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SEO For Shopify

SEO is the most important part of your digital marketing strategy to gain more traffic to your website and increase your sales, not just initially but on an ongoing basis. This is no different for your Shopify site.

SEO is the most important part of your digital marketing strategy to gain more traffic to your website and increase your sales, not just initially but on an ongoing basis. This is no different for your Shopify site. Want to know more about SEO first? You can read more about it here.

Why Shopify is the online place to be for e-commerce.

Shopify has unlimited potential for online retailers.

 Let’s talk about facts. Here are just some of the reasons that make Shopify so good.


  • Shopify is the 3rd biggest online retailer in the United States after both Amazon and eBay.
  • It is the home of over 1 million businesses and counting!
  • It is available in over 170 countries worldwide.
  • Shopify had over 200 million purchases in the last 12 months.


You might be asking yourself “With over 1,000,000 businesses on Shopify, how is anyone going to find mine?” Our answer? SEO for Shopify.


In this article we’re going to go over the SEO features both on the platform and off, what ones to use and what features to avoid. The great thing about Shopify is it welcomes SEO with plenty of great features and apps that allow you to optimize your site to its full potential and increase your sales.

What does Shopify SEO mean?

Shopify SEO is Search Engine Optimization techniques that are more suited to the Shopify platform than other sites.

There are some great SEO features on the platform, for example, the option to create a blog for your Shopify store, this is a fantastic way to drive organic traffic to your store by writing relatable content to your products, redirecting your readers to your product pages and hopefully convert your reader into a customer.


Another great thing for SEO on Shopify is the ability to redirect on your site and how easy it is to do. Redirecting is a great way of linking your pages together but it also makes it a lot easier for your customers to find something they’re looking for or something they would be interested in buying. This creates a good user experience which goes a long way when Google is ranking your site.

One of the things about Shopify that will have a negative effect on your website’s SEO is the amount of duplicate content on the platform. Duplicate content is one of the biggest difficulties that people come across with eCommerce this is hard to avoid when you’re selling similar products all under the same category. You’ll find some tips in this article that will help you overcome this difficulty by minimizing your duplicate content and optimizing other factors of your SEO to gain more authority and rank your website better on Google.


SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

Your website will not rank number one of the Google search results overnight. SEO takes:

  •  Time
  •  Research
  •  Tools
  •  and most of all, Consistency


Writing one blog and leaving it to do its magic isn’t going to work. Trends change, interests change, products will change and you must keep up. Another thing that will change is Search Engines. Search Engines such as Google will change what it likes, change what it thinks is good and what it thinks is bad, this means your SEO has to change with it. This means you have to be consistent in optimizing your content, be cautious you're not duplicating it, and research what is popular at that time to maximize your traffic and therefore your sales. 

Shopify SEO areas covered in this blog:

  1. Page Structure
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Optimizing Product Pages
  4. Creating Links To Your Website
  5. Optimizing User Experience On Your Online Store
  6. Tools and Applications You Can Use To Enhance Your Shopify SEO


Shopify Page/Site Structure

Structure is vital for your ranking but it can sometimes be tricky on Shopify.

Page structure is a major factor in SEO because page structure helps tell search engines (and your customers) what your page is about and helps with the Indexing and Crawling of your site.


Think of each page as a book and the site as the bookstore. Google reads books, not book stores. Every book has a title (H1), subtitles (H2, H3, etc.) and content inside that are all relatable. This structure makes it easy for Google to understand what the page (book) is about, and therefore makes it easy to decide where to put the book in its index to help the customer find it. 


One of the biggest things to remember when building a website or an individual page is to not overcomplicate it. Once the customer has found the book in the store, if they open the book and it's too hard to read or it doesn’t make sense, they’re not going to read on, they’re going to go and find another book. This will indicate to Google that your page lacks interest and is not addressing the query properly, a negative signal. 


So when you’re building your Shopify store make it, and the content in it, simple. You want to have a simple structure so your customers can find what they are looking for quickly, if a user arrives at your website and can’t find the product page they’re looking for within a few clicks, do you think they’re gonna stay on your store? No, they will be going to your competitor who presents a simple and easy-to-navigate store. 


Tips: Understand the Search Intent Google is giving to your important keywords.  To do so, simply search your word and see the top three results. If you are searching for baseball bat and the first three pages Google is presenting to you, are pages full of baseball bats for sale, you know that Google equals the search baseball bat to I want to buy a baseball bat. However if you search SEO, and the 3 first pages are all blogues describing how SE is working, you know that the intent of the search is: What is SEO ? By lookimg at the search intent before building your page, you will drasticly increase your chance of success, always miror the approach of the top pages, they are at the end, the Google’s pets.


Recommanded structure for Shopify.

Here are two simple structures that will make it quick and easy for your customers to find the product page they are looking for within a few clicks.


Homepage>Category page>Product page

 Products are 2 clicks away from your home page.


Homepage>Category page>Sub Category page>Product page

 Products are 3 clicks away from your home page.

Tips: Try to keep all your page to a maximum of 3 clicks deep


Don’t forget to create a contact page and an about page. These pages are very important in building a trusting relationship and gaining credibility with your users and search engines.


Adding a search bar to your eCommerce store can also optimize your page for users. It hasn’t been proven that it will enhance your search engine ranking, but it will help the traffic you are already receiving to find the product they’re looking for, this is a positive for user experience, which is a factor in increasing your search results rank. At the end of the they, it is not how many clients you get but how many sales you make.


Indexing and Crawling

Indexing and Crawling is a search engine recognizing your website and then reading it and analyzing it. Search engines can then rank your site based on the data they have collected from it. 


The first thing you should do to help your sites Indexing and Crawling is registering your domain with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools. These free tools are a fantastic way to track your traffic’s progress as you start to implement your SEO strategies.


Next, submit an XML sitemap to both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools. This is one of the good things about Shopify, it automatically creates sitemaps for you and divides them into page types in a sitemap index. You’ll find these site maps here at:


  • Sitemap index – example.com/sitemap.xml
  • Products – example.com/sitemap_products_1.xml
  • Pages – example.com/sitemap_pages_1.xml
  • Collections – example.com/sitemap_collections_1.xml
  • Blogs – example.com/sitemap_blogs_1.xml


Just simply copy and paste the sitemap page’s URL into the tools Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Robot.txt files

Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t allow you to edit the Robot.txt files, and you are left with the default Shopify configuration. This isn’t great from an Indexing and Crawling point of view as the robots.txt file is the best option for picking and choosing which pages you want Google to index or not.


Luckily there is a way around this. You can do this by adding meta robots tags in the site’s template so the search engine can see not to index it. All you have to do is edit the <head> of your site’s theme.liquid layout file, follow these instructions:


  • Go to the admin section of your site, go to Online Stores, and then, Themes.
  • Find your Theme you would like to edit, click Actions and then, Edit Code.
  • Type the following code into your theme.liquid file:



{% if template contains ‘search’ %}

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

{% endif %}

And if you don’t want a full template indexed, then type the following code:


{% if handle contains ‘page-handle-you-want-to-exclude’ %}

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

{% endif%}

Redirects

A good SEO feature from Shopify is that it does allow redirects as standard. This is fantastic if you need to integrate expired/outdated pages and content that you no longer have use for. You can set up redirects by heading to Online store, then Navigation, and clicking URL Redirects. 


Redirects are vitally important and you should always keep updated on content, get rid of pages that are now expired, and redirect it and the content to a page that is up to date. This helps search engines understand your content better and also shows your users that you’re up to date with your products and your knowledge. 

Breadcrumbs On Shopify

Breadcrumbs are a great way to tell Google, clearly and concisely, what your site is about. It also makes your URLs look tidy when appearing on google’s search results pages. 


Shopify doesn’t support or give you breadcrumbs as default but luckily there is an easy fix to this and you can add them in manually. Here’s what you have to do:


  • Just like the Robots.txt files, Go to the admin section of your site, go to Online Stores, and then, Themes.
  • Find your Theme you would like to edit, click Actions and then, Edit Code.
  • Make a new snippet by clicking the snippet folder and then “Add A New Snippet” then give your snippet the name breadcrumbs (make sure there are no capital letters) and hit Create Snippet.
  • Copy and paste the following code into your new snippet’s code editor:


{% unless template == 'index' or template == 'cart' or template == 'list-collections' %}

<nav class="breadcrumb" role="navigation" aria-label="breadcrumbs">

  <a href="/" title="Home">Home</a>

  {% if template contains 'page' %}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    <span>{{ page.title }}</span>

  {% elsif template contains 'product' %}

    {% if collection.url %}

      <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

      {{ collection.title | link_to: collection.url }}

    {% endif %}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    <span>{{ product.title }}</span>

  {% elsif template contains 'collection' and collection.handle %}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    {% if current_tags %}

      {% capture url %}/collections/{{ collection.handle }}{% endcapture %}

      {{ collection.title | link_to: url }}

      <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

      <span>{{ current_tags | join: " + " }}</span>

    {% else %}

      <span>{{ collection.title }}</span>

    {% endif %}

  {% elsif template == 'blog' %}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    {% if current_tags %}

      {{ blog.title | link_to: blog.url }}

      <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

      <span>{{ current_tags | join: " + " }}</span>

    {% else %}

    <span>{{ blog.title }}</span>

    {% endif %}

  {% elsif template == 'article' %}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    {{ blog.title | link_to: blog.url }}

    <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

    <span>{{ article.title }}</span>

  {% else %}

   <span aria-hidden="true">&rsaquo;</span>

   <span>{{ page_title }}</span>

  {% endif %}

</nav>

{% endunless %}

  • Hit Save
  • Hit theme.liquid and open it up in code editor
  • Copy and Paste the following code into theme.liquid in the position that you would like your breadcrumbs to appear:


{% render 'breadcrumbs' %} 


  • Hit Save and exit theme.liquid


This will allow you to have breadcrumbs on your site and give Search engines a clearer indication of what your site is about and will ultimately help your SEO.


A big issue Shopify has is its default internal linking as it creates duplicate content. The problem with it is that it creates multiple URLs for the same page which sends google mixed messages and also uses more of your crawling budget. Google likes to treat every site fairly and will only index so many pages at one time, having multiple URLs for one page causes index bloating.


What Shopify does by default is allow its product pages to have two URL paths:

  1. Canonical path
  2. Non-Canonical path


Shopify builds your site structure around the non-canonical which is what causes the confusion with google because your site is saying “these are the pages we link to but not the URLs we want to rank to please rank the other path” - you can see why even a computer would get confused! 


So what you need to do is change your page to the canonical tag, this is your best way of avoiding that google registers the default non-canonical tag. If you do this google should count both pages as one and not index one, meaning it’s only reading one page instead of seeing duplicate pages.


While Google usually likes the canonical paths, we need to realize that we are never going to tell google what to do, we’re only giving it suggestions. Sometimes google might even notice what has happened and not register both paths and taint them with the duplicate content brush. This is the risk you take, whether google sees it as duplicate or not, this is very risky if you are publishing multiple product pages.


Site Speed and User Experience

One of the most important factors for any website’s SEO on the internet is site speed, if you’re not fast, you’re last. 


It doesn’t matter if you rank first on google search or your store has been recommended by thousands of people, if a user goes to your site and has to wait more than a few seconds for it to load, by the time it loads they’ll be purchasing products from your competitors. Everything has to be slick and fast.

Another important thing about site speed is it’s actually a ranking factor, Google considers user experience when ranking you on the search engine’s results pages and if your site is slow, your user experience is poor. 


Factors that impact your site speed

Controlling your site speed on Shopify can be difficult because it’s not like you’re coding your own site and hosting it yourself. Instead, you’re using Shopify’s site structure and its hosting servers. But there are some things you can do to help improve your site’s speed and overall user experience such as the following:


  • Large Images can take up a lot of loading time on your Shopify site so using image compression tools to reduce the size of the images you are uploading will reduce your site/page’s loading speed.
  • Try not to use too much of your own external code on your Shopify website, it only adds to the default code it already has, and the more code there is, the longer it will take to load it all. If you are a keen coder, you may be better at building and hosting your own site.
  • Remove any default Shopify apps or plugins that you aren’t using. This is common practice across all website building platforms, the more dormant apps, the longer the loading time.
  • Try to stick to a few fonts as possible and use more “Web Safe Fonts” - these are simpler fonts that don’t require as much effort for the page to load them.
  • Look at using Accelerated Mobile Pages formatting on your site’s pages or even smaller posts. The good thing about AMP format is that it loads exceptionally fast on mobile devices and with 79% of Shopify’s Traffic coming from mobile devices last year this could definitely come in handy!
  • Try to avoid using image effects and sliders; these are just adding unnecessary load speed.


An important thing to remember is you don’t need to strip everything off of your site because if you remove everything this could negatively impact the user experience in the sense that you could make your pages and content boring and this can affect what we call “dwell time” which we’ll talk about in the next section.


A good way of checking if you have taken enough unwanted add ons and plugins out is by checking your Shopify site’s online speed report. You will find this if you hit Online Store then Theme you will then see the “Online Store Speed” area, hit View Report. An effective method is to carry out a few of the methods in the list then check the report, this allows you to know how much to take off and prevents you from removing too much from your site.


Dwell Time

Dwell time is an important factor in SEO for Shopify and for any site in fact. Dwell time is the amount of time that a user stays on your store’s site, obviously, the better your site is, the longer your user will stay on it, this is how Google looks at it too. Google will check how long users are staying on your website or online store and if it isn’t very long then google will assume that this is because your site isn’t very good and therefore will lower your ranking on search results.

That is why when you are removing things to improve your site’s loading speed that you have to be careful that you don’t remove too much that you make your pages boring or less effective for user experience because this will just cause users to leave your site early and negatively impact your dwell time.


There are a few different ways you can get users to stay on your website for as long as possible. Here are a few examples:

  • Make sure you are producing great content, content can be anything from stories, images, product descriptions, go into a lot of detail but most of all, make sure it connects with your customers. If you can grip your users to your content, the longer they will look at it.
  • Link relative pages to each other, if they read a page or product the like, entice them to read another with a call to action or have a “more items/pages/products like this one” to get them reading more than one page or product.
  • Get your users to interact on your site with things such as forms, comments, reviews, all these interactions take time.
  • Make your site not just fast, but easy.  Make it easy to get around, help them find the content they are looking for faster which with your links should lead them to more content they like.
  • Video content is a good way of increasing dwell time, if it is a video the user is interested in then they will watch the whole thing. For example, if the video is a minute long, that’s a minute longer they’re on the site.

Content Marketing

In more ways than one content is king. Content Marketing is vitally important for any business’s success whether that is online or offline. It doesn’t matter if you are getting hundreds or thousands of clicks per month on your store, if your content isn’t relating to your products or connecting with your consumers, you’re not gonna make many sales.


Shopify Blog

Now, this is one of the things that Shopify has included to help you with your SEO. Blogs are a fantastic way of gaining more traffic to your site and also improving your search engine ranking.

Blog posts allow you to rank for many different keywords, more keywords, more channels of traffic, and then ultimately more chances of making sales. 


Many studies state that they have seen an increase in blog page rankings and in many cases the blogs are ranking higher than product pages. This is the case because the blogs are usually more informational than the product pages, therefore search engines get a better understanding of the page and that is the reason why they may rank higher.


Something to remember when creating your blog (and you really should create one for your Shopify site or outsource someone to do it for you because you are missing out on important traffic if you don’t) is that your content in your blog must be relatable to your products.

Researching your keywords

If you are writing blogs to gain traffic and to support your product or “money pages” then you don’t want to be ranking for keywords that aren’t related.

When carrying out keyword research there are specific pieces of information that you need to find out to help you get the right keywords to direct decent amounts of traffic to your blog page:

  • You want to find out what keywords are ranking for content or products that are similar to your own.
  • You want to find out if these keywords are actually worth pursuing, do they get enough volume of traffic. There is no point in ranking number 1 for a keyword that isn’t going to bring you any traffic.
  • After you have found decent keywords with an adequate volume of traffic you need to narrow it down again by finding out how difficult it’s going to be to compete for this keyword. 


Once you have gathered this data you can start to plan what content you're going to write and what keywords to use to bring traffic to your online store. 


You can get all the information you need organically but this may take a lot of time and effort, outsourcing your SEO and getting an expert to take care of it for you may cost you money but will save you time. SEO experts ProStarSEO have access to high-end keyword research tools to help you better optimize your site. These research tools are available to anyone that has the money to pay for them but taking the time and gaining the experience to learn how to use them can take months if not years.


Competitor Research

Another piece of important data you have to research is what are your competitors doing? Checking out what your competitors are doing and seeing what similarities they have with each other can give you an indicator of what works and what doesn’t when you are trying to rank for the same keywords as them. It is also an excellent place to get keywords. Things to consider when researching the competition:


  • Don’t be solely focused on your competitors, remember your content needs to be unique for search engines to rank it better and it also needs to be unique to your target audience, even if you and your competitors are selling the same products, you may be selling them to different audiences in different places.
  • Do you want to do things better than the competition or different? Do you want to beat them at their own game and strategies or do you wanna be unique? Run your business completely different and be noticed for that? Sometimes

    “Different is better than better” - Sally Hogshead

  • If you are going to model someone else’s business and try to beat them using their own strategies then remember these things:
  1. What they are doing now, might not be what got them to that position.
  2. What they are doing now might not actually be working for them or maybe it will work for their business model but not yours.
  3. They could be running tests on what works for them, you don’t want to copy someone's tests in case they might not be successful.

Competitor research is important overall because it allows you to scope out what others in your field are doing and gives you ideas on how to beat them, it also allows you to see how customers react about certain products and which sell more allowing you to optimize your stock and what to sell more or less of.



Optimizing Product Pages

Optimizing your category pages is the most important part for description and optimisation, you want to take the time and rank them individually with specific text. The product page is also of importance, what you see a lot on Shopify stores is multiple product pages with the same description for each product or no description at all. If you are selling hats, to the minimum, mention the type of hat and its color. 


Adding content and product descriptions is going to improve your SEO, you are giving search engines more information and evidence so they understand you better and rank you in greater positions on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).


Writing unique content for every page takes a lot of time, especially if you are trying to do it yourself without outsourcing someone to do it for you so what we advise is that you do the pages for your more profitable products first. 


As well as adding descriptions and content to your product pages, you also need to make sure everything else is optimized. Check that all of your headings and subheadings are related to your content and make sure your keyword is present in your page heading as this will have a great impact on your page’s ranking. Finally be sure the product name is in the URL, the H1 heather and the title tag of the page.



Meta Descriptions on Shopify

A lot of people don’t know this but the meta description limit is different on Shopify than it is on other sites. Most sites will give you a limited amount of pixels but Shopify gives you a limited number of characters which actually ends up less than every other site, be aware of this when writing your site’s meta descriptions. If you write a meta description that is too long, Google will take a section of its choice from your website as your meta description instead.


Remember your meta description has to engage with your potential customers, try to include your keyword or a variation in your description. Your description has to be written to convert.


Image Alt Text

When optimizing your product pages on Shopify you have to think about image alt text. Adding alt text to your images can do wonders for your SEO because search engines don’t just read the words on your page but also your images. Alt image text is for both users as it gives a description of the image and supplies the search engines with more evidence of what your page is about.


We strongly recommend when adding image alt text that you write a short description of what the image is about and try to include your keyword or a variation of your keyword at least once. 

Backlinks

One of the best ways to gain trust with both users and search engines is by using backlinks. Backlinks are links that direct to your page, these can be anywhere on the internet but having them on high ranking and high authority sites can build a lot of trust and confidence in your site with search engines and also with customers if they see your link on a popular website or a website they trust some of that trust automatically transfers over to your store’s site. More the web is talking about your site, the more Google will consider your site as a leader in its field.


How to get backlinks for your site

Supplier Links

A good way to get backlinks on eCommerce is, if you’re selling someone else’s products, to ask them to put a link on their site to your store and mark you as one of their official retailers.

Check where you’re being talked about

Some sites may already be talking about you, mentioning you in reviews or blog posts, contact the sites and ask them politely if they could add a link to where they mention you on their site. This is when you can put your people skills to the test. This is a good one to use because if they are saying good things about you, you can offer to link to their site too as a testimonial for your customers to read, you are much more likely to get a link from them if you are offering one back.

Scout for invalid Links

Check the web for Links to products like yours that are invalid or have expired. Then get in contact with the site and let them know that the link is invalid or expired and offer them your link instead.


These are just a few but there are many ways of getting backlinks to your site on the web, just make sure the sites you are getting links from can be related to your page too as search engines will look for things like this when they are trying to build trust with you.

Shopify Apps and Tools

You will see ads everywhere for Shopify apps and tools that will “turn you into a millionaire overnight” - not gonna happen. While some of these tools and apps can be very beneficial to your store just make sure you do your research and get to know everything these tools and apps do before committing to any. You need to remember that too many apps, tools, and plugins are going to have a negative impact on your site’s speed and its user experience which also will then have a negative impact on your Shopify SEO.


If you feel like you need help with any part of your Shopify’s SEO then the best thing to do is consult with experts who know what they are doing. Here at Prostar SEO we can discuss, consult and converge on any part of your SEO journey and help you improve your site to gain the results you are looking for. Please visit our main page here or get in touch if you would like to know any more information on Shopify SEO or SEO in general.  


Nous pratiquons le référencement scientifique, une approche qui permet d'obtenir des résultats rapidement et en toute transparence.