The Essential Guide To Shopify SEO
Before you undertake any SEO effort, you need to understand how Google works. Google’s goal is to find and rank content that users want to consume. How users interact and engage with the page content before returning to SERP fuels how search engines rank content.
When you are organizing your keywords, products and categories for your Shopify site, think about how this information can be organized and presented to users.
Website architecture is a fancy way of saying, “How is your site content organized?” The site structure not only ensures that users have an intuitive experience on your online store, but it also helps search engines make sense of your site, too.
There a few different page types on your Shopify store, but they can be broken down into five main categories:
- Informational pages (About, Contact, etc.)
- Category/Collection pages
- Product pages
- Blog posts
So you want to think about it in terms of clicks. Ideally, a user on your Shopify site should be able to find what they’re looking for in three clicks or less. This isn’t always possible – especially if you have a large number of products and sub-categories – but it’s something to aim for.
As far as site structure goes, though, you do sometimes have to strike a balance between what works for SEO and what works for the user experience. For SEO, you want to try to maintain that three-click rule. Usability may dictate needing sub-categorization a bit deeper than that – so that users can find what they’re looking for more easily based on category.
Generally, I don’t recommend Shopify for SEO-focused sites. Why is that? I took a look at some of the most popular ecommerce platforms and tested some of the main SEO factors to see which ones came out on top. And Shopify definitely wasn’t on top.
|PLATFORM||PERFORMANCE||LOAD TIME||MOBILE SPEED||DESKTOP SPEED||AVG SEO TRAFFIC|
Having said that, Shopify can handle the basic SEO features – and the basics can go a long way. When it comes to Shopify, you won’t have to worry about things like site speed – as you would with a platform like WooCommerce.
Here are some SEO tips and best practices to get your Shopify stores in front of more customers looking for your products.
Any good SEO strategy lives and dies by keyword research and the implementation of those keywords. How do you know what keywords to use and what will be the most beneficial for you to rank highly for? How do you incorporate those keyword phrases into your site content effectively? The first step is keyword research.
The right keyword strategy starts with knowing what user intent you want to capture. There are several things you can do to determine the value of your SEO keyword phrases.
- If you have keyword data from Google Ads, you can track those phrases and optimize your site for the ones that generate the most revenue.
- You can also use that Google Ads keyword data to optimize for keywords with higher conversion rates.
- Use the Google Search Console to review keywords that are currently bringing clicks or impressions to the site.
- Take a look at your competitors. Use SEO tools to see what they’re ranking for that you might not be.
Once you’ve completed keyword research, you have to figure out how to use those phrases throughout your website.
Meta Titles, Descriptions, And URLs
Page titles and meta descriptions are what users see in the organic portion of the search engine results page.
Keywords play a big role here since you want to take the targeted keywords for each page and incorporate them into these three areas. You also want some keywords in the page URL.
- In a meta title, include the keyword at the front of the sentence. The gurus say limit the characters to about 50-60 – but I’ve ranked 100+ character title tags #1.
- The description is generally 150-160 characters. It should include the keyword at the front of the sentence, with a longer-tail keyword and a product feature.
- For the URL structure, simply use the keyword – since shorter URLs perform better.
Pro Tip: Use persuasive copy to help your meta description get more clicks from the SERP. Reuse the description at the intro of the page.
When writing a page title or description, you have to think about who you are writing for. I’d rather get 10 clicks from my target customer than 100 clicks from broke folks.
When you’re putting the meta title and meta descriptions together for the pages on your site, you need to remember that these are your SERPs. So you need to optimize them the right way.
- Represent your brand. What’s unique about it?
- Include target keyword, LSI, and NLP terms
- Write for a click! This should be something someone wants to click on
- Avoid bargain shoppers
With an online store, you have a variety of individual products that need to be indexed by search engines. With that in mind, there should be unique content on each product page. This can be a time-consuming task (since content ideas aren’t always easy to come by!), but it’s one of the on-page best practices that you should implement to give your products the best chance of ranking in the SERPs.
Since this can be a large undertaking depending upon the amount of products that you have in your store, you can always implement a targeted approach to determine which products you should optimize first. Take a look at your products and see which ones are selling the most. That can help you prioritize which products need content right now. Then you can work on getting unique product descriptions on the rest of your product pages as time allows.
Make sure your product images are optimized for search. Add relevant target keywords to your image alt text.
Using Shopify’s Blog
With the increasing number of online stores taking up search engine real estate these days, many store owners are looking for SEO tips to help them stand out in the crowd. Making use of the blog function on your Shopify store allows you to have a place where you can create informational content for your customers.
This informational content can not only set you up as a thought leader in your industry but also give your business a personality.
That’s great – but what does that have to do with SEO?
It’s got more to do with SEO than you might initially think. Google likes to give people information when they’re searching for information – and they will sometimes prefer to rank informational content over more directly transactional or “sales”-related content. The blog is a natural place for you to show Google – and your customers – that you know what you’re talking about. Believe it or not, a well-done blog can be one of your more lucrative sales channels.
A blog is also a natural place to include those all-important keyword phrases, as well.
When you’re getting ready to set up your Shopify blog, you should consider your entire content marketing strategy:
- What are your highest priority keywords? These should be the ones you focus on in your blog posts.
- What do the search results look like for the keyword phrases you want to target? Are they informational, transactional, or both?
- What kind of content can you create to fulfill the intent of the users searching for your desired keyword phrases?
This blogging strategy can be especially helpful if you want to rank for some difficult keyword phrases. It can be a real uphill battle to get your online store to rank for highly competitive terms – especially if you’re only using them on the specific product pages. But by creating informational pages in the blog that target those terms, you can see an increase in organic traffic and ranking for those important phrases.
The words you use are important, but the way your site is set up plays a role in your ranking success, as well – which is important in getting those sought-after conversions.
I mentioned earlier how I’ve helped online stores outrank Amazon in some instances. We all know that Amazon is huge, so how is that even possible?
You have to know how to use all of the tools in your toolbox. Rich snippets give online shoppers the ability to see products relevant to their queries, get questions answered, compare prices, and read customer reviews all in one place. If you’re not using rich snippets for your Shopify site, you should be.
Rich snippets are bits of code that make it simple for search engines to process and organize information. And they can boost your SEO.
These little bits of code are effective for online product links largely because humans are visual creatures. We like to be able to see what we’re buying before we buy it. When shoppers can see, research, and compare items before they buy, they’re much more likely to buy it from you
Shopify SEO Apps
There are apps and plugins you can put on your Shopify site to get you started with SEO. Shopify does have a solid supplemental range of SEO tools that can help cover the basic SEO functionality, processes, and tasks such as…
- Editing titles
- Editing descriptions
- Keywords fields
- Title templating
- Optimizing filenames
- Index/No Index
- Advanced meta settings
- Product “unavailable after” meta & redirect on “out of stock”
- XML sitemap management
- 404 error logging, management, export/import, repairs
- URL redirects
- JSON-LD data support
If you’re using Shopify, SEO apps can be a good place to start. Since the SEO performance of Shopify sites lags behind some other platforms, you need to pay attention and make sure you’re doing all you can to optimize.
These Shopify apps can help you do a variety of simple SEO tasks that can help boost the SEO of your Shopify site.
- SEO Manager: This is a fairly robust app that can help with meta content, keyword suggestions, JSON-LD structured data, broken link management, alt text, and more.
- Stamped.io: This app can help with social media sharing, marketing, and product reviews. Reviews can make your content eligible for rich star ratings in the search engine results.
- SEO Image Optimizer: With this app, you can make sure that your images are optimized with appropriate alt text for Google Image Search.
These can get you started (and I’m not saying not to use Shopify apps), but…
If you are really serious about SEO (like me), you need other SEO software.
My SEO stack looks like this:
- Page Optimizer Pro: For on-page SEO
- Surfer SEO: For content optimization
- Ahrefs: For competitive research
- Buzzstream: For PR outreach and link building
- Sitebulb / Screaming Frog: For technical SEO audits