SEO is a key channel for any ecommerce site. Magento 2 is a powerful and flexible system which comes with many SEO features out of the box. However it is key to address technical and user experience details in order to gain higher rankings with search engines.
This list of ecommerce tips is based on the current state of SEO (as of 2017) and targets Magento 2 websites in particular. While today’s web landscape is more complex than ever before with personalized search results and local optimization, one still needs to optimize your site for SEO. We hope you find these ecommerce SEO tips for Magento 2 worth it.
#1 Mobile first
It’s important to realize that most consumers today will start researching products on mobile. They may not finalize their purchase on mobile, hence the lower conversion rates, but they will start their research there. So it’s key that you have a mobile friendly site that provides a solid experience for customers.
Search engines would give you higher rankings if customers click over to your site and stick around for product research. So you want to make sure that the menu is easy and clear, search is effective and helps mobile users by auto suggesting words, and that product pages look nice and your content is clear.
Lastly, you must make sure that your mobile site is fast. If you have any issues with performance on desktop, it’s likely to be much worse for mobile users. Focus on these users and you’ll gain rankings.
#2 Server Performance Optimization
These search engines measure carefully your site’s performance, in particular Google. If they’re going to send you lots of traffic, they must be confident that your site will hold up properly. Therefore, they collect many signals that let’s them know how sophisticated and resilient is your infrastructure.
The main signal they measure is your server response time. They also measure your server response time when their indexing robot increases the number of requests to your site. So you must make sure your site is fast to respond and also will remain fast with higher volume. In other words, the site needs to autoscale well with traffic.
In order to achieve a great server response time with Magento 2 you have to make sure that your site is well coded. This includes extensions and themes for Magento 2. M2 also offers several layers of caching, make sure that they’re all enabled and working well. Larger sites may want to utilize Redis – one of the fastest key value pair DBs which is commonly used for cache stores.
#3 Client Side Performance Optimization
While search engines measure your server side performance, they will also measure your front end performance. Front end performance means the time that it tool the page to fully load on the client side. This means in their browsers. Technically, this includes fetching all the files that compose your web pages and the rendering time that it takes to put it all together.
You want to make sure that your site fully loads at the client side in around or under 1 second. There are many tools and techniques these days to achieve that. Some of which are: load JS and CSS in a non-blocking manner, load only the needed section of the site, combine and minify css and JS files, Lazy load images, using CDN for delivery of assets, and more.
Magento 2 comes with lots of such features out of the box including combining and minifying CSS and JS files and post loading additional files into the browser’s cache. It’s key that you configure these options and test those properly as you enable them.
#4 Make Sure the Site is Secure
Ecommerce site are a great target for hackers and suffer constant attacks. These days most attacks are done automatically and in ‘wholesale’ fashion. So hackers basically scan IPs and URLs in mass until they find a vulnerability.
To prevent any security issues make sure you keep your site up to date. You should also secure your site with some of the basic rules these days:
- use strong passwords
- refresh passwords every 3 to 6 months
- limit the users with complete administrative access to your site
- use a unique admin url
- use the recommended file permissions
- do not expose your specific Magento 2 version
- use clean and secure code
We provided some tips on how to secure your Magento 2 site in 2017.
#5 Publish a blog related to your products
These days it’s easy to offer a blog even on an ecommerce site. Since Magento 2 is using PHP + MySQL it’s the same stack that powers wordpress. Try and leverage that and ask your developers to setup a blog in a folder under your webroot. A folder /blog/ or /news/ is generally proper and works well.
I’m typically against any integration between Magento and your wordpress. In most cases your store admins and your content authors are typically different people anyway. So why the need to mix the two? no need. The most you’ll need to do is link back to certain products in blog posts. However it’s recommended to keep that to a minimum and focus on benefiting your readers, so manual linking would work just fine here.
Blog -> sell -> repeat.
#6 Canonical URLs for categories
Interestingly enough most ecommerce have not figured out yet the SEO strategy on category pages. I’ve seen anywhere from pages that list everything to utilizing the rel=”next/prev” html link property. While it seems there are many ways to address SEO with pagination, what I’ve seen that works is relatively simple.
Use a canonical URL which points to the first category page. In tandem, we always recommend to make sure that you show a blend of new products and your top sellers on the first page of your category pages. Why would you show anything else on this first page anyway? Keep in mind that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your products…
#7 Optimize your product pages
Product pages are where the action happens. No, by the time the customer have arrived to the checkout they have already made a decision to buy the product. The product page is where they learn and evaluate about your product and make the decision to buy it. Another important fact that is often missed is that in larger ecommerce sites about 50% of your traffic will land on product pages first. So your product pages need to be optimal.
What does it mean? well, it really depends on the type of products you are selling. However, what you want to focus on is what type of information does the customer need in order to make a decision to pull the trigger. This typically means: title, price, short description, long description, and product images.
Some optional information can be product reviews, certifications, example of usages, any affiliations or other non conventional information regarding your products.
#8 Rich snippets for product pages
Google and search engines today know a lot more about the information they read than they used to. Graph data, in particular schema.org meta data for products can really help boost your SEO rankings. You may want to start with name, image, description, price, special price and perhaps ratings. These days if you’re not using these meta data you are probably behind the curve and missing on potential SEO traffic.
Another reason this can be super beneficial is the recent announcement from Google where they may include products results in rich search results such as image search. This was announced directly by Google and merchants started seeing impact since the beginning of 2017.
#9 Schema.org for product reviews
In addition to basic product data, you may want to include product reviews schema.org information. Based on a research from amazon it is understood that it is better to include many reviews than have a perfect 5/5 score. Obviously you don’t want to have poor review either but a 4 and above review score with 100s of reviews is worth more than 2 reviews with a perfect 5 score.
In some cases Google may show the first few reviews right in the search results. This may have been a short test but I’ve seen it from time to time.
#10 Optimize images for search
Typically ecommerce sites focus on optimizing content, titles, and even skus before they look at anything else. However, paying attention to images can help SEO. Name the files with relevant keywords and add proper alt tags to images.
In many cases it’s a lot of manual work, or if you prepare for this, it can be done as part of setting up your catalog. Any bit of additional relevant information helps search engines understand better what you are presenting or selling on these pages.
#11 Fix any 404 errors reported in Webmaster Tools
Over the years Magento sites tend to accumulate broken links or possible even dead links from disabled products etc. It’s also possible that some old products got lost in the transition from your Magento 1 to Magento 2 upgrade. Whatever the case may be, go check your crawler error report in webmaster tools and fix any errors reported.
In some cases we recommend setting up redirects from the old broken links to a new page. This helps if you still carry the product and you want to keep the old ranking. If you do not carry the particular product try to redirect to the category. And if all else fails redirect to the home page or leave it as a 404 error. Eventually the crawler will pick up on the fact that the page was removed.
#12 Fix duplicate content reported in Webmaster Tools
Duplicate content confuses search engines and impacts your SEO in a negative way. The main reason is that search engines simply don’t know which of your pages they should direct traffic for specific keywords. By eliminating duplicate content you help them focus and you’ll raise your rankings.
Head over to your Webmaster tools > Search appearance > HTML Improvements and look for duplicate content. You should address any pages reported there.
#13 Optimize for Local Search
These days it’s all about local search. In particular searches done on mobile will more likely be looking for a product nearby. If your store isn’t showing up in search results it’s a missed opportunity. To get listed in local searches you want to offer the following types of information on your site:
- Name, address and phone number. If possible on all pages (at the footer/header) or in the about us page
- Directions from local landmarks
- If you have multiple locations, make sure to include all of your store addresses
- Opening times
- Offer in-store pickup on checkout
#14 Build a referral program
Referral programs are a great way to earn additional business. These programs are known to generate incoming links from bloggers and content producers of all kinds. Offer a certain percentage of your profits in exchange for traffic and links. These days there are many Magento 2 extensions for referral programs or you can use a third party service. Look for the one that best works for you and set it up. This may turn out to be a very important channel for your business.
In 2017 SEO still remains a great sales channel. In this article we covered 14 different ways to gain higher rankings by helping search engines understand better what your ecommerce site is all about. We listed them in what we thought is order of importance. Take your time and review and work to improve your SEO one step at a time.
If you’re interested in an SEO audit of your site, contact us and we’ll get in touch.
Also, we do have an extension that addresses most of these points. Checkout our extension: Advanced SEO for Magento 2.