Our previous experience is with a 100% in-house built commence platform where we were in full control of every aspect of our site, including SEO. After a few months, we're beginning to wrap up stage 1 development on our new Magento (EE 1.13) site and preparing to go live.

The critical modules IMO have been the specialized functionality that have helped create our store and allowed us to do the things we need to do. The question I'm carefully trying to ask is: how critical are SEO modules? and is this a no brainer decision for a serious megento shop? Or have recent versions of magento improved SEO presence enough to make proper shop setup the more important issue?

I don't expect a SEO module to be a silver bullet solution but in general, is it a module an experienced magento expert wouldn't consider going live without?

  • really tricky to answer because this depends totally on your project (size, budget, structure, seo-enemies, aso...). If you could tell us this as a first step to see which capabilities "your" SEO-Module would need or if Magento itself could handle your needs. In my opinion, just installing a module and hope the best will make it worse! – Stefan Gregori Jan 17 '14 at 12:39
  • Stefan, that's what I assumed. "It's important to have an objective in mind and not to install and hope for the best". Our shop is pretty standard. We're using Categories and Attributes with Layered Navigation.. as well as Tagging. The obvious SEO issues seem to be duplicate content from mixing multiple levels of categories and attributes.. as well as minor stuff like non-descriptive urls /tags/1234. I understand SEO is a longterm game & shouldn't be rushed so that's why I don't really want to "install-and-hope". but I also don't want to take a misstep by not taking the obvious steps 1st – JustinP Jan 17 '14 at 15:19

Back in the day of Magento CE 1.3, I would say, definitely… install the Yoast module.. it gave you canonical URLs, and a few other things which were not supported by Magento out of the box. Now, a few years later, Magento has all everything we used the module for. Canonical URLs, although disabled by default, are supported for those that need/want them.

Magento comes with pretty decently constructed markup for SEO purposes out-of-the-box. Saying this here, I kind of expect to irk some discussion, but I'll risk it. No, it's not the absolute best, but the larger problem is the content being put into a new site.

Also to point, the term SEO == Search Engine Optimization. Just like you cannot optimize code for performance until it's been written, you can't optimize a site for search engines until it's been indexed and you can see where things fall. However, that's not to say you can't follow best practices! :)

I'll be honest, I do not remember the last time we installed a module for SEO enhancements on a client's website. We have, however, recommended against installing them where a client asked us about whether they should install something off-the-shelf which they found on Connect.

If canonical URLs are needed, we turn them on. If markup needs to be changed to fit the content better, we alter the (typically highly custom) theme's templates to contain the necessary changes. I would much rather see the site and it's content looked at critically and custom / targeted changes being made than any SEO "module" be installed, which is IMO worse since it blindly introduces sometimes unknown and irksome changes into the site.

My final advice: focus on getting your taxonomy correct the first time so you don't have to restructure it two-months after launch, make sure the copy on your site isn't going to introduce a lot duplicate content, setup proper meta tags, keywords, etc. And lastly (but certainly not least) make sure you get a complete list of all URLs on your existing site and setup proper 301 redirects so you don't get penalized for suddenly 404'ing content.

  • Thanks David. I utilize and respect your (organizations) work at Classy Llama and couldn't have hoped for a better response. Thank you very much for "risking it"! – JustinP Jan 18 '14 at 18:09

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