SEO For Shopify Sites
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Shopify stores get a range of useful benefits thanks to the Shopify platform itself, from e-commerce systems to a range of analysis and admin tools. However, just having those options is not enough – you need to know how to use them well.
Shopify SEO is one field where many people struggle. Having a Shopify account is not a ticket to success on its own – you need to get your Shopify site out there, and search engine optimization is the key to putting your online store in front of more customers.
In this brief Shopify SEO guide, you will get an overview of the most common techniques and problems involved in ranking higher on Google and other search engines. While Shopify SEO is going to be different for each Shopify store owner, the general rules – and core ideas – are always the same.
What is Shopify SEO?
Shopify SEO, in simple terms, is search engine optimization of a Shopify store. SEO is all about putting an online store (or any site) in front of more people by pushing yourself higher in search engine rankings.
Search rankings are part of an algorithm that Google and most other search platforms use. They consider things like search relevancy, site quality, and particular target keyword choices in an effort to present users with the best, most relevant sites upfront.
The higher you rank in search engine results, the higher you will appear in the listings. For example, getting on the front page of a Google search for a popular search term means that a lot of people are going to see your site in their search results.
Of course, SEO is all based on context. You want to make your Shopify store appeal to the right kind of site visitors – people who are looking for a product or service that you sell, with a desire to convert and become a paying customer.
Because of this, SEO is based heavily on keywords. You want your Shopify store to rank for specific terms that relate to your business, ones that your target audience will be likely to look up.
Through keyword research, you can discover target keywords that your audience search quite often. This gives you a target to aim for when working on your Shopify SEO.
Your Shopify store’s search rankings are focused on keywords: you can have one page on your Shopify store rank high for a particular term while another page ranks for something completely different.
The key detail here is relevancy. “Organic” search results are all about relevant keywords – showing organic traffic sites and pages that are related to the things they are searching for and the terms that they are using.
In general, keywords are always good. The more relevant and popular they are, the better, but remember that common keywords are also highly competitive and may not be the best place to turn.
Finding lesser-used but often-searched keywords, or keywords that are more relevant to your business, can help you dominate a subset of the market – while still trying to fight competitors using the main, well-known keyword options.
Adding keywords to structured data (the title and description that represents your site in search results, along with any extra snippets) is one of the most reliable and simple ways to connect your site to a new market.
Search Engine Optimization
Overall, SEO involves making your Shopify store more appealing to search engines.
Whether you are adding more pages and content to your Shopify store or overhauling your entire Shopify website, every change you make will have an impact.
Getting your online store ranking for the right things involves a variety of site-wide, technical and content-level changes. As you might expect, this means that there are a lot of SEO tips that may or may not apply in any given situation.
Remember that SEO is a highly varied field with a lot of different ways to approach it. No Shopify store can rely on an exact copy of what another online store is already doing, so it is important to make choices that meet the needs and goals of your Shopify store.
Technical SEO For Shopify
Technical SEO is a vital part of making your Shopify store more appealing to search engines. A lot of ranking factors come from your site itself, whether that is the Shopify site settings or the way that it performs in terms of loading times.
Optimizing a web page for Shopify SEO does not just mean using keywords but actually checking the page itself to make sure that it hits any relevant standards.
For example, technical SEO work might include optimizing the page to load faster, ensuring that more organic traffic will stick with the site instead of abandoning it the moment the page does not load fast enough.
A lot of technical SEO work has the dual purpose of boosting organic traffic and helping to promote the site on search engines.
Any positive changes to your site can make a difference, whether that is improving your Shopify website performance or just altering a few web pages to remove excess code that might be causing browser issues.
Improving your page load speed usually leads to better Shopify store rankings overall. Most search engine platforms really value fast loading times, and customers will prefer an online store that loads quickly over a slow and awkwardly delayed one.
Improving web page loading speed usually means cutting out any unnecessary elements that might be causing delays or optimizing them so that they are not as much of a heavy load on that page.
For example, removing bloated code that does not serve any purpose can bump up site speed, as can compressing images to make their file sizes smaller. The more strain you put on web pages and the larger the files associated with them are, the slower they load.
Site speed matters even more for mobile markets, where mobile devices may be far less powerful than desktop computers.
The Shopify platform is well-optimized, but building a code-heavy or larger-scope site can slowly begin to tank your loading times.
In general, make sure that pages are not being slowed down by features that you do not need. Certain SEO tools can help you figure out which pages are causing users to leave most often, and it could be something as simple as oversized images that take a few seconds to load.
Redirects can be useful, especially if you are trying to compensate for a URL that was changed or information that was relocated elsewhere. However, overusing them can cause SEO issues, especially if the redirects do not go to relevant or similar places.
Redirects are automatic links that essentially force website traffic to jump to a new page, usually because the old one has been removed or changed. While this is useful for helping to avoid 404 errors, misusing them can cause major SEO issues.
Even so, adding redirects can still be a good idea. On an e-commerce site, getting users to the product pages that they want is important, even if that means redirecting them from another page to get them there.
Note that you will have to delete the original page if you want it to redirect somewhere else. You cannot use active Shopify pages as redirects.
In general, relevancy is important. A redirect from an old product page to the new version is usually fine as long as they are similar enough. However, redirecting from a Shopify blog page to a semi-related product page is less helpful.
You usually do not want users to encounter redirects. They are mostly meant as a fallback option or a way to streamline the site, not as a core part of how it works. If search engines think that you are using redirects irresponsibly, you will usually get hit by a penalty for your SEO.
Internal linking Structure
The internal links of your site are a big part of how it functions, but this can also influence your SEO results if your site has a lot of pages that link to one another.
In general, two pages are going to link to each other directly, but this is not always the case with e-commerce sites. There may be multiple ways to reach the same product or a variety of ways to navigate around the site.
Google follows these links to discover content on your site. You often have to treat search engine crawler bots like regular site visitors, directing them to the parts of the e-commerce site that you want them to see rather than just letting them wander around your navigation pages.
Internal links are something that site owners have a lot of control over. The easier it becomes for visitors to find the most important pages on Shopify sites, the higher they are likely to rank in Google, even if the actual SEO benefits are not that high.
Updating your SSL certificate is an important security measure, but it also matters for SEO purposes. Sites without up-to-date SSL information can often end up penalised specifically for that reason, and that is not even mentioning other potential issues.
For example, many browsers and security software packages will warn users if they are visiting a site that does not have a valid SSL certificate. These warnings are often so large and in-depth that many users will simply turn away from the site, worried that something could go wrong otherwise.
This can mean that the lack of an SSL Certificate may actually cause you to lose even more traffic, so be sure to update it as needed.
The mobile market is a huge part of e-commerce, and a Shopify store is no exception. Your online store loses out on a lot of customers and SEO potential if it does not function properly on mobile devices.
The easiest way to guarantee this is to create a responsive online store – one that adapts to suit the device that you are on.
Things like titles and descriptions are retained since the page is still the same – the main difference is that it adapts to suit the screen size of the user’s device.
Another (far less popular) option is to create an alternative mobile site entirely, although this can cause problems with search engines.
Site owners should always make their sites mobile-friendly if possible, both to capture the mobile market and to boost their rankings on search engines even higher.
Duplicate content causes a lot of problems. Whether it is duplicate content through shared product descriptions on product pages or duplicate content warnings about a blog post repeating a passage from somewhere else, it all adds up.
Search engines hate duplicate content. Repeating content across your site is never a good idea, so try to create unique content for each page whenever possible.
Duplicate content from other sites is even worse. If your product pages contain descriptions ripped from another site, expect massive SEO penalties.
Hreflang tags are important for telling search engines about pages in different languages.
Without proper tagging, a search platform may interpret two language variations of a page as being duplicate content and penalise it as a result.
Making sure to include language tags tells these platforms what language the page is in, which can both influence the search results they appear in and ensure that no duplicate titles and descriptions cause problems across different page variants.
Canonical tags are used to mark parent and child pages via internal links.
Basically, search engines understand the structure of your site but cannot put any kind of common sense to that structure.
If search results detect two identical category pages, then they will usually consider them to be copied content.
With canonical tags, you can tell a page that the parent (original) page and the child (alternate) page are one and the same, removing any potential content issues.
This helps with internal search results, product pages, collection pages, and any other page that may use the same SEO resources and metadata as another.
This is especially important for pages with alternative variations, such as a copy of an existing product page used specifically for a sale event.
Your sitemap can be more important than you might think. While the HTML sitemap is mostly for the benefit of users, the XML sitemap helps search engines understand where things are on your site.
The XML sitemap is meant specifically for search engines, allowing platforms like Google Search to figure out the structure of your site for crawling purposes. Without one, search crawlers are forced to explore your site at random, where they may miss things.
This ensures that no product pages are overlooked because they were a recent addition or because the crawlers could not find links to them. By including one, you can give search engines a full map of your Shopify website before they even begin to crawl this.
Always make sure that you include an XML sitemap, and make sure to update it every time you make a major change to the site.
Link Building Strategies For Shopify Stores
Building links is important for SEO. Having more links coming into your site can boost your SEO and provide new ways for e-commerce traffic to find your Shopify site, meaning that they are often the first non-technical task that SEO professionals will focus on.
Of course, building links requires that you actually seek out sources of high-quality backlinks. Just using any links will not work – they need to be good quality and actually come with some authority, a rough measurement of how trusted the original site is.
Backlinks work on the basis of transferring some of a site’s authority to your own, meaning that you usually want quality over quantity. Links coming from better sites have more value but are often also harder to find and more expensive to acquire.
1. Resource page link building
Resource pages are usually exactly what their name suggests – a list of resources meant for users to browse through when looking for something specific.
Ending up on these sites is great and can provide a massive boost to your SEO, but it requires a reason for you to be there. In some cases, you might be added to a list of products or specific sellers, while in others, it may be a blog post of yours that caught somebody’s attention.
Getting onto these platforms is not easy, but some allow you to pay to submit your own site or even allow you to submit free of charge (with a verification and checking process).
If a well-respected site lists you as a resource, expect an increase in visitors, both from that resource and in general search volume, thanks to the SEO boost.
2. Partnering with influencers
Working with influencers to get paid content or sponsored links can be a great way to boost your Shopify website to higher rankings. Even if their community does not flock to your site, you can get an SEO boost just from the link itself.
As long as you get your site mentioned in an appropriate article containing relevant target keywords, you can see the benefits. However, the more relevant the site itself is, the better, so targeting bloggers or creators that match your shop’s niche helps a lot.
Even so, having more links from major sites like this is never a bad thing. Just remember to choose the right influencers – when your budgets are tight, you need to optimize your Shopify SEO around potential gain and value, and not all influencers are going to offer enough to justify paying them.
3. Broken links
If you find broken links (links that point to pages that no longer exist or entire sites that have been shut down), then you can often re-use them. Contacting the original site owner and showing them some relevant content that you offer can often be enough to get them to consider replacing it.
Remember that it needs to be relevant. If your Shopify website sells fishing gear and you have a lot of blog posts about fishing, then replacing a broken link from a site about fishing makes common sense.
Boosting the SEO of an e-commerce site is mostly common sense, and that includes broken links. Keep in mind that you also may not get the links at all – some site owners may ask you to pay or refuse to edit the link and either retain or delete it.
4. Stealing competitor’s links
Using tools like Google Analytics can really help you break down links, and that includes the links of your competitors.
Try to explore the search results that your competitors are ranking for, and use a backlinks tool to examine the links pointing to their website. You can use this data to inform your own link-gathering efforts, copying a lot of the same links for your own Shopify website.
Doing this does not come with any penalties since a search engine will just see you using similar links to a competitor in the same field. However, it allows you to copy their tactics and use them alongside your own, pushing yourself higher in search engine results.
Most e-commerce sites do this in one way or another, and it can help you remain competitive in situations where you might be struggling to match a competitor. Using the same keywords as them can even get you ranking for the same search terms, letting you catch up quite quickly.
Make sure that you do not forget your own keyword research, though. Copying a competitor is not enough – if you want to rank websites as high as possible, you need to combine existing data with new keyword research and SEO techniques.
5. Guest Posting
Guest posts are like paid content but written by you. This gives you more freedom to use your own keyword choices and to tailor the content to whatever suits your site best.
All of the same details as paid content still apply, so make sure that the post is relevant and that the content has some connection to both the site itself and your own Shopify website.
6. Podcast Backlinks
Podcasts will often link to anything that they talk about on the show as part of their show notes, and that could include your store.
Whether you become a sponsor or just happen to get mentioned, this can be a great and lesser-used way of boosting your SEO in the short term. You might even get more traffic this way, directly from the show’s audience.
Content Marketing For Shopify Stores
Creating content is another core part of SEO, allowing you to produce content that draws in users and boosts your position in relevant search results.
From product descriptions to blog posts, creating content is the best way to produce something that will attract an audience and include important keywords. There is almost no reason not to produce content on a regular basis other than the cost.
This is part of why maintaining a blog can be so useful since it provides a lot of opportunities for content, alt text and alt tags on your site that do not fit anywhere else.
1: Find Where Your Target Customers Hang Out Online
Look at the habits of your target market. What do they like? What kind of meta tags might apply to them best? What are they usually searching for?
2: Learn What Words and Phrases Customers Use
Of those meta tags and keywords, which ones are the most prominent? Find keywords that match things your store sells, or at least terms within the same general industry.
3: Create An Outstanding Piece of Content Around That Keyword
Add those keywords to your new content, whether that is in alt text or on a product page itself. Even adding the right alt tags to a meta description can make a big difference.
Any content you create on your site (a meta description, page content, blog posts, etc.) becomes a valid conduit for SEO purposes.
Target Search Engines With Varied Tools
If you want to succeed at SEO, then it is important to use more than just basic SEO tips. Draw in tools and apps from anywhere that you can get them and build an SEO hub of your own.
From a new keyword research tool and Shopify apps like Yoast SEO to Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster Tools, there are a huge amount of SEO apps that provide Shopify analytics and SEO management benefits.
There are SEO apps for everything you may have on your SEO checklist: adding alt tags and alt text, improving each page’s meta description, producing structured data, or even getting a search engine listing preview of your site’s performance.
Shopify apps like Yoast SEO can be useful even after installing Google Analytics since they cover different parts of SEO in different ways. There are also Shopify SEO apps for things like link equity, customer behaviour tracking, and countless other purposes.
For example, while manually changing each meta description is possible, a lot of Shopify apps provide ways to rapidly adjust meta descriptions. Meta descriptions might only be a small part of SEO, but being able to change meta descriptions quickly can help you respond to major market changes.
Example: Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Creating a Google Search Console account provides you with a huge range of benefits.
Google Search Console can help you monitor your site’s performance alongside Google Analytics, giving you a solid search engine listing preview by showing you how your site will perform after major changes.
This alone makes Google Search Console a great part of any “best tools for SEO” checklist on sites like Search Engine Land, but it can also become a core part of how you manage your site overall, helping you sell online more effectively through better SEO.
These SEO tools are not just a one-off app. Most of them become invaluable for keeping yourself focused on success at all costs and for managing the changes that you have already made to different parts of your site.
SEO is complex and requires a lot of rapid adaptation, especially in more volatile or fast-moving markets. The right apps can simplify a huge part of the process and keep you on top of a lot of the work, all while enabling you to still make manual changes or adjustments as needed.
Embracing apps and software can only make you better at SEO and can help you improve your site further without putting any pressure on you as a site owner.
From alt text and structured data to linkbuilding, SEO is confusing at first. Even turning to resources like Search Engine Land can leave you confused for a while.
SEO is all about pushing forwards and finding new solutions. While it can be tempting to do everything yourself, proper SEO can get overwhelming fast
Sometimes a new set of structured data can completely invalidate the old structured data snippet by giving you a massive boost to your SEO, and in other cases, you might create new alt text that does not succeed nearly as much as the old alt text did.
There is no perfect way to approach SEO, so keeping your options open is important. Some strategies may work better than others or only apply in specific contexts, and SEO is all about finding what works for each business.
Remember that markets change, too. You may have to update things like structured data, page titles, alt text or image tags every so often if you want to focus on an evolving and changing target market.
Either way, SEO is very complex, and there is no “best” solution. The tips listed above are only a starting point for a lot of site owners, and there is not a surefire way to guarantee success immediately. Trial and error is often the best option for finding what works, what does not, and where you can improve your existing marketing and SEO ideas.
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