Open Cart SEO For Beginners: How to Optimise the Basics

If you’re new to Open Cart, navigating this CMS can be strange to start with, and locating where and how to edit your site for SEO purposes can be a real challenge. Plus, even if you’re well versed with Open Cart, if you have yet to optimise it for search you might find it tricky to find some of the key pages on which to make your vital SEO changes. Or perhaps you’re just looking to learn a little more about Search Engine Optimisation in general, and how you can improve your Open Cart site and help drive more traffic to your landing pages.

opencart dashboard

If any of the above is you, then we’re here to help!

Open Cart is not always entirely user friendly when it comes to SEO, but we’re going to take you through the main key on-site optimisation that you should do for your site, and how to find the right bits to edit. For some edits, you may need to ask your website developer to install certain plugins, modules or make changes to the website code via the .htaccess file, if you are not experienced in web development or comfortable making these changes. However, we have included all your options for editing so you have the most amount of choice available.

Firstly, let’s introduce the main SEO elements we’re going to cover. These are the SEO basics mind! There is also plenty more you can do for your site, but for basic on-site optimisation, these cover most of your bases.

We’re going to cover the following SEO fixes:

– Titles
– Meta Descriptions
– Page Content
– Headers/H1s
– URL/permalink
– Alt tags

For the purposes of keeping this article swift and to the point (and hopefully therefore the most use for you looking to get straight to the actionable help) we’re going to assume that you are happy optimising each of the above – although I will offer some useful optimisation tips as we go.

Titles, Meta Descriptions and Page Content

SEO Tips for Title Optimisation:

When optimising titles, ensure that your keywords are as close to the start of the title as possible, without compromising on the readability. You will need to edit the titles of all of your pages ideally, but if you have lots of pages to edit (I know this can go into the hundreds and thousands) then you’ll want to prioritise your most important landing pages first, and then delve down into less important landing pages, category pages and product pages.

SEO Tips for Meta Description Optimisation:

For your meta descriptions, focus on offering a clear summary of the specific page, not on the whole business. For instance if a user is searching for leather dog leads don’t write about all the dog-related products you sell, write about either that specific product if it’s a product page, or the types of leather dog leads that you sell if it’s for your leather dog lead category page. Focus on being useful to the user and on including call to action phrases such as ‘call now’, ‘browse our range’ or ‘take a look – your puppy will love these!’

SEO Tips for Page Content Optimisation:

Optimising content is simple if you follow the rules: provide value to your users and use your keywords (and synonyms around your topic, also know as LSI’s) throughout IN A NATURAL WAY – ie. don’t over-optimise and use them in every sentence. Focus on providing value on the right topic and you’ll be away. To provide value research around topics to find what your users want to know/area searching for and provide that. You will be rewarded by better on-site engagement which Google will then reward with better rankings.

How to Edit the Homepage Title & Meta Description

Navigate to Settings>>Edit>>Store. Then edit the Meta Title section. Here you can also edit your homepage’s meta description by editing the Meta Tag Description section.

How to Edit the Homepage Content

Navigate to Extensions>>Modules>>Welcome Module/HTML Content Home Welcome. Then edit your content.

You can also install the free Fido-X Homepage Module to make editing the homepage content even easier and keep all your content in one place.

How to Edit Category Page Titles

To do this simply navigate to Catalog>>Categories>>(Category You Wish To Edit). Here you can once again edit the Meta Title section to edit the page title that will show in the search results, as well pre-define the page’s meta description.

Here, you’ll see you can also edit the category page’s content and add meta tags if you wish (although these no longer play a part in SEO, since past SEO’s overused the technique and made it void).

How to Edit Product Page Titles

Navigate to Catalog>>Products>>the blue pencil Edit symbol to the right of the screen for the product you wish to edit. Edit the Meta Tag title to change your SEO page title and the Meta Tag Description to change your SEO meta description. You can also edit the page content on this page.

Header 1’s/H1’s

For headers, these follow the same optimisation rules as titles – put your best bits at the start. For many you won’t have much choice as to what to make these, such as on the product pages where the H1 is simply the product name. Let’s give you that process before we go onto the trickier ones:

How to Edit Product Page H1s in OpenCart

As in the above example explaining how to edit the page title for Product Pages, you follow the same route to edit the H1 or Product Name. Navigate to Catalog>>Products>>(Product You Wish to Edit) and edit the ‘Product Name’ to change your H1.

Pro Tip: Try to keep your H1 to under 100 characters otherwise it may set off spam signals to the search engines.

When it comes to editing your category page H1 header, there are a couple of methods. The easiest method is utilising a plugin, or of course you can manually add code to your site through the .htaccess file.

How to Edit Category Page H1s via a plugin

Buy and download the OpenCart plugin called ‘Custom H1 Tags’. It currently costs $20.00 to purchase. This plugin adds a section most page editing sections called ‘Custom H1 Tag’ which you can now freely edit, as shown here in OpenCart’s demo of the plugin:

opencart plugin for headers h1s editing
https://image.opencart.com/cache/561d3d2a9032b-resize-500×500.jpg

Then simply add in the H1’s you want to the respective category pages by navigating to Catalog>>Categories>>(Category You Wish to Edit).

Alternatively, if you have a little more cash to splash, the OpenCart SEO Pack PRO allows you to add and edit both H1s and H2s in that same way on your product and category pages, as well as offering a multitude of other incredibly powerful optimisation tools for your website. This includes keyword generators, canonical tags to avoid penalties from duplicate content as well as Rich Snippet optimisation which helps you optimise for voice search as well as dominate the search for particular phrases.

How to Edit Category Page H1s via code

Access your site via the .htaccess file and open the folder of your Theme and go to: Folder>> Template>>Product>>Category.tpl.

There you should see: $heading_title; in the H1 tag. Change the code to:

<h1>

<?php

if($heading_title==’your Heading’){

$heading_title= “My Heading”;

echo $heading_title;

}elseif($heading_title==’heading 2′){

$heading_title= “My Heading “;

echo $heading_title;

}elseif($heading_title==’title 3 ‘){

$heading_title= “My heading 3”;

echo $heading_title;

}else{?>

<?php echo $heading_title; ?>

<?php } ?>

</h1>

How to Edit Homepage H1’s in OpenCart

This is the most tricky of our optimisation today, since most of the H1 plugins don’t allow you to edit the homepage H1 since the layout for editing the homepage differs from the other pages on your OpenCart website. Therefore, you can edit this a couple of ways:

– Edit the hard code
– Add the Welcome Module and edit it through here (although this only allows you to edit the pre-set header, and this could appear as a H2 or H3 etc.)

Hard code option:

Add the following code to your homepage.

PHP Code:

<?php get_header(); ?>

 

Code:

<h1 style=”display: none;”>SEO Title for Your Website</h1>

 

Do note that this code will only display to search engines and not to users. To display to users, edit the CSS to determine how this text will display to users.

Optimising Your Page URLs

The next thing to do is to ensure that you have enabled the SEO URL editor in OpenCart. You can do this by navigating to System>>Settings>>(Blue Edit Button for your Store)>>Server. Then check the ‘Use SEO URLs’ section to ‘Yes’.

Following this you will now be able to edit your page URLs. Navigate to the product or category pages (as shown in the tutorials above):

Categlog>>Product/Category>>(Product/Category You Wish to Edit)

Then click on the ‘Data’ tab, where you can edit your URL extension/permalink in the ‘SEO keyword’ section. Then simply save and update.

Adding Alt Text to Images on OpenCart

Adding Alt Text to your product and general images through OpenCart can be done via plugin or hard code.

Adding Alt Text to Images using an OpenCart plugin

Add the plugin ‘Alt Title Tag Image’ which costs $20.00 to buy. Next to the image you wish to edit on a particular page an ‘Alt Tag’ and ‘Title Tag’ will appear. Set the title tag to what you wish the user to see when they hover over the image in their browser. The alt text is for the visually impaired and should be an accurate description of the image, but you can also utilise this to include keywords for which you want to rank.

Adding Alt Text to Images on OpenCart via .htaccess

Start by adding the input fields to the admin product template (the values will be added later). Navigate to Admin>>View>>Template>>Catalog>>Product_form.tpl)

Then add the following code:

<label for=”image_alt”>Alternative text</label>

<input type=”text” name=”image_alt” value=”” id=”image_alt”/>

<label for=”image_alt”>Image title</label>

<input type=”text” name=”image_title” value=”” id=”image_title”/>

 

Do this both at the static html level and within the javascript addImage() function.

Then add the columns “alt_text” & “title_text” to the database table “product_image”.

Update the ‘Save Product Images’ call to the database in both the addProduct() and the updateProduct() methods in admin\model\catalog\product.php. Code is for addProduct():

if (isset($data[‘product_image’])) {

$indexer = 0;

foreach ($data[‘product_image’] as $image) {

$this->db->query(“INSERT INTO ” . DB_PREFIX . “product_image SET product_id = ‘” . (int)$product_id . “‘, image = ‘” . $this->db->escape($image) . “‘”);

if (isset($data[‘product_image_alt’][$indexer])) {

$this->db->query(“UPDATE ” . DB_PREFIX . “product_image SET alt_text = ‘” . $data[‘product_image_alt’][$indexer] . “‘ WHERE product_id = ‘” . (int)$product_id . “‘ AND image = ‘” . $this->db->escape($image) . “‘”);

}

if (isset($data[‘product_image_title’][$indexer])) {

$this->db->query(“UPDATE ” . DB_PREFIX . “product_image SET title_text = ‘” . $data[‘product_image_title’][$indexer] . “‘ WHERE product_id = ‘” . (int)$product_id . “‘ AND image = ‘” . $this->db->escape($image) . “‘”);

}

$indexer++;

}

}

Finally, update the corresponding code in the store\catalog to display the values to the product page.

 

We hope this article has outlined some of the ways you can improve the SEO for your OpenCart website and how to do it, but if you have any questions or want us to cover some more optimisation options for OpenCart sites, just let us know! You can tweet myself at @EmilyFedorowycz or the team at @BrightDesignUK, or email us your questions/feedback here.

opencart dashboard