Most common Magento SEO issues

Raphael Thiel —  October 9, 2012 — 12 Comments

The following list with common Magento seo issues is for all shop owners to prove there stores. If you launch a new store this checklist will help you to configure most basic SEO settings for Magento.

    1. These settings can be managed in your Magento administration panel.

      The Magento Homepage – Title „home“
      It happens very often that a new shop launches with a homepage title „Home“.
      To fix this issue please give your homepage title a better name.

      A good title should contain some of the main keywords, that are relevant for your business.
      Example: Keyword1 Keyword2 – Retail Store – your.storename.com

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Design–>HTML Head–>Default Title

    2. The Default Description
      This field should be leaved blank, because it generates duplicate descriptions on every page where no meta description is written. For the products and categories „meta descriptions“ you can use our SERP editor to write clean and beautiful descriptions.

      Take a look at: SERP editor https://www.mgt-commerce.com/magento-serp-editor-extension.html

      The default description setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Design–>HTML Head–>Default description

    3. The Default Keywords
      Do not use these standard keywords „magento, magento commerce”. Leave this field blank if you didn’t setup meta keywords for every product, category and CMS page.
      In other case you get default keywords on each page where no meta keyword is set.

      The default keyword setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Design–>HTML Head–>Default Keywords

    4. Turn on „index, follow“
      This is a often seen issue and can happen when a shop is fresh released. In general we recommend to use a subdomain with a htaccess pass in development stage.

      You got two big benefits.
      a) You take no risk that a search engine will find your content before it is released.
      b) You can setup all settings like they should be when the shop will migrate to the productive system.

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Design–>HTML Head–> Default robots “INDEX, FOLLOW”.

    5. The „Logo Title“ alt „Magento Commerce“
      Often the store owner forgets to setup a correct alt title and name for the „Logo“, so a lot of magento stores have a „Logo title“ = Magento Commerce.

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Design–>Header–>Logo Image Alt

      You can leave the field „Welcome Text“ blank

    6. Turn on rel=canonical
      This setting can help you a lot to reduce a duplicate content issue.

      We recommend to turn the canonicals on for both: products and categories.

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Catalog–>Search Engine Optimizations„Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories“ and „Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products“

    7. Use Categories Path for Product URLs
      We recommend to set this feature on „No“, because if you change your category names, it can happen that a lot of pages, which where indexed by the search engine, are gone.

      Once you have set this on „Yes“, please do not touch it anymore!

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Catalog–>Use Categories Path for Product URLs

    8. Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs if Url key changed
      This setting should be set on „Yes“, because if you change something on your Url keys the search engine should know, that the page has moved to a new Url.

      This setting can be found at: System–>Configuration–>Catalog–>Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs if Url key changed

    9. Use Web Server Rewrites and Domain Name www vs. no www

      At first, please decide what you like to use for your domain name.

      There are two options:

      Example with www : https://www.your-domain.com

      Example with no www: https://your-domain.com

      Both options have no effect on your SEO ranking at all, but having a shop which delivers the content for both at the same time means getting a duplicate content issue.

      Please setup your domain at: System–>Configuration–>Web–>Unsecure–>Base URL

      Now you need to make sure that you don´t generate duplicate content by delivering your shop pages with www and none www at the same time.

      For this please enable the option: System–>Configuration–>Web–>Search Engines Optimization–>Use Web Server Rewrites on „Yes“.

      Also you should check your .htaccess file for an automatic redirect.

      For this please open your .htaccess file with an editor and add this line if you’d prefer to use “www” in all of your URLs:

      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteBase /
      RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.domain.com$ [NC]
      RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.domain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

      and for no www

      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteBase /
      RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^domain.com$ [NC]
      RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://domain.com/$1 [L,R=301]
    10. Create a sitemap.xml
      Sometimes it happens that a shop owner forgets to create a sitemap.xml or it is created with sample products and categories. A sitemap is important to submit new products to Google & Co.

      A sitemap can be created at: Catalog–>Google Sitemap

      Please double check what´s in your sitemap before you submit it to google webmaster tools!

    11. Multi-store setups
      Setup a multi-store and getting a good SEO result means hard work and checking every move twice!

      Often we see multi-stores which are using the same product descriptions, url names across multiple stores. The main problem is, that the search engine detects one server/ip and a lot duplicate content and in best case only one result would be indexed.

      Often this has an extreme negative effect on your seo.

      If you use a multi-store setup please make sure that every page, content, meta description and url on your store is individual.

General common SEO issues

These following tips are for beginners.

    1. Accessibility of the server
      If your Magento shop is offline several times, by hosting or server issues, you get a bad SEO ranking.

      Often this happens if you take a cheap shared hosting package.

    2. Slow page load times
      Only fast web pages get a high ranking in search engines. Magento needs a perfect setup and configured server to deliver all pages as fast as light (around 200 milliseconds). Thinking a page load time around 1 second is great might be a big mistake.

      Tip: Take a look at our post “Magento on Steroids – Best practice for highest performance

    3. Duplicate Content
      It´s not only a problem to deliver a shop page with www and without www at the same time. It´s also problematic if you copy content of other websites. Only unique content gets a good page rank in search engines.

    4. Quality of Content
      Make sure that your content is not just one big AD. Often additional information or a blog can give a big bonus in content quality. It´s also important for getting a better conversion rate.

Absolute SEO No Go! which are hard punished if they are detected

These tips are for users which have some experience in SEO. We know the situation well getting every day different offers for getting a higher search engine ranking. The following tips give you a good overview on what you never should do, if you love your shop!

  1. Spamlinks
    Too many low quality links in a short time: Often people think that spamming comment forms with links will help to get a better page rank. You can book this service at some SEO optimizing companies, but the effect is extreme negative, because nobody likes spam.

  2. Bought links
    We do not recommend to buy links. In the case a search engine detects that your links are bought to manipulate the search engine ranks, you get kicked out of search engine index. DO NOT BUY LINKS!

  3. Link exchange
    This is similar to 17. ( bought links ). Manipulate a search engine will never end in a good business. It costs time and money and the effect, if you get one, will only last for a short time. It´s just a question of time when you get kicked out.

  4. Hidden Links
    Hidden links mean hiding links by tricks in CSS and Java script. For this we have seen extensions, which we definitely not recommend to use.

  5. Too many links during a too short time
    Generating too many links in a too short time will be seen as unnatural link growing.

  6. Link origin
    Too many links from sites with a complete different language than yours.( Russia, China, India etc. )

  7. Links in a bad neighborhood
    These are links from spam sites or sites with bad content or sites with a complete different content to yours.

  8. Link networks
    Google isn´t stupid and it detects this kind of networks and the sites behind it in a very short time. This is similar to point 17.

  9. Broken Links
    Too many links which are not working. This goes to links on page and off page.Make sure that your shop works correctly.

  10. Over Linking
    Too many on-page links like Footer and Sidebar.

  11. SEO over optimizing
    This means a too strong optimize of all ( on-page ) ranking factors of your store.Anchor-Texts (A too big percentage on identical Anchor-Texts „Money-keywords“ )
    Keyword-stuffing ( A too high percentage on keywords on SEO relevant position like H1 )
    Element-stuffing ( A too high repetition of SEO relevant elements like H1 etc.)

  12. Content-spinning
    Too much built content on other pages only to generate back links.

  13. Cloaking
    Only for the search engine crawler built pages.

  14. Doorway pages
    These are high SEO optimized pages which are generated only to manipulate search engines results. Often companies book services which generate pages for their best selling keywords to generate more back links and clicks.

  15. Hidden text
    Embedding hidden text which is only seeable by the search engine.

  16. Click Fraud
    This happens if you order services which are clicking only on your search engine results to manipulate your CTR.

12 responses to Most common Magento SEO issues

  1. Excellent tips. We’ve been slammed by Penguin and dozens of hours of analysis don’t tell us why. But at least, with this list, we have a checklist of things for best SEO in Magento. I thought we were on top of it, but made a couple of changes based on your recommendations. Thanks!

  2. Great lsit and really something to check. Thank you for that!

    Talking about SEO and Google…..I have a strange problem….

    I have a magento multishop. It’s one shop in 3 languages. So we have all pages 3 times. in Dutch, German and English. Ofcourse we have connected the dutch written pages to the dutch storeview, the german written pages to the german storeview and for english idem. Each store view has als it’s own url:

    xxxxxx nl for Dutch
    xxxxxx de for German
    xxxx com for English
    I also have created a sitemap for each url.

    But hte strange thing in google is that when I checked pages that are ment .nl have description from the same page, but then in one of the other languages

    for example in google a dutch page with english description indexed:
    Dual snowboards – Visit Dual Snowboard Shop – Distributor …
    xxxx nl/ – Vertaal deze paginaDelen
    Dual snowboards – The latest winter sports craze and skiiing alternative . Dual Snowboards are spectacular, fun, innovative and unique. A combi of snowboard …

    I have tried to disable all “use default website” checkboxes for each storeview already, to be sure that all languages have their own description.

    Doe someone has an idea or solution or experiencing the same?

    • Hello,

      thank you for reading the article.

      I have taken a look at the nl domain and i get the english version. So google will have the same problem.

      At the moment all stores nl, de and com will deliver the english version.

      It is maybe a wrong setting in storeview configuration, but to give an clear answer on this we must analyze the problem first.

      For this please contact our support team at:

      http://www.mgt-commerce.com/contacts/

      Best regards,

      Raphael Laumann

  3. Thank for the nice post. Your oprimization techniques are very helpful.

  4. White Hat SEO Services March 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Brilliant article. I followed these steps and achieved good results. Thanks for sharing such stuff.

  5. GermanWatchBrands October 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. The tips you provide and your excellent SERP editor helped me a lot to get up in search results.

  6. Great help full SEO tips, Thank you raphael

  7. Very nicely written post it contains useful information for me.Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.

  8. Hello, its good piece of writing concerning

  9. Very good blog post. I definitely love this website.
    Keep writing!

  10. What’s Takking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I hqve found It positively useful and it has
    helped me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution &
    aid other customers like its helped me. Good job.

  11. Excellent tips regarding configuring your store for best seo practices. The past couple of months have been pretty tough for us, so let’s hope we start seeing some improvements with this changes. :) Thank you very much :)

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