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The Ultimate Guide to Common Magento SEO Issues with Solutions

By September 12, 2017Opinion
The Ultimate Guide to Common Magento SEO Issues

Major brands like Tom Dixon, Ford, BVLGARI, Liverpool FC, Paul Smith, Helly Hansen, FoxConnect, Oliver Sweeney, Vizio and much more are on Magento. While Magento has many benefits of its own, it comes with few issues too.

That being said, our expert Magento developers and SEO experts have covered many common SEO issues with detailed solutions for you in this article. So that you leave from here with answers and not more questions. Instead of writing a few we’ve listed out a wide variety of SEO issues that you can encounter on Magento 1xx and Magento 2xx.

SEO goes hand in hand with web development. Making or having a great product online is not enough on its own. It has to be marketed properly through many channels and especially on search engines.

Table of content:

  • Mobile
  • Product URL issues
    • Categories Path for Product URLs
  • Configurable and Simple Products
  • Product Title and Header Tags
  • Layered Navigations & Parameter URLs
    • URL Parameters in Google Search Console (Google Webmaster)
    • Robots.txt
    • Nofollow to Layered Navigation Links
  • AJAX Navigation
  • Pagination
  • Default Title
  • Default Description
  • Default Keywords
  • Logo Title
  • Canonical
  • URL Rewrites
  • Permanent 301 Redirect for old URLs
  • Web Server Rewrites (www vs. non-www)
  • Sitemap.xml

Mobile

Nowadays, more people are using mobile to surf the net and buy products through E-commerce websites. So it is very crucial that the mobile pages load faster. Magento platform is slow, and sometimes this slow page loading can have an adverse impact on organic search performance.

The slow website impacts the search engine’s bot’s ability to crawl the website faster, and it is also bad for users coming to your site.

Here we are listing some common fixes that you can do before and after setup for speeding up the Magento installation

  • CloudFlare is a good content delivery network among many that you can use, and it’s Argo product is worth trying if the traffic coming to your website is high.
  • In the backend, enable the log cleaning after disabling the default Magento log setting.
  • Correctly configure a server and use sufficient RAM.
  • To load the pages faster, you can compress images and front-end resources without affecting the quality. This will reduce the weight of resources and will give a good boost especially on mobile devices

Product URL issues

Mostly the product URLs hierarchy include every category and subcategory

Example: http://www.domain.com/category/subcategory/product-url.html

But this may cause duplication issue in Magento because of multiple variations of the same products on separate URLs. This issue doesn’t only happen in Magento but in many other e-commerce platforms (chiefly in WooCommerce).

The solution is to use top-level product URLs option in Magento settings. Especially if your website is getting migrated from legacy to Magento.

Example of top-level URL: http://www.domain.com/product-url.html

This single version of URL format will be used in different categories for the same products which will help in avoiding duplication.

Example: For a product, suppose a women’s white shirt is a product, and it’ll go in two categories below.

Category 1: http://www.demo-cloth-store.com/women-clothing/new-arrivals/

Category 2: http://www.demo-cloth-store.com/women-clothing/office-attires/

and the product URL is top-level as shown below.

Product URL: http://www.demo-cloth-store.com/womens-white-shirt.html

There will be no duplications or any confusions if the same product is in two or more categories.

If you go with the category path hierarchy URL format, it will produce two different URLs for the same product. Top-level URL format is better for e-commerce websites.

But if you are using or decided to use category path hierarchy URL format then make sure you use canonicals to tell the search engine crawlers the main version of each product.

Categories Path for Product URLs

If you want your product URLs to have a category in it like this:

https://www.demo-store.com/category-name/product-name.html

Then go to:

Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations > Use Categories Path for Product URLs

And set it “Yes”.

Configurable and Simple Products

Many people either do not know or are confused what a Configurable Product is. So I’ll start by explaining what it is.

The shopper can select options from drop-down lists, for example, while looking for a shirt the customer will see different sizes and colors in the drop down list of a product. The reason why the shopper was able to see the list in the drop-down is that the product is configured.

All the variations of sizes and colors are considered as separate simple products in Magento.

Most of the e-commerce vendors will use simple products with configurable products to enhance the user experience by providing all the variations on one product page.

Writing the content separately for all simple product is highly unlikely. So to avoid duplication issue, you’ll need to use canonical tag linking the main configurable product. It will tell Google and other search engines that they are variants of one item.

Product Title and Header Tags

Magento by default takes the product name as title tag and does not properly use the header tags. This will be not helpful from SEO perspective.

Manually assigning the title tag is a good way to optimize. But large e-commerce websites will have more than hundreds or thousands of products and writing title tags for the all pages would not be the best approach considering the time it will take.

Using a template for products with their variable like type (shirt), color (white), brand name, gender could be effective for a large number of pages. The title tags of the ones that are important for you can be manually optimized.

Header tags may not be given much importance while building a website so many times there will be a lot of H1s in product pages or none at all. It is important that the hierarchy of the pages are correct.

Layered Navigations & Parameter URLs

Layered navigation is also known as faceted navigation or faceted search or faceted browsing. It helps users to search by product characteristics by applying multiple filters.

Let’s look at the example of Cicero supply website. As we can see, the products can be searched by category, price, and manufacturer. Layered navigation is marked with a red box in the below image.

Users can get the desired list of products based on their preference. The layered navigation is handy for business offering a wide variety of products such as Cicero Supply Mfg. & Supply Company, Inc.

Cicero-layered-navigation-example-1-940x1024

Apart from being helpful to users, this technique creates content duplication issues and over-indexation, no matter which platform is used.

The URLs which get generated by using faceted navigation are called as parameter URLs.

Example: https://www.demo-store.com/category/sub-category.html?cat=35&manufacturer=12&price=-100

And these generated parameter URLs get often indexed. One way to be sure if the URL is parameter URL or not is that the parameter URL will always have “?” in it.

Indexation of these parameter URLs is an issue from SEO perspective. Google bot crawls a website in parts at a time. Crawler should be given only relevant URLs to crawl and index.

So what can be the solutions to this problem?

URL Parameters in Google Search Console (Google Webmaster)

URL-Parameters-in-Search-console-1024x174

Log in to your search console and follow the steps below:

www.your-domain.com > Crawl > URL parameters > Configure URL parameters

One easy way is to change how Google handles the URL in Google Search Console.

URL-Parameters-in-Search-console-2

After clicking on “Edit” for “manufacturer” and then selecting “Yes: Changes, reorders, or narrows page content” option, the below options appeared. Same way you can choose the options and tell Google bot not to crawl the content. The issue of duplication and indexing of these URLs can be prevented.

Robots.txt

By disallowing the parameter in the robots.txt file, you can block the search engine bot’s access to parameter URLs.

Example: Disallow: /*?

But if you are using PPC or other campaigns, then this way is not recommended.

Nofollow to Layered Navigation Links

Search engine bots won’t crawl the links if “Nofollow” is used on the layered navigation links. If the links are in the sitemap or other areas of the website, the links can be discovered and appear in search engine result page (SERPs).

AJAX Navigation

When users select any option from products or categories page, the URL will stay the same if AJAX navigation is used. For example, when a user is on a shirt product page, different colors or sizes are selected from the drop down options, no matter how many changes the users do in the selection, the URL stays the same.

The URL won’t change, but AJAX navigation implementation can cause issues like slow website speed, excess JavaScript, and other technical issues. Experience Magento developer will be needed to implement this solution correctly.

Pagination

In the category page, a pagination happens when a user clicks to “Next” or “2 or 3..” button at the bottom of the products listings to see the next page for more products in the same category.

Example:

Pagination-example

On the second page, the URL will look something like this on Magento:

For page 2: https://www.demo-store.com/category-name.html?p=2

For page 3: https://www.demo-store.com/category-name.html?p=3

And so on. Only specific number of products are displayed (10, 20, 30 per page). It is useful for users, but it can lead to duplicate portions of text.

Google introduced the rel= “next” and rel= “prev” tags to tell Google Search Console (Google Webmaster) that the pages are paginated. This is a simple solution that will fix the problem.

While at it, you can do one more thing to ensure the results, put robots=”noindex, follow” tag to the paginated pages.

Default Title

Many times when a new website is launched, the homepage title shows “Home” instead of a proper title relating to the business.

Fixing this issue is very easy. Login to your website’s admin panel and go to:

Content > Design > Configuration > Edit (Main Website Store) > HTML Head > Default Title

Give a better name to your homepage title. Titles are an important factor for ranking, use keywords in your title.

Default Description

Default description should be left empty as wherever the meta descriptions of the pages are missing; the default description will be put causing duplicate meta descriptions.

This setting is found here: Content > Design > Configuration > Edit (Main Website Store) > HTML Head > Default Description

Default Keywords

Like default description, leave this blank too. The default keywords will be placed wherever meta keywords are missing from the pages. It is always better to write meta keywords for every category, product and CMS page.

This setting is found here: Content > Design > Configuration > Edit (Main Website Store) > HTML Head > Default Keywords

Logo Title

A proper alt title name has to be given to the store logo else the logo title may show “Magento Commerce” if left empty. Put good logo image alt name to solve this,

Go here:

Content > Design > Configuration > Edit (Main Website Store) > Header > Logo Image Alt

Welcome Text” can be left empty.

Canonical

Turning canonical ON in the admin panel for product and category pages will save you from a lot of duplicate content issues. It ensures that the canonical tag points to the primary or main version of product and category pages at all times.

This setting is found here: Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations > “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories”

and just below it “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products.”

URL Rewrites

Search Engine Friendly URLs (URL Rewrites) are automatically generated by Magento when a product or category is created. The SEF URLs (Search Engine Friendly URLs) make the links more readable for not only search engines but also for users.

When adding or editing a category or product, you can specify the URL key the way you want instead of letting Magento do it. Magento by default will take the product name or category name and generate a clean URL.

URL-key-in-magento-1024x382

The path to reach here for adding a new product:

Products > Catalog > Add Product (top-right of the screen) > Search Engine Optimization > URL Key

The path to reach here for editing an existing product:

Products > Catalog > Edit (under Action for the product you want) > Search Engine Optimization > URL Key

The URL key specifies the URL for the product. For example, if you define “demo-product” as the URL key, then the URL for the product will be:

http://www.demo-store.com/demo-product.html

If for some reason the product or category clean URLs are deleted then an issue may arise that Magento will show URLs that are non-SEO friendly which may look something like this:

http://www.demo-store.com/catalog/category/view/” or

http://www.demo-store.com/catalog/product/view/”

For example:

http://www.demo-store.com/catalog/product/view/id/138

These URLs might be useful from developer’s and administrator’s perspective, but to users and search engines these URLs are not much of value. The URL Rewrites allows you to turn these URLs into friendly URLs instead. Also, no 301 or 302 redirections is given to these new unclean URLs, so the old URL path gets lost.

There can be many reasons why something like this could happen, but a cause is something that is interfering with new link generation like a third party faulty extension.

One of the solution to fix this is by selecting those products in product grid, select update attribute and add them to your main website and save.

Step 1: Go to Products > Catalog > Select the products > Actions > Update attributes

URL-rewrite-fix-1-1024x485

Step 2: Tick the “Main Website” box and Save.

URL-rewrite-fix-2-1024x306

Also, these URLs can be blocked via “robots.txt” so their indexing by search engine won’t happen.

Permanent 301 Redirect for old URLs

If something is changed in URL keys when the page has moved to new URL, then the search engines must know about it.

You can easily tell the search engine by setting and making sure that this field is set to “Yes” in the backend. The permanent redirection will pass the value to the new URL.

You can find it here:

Store > Configuration > Catalog > Create Permanent Redirect for URLs if Url Key Changed > Yes

Web Server Rewrites (www vs. non-www)

While making a new website, many times this issue arises which is not focused on in first place.

A website homepage can open as:

Example:

http://www.demo-store.com

http://demo-store.com

As you can see one URL is with “www” and the other is without “www.” Either one you can choose to go with but not both. If the page is loading for both the URLs, then it will have the duplicate content issue.

From SEO perspective, either one is fine to go with. Once you choose which one you want, then you need to give permanent redirect (301) to the non-preferable URL for the preferable URL.

You can setup your domain at:

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

First, you need to put your selected base URL and put in boxes of “Base URL” and “Base Link URL.”

Second, On the same page, you’ll see “Use Web Server Rewrites” under “Search Engine Optimization” and set it to “Yes.”

Third, under “Url Options” you’ll see “Auto-redirect to Base URL,” select “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)”

And Save.

Refer to the screenshot below:

URL-rewrite-procedure-1024x495

You should also check configuration file used by servers.

In Apache servers – open your .htaccess file with an editor to put an automatic redirect.

If you want redirection from “domain-name.com” to “www.domain-name.com” put below lines in the file:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.domain-name.com$ [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain-name.com/$1 [L,R=301]

If you want redirection from “www.domain-name.com” to “domain-name.com” put below lines in the file:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.domain-name.com$

RewriteRule ^/?$ “http://domain-name.com/” [R=301,L]

In Nginx server – it is easy to do. In Nginx, Vhost configuration file put the line of preferred domain name version you want.

If you want redirection from “domain-name.com” to “www.domain-name.com” then put:

rewrite ^domain-name.com www.domain-name.com permanent;

If you want redirection from “www.domain-name.com” to “domain-name.com” then put:

rewrite ^www.domain-name.com domain-name.com permanent;

Sitemap.xml

A sitemap is important for all website. It tells the search engine crawlers what relevant pages to index and give more priority based on content and its frequency of updating.

You can easily create a new sitemap in Magento by going to:

Marketing > SEO & Search > Site Map > Add Sitemap > Put the details > Save & Generate

If you already have a sitemap than in here:

Marketing > SEO & Search > Site Map

You can click on “Generate” and the existing sitemap will be updated.

If you want to make more customize changes to the sitemap in Categories Options, Products Options, CMS Pages Options, Generation Settings, Sitemap File Limits, Search Engine Submission Settings. Here you can customize frequency, priority, maximum number of URLs per file, maximum file size, enable submission to robots.txt.

Go to: Stores > Configuration > Catalog > XML sitemap

Mostly, don’t change anything if you are not sure. One thing you can set “Yes” to is “Enable Submission to Robots.txt” which will put your website’s sitemap URL in the robots.txt file directly without having to modify the robots.txt file manually.

It is better to check your sitemap before submitting it to Google Search Console (Google Webmaster)

Conclusion

E-commerce website means you’ll have many products to sell and thus it becomes more important to focus on SEO than in any other condition. It is more important to find and fix the existing issues on the website or making sure new Magento website is properly setup with most of the best SEO practices to get the most traffic on the website.

We hope our detailed and easy to understand common Magento SEO issue guide was beneficial to you and you’ll keep coming back to it now and then for more information and to figure out why, what, how the problems arise in Magento and what to do to fix it.

Humcommerce is an e-commerce web development agency with highly qualified developers and SEO experts to cater to all your e-commerce needs. Contact us today to know how we can take your online business to the top.

 

Editorial Staff

About Editorial Staff

We are a team of Magento ecommerce developers and SEO experts at Humcommerce. We write about anything and everything which can help you run your Magento 2 ecommerce store better.