Ensure your Magento store is ready for search engines

We’ve worked with Magento for years, and see the same basic search engine optimisation errors on Magento stores we inherit again and again. This article lists some of the most common, and how you can correct them.

Magento 2 demo screenshot

by Richard Carter.

At Peacock Carter, we inherit our fair share of Magento websites built by other developers. Sadly, we see the same basic SEO mistakes again and again when undertaking our Magento search engine audits, so this article is here to help you avoid simple mistakes and improve your store’s search engine friendliness.

So, here is our list of 5 simple checks to ensure your Magento store is ready for search engines.

1. Ensure your default Magento page title isn’t “Home Page”

Magento SEO - change your homepage title!

The most common search engine mistake we see in Magento stores is that the homepage has the default page title of “Home Page”. This is bad for search engines for a few reasons:

  • Your page title for the homepage should contain your brand name (e.g., “Peacock Carter”)
  • Your homepage’s title should contain some relevant text about your business or organisation (e.g., “Designer Blue Widgets”)
  • So, a good example of a full homepage title should be something like “Designer Blue Widgets – Peacock Carter”

By leaving the default page title for your store in place, you’re missing a big chance to strengthen your visibility in search engines, so this is definitely worth changing!

You can correct this by editing the homepage for your store in Magento’s administration panel at CMS > Pages. If you’re unsure about what you need to do, you can always ask your Magento developers (or, if you don’t have one, we can recommend a great Magento agency for you!).

2. No <h1> heading on the homepage, or too many!

Magento SEO mistakes: add a h1 to your homepage

Another common error we see in Magento stores is the lack of a <h1> heading on the page. A <h1> is the most important heading in a page, and helps to tell search engines what your page is about. A good heading for this if your store sells designer blue widgets might then be:

Designer blue widgets by Peacock Carter

Again, you can correct this via CMS > Pages in your Magento store’s administration, and editing the Content panel. And be aware of Magento themes that use more than one h1 element (some popular Magento slideshow extensions do this), as this can dilute their value. More than one <h1> can be OK, but check with your SEO or digital marketing agency, or your Magento agency!

3. Magento’s default meta descriptions are still set

The next common SEO mistake we see in Magento stores is that the default meta description hasn’t been changed. The meta description is typically used in search engine listings, rather than shown on your website, and can be a key factor in converting users searching for phrases on your store.

The default meta description will be used in your Magento store every time a page doesn’t have a custom meta description set, so changing this to something more relevant to your store. A good meta description should be:

  • Written in full sentences
  • Contain a mention of a relevant key word or key phrase
  • Be between 150 and 160 characters in length

You can change your Magento store’s default meta description by navigating to the System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head page, and editing the Default Description panel.

Magento search engine optimisation - meta descriptions

4. Magento’s default page title is still set

Similar to the default meta description above, the default value for page titles in Magento is “Magento Commerce”, which is very unlikely to be relevant to your business!

You can change the default title description for your Magento store in the System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head section of Magento’s administration panel and looking for the Default Title field:

Magento SEO - default page title

5. Does your site’s XML sitemap exist?

An XML sitemap is one way you can tell search engines about all of the content on your website. Magento has a great tool built in to generate XML sitemaps automatically for you, so it’s a quick way to ensure all of your website is being indexed (seen) by search engines such as Google and Bing.

To generate your Magento XML sitemap, navigate to Catalogue > Google Sitemap in Magento’s admin panel, and follow this guide by Alan Storm.

If you use a custom address for your sitemap file (which is not something like http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml), be sure to use your site’s robot.txt file to tell search engines where they can find it – this is something you should ask your Magento developer or agency about.

Depending on your Magento set up, your sitemap may be automatically regenerated on a daily or weekly basis, or it may need to be manually updated; again, this is a question best asked to your Magento development agency.

Taking care of the SEO basics

By taking care of these SEO basics on your Magento store, you’re providing a better footing for search engines to explore, index and list your website, and therefore help to find you new customers.

If you’d like any help analysing your website’s search engine friendliness, we’d love to help you: please contact us to arrange a Magento SEO audit for your store.