The analysis of 874,929 pages and over 5 million Google search queries by SEO expert Brian Dean revealed that pages appearing at the number one position on Google Search receive nearly a third of all clicks. He also found that only 0.78% of searchers click on results on the second page.
What does this mean for you? It means that if your website doesn’t rank on the first page of Google, you’ll have to rely on paid ads for website traffic and sales. But the good news is that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to optimize your Magento store’s search engine performance.
We’ve compiled a list of Magento SEO tips to help you boost your website ranking and drive more traffic to your e-commerce store using Magento’s inbuilt SEO functionality.
10 actionable Magento SEO tips to boost your search engine rankings
Magento provides merchants with everything they need to start ranking their websites on search engines. Here are ten ways to improve your Magento store SEO and minimize your dependency on paid ads for sales.
1. Use the latest version of Magento 2
Upgrading your Magento store to the newest version is one of the easiest Magento SEO tips you can implement to improve your website SEO. Besides providing security enhancements and introducing new functionality, Adobe also includes bug fixes and optimizes existing functionality with every update.
For example, the Magento 2.4.0 release introduced a bug fix to include the home page URL in the sitemap. Similarly, the latest Magento 2.4.2 release fixed an issue wherein sitemaps generated by cron contained cached image paths in multistore deployments.
Updating your store to the newest Magento version allows you to leverage Adobe’s latest improvements on offer and improve your website SEO.
2. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
As Google continues its shift toward mobile-first indexing, it’s increasingly important to build a mobile-friendly website to rank on Google Search. Mobile-friendly websites provide customers with a better shopping experience and therefore contribute to a better page experience.
If your store doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website, it’s only a matter of time till you start losing organic traffic. Therefore, consider investing in a mobile website or a Progressive Web Application if you haven’t already.
3. Optimize the HTML head elements of your store
Title tags and headers are fundamental to optimizing on-page SEO. They provide insight into the page content and help search engines determine the relevancy of a page for search queries.
You can optimize the entire HTML head of your website homepage by navigating to Content > Design > Configuration in the admin panel. Select the store view you wish to optimize and click “Edit” from the dropdown in the “Action” column.
You’ll find the HTML Head section under the “Other Settings” section. You can optimize your website’s page title, its prefix, suffix, and other metadata there. Once you’ve optimized all the information, you can click “Save Configuration” to update your changes.
4. Enable HTTPS and HSTS
HTTPS can help you bring down your website bounce rate by acting as a trust signal. It shows potential customers that your website transmits all information over a secure, encrypted channel. Google also recommends using HTTPS because it provides searchers with a safer browsing experience.
After you’ve installed and configured an SSL certificate on your server, you can enable HTTPS and HSTS for your Magento store by navigating to Stores > Settings > Configuration > General > Web. Expand the Base URLs (Secure) section and update the “Secure Base URL” entry with an HTTPS link to your website.
Next, update the values for “Use Secure URLs on Storefront,” “Use Secure URLs in Admin,” “Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS),” and “Upgrade Insecure Requests” to “Yes” and click “Save Config” to update the changes.
5. Optimize URLs
Although URLs are a minor ranking factor, they improve website user experience by providing search engines with insight into the page content. You can also enhance your website’s click-through rate on SERPs by optimizing your website URLs and making them reader-friendly.
By default, Magento adds “index.php” to all URLs. However, you can remove this by navigating to Stores > Settings > Configuration > General > Web and enabling “Web Server Rewrites” in the Search Engine Optimization section.
Additionally, you can also configure product page URLs to exclude category paths to avoid duplicate content and preserver crawl budget. Navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog and expand the Search Engine Optimizations section and set “Use Categories Path for Product URLs” to “No” and click “Save Config” to update the changes.
6. Optimize product metadata
Magento lets you insert keyword-rich content on product pages to improve your website SEO and help product pages rank on Google for relevant search queries. Ensure you leverage this feature and insert SEO-friendly content in the various metadata fields on the product configuration page.
Additionally, you can also optimize your product images for search engines by making them descriptive. Naming a file red-womens-tshirt.jpg instead of product-image-2678.jpg helps Google understand the subject matter of the image and index it properly.
Magento includes structured data markup based on Schema.org standards with its default product template. However, you can further optimize it with the help of a Magento SEO consultant and display additional product information besides SERP listings.
7. Use canonicalization to avoid duplicate content
Google understands that not every website contains duplicate content with malicious intent. However, it believes that duplicate content hurts the page experience. Therefore, Google often excludes pages containing large blocks of duplicate content from its index.
Ecommerce stores often categorize products across multiple categories, which can be construed as duplicate content by Google. Therefore, to overcome this problem, Magento allows you to use canonical tags on pages with identical content and point Google to the primary URL for indexation.
You can update the canonicalization settings for your Magento store by navigating to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog. Under the Search Engine Optimization section, you can update the values for “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories” and “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag for Products” to your preferred values and click “Save Config” to update your changes.
8. Generate and optimize your sitemap
Sitemaps help search engines understand the hierarchy of your website pages and crawl it efficiently. You can use it to point crawlers to the valuable pages on your website, indicate when they were last updated, and if there are any other language versions of the page.
Magento lets you create and customize your website sitemap so that search engines can crawl and index pages easily. You can configure it by navigating to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > XML Sitemap and updating the:
- frequency and priority of content updates,
- sitemap generation schedule,
- file size limits,
- search submission settings.
Once completed, click “Save Config and head over to Marketing > SEO & Search > Site Map to add the sitemap to your store. Click “Add Sitemap” and add a filename and path for the sitemap on the New Site Map screen. Once complete, click “Save & Generate.”
Your sitemap should generate shortly after that and will be available at the path you’ve set in the previous step.
9. Optimize website performance
Starting mid-June 2021, Google began rolling out their latest page experience update to change how websites rank on Google based on various factors such as website performance, secure browsing, mobile-friendliness, and easily accessible content.
As the update goes into effect, merchants with slow websites are likely to experience a drop in their search engine rankings. Fortunately, Magento provides merchants with several tools to improve their website performance.
10. Implement an internal linking strategy
Another way to improve your website indexing on Google and help search engine bots understand the hierarchy of your website pages is to implement an internal linking strategy. Magento gets you started with internal linking by displaying a breadcrumb trail on CMS pages.
You can complement this feature by enabling related products, up-sells, and cross-sells across your website. This will help you improve the shopping experience and direct search engine bots to different areas of your website so that they can update their index to display the latest content.
Additionally, you can also link to other products and categories from your product pages by using relevant anchor text to help customers discover other products they might like. When customers spend time on your website exploring your products and offerings, Google views it as a positive indication that your website provides searchers with relevant and helpful information.
The possibilities to improve your website’s search engine performance through SEO are endless. Implementing the Magento SEO tips from this article will help you build an online presence using Magento’s in-built functionality.
Once you’ve leveraged all the default SEO functionality Magento offers, you can consider investing in an SEO extension or even a Magento SEO agency. No matter which way you go, ensure that you maintain a customer-focused approach to website content optimization to improve your organic rankings consistently.
Author: Jan Guardian
Jan is the Chief Business Development Officer at Staylime, a Magento design, and development company headquartered in Redwood City, California. He is a Member of the Magento Association and an Adobe Sales Accredited Magento Commerce professional. Jan is responsible for developing and leading the sales and digital marketing strategies of the company. He is passionate about e-commerce and Magento in particular — throughout the years his articles have been featured on Retail Dive, Hacker Noon, Chief Marketer, Mobile Marketer, TMCnet, and many others.