If you’re running an ecommerce website on Shopify, SEO is a crucial component that you won’t want to miss out on. When done right, SEO can bring in valuable traffic for your company without needing to run ads.
Without SEO, you’re relying on paid traffic sources to bring in traffic. That means that as soon you stop paying for ads, your traffic will immediately stop. This can be a big problem for companies, especially when ad accounts get shut down and can’t be recovered.
I’m going to go over how you can get started with Shopify SEO and start getting organic traffic to your store.
What is Shopify SEO?
Shopify SEO is the process of making on-page and off-page adjustments to your store to improve rankings for keywords that are relevant to your company. This will help bring in more organic traffic to your website, which in turn will increase your revenue.
How can Shopify SEO Help Your Ecommerce Store?
Bring in More High Quality Traffic
Receiving organic traffic to your website is always going to be very high quality traffic. People are doing a search in Google (or other search engines), and are looking for specific products to buy. When you offer the exact type of products that people are looking to buy, the traffic that comes to your website is going to convert at a high rate.
Ads can be a great source of traffic too, but in most cases you are interrupting consumers’ day with your advertisement. For example, if someone is scrolling through Facebook and sees your ad, they were never looking for your product in the first place and are being interrupted by your ad. Whereas with SEO, when you are showing up in search results, people are already looking for what you have to offer, and in a lot of cases are ready to buy. This is a big reason why SEO generally brings in higher quality traffic than paid ads.
Bring in More Revenue
The most important result of any marketing campaign always comes down to revenue. The nice thing about improving your SEO on Shopify is that the organic traffic that you are receiving will convert at a high rate and bring in more revenue.
The pages that will likely convert at the highest rate and bring in the most revenue for your company are collection pages and product pages on Shopify. When people are looking for and land right on your collections and products, that is a good indication that they are ready to buy. However traffic to blog posts generally means that website visitors are still doing their research. It’s great to get blog traffic to your website, but traffic to collections and product pages usually convert better.
As I mentioned before, with paid ads, as soon as you turn off the ads, the traffic stops. With SEO, once you have done the work and have your pages ranking on Google, you will almost always receive long-term traffic and revenue from that work.
There isn’t an “on” or “off” button with SEO. It can take a lot of time to implement, but once you are ranking for your important keywords, you will continue to get traffic from those keywords until other websites pass you in the search results. That’s why after achieving your desired rankings, it’s always a good idea to do some maintenance work to be sure you keep those rankings long-term.
How to Improve SEO on Shopify
There’s a lot that goes into any SEO campaign, but here are the biggest aspects to take a look at when implementing Shopify SEO.
- Technical Issues
- Website Navigation and Structure
- Target Keywords
- User Experience
- Product Titles
- Product Descriptions
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Shopify SEO Apps
- Collection Content
- Image Names/Alt Text
- Internal Linking
- Topical Relevance
- Link Building
I’ll go over how to handle each of these important SEO aspects below.
1. Fix Technical Issues With Your Site
Depending on the theme you are using and your setup, duplicate content can be an issue with shopify in some cases. With some themes, Shopify will create multiple URL’s for your products. They will create a URL when your product is created, and then also create another URL for the product when it is linked to a collection page. This isn’t a huge deal, you just need to know how to handle those pages when it happens.
If you see this happening with your Shopify store, there are two different things you can do:
- Canonicalize the page
- 301 redirect the page
When you canonicalize a page in Shopify, you are essentially telling Google not to look at that page, because the master copy of the page is at another destination. This is a perfectly acceptable solution, because it will no longer be seen as duplicate content.
The other option is 301 redirecting the page. All you need to do is add a 301 redirect from one of the URL’s to the other and then it will no longer be seen as duplicate content. This option can also help pass authority to the page you are keeping, if the page you are redirecting has any backlinks.
Indexing issues are often overlooked on sites, even though it’s one of the most basic and important aspects of SEO. If your website isn’t indexed, no SEO effort will matter. So it’s important to get any index issues taken care of right away.
An easy way to see if your pages are indexed is to do a google search with “site:yourwebsite.com”. This will show every page that is indexed on your website. You can also include keywords after your website to only show pages related to those keywords. If you see all your important pages when you do that search, you’re good to go. If not, you’ll want to check your robots.txt file to see if you are no-indexing those pages. Even if you don’t remember doing this, it’s still possible it was done behind the scenes. To find the robots.txt file go to Online Store > Themes > Actions > Edit Code > then click the theme.liquid file.
404 Pages with Backlinks
Having 404 pages on your website isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you frequently update your website, it’s likely that you will have 404 pages. The important part is that you don’t have 404 pages with links pointing to them. This goes for internal and external links.
If you have internal links pointing to 404 pages, this will provide a bad user experience and can also have a negative impact on your site authority. If you have backlinks pointing to 404 pages, then you are leaving a lot of authority on the table.
If you have a 404 page with backlinks, those backlinks have no impact on your website’s authority. However, if you redirect that page to another page, then you will still receive some of that authority. If you have any 404 pages on your site, make sure that you aren’t linking to any of them, and make sure that you redirect them to a similar page on your site if you have any backlinks pointing to it.
Redirects are another important piece to look at on your website when it comes to Shopify SEO. With ecom stores, there’s usually a fair number of redirects. With the number of products and pages on ecommerce stores, there’s a good chance they are needed from time to time.
The first thing that’s good to look at is to make sure that your website is redirecting to one version of your domain. To explain this a little better, every Shopify ecommerce store has four versions of their domain:
What you’ll need to do is identify which one you want to be your “preferred version” and make sure all the others redirect to that one version. This is really important when it comes to duplicate content and authority on your website.
Another thing to look at when it comes to redirects is making sure you do not have any redirect chains. A redirect chain is when you link to a page that 301 redirects to another page. You always want to link directly to the end page, avoiding those redirect chains. This is a technical issue with some sites that can have a negative impact on your rankings.
2. Website Navigation and Structure
One of the most important pieces of any ecommerce store is making sure that your website visitors or potential customers can navigate around your store and find what they’re looking for. Having solid menu options in place is a critical piece, since that is where most website visitors go for navigation purposes. These menu options should always lead to your collection pages, unless linking directly to products.
Don’t make things harder for users than they have to be. Focus on simplifying everything on your site to provide the best experience possible. Any small amount of confusion or frustration on your site will almost always result in missed sales.
Depth of Pages
The depth of your pages is an important piece as well. It shouldn’t be difficult for users to navigate to your important pages, plus Google likes to see a page depth that isn’t too high. Preferably, you shouldn’t have pages that are more than two clicks away from your homepage. There are some suggestions, such as having a huge site with multiple sub collection pages.
Go through your site and figure out if you have any pages that are more than three clicks away from your homepage. If they are important pages, make sure you adjust the navigation so that they can be accessed easier. An easy way to do this is to run your website through Screaming Frog, and the software will show you your crawl depth for each page.
Your page hierarchy goes hand in hand with your menu options and crawl depth. As a standard, your homepage should have menu options that lead to collection pages. Then your collection pages will have the products for that collection tied to them.
Another way you can have this setup is to have the menu options lead to collection pages, which lead to sub collection pages, and then the products. This should only be done if you have a large number of collections that need to be broken down that way.
Having your page hierarchy setup in this way will have a positive impact on your SEO and will also provide a good user experience, resulting in a good conversion rate as well.
Shopify URL Structure
Shopify has a set URL structure that they use that is mostly helpful when it comes to SEO. The biggest thing is that they are consistent. All collection pages have the same URL structure as each other, and same with the products.
For example, all collections will start with: https://yourwebsite.com/collections/yourcollection.
Where all products will start with: https://yourwebsite.com/products/yourproduct.
One important thing to keep in mind with URL’s is that you want to keep them as short as possible. Google uses the URL to help determine what a page is about, and the easier it is to understand for users and Google, the better. Since the last section of the URL is typically going to be the name of your collection or product, a good rule of thumb is to keep those as short as possible.
Keywords in URL
Another important thing to consider with your URLs is including your target keywords in the URL. This is something that should be easy to do since the URL will pull from your collection or product page.
It’s important to verify that your URLs include keywords since Google uses it to help figure out what your page is about. Ideally you are including your main keyword in the URL, in its shortest form. It can be tricky to include keywords, while keeping the URL short, but this is going to be the best way to optimize your URLs.
4. Keyword Research
Keyword research is arguably the most important part of any Shopify SEO campaign. If you are targeting the wrong keywords from the start, this can completely derail your entire strategy. The main things to consider when picking keywords are:
- Search Volume
- Search Intent
I’ll dive into each of these three pieces below, along with some good keyword research tools to get your started in the right direction.
Search volume is obviously a really important piece of keyword research. You need to be targeting keywords that people are really searching online. If you rank #1 for keywords that nobody is searching for, then that defeats the purpose of SEO.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to target the keywords with the highest search volume though. You’ll want to use search volume with competition to find the best opportunities for your website.
You could find relevant keywords that get searched a ton, but if the search results are dominated by big brands, and have a lot of competition, there’s a good chance you won’t rank for those keywords in the near future.
To get started, it’s usually best to target keywords that get searched a few hundred or a few thousand times per month, that also have relatively low competition. As you rank for keywords and build authority, then it’s easier to expand and start targeting more competitive keywords.
As mentioned above, competition should be used alongside search volume to find the best keywords to target. There are a lot of good tools to help you determine the competition of specific keywords, but we will get into this in the Keyword Research Tools section.
The competition of keywords usually correlates to the search volume of keywords. The higher the search volume, the higher the competition in most instances. However, this isn’t always the case. It’s possible to find high volume keywords with low competition, but it usually means that they won’t be as impactful to your bottom line.
Start with targeting lower competition keywords, and work your way up to higher competition keywords as you go. As you start to build momentum with SEO, it will be a lot easier to start ranking for more competitive keywords.
Most people that get started with SEO are aware of search volume and competition, but they usually don’t think much about search intent. Search intent is super important, because you could do everything right from an SEO standpoint, but if you aren’t satisfying search intent, then you won’t improve your rankings much.
Search intent is basically figuring out what people are really looking for when they do a search. You need to figure out if they are looking for information, looking to browse a collection of products, or searching for a specific product.
For example, if someone searches “how much water should I give my plants?”, they are searching for information, and the search results are going to be filled with blog posts and informative guides that help answer their question.
On the other hand, if someone searches “Samsung fridge water filter”, they are likely looking for the actual product, rather than information about Samsung fridges.
The key here is to target keywords on your pages that match the search intent of those keywords. If you have a product, don’t target keywords that have a search intent of learning about information. Target keywords where the searchers have a buying intent.
The best way to determine this is to do a Google search for a keyword and see what is currently ranking. If a bunch of products are showing up, then target that keyword in a product page. If collection pages are showing up, then you’ll want to target that keyword on collection pages. Stick to what is currently working in the search results, and it will be much easier to rank for those keywords.
Keyword Research Tools
SEMRush and Ahrefs are great tools when it comes to keyword research. They give you an estimation of search volume, along with competition for any keyword you search. They can be super helpful to determine what keywords are going to be beneficial for your Shopify store.
Search Console Performance is my favorite place to find information about keywords, however you have to already be showing up somewhere for the keywords already. It will give you a ton of awesome information like the impressions and clicks you are receiving from that keyword. It will also show your click through rate and average position in Google for each keyword.
Both options are great, but the Search Console is pulling real data, while SEMRush and Ahrefs are pulling estimates. I like to rely on real data as much as I can. If you’re not currently showing up anywhere for a keyword, then you’ll have to rely on estimates to help you with your keyword research.
Here’s an example of mapping keywords to pages:
5. User Experience
Providing a good user experience is important for a few different reasons. The better user experience you provide, the more likely website visitors will convert into buying customers. Google also measures user experience to determine the quality of your website. For both of those reasons, it’s crucial that you are providing the best user experience possible.
Website speed is a very important ranking factor. In 2021 it has become even more important after Google released an update geared towards user experience. This is a huge piece of providing a good user experience.
It’s also important to have a fast site so that you can keep people on your site and convert more website visitors into customers. Most people won’t wait more than a few seconds for a page to load before they go to another website. Website speed can make or break user experience.
It’s important to make it easy for website visitors to find what they’re looking for. This is where having a solid navigation structure in place can help you provide a good user experience. Make sure that you have menu options that are easy to understand, and then have those menu options lead to pages that make sense to website visitors.
If people get confused and can’t find what they’re looking for, they will leave quickly. This will hurt your conversions, and will also have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.
Dwell time is the length of time a website visitor remains on your website. Keeping users on your website as long as you can will help improve your conversion rate, and will also help your SEO.
The longer people stay engaged with your website, the more likely they are to convert. If people click on your site and immediately go back to the search results, that looks bad to Google, as if you have a low quality site and cannot satisfy search intent.
6. Product Titles
Optimizing Product Titles Isn’t Always Possible
Depending on the way you have products named on your website, optimizing product titles could either be very important, or not have much of an impact at all. Some stores will have their products named simply by what they are, while others have a very specific naming structure for the product, where it’s not about what the product is, and more about what the company named it.
An example of a company giving their product a name is the “DJI Mavic Air.” DJI sells drones, but they give their different models specific names. Other drone companies may simply name their product “High Performance Drone”. In this example, the companies can choose to include keywords in their product title, since they don’t have a specific name for their products.
Include Primary Keyword in Product Title
If your store is in the category of naming products based on what they are, rather than coming up with unique names for your products, then including keywords in the product title is an important thing to consider.
Figure out what people are searching for in regards to the product you’re selling, and include those keywords in the product title. This is where search intent is important as well. Make sure that you’re selecting keywords where the search intent is geared towards buying a product, rather than doing research on the product.
7. Product Descriptions
Include Keywords in Product Description
Similar to optimizing product titles, this is going to be dependent on how you have your products named. If you have specific names for your products that are not keyword-based, then there’s not much to optimize with product descriptions.
If you do have keyword-based names, then product descriptions can be a great place to build relevance around your keywords. With product descriptions, you have a lot of space to include your keywords and keyword variations. You will just want to make sure that you are including your keywords and variations naturally within the description.
Write Informative Product Descriptions
Apart from including keywords in your product descriptions, the key is to be as informative as you can. Focus on the user and provide any amount of information that will be helpful for them when they’re looking to buy your products.
Try to answer questions website visitors might have about your products. A good way to do this is to think of actual questions your customers have asked you. Since you know those questions have been asked, it’s a good idea to answer those in your product descriptions.
Another good thing to add to your product descriptions is an FAQ section. This will help be informative to your users, and will also help build relevance around your keywords and topic.
8. Title Tags
Important Ranking Factor
Title tags are one of the most important ranking factors in Google. This is where you get to tell users and Google exactly what your page is about. It’s a huge relevancy signal to Google about what your page is about. For example if your title tag is “Tennis Shoes”, Google has a pretty good idea that the page is about tennis shoes, and not about baseball bats.
With the title tag, you’re essentially telling both users and Google what this page is about. Make sure you use the title tag effectively, because this is one of the most important relevancy signals to Google for specific keywords and topics.
Include Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword (when possible)
You absolutely need to be including your primary keyword in the title tag. Ideally, you are going to have your primary keyword be the first part of the title tag as well. This is going to give the strongest signal to Google that the page is about your primary keyword.
If possible, you should also try to include a secondary keyword in your title tag. You can use a few different naming styles to include multiple keywords/keyphrases. Here are a few examples:
- Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Company Name
- Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Company Name
The way you do this isn’t super important, but making sure that you include your main keyword and keyphrases is.
Make it Enticing for Users
The title tag is the main clickable text that shows up in the search results. It’s important that you make sure users will actually want to click on your website listing. It doesn’t help you if you are showing up on the first page if nobody clicks on your website.
Not only should you be including keywords in your title tag, but you should also be trying to catch people’s attention with your title tag. If you understand why someone is searching your keyword, that should give you a pretty good indication on how to grab their attention.
9. Meta Descriptions
Debatable Topic in SEO Community
People in the SEO community are pretty split on whether they believe meta descriptions have an impact on rankings. I have very specific experiences in testing where I believe it does have a minor impact on rankings.
Assume it Impacts Rankings
Either way, you’re better off assuming that it does affect rankings. The way I look at it, is don’t leave any SEO opportunities on the table that you could otherwise take advantage of. It’s not too difficult to write a good meta description, so this is something that you should definitely prioritize for your important pages.
Write Meta Descriptions for Users
Even if meta descriptions aren’t a ranking factor, they for sure have a big impact on CTR (click through rate) in the search results. Meta descriptions show up underneath the title tag, and users use them pretty heavily when determining if they should click to your website.
Make sure that your meta descriptions are appealing to users and make them want to click on your page.
10. Shopify SEO Apps
There are many different Shopify SEO apps that can help you in your SEO efforts. I’m going to go through three different apps that can really help improve your SEO and make things easier when implementing your Shopify SEO strategy.
Shopify makes it pretty easy to make SEO changes to your website as is, but Yoast is an app that’s available on Shopify that helps out with this process. Yoast for Shopify allows you to handle a variety of SEO changes to make your life easier.
TinyIMG is an app that can help improve your SEO on Shopify by reducing image sizes. This helps improve the speed of your website, which is an important ranking for. You want to have a website that will load quickly for your users, otherwise they will likely leave your site. If this frequently happens, Google will pick up on it and it will impact your rankings in a negative way.
Schema Plus is a Shopify app that helps you add structured data to your ecommerce pages. This is what helps you earn those featured snippets in the search results. If you’re trying to earn a featured snippet, it’s going to save you a lot of time and effort using an app like Schema Plus.
11. Collection Content
Add Content to Collection Pages
Adding content to the top or bottom of your collection pages will help your rankings in a big way. Google relies heavily on text content to determine what pages are about.
The more informative text content you can add to your pages, the better off you will be. Collection pages are traditionally pretty bare on content, so if you add some relevant information around your keywords/topics, it will give users more helpful info, and it will allow Google to use more than just the title and title tags to determine what your page is about.
Huge Way to Improve Relevance
More content means more space to show what your page is about. This also allows the opportunity to provide more value to users, which is exactly what Google wants you to do.
Adding content to collection pages on Shopify is a big opportunity to get ahead of your competition in the search results too. Not many companies add content to their collection pages, so by doing this, it will give you the edge over some of your competitors that have no informative text content on their collection pages.
12. Image Names/Alt Text
By default, ecommerce stores normally have a lot of images, which is a good thing. Having images, video, and other media can have an impact on your ranking in Google. It’s also going to help potential customers, because they will also benefit from seeing images of your products.
Make sure that your image file names are named with intention. What I mean by this, is actually name those image files whatever the image actually is. Avoid crazy file names and include your keywords in the file name when you can.
Adding keywords to file names can have an impact on your rankings, so make sure that you take advantage of that area when possible. I wouldn’t recommend removing all your images and re-adding them with different file names, but just keep that piece in mind when adding new images.
Alt text in images is another ranking factor. This is where you can indicate what the image is about. This should be named very similar to your file names.
Again, try to include your primary and secondary keywords in the alt text when possible, but don’t stuff keywords in if it’s not natural. The most important piece is to accurately describe what the image is about. In a lot of cases this will align with your target keywords anyway.
Create Consistent Content
Creating consistent content around your products is a good way to gain credibility in your space, and also receive more search traffic to your website. Figure out what some of your valuable products are, and then create content around them. This is a great way to show that you have a high quality website, when you have some authority in the space.
Answer Questions About Products
A great way to create blog content is to answer questions people have about products. Figure out what types of common questions come up around your products and answer them in the form of blog posts. You can rank those blog posts on Google so that you’re targeting people in all phases of the buying process. These people would be more in the information phase, but your blog post can help them get closer to buying your products.
Fresh Content = High Quality Website (Sometimes)
Creating fresh content is viewed in a positive light by Google. If you’re consistently putting out fresh content on your site, that’s usually a sign of quality. I say usually, because you still need to provide value and put together high quality content.
The best way to do this is with a content schedule. Put together topic ideas with target keywords and determine how often you want to publish content. Putting out monthly content will help a lot, especially when you’re internally linking to your important pages.
Here’s an example of a blog content plan:
14. Internal Linking
Example of internal linking:
Link to important Pages
Internally linking to the important pages on your site is an important aspect of SEO. You can do this from blogs to products, from blogs to collections, from products to collections, etc. The biggest piece is that you important pages have internal links coming to them. This shows Google that those are the most important pages on your website.
All Important Pages Should Have Internal Links
Include internal links whenever it makes sense on your website. Every important page on your website should have at least one internal link, but ideally many more.
Internal links will help guide customers to make purchases. It also helps Google understand the structure and importance of different pages on your site.
Internal Links Pass Authority
Another important reason to internally link to important pages, is because it helps pass link value to those other pages. For example if one of your blogs is linking to a product, and that blog post gets a backlink which improves the authority of that page, that value will be passed to the product too. The product won’t get quite as much value, but it will get some.
15. Topical Relevance
By consistently putting out high quality content around your products, you build topical relevance. This means that Google will eventually see your website as being an expert in the industry and it will help your rankings site-wide.
This will have a huge effect on your rankings over time. However, you can’t publish two or three blog posts and expect Google to see your website as an expert. This is a long-term play that takes time to execute and see results from.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to Shopify SEO. Backlinks are when you get other websites to point a link to one of your pages from their website. This essentially counts as a vote for rankings. The more high quality, relevant websites you can get to link to your website, the better.
Get Backlinks to All Page Types
You should be focusing on getting backlinks to all of your different page types, not just your most important page. It’s important to mix this up to keep your link profile as natural as possible.
It wouldn’t look natural to have 100 links to one collection page, but only 2 links to your blog posts. If you link profile doesn’t have a natural mix, this can have a big negative impact on your rankings and even get your website penalized by Google.
High Quality Sites
When it comes to backlinks, it’s definitely quality over quantity. You want to focus on only getting the most high quality links you can. Getting links from low quality sites that look to be spammy isn’t going to help at all. 5 high quality links will help way more than 200 spammy links.
Getting links from relevant websites is another important aspect. If you’re doing SEO for your gym equipment Shopify store, you’re going to be way better off getting links from fitness websites than you will be getting links from a car repair shop. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice some authority to be sure that the backlinks you are getting are very relevant.
Implementing Shopify SEO can be a ton of work. You’re definitely not going to see results overnight, and likely will not see results for months or even over a year.
If you’re going to implement SEO for your Shopify store, it’s important that you are committed and stay consistent with your efforts. You need to optimize all of your important pages and make sure that you are building authority to those pages as well. If you’re consistent in your SEO strategy, you’ll see the work pay off with some long-term results.
If you’d rather outsource your Shopify SEO strategy, our Shopify SEO expert is happy to jump on a call to talk about how we can help you improve you SEO.