Shopify SEO: The Definitive Guide (2018)
- Shopify SEO: The Definitive Guide (2018)
- What to focus on for your Shopify store
- Is Shopify SEO friendly?
- Shopify store SEO audit
- Out of the box SEO functions
- Basic SEO optimization for Shopify
- Keyword research for your Shopify store
- On-page optimization for Shopify
- Technical SEO for your Shopify store
- External optimization (backlinks & social media)
- Best SEO app for Shopify
- Shopify SEO other resources
Are you using Shopify to sell your product(s) online? Do you want to sell more products and outrank your competitors? Then read this definitive guide on how to optimize your Shopify shop for the search engines!
What to focus on for your Shopify store
Within Shopify there are three main area’s you can focus your efforts on while optimizing your Shopify store for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- External factors
The basic steps to follow in order to optimize your Shopify store are:
- Find the keywords that your audience is using and that are relevant for your products, categories and brand. Keep in mind that the keywords you are looking for have a buyer intent because you are a store.
- Optimize your products, categories and other pages for these keywords. Our app ReloadSEO helps you with his.
- Make sure that your Shopify store is technically healthy
- Create exposure on the internet through guest blogging, backlinks, social media and other methods.
We cover everything about these steps in our main E-commerce SEO guide. So if you are new to search engine optimization (SEO) it is best if you start with our basic E-commerce SEO guide. If you are looking for specific tips and tricks to optimize your Shopify store, keep on reading!
Is Shopify SEO friendly?
Before we dive any deeper into search engine optimization and Shopify we need to address a question we get asked a lot: “Is Shopify an SEO friendly platform”. Yes, Shopify is a platform that was developed with SEO in mind, and a lot of e-commerce websites got big thanks to the ranking abilities on the Shopify platform. But does that mean that you have to do nothing? Unfortunately no, you will need to tweak some things to make your Shopify store rank even better.
Shopify store SEO audit
Before we start optimizing the basic functions it is necessary to do a deep crawl of your Shopify store and see if you have any existing technical issues or are missing out on traffic from the search engines. In order to do this install our app ReloadSEO, and we will initiate a crawl with our own crawler who looks at more than 140+ factors that are important for your rankings.
After the crawl, you will see how many pages are crawled. Which issues we have found and how to solve them. It might take a while before the results are in so it’s best if you start doing this immediately.
During the installation, we ask you to connect with your Analytics and Search Console account. These two other data sources can give you also vital information about the health of your Shopify store for Google and other search engines.
Tip: It takes a while before Google and other search engines re-index your Shopify store. For bigger stores, this can be anywhere between 1 to 48 hours. For smaller Shopify stores this can take up to 2 months.
Out of the box SEO functions
Shopify comes with a few basic SEO solutions out of the box, but for most of the SEO functionality, you will need an external app to help you achieve SEO nirvana. The following functions are built into Shopify so you don’t need to worry about them;
Canonical URL’s in Shopify
What is a canonical URL and how can it help rank you high in the search engines? A typical online store creates thousands of urls and multiple urls of one product. Let’s say for example that you have a pair of pants and are selling them in three different colors. The URL of those pair of pants is now accessible in a lot of different ways: You can access the URL through the color filter, through the pants collection or straight from the product index.
This creates a lot of duplicate content in the eyes of the search engines. Shopify handles this by adding a canonical url to the pages that are not the original page. This way Google and other search engines know that these pages are actually copies of the original and should not rank, only the original should rank.
Sitemap in Shopify
A sitemap is a schematic flow of your store. A search engine uses a crawler in order to index your Shopify store. In order for the crawler to visit all the pages on your store, you need to link to each and every page. While this happens most of the time some pages can be forgotten, for example a landing page or collection page that you have made for a special occasion or launch. A sitemap is a blueprint with links to all the pages on your store and helps search engine crawlers immensely in indexing all the pages. Every time you add a product, collection or page Shopify will add this to the sitemap and regenerate it. This way you can be sure all your pages are being indexed by Google and other search engines.
Robots.txt in Shopify
Robots.txt is a file that lets the search engine crawlers know what pages on your store can be indexed and which pages should be hidden.
Shopify knows which page’s should be hidden and generates a robots.txt for these pages. This does have a downside; If you ever create a landing page for a special date or launch and you don’t want it to be indexed so that people can’t reach it you don’t have the option to edit your own robots.txt.
The positive side is that you can’t mess things up, we see it happen all too often that shop owners from other platforms like Magento, Prestashop etc. are blocking out the search engines because they forget to delete some blocking rules from their robots.txt
Basic SEO optimization for Shopify
After we have done a complete audit of the store and found all the technical errors that are preventing your store from ranking it is time to optimize the most basic functions in your Shopify store.
Check your home page descriptions
Before you launch your shop it is recommended to check your Homepage title and meta description. This description shows up in the search engines when someone searches for your brandname in Google. So this:
Will show up like this in the search engines:
Go to Online Store -> Preferences -> Title and meta description to edit this for your store. Keep in mind while writing the title and meta description that you need to convince a search engine user to click on your website. So always write the meta title and meta description like you would write an (AdWords) advertisement.
The click-through rate is a metric for Google that is becoming more and more important. If you are ranking on position 6 for a search term but everybody is clicking on your result instead of the number 1. Guess what happens? Google tracks theses clicks and will reposition accordingly. So always craft your meta title en description to speak directly to your target audience.
Keyword research for your Shopify store
Before you write content you need to know how your audience is searching the web. You can do this with the help of a keyword research tool in ReloadSEO. For example; The term Shopify SEO is searched in the US for more than 1300 times monthly.
It would be interesting for us as ReloadSEO to rank for the keyword Shopify SEO with this article so that we can reach our audience (Shopify owners). That’s why I called this article Shopify SEO and made sure I optimized this page and let Google and other search engines know that this article is of added value to Shopify owners.
You need to do this for your own Shopify store. Research which phrases your audience is using and how often a month can make the difference between failure and succes for your store.
After you have
On-page optimization for Shopify
A lot of people make the mistake to start focusing on only their audience or only the search engines. A successful Shopify store focusses on both worlds. Never forget that you are selling your product to humans and not computers but keep in mind that computers need to comprehend what your text is all about. How do you let a search engine know which term you want to rank for? You use our app ReloadSEO to help you structure your content in a way that your visitors and search engines will love.
Content optimization is where you can really shine as a Shopify owner. You can add unique content to your pages and make yourself stand out from the competition.
Use descriptive image names
Search engines can do a lot but they can not see. In order for them to know what is shown on images, you need to use descriptive image names. This is not only important for the relevance of that specific page but gives you also access to another important visitor acquisition channel: Image search. A lot of search engine users search for images to see what the product looks like.
Use alt tag for images
To make the web a better place search engines are all about optimal user experience. So what happens when somebody tries to load a product page of your Shopify store but the images couldn’t load properly? Then would get to see the alt tag! The alt tag is not only used for optimal user experience but also to show relevancy for that page. So if you are selling the iPhone 6s and you give your iPhone image the alt tag: “iPhone 6s” then search engines will notice that the whole page is about the iPhone 6s and thus giving you better relevance and higher rankings.
Title and meta description
So you’ve done everything right and your Shopify store starts to rank but wait a minute! Even though you are ranking high a lot of people click on your competitor’s website. This is often because of dull title and meta descriptions. This is a missed opportunity! Write all your title and meta descriptions like (AdWords) advertisements. Make sure that you use a call to action at the end of the meta description to activate the search engine user and let them click on your website.
Ranking on your products is essential for the success of your website. Search engine users who search for a product name are often higher in the buying ladder than users who search generic terms. For example: Which search term is more intended on buying something? “phone” or “iPhone 6s”. Exactly
To optimize each and every product for the steps above can take a long time. To speed up this process we’ve developed ReloadSEO. ReloadSEO makes it possible to do direct keyword research from the Shopify back-end and helps you optimize your content in a quick and fun way to speed up things.
A little bit lower in the buying ladder are category pages (called collections in Shopify terms). These collections are the doorway to your products so you’ll want the to rank high in the search engines. The volume on these search terms is often more than on individual product keywords. The competition is therefore also higher. Use the plan as mentioned above to start optimizing your collections and rank higher than your competition.
The blog functionality within Shopify often gets overlooked and this is a downright shame! In the land of SEO, there’s a saying: “Content is King”. This is simply due to the fact that search engines can index content the best and thus content is still the main factor for ranking on a keyword.
The blog function is one of the best inbound traffic generators you can put on your store. Start writing articles for your blog like; product reviews, a collection of best products out there, buyers guides or tutorials. It is a great way to display authority, get more traffic to your store and your customers will thank you for all the good information.
Technical SEO for your Shopify store
By now you should have crawled your store with our ReloadSEO crawler and found all the issues you need to fix.
As discussed in chapter 1, Shopify automatically generates a sitemap for your store. This sitemap can be found at the following URL: www.yourstore.com/sitemap.xml. Shopify updates the sitemap every time you add a new product, page, blogpost, image etc. You don’t need to do anything about this.
We often get the question: “what’s a canonical URL?” Well, maybe you have heard stories of how shop owners got penalties because of duplicate content issues.
Fact is that when you have a large webshop there are often more ways to get to a product. You could just browse through the Shopify collections for example. Or adjust a filter and then click on a product. Basically, you are on the same product page but with a different URL, a search engine could interpret this as duplicate content. This is not optimal because search engines don’t like duplicate content and you have no control on which page gets ranked for which keyword. To prevent accidental punishment you can use a canonical URL to let a search engine know which page is the original page with the content.
So this is where the canonical URL comes in handy. The canonical URL points to the original content so that search engines know which page they need to rank. Luckily Shopify owners don’t have to worry about this because Shopify automatically handles canonical URLs
www vs non-www
Check if your Shopify settings are correct and you are redirecting your users from the non-www to www. To check this feature click on Online store -> Domains and verify that the checkbox “redirect all traffic” is checked.
Best SEO app for Shopify
Which app is the best for your Shopify apps depends largely on the use of the app and how you can use it to optimize the SEO for your Shopify store.
With SEO for Shopify you have the choice out of apps for two different reasons:
Best Technical SEO app for Shopify
For the most part, these issues are handled by Shopify itself. That said, there are a number of instances where Shopify’s default settings aren’t quite optimal, and in some cases downright bad for your Shopify store. This is where extensions like Plug-In-SEO come in. Plug-In-SEO is one of the best apps on the Shopify market for technical optimizationYou could also use general tools like SEM Rush and Moz that also help you to identify things like broken links and duplicate content.
Currently 90% of the SEO apps for Shopify fall into this category.
Best On-Page app for Shopify
You have the most direct control over the on-page optimization. Content optimization is important because it not only affects your rankings but also your AdWords quality score which results in less advertising spend. Another great benefit is that your conversion rates will go up because the content is better written. So the trick is that you have to write content that is actually searched for. This means that you have to do proper keyword research first. This way you will find topics related to your industry that are actually being searched by your audience. After you have done keyword research for your categories and blog it’s time to start writing the content. You’ll want to make sure that your content is written not only for your visitors but also for search engines. This is where our extension ReloadSEO comes in.
Shopify SEO other resources
There are some terrific resources out there that make optimizing your Shopify store a lot easier than you think. To start off we recommend reading through the MOZ basic SEO guide which can be found here:
After reading the moz guide you can pick up some more SEO information for your Shopify store over at:
Also don’t forget to participate in the Shopify fora over at:
So you’ve made it all the way down here in our definitive Shopify SEO guide? Then what are you waiting for, start optimizing your Shopify SEO store today with our ReloadSEO app.
Image if there was a quicker way to optimize your product pages, blog, normal pages and collections. Well, now there is! With the ReloadSEO app for Shopify you can do all of the above and more. Check out the ReloadSEO app in the Shopify App Store.