Magento can be an overwhelmingly complex platform to work with. Its open nature makes it powerful to work with, but the need for developer level experience to accomplish some basic tasks makes working with it a handful.
Extensions (sometimes called apps or plugins) for Magento allow you to take advantage of other developers' hard work in order to simplify your usage of the platform.
When it comes to SEO, a number of extensions are available in Magento's marketplace and elsewhere that can help simplify the process of getting your site's technical SEO up to par.
Let's talk about a few useful plugins to help with your ecommerce site's SEO, starting with a bit of background on how Magento extensions work.
What Is A Module Or Extension?
Modules control one business feature only and are almost entirely independent of each other. Some modules are included in the core of Magento, while others can be added on. Modules are added on to your Magento platform using extensions. An extension is merely a collection of one or more modules.
Modules and extensions shouldn't be confused with themes. Themes primarily change your site's front end appearance and interface, while modules add business features.
What Is Magento Marketplace?
Magento Marketplace is an app store for Magento that specifically features only curated options. Featured categories include options to empower your customer support team, payment and security apps, marketing apps, accounting and finance, shipping and fulfillment, and site optimization:
You can use the Magento Marketplace to find and install apps that will expand your site's feature set on the front end, back end, or both.
What Was Magento Connect?
Magento Connect was the original marketplace for Magento apps. Unlike Magento Marketplace, the apps were not vetted. Connect was shut down and traffic to it was redirected to the Magento Marketplace starting on September 15, 2017.
Do You Need To Buy Extensions From Magento Marketplace?
No. You can buy or find free extensions for Magento that aren't available in the Magento Marketplace and they will still work with the platform, which is still open source. The difference is that extensions outside of Magento Marketplace haven't been vetted by the Magento team specifically.
This means you will want to make sure their have been good reviews or the extensions are otherwise vouched for in order to ensure that they will function well and that they are secure.
How Do You Install Magento Extensions?
The process of installing Magento extensions is not straightforward and intended to be done only by developers or sysadmins who are experienced working with the command line. See the guidelines in Magento's documentation. Broadly, the steps are:
- Download an extension from Magento Marketplace or another source
- Get the Composer name and version of the extension
- Update composer.json in Magento with the extension name and version
- Check to see that the installation is working
- Enable the extension and configure its settings
Now that you know what Magento extensions are and how they work, let's review a few extensions that you can use to help get your site's SEO up to snuff.
Mageworx SEO Suite Ultimate
This very powerful extension is very useful in the right hands, but it's definitely for power users operating large ecommerce sites. With a price tag of $249 this is not a casual extension.
The app allows you to choose from 20 different templates for meta tag optimization, or to create your own. Category, product review, and layered navigation optimization options are available. Cross linking, redirects, and duplicate content solutions also come with the tool.
- Product and category templates allowing you to automatically optimize title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, short and long product descriptions, meta keywords, image alts, and H1 tags.
- Options to assign templates by all products, individual products, and by product attributes.
- Options to assign templates by all categories, chosen category trees, or specific categories only.
- Layered navigation templates
- Bulk dynamic category page optimization settings
- Layered navigation settings, including noindex options (with nofollow and follow options).
- Fine-tuned canonicalization
- Hreflang optimization for international sites to handle SEO for multiple languages
- Automatically add links whenever a specific keyword is mentioned
- Rich snippet markup
- Redirect handling rules
- Advanced breadcrumb settings for good control over your site's internal link structure
- XML sitemaps for search engines and HTML sitemaps for users
- Reporting on SEO strength for your pages
This extension is designed to allow you to collect reviews from your customers, as well as allow them to submit photos. The plugin makes it easy to collect user generated content as well as curate, manage, and respond to it.
Yotpo integrates with your store and shopping cart to ask for reviews, ask questions, and ask for photos at specific moments in the purchase cycle, then display the content in the right place at the right time to improve conversion rates.
Yotpo found that after adding their user reviews, their data for over 30,000 businesses showed very clear growth in search impressions:
Yotpo reviews include markup for rich snippets (rich results), so that pages featuring reviews will show star ratings in the search result page, making them stand out more and drawing additional traffic from search engines.
The plugin works by asking users to leave reviews with targeted emails, with the especially useful feature of allowing them to leave a review right their email inbox. Yotpo reports a 2.5x lift in conversion rates as a result of including the reviews. Reviews and images can be collected for display on both your site and on social media sites.
The option to allow customers to submit Q&A questions on product pages, as well as for you to respond to those questions or automatically send the question to customers who previously bought the product, allows you to address random long tail queries that you would likely never find in any keyword tool, offering a level of semantic depth on your product pages that dramatically improves search engine potential.
Mirasvit Advanced SEO Suite
This plugin comes with several useful features for keyword inclusion, SEO friendly URLs, canonicalization, front and back sitemaps, rich snippets, internal links, and more.
- Set keyword usage for your meta tags
- Set unique meta tags for individual pages
- Use templates to generate SEO friendly product URLs
- Generate URLs that are consistent for products even if they are listed in multiple categories
- Use SEO friendly URLs in layered navigation so that, for example, the brand name filter is added as a folder instead of a query string
- SEO friendly URLs for product tags and comments
- SEO friendly image URLs
- Redirect homepage duplicates back to the homepage
- Remove canonical URL discrepancies
- Set cross-domain canonicalization
- Set canonical URLs for individual products
- Proper pagination
- Robots headers
- Front end sitemap optimization
- XML sitemap optimization
- Generate image alts based on product attributes
- Google rich snippets and Opengraph
- Automatic internal crosslinks
- Edit robots.txt
Magmodules Rich Snippets Suite
This extension adds schema.org markup to your Magento site allowing your site to display rich results in the search results. Rich result markup options include:
- WebSite - To specify the website
- BreadcrumbList - To get breadcrumb links listed in the search results
- Organization - To specify the organization
- LocalBusiness - To get a prominent knowledge graph listing in the search results
- AggregateRating - To get star ratings listed in the search results
- Product Rich Cards - Get product information listed in Google image search results
- Category Rich Snippets - To specify a category
- Social Media - To get social profiles listed in your knowledge graph results
Apptrian Image Optimizer
This extension optimizes your GIF, JPG, and PNG images by reducing file size without reducing image clarity in order to increase your site's load time. This is a common recommendation in Google's own PageSpeed Insights tool, and page speed is a known ranking factor.
Shrinking down images is an easy way to reduce load time and keep users from bouncing off of your site. Optimization options are fully configurable and the algorithms used to reduce image size can even be swapped out for different utilities if desired.
Amasty Improved Layered Navigation
This module allows users to filter and sort your site in the way that has become standard among modern ecommerce websites using vertical and horizontal filters, including sliders, ranges, and "from-to" widgets. Users can shop by brand, search by product attribute, and filter by price with sliders.
The plugins quick ajax filtering allows for products to be sorted and filtered without reloading the page and, for good SEO, without using URL parameters. SEO friendly URLs are available for those filters that you consider to be unique enough to warrant separate pages, including the ability to set unique meta tags and distinct URLs for them. This should be used specifically for pages that are distinct from one another, such as filtered to different brands.
This extension brings SEO metrics and analytics information into your Magento back end to address SEO issues in an integrated and cohesive way.
ReloadSEO provides revenue metrics in combination with data on which keywords are performing well for you, as well as information about your backlinks and other important SEO data. The data in ReloadSEO comes from Google Analytics, your Google Search Console, and your Magento back-end.
One of the most useful features is its recommendations on money-making keywords, low hanging fruit opportunities where you are seeing some traffic and revenue but where more on site tweaks could be made to specifically target those opportunities.
Backlink data for both your own site and your competitors is available, allowing you to identify opportunities to earn new backlinks and boost your site's authority. Reload SEO crawls roughly 6 billion pages daily to maintain a large backlink database. It also pings your backlinks to check and make sure that they still exist, and notifies you if they go missing.
Additionally, the extension offers an SEO score for each page you produce, with recommendations on SEO changes you should make to ensure that everything on the page is properly addressed.
Klevu Search is an extension that improves your site's internal search function. This AI powered search tool uses natural language processing, semantic search, and multi-lingual capabilities to allow shoppers to find what they are looking for on your site, even if they are using complex queries that don't contain the exact words used to describe your product.
- Dynamic filters - Allows users to get more specific results
- Spelling correction and synonym dictionary - Spelling errors and word choice don't get in the way of meaning
- Popular and trending searches - Suggested searches are based not only on what users type but on which searches are popular, helping them find what they are looking for faster
- Product promotions - Products that you want to promote get a ranking boost and show up higher in your internal search results
- Self-learning search - Search results are informed by what users have previously interacted with and what they have bought from search in the past
- URL redirects - Redirect users to a specific page if they use specific keywords
- Data tracking and analysis to help you understand what your shoppers are searching for
While internal search isn't specifically a part of your SEO, a good SEO professional understands the intimate connection between on-site search and off-site search. Internal search technology doesn't directly impact rankings, but an effective on-site search engine helps you better understand what queries your shoppers are searching for and allows you to adjust your product catalog, marketing approach, and SEO strategy to target the right information gaps.
Magento's SEO capacity has few hard limits, owing to the open nature of the platform, but user-friendliness is not the platforms strength, and keeping track of important SEO tasks isn't something that is built into the core of the platform. Magento extensions help rein in the somewhat unwieldy nature of the platform, provided you can get as far as installing the extensions themselves.
Extensions like the ones discussed above help you identify issues and correct them, as well as take proactive steps to give the search engines as much to work with as possible when they are trying to determine when and where to turn your site up in search results.
Take advantage of the features that Magento extensions have to offer and push your site's ranking potential ahead of the competition.