“Magento Search Engine Optimization” by Robert Kent attempts to help readers optimize their Magento store and improve exposure in destined search results. Let’s take a look at whether the book succeeds at that premise.
With the rapid raise and fall of shady search engine optimization affairs, credibility is a must. With a Magento Developer Certificate and four years of experience down his belt, Robert Kent (@kent_robert) is currently employed as development manager at Creare. Creare is one of the UK’s leading SEO agencies and that they are semi-actively promoting the book, is a sign that we might be onto a valuable resource here.
“Magento Search Engine Optimization” has a total of 8 chapters divided over 132 pages and is available as paperback (~ 40$) or eBook (~ 20$) in numerous digital formats. The publisher, Packt, currently runs a discount for the book with prices at respectively 35$ and 18$. Prices at retailers might differ.
The book starts with a quick overview of what it is that SEO entails in this day and age. It then continues to assist the reader into configuring their Magento store so that SEO-best-practices are complied with. As soon as proper configuration is set-up, the book picks up speed and delves into the several components a Magento-store consists of and how they can be tweaked to improve search engine rankings and conversion. Including but not limited to proper usage of category pages and content localization.
It is not only fiddling with the Magento back-end that “Magento Search Engine Optimization” covers. Starting at chapter 4, it gets more technical with improving the template structure. There is even a toe dip of server optimization with a glossary of caching techniques used for speeding up Magento-powered websites. Last but not least, the book glosses over a few popular Magento extensions (both free and paid) which can aid with search engine optimization.
What we really like about the book is that it properly explains the search engine optimization techniques used. If we would remove all the references to Magento, the book would be a lot thinner but still contain very valuable concepts. It are exactly those concepts which will give readers the “Oh, that’s why!“-snap and the book seamlessly follows them up with a translation of concept to Magento implementation.
In this way, instead of being a manual for Magento backend input fields, it is actually clear why some settings are preferred over others. By knowing the fundamentals, the reader should have no problem adapting the concepts to their own situation. Case studies in the book really contribute to this.
Even though we think this book is really appropriate for those willing to dive into Magento search engine optimization, it can also function as a bookshelf gem you can revert to for looking up specific points. The book is by no means a cohesive soup you have to read from start to end to obtain gain from.
Yes, the contents overlap but each chapter can easily be taken on its own due to clear outlined learning points and a brief summary at the end. This is one of those books which its paper back can get wrinkly real fast by all the scrolling for that one image outlining the URL structure hierarchy or the quick tip on how long the [cci][/cci] of a product-page should ideally be.
What we missed
The author states that Google Shopping is still under heavy change and the default Magento implementation is barely keeping up. However, we hoped that it would be approached with a concept-point-of-view at least. The same applies to mobile SEO: Magento doesn’t really incorporate anything of it yet, but we wouldn’t have mind if Robert covered a bit of it in the book anyway. We understand why the author choose not to – it’s a Magento oriented book after all!
Other than that; the book contains a chapter with tips on improving the frontend code. We thought of it as a bit pale and that it could be more detailed by, for example, covering more semantic HTML in templates. We would have also loved to see more detail in chapter 6 (Analyzing and Tracking Your Visitors) regarding A/B-testing for better conversion.
Whether you are a SEO-specialist or a Magento developer looking to level up your SEO-skill, “Magento Search Engine Optimization” by Robert Kent can be of aid to both of you: a reference for the former, a guide to the latter. It is exceptionally well at explaining the fundamentals of SEO and translating it to a situation applicable to Magento.
Though we think some subjects could have been covered with more detail, we understand that this is a Magento-oriented SEO book. And at that, it succeeds extremely well.