Duplicate content and URLs: How to optimise the SEO of Magento websites

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Everyone who has worked with a Magento e-commerce website knows how tedious it can be to correctly reference this type of online store and to apply all the proper SEO techniques. Among the countless pages of duplicated content, URLs with undefined parameters and SEO efforts that are not fruitful; this CMS can be a real headache.

Although complex to handle, Magento is nonetheless one of the most powerful solutions for e-commerce sites. However, in its current configuration, the Magento CMS is not perfectly optimized for SEO; without special attention, the very much-needed management of this CMS can quickly become a major constraint.

Discover the SEO solutions to combat duplicate content or infinite Magento URLs.

URL and content duplication: How to run SEO on Magento?

When talking about Magento, we often mention online e-shopping sites with an immeasurable number of pages and product lists. Obviously the larger this online store is, the more the site will have the tendency to generate massive amounts of URLs. So, what can we do?

Excessive categorization

On Magento it is not uncommon to find similar pages listed under several different URLs, from an SEO point of view this is not the most effective thing for optimization on search engines.

Take an example of a red shirt that can be found under the section “products, then clothes, then menswear, and finally t-shirt”. What a journey to find my red shirt!

Using standard Magento parameters, the URL of the aforementioned shirt should match: http://mysite.com/products/clothes/mens/t-shirt/red-t-shirt. We agree that this URL is not really SEO Friendly.

Suppose that same red shirt is also included in the “promotion” category, which oversees the subcategory “men”, this would give us the URL: http://mysite.com/promotions/men/red-t-shit.

With the 2 above-mentioned URLs we are faced with the same product being listed twice while still retaining the undeniable quality of being a red t-shirt.

The major problem of such a scenario is the outright duplication of the product listing. To adjust these duplications, there is a quick fix!

Magento, in all its great SEO wisdom, has given us the ability to automatically add canonical tags to all product listings, without taking into account the different directories given before “/red-t-shirt”. This means that, regardless of the directories our product appears under, search engines will only retain the final directory of our product, namely “/red-t-shirt”.

To add this canonical URL, simply go to the tab: “System,” then “Settings”, “Catalog” and finally “optimization for search engines” to eventually enable the option “Use canonical link meta tag for categories “and” Use canonical link meta tag for products.” Nothing could be easier, right?

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There is also another method to avoid the duplication of your products. This method consists of activating the settings requiring Magento to not integrate categories in the URL of the product page. So, the URL of our lovely red shirt will be: http://mysite.com/red-t-shirt, which will prevent the display of different directories where the product can be found.

 

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Although effective, this method will make your task more difficult when you want to analyze the flow of visitors in Google Analytics.

Sorted browsing and Magento: yet another filter?

A fundamental principle of all online shops, whether they were made using Magento or not, lies in the different filters that the Internet user can apply to quickly identify a desired product. Although these filters are indispensable to all shops in that respect, Magento’s default management of these filters generates as many URLs as duplicate content.

Imagine that we are still in the research phase for this beautiful red t-shirt that we mentioned before. Faceted navigation (or sorting) available on the product page allows us to choose between many options, such as the type of clothing, color, size, price, etc. By selecting “shirt” and “red”, the page displayed will offer us all the red t-shirts sold by the company and generate a URL containing the parameters of this research. By clicking on the product page displaying our red shirts will have a URL indicating: http://mysite.com/products/clothes/men/?product=t-shirt&color=red. As we can see, we are presented with a new URL, created solely using the filters that we have selected and linking the same /red-t-shirt product to that of another URL. We are yet again presented with another example of content duplication. But where does it all stop!

To counteract this duplication there are several solutions available to you. The first is to set up a Robots.txt file with a rule stating that the search parameters from these filters do not need to be indexed via the statement “noindex”. The second option is to use the Google Search Console tool for the management of URL parameters. This way you will be able to specify the actions to be followed regarding Google URL parameters. The third solution is to use automatic rewriting of a URL by putting rules in the htaccess file. Although extremely effective, this solution is not accessible on all servers.

Learn to control your robots.txt files

Primarily focused on e-commerce, Magento was designed to manage a large product catalog. You can ask it anything, and Magento will be there! But in regards to SEO, in its current configuration Magento has yet to adopt a number of significant elements including the very famous robots.txt file. Indeed, this nevertheless essential file is not automatically installed on the CMS and you will thus need to add it yourself.

A well-configured robots.txt file prevents Google bots or bots from any other search engine that you have identified from indexing the contents of directories such as the check out, the Catalog Search, reviews or “IDs/SIDs” sessions to name a few.

Also remember to indicate in the Robots.txt file that the bots of search engines should not index the pages created by the internal search bar. Indeed, if you fail to de-index this you may end up with thousands of pages (of duplicate content) generated by your search bar, which will be indexed in the search results.

To fully utilize the potential of this SEO element, remember to fully configure the file; the effectiveness of the results will surprise you!

SEO and Magento, it’s all possible!

To summarize, although this article only addresses a small part of SEO issues related to Magento, this powerful CMS remains the most appropriate tool to launch your online store. If you need a Magento specialist team to develop your online store you can trust My Little Big Web to support you.

So, are you ready to charge into battle?

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