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Two years ago we transitioned our art gallery website to Magento 1.7. However our Google search results for the specific artists we represent remains very poor, far below what we had before.

We have been unable to determine the cause but I do have a theory. Because of the way the site is formatted, each artist is listed under a subhead of "Artists", while individual works of art (what you would call "products") are listed directly off the root.

For example, the URL for hypothetical artist John Styles would read:

`www.jsgalleries.com/artists/john-styles.html`

While his painting sunset would have a URL of

`www.jsgalleries.com/sunset/`   

If you search for the artist + title of the piece of art, i .e. "John Styles Sunset", we do quite well on Google search, usually the first page. But a search for "John Smith artist" will return no matches for our site.

This is true of every artist we represent. I asked our developer if we could eliminate the unnecessary layer of "artists" so that the artist's page would be www.jsgalleries.com/john-styles.html He said that cannot be done because of the way Magento is organized.

So my question for the forum is: Could this additional layer be why our search results are so poor, and if so, can we eliminate it?

  • Seriously, how come moderators get to spam the forums with their products - it's like Animal Farm!!! – user2935 Sep 26 '14 at 11:09
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The "artist" subfolder can be eliminated either by using
1) Magento build in catalog rewrites
2) or by using your own Router class.

The impact of the subfolder is not very significant (we have a lot of feedback during the last 5 years based on our layered navigation module) but have finally decided to make urls as short as possible.

More important are the right meta tags, Google rich snippets (Person in your case) and page text. I mean inner seo only. There are also backlinks, google+ and social factors.

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Always understand one factor about search results from Google: It is a proprietary algorithm that us folks can only speculate on the importance of each factor. It's kind of like having a slice of the most amazing apple pie from a secret recipe. You know what it takes like and generally know the ingredients, but you probably don't know the exact proportions or what kinds of apples were used or even if they are apples at all.

If you have the John Styles category as a sub-category of the root, you will have the URL structure you desire. Is there a reason it wasn't done like this in the first place?

I don't think it's going to have a big impact on your search results. If the artists you feature are quite popular, it might be difficult to get on the first page for everything.

Ultimately, you will probably be better off following some generic guidelines for improving your results. Make your pages descriptive, put descriptions on images that are relevant, use proper HTML structure (ie mind your H1's and H2's), make your pages load fast, get other sites linking to your content, and on and so forth. There are plenty of resources available on improvements you can likely make to improve SEO, I suggest reading those.

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The additional layer of /artists/ in your categories structure is not causing a problem. Can you change it yet? yes, but it is not causing any problem so no real reason to change it.

Taking a look at the view source of one of your artists category pages I see you have a large amount of meta keywords. These will not help you as Google ignores them and you could be looked at as keyword stuffing, which can impact your search engine result ranking.

The most immediate issue is duplicate content. For example this artist's category page starts off with the following text:

"Looks good. Do me a favor, make the quote $6,000 for the base price. I think it is fair since the US has done all the heavy lifting for the development. We should be paid for that work."

Take that text and search for it using Google. You'll notice that 5 other websites have almost the exact same text. Google and other search engines like unique content and often penalize websites for duplicate content. So a good step would be to go through and find all non-original text and update that text. Once your site is re-crawled you will no longer have the duplicate content penalty.

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