Category Archives: SEO

5 Essential Magento extensions for UK shopping sites.

I’ve been spreading my wings lately and offering low cost e-commerce solutions using Magento Community as the base for websites. Magento Community is a fine piece of software with a mind-boggling array of features and options but it does lack certain abilities that make it a truly great product. Thankfully due to the open-source nature of Magento there are plenty of extensions available to make Magento do what you want it to do.

Yoast MetaRobots
This exension by the respected Yoast (known for his excellent WordPress SEO extension) allows you to control the Meta Robots tags quickly and easily on a variety of pages on your Magento site to help direct the flow of “link juice” around the site and prevent pages from being indexed. Yoast MetaRobots allows you to set pages such as Send to a Friend, Customer Account pages, Tags and Checkout as “noindex, follow” from a simple panel in the System > Configuration  > Web section of Magento’s administration area.

Now that Google (and Bing to a lesser extent) are really pushing Rich Snippets as an important part of your site’s content it is imperative that your Magento site implements semantic markup for Rich Snippets for Google and Bing. The MSemantic extension takes away all the pain of marking up your site with a simple to install extension. Once installed your products and reviews contain the correct markup for Rich Snippets integration which will help with your rankings and visibility in Google, Google Shopping and of course Bing.

Google Content API for Shopping
The only way to get your products listed on Google Shopping if you use Magento. Simply install the extension, add your Account ID, Google Account Email Address and Password and then upload your selected products to Google. You can configure the extension to automatically update the product listing on Google if you change the product in any way and it’s easy to see what products you have listed and what needs adding. The extension also supports custom attributes and the full range of Google Shopping taxonomies.

Meanbee Royal Mail Domestic and International Shipping
This simple to use extension adds the current Royal Mail shipping costs to your Magento store and works out the correct postage cost based on location and weight. My 2 qualms with this extension are you can’t add the cost of your packaging materials to the shipping rates so you would have to add a bit extra on to each product’s cost or define a shopping cart rule to get a more accurate cost and the extension does not take the packet’s dimensions in to account as it’s based purely on weight. Otherwise this extension is fantastic and a really simple way to set up Shipping Table Rates in Magento for UK users.

Clever CMS
Magento’s Content Management System is a bit… well, basic to polite, but Magento is primarily an e-commerce solution not a fully featured CMS. Clever CMS extends the basic Magento CMS with some great additions that I feel are essential to any good CMS. Clever CMS allows you to assign permissions to your pages so you can decide who sees your pages (logged in customers, not logged in customers, etc.) and more importantly creates a tree structure for your pages similar to Magento’s category tree structure so you can create sub pages and rearrange your menus at will and each store view can have it’s own “tree”. You can define your own URLs and if you change them at a later date then Clever CMS will set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one.

Is Google removing free directories from it’s index?

This is my first post in a long time on my often neglected blog and I thought I should come back by answering a question a lot of people have been asking on the SEO forums and sites recently, “is Google removing free directories from it’s index?” Barry Schwartz highlighted the issue over on Search Engine Round Table and claimed that over 50% of the directory sites he checked had been de-indexed. Search News Central followed that up with a test of over 400 directories and found that just over 1% had been de-indexed. I used to use a lot of free directory submissions when I was starting out and built up quite a list of directories that I knew were good for a link, would show up on Google and were regularly crawled. I checked this list of just under 200 directories to see if any had been deindexed and the results were… underwhelming. Out of 191 sites 2 were no longer online so had been de-indexed, 4 were still active but had been de-indexed due to server errors or just plain crap coding or set up and 1 had only the home page indexed. The rest were fine. So in short the answer to the question above is… no.

It may be that after the Penguin update that these free directories are no longer passing as much or any link juice as before, it may be that these sites are fine. As I said earlier this list is a hand-crafted list of free directories that have been proven to work pre-Penguin, post-Panda and long before that. So is Google removing quality free directories? No, but it might be removing the crap ones and about time too.

Can mini-sites help your rankings?

I’m often asked if mini-sites can help search engine rankings. These mini sites used to be called doorway sites back in the bad old days of SEO but now it seems like the mini-site is making a comeback.
Once upon a time a doorway page or site was a heavily (usually over) optimized page or site that ranked highly for a single keyword or phrase and pointed the user to your main domain, sometimes via a redirect command, sometimes by a hyperlink. Of course the search engines eventually got wise to this practice and banned all the doorway pages and the practice all but died out.
In these times of over-optimization penalties, cross-linking penalties and duplicate content penalties it seemed like the doorway site had no place in the modern SEO arsenal however the doorway site has re-invented itself as the mini-site. By creating multiple, highly-focused, mini-sites you can boost your site’s rankings. Of course links from sites that are related to your topic are always useful but there are several things to watch out for:

  • Don’t repeat content that’s already on your main site.
  • Keep your page on theme and focused on one small area of your business or a particular product.
  • Don’t inter-link your mini-sites. Yes it’s fine if they all link to your main site, that’s the point afterall, but don’t try to boost your mini-sites link popularity by linking them all to each other. Down that path lies disaster and poor rankings.
  • Keep the content fresh, add to or makeover the site from time to time. Make sure the links still work at regular intervals and make sure the spiders keep coming back. Of course blogs are great for mini-sites as they can be highly focused in their subject matter, are easy to set up and they generate fresh content via comments from visitors.
  • Don’t forget to SEO your mini-site! If the spiders don’t visit, the site won’t be worth anything!

And the evidence for my claims? A client of mine, Safety Services Direct, recently built a number of mini-sites for his Health and Safety site focusing on different aspects and products such as Safety Check Direct, focusing on Contractor Competence Assessments, which is generating some nice backlinks for his main site. I also recently created Safety News and Reviews which also links to Safety Services Direct and another health and safety client of mine. This site takes the form of original articles on health and safety with recommended products on each page deep-linking to the respective clients’ sites.

Another client, Cox and Plant, created a series of mini-sites for their ranges of bucket conveyors and other products with great success. Each mini-site ranks well for it’s respective keywords and in turn lends some potent link juice to the parent company’s site.

In conclusion, as with any site if you stick to the guidelines you won’t go far wrong and you’ll improve in thos all important rankings.

Microsoft’s Live Search Webmaster Portal revealed!

Rustybrick over at SEO Roundtable has posted some screen shots and details of Microsoft’s version of Google Webmaster tools. It seems all the basics are there and there’s even a scoring system or “domain rank” and a top 5 pages list. Only your top 10 backlinks are shown however but overall it looks like a similar range of tools to Google’s webmaster tools and much more comprehensive and easier to use that Yahoo’s Site Explorer.

UK Women love shopping online

According to Nielson/NetRatings “the dominant group of UK residents on the internet is now women aged 18-34” and online sales of shoes, clothes and accessories are rapidly expanding. Online spending in April was up 55% on last year and annual online spending is expected to reach £42billion*.
With such vast amounts of spending online and traditional retailers such as Dixons abandoning the bricks and mortar for clicks it is even more important to make sure your site is ranked well in the major search engines to draw those bargain-hungry shoppers in. Denial Design’s UK search engine optimisation service is the perfect low-cost solution to yor search engine ranking nightmares. Visit our site today and find out how your site can be number one in Google.

Source: The Register