in multiple categories. The best URL structure would be yourwebsite.com/product-name.html where the category name isn’t in the URL. To change this, login to the Magento admin and go to System > Configuration > General > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization. We want to change the setting “Use Categories Path for Product URLs” to No. While you’re there, make sure the following fields are set to Yes: “Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs if Url key changed”, “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories”, “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products” (though this shouldn’t really be an issue if you changed the category path for product URLs setting).
Setup Your Google Sitemap and Submit it in Webmaster Tools
Having a sitemap allows Google to see all of the products, categories, and CMS pages on your site. No matter what, Google will always determine wether or not that specific page belongs in their index, but a sitemap is a great way to speed up the indexing/crawling process. Especially for new sites. To setup a Google sitemap with Magento, check out thiseasy to follow tutorial. After that, you should login to Webmaster Tools and submit your sitemap under “Site Configuration > Sitemaps”.
Create a robots.txt File
It’s very important that you have a robots.txt file in your website’s root directory so Google knows which files and directories to ignore. Magento relies heavily on query strings when dealing with pagination of products on category pages. Here’s what our typical robots.txt file looks like:
Hopefully these tips will help you get some love from Google. If you’re interested in our Magento Search Engine Optimization consulting services, visit our “Get a Quote” page to contact us.
* Update * – This post applies to the most recent version of Magento (188.8.131.52)