Our Experiment to Boost Magento SEO with Grav

One of our regular clients from New York approached us with a tough question. How to improve SEO ranking of their Informational pages on the e-commerce website. They along with their SEO consultants had done everything right...white Hat SEO, good quality content, well-attended on-page SEO; still things were not improving.

The client has a popular diamond and  Jewellery website Built on Magento CE 1.9 . It has more than 5000 products and 100,000 diamonds listed. The entire website is designed and developed by TransPacific Software. So it was our moral responsibility to help them out (although TPS is not an SEO company)

The core problem identified by our engineers was "slow page loading" which was about 6-7 sec. Ironically it is a good speed for Magento based website. 

So we set out with a seemingly impossible task: to reduce content based page load time to under 4 sec. These were full-fledged educational pages with images and sidebar navigation.

We did extensive testing of these page on webpagetest.org and GTmatrix to find the core problem was  hidden in TTFB (Time to First Byte) 

TTFB was as high as 2.5-3 sec. which was consuming almost 30% of page load time. (that is when all CSS and JS were bundled in one minified compressed file along with all the possible ways to improve the site speed). the server was a dedicated powerful machine with optimised MYSQL . (Read Nothing more could have been done for speed improvement)

TTFB was still out of bounds. The problem lies in Magento's Bloated  EAV database structure. 

 So we asked ourselves a question: Why the text pages should be in the database...only data should reside in the database and not text/information pages. Magento's information pages also reside in the DB which we believe is not the most efficient way to handle text pages.

We opted for a radical solution: to take out all information pages from Magento and put them in a super slim flat file CMS system GRAV.  Grav is an award-winning flat file CMS system. It doesn't have a database; only the flat files. Making the pages super fast. Apart from quality of content Google algorithms gives considerable weight to "page speed"  ranking factor and Grav made us score very high on "page speed " signal

The challenge

So potentially we had one e-commerce site with two frameworks. Magento for e-commerce and Grav for all text/information pages.

The challenge was to preserve session when a user toggles between them. We achieved it by creating custom extension on Grav

We had to create few more customise extensions on Grav for Google Tag manager and Page social sharing.Many more extensions like site map, Meta tags are already available in Grav.

Just to illustrate the success of Grav / here is here is the side by side comparison of Magento Information Page with Grav page on our Demo server

For test purpose, both the links are on the same server and with the same content.Testing is done through Google supported webpagetest.org  

 

            Magento Page verses Grav Page 

  

 

As you may see the TTFB of Magento page is 2.57 sec. where as of Grav is 0.5 sec.Full page load time for Magento is 7.44 sec. whereas for Grav its 2.8 sec. 

Result:  Grav is about 250% faster 

   The verdict

 It has been just over two weeks from completing the implementation of Grav and submitting the page URLs to Google bot. About 40-45 of the Grav pages have started showing up on page 2 or 3 for important keywords. (with Magento based Information page they were ranking as low as on page 5-7) We hope that the ranking will further improve.

 TransPacific Software spends considerable time on software experimentation for better product value. Integrating Magento with Grav is a success

For more information contact: connect@transpacific.in