Magento SEO Tips: Q&A with Magento SEO Consultant Paul Rogers

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Magento SEO Tips with Paul Rogers

Search Engine Optimisation plays an essential part of an eCommerce web store’s discoverability, generating increased traffic and boosting sales. However, Magento SEO can be extremely complex to master with even the most experienced SEO professionals requiring assistance.

We caught up with Magento SEO consultant Paul Rogers to provide some valuable tips and insights to help you resolve any SEO related issues you may encounter.

Paul is a London-based Magento SEO consultant and digital strategist who works with retailers from all over the world. He has been working exclusively with Magento retailers for the last 5 years and has been working in SEO for the last 8 years. He is also in the process of launching a startup called Audited which delivers enterprise-level digital marketing and technical audits.

What are the common challenges faced by companies running Magento?

Magento is a very powerful eCommerce platform that is used by lots of huge retailers – but there are issues that both small and large retailers tend to face a lot. One of the biggest ones is performance, which comes as a result of the platform being so robust. There are lots of things that can be done to improve the performance (such as using page caching, an optimised server, serving assets via a CDN and standard procedures for optimising JS and CSS), but lots of smaller retailers especially seem to struggle in this area.

Merchandising has historically been another area where retailers had had problems, but Magento recently added Visual Merchandiser to the Enterprise Edition, which is a big move for them. You can also look at platforms like SLI systems or Locayta amongst others.

SEO is another area that people definitely struggle with (as I’ll cover in the other questions).

What are the key points to consider when configuring Magento for search engines?

The main principle that needs to be applied to Magento SEO (and eCommerce SEO in general) is that you need to be very careful around what content you’re letting Google and the other search engines index. Magento’s out of the box config will leave search pages, layered navigation pages, sort / order pages and several others accessible to search engines – which can cause a lot of serious issues.

I’ve worked with lots of retailers that have been impacted as a result of this issue, some of which have led to panda issues.

Other areas I guess are more focused on staying on top of the technical SEO – if you’re doing caching, make sure that you’re not impacting the pages, if you’re having issues with URL rewrites, make sure you get them resolved etc.

What is the most common Magento SEO issue and how can it be overcome?

There are a lot of complex SEO issues associated with the Magento platform and the most common ones that I face are dynamic pages being indexed and issues with Magento’s rewrite functionality (which can cause a lot issues with adding and removing mass redirects – I wrote about this here).

I guess out of the two – the dynamic pages is definitely the biggest one. As I mentioned above, this is very common and it’s something that’s a problem out of the box so lots of Magento retailers face it. This issue is that for each category that has filters, there are a huge number of dynamic variants that could be indexed.

There are a number of options for resolving the issue – you could use the canonical tag to essentially communicate that the filter pages are secondary variants of the primary category page. This is an option in the Magento back-end, but I’ve found in most cases that the canonical tag won’t prevent the pages from being indexed.

You could also choose to use meta robots tags, which is generally the route that I follow. I usually recommend using a Magento extension to apply noindex, follow tags using URL-based rules. This will also allow you to submit manual removal requests if you’re wanting to get pages out of the index quickly.

You could also use the robots.txt file, but I’d usually only do this if there’s a huge number of dynamic pages needing to be blocked – just to aid crawlability if there are links that you want Google to crawl on the pages.

This article will give you more guidance around dealing with dynamic pages and Magento.

Does using Magento Enterprise over Magento Community offer any significant SEO advantages?

No, there’s no SEO benefit in using Magento Enterprise, although it does offer lots of other advantages. I guess you could argue that, due to the out of the box caching, there is a performance improvement that could impact SEO. This piece is quite a good resource for getting a full overview of the differences between CE and EE.

What customer review extension do you recommend and is there any added SEO benefit?

I always recommend BazaarVoice just because it’s got a lot of functionality and it’s very flexible. That said, it can be a bit of a nightmare from an SEO perspective – I wrote this piece about Magento review platforms, which provides more guidance on other options as well as configuration. This piece from InFlow is also a really useful resource.

What Magento migration SEO tips can you provide to avoid a drop in organic traffic?

My main tip for a Magento-specific migration would be to just avoid the main technical SEO issues that occur with Magento, as they can cause a drop in organic traffic very quickly. I was recently working with a large US-based Magento retailer who lost a considerable amount of organic traffic / revenue after they launched because of the inflated number of low quality pages being indexed.

Other mistakes I see retailers make is replacing existing static sub-category pages with dynamic filter pages, which would either lead to the same issue or, if you block them, reduce the number of keywords you’re able to target.

I wrote this Magento specific piece on re-platforming and this is a really good overall guide to migration SEO.

Working for a Magento partner, what do you believe to be the top considerations to take into account when selecting a Magento supplier?

Due to the number of unqualified Magento suppliers out there, I’d suggest that people looking at agencies with certified development teams – this is a really good indication that the agency know what they’re doing. I’d also suggest looking for agencies that have worked on complex projects and then also maybe asking to speak to their clients about how they managed their project – there’s a lot to be said for process and this is usually a good indication of how good an agency is.

I guess a lot depends on the budget as well, as those looking to develop a Magento Enterprise website on a lower budget aren’t necessarily going to be able to follow this advice. I’d probably suggest doing research around the internet on agencies and their projects and finding people who’ve worked with agencies in the past and asking for their recommendations – I’ve had this quite a lot in the past.

You could also use the Magento Partner Portal, which has lots of good agencies listed.

Lastly, how do you think Magento SEO will mature over the next 12 months?

I guess the biggest thing is going to be how SEO changes as part of Magento 2.0, which will finally be released later this year. I think there’ll probably be some additions in there around the prevention of the most common issues, but I doubt there’ll be too much of an overhaul in terms of overall flexibility for the user.

You can find out more about Magento 2.0 here.

We would like to say a big thank you to Paul for taking the time to participate in the Magento SEO Tips Q&A.

Magento SEO

Paul Rogers, Magento SEO consultant.

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