One of the basics when you’re setting up your OpenCart store from scratch is search engine optimization.
And this means going way beyond than just your meta titles and descriptions.
Now, to do that you need an OpenCart extension.
A good one.
There are tons of SEO tools on the OpenCart marketplace, but we decided to do things our way and created SEO Backpack.
Boost My OpenCart SEO
Let’s go over some of the most basic steps you need to cover when setting up your store for growth and show you how to setup your OpenCart SEO basics.
1. Optimize OpenCart Headers and Title Tags
The first steps towards an SEO-Friendly site are the header and title tags.
SEO Backpack gives you the easiest way to control and configure your header tags in OpenCart.
Pro Tip: Make sure to use your H1 and H2 tags with proper and clear hierarchy.
A popular practice for E-Commerce stores is to assign the product name as H1 and the product model as H2.
The OpenCart title tags can even be created automatically.
Hit the Advanced tab to enter the exact parameters you want the SEO extension to include in your OpenCart title tags and create all of them automatically by clicking Generate (only generates missing titles) or Start Fresh (overwrites all titles with new ones).
2. Optimize OpenCart Product Page URLs
Your product page URLs in OpenCart should be optimized both for users and search engines.
It’s much easier to understand a URL like:
Pro Tip: Like most SEO experts suggest, URLs should be short and readable.
To be more specific, they should be:
Descriptive without any unnecessary characters
Use “-” to separate the words in the URL
Only lowercase characters
Avoid stop-words such as “a,” “an,” and “the.”
Include product details like the brand name, model or color
3. Remove OpenCart Duplicate Content and Use Canonical URLs
First, you shouldn’t duplicate content from other pages outside of your website. This is a serious red light for search engines.
If you have similar pages with the same content on your site, this also might create some duplicate content issues.
Pro Tip: You can use the Canonical URLs to fix that.
Basically, the canonical tags work as a 301 redirect and tell search engines that there are multiple pages on your OpenCart site that should be considered as one.
This way, Google knows not to index those pages and thus doesn’t hurt the ranking of your site.
4. Optimize Your OpenCart Homepage Title
Remember that your homepage title should be written for humans first.
By default, your OpenCart homepage contains your brand name. You can change it from System > Settings > Edit Store > General > Meta Title.
Pro Tip: The perfect homepage SEO title contains:
Up to 50 - 60 characters
At least 1 SEO keyword
Again, you need to focus on a title that’s unique, attractive and easily readable. You can follow a structure like:
Main Keyword | Your Location (Optional) | Brand Name
Mountain Bikes & Components | Los Angeles | Mike’s Bike Shop (60 characters)
5. Optimize OpenCart Product Images
Product images are a huge boost for your SEO, especially if you optimize their names properly.
The ideal name for a product image is one that describes the product well. And also describes the product image itself.
Image alt text - consider this as the meta description of the image. It’s used to describe the image to search engines and is used to replace the image if it can’t be rendered for some reason.
Pro Tip: Include keywords in the alt text of each product image in your OpenCart store, don’t exceed 10 - 15 characters, and exclude any stop words like “and”, “or”, etc.
Image file name - the name of the image file. Don’t leave your image file names look like
IMG123-456-789.JPG. Instead, make the file name describe the image and the product it’s displaying. For instance
Pro Tip: Include the product and model name for the images.
If you're using the OpenCart SEO extension, you can do that automatically. The Advanced Settings let you decide what to include in the product image and then generate all of them automatically.
Another important tip for product images is the file size.
This also has a lot to do with your SEO, because if your product images are too large and not optimized, it will slow your page loading speed down.
Neither Google, nor users like slow pages, so this is something you should also consider when optimizing your images - make sure they’re not too big for your website.
6. Disable Indexing for Unnecessary OpenCart Pages
There are a lot of pages in your OpenCart store that shouldn’t be indexed by search engines.
Pages like your admin panel, your checkout process, cart view, etc. You can tell your store to disable those pages from getting indexed in your robots.txt file.
SEO Backpack gives you the most common pages that should be excluded from indexing in the robots.txt Editor.
Simply copy and paste them into the editor, hit Save and you’re ready to move on.
7. Setup Your OpenCart Sitemap
A sitemap is very important to making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your OpenCart site faster and more extensively.
Your OpenCart sitemap will help your store pass more data to search engines.
A good sitemap:
Will list all URLs in your site, includes pages that can’t be found by search engines otherwise
Guides search engines to the highest priority pages first.
You can learn how to setup your sitemap for OpenCart here - Watch Free Video Guide.
These 7 steps are a good head start to get you into search engine optimization for your OpenCart store. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to get them done, especially if you’re using the right tool for the job. Remember, smart optimization will get you ahead of the competition that doesn’t invest in SEO as much as you and will get you in front of more customers interested to buy.