There’s a reason Shopify is the go-to e-commerce platform.
But despite how easy it is to set up shop, getting people to find you involves a strategy spanning content, sitemaps, and well, a lot of tags.
Here, we’ll dive into some specific Shopify SEO strategies to drive more traffic, boost conversions, and earn yourself a spot on the front page of the SERPs.
Fast Speed Means More Shopping
Speed is your first step towards better Shopify SEO. Shoppers will abandon your site—and often, never return—if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
That means that bloated, slow-poke websites could be costing you a good chunk of your profits. Beyond its impact on customer behavior, page speed is a Google ranking factor, meaning, a one-second delay could cost you a spot on the front page of the SERPs.
You can optimize your site speed much like you would with a WordPress site or any other hosting platform. Run your site through Google’s Test My Site to get your baseline speed.
You’ll get a list of recommendations for how to improve, which may include the following:
- Compress images
- Enable caching
- Minimize redirects
- Fix broken links
- Make sure your Shopify theme is fast and responsive
- Limit the number of apps installed
- Format products and posts with AMP
Once you’ve got your speed issues out of the way, it’s time to dive deeper into your Shopify SEO strategy.
Optimize Product Pages for Shopify SEO
A product page functions as a way to give your customer some basic information about your product, and convince them to buy on the spot or sign up for a demo.
But here’s the thing: every product page needs to be optimized. You can’t recycle the same basic copy on every page or use manufacturer descriptions.
A few things you can do:
- Include shipping and return information—Make it easy on users and let people know how much the full order will cost. Better yet, include order minimums and let users know how much they’ll need to spend to get free shipping.
- Include sizing information, details about materials, dimensions—As with shipping details, including information about what a product is made out of, how sizing works at your store, or what the dimensions are is an opportunity to include a couple more keywords (relevant, of course) and, you know, provide some helpful extra context to consumers.
- Add multiple photos—Why do you think Instagram is so popular? Because we love visuals. People want to see that dress, that pair of shoes, or that sofa before they buy. So, show multiple views. If you’re a clothing seller, showcase various body types so shoppers can see how an item might work for them.
- Enable reviews—Reviews drive even more SEO value, not only will Google use customer feedback as a ranking factor, but reviews also lend some credibility to your products.
- Format for Conversions—Place product photos on the left, CTAs, product titles, and descriptions on the right. Below those key details, you can include more information about your company, shipping and returns, and any unique value propositions or selling points.
- Connect Your Instagram Feed—Like user reviews, Instagram posts give viewers a look at your products through the lens of a real person. Another benefit is, connecting your feed will help you attract more likes and follows on the social channel–a real win-win.
Use 301s (Where Appropriate) For Better Shopify SEO
As a store operator, you know how it goes—products sell out all the time and just like that, it’s not worth keeping in the search results.
Now, outright deleting a page can lead to a drop in traffic, so your best bet is to use 301 redirects to capture that traffic and show them to another page.
Use 301s when:
- A product is out of stock
- If there is expired content
- If there is a domain that has permanently moved (i.e., evergreen content from an old website)
- There is a 404 page
Shopify’s admin dashboard makes it easy to set up a redirect. Just navigate to Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects and follow the prompts.
A word of warning, too many 301 redirects may cause some strain on your servers and compromise speed. So, take a look at the traffic generated from the expired pages if you’re starting to rack up redirects.
SEO Content for Shopify
You might be trying to run an online store, but content is the reason that people find you in the first place, and the reason your pages rank—or don’t—in the SERPs.
As an e-commerce site, your Shopify SEO goals are two-fold. Within your product descriptions, you’ll want to rank for commercial keywords, so product descriptions should contain keywords that relate to your product and align with the searcher’s goal—finding a specific item for sale.
A blogging strategy also matters when it comes to getting more people to visit your site.
Even though it doesn’t directly involve selling, blog content is a way to let people know about your brand, showcase your expertise, and rank for long-tail keywords.
Luckily, your Shopify store comes with a built-in blogging app, making it easy to set up and publish your original content.
That said, if you want your blog to help you level up your store’s SEO rankings, you’ll need to establish a well-conceived plan of attack.
Plan Content Around Your Customer’s Goals
Deciding what to write about doesn’t have to be that difficult, but you do need to know a lot about your customers if you want to be successful.
- Set Goals—What do you want your content to do? Generate leads, drive traffic, increase sales?
- Do a LOT of Research—Understand your customers and what they’re searching for. By answering the right questions, customers will see the value in your content.
- Develop an Editorial Calendar—How often will you blog? What will you post? Planning ahead will make it easy to make sure you have content in the pipeline and helps you keep track of the topics and keywords you plan to cover.
Keywords Matter, But Context May Be More Important
Since the 2015 rollout of Google’s RankBrain machine learning algorithm, the search engine has moved from being keyword-centric to more focused on topics. What this means is, Google’s algorithm now values more conversational content and aims to match searchers’ queries with content that focuses on E-A-T.
The acronym stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust-worthiness–meaning, helpfulness and usability trump keyword stuffing. Still, it pays to spend some time doing keyword rresearch for your Shopify SEO. If you’re new to SEO, Ahrefs put together a guide to e-commerce keyword research with a ton of great info.
Remove Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is exactly what it sounds like; content that matches what’s written on another website.
It’s a big no when it comes to SEO in general and equally bad practice for Shopify SEO.
On Shopify, your goal is to drive people toward completing a purchase. So, you want to get the most people possible to stop by the site and see what you’ve got to offer. When there’s duplicate content in the mix, you’re splitting search traffic from multiple sources, causing a drop in SEO rankings.
You can check for duplicate content by using a tool like Copyscape, which will point out any overlapping content.
Keep in mind that duplicates don’t just cover plagiarized material from other sites, copying your own web copy on multiple pages, posting the same blog post on numerous websites, and more—all can cause rankings to drop.
Beyond making sure you don’t post anything you’ve already posted, you’ll also want to block duplicate, expired, or private content from getting indexed. You can do this by creating a robots.txt file, which blocks specific URLs from showing up in the search results. The process is relatively simple, but we’ll walk you through the set up here.
Add Sitemap.xml to Google Search Console
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a sitemap is a file that lists all websites of your site, so that you can let Google know how your store is organized. Your map functions as a set of instructions so that Google’s bots can crawl through your site with minimal effort.
For Shopify SEO, the platform makes things easy on shop owners; all subscribers will receive their very own Shopify sitemap.xml file with links to every blog post, product page, and image on your site.
You can find your site map by navigating to the root directory of your Shopify store — my-store.com/sitemap.xml.
From there, you’ll head over to the Google Search Console, click your URL, and on the left-hand side, click on ‘sitemap’. From there, you’ll need to deal with Google.
Sign into the Google Search Console, click your URL, and on the left-hand side, click on the sitemap, then add new. From there, you’ll paste your Shopify link into the box.
Optimize Title Tags
Title tags are an essential SEO ranking factor, as they impact how your content appears on SERPs. As such, they’re a big part of Shopify SEO as well.
A title tag is an HTML element that appears as the clickable headline when someone enters a search query. You’ll need to optimize your store’s home page, product pages, and blog content —because they add up to some significant Shopify SEO gains.
Often, this is a user’s first impression of your store, so it’s important that your title makes clear what kind of items you have in your store.
A few notes about title tags:
Intent is Everything
Product pages should emphasize purchase intent—so keywords like “red shoes for sale” or “summer shoe clearance” make more sense here than something like “what types of shoes can I wear to a summer wedding.”
When there’s a mismatch, buyers get frustrated and bounce away (bad for SEO). So, blog posts or other types of informational content should seek to answer questions while product pages should orient themselves toward making a sale.
Unique titles let the search engine know that your content is original and drive more click-throughs than those with generic names like “Home” or worse, “New Page.” Be straightforward and try to represent what’s on the page.
Use Target Keywords, But Only if They’re Relevant
Google won’t outright penalize you if you stuff as many keywords as possible into your titles. But, users might not be excited about clicking on it. Write with a list of keywords in mind, but don’t make that the primary focus.
Keep it (Relatively) Short
Google prefers that Title Tags contain between 50 and 60 characters. Anything longer and they’ll cut off your title, adding an ellipsis after the ~60 mark.
To edit your homepage title and meta description, go to Online Store > Preferences > Title and meta description.
Since We Brought Up Meta Tags… Let’s Optimize Those, Too
Don’t skip out on the meta descriptions, either. While you might want to call it a day after uploading products to your store or drafting your next big blog post, metas can make the difference between someone clicking through to your store or moving on.
Google does not consider meta themselves a ranking factor, but CTRs are part of the algorithm. A well-crafted meta description can lead to more click-throughs and should follow a few simple rules:
- Keep it short (like under 300 characters)
- Matches what people will find on the page
- Contains the keyword you’re trying to rank for
And… Alt Tags
Another part of the Shopify SEO puzzle: alt tags.
Alt tags might not have the most significant impact on SEO, but they do offer some benefits to the user. For example, if an image fails to load, users will see a short description of the image in its place.
Shopify will prompt you to add a tag for your images anyway. Use this as an opportunity to add a relevant description and if possible, add a keyword.
Keep in mind, however, that alt tags (or any tags for that matter) are not an opportunity to “stuff keywords.” If it’s not relevant, don’t use it.
Make Sure Your URLs are Clean for Shopify SEO
Clean URLs are short, simple, and accurate. This isn’t the time to be cute, rather present your pages so that customers know what to expect when they land on the page.
With Shopify, at least, the platform already sets you off on the right track, but the built-in settings generate URLs in a way that is a bit clunkier than what Google had in mind.
Shopify adds a prefix to all pages and products automatically–so there’s always an extra element between the root URL and the actual page; i.e.:
Shopify SEO-wise, prefixes won’t make or break your SERP standing. However, you should aim to stick a keyword in there and “neaten things up” as much as possible. The gist of it is, it’s easier for searchers and search engines to figure out what your site is all about.
To edit your URL, navigate to the page you’d like to edit, scroll to the bottom, and click “edit website SEO.”
Add Rich Snippets to Your Content
Rich snippets are the very specific answers to search queries that nab the top spot in the search results. Google aims to highlight key information by allowing user to engage directly with a site, without leaving the SERPs.
Shopify store owners can enable a third-party app called Schema, which tells search engines exactly what your site sells, increasing the odds you’ll appear in the coveted spot.
Build a High-Quality Backlink Collection
Yes, backlinking still matters, and they’re equally important for Shopify SEO. Search engines use backlinks as a way to size up the legitimacy of a website. So, in theory, the more high-quality sites that link back to your store, the better the SERP performance.
The key things to think about here are quality, relevance, and authority. Authoritative sites come from places with high editorial standards–think research journals or reputable news outlets like the New York Times or NPR.
Google favors sites that come by links fairly. Meaning, if you’re caught buying links, you risk getting hit with a penalty. Make sure you’re developing relationships with publications and influencers that are relevant to your niche.
Wrapping Up Shopify SEO
Whether you use WordPress, Squarespace, or Shopify, SEO is just one piece of the e-commerce puzzle when it comes to driving sales and setting the tone for customer retention. You need to sell high-quality products and build a brand that connects with an audience.
SEO has come a long way over the past couple of years and has become a more customer-forward process than it was in the early days where keyword stuffing could still get you on the front page.
With Shopify, even the more advanced SEO practices are relatively easy, even for non-technical shop owners. Long story short, put quality first and don’t forget your tags.