Did you know that over half of online shoppers start their purchase process on a search engine? If you’re a Shopify store owner and not doing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your store, you’re missing out on many potential customers. In this Shopify SEO guide, we’ll show you how to SEO your store like a pro using simple, easy-to-follow steps. So what are you waiting for? Start optimizing your store today and watch your sales soar!
How does SEO work on Shopify
You may be wondering, “Can you SEO a Shopify store?”. Well, the answer is a definite “Yes!”.
One of the main benefits of using Shopify is that it’s designed with search engine optimisation in mind. This means that potential customers should find your store more easily when they search for terms related to your products or services. There are several ways that Shopify helps you optimise your store for SEO, including:
- Automatically generating sitemaps, which help search engines index your pages more effectively.
- Allowing you to customize the URLs for your pages, so you can include keywords that will help improve your rankings.
- Providing built-in tools for managing keyword research and tracking your rankings over time.
What are some common Shopify SEO problems?
There are a few problems that you will face when trying to optimise Shopify for search engines:
- Forced URL structure – Shopify has a default URL structure for collections, products, pages, and blogs that you, unfortunately, cannot change.
- Cannot edit the XML sitemap – you cannot edit the XML sitemaps that Shopify generates for you.
- Duplicate content – duplicate product pages are created for all products added to collections. Even though these URLs are canonicalised to a single URL, canonicals are only a suggestion to search engines and could still cause the wrong page to be indexed.
- Pre-built theme issues – unless you are using a fully bespoke theme developed specifically for your store, you are at the mercy of the developers who built the ready-made theme you will use. The quality of these themes can vary quite a bit, and some will be considerably better than others, especially when factoring in user experience and page speed.
After seeing these problems, you might be asking yourself, “Is Shopify bad for SEO?” Well no, Shopify is actually really good for search engine optimisation. The team behind the platform has been rolling out updates and addressing many of the SEO issues that plagued earlier versions.
Shopify SEO apps
Although there are many ways to improve your store’s SEO, one of the most effective is using Shopify apps. By installing a few well-chosen apps, you can significantly boost your site’s search engine rankings. However, with so many different apps available, knowing which ones are right for your business can be challenging. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best Shopify apps for SEO. These apps will help you to take your SEO game to the next level:
Booster SEO & Image Optimizer – on-page and technical optimisation
SEO:Image Optimizer Page Speed – on-page and technical optimisation
Plug In SEO – on-page and technical optimisation, and keyword research
Crush.pics SEO Image Optimizer – focused on image optimisation
Bulk Image Edit ‑ Image SEO – bulk optimise images
Smart SEO – on-page and technical optimisation
TinyIMG SEO & Image Optimizer – on-page and technical optimisation
SEO Booster: Speed & Marketing – on-page and technical optimisation
SEO Manager – on-page and technical optimisation
Of course, apps can only get you some of the way. You need to know how to make the best use of any SEO apps, and you also need to understand how to create an effective strategy to help you outcompete in the marketplace.
The best Shopify theme for SEO
One way to boost your store is to use a Shopify theme designed with SEO in mind. Here are some things to consider when choosing which Shopify theme will be best for your SEO:
- Page speed – does the theme load quickly, and does it have a high PageSpeed Insights score for mobile and desktop
- User experience – the theme should provide your visitors with a great user experience
- Responsive – the theme should display well on mobile and desktop devices
- Structured data – does the theme include support for structured data that could help you to get rich search results
- Metadata – the theme should at least allow you to edit title tags, meta descriptions, and image alt text
- Navigation – the navigation should be straightforward and provide ample opportunity for search engine crawlers to discover pages and the relationships between them
- User-generated content – your theme should allow customers to leave reviews and comments
- Social sharing – the theme should come with social sharing buttons as standard
If you’re asking yourself, “Does changing a Shopify theme really affect SEO?” then the answer is yes. So, before you decide on a pre-built theme, ensure you speak with your SEO consultant or agency to make sure that theme is suitable for you.
Top Shopify SEO tips
So, you have your theme and SEO apps for your store – What else can you do to improve the SEO on Shopify? Maybe you’re wondering where to put keywords on your Shopify store? Well read on, as here are my recommended Shopify SEO best practices.
Choosing your keywords
Deciding which keywords you will target will be one of the most important SEO strategy decisions for your Shopify store.
There are four types of keywords:
- Informational – searches where people are searching for information, but commercial intent cannot yet be established, e.g. ‘best ways to wash hair’
- Navigational – queries for specific brands and organizations to navigate to their website, e.g. ‘Amazon’, ‘Netflix’ or ‘Tesla’
- Commercial – search queries that have commercial intent but are not yet at the stage where the person searching is prepared to purchase, e.g. ‘iphone vs android’
- Transactional – The query indicates intent to purchase, e.g. ‘buy colombian coffee online’
For navigational queries, you should eventually easily rank for your brand if it is unique. If your brand is a more commonly used term, such as ‘Amazon’, you may initially find even ranking for your brand difficult.
The other types of keywords can then be used to build out the content strategy for your Shopify store. For example, you can use informational and some commercial terms as topics for your blog posts. Other commercial terms could be used for landing pages where you target specific product feature keywords. Transactional terms would be used for optimising your product and collection/category pages.
Don’t just go for the keywords with the highest search volume. Sometimes, it is better to target lower search volume keywords that are easier to rank for and have a higher conversion rate.
Whether your homepage, collections pages, product pages, or blog posts, you need to optimize your title tags.
Include your most important keywords for each page, but do not keyword stuff. Remember, Google and other search engines often use the title tag as the main heading for each search result.
Meta descriptions won’t directly improve your search rankings, but they can help improve click-through rates, which will boost your search rankings.
Include important keywords in your Shopify meta descriptions and write them to be as engaging as possible. The aim here is to catch the attention of your target audience while they are scrolling through search results.
You can optimise your URLs with Shopify. Add your keywords to your URLs, but there are a few rules:
- Only use lowercase, not uppercase letters
- Only use a-z and 0-9 – avoid using any other characters such as currency symbols
- Only use hyphens to separate words, not underscores
Avoid making the URLs too long – ideally, 3-5 words, although this may not be possible with long product names and blog posts
Shopify product descriptions
Your product descriptions are really important as these will likely be the bulk of the unique content on product pages.
Make sure that you include the keywords you want to target for each page in your product description. You should also avoid duplicating content, either across your website or across other websites. For example, if you are selling products from other manufacturers, do not just copy their product descriptions as this will likely be used across many of their re-sellers. Duplicate content like this may not rank well.
Shopify image SEO
Online stores often have many product images, which present both an opportunity to drive traffic from image search and a risk in terms of the possible impact on page speed.
To optimise your images for search, include your keywords within the image filename. Separate words in the filename with hyphens instead of underscores and try to use between 3-5 words. Also, when you add the images to Shopify, add image alt text. Alt text should be descriptive of the image, but try to include your main keywords. Remember, the primary purpose of alt text is to know what the content of the image is so that people using screen readers can.
To further optimise your images, you should look at reducing the image file size as much as possible without significantly degrading the quality of the picture. Firstly, create the image to be the maximum size it would only ever likely be displayed at on your website – don’t forget you may have product image zoom functionality on your store, so the image may need to be larger than you think.
Once you have exported the image at the correct pixel width and height, then you should compress the image. You can use a tool such as compressor.io for this. Even though Shopify will compress your picture for you, I prefer first to run the images through another compression tool to reduce the file size as much as possible.
Optimising Shopify collection pages
You have probably already been planning product page optimisation, but don’t neglect collection pages either. Your collection pages should be where you are targeting the category-level keywords.
Ensure that you optimise your title tags, meta descriptions, and other HTML tags, and add a category description containing your target keywords.
Internal links are very important for SEO. They help search engines find all of your content, plus they indicate the relationships between pages and the content of the pages.
Make sure that every page you want to appear in search results has at least one internal link — the more important the page, the more internal links it should have.
When linking from one of your pages to another, you should include keywords within the anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable text that a visitor sees.
Migrating your store to Shopify
Are you migrating your store from one eCommerce platform to Shopify? If so, there is a good chance that many of your URLs will be changing as Shopify has a specific URL structure for the blog, collection, product, and static pages.
You will want to make sure that you redirect all of your old URLs to the new URLs on Shopify to ensure that you don’t lose any SEO rankings or value you have built from inbound links.
Shopify SEO checklist
We have created a handy checklist to keep SEO for your Shopify store simple to implement. Feel free to download a PDF version, print it, and then check off each item as you go. We have included the essential items, including initial setup, SEO research, on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO.
There you have our Shopify SEO guide. Shopify is an excellent platform for online stores and provides you with a great base to build your organic traffic.