Table Of Contents:
- Statistics Acquaint You With The Real Story
- The Best Platform For E-commerce Website
- Fixing The Riddles Of Magento
- Duplication Management: The Biggest Dispiriting Factor
- Canonicalization- A Major Issue
- Connoisseur Notes of SEO on Canonicalization
- Duplicate Issues That Are Non Canonical In Nature
- Don’t Forget To Consult A Professional
Search Engine Optimization or SEO possess the power to make or break a website and the reputation of the brand, depending on the way it is used. When utilized in the best possible manner, SEO can guarantee to bring potential traffic to your website and can also increase the visibility of the site on the search engine rankings. The only effort that you ought to make is to manage the website and its content and build it SEO-friendly.
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It especially stands true and critical for the e-commerce websites whose success depends entirely on attracting, converting and retaining the customers by giving them a unique, fresh and excellent user-experience. Optimizing the SEO techniques for the e-commerce website are far more challenging and complicated than doing SEO for the general or typical websites, that doesn’t have hundreds of products to be displayed or listed online. Thus it becomes far more important and crucial for the e-commerce entrepreneurs to understand the importance of following the best set of techniques and practices which ensure secured performance of the website with an optimum level.
Statistics Acquaint You With The Real Story
The importance of SEO for a page can be well-defined through statistics. Research have proved that on an average the websites that rank on page one of Google stands the chance of average Click-through rate or CTR of 71.3 percent whereas the page two and three combined brings the CTR of 5.59 percent. This proves that the ideal position for an e-commerce website is to occupy any one of the top three positions of Google that significantly enhances your chance of increasing traffic.
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You think this difference is huge? But the disparity between the two positions of page one is even more eye-opening. The website on the number one search result receives an average of 31.24 clicks while the clicks drop to 14.04 when it comes to the website on the number two position, whereas the click rating drops to 5.50 percent for the number five website.
These statistics alone can give you a clear understanding and importance of spending the time and resources that are required for your e-commerce website to improve its visibility and to experience victory in the SEO battle.
The Best Platform For E-commerce Website
Although there are so many platforms available for the development of a website, but the best one for an e-commerce website is Magento. It is as beneficial and efficient as WordPress is for the general websites.
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Magento is a well-known open source e-commerce platform that is used by an ever increasing number of clients and users. It allows and empowers the merchants to integrate the digital and physical shopping experience to its customers through this omni-channel solution. It presents and renders the best of the solutions to the users and guarantees them an extraordinary platform to develop strong and ideal position for their brand in the search engines.
Fixing The Riddles Of Magento
It has been observed that although the website of the clients are developed in this hugely-accepted and highly-popular platform, Magento, yet their business are not doing well because of the issues related with the back-end and seo. Applying the Magento know-hows and skills, the developers fixes the back-end messes but the nature of the SEO performance can only be identified, detected and resolved by a SEO-professional.
The SEO-problems in Magento sites are much common an issue faced by entrepreneurs around the world. This open-source platform gives you the liberty to add to it, modify it and build on it as per your requirement. It is a powerful solution for the e-tail operators and the e-commerce developers and it is also the favorite for the individuals who have in-hand SEO experience and are familiar with handling Magento back-end.
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The SEO concern for a website arises when few default settings of Magento is left untouched. Available for free and paid versions, known as the Community and the Enterprise Edition, Magento requires dedicated time and in-depth understanding of the extensions to improve the overall performance of the platform. Both the community and enterprise edition of the website has resources and ways to make the website SEO friendly. While some people argue that The Enterprise Edition consists of some more beneficial and unique features for making the website SEO-friendly, the Magento SEO Expert, Paul Rogers voice a different opinion. He says that the SEO part of Magento for both the Community and Enterprise edition are the same.
The SEO for the website eliminates the risk of performance and also establishes a unique platform for the brand to market itself. However the basic issues and problems related with the website includes the following:
Duplication Management: The Biggest Dispiriting Factor
The SEO techniques need to follow the rules and regulations set up by the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing in order to ensure that the website is not affected negatively. While the entire scheme of offsite relationship building through SEO is a riddle, the onsite optimization is yet a hard science.
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There are certain strictly maintained road-map set for a website that makes it crawlable and in case of the Magento e-commerce website, the SEO arenas require tweaking, configuration, know-how and the proper implementation of the purchased extensions. The way through which this e-commerce platform can harm your website is through its potential to develop or produce duplicate content pages. This is also true for other e-commerce platforms as well.
Although the duplicate content won’t lead to penalty for your website, but it can definitely lead to the devaluation of the website in the competitive search landscape.
Let’s explore the points of SEO that is related with the duplicate content and see how Magento can comply with the same.
Canonicalization- A Major Issue
Canonicalization is the major problems related with Magento. According to MOZ, the process of canonicalization for SEOs refers to normalizing multiple URLs.
The fundamental problems that canonicalization can fix stem from multiple uses for a single piece of writing a paragraph or, more often, an entire page of content that appears in multiple locations on one website or on multiple websites. For search engines, this presents a conundrum: Which version of this content should they show to searchers? SEOs refer to this issue as duplicate content. To provide the best user experience, search engines will rarely show multiple, duplicate pieces of content and thus, are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the original (or best).
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It allows the e-commerce website owners to inform the search engines where the primary URL is for any duplicate pages. This solution can take various forms through 301 redirections, canonical tag insertion and robots.txt file.
The common forms and issues related with canonicalization conundrums that are available in Magento are broken down in the following points:
Area: Duplicate URL Pathways
When in your e-commerce website, you place a single product into two different categories, then it is possible that two different URLs will be created for the same product. The breadcrumb navigation can show the same product on different levels of the website.
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The main problem that arises here that you end up having different URLs for the same product. For example you may have:
The best solutions to avoid such issues are to:
- Configure your URL structure in a way so as to get the product as the root directory for all the available products.
- Canonicalize the URLs so that they point to the most powerful or relevant URL. In case you wish to preserve your main category pages then using canonical tags to point to the main URL is the best option available for you.
Although there are several Magento SEO extensions that can help you in this situation, but the recent versions of Magento allow the site owners to do manual corrections of these issues.
Area: Session IDs
Some website set up session ID for each visitor. This is a common cause of duplicate content issues. These Session IDs allow online store owners to track the behavior of each of the visitors on the server without tracking down their personal identifiable information. Multiple versions of the same page will be created if the user’s session ID is properly stored with the URL.
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For example, you may find the same content on both the pages:
Here the main problem that you can face is that the e-commerce website uses the session IDs in the url to track down their users.
Solution that you can experience include
- Using a cookie to track the session of the user instead of session ID
- Canonicalize URLs for each url with a session ID
- Use robot.txt in order to deindex session ID URLs
Available Extension: MageSEO
Area: Pagination & Layered Navigation
Pagination is the phenomenon which occurs when an article or a product category span through multiple pages and are split over separate and varied URLS. In such cases, the next pages can be identical to the first page which often generates near-duplicate contents.
The contents play a key and distinctive role for a website for its SEO as these are often the only links that are available to products that don’t get listed on the first page of the search engine.
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Although the entire information is not similar to that of the first page, but the titles and meta information will inevitably be similar, thus they are viewed as low quality.
One can choose to display all the products in order to avoid the problem of pagination, but this could again decrease the loading time of the page.
Layered Navigation also known for causing the similar kind of problems, although it is different from pagination. It is because a visitor search the website through product attribute rather than the number of pages that it contains.
There are several problems and issues related with this area of canonicalization, it can be summed in the following points:
Duplicate Product Listing Through Filters
Product attributes stand tall as a leading factor for a visitor’s search. But it has been proved that this layered navigation for the website is brutal as it generates a whole lot of duplicate content. You need to keep a track and should not let Google index your layered navigation pages.
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It is a common practice for the visitors to filter products by attributes like price, size, material etc. This is problematic for you as you show the same result and content in a different way and the URL usually ends up with the parameter of the filter.
- Use Ajax or HTML 5 to display the filtered item without changing the URL
- Canonical filter URLs to the main URL
Available Extension: SEO Pagination
Pagination filters can lead to near-duplicate or low-quality URLs that may dilute the SEO authority of your website.
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- In order to keep your SEO authority intact with the main URL use el=pre and rel=next tags.
- Display all products in a code and use Ajax or HTML 5 to display the products to the users the way you want to.
Available Extension: Magento Layered Navigation Pro
Number of Products Per Page
The pagination can be set up using the page numbers or using the bracket of products that are displayed. For example there are options that allow you to view 10 products, 50 products or view all products’ option. This creates a problem of URLs that displays similar content.
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Display all products in a code and use Ajax or HTML 5 as layers to display the products to the users the way you want to.
Available Extension: There is no available extension for this, however with the help of magento extension development experts you can easily implement the above recommendations.
Area: Internal Search Results Pages
When a visitor uses the search bar to look for something specific from the website, an internal search page is created. If proper and on time action is not taken then these internal search pages might get indexed by Google and it will be considered as duplicate content competing the search result shown by the search engines.
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Although these internal searches are considered to be problematic from SEO view-point, but it is considered as one of the most relevant way for the visitors and customers to find the specific products that they are looking for.
Internal search pages are dynamic pages that aggregate existing content.
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1. Use robot.txt to disallow the pages
2. Set up the internal search result pages in noindex
Available Extension: MageSEO
Connoisseur Notes of SEO on Canonicalization
301 redirects take the users from one URL to another and easily pass 100% of the ranking authority from the old to the new. You need to know that the canonicalization tags do not move or changes its position from one URL to another, but it makes a suggestion that the proper location for the content is at the URL contained in the canonical tag. If the suggestion is honored, then there are probable chances that it will move the ranking authority to the canonical URL.
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Robots.txt directive can be used by the website owners to eliminate the content from the rankings of search engine. It instructs the search engine not to crawl the specific URLs. Adding meta noindex tag, informs the search engines not to include the URL in their index.
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However, don’t confuse canonical tag with the directives. It is not a directive for the search engine, rather it is a hint and Google does not always honor it. In the cases where frequent canonical tags are used, the chances of the tags being honored reduces.
Duplicate Issues That Are Non Canonical In Nature
Duplicate Content might seem to you as not such a big thing to consider and to be worried about. But the reality is different. These duplicate contents might prove to be a nightmare for your website ad it contains the power to create blunder for your website.
The duplicate content that you might come across on multiple domains give the search engines that additional challenge of trying to attribute the best page of a website and the best page among many sites.
In case your website content is also available on another website and that other website have more authority than yours, then that site can easily overtake you. If you have duplicate content on your own site then the ranking authority will be split between the page versions and reduces the chances of ranking any version.
Area: Product Feeds
The product feed allows you to publish and update your list of products on the third party websites. This brings you closer to a wonderful opportunity to tackle various marketplaces, but it might be a critical situation for your SEO team. These third party websites like Amazon, Shopzilla and others have a high rank authority and is most likely to outrank your own product page on the Search Engine Ranking Pages.
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If not managed properly, the third party site will duplicate the description for the product of the website for its own product description.
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- Create a rich and engaging description for your product pages. Don’t use the merchant description, especially when the merchant has its own website. Always try to come up with some extraordinary descriptions that are 100% unique.
- Create different product descriptions for the product feeds.
There is no magical Magento extension for the issue of duplicate content. All that you need is your common sense combined with some imagination and necessary time that is invested in writing unique content.
Don’t Forget To Consult A Professional:
You might be thinking that everything is under control and you can do everything by yourself. But the reality is that the Magento is a complicated platform with suitable solutions being available for you. Implementing the extensions and solutions to these duplicate content problems might seem to be a simple task but it is far more complicated and complex as it is viewed on the surface. Handling these issues may or may not be straightforward depending on the status of the clients and their current situations.
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There is a great need to hire a professional with Magento specialization and SEO experience to implement both the development and SEO- based tweaks and issues. Whether you have a Magento website with you or whether you are planning to build an online store, taking up time to configure your URLs properly is just ideal for resolving most of the SEO issues and problems.
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Doing this, under the guidance of a reliable and excellent professional of the industry ensure that your website will gain the right kind of momentum for experiencing an effective business. It is essential for you to take your time out from the scheduled plans and to configure your store properly and be assured that the search engines will thank you for the efforts that you put in.
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Ayan Sarkar is the CTO of Webskitters, a renowned web development company known for serving its clientele with excellence. Being passionate about the web and mobile app development industry, he believes in inventing ground-breaking solutions for serving his clients. Sharing his views and innovative thoughts with others, he recurrently maintains his blog and believes in disseminating his technological experience and insights with others.