What Is Shopify SEO: A Complete Guide

What Is Shopify SEO: A Complete Guide

Shopify, one of the most famous e-commerce solutions in the world, whose platform is full of features, comes with attractive ready-made templates and offers its users an easy way to sell products online, both material and digital.

However, it is one thing to use Shopify to create a nice and well-structured site; another is to optimize it for search engines. Let’s find out the SEO features of the platform and some tips to increase visibility on Google.

Invest in a market analysis for Shopify

Invest in a Market Analysis for Shopify

The best way to increase the organic traffic of your Shopify e-commerce is to make sure that you have established the categories, sub-categories, and other pages of the site based on the actual research that users do regarding the type of products you sell.

To this end, you will have to carry out a real analysis of your sector, through:

  1. Analysis of the research habits of potential customers.
  2. Analysis of online competitors.

Analysis of Research Habits

Concerning the first point, it is necessary to analyze the professional keywords required to accurately identify the topics that people look for regarding the products you sell.

It will also give you a measure of how difficult it is to get a good ranking for certain keywords. The analysis of the keywords involves the following steps:

  1. Identification: analyze what consumers express during the research phase.
  2. Organization: organize the information acquired to optimize the e-commerce site.

In doing this, you will need to perform the analysis to obtain three key information:

  1. Keywords that potential customers use to search for the products you sell at each stage of the purchase process.
  2. Monthly search volume for each of the keywords.
  3. Probability of positioning of each keyword (based on quantitative and qualitative online competition).

Only when you have this three information can you select the keywords for your project and determine the type of content you will have to create to intercept your potential customers and optimize the pages of your e-commerce.

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Choosing the right keywords to optimize your e-commerce is real science that cannot be improvised since it requires careful analysis and even more scrupulous planning to give good results.

The goal is not the simple identification of the words to be included in your texts (as it is erroneously explained in some SEO courses). Instead, it is a way to understand what information and topics interest your market niche and, therefore, your potentials clients.

Analysis of Online Competitors

After the selection of keywords, you will need to identify your online competitors and analyze:

  • what keywords they are positioned for,
  • the type of content they produce (in addition to categories and product sheets),
  • what other strategies they use to achieve these results.

The aim is to determine the action plan (practically the SEO strategy for Shopify) to align with the top competitors and obtain results in positioning and traffic.

Please note: if you skip the market analysis, you will most likely close your Shopify e-commerce within a couple of years.

Shopify Indexing: Register in Webmaster Tools

For monitoring the SEO health status of your Shopify e-commerce, it must be registered on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

In this way, the crawlers of Google and Bing will become aware of your site and will first crawl it and then index it.

Remember to register both versions of your domain with and without www (for example, https://www.yourecommerceshopify.com and https://yourecommercesheshopify.com). The same goes for the two security-related versions (with and without https: //).

Furthermore, after registering your e-commerce on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, you will have to send the XML sitemap to both services to increase your site’s chances of indexing correctly.

In this sense, the Shopify CMS automatically generates the XML sitemap whose URL will look like this:

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  • www.yourecommmerceshopify.com/sitemap.xml

You will have to insert this link in the “Sitemap” section of both monitoring panels.

Finally, remember to regularly monitor both tools so that if you encounter problems, you can quickly intervene to solve them.

Optimize Your Title Tags

Once you have selected the keywords for which it is worth competing from an SEO point of view and decided on the site’s information architecture (categories and sub-categories), you will have to proceed with the on-page optimization of your Shopify e-commerce.

In this sense, one of the most significant elements of a web page is the title tag, since search engines use it to understand the topic of the page, but also because it is the visually largest element that is shown in SERPs.

Make sure to optimize the title tag of your pages by entering relevant keywords and terms that you identified during the keyword search.

In Shopify, there are two different procedures for modifying the title tag:

  1. a specific one for the Homepage,
  2. one valid for all other pages.

To edit the title tag of the Home page, click on Sales Channels> Online Store> Preferences, then type the content of the title tag in the relevant box.

Regarding the modification of the title tag of the other pages on Shopify, it is more or less the same, regardless of whether it is a page, a product, or a post.

Find your page in the Shopify dashboard, then scroll down and click on the link “Search engine listing preview.”

You can edit the title tag of the page, the meta description, and the URL.

Optimize Meta Description

The meta description provides a brief description of the page and usually appears in search engine results snippets.

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Although Google claims that it is not a ranking factor, a well-written meta description can encourage clicks from users, thereby increasing a page’s CTR (click-through rate).

CTR is a vital positioning factor, so optimizing meta descriptions is essential for the SEO campaign’s success. To this end, they should have the following characteristics:

  • be concise (less than 156 characters),
  • accurate in describing the page to which they refer,
  • contain the keyword we intend to position.

As for the title tags, you will have to proceed differently on whether you are changing the meta description of the Home page rather than that of the other pages.

To add or edit the meta description of the Home page, you must click on Sales Channels> Online Store> Preferences and use the box on the right.

To add or edit the meta description for the other pages, locate the page, post or product, and click on “Search engine listing preview.”

Use Header Tags (H1, H2, H3)

Ignoring header tags is a common mistake for those who manage e-commerce on Shopify.

The correct procedure for highlighting distinctions is not to use bold or capital letters, but to apply header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to the text just as anyone who knows a minimum of HTML would do.

Failure to use header tags causes more than one problem, the main ones being:

  1. It makes it more difficult for visually impaired navigators to use screen readers to understand the content,
  2. It does not facilitate the understanding of the content to search engines.

So make sure you use the header tags correctly in the text before posting your content on Shopify.

After all, adding titles and subtitles on Shopify is very simple: when you edit the page, highlight the part of the text concerned and choose the most suitable header tag from the drop-down formatting menu.

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Of all the header tags, the H1 tag is the most important because the search engines use it as the main element to understanding the topic of the page (together with the title tag).

That’s why it should always include the keyword focus and other relevant terms we want to be visible on Google.

optimize Images for Shopify

Optimize Images for Shopify

Optimizing images is fundamental because search engine algorithms do not just index the text, but also the images published on the pages.

In practice, they analyze two particular elements of the images:

  • the alt attribute,
  • the name of the corresponding file.

Make sure both are optimized SEO.

Alt Attributes

Regarding the alt attribute, the main reasons why you should add alternative text (alt-text) to your images are:

  1. The devices for the visually impaired (screen reader) use it to provide them with a description of the image,
  2. Search engines use it to classify and better understand the content,
  3. It is displayed as a description in cases where the image cannot be uploaded.

The best practice is to find an alternative text suitable for both screen readers and search engines and containing the keyword focus.

Changing the alt attribute in Shopify is very simple; for images published on pages or posts, locate the related image. Double-click on it to display a box that allows you to change the various parameters of the image, including alternative text.

For product images, locate the image and click on “Edit alt text”. A window will appear where you can edit the alternative text.

Names of Image Files

Changing the name of the image files in Shopify, on the other hand, is not particularly easy. It is preferable to rename the images before uploading the files to the platform. In summary, the file name should be short and contain the target keyword.

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For example, if you sell “Samsung TV” in your Shopify store; you will need to make sure that the image uploaded for the “Samsung Qled 8K Q900R Series” TV has the file name “samsung-qled-8k-q900r.jpg” and not something indecipherable as “img_36862386.jpg”.

If you cannot change the name of a file already uploaded to Shopify; you will have to delete it and upload a new file with a representative name.

Finally, if there are many products in your e-commerce, this could mean a huge job. A good compromise can be to change only the names of the product images that are decisive for your business and for which you believe the visibility in search engines.

Optimize URLs for Shopify

Optimize URLs for Shopify

The use of SEO friendly URLs has always been encouraged by Google. Keep the URLs simple, short, and descriptive. Make sure that the user can understand the topic of the page even by reading the URL.

For example, if you have “men’s shirts” for sale, the URL should be as follows:

  • www.yourecommerceshopify.com/mens-shirts/

instead of:

  • www.yourecommerceshopify.com/prod/ct/p123.php?ref=12345abcd.

The good news is that Shopify automatically shortens too long URLs. While the bad news is that the platform adds prefixes in the URLs of the pages and products, namely:

  • /pages/ in the pages,
  • /posts/ in posts,
  • /products/ in products.

In theory, this is not ideal from an SEO point of view. But it does not compromise the positioning on search engines since many other factors have priority.

However, remember that after the above prefixes, the rest of the URL should be as simple as possible and include the focus keyword both to help both search engines and visitors to understand the topic of the pages more easily.

To change the URLs in Shopify; go to the page, product, or post you want to modify, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Search engine listing preview,” then make the changes in the “URL and handle” field.

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Once you’ve changed the URL, make sure to tick the “Create a URL redirect for” option to let Google know you’ve changed the URL.

Please note: changing the URLs of pages that are not positioned on Google can also be a good idea. While changing the URL of a well-positioned page is a delicate operation, and I do not recommend it. So the ideal is to establish the correct URL structure when creating the page or product on Shopify, to avoid any problems.

Add Structured Data From Schema.Org

Schema.org’s structured data can be added to the content of a page to help both surfers and search engines better understand the topic of the page.

They also affect the generation of rich snippets. Which shows visual hints on the content of a page in SERPs, such as rating stars, prices, etc. Their use makes the snippets visually richer and more pleasant, thus favoring the CTR among the search results. There are two ways to add structured data to a Shopify e-commerce:

  1. Encode the theme by inserting the structured data markup;
  2. Use an app dedicated to rich snippets (there are many available in the Shopify app store).

I always recommend investing in adding structured data. Because they can encourage the generation of rich snippets and increase the click-through rate (CTR) in search results.

Produce Quality Content

Produce Quality Content and Acquire Backlinks

Many Shopify users focus only on their product catalog (images, descriptions, etc.). They forget a critical aspect from an SEO perspective: creating quality informative articles on their blog.

E-commerce stores that present in-depth and informative articles relating to the products they sell tend to position themselves very well on Google and receive many external links (backlinks).

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This aspect is essential because while the informative articles make us competent in the eyes of Google. The backlinks increase the popularity and authority of our e-commerce. Consequently, we will have more visibility in the SERPs.

Install an SSL Certificate

In the search results, Google gives priority to secure sites in the https:// protocol (that is, those that use an SSL certificate) over those that are not secure in http://.

Also, when browsing on an unsafe site, many browsers show a message to warn the visitor, which thus tends to lose trust in that site.

It is therefore advisable to make sure that your e-commerce is secure. Therefore you will need to install an SSL certificate. Fortunately, Shopify provides SSL certificates as an integral part of the subscription plan. You can activate them by going to the dashboard and then to Sales Channels> Online Store> Domains.

However, before activating the SSL certificate on your Shopify e-commerce; you should consider whether your site is new or migrating your website from another platform.

In the first case, when you are developing a new site on Shopify, you can proceed with the activation of the SSL certificate as indicated.

If you want to install the SSL certificate on an existing Shopify site or migrate a site in http:// currently published on another CMS; there are further technical precautions to be taken to make sure not to damage your positioning on Google.

You will need to verify that each old http:// protocol URL permanently redirects to its equivalent in https://.

In this sense, when you activate the SSL certificate in Shopify, the platform automatically creates permanent 301 redirects from all URLs in http to those in https.

However, before migrating, it is preferable to study Google’s guidelines on switching to SSL and preferably requesting support from an SEO consultant.

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Improve Web Performance

Improve Web Performance

As for the optimization of web performance; the options that Shopify offers are rather limited. And the tools it offers, although excellent, do not allow an advanced configuration of this aspect.

If you have chosen Shopify, it is probably because you did not want to manage a dedicated server. Therefore relying on their ready-made servers and templates is a valid compromise.

However, some tricks allow you to improve Shopify’s web performance; let’s see them in detail:

  • Use compression tools (like Compressor.io) to reduce the size of all the images before uploading them to Shopify,
  • Minimize the use of external scripts or custom code,
  • Do not overdo the use of web fonts, as they slow down the site. Indeed, if you can, avoid using them.
  • Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for product sheets and blog articles. In this way, the pages will be loaded much faster. And Google tends to give priority to the results to the AMP pages. To use AMP technology with Shopify, you will need to install a third-party app (like RocketAmp).

Remember that in general, sites that deliver pages quickly tend to rank better than slower sites.

SEO Conclusions for Shopify

In this guide to Shopify’s search engine positioning, we have seen the activities to be performed to optimize your e-commerce and increase the chances of obtaining good placements.

Although some of the proposed activities are valid for SEO optimization of any e-commerce site, I wanted to provide specific indications to support those who use Shopify.

At this point, an amateur way to verify that you have carried out the most important steps is to use the Shopify SEO App. There are several in the App Store that controls the quality of the on-page SEO and provides the list of steps you have to do to improve the optimization.

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However, if you want to create a serious online business and increase your business volume, you need to invest in professional SEO services and tailored SEO consultancy for your e-commerce.

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