In more than 90% of cases, a PrestaShop store is created even before its referencing has been thought out. Very often, merchants think that it works in this order: creation of the design -> development of the site -> referencing, but it is wrong and a very big mistake to do so! There are many very important points for SEO to think about when creating.
In this article, I will go over the different elements that must be taken into account to optimize the natural referencing “on-site” of your PrestaShop store. The accumulation of good optimization of all these points will automatically lead to good natural referencing. Of course, each site is unique, and depending on the theme in which it is located, as well as the competition that is in front, you will have more or less ease to position yourself on the first page of Google results.
Google represents more than 90% of the search engine market share worldwide. We will therefore optimize our store for this search engine mainly. I recommend that you read the article “Why should you target Google?” in the SEO part of my site.
A Little Reminder on The 3 Pillars of Natural Referencing
First of all, you need to know the 3 pillars of natural referencing, also called “SEO pyramid”.
- The technique which includes: domain name, hosting (French and efficient), source code (CMS, correctly coded theme, mobile interface, modules to correct PrestaShop faults), well-formatted urls, etc.
- Content that contains: original content, quality texts well written and well formatted with level tags, keywords well distributed on the different pages, metadata correctly completed and optimized for all pages, integration of photos quality and if possible also video, encourage customers to generate content (comments and product reviews), internal networking (internal linking), …
- Popularity which includes: natural return links (external linking which must be of high quality and relevant), shares and votes on social networks, etc.
Points to Optimize to Position Yourself on Google With Your PrestaShop Store
1) Domain name
When setting up a new PrestaShop store, the first thing to think about is choosing the domain name (ndd). It is necessary to privilege a domain name which represents a brand and it is necessary to avoid the sequences of key words (the emd) that Google strongly penalizes.
For example, creanico.fr will be more relevant than realization-prestashop-montpellier.fr or realization-boutiques-prestashop.fr which will be penalized by Google.
It is also recommended to reserve a .fr domain name when targeting the French market and a .com when targeting international. Choose a short domain name that is easy to remember. You can also take back an expired domain name, which can be a big advantage for not starting from 0: seniority, backlinks, …
To find out if a domain name is available or already reserved, use the Gandi website, for example .
2) HTTP or HTTPS
The famous HTTPS … that Google has been recommending since August 2014, but which it has not taken into account … HTTPS should cause an increase in positioning in search results, but to date this criterion does not weigh much for natural referencing.
In 2017, that changes… Google puts us up to the wall and imposes HTTPS on us. HTTP sites will be identified as potentially dangerous on browsers (Chrome, firefox, etc.). It is therefore imperative to switch to HTTPS, even if in terms of SEO there are no benefits yet, it is especially for the user experience …
For the creation of a new store, the question does not arise, we directly install PrestaShop in HTTPS!
For a store already in place, this represents an enormous amount of work (redirections, checking that the modules are compatible,…) and it is not without consequences such as for example the loss of votes and shares on social networks,… Get support to switch to HTTPS or document yourself, because if this is not done correctly, it can be very damaging for your PrestaShop store and your SEO.
a) Advantages of HTTPS
- Reassure customers.
- Very slight benefit for SEO.
b) Disadvantages of HTTPS
- Annual cost of the certificate which also requires compatible hosting.
- Higher set-up cost for the creation of your PrestaShop store.
- Very heavy to set up for an already existing store.
Google favors fast sites and penalizes sites that are too slow. It is therefore very important to have good performance for better SEO and positioning in search engine results. In addition, a site that is too slow will scare away visitors and generate abandoned carts.
This is the most important point to get good performance! It is essential to take quality accommodation, and if possible info-managed in order to facilitate its management. I always recommend the host 772424 to my clients to host the PrestaShop CMS.
It is also recommended to take a French hosting, with a French IP address.
b) Cover and compression
There is also a paid module, Cache Manager which offers more advanced settings, such as the choice of pages to cache (so as not to necessarily put all the pages of the site there), the lifetime of the cache, reduce requests MySQL, …
c) Disable unnecessary functions and modules
It is also necessary to deactivate certain PrestaShop options which improve performance if they are not used: combinations, characteristics and customer groups.
Also uninstall unused modules, for example:
- Banner block
- Currency block
- Payment logos block
- Manufacturer block
- Facebook Like Box Block
- Supplier block
- Wishlist block
- Stores block
- Keyword block (the famous “tags” that you should avoid using)
- Faceted navigation block
- Language selector block
- PrestaShop expertise (useless)
- OnBoarding (useless, appeared on PS 1.6.11)
- Some statistics, such as: best supplier, best manufacturer, newsletter, etc.
d) Pay attention to the weight of the images
I often have the opportunity to come across sites with very high changeover times because of too heavy images, for example banners, slides,… and this is very penalizing for SEO. These visuals must therefore be lightened as best as possible, which can greatly penalize the performance of your PrestaShop store. You can use tools like TinyPNG and Kraken for this.
Very often the delays incriminate the accommodation… whereas it is quite simply the images!
e) Test the performance of your store
To test the performance of its PrestaShop store, you can use GT Metrix, Pingdom and DareBoost.
The home page of your site must be at most 2mb, I recommend staying around 1mb. A site that is too slow can be the result of too heavy images, poor quality hosting, too many modules, a poorly designed theme, etc.
Since April 2015, mobile sites have been favored on Google requests from mobiles. Google therefore encourages all sites to become “mobile friendly”. The research results are therefore no longer the same on mobile phones and on computers.
It is therefore essential to have a site adapted to mobiles, with a so-called “ responsive web design ” interface , that is to say a single site that automatically adapts to different devices taking into account their screen sizes: smartphones , tablets and computers.
5) PrestaShop configuration
a) URL rewrite
Google is able to read the keywords embedded in the urls of the pages. It is therefore necessary to activate the url rewriting (url rewriting) which makes it possible to generate easily memorable urls and makes it possible to improve the natural referencing of the store.
It is necessary to modify and optimize the structures of the urls in order to stabilize them over time. For that, I advise removing the name of the category and the EAN codes of the structures of the urls.
Always configure the store with the www (for example https://www.creanico.fr instead of https://creanico.fr) in order to be able to use sub-domains later.
If a store must be launched initially with a single language, but one or more languages must be integrated later, it is necessary from the start to manually add the / fr / in the url.
b) Generation of the robot.txt file
It is advisable to generate the robot.txt. This file is used to prevent robots from crawling one or more pages, as well as folders. PrestaShop allows this file to be automatically generated, which can then be completed or managed by a specific module.
c) Breadcrumb trail
Breadcrumbs are mainly used for 2 purposes:
- Navigation assistance by improving the user experience on a PrestaShop store. The breadcrumb trail is made up of links that visitors can click to go up in a tree structure without having to click on the “back” button of the internet browser.
- SEO by improving the visual impact in Google search results (SERPs) when it is taken into account. This helps to understand the structure of the store and allows the integration of keywords.
d) Share buttons on product sheets
The social network sharing buttons will automatically generate backlinks which will increase the popularity of your PrestaShop store. You therefore create a loop between your natural referencing and your social networks: the content indexed in search engines attracts visitors, these visitors share your content on social networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.), which improves automatically the natural referencing of your pages.
e) Product reviews and opinions / Rich Snippets
Encourage your customers to post product reviews and comments on your PrestaShop store, this allows you to integrate new content. PrestaShop includes a module dedicated to this as standard, but which can be supplemented by an automatic reminder and reminder module such as Simple notices . But I recommend instead the Rating and Customer Reviews + Google Rich Snippets module which greatly improves your visibility in Google search results, which will therefore increase your click-through rate, your visitors and your sales!
f) Google Sitemap
Set up the Google Sitemap to facilitate the crawl of your store. Google will index your pages and images more quickly, and will be notified of the various changes. Attention, in the sitemap, you must not integrate all the pages, only the pages which must be indexed: index page, products, categories and certain cms pages. Set up a cron job for its automatic regeneration.
Remember to add the sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools, this allows you to view the ratio of pages and images indexed vs sent.
6) Duplication of Content and Weak Content
A point that should not be overlooked and controlled: the generation of duplicate content and pages with low content. PrestaShop will automatically generate duplicate content for you via its various functions such as: news, manufacturers, suppliers, … PrestaShop will also generate low content pages, such as pages from: searches, my account, cart, order, … So all this must be taken into account and blocked so as not to penalize SEO.
It is possible to control the number of pages that Google has indexed via the request “site: http: //www.monsite.fr”. The ideal is that the total number of indexed pages corresponds to: number of products + number of categories + number of CMS pages. All other pages should be deindexed.
a) .htaccess file
It is necessary to check that the .htaccess file is present on the FTP and that it does its job well, in particular by preventing the store from being accessible via two urls, with the www and without the www, because it would be the whole site that would be duplicate content for Google. Example: https://www.creanico.fr and https://creanico.fr. If the store is configured with www, https://creanico.fr must automatically redirect to https://www.creanico.fr
Also be careful not to duplicate the site on several domain names, for example: www.creanico.fr, www.creanico.com, www.creanico.net,… This is the worst thing to do!
b) Modules to be used
Here are some modules that I recommend:
- Duplicat Content Handler : fairly easy to use, this module manages the duplicate content native to PrestaShop and optimizes the robot.txt file. The pages of the ordering process, basket, authentication, search, promotions, new products, best sales, contact, site map, stores, manufacturers, suppliers,… are automatically in noindex.
- No Index Premium : more complete module than the previous one, because it allows you to customize the noindex on a case-by-case basis.
- Advanced Search 4 : in the event that an advanced search is required on your PrestaShop store, this module can generate optimized results pages without duplication of content
Be careful, there is no “miracle” module for your SEO. The modules that I present above will be complementary to a manual optimization of your SEO. Avoid the modules that promise you wonders for your SEO without any action on your part … SEO, that is optimized manually and intelligently!
c) Control the duplication of internal content
You can control your content through the Siteliner site .
d) Control the duplication of external content (plagiarized)
Your content can be copied (plagiarized) to be used on other sites, this has happened to me several times. To control this you can use for example Copyscape, Position , and Kill Duplicate .
e) Identical products
Beware of duplicate content between products when you have too many identical products. In this case, you should not index the products, but work only on the category, or index only a single product (the master product). To check if Google has indexed a page, a product,… use the query “info:”, example: info: www.creanico.fr/prestashop/prestaperos-prestashop-montpellier/
f) Watch out for market places
Watch out for price comparators and other marketplaces, which once connected to your store, can use the descriptions of your product sheets. You would take the risk that Google penalizes you, because it will consider your site as the copier of the marketplace since it has less popularity.
g) Pagination of product categories
It is recommended to include a certain number of products on the product category pages. By default only a dozen products are visible there, I generally advise my customers to display between 40 to 60, it is a good relationship between the visibility of the products and the performance of the site. This makes it possible to limit the duplication of content between the pages of the same category and also to integrate more content on the pages. A study would also have shown that customers prefer to arrive on a page integrating all the products rather than arriving on a page with only the first products where they must use a pagination system to view the following ones …
Watch out for changes to a store already in place. You will need to integrate 301 redirects for the pages that will disappear, otherwise it will generate 404 errors!
Many merchants activate several languages on their store, without having translated all of the content. This is a big mistake because it will automatically generate duplicate content between different languages, several urls that deliver the same content. Activate an additional language only if all your content is translated into this language (menus, categories, products, cms pages, modules, etc.). Also to know that activating a second language on a site already in place modifies the structure of the urls, therefore imposes redirects.
i) Redirection to the canonical url
Activate the redirection to the canonical url in 301 to avoid having duplicate urls in the event that there is a sorting or filtering system on the categories. The same goes for misspelled urls which could be indexed and create duplication of content.
7) Product catalog
It is the most important content for SEO. The product catalog includes the categories and products of your PrestaShop store.
a) Search for your keywords and use the long tail
First, you must list the words associated with its products and categories. These are the keywords that Internet users will type to search for products.
It has many keywords that you will not be able to position yourself on, you must also use the long tail. These are longer and less searched queries, but also bring back traffic. Internet users are using more and more words in their searches in order to better target them.
Optimize all the pages of your PrestaShop store, including the “new products”, “promotions” pages, etc. For example the “promotions” page can be used to position yourself on the term “cheap” which is not obvious to position elsewhere.
To search for your keywords, you can use tools like UberSuggest , KeywordTool and the Keyword Planner tool Google AdWords by creating keyword combinations with the tool MergeWords to find the most relevant terms. Do not hesitate to include many key words and phrases in the “Your product or service” field on AdWords in order to better target the search.
To find the long tail, you can use the Google search feature to see what it suggests.
Also look at the keywords on which you are positioned on your Google Analytics and Google Adwords accounts. Also remember to compare the keys of your competitors using the SEMRush tool .
You can also consult the keywords searched on your PrestaShop store by going to look in the store statistics.
b) Prepare your categories
Pay attention to the pagination, all pages must be accessible in a maximum of 3 or 4 clicks. You should avoid categories that contain too many products, as this will generate too many pages. It is therefore necessary to create sub-categories without too much depth. I recommend putting a lot of products on the category pages, without overdoing it either because it can cause loading issues, but 50 to 60 products per page is an ideal. Conversely, avoid pages that contain few products, as this will generate category pages that are too poor in content.
I also recommend working your product catalog by silos, that is to say by semantic universes, to better organize and partition the categories of your PrestaShop store. Each sub-category of each silo must reinforce the theme dealt with (long tail). Internal networking must therefore be done towards reception and especially towards the main thematic sections (silos). Beware of “mega-menus” which are not suited to this type of structure. A good silo structure should be seen in Google’s sitelinks.
c) Prepare its products, particularly in terms of content
The work of produced content is very important because Google penalizes sites that offer low quality content. It takes unique, quality content that is well written, well formatted and in sufficient quantity for Google to generate interest in your products. The two most important fields are the title tag and the product description. Be careful not to neglect them! Integrate multiple images into your products and segment your product descriptions with level tags to make it easier for your customers to read and index pages for Google. A minimum of 300 words per product is recommended, be careful not to overdo the repetitions of keywords. Try to vary the content, especially for identical or similar products, avoid copying / pasting between products.
Your product sheets must also be complete. If information is missing, the visitor asks a question and does not have the answer on your store, he will do another Google search to find the answer to his question and you will probably lose the sale . You must therefore have the best product sheet!
You have to answer the questions and needs of your customers by offering them qualitative content in line with their demand.
Also work on the semantics of your content. Use the words and phrases associated with the keywords you are targeting. For this, do not hesitate to use tools such as YourTextGuru , 1.FR , Visiblis , Alyze ,… these tools will help you obtain quality content that Google will take into account.
d) Internal mesh
Internal networking is a very important necessity! It allows products to be linked together via links, most often with the aim of highlighting the main products or complementary products.
It can be set up in two ways:
- via hypertext links in the text content: product descriptions
- via links generated by PrestaShop modules and functionalities: products in the same category, cross-selling, associated products, etc.
Work on the internal mesh between the products, without leaving the silo if you opt for a silo structure. Use the “products in the same category” module for an internal mesh in the same category (silo).
Hypertext links have two functions: to offer a new product or a new category, and also to provide information on the content of this destination. Avoid the most common mistake, example: “to discover this shirt for women, click here “. The link must be positioned on the destination information, ie “women’s shirt”, like this: “discover this women’s shirt ”.
e) Optimization of metadata
This is a very important point, often overlooked by users of PrestaShop stores!
Metadata is not directly visible on stores, it is displayed in search engine results. Metadata has a direct impact on click-through rate (CTR) via the information it displays, the more it will be optimized and the more traffic it will bring. In the example below, we can see in “blue” the meta-title (title / title tag), in “green” the product address (url) and in “gray” the meta-description.
Here’s how to optimize your metadata:
- Meta titles should be unique and long tail keywords should be placed in the top positions to give them more prominence. I recommend 50 to 55 characters maximum, and especially not to exceed 70 characters, knowing that the shorter they are, the more the keywords have weight.
- The urls must not be too long and must include the keywords of the products and the long tail (without spaces, capital letters, accented or special characters). I recommend not to exceed 40 characters for products and limit yourself to 3 words for categories.
- The meta-descriptions must be unique and use the long-tail keywords if possible, but above all be marketing oriented: a beautiful phrase that makes visitors want to come and discover the products of this store. Meta descriptions will especially impact the click-through rate when your site appears in search results. Integrate between 140 to 156 characters.
For the meta-keywords, which some still ask me, forget them because they are no longer useful.
To control the content of your products, you can use the “catalog evaluation” module which is integrated into the statistics of PrestaShop. There is also the Easy Seo module which allows to optimize its metadata quickly, in particular by setting up rules like “[NAME] to [PRICE] at [SHOP_NAME]” on the title tag, which will give “Samsung Galaxy S6 64go at € 590 at mobile.fr ”, same thing for the description which can also automatically come back to the summary produced for example.
You will notice in the search engine results that PrestaShop adds the name of the store after the meta-titles. This function makes it possible to differentiate the sites in the results.
Warning ! Avoid “automatic” SEO modules, whether for content generation or for internal networking. Everything that is automatic is not good … Nothing beats a good manual optimization of your product and your internal network!
f) Product photos
You must integrate your own photos and not use the same photos as all the other occurrents. Add value to your products with beautiful photos that highlight them and describe them even better. Beautiful photos increase the conversion rate. Invest in a quality camera and a photo studio. I recommend a “lightbox” type photo studio, it can be bought ready-made or manufactured at a lower cost.
g) What to do with the products sold?
Once a product is sold, it is important not to delete it, because you will lose the SEO benefits acquired by this product, and you will generate a 404 error.
You therefore have several possibilities:
- Leave the product visible where it is with a stock at 0 to prevent it from being added to the basket and which will also allow it to be used to suggest other products via the “accessories” function or the modules of “cross-selling” and “in the same category”,
- Leave the product visible and move it to a “sold” category for example. In this case, be careful not to integrate the categories into the structure of the product urls,
- Deactivate it by setting up a (temporary) 302 redirect via the PrestaShop back office, if the product is temporarily broken,
- Deactivate it by setting up a 301 redirect (definitive) via the PrestaShop back office, if the product is definitely out of stock. Be careful to stay on a fairly close product.
There is also a module which allows to easily manage this and which offers even more possibilities, it is SEO 404/301 products and categories deleted / disabled .
h) Limit the depth of the pages
You have to make all the content of your PrestaShop store accessible in a minimum of clicks. This can be done by increasing the number of products on the category pages and also by making the sitemap accessible.
8) CMS pages
a) The home page
A lot of stores in production still have the meta-description “Store powered by PrestaShop”! So first thing to do is to optimize the metadata of this page (in the SEO & URL menu) by including a title and a relevant description.
The home pages are often poor in content, because usually there are: a slider, banners and flagship products. It is important to integrate text content on the home page of your PrestaShop store although it is not always very aesthetic. This can be done via the “Home page editor” module and / or via the “Client information CMS block” module. Always have an H1 tag on the home page, if possible incorporating the name of your site, or the main keyword you are targeting.
Please note, the home page is not necessarily the landing page of the Internet user, nor of the search engines. It is therefore necessary to provide a rapid identification of the store on all pages, to quickly make known the purpose of the site, via the navigation menu, the links of the pages of legal information, and especially the logo. The logo must include a baseline that indicates what we are selling and why we must buy on this site!
b) The other pages
For other PrestaShop CMS pages, you should only index those pages that include unique and interesting content. Avoid indexing the CGV, legal notices, etc. The pages intended to be referenced must be optimized in terms of metadata (as explained in the previous point for products and categories), integrate unique content of a minimum of 300 words, integrate at least one image without forgetting the ALT tags on the images, write well in French and without spelling mistakes, integrate level tags (H1, H2, H3,…),… To check the structure of these tags Hn, use the Web Developer bar for Firefox and Chrome.
9) mistakes to avoid
- 404 errors, use Google Webmaster Tools to track them down.
- The abusive linking.
- The backlinks from sites which have little interest or too distant topics. Focus on quality over quantity!
- Unnecessary content, which will not be interesting and / or too short. Always focus on relevant content.
a) with a blog
Integrating a blog into your PrestaShop store will allow you to get closer to your customers, but also to better reference your store via this additional content. By regularly posting articles related to your products and your theme, you will show Google that your store is active and that there is a community behind it. Through your articles, you will be able to present your products by praising their merits, give practical advice, communicate about your various offers and promotions, …
b) on social networks
Feel free to create a Facebook page, as well as a Google My Business page. These pages will allow you to communicate about your activity, and you will also be referenced locally thanks to Google My Business which will display your information in the Knowledge Graph (name, photos, geolocation on Google Map, customer reviews, contact details, opening hours, …)
11) The theme
A last very important point, often overlooked, is the theme. Some PrestaShop themes, poorly designed, can be very harmful for natural referencing and nullify all the efforts and optimizations that will have been made alongside. So pay attention to the themes you buy, and avoid themes that are too heavy and include too many features (blog, portfolio, FAQ, testimonials, services,…).
Example of points to check on a PrestaShop theme:
- Mobile-friendly interface
- A refined and clean code
- Not too heavy to load
- That the native features of PrestaShop be used well (slider, theme configurator, etc.) to avoid integrating additional modules that do the same thing
- The correct positioning of the level markers. The errors often observed: H1 on the logo, several H1 on the product sheets,… For the level tags, it’s like for a book: H1 for the page title (article page, product page, category page, page CMS,…), H2 for sub-paragraphs, H3 for sub-sub-paragraphs,…
- Have a single link to follow the articles, generally on the title of the article, …
- Make sure that names, product summaries and category descriptions are not truncated on category pages
- Check that the theme is translated into French and that the translation is correct (good French)
- That the theme does not generate duplicate content
- That there are not too many scripts that load
And we must not forget that the user is the SEO’s worst enemy!
a) Rights and access
Limit the rights of each user on the back office of your PrestaShop store. Do not hesitate to create two profiles for the same user. Bad settings or bad manipulations can be catastrophic for SEO. For example: changes to urls, deactivation of products or categories without redirects, etc.
b) Security and hacking
Access codes lying around on a desktop, an easy-to-find administrator password, etc. can lead to the hacking of your PrestaShop store and therefore lead to penalties. A hacked site can be blocked immediately by a search engine. Once the site is cleaned or restored, the unblocking of search engines is not immediate, which leads to a big loss of traffic, and therefore of turnover.
For maximum security, each user must have their own login and password, a user must not have the same identifiers on several sites, and finally favor very complex passwords!
I think I have covered the essentials to optimize your PrestaShop store for internal referencing, called “on-site”. Depending on the competition you face, internal referencing may not be enough, you will also have to work on your external referencing, called “off-site”, which is just as important a job.
If some points are not very clear, or if I forgot something, or if you simply want to give your opinion, do not hesitate to leave a comment below!
If you need to be accompanied for the optimization of your PrestaShop store, do not hesitate to contact me . I can also offer you an SEO audit.