As Magento is such a substantial framework, each component can’t be relied upon to be manually entered before being utilized in the system. That is the reason Magento has a fall-back procedure in place for a lot of configurable choices. These can be found within System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head.
For SEO purposes, the main default elements we are interested in are:
Default Title – the Default Title of the pages. This will only print to the source code when there isn’t an explicit title written in.
Default Description – the Default Title would be the name of your blog and a few featured products or categories. For example, “HockeySticks.com | Maker of fine wood sticks”
Default Keywords – Google has stated that keywords are no longer tracked or make a difference in search results, so if you leave this blank, then so be it. It isn’t a big deal.
Default Robots – Always set this to Index, Follow for a live site, and NoIndex, NoFollow for development sites to inform Google that your site is available to be crawled and indexed.
These defaults are expected to show content to both users and search engines/web indexes wherever we have failed to populate the applicable field in our admin panel—primarily for CMS pages and categories.
In many instances, Default Title will only be used when a custom development has been made and a title is not specified within the Layout XML, the PHP controller file, or some form of admin configuration. Default Description, however, will be used whenever Meta Description is left unpopulated on a category or CMS page.
Duplicate meta description and title tags are terrible for usability. For any page that we wish to perform well in search engines, we must guarantee that we have a unique meta description, and if possible, a unique, interesting title. This permits web indexes to better perceive individual pages and also makes it easier for users who are searching for our content to instantly find the correct page among multiple results.
For products, Magento handles the default meta description and keywords tags differently; they are usually pre-populated with the following information:
Meta Title: If this is left blank, the individual product name will be used
Meta Description: If this is left unpopulated, the product description will be used
Meta Keywords: If this is left empty, the product name will be used
As our products should all be unique, this built in system is a useful tool for large Magento websites that are set live without all product meta information being initially entered. Most implementations (or migrations) usually have this information blank, so with this fallback you always get something printed in your source code for Google/Bing.
As we know, Magento should just serve up these default attributes in the event that we have failed and fizzled out in some way to enter the information ourselves. To keep up a decent standard of usability for these types of circumstances, it is a best practice to populate these fields with relevant data. The beauty of Magento and it’s scalability is that if you have multiple websites in Magento this data can also be modified on a per-store basis.
Navigate to System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head and populate the following: Set Default Title to be relevant to our store or company name
Set Default Description to contain important information, perhaps even contact information for our website. An example of this could be:
Finally, within our HTML Head section is a small dropdown menu option called Default Robots.
As I mentioned earlier in this topic, when a Magento website is under development on a test URL, we would regularly discover the value of this field to be NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW, essentially blocking search engine spiders from accessing any page in the Magento system. It is therefore of grave importance that, once the website is launched on the live domain, this select option is set to INDEX, FOLLOW, or our Magento website may never be indexed/listed by search engines.
A quick reference for each of the available four options is as follows:
INDEX, FOLLOW: Allows your website’s pages and content to be indexed by the search engine and analyze links found on this page. This is the setting you want your website to be on 99% of the time.
NOINDEX, FOLLOW: Tells Google “Do not index my pages but go ahead and analyze links found on this page.” I can’t think of a time this would really be used.
INDEX, NOFOLLOW: Please index my page but do not follow any links found on this page. You wouldn’t use this really unless you had a link farm type site and you didn’t want any link juice to pass to links on your page.
NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW: Please do not index my page and do not harvest any links found on this page, this is set to “go off the grid”.
Have you read the other articles about how to optimize your Magento or eCommerce store for SEO? Catch up now. Read the full Magento SEO Guide.