SEO is absolutely essential for eCommerce stores. When searching for products to buy, most people turn to a search engine like Google or Bing. That means ranking highly in search results is the best way to get your brand and your products in front of more people. In turn, that leads to more customers, more sales, and more profits.
But you may not be sure where to start. Magento is very SEO-friendly, but you’ll still need to do a little bit of legwork to give yourself the best chance of success.
How can you optimize your Magento store for SEO and check it’s overall SEO health? In this simple checklist from 121eCommerce, we’ll go over all the basics that you need to know to boost your SEO rankings and bring in more customers.
12 steps to optimize your Magento store for SEO
First, you should take the time to set up an SEO dashboard for your Magento store. Google Analytics is a free and very popular choice, but there are plenty of others out there. They all serve the same basic purpose – tracking traffic sources, bounce rates, time spent on your pages, and a huge variety of other useful metrics.
This is important because SEO is a constant, ongoing process of improving your website. It’s not a “one and done” affair, and using an SEO dashboard allows you to track your progress. You can see where you’re doing well, and what areas could use improvement. This guidance is invaluable as you continue to optimize your Magento store for SEO.
You should make sure that the URLs on your Magento store are SEO-friendly. Basically, this means that they should incorporate your keywords, be descriptive, and be easy to read naturally. Let’s go over an example of a URL that’s not SEO-friendly, and one that is:
This URL is not SEO-friendly. It’s not clear exactly what the product is from the URL, and there are no keywords that can be used by search engines – or customers – to learn more about it. Now, let’s consider the following:
This URL is much more user-friendly and SEO-friendly. It has information about the shoes, category, brand, and other keywords that will help boost SEO rankings.
So make sure your URLs follow similar structures. Add helpful information, make them easy to read, and do your best to incorporate your targeted keywords into the URL structure.
Meta titles are the titles of pages that appear on search engines. They’re the first things a customer will see when your store appears in their search results, so make sure you create informative and appealing meta titles.
Meta descriptions are the small snippets of text that appear underneath the meta title, providing more information about the page. They can be used to inform a search user about the page, and convince them to shop at your store.
These above examples are a good starting point. It’s usually a good idea to include details about the product, category, and your store’s brand, when possible. Including your preferred keywords is also a good idea.
While meta titles and descriptions do not directly affect SEO, they do have an effect on conversion rates. Optimized meta titles and descriptions will mean customers are more likely to click your pages – which can boost traffic, reduce bounce rates, and lead to better SEO rankings over time.
Search engines like Google use XML sitemaps to help them “crawl” your website more effectively. As the name implies, a sitemap is basically a map of your entire website, and it lays out the connections between pages and a lot of other information.
This makes it a lot easier for search engines to understand the content on your website, organize it, and display it properly in search results. That leads to optimized SEO for your Magento store.
You can generate a sitemap directly from your Magento dashboard by following these instructions. These instructions from Magento also have details about how to submit your sitemap to Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Robots.txt is a file that allows you to set up certain pages that search engines will ignore. For example, you probably want Google to display search results for all of the products in your store.
But you probably don’t want it to display search results for things like customer login pages, shopping cart pages, and other technical pages that will not be useful to customers who are searching for your website or products. You also may want to block things like images, videos, or PDFs uploaded on your website from being indexed in search engines.
By editing your robots.txt file, you can easily change which pages are crawled by search engines, and which ones are ignored by Google and other search engines. This way, your customers only ever see the results that are the most relevant.
The faster your website loads, the better. Google recommends that eCommerce pages load within two seconds to maximize conversion rates, and minimize bounce rates. If your pages take too long to load, customers will leave without clicking through to any other pages, and this will negatively affect your SEO rankings.
There are a lot of different ways you can adjust your website to improve page loading times – and we’ve actually written a full guide to this subject, which you can see here. Take a look, and see how you can improve your magento page loading times.
You also should make sure your web pages are mobile-friendly. When using Magento or Adobe Commerce, this is not typically too much of a concern, due to the platform’s excellent mobile support. Still, you should check each page on mobile to see how it loads and functions, and make sure you optimize accordingly.
That’s because Google prioritizes mobile-friendly pages first when showing mobile search results. If you want to capture a larger market share of mobile shoppers, a mobile-friendly website is an absolute must-have.
If your website has a lot of broken links, this is a red flag for search engines like Google. It indicates improper maintenance and a poor-quality user experience. In turn, this can cause your SEO rankings to suffer. So we recommend checking for broken pages that result in 404 errors and restoring the content if it’s still relevant.
If the content is outdated or unnecessary – for example, a product your store no longer sells – you should use a 301 or 302 redirect to send searchers to a new page. For example, if a customer clicks on a link to a t-shirt that’s no longer sold, you can use a page redirect to send them to the general “t-shirt” category.
Duplicate content can cause problems with your search results, as this signals low website quality. But there are lots of situations where you may have a page that’s listed multiple times. For example, you may have the following URLs that all point to the same page:
As the name suggests, canonical tags allow you to “tag” a particular page as the “canon” version of the webpage, and eliminate duplicate pages displayed in search results. This helps you keep duplicate content under control.
It’s important to do keyword research, use high-quality keywords, and develop informative, useful product descriptions for each one of your products.
Not only do product descriptions let you use your desired SEO keywords, they also can be helpful for customers, and are your best chance to sell them on a product. We’ve got a full blog about how to write good product descriptions here, but here are some quick tips:
Adding internal links helps spread “link equity” throughout your entire website, and it’s a good idea to link to other web pages whenever it’s appropriate to do so on your Magento eCommerce store.
Let’s say you have a highly-popular product in your store, and you want to boost the rankings of a lower-ranked product. In this case, you could add a link to the lower-ranked product somewhere on the popular product’s product description. Then, some of the “link equity” of the popular product will flow to the lower-ranked product. For more details about how link equity works, you can check out this quick article from Moz.
Rich snippets are used by search engines to display information about your product directly within their results pages. For example, Google can use rich snippets to show things like:
And more. Rich snippets allow your content to stand out from the rest of search results, which can result in more click-throughs and higher search rankings.
Compressing images is really important for reducing page loading times, so make sure you’re using tools to automatically compress your images and ensure they load quickly. There are a few other optimizations you should make, too.
First, make sure you add alt text. Alt text is a description of the image, and appears on the page when it fails to load. It’s also used by disabled individuals with screen readers to understand the content of a page.
When it comes to alt text, keep it simple. If you have an image of a black pair of Nike running shoes, for example, the alt text could read:
You can use keywords in your alt text, and this can help with SEO. But don’t be spammy. Be informative above all else.
You also should optimize image URLs. Use filenames that are descriptive, such as nike_running_shoes_black_mens.jpg, rather than something like IMG_124569099.jpg. This can help boost SEO results, particularly when users are searching with a search engine like Google Images.
This may sound like a lot of work to take on at once – and it is! It does take some effort on your part but it’s worth the investment to optimize your Magento store for SEO. Ranking highly in search engines will pay dividends in the long run.
To make things a bit simpler, you may want to install a Magento SEO extension. We just wrote a blog about our top picks for Magento SEO extensions, so take a look at it here, and learn more about your options. With one of these extensions, you’ll be able to address all of the things we’ve talked about in this checklist and more.
And if you want more information about Magento, Adobe Commerce, SEO, and running an eCommerce store in general, the 121eCommerce blog is a great resource. We’ve written at great length about many of the SEO topics discussed in this checklist, so browse some of our resources and boost your eCommerce IQ.