Ultimate Magento SEO Checklist – Magento SEO Mistakes

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one the most important factor which influence perspective customers, a better ranking store will get good number of customers despite competition. Having said that, i know it’s not an easy task to optimize a Magento store for better SEO. There are many loop holes (default settings) in Magento which needs to be tweaked to ensure proper SEO of the store. Some of these Magento SEO items are very easy to accomplish whereas some may require a strategy. If you aren’t a Magento SEO expert, don’t worry, as we will present the ultimate Magento SEO Checklist for you to follow.

Magento SEO Checklist & SEO Configuration

A good majority of SEO items can be configured via Magento Admin Panel, i am listing one by one here

Store Homepage title as “Home”

We have noticed many new Magento store doesn’t provide valid store title containing primary and secondary keyword. e.g. Primary Keyword, Secondary Keyword – MyStore.com can be a good title. Considering you have researched these keyword in accordance to your business strategy. To set a new Store Home page title just go to Admin => System => Configuration => Design => HTML Head =>Default Title

Default Store Description

Found at System => Configuration => Design => HTML Head => Default description, store owners in general add well researched description here, which contains well researched keywords too. So, where is the problem? Well, the primary problem is the duplication. If default description is given, this default description is supplied to all those pages where you haven’t added custom meta description. You might end up having too many pages with same description. To avoid this, just leave this as blank.

Default Keywords

Found at System => Configuration => Design => HTML Head => Default Keywords, pose similar duplicate keywords problem as stated above. Best strategy is to keep this field as blank, especially if you are going to meta keyword by your own for all category, CMS and product pages. If you are not going to add meta keywords on all pages you have keep default keywords but beware of the duplicate keywords issue.

Index, Follow and Cononical Issues

When you push your site from staging (Development) to production (Live), the default settings are copied over which is noindex, nofollow telling Google and other search engines not to index or follow the site. Which is a small but major SEO mistake. Instead default, switch to System => Configuration => Design => HTML Head => Default robots “INDEX, FOLLOW” . Similarly, set up rel=canonical on. I prefer turning canonical “ON” for categories and products both, which saves me from duplicate content issues to some extent. To change go here System => Configuration => Catalog => Search Engine Optimizations set as Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories and Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products.

Logo alt title

Default Magento installation comes with logo alt attribute as “Magento Commerce” which should be changed to your store title. This is simple to change, just go here System => Configuration => Design => Header => Logo Image Alt. I prefer giving my store title as Logo title or leave it blank.

Categories Path for Product URLs

Go here System => Configuration => Catalog => Use Categories Path for Product URLs and set as YES. Once set, do not change this EVER. If you are unsure just leave it NO.

Don’t forget Permanent Redirect (Redirect 301) if URLs are changed

Go here System => Configuration => Catalog => Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs if Url key changed. Mart the setting as YES to tell search engines that the page is permanently moved to new URL.

www v/s no www

It’s debatable that which is better www.store.com or store.com (without www). Google treat both as separate sites. Unfortunately, if not handled, this also invites duplicate content penalty. To resolve this, lets stick with one option either “www” or “no www”, then go here System => Configuration => Web => Unsecure => Base URL. Our goal is the redirect the other option to the chosen domain. “non-www” to “www” or vice versa. Then go here System => Configuration => Web => Search Engines Optimization => Use Web Server Rewrites on as YES. Finally, based on the choice you made ensure that the .htaccess file has automatic redirect code like shown below: www

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

no www

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


Don’t forget to create sitemap.xml containing your latest categories, products links. Sitemap.xml should be submitted to search engines like Google. Creating a sitemap is very easy, just go here Catalog => Google Sitemap and submit it via Google Webmaster tool.

SEO Penalty on Multi-stores

While creating and managing multi-stores don’t forget to ensure that all pages, content, urls, meta descriptions and keywords are different otherwise you will see adverse effect on your store’s SEO simply, because Google will detect a single IP with lots of duplicate contents.

Magento Layered Navigation SEO Issues

Magento layered navigation if not used properly can invite lots of identical, near-duplicate or duplicate content. If you are big fan of Magento layered navigation then don’t forget to think about duplicate content issue. Best is to show layered navigation to your users and NOT Google (search engines) via some cookie or AJAX request so those layered navigation pages aren’t indexed. To check the status log on to Google Webmaster tool => Health => Fetch as Googlebot and see if layered navigation pages are indexed.

Leave us a comment and let us know your own SEO tips, how you manage and tweak your Magento store for better SEO rankings. Did this Magento SEO Checklist helped you tweak your Magento Store?

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