Is it of any surprise for anyone why companies such as Burger King or Tom Dixon have their websites running on Magento? It's an e-commerce platform built with technical excellence in mind, no doubt about it, turbocharged with all the right features so that it boosts sales and increases user time on site. And yet: Magento also comes with plenty of SEO issues, right out-of-the-box!
Drawbacks such as:
- wrong use of header tags
- reverting URLs
- parameter URLs
- duplicate content
- slow page loading
... are just some of the "default" Magento technical SEO issues that you shouldn't just settle for, but consider addressing ASAP! This if you care enough for your e-commerce website to reach not just “technical excellence”, but great visibility in search engines, as well. Great conversation rates, too.
And now, allow me to break down further with my list of 5 most common SEO issues that arise when using Magento accompanied, of course, by their more or less complex technical fixes:
1. Page Speed Issues & Solutions
You either face it and address it or choose to overlook it and to simply put up with it: Magento is a slow e-commerce platform!
Yet, each problem has its own set of possible solutions. And the page speed problem, one of the easiest to fix Magento technical SEO issues, has a few solutions you could apply:
- just disable your Magento default logs and enable log cleaning
- use an image (and front-end assets) compression method that suits you best
- mind your server: make sure it has enough ram and that it's properly configured, too
And these are just 3, the handiest ones, solutions to the low page speed issue that Magento comes with... out-of-the-box!
2. Layered Navigation, Leading to Parameter URLs
Layered or “faceted” navigation sure comes in handy if you're selling an “overwhelming” diversity of products on your Magento website!
Yet, it also comes with the issue of “parameter URLs” (and it's not even Magneto-specific; you have to deal with it irrespective of the e-commerce platform that powers your online store).
Basically they're those additional URLs generated each time your users apply a new filter to their product searches (they could be searching clothes by... gender, by color, by price, you name it). And it's these parameter URLs that lead to:
- duplicate content
- indexation bloat
… so Google bots are challenged to crawl through and to index thousands of such URL parameters instead of just the core, relevant URLs on your website.
Now here's your “arsenal” of solutions at hand for this problem, by far one of the most prevalent Magento technical SEO issues:
2.1. Add a “Nofollow” to these Layered Navigation Links
Such a quick and easy fix: simply add “nofollow” to those specific URLs generated during the layered navigation, and Google won't “venture” crawling them! As simple as that!
2.2. Use AJAX Navigation
Now this is a “tricky” one! Not an easy to implement type of solution, so you'd better be aware of all the involved “risks” and technical hurdles beforehand:
- it can cause other technical “bad surprises” impacting your site's speed.
Yet, if implemented properly it will enable potential shoppers on your Magento website to select multiple options on your category/product pages (different colors or sizes) without changing the URL itself.
No matter how many filters your customers might pick for a single item, the URL stays the same when you have AJAX navigation implemented on your Magento website!
2.3. Change Parameters in Google Search Console
Another handy solution for you to handle the “parameter URLs issues” is to log into your Google Search Console and just change the way Google handles them.
www.your-domain.com >Crawl > URL parameters> Configure URL parameters
Why leave it to chance (“to Google” in this case), when you can amend the way the search engine handles those faceted navigation URLs yourself?
Simply let Google's bots know that they shoudn't crawl the content on those specific pages (by checking the due box, like in the image above) and declare specifically how parameters will change that content for your online visitors!
2.4. Disallow the URL Parameters in Robots.txt
How about, instead of letting Googe's bots know that there's no point in crawling those specific pages, you simply... blocked their access to parameter URLs?
Warning: this solution is highly UN-recommended if you're using PPC (or other campaigns) on your Magento website, as this blocking will interfere with it!
3. Product-Related SEO Issues
3.1. Manually Assign Product Title Tags & Use Templates With Multiple Product Variables
Face it, then find a way to solve it: Magento isn't built to handle product title tags or page header tags properly, from an SEO standpoint! Its pre-set way of handling this title tags is to just... use product names as title tags. As rudimentary as that!
Yet, it's one of those Magento technical SEO issues that you can easily address:
- manually enter title tags for those key web pages on your site
- opt for templates with several key product variables (gender, color, type etc.)
The last solution does come as a “compromise”, especially if it's a content-packed website, with thousands of product pages, that you deal with. The “manually adding title tags” type of approach is anything but time-effective in this case!
This type of SEO optimization might not seem of a critical importance to you, yet putting together the properly structured hierarchies on your product pages will ease Google crawlers' job tremendously.
And you do know what this means, don't you?
3.2. Use Canonical Tag Linking the Main Configurable Products
Let's take an hypothetical... t-shirt from your Magento online store: it comes in different variations of sizes, colors, patterns etc. How do you “joggle” with simple and configurable products (showing all the t-shirt variations without risking content duplication)?
How do you “joggle” with them and avoid the hurdle of rewriting the content for every single page associated with each product variant?
Easy: you use canonical tags linking back to the main configurable products. This way you'll be letting Google know that it's not separate product pages, having the same content, that it's crawling, but variants of the very same product instead!
3.3. Choose Top-Level Product URLs Over The Category Path URL Format
Here are the 2 “scenarios” that you get to choose from:
- you either opt for hierarchical product URLs, meaning that you choose a category path URL format and have all the categories and subcategories including a particular product “clustered” all in the same URL
- or you choose the “top-level product URLs” option from your Magento's settings and allow that a single URL format is used for the same product, even if it falls under multiple categories; example: http://www.domain.com/product-url.html
This way you'll avoid situations where two or more URLs get created for the same product, each new URL standing for one category that your product's listed on.
Practically going for the top-level product URL format you'll:
- have a single product variant nested under multiple categories
- minimize indexation bloat: multiple variations of the same product, each one with its individual URL...
4. URL Rewrites: One of the Most Common Magento Technical SEO Issues
It was about time that I pointed out an aspect where Magento does come well equipped from an SEO perspective: it automatically generates clean, user and search engine friendly URLs each time you add a new product page or a category page.
Yet! For there is an “yet” to it: Magento will also revert back (for no reason) these friendly URLs to their original paths, the moment you refresh a page, and will duplicate URLs based on page titles.
Handy solutions to this issue?
- block these so called “search engine friendly” URLs from your Robots.text file
- monitor them closely
4.1. Handle Number Appendages By Removing The Rewrites
Probably one of the most annoying Magento technical SEO issues is this one: the platform just adds a number to the end of the URLs that it rewrites!
“How so?” Practically it's simply replacing the old URLs without changing them, leading to duplicated URLs (all having a number attached to)
And the quick fix is: removing these rewritten URLs from the rewrite table itself! As simple as that!
So how do you properly handle pagination on your Magento-powered website while avoiding duplicate blocks of text? Same chunks of content that can appear on the second, the third (and so on) product listing page, too?
- use the proper tags to let the Google bots know that it's paginated pages that they're about to crawl: rel=”next” and rel=”prev”
- add the robots=”noindex, follow” tag to your paginated pages
There, problem solved! Now you can break your product listing pages into as many pages as necessary, without fearing that you might fall into a “duplicate content pitfall”!
And these are the Magento technical SEO issues that I've run into most frequently. How about you? What other problems have you had to overcome and what quick (or not) fixes have you successfully applied?