SEO advantages and limitations of Magento

In the previous blog of our series exploring ecommerce content management systems (CMS), we explored how the popular platform, BigCommerce, fares with search engine optimization (SEO). We explored the key features of headless CMS like BigCommerce, and discussed how they differ from traditional CMS platforms like Shopify. Their ability to help solve some of the limitations of traditional CMS makes them quite popular amongst marketers, so we wanted to explore another headless CMS platform that could potentially meet your business’ needs: Magento.

For this last part of our ecommerce CMS series, we will be using all of our previously learned insights to review Magento’s SEO-friendliness, and evaluate its key similarities and differences to Shopify, giving you a clearer look into each platform’s SEO capabilities.

What is Magento?

Magento, which is part of Adobe Commerce, is historically an on-premise, open-source ecommerce platform, and is considered to be one of the most powerful ecommerce platforms available today because of its extensive features, functionality, and dexterity. However, in order to fully utilize these benefits, companies need to invest heavily in their information technology (IT) or development teams, as the platform is not as intuitive as Shopify.

Magento 2 Open Source vs Magento 2 Commerce

In recent years, the platform launched a headless solution with their two latest editions of Magento: Magento 2 Open Source (community edition) and Magento 2 Commerce (enterprise edition). Although both versions have the core features of the Magento platform, they have distinctive differences in terms of pricing, performance, scalability, functionality, feature capabilities, security, and support. For this blog, we will be focusing on feature capabilities as they are most relevant to SEO.

Magento 2 Open Source is the free open-source version of Magento that can be utilized to build an online store. You can customize and tailor extensions to enhance functionalities and the overall customer shopping experience. This is suitable for small to mid-size brands, as it comes with out-of-the-box features for growing businesses.

On the other hand, Magento 2 Commerce is the paid version of Magento that has advanced custom features and functionalities already built in. However, you can still customize and tailor extensions if you wish. This version is more ideal for businesses that are rapidly growing, as the cost of the license is based on the annual revenue of the store and will grow in accordance with the revenue. 

Since both editions come with improved SEO features, we will focus on Magento 2 Open Source. This would be the more suitable choice for start-up ecommerce businesses, as opposed to Magento 2 Commerce. We’ll go over a few basic SEO features that are provided out-of-the-box and discuss how Magento’s Open Source compares to Shopify’s.

Robots.txt and duplicate content 

As we’ve discussed in our previous blog, robots.txt is extremely important for sending signals to search engines, as well as notifying crawlers on the rules of engagement in regards to accessing uniform resource locators (URLs). While Shopify automatically creates a robots.txt for you, you will need to find a workaround if you’d like to alter the file. Fortunately, Magento 2 provides a robots.txt file that you can edit. 

However, the internal search result pages in Magento 2 are indexable by default. This is problematic as this leads to many low quality pages being crawled and indexed, with internal and external links pointing to these pages. This can lead to duplicate content and wasted crawl budget. 

We’ve previously learned that Shopify often has issues with duplicate content from its content collections pages, and also struggles with amending the template code to canonicalize the proper URL. This is where an editable robots.txt comes in hand, as this issue can be easily fixed by barring off the pages you don’t want search engines to touch. We recommend that your robots.txt include some of what’s listed below to avoid URLs with query parameters that are indexable by default. Query parameters is a set of parameters that is attached to the end of a URL, using a ‘?’. It is used to help specify particular pieces of content by separating the path and query parameters. 

Query parameters:

With that in mind, to avoid duplicating URLs with query parameters, you may want to add some of the robots.txt seen below:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /catalogsearch/
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /customer/account/login/
Disallow: /*?SID=
Disallow: /*?PHPSESSID=
Disallow: /*?price=
Disallow: /*&price=
Disallow: /*?color=
Disallow: /*&color=
Disallow: /*?material=
Disallow: /*&material=
Disallow: /*?size=
Disallow: /*&size=

Additionally, add a noindex, follow robots directive to all internal search result pages as an extra layer of defense. These two steps will help prevent duplicate content and save your crawl budget. 


This next feature is a handy one, especially if you have many products. As we’ve previously discussed in an earlier blog post, optimizing metadata such as your webpage’s title tags and meta descriptions helps Google better understand if your page is relevant to the searcher’s query. However, Shopify limits the character count for the title page and the meta description. Magento 2 has a similar set up where the default title tags need to be optimized for each page – but you can use their Field Auto-Generation tool to help set templates for the product’s metadata. 

The caveat is that the template is applied on a global level and is quite limited. On a global level, you can’t change the metadata fields for products found in particular categories (e.g. men and women clothing), and unfortunately, Magento only supports three metadata placeholders for the product: {{name}}, {{description}} and {{stock keeping unit (sku)}}.

On top of that, if you want to make adjustments, you will find that the global settings are not retrospective and won’t be applied to existing products. In other words, if you want to make quick changes, it won’t be very convenient. 

On the bright side, Magento is open source, meaning you can overcome these limitations by finding an extension plug-in to help mitigate this tedious process. Similarly to WordPress, we are able to mitigate a lot of limitations by utilizing plug-ins that are available to fill in the gaps. There are extensions that can help create templates for your title tag, meta description, and meta keywords. And if you want to go a step further, you can also set up your heading, meta description, and image alt tags for categories and subcategories as well. It’s definitely a very handy feature for avoiding manual labor!

Page speed 

Page speed is such a vital feature to consider when working with any CMS. It is important to be mindful of the many factors that can influence your page’s speed, whether it’s the plug-in or apps you have installed, your theme template, or your images.

Magento 2 requires server resources to run smoothly, so having a Magento-optimized hosting platform is vital for your website. Because Magento 2 is not well-optimized for speed by default, there needs to be several adjustments made. Here are some ways you can manage this on your own, without a development team:

Enabling log cleaning

As more users and customers visit your page, the log tables on your database gradually increases. This in turn slows down your Magento site and the process of backing up the database. Enabling log cleaning helps improve your page’s speed and performance by deleting old data. 

Admin Panel > System> Configuration > Advanced > Log Cleaning > Enable Log Cleaning > Yes

Enable caching

A cache stores data from pages to help the data load faster should you visit that page again. Caching pages helps to improve the page load time of subsequent requests to the same page. 

System > Tools > Cache Management > Enable > Submit

Use the Flat Catalog module

By default, Magento 2 uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (a space-efficient data model of storing a sparse matrix) by default. What does this mean? It means that if one product or category has eight attributes, then it is stored into eight different tables.  

According to Amasty, “A Flat table is an additional table storing all information about a product or a category…the shorter the query to the database, the better the store performance.” 

Store > Configuration > Catalog > Storefront > Use Flat Catalog Category или Use Flat Catalog Product = YES

Magento Compilation

This feature allows you to compile all Magento installation files to a single include path. It is designed to improve the performance of your site and increase your page load speed by 25-50%.

Admin Panel > System > Tools > Compilation > Enable

These are just a handful of features that are available on Magento 2 that can help improve your page speed. It is imperative that you consider these features and more, to make sure your page is optimized before Google’s upcoming Core Web Vitals algorithm update.

All in all, we are able to see that Magento 2 has a lot of useful features for SEO. Even for just outside-the-box features, Magento 2 already out-classes Shopify in terms of SEO-friendliness. It may not be as easy to use as Shopify, but this headless platform is another great alternative for its SEO capabilities and should be considered for future scalability. 

This concludes our CMS platform series. We have only touched a handful of the popular CMS that are available, but there is also an abundance of lesser known CMS platforms out there that may work well for your business’ needs!  

To learn more about SEO in regards to CMS platforms, or to speak to one of our digital experts, feel free to get in touch with our team.

by Cassandra Inocencio
19 May 2021



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