Magento is the world’s biggest ecommerce platform, powering over 250,000 stores at every level of commerce. Due to its unquestionable complexity, Magento is known for not being particularly well optimised for SEO OOTB, which can cause a lot of issues for merchants.
We provide retained and consulting services to a number of Magento clients and have learnt a lot about these issues since we started working with Magento in 2010. Here are what we consider to be the most common issues:
Search pages being indexed
For an average Magento store that’s not invested in or considered SEO, it’s highly likely that it will have a huge number of search pages being indexed in Google and other search engines. If you perform a site: search (input site:catalogsearch into Google) you’ll generally find that thousands of these pages have been indexed.
We’d generally recommend blocking these pages in the robots.txt file, to prevent search engines from crawling and indexing these pages.
Layered navigation pages being crawled / indexed
Layered navigation can represent a really big issue for Magento retailers – as it’s common for thousands of these dynamic pages to be indexed in Google, which we’ve seen cause big drops in organic traffic and visibility.
Most merchants who use layered navigation will use a multi-select system, which allows for thousands and thousands of filtered pages to be created and crawled / indexed by search engines. We generally either block these pages via the robots.txt or use canonical URLs, depending on how much of an issue they are.
Alternative routes for preventing issues include using noindex tags or setting parameter handling settings in Google Search Console.
Performance is often a big problem for Magento users, due to the complex setup and nature of the platform. There are two main ways that performance can impact organic search – as a direct ranking signal (according to Google) and also through crawlability. If your site is faster and the page sizes are smaller, Google and other search engines will be able to crawl more of your site and more regularly, which can have a big impact on stores.
Magento 2 does represent a big step forward for performance with Magento, so this will help with crawlability and to reduce the average load times of stores.
Key areas that should be reviewed around Magento performance include:
- Caching (how you’re caching different elements of your page templates etc)
- How images are being served (opportunities around file sizes, CDNs and compression)
- Server setup
- Issues with codebase or any custom code / modules
These are just a few of the key areas, but resources like GTMetrix and Pingdom can provide more specific guidance around issues with the website.
Headings not being defined correctly
Lots of Magento themes (both custom and templated) and the default theme for Magento have headings defined incorrectly. Lots of page templates will not have H1 headings defined and product links will be set to H2 headings on product list pages.
Product pages tend to be a bit stronger, but there are issues on most Magento sites we look at. We’d suggest ensuring that you have a single H1 heading on all pages and H2 headings are correctly used for supporting headers on the page.
Duplicate versions of pages for https pages
If you’re not using a secure connection across your store, there’s a good chance that you’ll find that there are https versions of your pages being indexed, alongside the http versions. This most commonly comes as a result of a search engines crawling links on https pages, where links aren’t absolute – meaning they access the https URL instead of the http version.
I’d suggest redirecting these URLs (with exclusions for things like account pages and checkout pages), changing the links on https pages to absolute or setting canonical URLs to the http versions on the https pages.
Duplicate product variants
If you’re using configurable or bundled products in your Magento store (or even variants of simple products), chances are that you’re going to have several variants of products with the same long description. This most commonly comes as a result of configurable products essentially being made up of multiple simple products, all of which usually have the same content.
This can be a really hard problem to overcome – but the best resolution is usually to set the configurable variant as the canonical URLs on the simple products. This essentially tells Google that the simple products are duplicate versions of the configurable product – it’s worth checking to make sure that the simple versions (e.g. a colour variant of a dress) aren’t getting traffic before you start changing canonical URLs.
Session ID pages being indexed
Session IDs are usually generated when a user goes from one connection to another (e.g. http to https or from one sub-domain to another) and they can cause lots of issues with SEO.
Session IDs are appended onto the end of a URL as a query string (e.g. ?SID=35hfgo59) and there can be thousands created if you don’t prevent Google from crawling the affected sections. We tend to block these pages via the robots.txt file (to prevent them from being crawled), but you should also address the route cause as well. The line you should add to your robots.txt file is:
A few other considerations:
- Ensure that your homepage and CMS pages have canonical URLs, as Magento doesn’t add these as default.
- Make sure that rel next and prev is added to paginated pages (again, not there by default in most versions).
- Make sure your www. Or non-www URLs redirect the correct version at a page-level, this is a common issue (although it needs to be resolved at server-level).
- Block the /review/ directory via the robots.txt – as Magento creates duplicate combined review pages for each product.
- We tend to use MageWorx’s Ultimate SEO Suite to resolve a lot of these issues – as it provides options in the back-end to handle things like the logic behind canonical URLs, rules for meta robots dirctives, an editable robots.txt file etc. That said, there are lots of others – we’ve just found this one to be the best.
Other resources around Magento SEO:
Lewis Sellers is Pinpoint’s Manager Director and founded the company in 2010, after successfully existing an eCommerce store he ran previously. Lewis is a certified Magento Solutions Specialist and has been working with the platform since ~2008. Follow @lewissellers