Ecommerce sites are especially dependent on good search engine optimization. Unlike sites offering a unique data profile, websites with an online store have content that may be nearly identical to dozens of other websites. Ecom sites need to be highly competitive to reach their market. Here, we suggest 10 ways to ensure that your ecommerce site ranks well in search engine algorithms.
 Site Speed
We have moved this to the top in our recommendations due to Google’s updated emphasis on “Core Web Vitals” which is a set of speed and readability rankings. This topic is large and complex and deserves a separate blog entry. For now, do a search for Core Web Vitals to get the gist of what this means.
In their Webmaster blog, Google says that site speed is now important for ranking. Stock Magento sites can be slow – ask us about how to optimize your Magento site for best performance as there is definitely a range of options, including caching, that we use to make it faster.
Earthling can handle doing a Core Web Vitals audit and provide recommendations to remedy the problems.
 Install an SEO extension
SEO extensions will, by the nature of built-in features, solve some common problems. Here are some of the features you can expect:
- SEO templates to mass-optimize meta values
- XML & HTML sitemaps for improved search engine crawling and indexation
- Canonical URLs to eliminate duplicate content penalties
- Automatic cross-linking for coherent site architecture
- Advanced rich snippets (pictures, reviews)
- Layered navigation for better search engine indexing
- Reporting tools
 URL and Keywords
Magento uses the title of the page as the URL, so to take advantage of Google’s ranking of page names in URLs; make sure to create your page with the relevant keywords or keyphrases in the title.
For example, if your keywords are “blue plastic widgets”, create a title with some variation of the phrase, such as “Creative Blue Plastic Widgets for your Kid”. This would yield a URL something like this: http://www.yourdomain.com/creative-blue-plastic-widgets-for-your-kid”.
Magento users should consider the keywords desired and enter an appropriate page name in the product “URL Key” field, instead of accepting the default. Make sure that this is a unique value. This will be used as the URL.
Don’t use ampersands, question marks, dashes or underlines in your page title as they will adversely affect the rankings, and some of these characters have special meanings in the URL.
 Page Content
Unique, creative page content always ranks high in Google, and it is becoming more important all the time. Make sure you write copy in the manner that a person would read it. Use the keywords or keyphrases somewhere within the first two sentences of the first paragraph on the page. Make sure that you do not duplicate pages, as that is a negative mark and will reduce your rankings.
Page content that is unique can be a special challenge where the products really aren’t that interesting or unique (I am thinking selling nuts and bolts here). If you are using a product feed from an ERP system, some attention might be needed to the product description.
 Title Tags
When your HTML title tag exactly matches the search the user enters in Google, then it is 100% relevant and you will get a higher ranking. Use this format: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand or Company Name. Notice the vertical bar before the Brand or Company Name. Research has shown that this order is important.
Most SEO tools that check pages allow about 140 characters in the Title, but Google shows only about 70 characters on its search results page (also known as the “organic” listings). The aforementioned SEO extension should alert you to this situation.
 Meta Keywords Tag
According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, the “keywords” meta tag doesn’t count in their rankings, but there is some evidence that other search utilities do use it. Our recommendation is that you should enter keywords relevant for each page.
In the Magento admin, this information can be changed for products by clicking on the “Meta Information” link on the product page.
 Crosslinking and Internal Linking
Internal linking is defined as linking from one part of your site to another, and crosslinking is defined as linking to another site that also links back to yours. This is an important contributing factor to rankings. There is evidence that good linking, especially with higher-traffic sites, will boost your search engine rankings.
You can do your own internal linking with Magento. Crosslinking, on the other hand, requires the cooperation of the other site admin. This takes time and effort but pays off in better rankings.
 Server Location
For domains that have a top-level name (domain ending with .com, .net, .org, etc.), Google will do a lookup on the location of your website to see where the server is physically located. This means that if the majority of your traffic will be from the United States, the server should be located in the United States.
 Rich Content
Rich content (videos, star reviews, testimonials, Facebook and Twitter feeds) will help your rankings because the content will appear next to search results.
 Subdirectory vs. Subdomain
As far as Google is concerned, a subdirectory gets a better preference in rankings. Earthling will help you determine your site structure when we develop the site. It can be a consideration if you have a blog or informational content. It is not usually a concern on Magento sites, as all pages are typically under the same subdomain (www, for example). Note that in the past, subdomains were treated as a different site and produced external links that were given more weight. An example of this might be a “www” subdomain for marketing content and a “shop” subdomain for the storefront. Recently, however, Google has changed its system so that links from subdomains are treated as internal links.
There are more tips and techniques that we use to assist with search engine optimization. Contact Earthling if you are interested in optimizing your Magento site.
Google’s Webmaster Central – <http://www.google.com/webmasters/>
Search Engine Land’s article on Social Content – <http://searchengineland.com/21-types-of-social-content-to-boost-your-seo-103625>
Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel – <http://www.youtube.com/GoogleWebmasterHelp>
Note: This post originally appeared on Eric’s personal blog: IntrAktvEric Landmann’s Dev Blog and has been updated according to recent best practices.