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Magento SEO (search engine friendly Magento shopping cart)

Magento Book review: See down at the end of this article, a review of Packt’s PHP Development for Magento reference. There’s also a new recipe-like Magento book from Pakt on “sales tactics”, mentioned here, which I will also be reading.
Social Media aspects are coming to Magento… you will soon be able to use your Facebook page to showcase products in your Magento ecommerce site using this plugin.

Magento SEO Update 2/11/2009: More activity with SEO and Magento, with some SEO developers trying to make a name for themselves in the Magento space. See below.

Magento SEO Update 11/4/2008: Magento SEO is actively evolving, and SEO links (SEO resources for those working with Magento ecommerce) are now listed down below.

It’s never too early to be looking at SEO aspects of Magento, the new Open Source commerce application (shopping cart). Theyare still in beta but quite advanced, and search engine friendly issues have been addressed a few times in the Magento SEO forum, and in the “SEO group” and on the Magento site. There’s a video clip from November describing the rewrite system as very flexible, because in SEO, “every seo has his own opinion”.

Much of the SEO discussion is very basic, and there is pitifully low activity on real SEO. Someone on the China magneto forum posted a spider view back in November, before the latest SEO friendliness was incorporated. There is more SEO discussion in China than on the main site as well. However, the framework is quite capable and the meta tag management is as I would expect it to be for a modern, flexible PHP framework.

Maybe it’s time to dig in and flex the SEO friendliness and Magento’s “built in flexibility”?

I’d like to connect with anyone else looking into Magento and SEO, or anyone attempting effective deployment of Magento at this stage (non-production assumed) with respect to search marketing. The online demo site is not looking so good, but given the level of SEO discussion so far I didn’t expect it to be optimized. That said, this Chinese demo is not looking so good either, and they did have a bit more Magento SEO discussions.

Magento SEO Resources

Still plenty of misunderstanding of SEO issues in the Magento community and here. and here.

Some SEO advice is appearing, even though it is brute-force also see here and here.

There is some SEO awareness showing up on the Magento template design forums and even early signs of web sites dedicated to optimizing Magento for search engines.

BlueAcorn has published a good blog post about SEO and Magento, paying attention to the strategic issues that I find matter most when considering search marketing. Their ecommerce experience shows, as this kind of post is much better than the typical “SEO for Magento” blog post.
This is funny. I’ve been watching Google struggle with the new term “Magento” for almost a year. It seems there is enough mis-typing of comic book character Magneto (the freak who can manipulate magnetic fields) in the corpus Google indexes, that Google assigned Magento as a synonym of Magneto (do a Google search with ~Magento and you’ll see it).  Even to this day Magento hasn’t defined itself enough in the world to overpower the Magneto typos!

Wordpress SEO promotor Joost DeValk  is moving into the Magento space now with a canonicalization extension he specified, putting his Yoast brand onto it. He didn’t write it, and it isn’t perfect, but he’s apparently collaborating with a PHP coder comfortable with Magento. Joost told me the coder will be guest blogging for him with more Magento code in the future. This initial code was prepared with some advance awareness of the new canonical tag sponsored by search engines, and is already listed in the MagentoConnect system under SEO.

Packt Publishing’s Magento PHP Developer’s Guide : Learning Magento PHP Development

,p>I just reviewed a copy of Packt Publishing’s Magento PHP book Magento 1.3: PHP Developer’s Guide. It’s a good resource for getting started developing SEO-optimized ecommerce sites with Magento. Packt is an open source publisher well respected in the community for publishing niche titles and donating some proceeds back to Open Source projects. I don’t think anyone can complain about $100,000 contributed back to Open Source projects so far (as reported in wikipedia).

Probably the biggest SEO advantages to be gained with Magento involve custom Magento modules, well-crafted SEO friendly Magento templates, and smart management of the sales conversion process. Conversion rate optimization with Magento requires programming. Magento is open and flexible, built on Zend Framework, and PHP developers can easily dig in to Magento for the first time with guidance from this book. When I see SEO for Magento articles focus on tricks and templates, and promote custom SEOplugins for Magento, I cringe because really the best way to build a Magento store involves baking SEO best practices into the core system. No one can hand you a set of templates and plugins for that - you need to do some custom development.

I’ve already recommended this book to two project developers. It says it is for experienced PHP coders, developers already familiar with PHP5 and wanting to work with Magento and the Zend Framework. That is accurate, but I don’t think you need to be very experienced with PHP to appreciate the book. The first few chapters cover Magento in detail sufficient for getting comfortable with a Magento/ZF installation. That’s always an issue for developers not familiar with ZF, because of the extensive folder structure. I think the book does a very good job of demystifying that from the start.

The middle chapters are the meat of this book. You build a shipping module from scratch, deploy a payment module, build an extensible featured product module, and finally a full Magento module with admin panels. In a nutshell, the authors covered the top 4 or 5 initial concerns of anyone starting out with Magento, and did so in a didactic way that gets you started with confidence. Nice job.

Could you get this free online from articles? Sure. As always with books, you are paying for the editorial context and commitment to accuracy. With this book, for $30 or whatever you get in one place, in basically one voice, a well-presented short story that carries you through what matters most when getting started with Magento development. I see it as a must-have for any developer joining a team working with Magento. Consider it a 2 hour read for an experienced developer, with a weekend full of Magento development exercises that will get you primed to jump in with the development team on Monday morning. After reading this through (I already work as an SEO on Magento projects as well as Zend Framework projects), I went to see the other titles Packt offers. I intend to bring some Packt books to my next user group meeting as well.

Related: See post on SquareSpace SEO

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11 Responses to “Magento SEO (search engine friendly Magento shopping cart)”

  1. MA Says:

    Looks very promising. Hopefully this will be a viable alternative to the dinosaur carts (osCommerce and Zen Cart) that we’ve been stuck with for so long….

  2. Mert -MetroSEO Says:

    Considering the amount of junk we have out there, it is a blessing. You should see the sites of ecommerce clients coming through the door. This is an improvement over the whole site.

    @mert:  It’s too easy to make something look promising these days… it takes days just to get to the meat of the issues and many don’t bother untilit’s too late to turn back (or so they think). The codebase here looks very impressive to me so far. I know a number of guys who can probably make this do amazing things for a fraction of the cost of a custom cart and with all the benefits of Open Source support. That’s still not cheap, but it is cheap compared to what it really costs to do things right these days.

  3. Mert -MetroSEO Says:

    I fully agree John. I have never used these guys, but I would rather start with this base and get it to a designer than teach a designer how to do SEO friendly ecommerce sites. I am planning to do that with my next ecommerce client as a matter of fact. Let’s see how stable it is and how much we can tweak it.

  4. the Gypsy Says:

    Hey John, Dave here…. just thought I would mention that my web dev team is starting to look into this one. Over the last few weeks they have been playin with it on a Dev Server. ( I own a development firm as well as the SEO stuff).

    I haven’t looked into it yet personally, but we have some ex-OSC folks working for us and the goal is potentially a live production site. If you want, get in touch and I can let you know what I come up with.. or we can put together some recommendations if you care that much.

    … drop me a line if U want.

    Dave

  5. john andrews Says:

    also see newer post SEO for Magento

  6. Justin Cresswell Says:

    Hi John,
    I like your blog, nice work. We’re taking a hard look at Magneto, and have liked what we’ve seen thus far. One of the only drawbacks I’ve seen is the page load time on the demo site. Might that be because it is a demo, or do you think it’s something larger?
    Regards,
    Justin

    @Justin: Thanks for the compliment. As for Magento, I have worked with many good PHP/MySQL people in the past, so I generally assume that any poor performance issues with an out of the box Open Source platform can and will be addressed when cost effective (which may mean “when I need it fixed”). I see plenty of references to Magento being slow, and a few of successful use of caching and MySQL tweaking to improve performance. Without looking further, I’d say it is what it is… a 1.0 production version of a new open source ecommerce platform, with a ton of promise and bright future.

  7. Webshopnews Says:

    I´m working with Magento for more than a year. The results are really good. Magento is well designed and full of useful features. But one of the most important things. Magento is very search engine friendly: speaking URLs, XML-Sitemap, optimizes Source Code, editable Metatags etc.

    If you´re planning a new online-store, Magento is definitely worth a test…

    Editor’s Note: Sorry, that blog looks like spam to me, so no link.

  8. semaphorian Says:

    Yes, Many of our clients much concerned about SEO of Magento Website. The Clients wants us to do but the SEO is is quite undefined by Magento and hard to do it by Programmer.

    We are showing them to hire SEO Company or Consultant to do that but now we are trying to develop our own strategy.

    The thing is Search Engine is main source of Traffic and this is purely product based website which can not work without Traffic.

    There are lots of website on net and if we can not prove our self to search engine no body will find us…

    so it is necessary if Magento come up with SEO Solution..

  9. BlueAcorn Says:

    Hey John,

    Nice collection of SEO resources for Magento, it’s nice to see the SEO community starting to evolve around the platform. We recently put together a few additional tweaks that we integrate into our Magento themes that might be a good resource to add to your list. Magento SEO Development.

    Now that we’ve added the Magento blog to our site in addition to our existing eCommerce blog, you’ll be sure to see more articles like that from us in the future as well.

  10. Scott Hendison Says:

    I have a client considering a switch to Magento from an old OS commerce, and while doing research, up you come, John! ;) The primary concerns which I can’t find answers to are…

    1. Can sidebars and other navigation be somewhat controlled at a category or product page level? It’s so wasteful to have 80 category and sub category links on every product page like their current cart does…

    2. Duplicate content, like title tags and descriptions etc. were a problem for categories and different sorted results with OS commerce - Can different titles and descriptions be given for sorted results and for categories or should the sorted results be excluded in Webmaster Tools?

    I’m not so much looking at “how” these would be done yet, just to verify that it would be possible?

    Thanks - see you in Seattle in June at SMX Advanced?

  11. Bryan Fly Says:

    John,

    I have a magento SEO question for you. I have a magento site almost completed and I have been working hard on SEO. On my product pages my h1 and h2 are around line 300-400 and I don’t think the spiders will search that far down.

    Is there anything I can do that you know of to help this issue?

    Thanks for your time,
    Bryan

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