A typical online store cannot manage properly without search engine optimization. On-page optimization should never be neglected in favor of affiliate links and citations (off-page optimization). The biggest advantage of on-page optimization is that it is something you can fully control and manage.
Magento 1.X is not as perfect as it could be regarding SEO. Many pitfalls weren’t taken into consideration at all. The users needed something more professional, stable, and flexible. That’s how Magento 2 appeared. The second version of Magento drastically differs from the first one. The developers have taken into account previous failures and omissions, transforming them into definite advantages. In this article, we are going to reveal Magento 2 SEO secret settings to prepare you for easy switching to the newer, better version.
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Basic SEO Aspects of Magento 2
Products And Meta Tags
We cannot help but bring to the attention the importance of meta tags for your products. The website needs them to get a high degree of competitiveness, have a relevant ranking, and be attractive in a search engine results page (SERP). Naturally, that product pages are particularly important for e-commerce websites. So, our choice is not accidental.
The new version of Magento means the new features. You will definitely appreciate the feature we are going to talk about next. Fields Auto-Generation. It provides templates for product meta data on a global level.
How to get the feature settled? Go to Stores, press on Configuration, and choose Catalog. The new feature Product Fields Auto-Generation appears. It is a time-saving tool, which is an essential element in the case of multiple products. But it is not as flawless as one may initially think. The main problems are:
- Unchangeable auto-generated fields. They cannot be fixed for a particular product or subcategory. For example, you can’t change a concrete field for a concrete category like for women or children shoes, etc.
- Non-retrospective adjustments. This means they can be applied only to the new products, but not to the already existing ones.
- Limited possibilities due to three placeholders/fields only.
- «Description» field is not suitable for a typical Meta Description Mask because the allowed number of characters is too small. For example, it offers you the number of 25 characters as the most optimal one, while asking to limit the maximum amount of characters to 200 characters. As practice shows, most stores have quite long product descriptions.
Product Fields Auto-Generation feature has promising prospects. For now, it is a little bit raw, simple, and insufficiently considered. Perhaps, the future versions of Magento will allow their customers to get the Fields Auto-Generation option, which is not so fixed and limited.
As an option, you can still add meta tags straight from the product page settings. Open Products, choose Basic Settings and press on Search Engine Optimization. But be ready to spend a lot of time by doing this if you have more than several products. Non-automated standard one-by-one product customization is not an option for a huge number of products.
Home Page And Meta Tags
The first thing you have to do when opening Magento 2 is the Home Page customization. This version of the program (as well as the previous one) sets the default main page title to the Home Page. So, you need to go to Content and open Pages – Home Page- Page Information.
Products and SEO-Friendly URLs
Magento 2 version as well as Magento 1 version offers you the ability to change and edit URLs whenever you need it. The only difference is how to do this. To edit URL in Magento 2 version, go to Product – Basic Settings – Search Engine Optimization.
This very simple but very useful SEO technique helps the indexation process of your website.
Categories And SEO-Friendly URLs
To install meta data for categories, open Stores – Configuration – General – Design – HTML Head. For category level, it will be Products – Categories – General Information. Here you can specify a needed URL.
One of the most critical rules you should always remember is that optimization of images influences the speed of the website drastically. That will, in turn, influence the ranking of the website. And the faster website means the higher ranking. Unfortunately, nor Magento 1 neither Magento 2 has optimal tools for proper image optimization. However, there are several really good extensions for Magento 2, which work perfectly for any image optimization. Image compression really matters in website ranking. So, never use images, which are too heavy if you want your online store to function fast and properly. Sometimes, compression can worsen the quality of the images. So, make sure you have the right extension package installed. Then, go to Stores – Configuration – Advanced – Developer – Image Processing Settings. Change PHP GD2 to extension package and save. Then, go to System and press on Cache Management. The last but not the list is Flush Catalog Images Cache. Just click the button.
In Magento 2 users can add HTML attributes for images through the following settings: Product – Basic Settings – Images And Videos – Alt Text.
And don’t forget to delete «Magento Commerce» sign or to change it to something else on your logo image. You can easily do it in Stores – Configuration – General – Design – HTML Head – Header. Choose «Logo Image Alt» and type your store name or whatever you want.
Title Tags: Prefixes And Suffixes
In the second version of Magento users can important information (for example, a business name) to the title tags. The information appears at the beginning or the end of the tag on all pages of the website. To set this feature, go to Stores – Configuration – General – Design – HTML Head.
Unique Content in Magento 2
In terms of unique and duplicate content problems, Magento 2 has brand new tools and new solutions. A case in point is canonical tags. Here we have canonical tags for products and categories separately.
To install canonical tags for products, go to Stores – Configuration – Catalog – Search Engine Optimization. And choose the Products field.
To install canonical tags for categories, open Stores – Configuration – Catalog – Search Engine Optimization. Choose Categories field.
Yes, Magento 1.X has similar options. But the new version provides canonical tags for filtered and sorted pages as well.
- When choosing Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories, a paginated result will be counted too.
- Canonical tags and no index tags can’t be used together.
Category Path And Product URLs
In Magento 2 you can select or deselect the feature of showing or not showing the category path in product URLs. For this, go to Stores – Configuration – Catalog – Search Engine Optimization. This function is good for managing your web indexing. Moreover, it has several variants of realization:
- Not adding a category path to the product URLs. This automatically means the elimination of any possible duplicates.
- Adding a category path to page addresses, while enabling canonical tags. The probability of duplicates.
- Enabling of both canonical tags and category paths. This means that there will not be any category indication and the product page will get a canonical pointing to itself. At the same time, the URLs will get their own category paths and will be available from any category you add.
Robots.TXT, Meta Robots, HTML Sitemap, and XML Sitemap accepted the most significant changes from Magento 2.
In the Magento version, you can edit robot.txt files from the admin panel directly. Go to Stores – Configuration – Catalog – Design and open Search Engine Robots. Easy, fast, and handy.
Thus, in this version of Magento, you can use the default settings, or you can set and save your own instructions.
In Magento 2 default meta robots correspond to Index, Follow. This fully applies to Google. But it can’t be customized on a concrete page separately.
There is no HTML Sitemap for this version of Magento. Customization or extension is needed. It is recommended to get a must have HTML Sitemap for Magento 2 for several reasons. Firstly, you will get a clear and detailed structure of your website. And secondly, it drastically increases chances for your website to get noticed by search engines. Don’t forget that not only your customers but also web crawlers can read your HTML Sitemap. So, never omit a chance to install HTML Sitemap on your website. It is one more chance for the website to be indexed and crawled in full. Thus, it is a great opportunity for hundreds of your product pages to be reached.
Contrary to the HTML Sitemap, XML Sitemap is more progressive and developed in the second version of Magento. A bunch of new features, extra high standards, and new ways to «attract» search engines. All of these refer to Magento 2 XML Sitemap settings.
This feature of Magento 2 is the most upgraded and updated. It has plenty of additional settings, which can be found in Stores – Configuration – Catalog –XML Sitemap.
Now you can add all images automatically and submit your XML Sitemap URL to Robots.TXT. You can also choose the preferable amount of pages for one file and increase the maximum size of the file.
Everything is not so ideal. There are couples of drawbacks, which definitely deserve your attention. So, here is the bad part:
- You can’t choose the type of a product (configurable, bundle, etc.) to add it to your Sitemap. This happens because of automatic product selection. The program reads each version of a product as a simple product. For example, you need to add a configurable type of a product. But it consists of several versions. The program will automatically read each version of a product as a single product and will include it into the sitemap.
- You can’t add or delete concrete pages, in case you need it.
- The fact that you can add images to your XML Sitemap is great. But what if you have any other type of the file? When it comes to other formats like Word, PDF, Excel, etc., you can add them manually only.
Remember, that sitemap is a helping hand for your website. It is a way out when trying to get your page to be noticed and crawled by search engines. It helps to reach your potential customers fast and easy. Sitemaps matter when it comes to visibility and optimization of your online store.
Talking about XML Sitemaps, Magento 2 comes with really qualitative, functional, useful, and enhanced innovations and improvements. A list of SEO settings, mentioned above, is definitely a step forward for Magento and SEO marketing, in general. Here we appreciate both usability and functionality. XML Sitemaps «attract» search engine crawlers, helping them to stand out and understand, which URLs should be indexed first.
Additional Features Of Magento 2
Product And Category URLs Suffixes
Now you can easily provide your website pages with suffixes. The scheme is simple. Open Stores – Configuration – Catalog – Catalog –Search Engine Optimization.
Magento 2 claims that the products and categories can get different suffixes. Practically, it is not convenient. Most users prefer identical URLs for each website. If you choose different suffixes, you can cause a 404 page. All the changes are retrospective. After all changes, everything you get is 404 error from the former page. So, be careful when making any changes, especially significant.
This is a completely new feature by Magento 2. Now each product page receives microdata by default. You get automatically included all important tags.
Google Adwords performance has never been easier before. Magento 2 has drastically simplified the implementation process. Go to Stores – Configuration – Google API – Google Adwords. In the open window, you will see a whole set of basic parameters like Format and Conversion ID.
Magento has worked with Google Analytics features and created one more handy tool in the new version. So, what does it do? It provides you with new ways of adding a Google Analytics tracking code to the store. It’s pretty straight forward. To activate the tool, go to Stores – Configuration – Sales – Google API – Google Analytics.
You have to open Admin – Tracking Info (GA Account), copy your Tracking ID and add it to Google Analytics.
How to do: Product – Advanced Settings – Product View Optimization.
If you don’t want to work with Google Analytics, or you want to save some time, you can always apply to an AB testing tool. It is not available on Magento 2 yet, but you can easily find it on Magento 1.X.
Brief Overview of Magento 2 SEO Settings
The new version of Magento, which is Magento 2, has a long list of brand new and old but updated features and settings. Among the most effective and considerable settings are meta tags for products and categories, title tags prefixes and suffixes, image optimization, canonical tags, robots.txt, meta robots, XML Sitemap, microdata, category path in product URLs, Google Analytics and Adwords aspects. This huge work was done to make positive changes in SEO and marketing, in general. Some of the features have already become favorite ones. Others are still very raw and primitive. Most of them are not flexible enough to be successfully implemented and used in real stores for real products.
Generally, Magento 2 has improved performance and scalability, simplifying external integrations at the same time.
We hope that this article was quite interesting and useful for you. And we hope you will get a good experience with your own Magento 2 SEO strategy. Try out one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the 21st century by yourself. Which side are you going to take – the lovers or the haters of Magento 2?
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