Shopify SEO Guide – 17 Tips to Optimize Your Shopify E-commerce Website
The only way your business venture is going to get traction is if you get traffic to your e-commerce website. Simply because traffic means customers and customers mean an increase in sales.
High-quality and consistent traffic flowing to your e-commerce website is what you should be aiming for right now. If you can get free organic traffic without paying for advertisements – the better!
SEO has everything to do with free organic traffic. This article offers priceless SEO tips that will equip you with all you need to know to get you started on your e-commerce venture.
What is E-commerce SEO?
You need to first understand what SEO means. SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is simply the process of getting free organic traffic directly from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
This is when somebody goes to Google Search and enters a certain keyword(s). Google will scan the web and provide him/her with a list of results known as the search engine results page. The first page is usually the default page for most users and the results there get the highest number of traffic.
E-commerce SEO is all about optimizing your Shopify e-commerce website so that it is listed on the first page and even better, as the first result.
You’ve probably heard that Shopify is the recommended platform for hosting and building your very own Shopify store/website. This is mainly because Shopify comes with unique SEO features straight out of the box.
These features are:
Automatic sitemap creation
A sitemap simply shows how web pages are arranged and linked on your e-commerce website.
If you did this manually, then you’d have to be very careful and ensure that all your webpages are properly linked to one another. This might be a long and tiresome task. Shopify makes it easier for you by automatically updating the sitemap every time a new page or product is added. This means that all your webpages will be ready for indexing and ranking by search engines.
Shopify manages your robots.txt file
Robots.txt is a special file that tells search engine crawlers what pages to crawl and the pages not to crawl.
Unlike other platforms, Shopify automatically knows what pages need to be indexed and the pages that are supposed to remain hidden. This means you can’t make the mistake other shop owners are making and end up losing out on precious traffic simply because you did not add your pages to the robots.txt file.
Sometimes you’ll find it necessary to have multiple URLs for just one product. A good example is a cool T-shirt that is available in more than one color. This might cause problems with search engines that might see it as duplicate content and immediately punish the page with a low ranking.
Canonical URLs explain to Google that the multiple pages are copies of the original, and only the original page is viable for ranking.
Shopify automatically identifies and issues canonical URLs to multiple pages without you lifting a finger.
Does Shopify have good SEO?
Yes, Shopify is an SEO-friendly platform that will no doubt do a lot good for your e-commerce website. But again, this puts you on the same level as other store owners in an industry with a lot of competition.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble but if you are to comfortably compete with other stores for favorable ranking on SERPs, you’ll have to apply all of these SEO tips.
1. Optimize your homepage
You need to pay special attention to your homepage title and meta description because they are the first things a visitor sees on the search engine results page.
You can access these two features by going to your Online store>Preferences>Title and Meta description.
You need to use the right wording that will prompt the user to notice and engage with your store.
Having the right title and meta description will drastically boost your Click Through Ratio.
Let’s say your site is currently ranked 6th position on the search engine results page but many visitors are clicking and engaging with it. Google will surely notice and improve on your ranking.
The important thing is to make sure the wording stirs your visitor’s emotions prompting them to make a move. Including a Call-to-Action is not a bad idea.
2. Have an SEO friendly website structure
You need to make sure that your website is well structured and its content is well organized.
This is not only important when it comes to boosting your SEO score, but also to reduce your visitors’ bounce rate. If your pages and content are organized in a simple appealing manner then visitors are more likely to stay and engage with your website.
How do you do this?
Start by first identifying your main pages such as the home, products, about, and contact page. You can thereafter create categories and sub-categories for your products under the product page.
Remember to keep it clean and simple. Here is a good example of an efficient framework:
Homepage>products page>categories page>sub-categories page>product page
Such a simple but effective website structure makes it easier for search engine crawlers to explore and index your Shopify e-commerce website.
And always make sure that all your product pages are linked to the homepage. This makes it easier for visitors to navigate other pages if they happen to first land on the product page.
You can have a static navigation bar on top of your page with the main pages homepage, products, about, etc.
Oh, and don’t forget to add in a search bar.
3. Optimize your website loading speed
A slow website scares away visitors and chances are they’ll never come back. If your website takes more than 5 seconds to load a page then you need to optimize it fast!
- Start off with a fast simple and smartphone-friendly theme
- Uninstall all apps that are not in use
- The smaller your images are the better. Use tools like TinyPNG to compress them
- Don’t use sliders on your website
The faster and responsive your website, the higher search engines will rank it.
It also needs to look good on smartphones, desktops, tablets, and laptops. Search engines determine how User-friendly your site is by analyzing how long visitors stay on your site.
4. Do intensive keyword research
You don’t just build a website and start filling it with all sorts of content you feel is related to your niche or industry. This is a recipe for disaster because you might end up filling in content no one is interested in.
Start off by listing down 5 topics your customers might be interested in and are closely related to your business niche and product.
Just ask yourself this question, “If I were my customer what words would I use to search for my desired product on Google?”
You might want to check on Google’s and Amazon’s auto-suggest that tries to complete your sentences whenever you search for something. This will be of great help if you already have some keywords in mind. Just fill them in and the search engines will complete them using search queries your customers are currently using.
Apart from one-word keywords, we also have long tail keywords that usually consist of 2-3 words.
The longer the keyword, the more specific it is. This results in low competition and higher conversation rates.
Keyword research tools
You can also use keyword research tools such as SMRush. These tools make it easier for you to identify the right keywords to use.
All you have to do is fill in a product name such as “iPhone”. The tool will scan all related keywords with that word and give you a list showing the number of queries made with that keyword and its competition.
Once you’ve come up with the list, go ahead and create content around your keywords.
5. Optimize all your product pages one at a time
Each product needs to have unique content lest you get penalized by search engines for duplicate content. With your list of deeply research keywords, you can go ahead and add flesh to those skeletons.
Start with pages that already have some traction so that you can maximize the traffic you are already getting. If yours is a brand new Shopify site, then the best page to start with would be your homepage.
Make sure that your keywords naturally blend with the page content. The flow must good and with just the right amount of keyword mentions to avoid being penalized for spammy content by search engines.
Make sure you include the focused keyword on the title tag and at the beginning of a paragraph.
6. Avoid publishing thin content
Thin content is any content that is shallow and doesn’t give any value to users.
Google crawlers usually scan your web pages and decide which keywords to rank your page with. The shorter the content, the slimmer your chances of getting higher rankings.
Long and relevant product descriptions not only work for search engines, but also for the benefit of your customers. After all, I’m sure they won’t mind some extra info.
7. Use the secure “https” instead of “HTTP”
Not long ago Google announced that secured websites have an added SEO advantage over non-secure websites.
How do you know if your Shopify e-commerce website is secure?
If your website address starts with a small lock followed by “https://” then it means your site is secured using SSL (secure socket layer). However, if yours is “http://” then you need to make arrangments and secure it.
Browers are now warning visitors on websites that are not secured. This usually happens when a visitor wants to fill in important details such as name or e-mail address. Such warnings lower the levels of trust visitors have with you.
If yours is a new Shopify e-commerce website, then activating the SSL is easy.
If you have been in business for quite some time, you’ll need to be careful when making the changeover. It is best to first contact Shopify customer support before you try anything.
8. Register your Shopify e-commerce site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools
This should the first thing you do after creating your e-commerce website. If you don’t how do you expect search engine crawlers to find and index your website/store? It is, in fact, the most important thing to do when it comes to SEO.
While you are at it, make sure you register both your “www” and “non-www” websites. For example www.seo.com and seo.com. And if you happen to have an “http://” (non-secure) and an “https://” (secure) website make sure you register both.
9. Submit your Shopify sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools
Once you’re done with registration, it is now time to submit your website’s site map. Don’t worry you don’t have to go through the hustle of creating one because Shopify automatically generates one for you.
All you have to do is access it here “www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml” (replace ‘your domain’ with your store’s name) then login into your webmaster tool and submit it.
10. Integrate your store with Google Analytics
This is a must-have tool that helps you monitor and track your traffic. With its information, you’ll know how your visitors are interacting with your store and what changes to make to your site so that you can increase your traffic.
Got to Shopify store Admin>> Online store>> preferences and paste your tracking ID in the Google Analytics field.
11. Use SEO friendly names for your product images
Google might be able to analyze huge chunks of data but it is not capable of identifying and ranking your images. Search engines will only be able to rank your images if there are words attached to them that explain what the images are all about.
We advise you to change your image name before uploading them onto Shopify. It is even better if you mention your focused keyword in the image title.
A good example, if your Shopify deals with self-improvement books, instead of IMG-00001.jpg rename the image to Think-big.jpg. (Remember to separate words using hyphens).
12. Use alt text on your images
We mentioned earlier that Google can’t see or understand your images by just looking at them. This means that you’ll have to add in some words that explain to Google what the image is all about and if it is related to the content on the page. These words are what we call alt text.
Here’s how to go about it…
For page pictures and images, just double click on the images and a toolbox will appear that will give you a few options one of them will be “alt edit”.
For product pages, just hover on the image and click on “ALT”. Edit then save your changes.
13. Proper use of headlines
This is a very common but fatal mistake done by many Shopify website owners. Instead of using proper headlines (H1, H2, H3 and so on), they increase the font and bold their titles. This not only interferes with your content structure but also makes your page look bad.
It’s very easy to use these headlines if you are editing your post and pages on Shopify. Just go to “A” on your edit toolbar and a dropdown menu with all sorts of headlines will appear.
Of all the headlines listed, give special attention to H1, it is the one title search engines use to rank your page. Make sure you include your focused keyword.
14. Use short clean URLs
With search engines, the simpler the better. Make sure that all your URLs are short, simple, and easy to understand in a way that visitors and search engines can tell what page they’re in.
Your URLs should be 50-60 characters long and avoid the use of words like “a”, “and”, and “of”.
Here is a good example of what I’m talking about if your store dealt with toy cars.
Good URL- www.yoursite.com/products/blue-ferrari
Bad URL- www.yoursite.com/prds/ct/p223.php?ref=14556bluefr
And try to make sure you include the focused keyword for that product or page its URL
The good thing with Shopify is that they try to automatically ensure that your URLs are in good shape. But even so, it’s better if you edit your URLs,
Here’s how to go about it…
Go to the page or post, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click “Edit Website SEO”.
Do the necessary changes in the “URL and handle” box then tick the “create URL redirect” box to let Google know that you’ve changed your URL.
Note: Changing the URL for low ranking pages is a good idea but you need to be careful with high ranking pages. Changing them might reset your social media shares and affect your current ranking.
15. Add rich snippets
Rich snippets are extra features that give more information on what the page is all about. They make it easier for visitors and search engines to understand your content.
Do they affect your SEO? Yes. This is because they help improve your Click Through Rates. If your result is getting a lot of clicks, the higher Google will rank it,
A good example of a rich snippet is the star ratings you see below search results titles and above the meta descriptions.
Rich snippets are usually brought about by special HTML codes known as Schema Markup. Learn more from Schema.org
You can start by downloading rich snippet apps from the Shopify app store.
16. You can’t do it alone- Use the best SEO tools
SEO and the rush for high ranking can be a tough game to play and it will take a lot of time and expertise to get it right.
Here are the top 5 tools that will help you on your quest and save you some time in the process:
This SEO plugin deals with product and collection meta tags, blog meta tags, and page meta tags. Smart SEO automatically generates relevant meta tags for you and saves you the struggle of editing each one of them manually. Plus, it submits your e-commerce website data to search engines in the correct way and format.
- Saves you time
- No need for manual meta tag entry
- Automatically submits website data to search engines
Plug in SEO
This automatically scans your store and informs you of any SEO problems that might need your attention. It checks on things such as website loading speed, page titles and headings, meta tags, content structure, and so much more.
- Ensures that your website is always optimized
- Your site is updated every time search engines algorithms change or are updated
SEO Image Optimizer
An E-commerce website without images is like a store without racks and products. But if those images are huge, they can work against you and end up lowering your SEO score. SEO image optimizer ensures that you have the right size quality images for your e-store.
- Quickly optimizes all images
- No technical coding knowledge required
This is an important tool to help you as you do your keyword research, It will let you know what keywords are trending and have the highest traffic. You don’t have to use keywords that have no traffic or high competition.
- Investigate and find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for
- See the pages your competitors are ranking for
This is another must-have SEO tool that makes sure you are using your focused keywords in the right way and amount.
- Correct multiple pages with just a click
- Checks all your pages and measures your SEO score
- Always inline with Google’s algorithm updates
17. www and non-www
Your choice will be determined by your website’s usage. Make sure you change Shopify’s settings so that you’ll have all your traffic redirected from www to non-www (if non-www was your choice) and vice-versa.
Check on the feature “Online store>>Domains” and ensure that the “re-direct all traffic” box is checked.