Magento SEO – Set Some Sensible Defaults

June 2, 2015


Magento is a great system for building e-commerce websites; it’s not bad for marketing them either. Out of the box there are no truly bad default settings for SEO and it offers handy functions to make your life easier.

In this article I’ll take a look at changing some of the less than optimal defaults and talk about some of the other settings you may want to use.

Many of these settings will be in System -> Configuration in your Magento backend.

Auto-redirect to Base URL

This dictates the type of redirect that will move customers from, for example, the non www version of your URL to the www version. This will often be set to “Yes (302 Found)” – Change it to “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)”:

Magento auto-redirect to Base URL settings

Use Web Server Rewrites

In the tab below Url Options, ‘Search Engines Optimization’, you can enable web server re-writes. Setting this to yes will strip out the unnecessary /index.php/ from your URLs and make them a bit more user (and search engine) friendly.

NB: for this to work your Apache server needs mod_rewrite enabled. Talk to your developer (or us!) if you are stuck at this point.


On the left hand side of the page under ‘general’ click on the ‘design’ tab. Here we can set a default title, prefix/suffix, description etc.

If you want your brand name on each page title, which would normally be at the end of the tag, enter content into ‘Title Suffix’, for example: “| Brand Name”. This will append a pipe followed by your brand name to each tag.

Some people recommend not setting things like a default meta description as it will lead to duplication. Personally, I think that if you write a good coverall description with a decent call to action it would be better to have this duplicated a few times than blank. Just remember to go and manually add new meta descriptions wherever your SEO tool pickups that duplication.

Magento SEO settings for default title tags and meta descriptions (HTML HEAD)

Search Engine Optimisations

Go to ‘Catalog’ on the left hand side and click on ‘Search Engine Optimisations’. Here will set a few more handy settings.

You’ll particularly want to enable an autogenerated site map – very important to sort this out and submit it to Google.

Depending on how your navigation works this next part could be the most important setting we’ve covered so far. Enabling ‘Use Canonical Link Meta Tag’ for categories and products could significantly reduce the number of pages that look duplicated. It’s worth doubling checking this with your SEO tool of choice, however, as I have once or twice seen this make matters work.

Search Engine Optimisations tab of Magento configuration

Google Sitemap

Finally, under ‘Catalog’ go to ‘Google Sitemap’ and set your update frequencies accurately. At the bottom under ‘Generation Settings’ set enabled to ‘Yes’ and I’d advise setting the start time to your quietest time of business.

I hope that’s helped you set some sensible defaults for your Magento store.

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