Search engine optimization is one of the key factors for any online store. While off-page SEO, that is citations and links pointing to your site, is important, you should never forget about on-page optimization. The latter is within your full control and can be implemented properly.

In this post, I will try to cover all Magento 2 SEO settings and tips that are available there out of the box.

Main Magento 2 SEO aspects

Meta tags for products

The importance of meta tags cannot be overestimated. Your site needs them to rank high and look attractive in SERPs. Product pages are most important for e-commerce sites, so I’ve decided to start with them.

There is one new Magento 2 SEO feature that you will like: Fields Auto-Generation. It helps to set templates for product metadata. They are applied on a global level.

The setting can be found under Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Product Fields Auto-Generation

Magento 2 SEO - fields auto-generation

This is a great tool which will save you lots of time, especially if you have many products. However, there are some drawbacks I must point out:

  • As auto-generated fields are set up globally, you can’t change them for products found in particular categories, say, for men and women clothes.
  • Currently only 3 placeholders are supported: {{name}}, {{description}} and {{sku}}. This doesn’t provide much pliability.
  • Adjustments you can make in these global settings are not retrospective, i.e. they won’t be applied to the existing products. It’s not convenient if you’ve found a misspelling or just want to change something quickly.
  • The {{description}} placeholder may not be the best choice for Meta Description Mask if the product descriptions are long which is probably true for most stores (and it’s OK as they are the main content on such URLs). So if you use {{description}}, you will probably get something like this:

Magento 2 SEO - a bad example of product meta description

To sum it up, while a new Product Fields Auto-Generation feature is a great perspective, it is quite basic and limited right now.

Alternatively, you can edit titles and Magento 2 meta descriptions right from the product page settings: Product > Basic Settings > Search Engine Optimization. They will overwrite meta data set globally via Product Fields Auto-Generation. This way you can customize product titles and meta descriptions, but it will be extremely time-consuming if you have many products as you will have to make changes on a one-by-one basis.

To overcome these limitations and extend the default possibilities, we developed the Meta Tags Templates  extension. With its help, you can not only create templates for meta title, meta description, and keywords but also set up H1, description, image alt for categories, subcategories, and products.

SEO-friendly URLs for products

>A product URL in Magento 2 is created in accordance with the SKU you’ve specified. But you can change or edit the URL if you need it. This feature is located in Product > Basic Settings > Search Engine Optimization.

But if you want to generate product URLs automatically, you can use the Unique Product URL extension. Once you have set up this extension , it will work automatically without any attention required.

Meta tags and SEO-friendly URLs for categories

Metadata for categories can be set up on a store view level in Stores > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head. This can be overwritten on a category level at Products > Categories > General Information. Here you can also choose a URL for the category according to your needs.

Another way, how you can make URLs more SEO friendly is by enabling URL rewrites. This tool optimizes URLs by deleting unnecessary words like index.php. that have a low impact on performance or site rank.

See how to enable Web Server Rewrites.

Meta tags for Home page

Magento 2 will continue the tradition of Magento 1 and set the default main page title to – guess what? – Home Page, right. So one of the first things you should do when you switch to Magento 2 is to customize this important tag in Content > Pages > Home Page > Page Information

Magento 2 SEO - set up home page title

Meta description and meta keywords can be changed on the Meta Data tab.

Prefixes and suffixes for title tags

If you need to add your company name or anything else either at the end or at the beginning of your title tags across all site pages, you can do it in Stores > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head

Set up suffix and prefix for title tags

Images optimization

Images optimization plays a vital role in site speed. The latter affects your site rankings: the faster your site is the more ranking ability it has. Unfortunately, Magento 2 doesn’t have out-of-box tools for image compression.

In Magento 2 you can add alt attributes for product images in Product > Basic Settings > Images and Videos > Alt Text.

And please change the alt text for your logo image from “Magento Commerce” to something related to your brand in Stores > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head > Header :

Magento 2 SEO - alt text for logo image

Unique Content

I have already pointed out many duplicate content issues that can be found on most e-commerce sites. The good news is that Magento 2 has some out-of-the-box tools to solve many of these SEO problems.

Canonical Tags

Canonical tag, also known as canonical URL, is an URL that you mark as a preferred search engine. Thus, Google bots know which pages they need to crawl firstly. If you don’t use canonical tags, Google will choose them yourself.

 Learn all the details about canonical URLs

To enable canonical tags for categories in Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization (1)

Enable canonical tags in Magento 2

This setting guarantees that canonicals are also applied to sorted and filtered pages, i.e. the ones with product_list_mode=list, product_list_order=name, etc. This minimizes the chances of thin content occurrences on your site.

However, there are a few things to remember:

  • Instead of canonicalization, pages with sorted or filtered results can be noindexed either by setting up exclusions in Google Console or by adding meta robots META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW” to such URLs. But the latter is quite problematic since there is no default option for this in Magento 2, I’ll write about it in detail below. Mind that either canonicals or noindex tags should be used, not both entities simultaneously.
  • If you want to utilize pages with applied filters and/or sorting options for SEO by creating landing pages, you can achieve this only with a special extension like Improved Layered Navigation for Magento 2 .
  • If you choose to set “Yes” for Canonical Link Meta Tag for Categories, canonical tags will be applied to paginated results too. While using them for such URLs is OK, adding Prev-Next tags is preferable.

Category path in product URLs

If you navigate to Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization, you’ll find an option to choose whether to enable or disable showing category paths in product URLs (see the image above, 3). These category indicators are good for indexing and clearly show the logic of store navigation. There are a few scenarios of using this setting in combination with canonical tags:

  • You can choose not to add a category path to a product URL. In this case, there won’t be any threats of potential duplicates.
  • If you add category paths to product pages addresses and don’t enable canonicals, you might face duplicate content issues.
  • If both category paths and product canonicals are enabled, each product page will have a canonical pointing to itself without any category indication. Concurrently, each product URL will have a category path in its address and be accessible from all the categories you’ve added it to.

Control of site indexing

Robots.txt

One of the greatest improvements of Magento 2 in terms of SEO is the ability to edit your robots.txt file right from the Magento 2 admin panel: Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Design > Search Engine Robots:

Magento 2 SEO guide - edit robots.txt

This is quite handy, isn’t it? Your robots.txt file can be accessed at yoursite.com/robots.txt which is the right place for it.

Though a default configuration of robots.txt is ok, you would probably want these directories disallowed as well: /catalog/product_compare/, /catalogsearch/, /wishlist/

See the list of custom instructions for robots.txt

Meta robots

As you can see on the image above, default meta robots in Magento 2 are set to INDEX, FOLLOW which is correct if you want your site to be indexed by Google. However, you can’t customize it on a specific page. For example, if you create a duplicate product to set up an experiment in Google Analytics, you will have to find a way to restrict search engines access to this page. You could add such URLs to the robots.txt file but this doesn’t always work as expected.

XML Sitemap

Magento 2 provides many useful settings when it comes to generating an XML sitemap, you can find them in Stores > Configuration > Catalog > XML Sitemap:

Magento 2 sitemap configuration

The most important changes are the following:

  • All the images can be added to the sitemap automatically;
  • There is an option to submit the URL of your XML sitemap to robots.txt.
  • You have the ability to set the number of pages per file as well as the maximum file size.

And now here is some bad news:

  • There is no opportunity to choose which product types should be added to the XML sitemap: grouped, simple, configurable, etc. You may want to add only one type, for example, if you have configurable products that consist of two or more, say, software versions. Each version is a simple product and will be automatically included in the sitemap, while you need to include the configurable version only.
  • An option to add images to the XML sitemap is certainly great, but what about other file types? If you want to include PDFs, Microsoft Word files, etc., you will have to add them manually.
  • You can’t exclude or include particular pages if there is a need for that.

HTML Sitemap

Unfortunately, no HTML sitemap is available in Magento 2 out of the box, so you’ll need customization or extension to create one.

Additional changes

Suffix for Product and Category URLs

This new Magento 2 SEO feature helps to set up a suffix for your site pages: Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization

Magento 2 URL suffix

In theory, you can use different suffixes for products and categories. But you will hardly benefit from that as users expect to see an identical URL structure within one site. Moreover, using different suffixes may lead to numerous 404 pages: changes you make in these fields are retrospective but no redirects are created automatically. So if you used to have a product at yourstore.com/category/product.html and changed the product pages suffix to .ht, your former page will return a 404 error, so be careful with such significant changes.

Microdata, or rich snippets in Magento 2

This is a great innovation of Magento 2 and I’m sure merchants will be happy with it. All product pages have microdata added to them by default. There are no settings available: they are not necessary as almost all important tags are included:

Magento 2 seo: Google Rich Snippets

You may ask why I wrote “almost” above. Well, there is a reason for that: while Magento 2 default microdata will help to get rich snippets in Google SERPs, it is still rather basic. For example, it’s missing “Availability”. You can compare the results from a page which uses Google Rich Snippets for Magento 2 extension :

Magento 2 Google Rich Snippets by Amasty

As you can see, much more info is provided to Google in this case.

Additionally, only product snippets are available in a default Magento 2 configuration; if you want to add breadcrumbs, organization or search box markup, you will have to do it yourself or with the help of an extension, for example, the one I’ve mentioned above.

Google Analytics and Magento 2

Magento 2 offers a handy tool for adding a Google Analytics tracking code to your store: Stores > Configuration > Sales > Google API > Google Analytics

Enable Google Analytics in Magento 2

All you need to do is to enable Google Analytics and add your Tracking ID which can be found under Admin > Tracking Info in your GA Account.

 See the detailed magento seo guide on how to add GA to M2

Another great point is the ability to enable content experiments. If you do that, you will be able to add a Google Analytics Experiment code to a product page section: Product > Advanced Settings > Product View Optimization:

Magento 2 SEO Google Analytics experiment code

However, you will still need to create a duplicate product page and add a noindex tag to it. Generally, other aspects of setting up split tests in Magento didn’t change.

Google AdWords and Magento 2

Magento 2 developers decided to do their best and made Google AdWords implementation much easier for merchants. By navigating to Stores > Configuration > Sales > Google API > Google AdWords, you will see all the needed settings:

Magento 2 integration with Google AdWords

Conversion ID, Format, Color, etc. can be found in your Google AdWords account.

Voice search

Nowadays, voice search is gaining popularity among users. They want to use voice not only with Google requests but also on your website. To make your website more friendly for the voice search, you need to do the following steps:

  • optimize your website for mobile devices;
  • reach zero blocks;
  • build a strong semantic strategy;
  • improve site loading speed;
  • restructure your website.

If you are not sure, just remember that around 110 million people use voice searches every day, and the total amount of money they spent on shopping may reach $40 billion in 2022.

Check the full voice optimization plan

Navigation optimization

It may not be obvious, but you can improve SEO by changing settings of the Improved Layered Navigation extension. Too long URLs, filtering results crawling, similar content, all these problems can be managed by right settings combinations. Follow the guide to learn how to:

  • block everything from indexing;
  • add brand pages to indexing;
  • make filtered results more appealing.

If you are using the Magento 1 extension, you can use similar ideas and check this guide for detailed instructions. And if you have problems with the URL generation tool, check the settings like in this article .

Useful links

The list of common SEO mistakes

What is Magento 2 Yoast SEO?

Final thoughts

As you can see, a lot of things have been done to improve SEO and overall online marketing possibilities of Magento 2. However, while these new settings are useful, most of them are too basic and offer minimum to no flexibility when it comes to real stores and products.

Thus, we offer you our all-in-one SEO Toolkit that includes 6 SEO extension:

  1. Cross Linking M2
  2. Google Rich Snippets M2
  3. HTML Sitemap M2
  4. Meta Tags Templates M2
  5. Unique Product URL M2
  6. XML Google Sitemap M2

And altogether, they can automate your Magento 2 SEO process, reduce manual work, and improve your store ranking.

Check the user guide to learn the full list of features

I do hope the article was helpful for you! Wish you good luck with your Magento 2 SEO strategy. If you still have any questions, please do ask them in the comments!