17 Jul Magento SEO: Internationalization and Extensions
In this series, we have covered all of the useful steps and techniques required to make your Magento installation SEO friendly. In this final article, we’ll cover some SEO considerations to keep in mind while deploying the same Magento installation over multiple countries and/or languages.
We’ll also take a quick look at some useful Magento extensions which will help enhance the SEO of your store.
Multilingual SEO Considerations
One of the superb features of Magento is its support for multiple websites, multiple stores, and multiple languages. This means you can have a single installation of Magento and use it for several websites. From there, each website can have different stores, and each store can be in different languages. This makes Magento a giant of a CMS.
Choosing the Domain Structure
While deploying multi-language stores, one important consideration is to ensure that each translated version of the page has a unique page URL. This way, search engines and website users can identify that this is the translated version of a page. With Magento, we can easily change the base URL of each store to accomplish this.
There are different domain structures which are used for multilingual stores. One way is to deploy a different country code top-level domain for every store view (such as http://myexamplestore.fr, http://myexamplestore.in, etc.)
Another way to do this is to have the same country code top-level domain, but use different sub-domains for different language stores (for example, http://fr.myexamplestore.com, http://in.myexamplestore.com, etc.) Yet another way is to use sub-directories for different language stores (for instance, http://myexamplestore.com/fr, http://myexamplestore.com/in, etc.)
There are pros and cons for each method, and you should carefully consider which approach is best for you, and then stick with it. Changing the domain structure after complete website deployment is quite a hectic and time-consuming task which is best avoided.
Deploying the Domain Structure
Using different country code top-level domains can be expensive and complex, as you’ll have to buy different domains and perform complicated server and vhost adjustments. The other two approaches—using different sub-domains and sub-directories—should be relatively easier to implement, and thus are often preferred. In this tutorial, I’ll cover the steps for setting up the sub-domain and sub-directory structure.
The first few steps are relatively simple:
- Set up a regular Magento installation in the root directory.
- Create a new folder in our root directory to match the name of the language, for instance “fr” or “in”.
- Copy Magento’s
.htaccessfiles into it from the Magento installation root.
- Enter the following code at the end of the .htaccess file:
SetEnv MAGE_RUN_CODE fr (for French store)
SetEnv MAGE_RUN_CODE in (for Indian store)
To find the store code for each store, go to System > Manage Stores. Here, you’ll see the list of Store View Names. Open the Store View Name for the required store (in this case, French, Indian, etc) and you’ll find the box labeled Code.
Now open up index.php, find this: $compilerConfig = ‘includes/config.php'; and change to $compilerConfig = ‘../includes/config.php';.
Similarly, find this: $mageFilename = ‘app/Mage.php'; and change to $mageFilename = ‘../app/Mage.php';.
Next, go to System > Configuration, and in the top-right corner, you’ll see theCurrent Configuration Scope drop-down. We can customize our store view by clicking on our store view (for example, French).
After selecting the right store view, we’ll configure the settings for that store view from Web > Unsecure and Web > Secure as shown in the following screenshot:
Uncheck the Use Website checkbox next to each of the text boxes to enable editing.
In Base URL, we’ll enter the full URL path of our store view including our
/fr/subdomain, and by adding
Now go to your cPanel, create a new sub-domain, and direct it to the related subdirectory you have just created. For instance, create a sub-directoryhttp://fr.myexamplestore.com and point it to the
fr directory. If you wish to implement a sub‑directory structure, this last step won’t be required.
Making Store-Specific Configurations
Once you have the right domain structure in place, you can make store-specific configurations quite easily.
For each store view, Magento lets you change the name, the description, the page title, and the meta description for all categories. Similarly, for each product, you can edit its name, description, short description, and meta information. And for each CMS page, you can edit its content, its meta information, its page title, and its URL Key values. While entering all these values, make sure that you are working in the right store view. The store view drop-down is visible in top-left corner of the page.
Some Useful Magento SEO Extensions
Though the steps advised in this series are sufficient for making your Magento installation SEO optimized, there are still some useful SEO extensions that are available for Magento, each of which makes it easier to deploy and maintain Magento’s SEO.
Ultimate SEO Suite by AheadWorks
AheadWorks is one of the top Magento extensions company, producing several quality extensions for Magento fans. Ultimate SEO Suite by AheadWorks is a superb SEO extension, which supports multi-store support. It helps you set up canonical URLs, and automatically converts long URLs into canonical URLs. It helps you split your sitemap into smaller and more manageable files. If you are also using the AheadWorks Blog extension, this Magento extension becomes a must have, because it will SEO optimize your store blog as well.
Magento SEO Module by BlueClaw
This is another excellent all-in-one Magento SEO module. Magento SEO Module by BlueClaw gives you complete control over your store’s file, canonical tags and layered navigation settings, and lets you adjust page titles with appropriate redirects. Another great feature of this module is its simplicity and ease of use. If you want to rely on SEO extensions to manage your website’s functionalities, this is one of the extensions you should try.
SEO Suite Pro Magento Extension:
If above mentioned Magento extensions are not giving you your required functionality, then you should try this extension as well. For a one-time fee of $149, in SEO Suite Pro Magento Extension you’ll get an excellent all-in-one package for most of your store’s SEO needs. SEO Suite Pro is a feature-rich extension; besides handling most of the basic stuff, it also handles advanced things like SEO-friendly URLs, RSS feeds, extended sitemaps, product tags, etc. If your initial SEO efforts are paying off well in terms of sales growth, and you want to invest in your store’s SEO to further increase your profits, this is the module you should try.
Magestore SEO Plus
Magestore is another A-player in the Magento market. They have launched 39 excellent extensions thus far, like One Step Checkout, and Affiliate Plus. Most of their extensions are best-sellers in their categories. Magestore claims SEO Plus is the fastest and easiest to configure SEO extension in the market. It lets you generate URL, title, keywords, description for a tag’s product list, search results, and filter pages. It also allows the use of URL rewrite, cache rewrite and canonical links to link filter pages to the main page. The price of this extension is $99.
That’s all, folks! If you have followed the whole series closely, you should have a fair understanding of all the tools and tactics you can use to make your Magento installation super SEO-friendly. Now it’s up to you how effectively you use these skills for driving more sales and revenues to your Magento store.