Magento Setup – 4 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Mistake #1: Modifying the Default Magento Theme Magento is unique and powerful because it allows users to utilize multiple themes at once. This provides maximum…
  • Caitlin Mekita
  • Customer Success Manager
  • April 3, 2013 Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Mistake #1: Modifying the Default Magento Theme

Magento is unique and powerful because it allows users to utilize multiple themes at once. This provides maximum customization power and the ability to quickly change the look of your site for any period of time. The hierarchy of themes is as such: the lowest is the magento default theme, which must be called default, and which should not be manipulated or changed in any way. Next up is your custom default theme which is located in configuration > design > theme > default. Here you will develop your custom theme which will appear on your everyday visible page. Next up is a custom non-default theme, which you can use to override only subsets of the default theme. For example, if you’d like your store to look different on Saint Patrick’s Day to have a green background instead of a blue one, you can use a non-default theme to change only certain styles or elements. If there is an error or missing element in any of your themes, Magento will fall back in hierarchal order, so it’s really important to keep your default theme completely intact and it’s best not to change it. You’ll be able to work on your default theme or non-default custom theme and trust that Magento knows to fall back on the default for the elements you choose not to (or don’t need to) customize.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Important Magento Features – Up Sells, Related Products, and Cross Sells

You should be comfortable utilizing some of Magento’s powerful features.

Up-sell products are those that your customer might be interested in buying instead of the one they are currently looking at. For instance, if they are viewing a lower-quality item, you might want to suggest that they also look at one that is higher quality, more expensive, or more popular. You’ll usually say something like “You might also be interest in the following product(s). To add Up-sells to a product, you will find Catalog > Manage Products in the Admin Panel, then select the Up-sells tab from the left side panel. Select the items you wish to use. You have the option now to use a filter to choose the up-sell products. For example, If you’re selling chairs and you’d like any chair that is of equal or great cost than $100, you would select the attribute “chairs” and then in the price column, set from $100. Click search and then check all of the items that appear.

Similar to up-sells, you can provide customers with related products to view while they are shopping. You will find the Related Products tab in your Manage Products section of the Admin. Similar to up-sells, you can filter through your products and relate anything that you feel is appropriate.

Cross-Sells are a little bit different because they are only added after an item is added to the shopping cart. Once again, you will navigate to Manage Products in your Magento admin. Find the product you’d like to add cross-sells to, and then select the cross-sells tab. Just like you selected up-sells and related products, you can filter and select cross-sells. You can also decide which position the cross-sell item will appear when your customer sees it on their shopping cart page.

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Mistake #3: Not Optimizing SEO by Changing the Default MAgento Settings

Magento has plenty of default settings that can’t be ignored. In order to get your site listed and found on the major search engines, it is imperative that you make the appropriate changes to the following:

Home Page Title

You’re obviously going to want your site to be titled appropriately, so don’t forget to change the home page title which you can find in the CMS > Manage Pages > “Home Page”

Default Description

Magento will add a default meta description but this will need to be changed. You can find the default description in the System > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head tab and you will need to add a unique meta description. Usually around 150 characters, your description should use carefully selected keywords and locations to describe your site in a concise couple of sentences. Make sure you do the proper research on how to research and write a proper meta description for SEO purposes.

Default Keywords

Just as you will need to change the description, the keywords are important too. Use Google Keyword tools to properly research which keywords are going to work best for you, and add no more than 10 keywords, putting the most important ones first.

Get Indexed 

Don’t forget to turn the meta robots to “index,follow” when you move your site to the live server. You’ll find this in System > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head > Default Robots

Default Alt Tags

The default alt tag for your logo needs to be changed to make this image searchable.


Remember to keep your sitemap.xml clear of sample products and other things you don’t want indexed.

Mistake #4: Disabling Magento Customer Reviews

For SEO and customer satisfaction purposes, you shouldn’t disable customer reviews unless you have a specific reason to do so. If you’re worried, keep in mind that you can approve reviews before they go up, and also edit them for grammatical errors or inappropriate content to avoid having reviews discredit your business. In the Catalog > Reviews & Ratings and Manage Ratings. You’ll create ratings like “price” “quality” and “value” and these can be customized as per store and store view. To go over your reviews, go to Catalog > Reviews & Ratings > Customer Reviews > Pending Reviews, select status Pending and then decide which reviews will appear in the front end. For more insight on the effectiveness of Customer Reviews, see this interesting article on why they are important.

With proper research and practice, you will be able to learn the ins and outs of the Magento e-commerce platform. If you’re just starting out, these common mistakes are good to keep in mind. Make sure you are doing everything you can to properly take advantage of all that Magento has to offer.

is a graduate of Marist College and a Graphic Designer at Shero Designs since 2012.

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