Magento SEO: How To Optimize A Magento Product Detail Page

Posted in Magento tips & tricks, magento shipping tips, Magento SEO on October 28, 2012 0 comment(s)  

Product detail pages are critical for ecommerce sites. They are also the ones Google and other search engines have the most trouble with.

While Magento provides some basic search-engine-optimization capabilities out of the box, search engines still face challenges when crawling the pages of a Magento-powered storefront. This article will focus on the product detail pages. It is the first in a series where I will review the SEO changes you can do to a Magento setup. The idea is to make it easier for the search engines to find, index and rank the pages — without alienating your users. These detailed SEO changes will dramatically improve the search performance of Magento product detail pages, making them much more effective at doing their job. In subsequent articles, I will go over the changes to other important pages like main category pages, sub-categories, internal search pages, etc.

What Should We Optimize?

There are two classes of SEO elements that need to be optimized on any given page: Those that the user can see on the page and those that primarily the search engine bots can see. The first we call “user visible” and the second we call “machine visible.”

User-visible elements. The user-visible elements are everything a person can see both on the product detail page and in the search engine results page. Examples of these are the breadcrumbs, the main navigation, the layered navigation, and the product description.

Machine-visible elements. Machine-visible elements are what the crawlers see behind the scenes in the source code. It’s where we should start our SEO work. Examples of these are rich snippet markup, search friendly video markup, and meta data.

It’s fairly common to see developers who forget about users when making SEO changes to a site. They’ll change the title tag and make it a long string of keywords separated by commas, but forget that’s the “enticing” message they will present to users — in search engine results — to motivate them to click further. To do the job right, you have to make all of the SEO changes while keeping the site intuitive and usable.

What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

The main goal is getting more traffic and sales. But in order to do so, we need to look at the critical intermediate steps.

1. Increase crawling. If Googlebot can’t find a product detail page, it won’t rank. We address this by submitting comprehensive XML sitemaps and by stopping the spiders from entering infinite crawl spaces  such as those caused by layered navigation.

2. Increase indexation. Getting a page crawled doesn’t necessarily mean it will get indexed. We can get more pages into the index when we increase the page’s reputation with more quality inbound links, add more unique content, and eliminate duplicate content issues.

3. Improve ranking. While you can directly affect crawling and indexation, rankings is something we can only affect indirectly. We do this by making sure each page focuses on a small set of keyword opportunities. A page must realistically rank on its relevancy to the search query and its reputation.

4. Improve search results presentation. By tweaking the titles, meta descriptions and adding rich snippet markup, we can make the product detail pages appear more appealing in the search engine result pages. This will increase the click-through rates.

Improving the Product Detail Page

Let’s look at a sample product detail page. I’ve highlighted the most important elements that need to be changed in our template.

How to increase crawling.

First, let’s get the Magento SEO basics out of the way. Then we’ll focus on canonical URLs and eliminating duplicate content. Note that the steps below will vary based on the specific Magento theme.

Step 1: Go to System > Configuration > General > Web > Search Engines Optimization.

Step 2: Go to System > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations.

Step 3: Enable automatic XML sitemap generation. Go to System > Configuration > Catalog > Google Sitemap > Generation Settings.

Step 4: Add robots meta tag with value “noindex/nofollow” to the following pages: “My Account,” “My Wishlist,” “My Cart,” ‘Checkout,” and “Login.” These pages are not useful to search bots. To do this, you need to use layout updates. For example, this is how you add it to “My Wishlist”:

In your Magento installation, open app/design/frontend/base/default/layout/wishlist.xml
Before the closing , add
<reference name="head">
<action method="setRobots"><value>NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW</value></action>
Repeat for the rest of the wishlist pages sections in the file.

Step 5: Verify the canonical tags are working properly. For example, different product image views should have the same canonical tag.

How to increase indexation.

Step 1: Avoid using manufacturer provided product descriptions in the details section. Put the extra effort to make them unique and make sure they contain at least 100 words.

Step 2: The related products section is excellent for interlinking similar products and for passing page reputation from the most popular products to the less popular ones. Carefully consider this when adding or updating the related products section.

Step 3: The product reviews contain valuable user generated content. Ideally, they should be on the same page as the product to bolster the amount of written content. Unfortunately, Magento doesn’t provide an easy way to do that. They appear in separate URLs. I’ll address this in detail in a future article.

How to influence rankings.

Step 1: Make sure the product name is part of the title and is the only H1 on the page. For most ecommerce sites, the product name is best keyword the product detail page can rank for.

Step 2: The second best keyword is generally the SKU or any unique product identifier that user might use to search for the product. Surround the unique product identifier with an H2 tag.
Improving search results presentation.

We also want our page to look its best on the Google search engine results page, or SERP. Here is how we do that.

Step 1: Provide enticing titles, and meta descriptions. Consider them “organic ads” users will see in the SERPs. They must motivate searchers to click. You can control them easily via the admin panel.

Step 2: Add rich snippet markup and your product pages will stand out in the search results. Explaining this step in detail would take a separate article.


This post was posted in Magento tips & tricks, magento shipping tips, Magento SEO and was tagged with Magento SEO, magento, magento community

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