Forty-three percent of traffic to ecommerce sites comes from organic search, which is far more than any other source. In fact, it’s more than paid search ads, email marketing and social media marketing combined.
You need customers for your store to succeed, of course — and to attract potential customers to your Magento site, you’ll need to make sure it’s featured prominently in search results.
And it’s not enough to just make it to the first page of results. For any given search query, about 75% of traffic goes to the top three results. Every site below that is just fighting for scraps.
The process of improving your site’s position in search rankings is known as search engine optimization (SEO). In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about improving SEO for your Magento store.
Search engine companies, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, want to ensure their results are highly relevant to what users are searching for. Otherwise, their users will become dissatisfied with their service and might leave them for a competitor — and when they start to lose users, they'll start to lose the ad dollars they depend on for their revenue.
So, the most important SEO techniques involve making your content more relevant to what search engine users are searching for. Or, more specifically, it involves designing your content in such a way that search engine algorithms determine it is highly relevant to what users are searching for.
Once you’ve decided which keywords you’re targeting, the following tips will help you make your way to the top of search rankings:
Your site won’t be featured on any results pages until it is first indexed by search engines.
Search engines use software called “crawlers” to build up their index of sites to include on results pages (for example, Google’s crawler is called Googlebot). Crawlers follow links from known pages in order to find new pages to add to the index.
Usually, site admins won’t need to do anything on their end for their pages to be added to a search engine’s index. The crawler will take care of it automatically. But crawlers can have trouble with sites that have a large number of pages, such as Magento stores. In that case, manually submitting your sitemap will ensure that all of your pages are indexed.
A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the URLs that make up your site. When a crawler needs to jump through several different links to access a page, they may never find it. But when a search engine has a sitemap to work with, they can access all your pages from one convenient location.
From the Magento admin dashboard, go to “Marketing” > “SEO & Search” > “Site Map,” and then click on “Add Sitemap” to create your sitemap file. After that, submit your sitemap to popular search engines such as Google and Bing.
Now that your sitemap has been submitted, let’s return to the concept of keywords and relevance.
When there’s a keyword you’re targeting, you’ll need to use that keyword strategically throughout your content in order for the page to be picked up by search engine algorithms. But you don’t want to use the keyword too much on the page, or else you’ll be penalized for keyword stuffing.
Quality over quantity is the best approach to take with your keywords. Search engine algorithms are configured to place extra importance on the title and headings of your page, as these areas indicate what the entire page is about. So, this is a place where you absolutely must include your keywords.
To avoid the keyword stuffing problem but still get your content noticed by search engines, pay attention to the other areas where you can include your keyword. For example, search engine algorithms will take the URL of a page into account when determining what it is about.
And in addition to the URL, include your keyword in the meta tags for your page’s title and description — this is what’s displayed on results pages, and search engine algorithms analyze this area as well.
To edit URLs, meta titles and meta descriptions in Magento, simply go to the “Search Engine Optimization” section in the settings of the page.
Image titles are yet another area in which you can include targeted keywords to improve SEO. Instead of doing this manually, we recommend you save time by using a plugin like SEO Friendly Images to automatically edit the titles of uploaded images to include the name of the product (for example, “IMG10005” could be changed to “butcher-block-countertop”).
This app costs $25, and it’s available for the Open Source version of Magento.
Again, search engine companies want their users to be satisfied with the results that their service produces. And no matter what kind of content is on your site, visitors aren’t going to be satisfied if it takes forever to load.
That’s why Google has included site speed as a ranking factor for web search since 2010 and mobile search since 2018. Poor performance is going to make it all but impossible for you to climb to the top of search rankings.
Hosting is critically important when it comes to the speed of your site. If your load times are sluggish, look into upgrading the plan you have with your hosting provider, or you may need to look for a new hosting provider altogether.
Beyond hosting, there are a number of Magento plugins you can install to boost your store’s performance, such as:
Submit your sitemap, don’t forget about meta tags/image titles, and improve performance — complete these three steps, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing SEO dominance and pulling traffic away from your competitors.
Address any SEO issues on your Magento store today, and your future self will thank you tomorrow.
Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.