Table of contents
- Chapter 1: What Is SEO & Why It’s Essential for your Shopify Website
- Chapter 2: Is Shopify an SEO-Friendly Platform?
- Chapter 3: On-Page SEO for Shopify
- Chapter 4: Sophisticated On-Page SEO for Shopify
- Chapter 5: Shopify Off-Page Improvements
- Chapter 6: Shopify SEO Problems and How to Fix Them?
- Chapter 7: Conclusion
Chapter 1: What Is SEO & Why It’s Essential for your Shopify Website
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimising your website so that it ranks higher on a search engine’s result pages (SERPs) such as Google. Google is the dominant search engine at the moment which is why it is advised that your SEO efforts be focused on Google guidelines were more than 90% of traffic comes from. Other search engine examples are Bing (owned by Microsoft) and Yahoo.
Why should you care about SEO for your Shopify Store? According to (Wolfgang Digital, 2020) organic searches majorly (Google being the big shark) generate 65% of website traffic worldwide as well as an astonishing 67% of website revenue.
These statistics are too good to miss out on for your Shopify store. SEO should be one of the foundational tactics for your marketing strategy, as it is very effective and sustainable for long-term success.
Our detailed guide will help you understand the most important factors of optimising your Shopify website for Google. We are also a click away, our SEO Agency Experts offer a 30 mins free SEO consultation for your Shopify Store.
Chapter 2: Is Shopify an SEO-Friendly Platform?
At The SEO Room, we get asked a lot about whether Shopify is a good platform for Search Engine Optimisation and whether it’s the best platform to opt for e-commerce stores. Well, Shopify does have a lot of features that do help with SEO. Some of these features are:
- Sitemaps are automatically generated
- URLs could easily be edited
- Metadata such as meta descriptions, and image alt tags are also editable without the need to install any apps, unlike WordPress where a plugin such as (YOAST) needs to be set up on your website to be able to edit metadata.
So to answer this question “Is Shopify Good for SEO”? Yes, it is. Is it the best platform for E-commerce? Well, every platform has its pros and cons. Some of Shopify’s cons are:
- A Lot of its apps are for money. Either monthly payments or one-off payments.
- It is not a highly customizable platform in comparison to WordPress Woocommerce.
- You will need to put in the effort like most platforms to optimise your Shopify store – you cannot just wing SEO when it comes to Shopify or any other platform for that matter.
Being strategic about your shopify store’s SEO is essential and making improvements on an ongoing basis helps your store rank better in the long run. SEO is a journey, not a destination, there are many factors that play a role in ranking a Shopify store. In our Ultimate Shopify SEO Guide, we will walk you through the most important factors to help you rank well on search engines like Google. If any time you feel lost or would like to speak to one of our SEO experts, reach out to us via our contact form.
Before starting on any changes for your website we highly encourage that your Shopify store is backed up. One of the best backup apps we have used is Rewind which is why we have affiliated with them to provide the best backup and recovery for our clients. Your store is your most important asset therefore backing up regularly ensures business continuity in the unfortunate event of losing your store partially or completely. Risk management is very important and one of the main reasons why we like Rewind is their support not only in backups but in recoveries as well which is what every online store owner needs.
Chapter 3: On-Page SEO for Shopify
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page Search Engine Optimisation refers to enhancing your current website’s pages for both user experience (UX) and Google search engines to help improve your store’s rankings on search engines.
Some of the On-Page SEO elements are:
- Your website Code
- Website Copy
- Website Photos and Videos
- User Friendliness
- Mobile responsiveness of your website
- Meta Data Optimisation
- Website Load Speed
- And more..
All these elements could be enhanced to give both a better user experience for your website visitors as well as help you rank on search engines.
Fundamental Shopify On-Page SEO
Starting with the fundamentals is important before jumping into more complex on-page optimisation. Below we have highlighted the fundamentals of optimising your Shopify website.
Optimise Your Shopify Store’s URLs
The first thing that Google looks at when crawling your website pages is the URL, which is why it is one of the most important elements to optimise. We see a lot of stores that don’t pay much attention to their store’s URLs and do not give it much thought. Being strategic about your URLs is super important, here are a few tactics you could implement in your store.
Make sure your URL is descriptive of the page, e.g. if you have a collection of plush toys make sure your URL is structured like this https:mystore.com.au/plush-toys.
To access your page’s URL, access your admin and head to the page you’d like to edit. At the bottom of the page, you will find a section called “ “Search Engine Listing Preview” (See the image below). There you could edit your URL. We do advise that you keep your changes to your live website’s URLs as minimal as possible and highly recommend doing it with an SEO agency to avoid 404 errors on your website. That’s why we recommend talking to an SEO expert to help you with this matter to avoid having a lot of errors on your website that could hinder your ranking.
Optimise Your Shopify Page Titles
Click-worthy page titles are essential. A page title is a section that searchers see when searching for products or services. In the below image you could see the page title for The SEO Room web page in blue.
Here is another example of a product-based page title result. As you could see in the below example there are three dots at the end of the title in blue. These dots indicate that the page title is too long and Google was unable to show it on the search results. Aiming between 50 and 60 characters for page titles is a good practice and helps you have a neat search result on Google. Another tip is to include the main keyword in your page title.
Optimise H1 Title on Shopify
Shopify automatically adds one H1 to your product/page name. Therefore it is important to optimise your H1 with the right keyword. Also, ensure to have one H1 on each single page, so your page’s copy should not have any H1 titles in it.
Optimise Shopify’s Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a section below the page title. It is displayed on a search engine’s results page. This section is important for both Google and website visitors. Including keywords helps google bots identify what the page is about, however, the meta description needs to be compelling so that searchers click on your product or collections page.
A good practice when writing meta descriptions is to think about your business’s USP, what makes your business better than other businesses, and what is special about your product. For example, is your product vegan? Organically grown? Ethically made?
Below is an example of a good meta description that mentions they do free shipping.
The recommended number of characters for a meta description is about 155 characters so that it will not be chopped of by search engine results (SERPs)
Optimise Your Shopify Store Images
One of the common mistakes that Shopify store owners and managers do is having random image names e.g. image101.jpg For a plush toy image. This image name is not descriptive of the image at all. Also, optimising Alt tags for images to include the main keyword as well as describing what the image is about is essential to help search engines like Google recognize what your image is about. Naming and tagging your images properly ensures visually challenged people who use screen readers software understand what your image content
A recommended read: SEO Strategies for Ecommerce Stores.
Picking the Right Keywords for your Shopify Website
Having the right keywords for your Shopify store is very important and it all starts from what you are trying to achieve for your store down to what your ideal clients are looking for on search engines like google. Keywords research has advanced over the years and now the recommended practice is to think about “user intent” rather than wanting to rank for a certain keyword. You really have to think about what the searcher is trying to find for this keyword or keyphrase and how could I best help them with their search.
Integrating the right keywords and search intents into your website content in the right way helps you gain traction on ranking and enhances the user experience of your website.
When thinking about keywords for your Shopify store think about your product names, and categories, and look at what other websites are doing for inspiration ideas. Keywords can be used in titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, blogs, website copy, URLs, and more.
One of the best techniques to increase your ranking keywords on your website is to publish useful content on a regular basis such as updating your blogs. On-going blogging helps refresh your website content and encourages Google to keep indexing your website’s new content. SEO blogging also helps you become an authority in your industry, by providing useful content for your consumers like “how-to guides”, “latest trends”, and “ultimate guides”.
There are a number of Shopify apps that help you with SEO matters. One of the latest apps that launched in January 2022 is a long waited app “Yoast For Shopify”. Yoast is a great app to consider for your store, although it could be a bit costly with its monthly subscription. However, Yoast has been a trusted plugin on WordPress for a very long time and it really makes optimising your Shopify store a smooth journey.
Contact our SEO Agency to help you set up any Shopify apps the right way as well as build a solid SEO Strategy for your website.
Chapter 4: Sophisticated On-Page SEO for Shopify
Now that we have covered the fundamentals of on-page optimisation for Shopify, we will be elaborating on more advanced techniques to help you improve your website’s ranking.
Optimise Your Page Load Speed for Shopify
Page speed is one of the ranking factors for Google. Having slow pages on your website not only affects your ranking but your user experience as well. Who wants to wait for a page to load?! No one, especially in the age of speed, your customers are not going to wait for a product page to load so they can view it and buy it. IF your product page is slow loading, they will most likely leave your site and go to the next result on Google for a better user experience.
To measure your page loading times here is Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool that helps you check your web page speed. It has a traffic light system; Red: means your page has failed, it is too slow to load. Yellow: the page has an “ok” page speed and Green: the page speed is very good. Your goal is to go for at least the Yellow speed and always aim for the Green. This Google tool allows you to check the page speed for both Desktop and Mobile. The images below show the page speed for The SEO Room’s homepage for Mobile it is 77 in the yellow zone while the Desktop zone it is very speedy at 96 in the Green Zone.
Here are some speed optimisation techniques for your Shopify Store.
Pick a fast loading theme
If you are about to develop or redevelop your site picking a good fast-loading theme is recommended. The theme has to tick most of the boxes, so it is right for your brand, has a great user experience, and also loads faster than most themes. You could test out some themes using Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix for insights into the speed keeping in mind that you have not integrated your own content and photos yet so the speed will change with your real content.
Install AMP to Your Shopify Website
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and it comes highly recommended by Google. This feature helps your mobile pages load faster. With the latest mind-blowing stat of Google having 94.88% of the mobile search market share, it has become more vital to optimise the mobile pages of your Shopify store. We really love the AMP feature and having worked on many Shopify Stores we noticed enhanced ranking and conversions when we added AMP to our clients’ stores. One of our favourite apps is AMP by Shop Sheriff because it is easy to add and does most of the work for you.
Minify Theme Code
Optimise Your Images’ Sizes on Shopify
Optimising your image size is important for load speed, making sure your images are small enough for your store without compromising the quality of images is vital.
Here are some methods you could use:
- Use the “Lazy loading technique” that identifies (non-critical) items and load these only when needed e.g as you scroll down the page of a website images get loaded accordingly so that the user is not waiting for ages for the whole page to load, it is a staged approach.
- Use an app like the Plugin Speed or Image Optimizer or TinyIMG SEO & Image Optimizer.
Site Structure Optimisation
Having the right site structure for your Shopify store ensures that you give your customers a great user experience. The right site structure comprises:
- Easy navigation
- Clear menu
- Add Breadcrumbs
- Add a Search Box for customers to search inside your store.
- Create a good hierarchical system in your store (see the example below for ideas)
- Schema markup
- Have useful information such as FAQs, Guides, Articles
These are some ideas to help boost both user experience and Google ranking as it will become easier for Google to crawl and understand your site.
Dealing with 404 Error Proactively
404 errors or broken links are no good for any site especially eCommerce. That is why it is important to be as proactive as possible to minimize your chances of having a 404 error on your site. Broken links are very bad for user experience and affect your website ranking. That is why we recommend installing an app to help you redirect and set rules for when an error occurs e.g. to redirect to the homepage of the site if relevant or redirect to certain collection pages.
Sometimes you might stop a line of products or decide to delete it. Deleting a product would result in a 404 error that is why recommend that you redirect that page to the homepage or related page to avoid having a broken link.
Rich Snippets for SEO
Rich snippets are search engine results that take a greater pixel space than your average search result. These rich snippets usually get better conversions because they capture the attention of searchers. One way to optimise your store for rich snippets is to add an app like Rich Snippets for SEO. This app helps you create structured data easily to help your store ranking and improve its performance.
Chapter 5: Shopify Off-Page Improvements
Off-page SEO is everything you do to try and bring traffic back to your website and earn authority. Off-page optimisation is done outside your website. Implementing good white-hat off-page SEO helps you become an authority on Google searches. Google likes to see your website being part of the worldwide web, rather than being on an island by itself. So earning links from other websites to your website helps you be part of that and earn you “link juice”.
Become Strategic about Your Link Building
There are many ways to get links back to your Shopify store but no two links are the same. There are a number of factors you need to consider when trying to get a backlink which we have highlighted below.
The quality of the site you’re getting the backlink is important. You would want to avoid links from spammy websites because that not only won’t benefit your ranking but might cause issues with Google and your site could be considered spammy.
Relevancy of the linking site to your business is another factor to consider. So, for example, if you are in marketing and get a backlink from another marketing-related website, where there is relevance in the industry and Google won’t see it as spammy. Easy ways to get links for your Shopify store are:
- Links from your product distributors if you wholesale to other stores.
- Guest posting on other websites quality content and blogs.
- Have linkable assets on your website to gain organic links. Some ideas for linkable assets could be “ultimate guides”, “Whitepaper” and “ebooks”.
- Link reclamation for blogs and content that has mentioned your name or company name. You could ask that website to add a link back to your website. A good tool to use is Google Mentions which helps you identify places your brand name has been mentioned or keywords related to your industry so you might be able to take a backlinking opportunity from there.
- Do a competitor link analysis and check which links they are targeting that could be an easy win for you. Using a tool like Ahref helps you check the links of your competitors.
Chapter 6: Shopify SEO Problems and How to Fix Them?
For many years the Robot.txt file was not editable on Shopify which was very limiting. Now that Shopify has allowed users to edit the file it has made some of these technical issues resolved. When editing the Robot.Txt file we do recommend that you engage with an SEO expert or SEO Agency to avoid losing critical data.
There are a number of very common Shopify SEO issues that need to be addressed in order to have a better SEO. Some of these issues are:
Automatically Created Duplicate Content
When users define their material as a product or collection, they run into another annoyance when they want to add a specific product to a collection. Although the product page will already have a URL, connecting a product to a collection produces a new URL within that collection.
When it comes to internal links, Shopify uses the collection URL rather than the product URL as the canonical one, making things exceedingly tough to ensure that the proper pages are indexed.
On the other hand, Shopify has allowed for solutions; in this case, however, they do require modifying code in the back end of your store’s theme. Following these procedures, the collections pages on your Shopify site will only refer to the canonical /product/ URLs.
No Redirect With A Trailing Slash
Another of Shopify’s duplicate content concerns is the trailing slash, essentially a ‘/’ at the end of the URL used to denote a directory.
URLs with and without the following slash are treated as separate pages by Google.
By default, Shopify terminates URLs without the following slash. However, users and search engines can access versions of the same URL with a trailing slash.
Normally, this may be prevented by using the website’s htaccess file to enforce a site-wide trailing slash redirect; however, Shopify does not allow access to the htaccess file.
SEO for Shopify should instead utilise canonical tags to tell Google which page version is favoured for indexing. It’ll have to do for now because it’s the only solution available, but it’s far from ideal and frequently causes data attribution difficulties in Google Analytics and other monitoring tools.
Restricted URL Structure
Shopify’s CMS allows you to arrange your product listings into two primary categories — products and collections—as well as more general articles, pages, and blogs, similar to how WordPress divides material into posts and pages.
On Shopify, creating a new product allows you to display the individual things you have for sale. In contrast, collections allow you to group your products and arrange them into readily searchable categories.
Most individuals have a problem with Shopify’s imposed content organisation system since it imposes a preset hierarchical structure with few modification possibilities. Every new product or collection you submit must contain the URL’s subfolders /product and /or collection.
Although it is a major source of dissatisfaction among Shopify users, the company has yet to address the issue, and there is presently no solution. As a result, the URL slug must be used with extreme caution (the only part that can be customised). To offer your items the best chance of getting found, make sure you include the relevant keywords in the slug and properly classify your postings.
Title tags are too long
The misleading title tags could entice you to create much bigger titles than you are supposed to for your Shopify pages and products. The page title limit on Shopify is 70 characters and Google currently only shows about 60 characters.
Misleading Meta Description Limits
Shopify currently offers a space of more than 300 characters for meta descriptions which is very misleading. Google only shows about 160 characters for meta descriptions which means that if you fill in the whole space for Shopify’s meta description then chances are your full meta description won’t show on the SERP. Therefore, you need to stick to what Google currently shows to avoid falling into that trap.
Chapter 7: Conclusion
SEO for Shopify is not an overnight job, it is a working progress. Implementing these important steps and building progress over time will help your store rank. You can always DIY your Shopify’s SEO however, if you’d like to fast track your SEO and start ranking and converting quicker then we highly recommend you hire an SEO expert that has the experience and the know-how and will get you your return on investment. Speak to our SEO experts in Australia today to book a free 30 mins consult with one of our SEO whisperers.
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