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Shopify SEO: The Ultimate Guide [2021]

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Looking to rank your Shopify store? This ultimate guide to Shopify SEO covers everything you need to increase traffic and skyrocket conversions.

Shopify SEO

Optimizing your Shopify store to make it more discoverable for traffic arriving from search engines like Google and Bing is imperative for the long-term success of your website. There are many ways in which your website can be transformed with the help of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), from boosting your user experience model, to raising your organic search ranking and much more. The more discoverable and enjoyable your store becomes, the easier it will become for you to win and retain customers over the long term.

Shopify adoption has been increasing significantly over the past decade, with the trend expected to continue as businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’ of industries in a post-covid landscape.

Search volume Shopify

Google Trends data shows that user interest in the term Shopify rose to unprecedented levels at the height of the pandemic as consumers and businesses alike looked to adapt to unfolding events before realigning towards a more stable upwards trajectory.

As more businesses seek a path to success through the utilizing of Shopify, it’s worth taking into account the vast range of SEO metrics that are necessary for facilitating the success of both new and existing stores online.

There are many nuances and unexpected factors that can come into the mix when optimizing your Shopify site for success, so let’s take a deeper look into the symbiotic relationship between Shopify commerce and SEO.

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the fundamental facets of Search Engine Optimization and its related technical considerations that can all combine to dramatically improve your online store’s search rankings and subsequent conversions:

What Does Shopify SEO Mean?

In a nutshell, Shopify SEO relates to the many improvements that can be made to Shopify sites, as opposed to more general SEO techniques that can be applied elsewhere on the internet.

Although Shopify stores typically come with a healthy level of SEO already packed in like the ability to redirect pages, it can also have issues that negate the impact of SEO in the form of duplicated content and other drawbacks that search engines like Google frown upon.

Fundamentally, SEO is extremely important in generating sales because it makes your content more appealing to search engines - and it’s through search engines that you’re going to get discovered by new customers. Better performing pages and products that are quick to load and that feature relevant keywords to what customers are searching for will appear higher on the results pages of Google. It’s these favourable rankings that can significantly boost your chances of getting noticed more among potential customers.

Proportion web traffic

(Image: Engenius)

As the chart above illustrates, the vast majority of traffic will invariably arrive from the use of search engines like Google. This means that in order to successfully run a Shopify website, it’s imperative that your pages are optimized in a way that Google understands to help the search engine to accurately display your pages within its results.

There are countless ways that can help to bolster your appeal to search engines - some of which are transferable from the wider world of SEO such as link building and the removal of duplicate URLs, while others are more exclusive Shopify SEO techniques such as removing unused Shopify apps.

In this guide, we plan on covering the various ways that SEO can be used effectively in creating a Shopify store that’ll get your business noticed online.

Search engine clicks

(Image: Blue Corona)

As the metrics above show, the vast majority of search engine clicks feature the first few results. This indicates just how important it is for your Shopify site to optimize its pages using the available tools and insights to give yourself the best chance of reaching the top results for relevant searches.

Assessing Shopify’s Built-In SEO

If you’re aiming to set up your Shopify website and get working on introducing SEO measures early on, the good news is that Shopify comes with plenty of SEO-friendly features ready to go as soon as you are.

Shopify itself runs plenty of guides and even video tutorials on how to get your optimization efforts up and running. On the platform’s help pages, there are tips on how to add your full domain name to Google Search Console to better help the search engine’s crawlers understand what your pages are about, and more advice on how to keep your pages relevant.

The platform is also excellent at allowing you to edit your page title tags, meta descriptions and URLs for different pages, products and collections in order to make them appear more appealing as snippets on Google results pages.

However, there’s plenty more that you can do to get your Shopify site noticed aside from the handy range of built-in features that the platform has to offer. SEO is simple to conduct, but complex to master, and there’s much more that you can do than just shoehorn some relevant keywords into your content in order to rank higher.

Whether you’re a business owner looking to build a presence online, or you’re a marketing manager who’s ready to make inroads for your company website, this Shopify SEO guide has been designed to supply you with all the SEO tips you need to get your store noticed on a significantly larger scale.

Let’s begin this guide by taking a look at your site on a more structural level:

Step 1: Consider Your Shopify Site Structure

Your SEO duties can begin before you’ve even decided what to write in your Shopify website’s pages. Organisation and website architecture is one of the most important factors when it comes to website usability.

When shoppers arrive on your site, it’s important that they can quickly find what they’re looking for. By having a website that’s easy to navigate, you can ensure that users will spend more time on your pages and view more content within your store - which, in turn, can aid your search engine rankings.

For this point, simplicity is the key. The trap that some website owners fall into revolves around making additions to websites without correctly categorizing new pages. By coming back and adding orphaned pages here and there, you’re spending more time making your website more difficult to navigate.

Avoid going overboard with your categories and subcategories. Simple structures make it easier for both customers to see your goods and for search engines to crawl your site and rank products efficiently.

SEO structure

(Image: SEO-Hacker)

Here, we can see an ideal website structure for a Shopify store. Product pages are accessible within two clicks of the homepage, making it much easier for shoppers to access your goods without wasting time working out where to go. Likewise, this format helps the likes of Google to better understand what you’re offering and where it is in relation to your other pages.

Fortunately, Shopify makes it simple for users to effectively categorize their pages, and one of the following structures can be ideal for supreme usability:

Homepage/Landing Page > Category > Product

Or:

Homepage/Landing Page > Category > Sub-Category > Product

Here, the ideal approach depends on the complexity of your site and the various products you offer. For example, if your Shopify site is selling a wide range of computer hardware, the use of sub-categories may make your product pages a little bit further away from your homepage, but it will better help customers to find the items they’re looking for without having to sift through irrelevant products.

To create a collection, go to Products > Collections > Create Collection. The collection should be regarded as a product category, for example, “shoes” or “clothing”.

Create collection Shopify

Once you have your first collection created, you can now go ahead and add new products, assigning these under the collection you’ve just created.

To create a product, go to Products > All Products > Add Product

Create product Shopify

Once you’ve added your product, assign it under an applicable collection.

Add product collection Shopify

After, add your collections to the main menu by going to Online Store > Navigation > Main Menu > Add Menu Item

Add collection main menu Shopify

Here we can see that Shopify makes it simple to edit your menus to ensure that everything can be accessed with ease. By categorising each page you make, you only need to select the pages that you want to be added to the main menu, footer menu, or just about any other menu you create.

In addition to this, it’s wise to add a company About Us page as well as a Contact Us page on your Shopify site. These pages help both visitors and search engines to understand that you’re a trustworthy website. In the world of SEO, establishing trust cannot be overlooked.

Finally, it’s advisable to add a search box on the pages of your website. Although it may not directly impact your Shopify SEO efforts, it certainly helps visitors to access products quicker, adding to the overall optimization of your pages. This added ease of use will help to prevent more bouncebacks from unsatisfied users which should help search engines to view your store more favourably.

Search function Shopify

Handily, the vast majority of free themes offered by Shopify come ready packaged with search functions, meaning that once your store is up and running, shoppers will be able to run internal searches of your site for products or services that they’re after - so just make sure that you’ve made every page discoverable through keywords.

Step 2: Manage Your Duplicate Content

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, duplicate content is one of the biggest things to look out for as a Shopify website owner. Duplicate content happens when either similar or identical content exists on two separate pages or URL paths. This rings alarm bells for search engines as they will only consider one page for the canonical version that’s shown on results pages. In addition to this, link signals can often be split between the pages.

Sadly, duplicate content can be a common issue for Shopify product page, with duplicate product pages and pagination issues in collection pages often causing problems for website owners.

Notably, duplicate product pages are created by default as Shopify stores allow their /products/ pages to appear within two separate URLs - in both:

  • the canonical /products/ URL path
  • and the non-canonical /collections/.*/products/ path.

The issue arises when Shopify automatically adds non-canonical URLs in its internal linking, which sends conflicting signals to Google, as search engines would normally show canonical pages in its search results instead.

Luckily, there’s a quick fix available.

Another duplicate content issue may arise from having both, your custom domain and myshopify version, resulting in identical products, pages and posts.

Although Shopify normally redirects the temporary version to your custom domain automatically, it’s worth double-checking it in Online Store > Domains.

If something isn’t looking quite right, you can always use Shopify’s built-in URL Redirect function in Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects.

URL redirect function Shopify

Shopify allows users to modify their website’s URL linking framework within its Online Store menu and Navigation section. This can help to ensure that your internal linking points in the right direction without sending customers to outdated or unfavoured pages upon clicking a link.

Another way to get your canonical URLs in check is to use passive parameters on Google Search Console once your website is verified. This enables you to actually tell Google which parameters you would like the search engine to consider as ‘passive’.

Step 3: Audit Your Shopify Apps

The best thing about Shopify is that it boasts a vibrant app store that makes it simple to add new features and tools on to your pages without the need of using any coding. The network of apps helps you to manage your inventory, keep track of customer support tickets, run affiliate programs and, of course, boost your website’s SEO performance.

SEO apps Shopify

As we can see, there are well over 500 apps in existence today that are designed to boost your store’s SEO efforts. Using Shopify’s external store link, you could feasibly spend hours trawling through apps that can genuinely take your outlet to the next level.

Recommended apps Shopify

However, there’s also a very handy selection of recommended apps available on your dashboard if you’d rather take smaller steps into this burgeoning ecosystem.

Tiny IMG

One of the most popular SEO apps to embrace is a dedicated SEO image optimizer. Although we’ve selected TinyIMG’s offering as an example, there are plenty of apps to get to grips with here, and it may be worth checking all the higher-rated options out to see which one carries the features that will strike a chord with you.

Image optimization is vital for Shopify sites as it allows you to add those all-important product pictures while compressing them to the point that it won’t adversely affect your website’s loading time. In the case of the TinyIMG app, the tool also audits your entire website for SEO quality - and highlights potential issues in the framework of your site - such as faults in title tagging among other things - and offers actionable recommendations.

SEO Booster

Other effective SEO optimization apps can be found in Shopify’s app store. SEO Booster is a highly rated example of an SEO auditing app that rates your website’s ability to climb the results pages of Google and offers advice on how to improve your score.

This app is one of many that can hand out some actionable guidance on optimization essentials like page titles, descriptions and image alt attributes. For Shopify store owners with an extensive range of products, using the app store is essential. If you have over 1,000 listed items, all with their own images and descriptions, it’s vital that you take on help to speed your pages up under the weight of all the data you’ve added.

The range of Shopify apps available can be a treasure trove of SEO tips, tricks and pointers in the right direction regardless of your level of fluency in the field of search engine optimization.

Additionally, there are also apps available that help to convert your Shopify pages on to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework, helping to better deliver your website’s pages to shoppers browsing on mobile devices.

However, it’s also worth noting that adding apps to your website can slow down loading times.

As with any CMS or website builder, whenever you add a plugin or app, that software injects additional code, which can slow down the website.


It is worth checking out the speed of the website using Pingdom, especially the waterfall file requests breakdown to determine which files take the longest to load.

Pingdom

This is why it’s important to continually audit your range of embedded apps and be ruthless in deleting the tools that you no longer need or use regularly enough.

Step 4: Craft Unique Content

For your products and pages to be indexed and discoverable on the likes of Google, it’s vital that you add unique content into each associated page. Naturally, this can be more of an issue for Shopify pages as opposed to websites that don’t exist in the realm of eCommerce.

As a Shopify website owner, your store may have generic descriptions across a wide range of similar products, or in some cases, your items could have no description at all attached to them. Fundamentally, taking the time to craft accurate product descriptions can pay dividends in enabling more of your pages to hit the results pages of search engines for relevant queries.

Regardless of whether you’re a website owner or a marketer working on behalf of a client, the act of filling hundreds of product pages with unique content can take weeks and even months to complete. However, you can use Shopify your advantage to prioritise the products you add descriptions for accordingly.


Simply visit your Sales By Product page that’s accessible on your Shopify dashboard and start creating one or two paragraphs of unique text for your best selling items on a descending scale.

Sales by product

(Image: Shopify)

This helps to make your best-performing items become more discoverable on a significantly larger scale. Google’s crawlers will be capable of detecting the content you’ve created surrounding the product and subsequently will be much more accurate in showing your product page in relation to queries that match the text you’ve added.

On page SEO

Here, we can see how simple it is to craft content for specific product pages while simultaneously monitoring your page SEO. Shopify handily displays a search engine listing preview that updates in real-time, so it’s easy to shop and change your content to better fit on Google.

Step 5: Add Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Alt Tags and Appropriate URLs

By clicking ‘Edit website SEO’ next to your search engine listing preview box, it’s possible to modify the text that appears on search engines whenever your page appears as a result. This is significant because you can change the title and URL that appears to users - making your content much more poignant and punchy.

Be mindful that your product pages can become significantly more relevant and discoverable for customers if they have the right blend of keywording, which we’ll cover next:

Product seo Shopify

Note that Shopify allows adding a meta description of up to 320 characters long. However, it’s recommended that a meta description should not exceed 160 characters.

When adding images to your Shopify store, it’s recommended to add an Alt tag to every uploaded image. Alt tag (or alternative text) helps search engines understand what the image is about.

Alt tag

Step 6: Consider Your Keywords

Conducting keyword research may sound like one of the more generic SEO points to make within our Shopify SEO guide, but it’s extremely important to reiterate the value that keywording holds for eCommerce stores in helping deliver users to the pages that they’re searching for.

To effectively conduct keyword research as a Shopify site owner, it’s important that you consider three vital factors, the keywords themselves, the volume of searches that are conducted for them, and the difficulty of ranking for each keyword.

Finding keywords that are relevant to your products is vital because they’ll be the best ways in which you can attract prospective customers from Google and onto your landing page. This requires understanding the sorts of phrases used to describe your products and any other terms that are relevant.

By learning about the volume of searches that each keyword receives, you can gain an understanding of just how big an audience is looking for answers related to the search terms you’re looking at. Whereas the difficulty of ranking for a keyword involves just how many existing websites are already ranking for each keyword.

Ahrefs

Above is an example of a low difficulty keyword that’s been assessed by Ahrefs. As we can see, the term is relatively competitive, which means that its relative search volume is higher.

SEO experts can spend hours on end reviewing specific keywords to see if they can find the holy grail of a high volume, low difficulty phrase that’s relevant.

When you find a strong, and relevant, opportunity to use a keyword that’s set to bring in more traffic, be sure to apply it to your relevant product pages along with some supplementary information and you can be confident of gaining some fresh traffic.

Reporting Shopify

To analyse the quality of the keywords you use, it’s possible to tap into Shopify’s vast array of analytical insights. There are dozens of metrics that are capable of telling you plenty about your store, and one of the most effective ways of knowing which keywords are working and which aren’t is to study your top landing pages by sessions. This will show you which pages are luring in the most prospective customers for longer.

By analysing your best-performing pages in this way, you can apply your winning formula to other pages and really ramp up your keyword SEO efforts.

Step 7: Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Another great thing about Shopify is that it makes for an accommodating platform in which users can start a blog. In fact, there’s no shortage of online tutorials and YouTube demonstrations that show exactly how easy and effective Shopify blogging can be.

To help us to understand the power of blogs within the realm of SEO, Ahrefs points us in the direction of Beardbrand as a strong example.

Power of blogs

(Image: Ahrefs)

As we can see, Beardbrand’s monthly traffic amounts to around 136,000 organic visitors per month. While this figure doesn’t tell us much on its own, it’s better contextualised when we see just how much traffic is arriving on the Shopify store’s dedicated blog:

Blog Beardbrand

(Image: Ahrefs)

An impressive 77% of the website’s organic traffic is arriving directly onto its blog pages. By combining the keywords you find with blog topics, it’s possible to generate a significant amount of traffic towards your Shopify site.

Furthermore, there’s nothing stopping you from pitching your products in your blog section. For instance, if you run an eCommerce website that deals in exercise equipment, you could feasibly rank for keywords relating to ‘best fitness trends this year’ and pitch multiple products for arriving traffic.

Blog Shopify

Shopify is extremely accommodating when it comes to the creation of blog posts. As you can see in the screenshot above, the ‘blog posts’ section of your Shopify site is available in a separate tab to that of your other website pages.

Optimizing your blog content for search engines is absolutely essential in winning new customers and establishing the trust of prospective shoppers. Unlike product pages and your landing pages, your blog is the perfect canvas to write for longer and really produce the level of content that can lure new customers in online. Take a look into the sorts of topics that haven’t been covered online in relation to your industry and build keyword laden articles that can fill this niche online.

Ensure to add appropriate headings and subheadings to the blog posts.

Headings blog posts

Always pay attention to your search engine listing preview when producing your blog content. Your page title, description and URL will act as your shop window on the pages of Google, so be sure to make them sound as alluring as possible and ensure that they’re relevant and logical.

Step 8: Submitting you Sitemap

Shopify automatically generates a sitemap.xml file that contains URLs to all of your products, pages, collections and posts.

Sitemap helps search engines crawl and index pages on your website.

Your sitemap can be accessed by going to https://your-website.com/sitemap.xml

For Google to properly crawl your website, add your sitemap to Google Search Console.

But first, you’ll be required to verify your domain.

Register with Google Search Console, and click “Add New Property”

Google Search Console

You’ll be asked to add a verification code to the tag of your website. The code looks like:

<meta name="google-site-verification" content="IV7BPLESttSpBdxSWN1s4zlr4HIcuHkGQYmE3wLG59w" />

To add the code, locate theme.liquid file by going to Online Store > Themes

Google site verification

Add the verification code straight after the opening <head> tag

Verification code Google Search Console

A full guide can be found here.

Step 9: Manage Your Crawlers

Our Shopify SEO guide wouldn’t be complete without addressing the website’s indexing and how crawlers interpret pages.

Significantly, Shopify store owners aren’t able to change their robots.txt file. This file is a vital guide for search engine crawlers in how they interpret and categorize your pages. Shopify’s own documentation confirms this for users, meaning that alternative means of guiding bots would need to be used to optimize your store’s SEO efforts.

Add noindex

Above, we can see that it’s possible to manually edit your Shopify theme within the platform’s Online Store > Themes section to manually add a “noindex” to pages, but this won’t be so useful to you if you’re aiming to stop Google from crawling your content completely.

{% if handle contains 'page-that-you-do-not-want-indexed' %}

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

{% endif %}

Replace page-that-you-do-not-want-indexed with the page that you don’t want Google to index.

However, Shopify does allow you to ‘disallow’ crawling on a range of specific pages. Those pages include your: shopping cart, checkout, orders, admin pages, store policies and internal search pages.

Being unable to edit your robots.txt file can be problematic, as this is generally a powerful way to boost your SEO credentials elsewhere online, but there can be other approaches that you can take, such as adjusting Google’s crawl with ‘nofollow’ links or canonical tagging.

As search engine crawlers work by latching on to your website’s internal linking structure, it’s vital that your pages run smoothly and point to the destinations that they intend to link to.

One of Shopify’s best features is the platform’s internal linking structure. The task of redirecting URLs is made extremely simple by Shopify’s hassle-free URL Redirect section, which can be found in Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirect.

URL redirect Shopify

Your primary aim for using the URL redirect should be to ensure that all of your pages are interconnected and discoverable. Google’s bots will continually latch on to your network of pages to better understand how your site works, what it does, and what kind of products it offers. However, the feature also comes in handy when connecting users to modified pages for seasonal offers and sales.

If you’re running a large scale business that continually looks to create offers for customers, it’s likely that you’ll see plenty of the URL Redirect page as you look to make your user experience model more appealing to shoppers.

Step 10: Monitor Your Progress with Analytics

Another excellent, and often undervalued, SEO feature that’s embedded in Shopify is the platform’s Google Analytics functionality. Google Analytics is a leading analytical platform that’s capable of really getting to grips with the metrics that makes you shop tick. You can see which pages are working better than others, and additionally look to action underperforming pages faster.

Through Google Analytics, you can also establish clear sales goals and marketing funnels that the platform can monitor on your behalf. This provides a comprehensive view of how all of the pages associated with your funnels are working in tandem. If Analytics shows that one factor of your funnel is underperforming, you’ll be presented with actionable insights into what’s going wrong and how you can remedy it.

Google Analytics snippet

Here, we can see that Shopify has a Google Analytics linking feature embedded in your dashboard. To access it, simply navigate to Online Store > Preferences and scroll to see the box that links your accounts.

What’s more is that it’s free to set up Google Analytics, which means that you can gain access to actionable metrics without having to pay through the nose for the privilege.

Elsewhere on Shopify’s website preferences section, there’s also the opportunity to embed Facebook Pixel onto your online store. This can be particularly useful for your future marketing campaigns and retargeting customers in the future.

Step 11: Add Structured Markup Data (Schema)

Schema markup provides Google and users with additional information about the product directly in search results.

Schema markup

(Image: Search Engine Land)

Fortunately, product schema markup adds automatically when you fill out the product details, for example, price and quantity.

If you’d like to extend this beyond basic product schema, Smart SEO app is worth considering.

Conclusion

As more businesses continue to transition into more online sales and operations, platforms like Shopify have become more significant than ever for business owners and marketers alike.

While the platform comes equipped with a healthy range of SEO tools built-in, there’s also plenty of aspects surrounding the platform’s optimization models to keep on top of. This guide is designed to cover Shopify’s more intricate SEO points with transferable relevant tips like keyword research and the importance of differentiating product pages.

In a world where more businesses are vying for exposure on online marketplaces, it’s never been more important to stand out from the crowd. With our Shopify SEO tips, we hope that you’ll be able to outpace your competitors and gain larger volumes of website traction in what’s set to be an ever increasingly competitive eCommerce climate for years to come.

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