Magento SEO: 5 Best Practices To Optimise Your Store

5 practical Magento SEO tips to help you optimise your Magento stores SEO performance.

5 Critical Magento Optimisations for SEO

Magento 2 offers several features to help merchants optimise their stores for search engines. Some of these Magento SEO features work straight out of the box.

For instance, Magento’s product template includes data markup based on Schema.org standards. Thus it provides search engine crawlers with helpful information to display besides product listings as rich snippets.

However, operating a Magento store on its default settings is unlikely to help you rank on search engine results pages (SERPs.) This is because several Magento SEO features require fine-tuning for optimal performance.

So, if you’re battling a low-ranking store and are looking for a way to boost your organic rankings, here are five Magento SEO tips to help you optimise your store for search engines.

1. Improve Your Store Performance

Google rolled out the page experience update for mobile devices between June and August of 2021. This update introduced several new ranking signals, including Core Web Vitals, that are essential for a user-friendly browsing experience.

So, if your Magento website is slow, it’s unlikely to rank on Google. Over the years, we’ve found that common reasons for poor Magento 2 performance include:

  1. Poorly configured hosting.
  2. Bloated themes and excessive use of extensions.
  3. Incorrectly configured caching systems.
  4. Unoptimised store media.

The easiest way to identify if these affect your Magento SEO performance is using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool checks the mobile and desktop versions of your online store for six metrics, such as:

  1. First Contentful Paint (FCP.)
  2. Speed Index.
  3. Largest Contentful Paint (LSP.)
  4. Time to Interactive.
  5. Total Blocking Time (TBT.)
  6. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS.)

It provides you with actionable insights to help you improve your site speed. For example, suppose PageSpeed Insights scores your site FCP as Poor. In that case, you can implement the following measures to enhance store performance:

  1. Increase server resources.
  2. Enable Varnish for Full-page caching.
  3. Enable HTML and CSS minification in Magento 2.
  4. Optimise store media and serve it in next-gen image formats.
  5. Use a Content Delivery Network.

2. Optimise Your Store Metadata

Metadata such as the meta title and meta description help search engines understand your website and index it for relevant search queries.

In the absence of metadata, search engines rely on your on-page SEO to understand and categorise your site pages. And, likely, your page content isn’t optimised for crawlers, only for humans.

Fortunately, Magento 2 takes the guesswork out of metadata optimisation. Here’s a quick overview of how to optimise the product page metadata of your Magento 2 store:

ALT: add store meta data for Magento SEO

  1. Log in to the Magento admin, navigate to Catalog > Catalog > Products, and click Edit to start editing a product.
  2. Find and expand the Search Engine Optimization section.
  3. Add relevant content in the Meta Title and Meta Description areas.
  4. Click Save.

Pro Tip: Try to incorporate relevant keywords and highlight your value proposition in the meta description of each page to maximise click-throughs.

3. Use SEO-Friendly URLs

Besides metadata, search engines rely on URLs for context and to orient themselves on your website. So, Google recommends that “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible.” This means that your URLs should be:

  1. Descriptive.
  2. Readable.
  3. Logically organised.

By default, Magento 2 adds an index.php suffix to all URLs and a .html extension to product and category page URLs. These suffixes increase the length of the URLs without adding any value to the site URL structure.

Therefore, it’s worth removing these to shorten your store URLs and make them reader-friendly. However, you should only do this if your store is new and hasn’t been indexed by search engines.

Updating the URL structure on an old store can hurt its SEO. When search engines crawl your online store and discover a new URL structure, they’ll treat those URLs as new pages, and you’ll lose any authority you’ve built for your store and product pages.

Follow these steps to remove the index.php suffix from your Magento store:

ALT: use seo-friendly urls in Magento 2

  1. Navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration > General > Web and expand the Search Engine Optimization section.
  2. Update the value for Use Web Server Rewrites to Yes.
  3. Click Save Config.

Additionally, you can remove the .html URL extension as follows:

ALT: remove URL suffixes to improve Magento 2 SEO

  1. Navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization.
  2. Uncheck Use system value for Product URL Suffix and replace the default value with “/”.
  3. Repeat the process for Category URL Suffix.
  4. Click Save Config.

Finally, make sure you refresh your store cache after updating the URL settings.

4. Set Up Canonicalization

Duplicate content isn’t just a Magento SEO problem. Even major content management systems like WordPress suffer from it.

Fortunately, Google understands that not all duplicate content is deceptive. And so, they recommend you use canonical URLs to point crawlers to the preferred version of a URL.

Canonicalization preserves your crawl budget and allows search engines to focus resources towards crawling and indexing important parts of your website. Moreover, it ensures that all backlinks to your store increase the authority of the correct pages.

Although some platforms need extensions for canonicalization, you can set it up in Magento with a few clicks as follows:

ALT: configure canonicalization to improve Magento 2 SEO

  1. Navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization in the admin.
  2. Update the settings for Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories and Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products to Yes.
  3. Click Save Config.

After this, Magento will apply canonical tags to your category and product pages. So the next time the Googlebot lands on your website, it’ll know which pages to ignore and which to index.

5. Optimise Your Store Sitemap & robots.txt Files

The sitemap and robots.txt files are powerful tools for improving your Magento SEO performance. Together, they help you:

  1. Use crawl budgets efficiently.
  2. Inform search engines about which pages they should or shouldn’t crawl.
  3. Prevent crawlers overloading your site with requests during crawls.

Magento optimises the robots.txt file by default. But you can take it a step further and add custom directives for your website as follows:

ALT: optimise robots.txt file for Magento SEO

  1. Navigate to Content > Design > Configuration.
  2. Click on edit beside the Global configuration in the first row.
  3. Scroll to the Search Engine Robots section.
  4. Set Default Robots to INDEX,FOLLOW.
  5. Add your custom directives in the Edit Custom instruction of robots.txt file text area.
  6. Click Save Configuration.

Magento 2 lets you customise your XML sitemap and direct search engine crawlers to important pages. Although the exact settings for optimal Magento SEO performance vary for each website, here are some best practices to get you started:

  1. Ensure your sitemap is updated daily.
  2. Set the sitemap generation time to a low-traffic hour.
  3. Avoid listing more than 50,000 URLs per file.
  4. Submit the sitemap to the robots.txt file.
  5. Submit the sitemap to Google via the Google Search Console.

It’s worth mentioning that your site won’t be penalized for a missing sitemap or robots file. However, having them improves the chances of your store pages being crawled and indexed quickly.

Closing Thoughts: Magento SEO Tips To Improve Organic Rankings

SEO is an ongoing process. You need to refine, evaluate, and iterate to improve your Magento 2 SEO performance and maintain your rankings.

With Magento’s in-built SEO features, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to rank on Google. And although Magento SEO extensions can help, there’s a lot you can do to build an online presence without them.

We hope our Magento SEO checklist helps you build a solid foundation for your store. And if you’re looking for more ways to take your SEO strategy to the next level, here’s a helpful Magento SEO audit to get you started.