Shopify’s ecommerce platform appeared with a clear goal: enabling site owners to focus on bringing in traffic through SEO, SEM, and providing outstanding customer service – while the platform takes care about the rest: hosting, domain, checkout, shopping cart, payment options, etc.
Organic and paid search win
Numerous studies have been proofing that the traffic channels that convert the best come from search – paid and organic search clicks from Google bring in the most sales.
Because search catches the user in the moment they are looking to buy, whereas social media campaigns like with Facebook Ads, target users based on their behaviour, but cannot predict the exact moment someone is ready to take action.
General SEO basics also apply to Shopify
Many SEO optimizations recommended for blogs, corporate websites or local business sites also can be applied to form the foundation of your Shopify site to attract relevant, organic traffic.
Here’s what’s definitely among the basics of good SEO:
- your meta titles and descriptions are unique and optimized
- you have unique content on every page of your website
- you avoid duplicate or near-duplicate content across your site
- you respond to the different possible search intents when creating content
- you bring in searchers at different stages of the buyer’s journey
Moreover, you want to pay special attention to internal linking and provide your site’s content with a logical, well-organized structure that’s both, easily browsable and indexable.
Specialities about Shopify SEO
In order to rank your Shopify store, you should definitely pay special attention to these particular issues the otherwise very well prepared platform presents when it comes to SEO:
Site structure and canonicals
Ideally, on a site you want to have one URL leading to a piece of content. Shopify, however, by design comes with two that might look like:
- <yourdomain.com>/collection/<collection name>/products/<product name>
- <yourdomain.com>/products/<product name>
While Shopify resolves this by using a so-called “canonical” directive, you still force Google to process both URLs and then decide which one to select as the URL to be listed in search.
And (important to know):
canonicals are a recommendation you express to Google – no requirement. Google can still choose which version they prefer. We’ve seen sites trying to rank for a certain URL and Google still picked another one, ignoring the canonical directive.
Our recommendation for proper Shopify SEO is to make sure that both, Google’s crawler and users, don’t even see version 1 below the /collection/ directory, and only see the shorter version. This should solve your problems in this case.
Many SEOs like to optimize crawl budget by using robots.txt directives – the file robots.txt is a file that sits below your domain, so http://seoleverage.com/robots.txt is ours, for example – and contains information crawlers can read and interpret. You could, for example, prohibit Google to crawl your checkout’s URLs.
Shopify, by default, already has a series of directives in place – but does not allow to override them – your robots.txt is what it is.
So, when you’d like to avoid Google indexing content, you need to use noindex directives within your theme file:
A meta noindex tag is the only way to communicate to Google you don’t want to see a certain URL indexed in search. Robots.txt can’t be modified (and also only worked if placed before Google’s first visit to the site).
So, wherever you, for some reason, would like to remove a URL from Google search or make sure it doesn’t get indexed, you need to edit the theme.liquid file as described here and add 3 lines of code.
Shopify is very good at speed – here’s a speed check I’ve just executed on a fresh Shopify site with a few hundred products, and speed is amazing – much better than any WooCommerce site I’ve ever seen (and don’t get me started on Magento’s performance):
You will want to make sure, though, that you optimize your images as much as you can for smaller image size, using sites like tinypng.com before uploading them to Shopify. A page with huge, un-optimized images can still bring your rankings down.
One thing I recommend all e-commerce businesses is to see ecommerce seo within a wider range:
Of course, you should get an ecommerce site audit done when starting out, and build a solid foundation that’s optimized for both, search engines and users coming to visit your store.
Certainly, you’d like to see your product categories/collections ranking in Google – ideally, even see your products to rank for specific searches. However, your store might change – the products might change, you might be using different brands in the future etc.
Why not focus on building up valuable content for your potential buyers? There’s a good chance your buyers are researching a bit before executing their purchase. They might come to your site organically via Google even before looking for a certain product you sell, just to consume your content.
Where to go from here?
We’ve covered quite a lot in this article:
- Which are the foundations for good Shopify SEO optimization
- That Shopify handles site speed but you still need to watch out for the images you use to not slow down your store.
- What particular issues the platform comes with might rather confuse search engines like Google, and what to do about it.
- To broaden your focus and not only try to rank products and collections
Progress requires to know your status quo. The best strategy to start taking your Shopify’s SEO seriously is starting with a quick video audit!