Preparing and Configuring Your Magento Website

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Magento Search Engine Optimization

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Maximize sales by optimizing your Magento store and improving exposure in popular search engines like Google with this book and ebook

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by Robert Kent | January 2014 | Open Source Web Development

This article, by Robert Kent, the author of Magento Search Engine Optimization, covers the basic concepts of keyword placement and the roles of the different types of pages to prepare and configure your Magento website.

In this article, we cover the following topics:

  • Understanding the structure of a website, the purpose of optimizing for e-commerce, and the relationship between keywords and their position on a website
  • Understanding the buying intent of our visitors and how this intent may differ depending on the type of page by which they enter our website
  • The roles of content management system (CMS) pages

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Focusing on your keywords

We'll focus on three major considerations when choosing where to place our keywords within a Magento store:

  • Purpose : What is the purpose of optimizing this keyword?
  • Relevance : Is the keyword relevant to the page we have chosen to optimize it for?
  • Structure : Does the structure of the website re-enforce the nature of our keyword?

The purpose for choosing keywords to optimize on our Magento store must always be to increase our sales. It is true that (generically speaking) optimizing keywords means driving visitors to our website, but in the case of an e-commerce website, the end goal—the true justification of any SEO campaign—must be increasing the number of sales. We must then make sure that our visitors not just visit our website, but visit with the intention of buying something.

The keywords we have chosen to optimize must be relevant to the page we are optimizing them on. The page, therefore, must contain elements specifically related to our keyword, and any unrelated material must be kept to a minimum. Driving potential customers to a page where their search term is unrelated to the content not only frustrates the visitor, but also lessens their desire to purchase from our website.

The structure of our website must complement our chosen keyword. Competitive phrases, usually broader phrases with the highest search volume, are naturally the hardest to optimize. These types of keywords require a strong page to effectively optimize them. In most cases, the strength of a page is related to its level or tier within the URL.

For example, the home page is normally seen as being the strongest page suitable for high search volume broad phrases followed by a tiered structure of categories, subcategories, and finally, product pages, as this diagram illustrates:

With that said, we must be mindful of all three considerations when matching our keywords to our pages. As the following diagram shows, the relationship between these three elements is vital for ensuring not only that our keyword resides on a page with enough strength to enable it to perform, but also that it has enough relevance to retain our user intent at the same time as adhering to our overall purpose:

The role of the home page

You may be forgiven for thinking that optimizing our most competitive keyword on the home page would lead to the best results. However, when we take into account the relevance of our home page, does it really match our keyword? The answer is usually that it doesn't.

In most cases, the home page should be used exclusively as a platform for building our brand identity . Our brand identity is the face of our business and is how customers will remember us long after they've purchased our goods and exited our website.

In rare cases, we could optimize keywords on our home page that directly match our brand; for example, if our company name is "Wooden Furniture Co.", it might be acceptable to optimize for "Wooden Furniture" on our home page. It would also be acceptable if we were selling a single item on a single-page e-commerce website.

In a typical Magento store, we would hope to see the following keyword distribution pattern:

The buying intention of our visitors will almost certainly differ between each of these types of pages. Typically, a user entering our website via a broad phrase will have less of an intention to buy our products than a visitor entering our website through a more specific, product-related search term.

Structuring our categories for better optimization

Normally, our most competitive keywords will be classified as broad keywords, meaning that their relevance could be attributed to a variety of similar terms. This is why it makes sense to use top-level or parent categories as a basis for our broad phrases.

To use our example, Wooden Furniture would be an ideal top-level category to contain subcategories such as 'Wooden Tables', 'Wooden Chairs', and 'Wooden Wardrobes', with content on our top-level category page to highlight these subcategories. On the Magento administration panel, go to Catalog | Manage Categories . Here, we can arrange our category structure to match our keyword relevance and broadness.

In an ideal world, we would plan out our category structure before implementing it; sadly, that is not always the case. If we need to change our category structure to better match our SEO strategy, Magento provides a simple way to alter our category hierarchy.

For example, say we currently have a top-level category called Furniture , and within this category, we have Wooden Furniture , and we decide that we're only optimizing for Wooden Furniture ; we can use Magento's drag-and-drop functionality to move Wooden Furniture to become a top-level category.

To do this, we would have to perform the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Catalog | Manage Categories .
  2. Drag our Wooden Furniture category to the same level as Furniture .

We will see that our URL has now changed from http://www.mydomain.com/furniture/wooden-furniture.html to http://www.mydomain.com/wooden-furniture.html.

We will also notice that our old URL now redirects to our new URL; this is due to Magento's inbuilt URL Rewrite System. When moving our categories within the hierarchy, Magento will remember the old URL path that was specified and automatically create a redirect to the new location.

This is fantastic for our SEO strategy as 301 redirects are vital for passing on authority from the old page to the new.

If we wanted to have a look at these rewrites ourselves, we could perform the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Catalog | URL Rewrite Management .
  2. From the table, we could find our old request path and see the new target path that has been assigned.

    Not only does Magento keep track of our last URL, but any previous URLs also become rewritten. It is therefore not surprising that a large Magento store with numerous products and categories could have thousands upon thousands of rows within this table, especially when each URL is rewritten on a per-store basis.

There are many configuration options within Magento that allow us to decide how and what Magento rewrites for us automatically.

Another important point to note is that your category URL key may change depending on whether an existing category with the same URL key at the same level had existed previously in the system. If this situation occurs, an automatic incremental integer is appended to the URL key, for example, wooden-furniture-2.html.

Magento Enterprise Edition has been enhanced to only allow unique URL keys. To know more, go to goo.gl/CKprNB.

Optimizing our CMS pages

CMS pages within Magento are primarily used as information pages. Terms and conditions, privacy policy, and returns policy are all examples of CMS pages that are created and configured within the Magento administration panel under CMS | Pages .

By default, the home page of a Magento store is a CMS page with the title Home Page . The page that is served as the home page can be configured within the Magento Configuration under System | Configuration | Web | Default Pages .

The most important part of a CMS page setup is that its URL key is always relative to the website's base URL. This means that when creating CMS pages, you can manually choose how deep you wish the page to exist on the site. This gives us the ability to create as many nested CMS pages as we like.

Another important point to note is that, by default, CMS pages have no file extension (URL suffix) as opposed to the category and product URLs where we can specify which extension to use (if any).

For CMS pages, the default optimization methods that are available to us are found within the Page Information tabs after selecting a CMS page:

  • Under the Page Information subtab, we can choose our Page Title and URL key
  • Under the Content subtab, we can enter our Content Heading (by default, this gets inserted into an <h1> tag) and enter our body content
  • Under the Meta Data subtab, we can specify our keywords and description

As mentioned previously, we would focus optimization on these pages purely for the intent of our users. If we were not using custom blocks or other methods to display product information, we would not optimize these information pages for keywords relating to purchasing a product.

Summary

In this article, we have learned the basic concepts of keyword placement and the roles of the different types of pages to prepare and configure your Magento website.

Resources for Article :


Further resources on this subject:


Magento Search Engine Optimization Maximize sales by optimizing your Magento store and improving exposure in popular search engines like Google with this book and ebook
Published: January 2014
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About the Author :


Robert Kent

Robert Kent is a Magento Certified Developer with over four years of experience using the Magento framework. He currently works at Creare Communications Ltd.(http://www.creare.co.uk), one of the UK's largest SEO and web design companies based in the Midlands.

With over 5 years of experience working on a variety of projects across multiple open source frameworks, he has gained expertise in PHP, XML, jQuery, and a wide range of other web-based languages.

Working in an R&D capacity developing extensions, and plugins for both Magento and WordPress, he also plays a key role in developing new techniques and standards for both of these platforms from an SEO perspective.

This is his second book based on Magento, the first book being  Magento  Shipping How-To,  Packt Publishing —a guide on how to configure shipping  settings within Magento.

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