SEO for Shopify: A Guide to Search Engine Success

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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In 2016, merchants added over 290 million new products to their Shopify-powered storefronts. Since that time, progressively more merchandise has hit the platform’s pages.

While this certainly attests to the popularity of Shopify as an eCommerce provider, it poses a specific problem for online retailers:

“How can consumers find my products in an ocean of commotion and competition?”

The answer? An effective eCommerce search engine optimization strategy.

Shopify comes equipped with a variety of SEO features that can help retailers climb the SERPs and get their products in front of consumers at the right time.

In this guide, we are going to walk retailers through optimizing their Shopify stores for increased visibility and clicks.

But first, a few words on why Shopify is such a prolific platform in the eCommerce arena.

Benefits of Using Shopify

Shopify supports over 500,000 retailers across the globe because the service brandishes noteworthy benefits such as:

benefits using shopify

  • Simple Setup and Easy to Use: Shopify is one of the top choices for sellers with little to no technical acumen. The software offers merchants everything that is needed to set up shop and start selling.
  • Aesthetically-Pleasing Designs: Shopify offers users an array of professionally designed themes that enable the easy creation of a stunning online store. Moreover, designers can be hired to enhance the UX and UI offerings supplied through the core themes.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: Mobile-responsive designs are a must in today’s eCommerce ecosystem, and Shopify delivers with a growing library of mobile-minded themes.
  • Third-Party App Integrations: With Shopify, users can easily integrate a variety of apps that add a more diverse set of features and functionality to an online store.

For these, and many other reasons, some of the world’s most recognized brands opt to leverage Shopify’s services.

Brands Using Shopify

As it stands, Shopify holds 18 percent of the eCommerce market share. Because of its capabilities and popularity, Shopify and Shopify Plus have attracted some of the biggest names in a variety of industries.

build your business shopify landing page

For instance, beverage brands like Budweiser and Red Bull are both powered by Shopify. Alternatively, titans of the print industry are also attracted to the platform, which is why Penguin Books and The New York Times Shop also leverage the system. Meanwhile, Tesla Motors and MVMT Watches show that Shopify is popular among retailers large and small.

On-Page Optimization

For retailers to rank in advantageous positions in the SERPs, it is necessary to leverage the SEO-oriented capabilities that Shopify provides.

On-page optimization strategies aim to help rank individual web pages higher and generate more traffic by enhancing the content and HTML code of a page. To that end, the areas that retailers want to focus on include:

Title Tags

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Proper title tags are essential as these are what appear in the SERPs and are displayed to consumers. These, in part, let users know what to expect on a given page.

When merchants generate a page for their sites using Shopify, a WYSIWYG editor will appear. Entering a title in the allocated section under “Page details” will display that headline on the page itself. To edit the title tag, retailers must click “Edit website SEO” in the “Search Engine Listings Preview” section.

While you can adhere to logical templates such as the following:

logical keyword template quote

you’re going to be most effective by crafting a strong semantic title that clearly reflects the page itself. You want to make sure that you stick to around 60 characters to avoid having the title tag cut off in the SERPs. You also want to make sure that you are thinking in terms of your customer. It’s easy just to put keywords all in your tag, but think about the user experience. This is the first interaction that someone will have with your company, so you want to make sure it is conveying the most accurate information while also being clickable.

Meta Descriptions

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Much like the title tag, meta description information shows to consumers via the SERPs. This information is the description below the blue-linked title and provides users with more information on the page’s contents.

Meta description editing features are accessed in the same way as title tags.

Bear in mind that meta descriptions must convince search users to click-through to a webpage. Therefore, it is essential to write meta descriptions in a similar way to adverts, including alluring (yet accurate) information and a call-to-action.

Section Headings

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Thanks to the simplicity of Shopify’s platform, it is easy for merchants to apply H1 headers to their pages.

Your primary H1 heading should clearly describe the intent of the page or article. Not only does this help search engines determine the content of the page, but it gives your readers a clear understand of what’s to come.

To enter in H1 headers, simply select the product, collection, blog or other page that requires editing, click in the “Title” field, enter in the desired title and click “Save.”

seo heading illustration

Your subsequent headings, such as H2, H3, H4 and so on provide section titles that are more specific to the information. To access these, go to Shopify admin, click on “Online Store” and then select the “Themes” tab.

Next, click the “…” button to reveal a dropdown menu. Here, users will select “Edit HTML/CSS.” From this page, click “Layout” for the theme.liquid file to open with the online code editor.

From here, retailers can apply the desired <h1> through <h6> tags. However, for sellers who are not well-versed in applying such coding structures, it is recommended to contact the theme developer or an eCommerce web development team as adding them in may alter a site significantly, creating a series of problems.

Internal Linking

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Internal links are an essential component to any well-structured websites as these connections not only pass link juice to one another (thereby enhancing SEO efforts), but they also provide a means for users to move through a site and to deeper levels within a store.

As a rule of thumb, each of a store’s pages should be reachable within two to three clicks from the homepage.

mouse hovering over click here link

Using Shopify’s Rich Text Editor, all a user needs to do is highlight the word or words that they wish to use as the anchor text and click the “Insert Link” button in the third group of options.

From here, users can enter the short URL for the page to be linked. For example, if the page is “https://www.whatever.com/men/slippers,” users would simply enter “/men/slippers.”

Do be aware that the more links a page has, the less link juice it will send to the pages to which it points.

External Linking

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External links are also a vital element to a site’s online existence.

Creating external links in Shopify is essentially the same as applying internal links. However, with external links, users must enter the entire URL of the page to which they wish to point. Therefore, if the website a retailer wants to link to is “https://www.whatever.com/,” that whole URL must be entered.

When linking to external destinations, it is wise to consider the trustworthiness of the site, as well as the page’s relevance to the anchor text and the content it is embedded within.

phone showing product photos on website

SEO-Friendly Images

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Currently, search engines are incapable of viewing images or understanding their contents without a bit of assistance. Therefore, retailers should take the time to optimize their image alt tags to assist Google bots in understanding pictures and ranking pages accordingly. Moreover, when merchants optimize their store’s images for specific keywords, they gain access to the increasingly important traffic driven by visual search.

To set the alt text for products, head to the Shopify admin panel and click “Products.” Next, navigate to the correct image and click the “Alt” link. Finally, enter the image’s description and click “Done.”

However, if a retailer wishes to alter the alt tag for blog or collection images, select the name of the collection or blog to be edited and underneath the image, select “Update,” followed by “Edit image.” Then, enter the appropriate description and click “Save.”

Moreover, images can be a resource-intensive asset for websites to serve, so be sure to utilize an image optimizer like Image Optimizer from LoyaltyHarbour to keep site speeds at optimal levels of performance.

OG Tags

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Open Graph Tags, or OG tags, allow merchants to control how content appears when a page is shared on Facebook. While there are different protocols for different social networks, here we will discuss Facebook as this is the most common network for such content to appear and because these folks created the tags, making them the OGs of OG tags.

On Shopify, OG tags are added to the <head> of a website. Moreover, the platform wraps these in Liquid tags.

With these tags, retailers can implement:

  • og_title: Defines the title of the content. Most Shopify themes will use the title of the page shared.
  • og_url: Establishes the canonicalized version of the shared page.
  • og_type: Informs Facebook on the type of content (i.e., video, blog, product).
  • og_description: Similar to a meta description in that it provides information about the shared page.
  • og_image: Pulls an image from the website to use for the shared page.

person entering html code into computer

To edit this information, users must access their theme.liquid file and insert the correct code before the <head> tag. Alternatively, retailers who are not so tech-savvy can use tools such as the Better Open Graph Tags app to simplify the process considerably.

Robots.txt

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Robots.txt is a file that enables search spiders to understand which pages within a store should be indexed and which should not.

Fortunately, Shopify’s system understands this information and automatically generates robots.txt for pages that should not surface in the SERPs.

Unfortunately, this also means that if retailers craft landing pages that they want to remain inaccessible until a specific date (such as a sale page), merchants are unable to access their robots.txt files to ensure this scenario.

Canonical Tags

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Properly implementing canonical tags is necessary for eliminating duplicate content from eCommerce websites. These tags are vital as online retailers can often tout multiple URLs for a single product that has numerous color and size options.

Much like the robots.txt files, Shopify automatically generates and applies canonical tags to permutations of the original URL, thereby informing Google which pages are copies and which is the original to be ranked.

Page Speed

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site with slow loading speed

Site speed is one of the most important Google ranking factors for retailers to consider because visitors will bounce if a site doesn’t load promptly.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to increase an eCommerce site’s speed and enhance SEO performance. With Shopify, sellers can improve load times by:

  • Compressing images
  • Removing unnecessary or outdated apps
  • Avoiding sliders
  • Employing Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • Using a CDN
  • Downloading fast, responsive themes
  • Minimizing redirects and broken links

These are just a few of the many ways to optimize a site’s speed performance. Be sure to check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to figure out where to start the optimization process.

Shopify can be a powerful eCommerce platform to employ when it is properly optimized for SEO performance.

Follow these steps to help your site increase its visibility in the SERPs and earn more clicks and cash.

However, if you feel like you still need help in implementing an effective SEO strategy, contact us for a consultation and we can help craft an approach tailored specifically to your store’s wants and needs.

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