Technical SEO in Magento
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 35 seconds
More and more ecommerce websites are being built on the Magento platform but the number of technical SEO resources remains few and far between. There are a lot of good extensions out there, particularly from Yoast, who also has the best starter guide too so make sure you check that out.
Magento is one of the most search engine friendly e-commerce platforms around but even for simple setups there are always the inevitable head scratching moments for people who are new to the platform. This is hopefully where I come in, as I have compiled a small list (that I will update as time goes on either from experience or from the comments column) which covers some of the first stages of the techical SEO side of a campaign. This includes how to sync your Google Base account with Magento to perform product uploads, the magic of path hints for changing on page elements to implementing the EPDQ payment platform.
Claiming and Verifying website for WMT
Clearly not the most difficult issue you are going to run into but if you don’t want to wait for the clients developers to drop a meta tag into the homepage of the site or upload a html file you can do it yourself.
Go to system => configuration => Design => HTML Head => Miscellaneous Scripts
You can enter the meta tag here in order to claim and verify your site.
You can do lots of other worthwhile SEO activities whilst in the ‘design’ section. The two changes below are especially important if your client is a heavily led product based site.
- Changing the default title and meta description tag (however, always try to create unique meta tags if you can)
- Altering the pagination of your product pages to control crawl depth and in some aspects duplicate content. There is a best practise guide on the impact of pagination on search engine accessibility over at SEOmoz
Synching Magento with Google Base
Any ecommerce site should be looking towards additional traffic and revenue streams such as Google Shopping. Once you have set up your Merchant Centre account it has to be linked to the Magento store.
Go to system => configuration => Google API => Google Base
I have already written a post on common problems and solutions with Magento and Google Base so if you are experiencing any difficulties go check that out.
3. Enable Template Path Hints
This is probably one of my favourite features of Magento and if you have ever had trouble trying to change on page or navigational elements it will soon be yours. One of the challenges in refining and optimising a site built in Magento is figuring out where the blocks of content or code are defined and referenced. The simplicity and genius of path hints is that it highlights areas of the website and identifies which file a specific element of the page is located in. Having template paths enabled can save you a lot of time and helps you nail down the piece of code that you need to be looking at.
To enable path hints, follow the following actions in the backend of Magento:
System => Configuration => Advanced => Developer => Debug => Enable Template Path Hints
*remember that this can only be implemented for a website view so in the top left hand corner, click the drop down box under ‘current configuration scope’ and make sure you click on ‘main website’.
This is perfect for any test sites that are not accessible to users but if the site is LIVE then you will need to restrict the IP addresses that can see the path hints, as by default anyone who visits the site will be able to see the code. To do this, follow this path:
System -> Configuration -> Developer => Developer Client Restrictions
enter a comma separated list of IP addressed for your developer systems. Any IP Addresses listed within this box will be allowed to see the developer hints.
Implementing the payment platform (EPDQ)
If your client site is new then helping to install a payment gateway might be one of the services you offer. Luckily for any Barclaycard EPDQ payment systems Magento already has features that make this process a little easier.
If your client has the Barclaycard account then you will need to ask them to give you access to speak to the account management and support departments. Once you have got passed this stage you will be sent a CPI (card payment interface) document which walks you through the steps in a little bit more detail. The nest stage you need to do is find out the following information:
- Store client ID
- Pass phrase
- Post username
- Post password
This is needed in order to synch your account with your website. Once you have this information you need to access the admin section of Magento and follow the following path:
System -> Configuration -> Sales => Payment Methods => Barclaycard EPDQ
You are given the ability to enter the data above and also provided with further instructions.
Hopefully, this guide will be the basis of a big list of technical SEO problems in Magento so please feel free to share any plugins I haven’t mentioned or any of your own experiences. I have purposefully left out some issues already covered in Yoast’s best starter guide so if you are experiencing issues not mentioned here pop over there!