Ahhh… SEO! Sometimes it can feel like trying to unlock a safe, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. This article full of SEO and specifically Shopify SEO tips is not only a must read for beginners, but also a good refresher for store owners looking to get back on the right SEO track.
Implement these 40 Shopify SEO tips and get results
“Build It and They Will Come” is a well-known saying, and is still true to a certain extent for brick and mortar stores, but now in the age of online shopping and ecommerce, it’s simply not enough to build it, you MUST constantly promote and optimize your online store.
Are you looking to improve the SEO performance of your Shopify store? Read until the end to find out what Shopify SEO tips and strategies to implement.
To succeed online today, you have to place a lot of emphasis on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), especially to keep advertising expenses to a minimum when starting an ecommerce business.
Put simply, you need to rank as high as possible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), ideally page 1 for any given keyword to have your products seen by as many people as possible who are searching for your particular product or service.
Some beginners may not even understand what SEO is. It’s basically the measures taken to improve the ranking of your website in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Obviously, there is no 100% guarantee that implementing all of these tips will see you rank on page 1 within weeks.
Not even highly paid SEO services can guarantee those sorts of results, but what implementing these tips will definitely do is make it much easier for search engines to crawl, index, understand and fairly and correctly evaluate your content.
You should be thinking of search engines not only as a tool, but also as one of your users. Meet their criteria and you will get more results.
Page 1 on Google or “Die”
They say that you can hide a dead body on page 2 of search results, because no one goes there.
It has been documented on many reputable SEO web sites that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results. If you’re not appearing on page one, then you almost don’t stand a chance of being seen. If you do make it on to page one of a SERP, the CTR (Click Through Rate) is as follows:
- The top result on page one gets 32.5% of traffic on average.
- The second result only 17.6%.
- By the time you get to result number six you’ll look be getting less than 5% of traffic on average.
Free Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic
The focus from the beginning should be on free traffic from SEO, also known as organic traffic.
Generating organic traffic is not only a cheaper option when starting out, but also much more beneficial in the long run.
This is due to the fact that if you have quality products and content, be it on your store or blog, and you are ranking for the right keywords, your traffic will start to gradually increase over time. It’s a free long-term strategy compared to short-term results from paid advertising.
Don’t settle for anything less than page 1 on Google. It may take a while to get there, but it often proves the difference between an online store succeeding and closing its doors.
If you can’t get on to page 1 for particular keywords and phrases, then “they” simply won’t come to your store, because they don’t even know it exists.
You have to not only let everyone know you exist, but you have to stand out from the crowd somehow.
Let’s have a look at 40 very handy tips… firstly, 14 SEO Tips from Shopify’s point, 13 SEO Tips from Google’s point of view and then 13 common SEO mistakes to avoid.
Follow and stick to all of these on a consistent basis and your chances of ranking on page one will be greatly improved.
14 IMPORTANT SHOPIFY SEO TIPS
You often see the question “Can you do SEO on Shopify? of various online forums, and the answer is yes.
Shopify has inbuilt SEO features to optimize your product and other pages, but to improve your chances of ranking, you need to take some extra steps.
Below are some beginner tips to improve your chance of ranking well in the search engines.
Tip 1 – Keep a Shopify SEO checklist
This might seem ridiculous as the number one Shopify SEO tip, but keeping a Shopify SEO checklist will ensure that important SEO things don’t get overlooked and get done. It’s a bit like a personal to do list, annoying and sometimes embarrassing, but they help us get things done.
The following tips should appear on that checklist and be implemented on a regular basis, especially of you have chosen to do your own SEO.
Tip 2 – Product Page SEO Tips
Many online store owners often overlook the basics. If you don’t get the basics right, you don’t stand a chance of ranking.
- edit the title tags and meta descriptions to include your keywords;
- Ideally, title tags should be 60 characters long and 160 characters for description tags.
- edit the alt text for images to include your keywords;
- include your keywords in your file names;
- choose appropriate URLs for blog posts, products, collections and other pages such as about us Ideally less than 60 characters in total)
- Get the balance right with description lengths. Too few words, and Google will overlook you, too many words, and the buyer may feel overwhelmed. Google is smart, but it’s not a mind reader. Make your descriptions descriptive with relevant keywords (not keyword stuffing – gentle reminder)
To edit title and description tags, go to:
>>> In your Shopify store, head to Online Store > Preferences to change your Title and Description.
Tip 3 – Where is Product SEO in Shopify?
Click on All Products in the left hand column of your store’s dashboard, choose a product, then at the bottom of your product page you’ll see ‘Edit website SEO‘ link.
From here you can edit the page title, meta data and the URL. Be sure to check the Create a URL redirect box if you change the URL and handle, that way the URL will be redirected.
What is the best SEO App for shopify?
If Shopify’s inbuilt SEO doesn’t provide you with enough options, in the Marketing category on Shopify’s App store, you’ll find many apps to help you with Shopify SEO.
The majority of them come with either a free plan or a 7-day free trial.
Tip 4 – Remove duplicate content from your Shopify store.
When Google’s crawlers find duplicate content on any web site, it’s a red flag. Although the majority of duplicate content is not included on purpose, ecommerce stores are prone to duplicate content due to product variations etc.
These type of tags tell search engines which URL is the preferred version you want to appear in search results. Using canonical tags will greatly prevent duplicate content effecting your ranking.
To set Canonical Tags, in your Shopify store got to:
Online Store > Domains
then select “Redirect all traffic to this domain”
being the preferred domain you want to appear in search results
Tip 5 – Information vs. Ecommerce keywords
Ecommerce keyword research is different to other information-based keyword research.
“What are my rights as a tenant”
“fluffy pink slippers”
The first keyword search phrase is purely related to obtaining information. Ecommerce sites on the other hand focus on product keywords that reflect and try to match a buyers intent.
As a general rule of thumb, try and put yourself in your buyer’s shoes (or slippers if you have to). Apart from fluffy pink slippers, use the keyword research tools available to you to discover other strong keywords
Tip 6 – Provide the best possible UX on your store
You need to get your UX (User Experience) right, because let’s face it, if your online store is structured poorly, and is hard to navigate, people aren’t going to stick around for long.
You don’t have minutes to impress someone and convince them they’ve come to the right place, online you have less than 10 seconds. A poor bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page) is one of the many things that can really affect your ranking.
Arrange products into categories and create a simple and logical structure where things are very easy to find. It’s not really necessary to include more than 3 tiers in the structure, for exampl
Home Page >> Category >> Products >> Checkout
Tip 7 – Take advantage of free Keyword Research tools
Google Keyword Planner is also a very handy research tool. It will not only help you find the keywords that are most relevant for your products, but also reveals how often certain words are searched and the volume over time. This information is very important when it comes to eliminating useless keywords and focusing on the ones with potential.
Amazon and Ebay’s auto-suggest function is a God send when it comes to finding related product keywords to your main keyword. Simply type or paste your main keyword into Amazon or Ebay’s search field (without hitting enter), and a number of related keyword suggestions will appear.
Amazon and Ebay provide better keyword results when it comes to ecommerce products compared to Google which will give you other keyword suggestions not necessarily product related.
If you install the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere, the usual Amazon auto suggest results in the left hand white column will be expanded to include many other keywords.
Tip 8 – Take keyword research to the next level
Once your online store starts making money, it’s definitely worth considering investing in a paid keyword research tool, that has many additional features compared to the free versions offered.
SEMrush, Ubersuggest, AhrefsandMozbar are just some of the keyword research tools available that will give you an insight into even what your competitors top ranking pages are and can prove extremely valuable. They are not cheap, but well worth considering once your online store starts making money.
Ubersuggest for example provides:
- Search Volume
- SEO difficulty
- Paid difficulty
- CPC (Cost Per Click)
- Keyword and content ideas
- Top page and keyword traffic analyzer
- SEO site audit
- Daily rank tracking
- Personalized SEO suggestions
- Number of site backlinks
- Social Engagement statistics
You’ll notice in the product search below a lot of this data, and also interesting facts such as the product being seasonal, and mobile searches out numbering desktop searches, which again proves the importance of UX of your store on mobile.
Free and paid versions exist for both SEMrush and Ubersuggest.
Tip 9 – Start a blog that’s linked to your store
Every store owner should make use of the built-in Shopify blog. It’s a fantastic way to market your products with long form content. It could be a blog post on the features and benefits of a particular product, a case study, how your product has solved a problem or even how to use your product properly.
This information rich content is loved by search engines. You can also edit the SEO on your blog posts to maximize its reach.
Tip 10 – Focus on the metrics of a keyword
You may be drawn to keywords with high volume searches thinking you can improve your chances of ranking highly, but high volume always means high competition.
Many of the free and paid keyword tools will have a KD score (Keyword Difficulty) for a particular keyword or phrase. The basic rule is:
The higher the KD score, the higher the difficulty.
Level of difficulty
When you’re starting out, you may not have the know how to compete with others for highly competitive keywords. Therefore, look for keywords with a KD below 30 to improve your chances of ranking well.
Other metrics to look out for are Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA). These reveal how difficult it is to rank higher than these organic results. Again, the higher the number, the more difficult it is.
Ideally, aim for high volume, low competition keywords.
Tip 11 – LSI keywords.
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are keywords directly related to your main keyword. If you are having extreme difficulty ranking for the main keyword, target the LSI keywords.
Here’s an example.
Main keyword: Coffee Machine
LSI keywords: Automatic, Iced-coffee, Italian, cappuccino, easy to clean, 2-year warranty
Tip 12 – Think like a buyer and drill down
A lot of buyers know exactly what they’re looking for when they do a search online. Therefore, you need to think like them, do your research and drill down to try and match your buyers exact search terms.
For example, instead of “men’s shoes“, which is a very broad keyword, be specific and use the keyword phrase “Size 10 black leather dress shoes.”
Tip 13 – Create unique titles for each page
Give each unique page a unique title in your online store. This can often be tricky when you have hundreds of similar products, but remember, search engines are like one of your customers. You have to provide them with a clear and accurate roadmap to get to your store and products.
- Using a single title across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages.
When Google indexes ecommerce sites they can appear to have many duplicate pages with very similar content. For this reason it’s important to Canonicalize certain pages of your store.
Doing this tells Google that a particular URL is the “master version” you’d like to display in search results.
Not using canonical tags can result in important content being overlooked and poorer rankings.
Put simply, canonical tags are created by choosing a URL as the canonical and redirect the other URLs to it.
Thankfully the Shopify platform does a good job handling these canonical tags automatically.
Here’s an excellent article from the Shopify Academy that explains canonical URLs in more detail.
Tip 14 – Use Shopify’s Product Review App
Shopify Product Reviews is a free app created by Shopify that allows you to add a customer review feature to your products.
It also allows you to build up the social proof that every new store needs to create consumer confidence. In addition to this, it will add your product review scores to your Google search results.
The apps features include:
- SEO-friendly review scores – Add review scores to your Google search results.
- Matching design – the design automatically matches your store’s
- Easy customization – Edit layout options, text and colours without needing to code
- Bulk actions – Publish, hide, filter, and manage reviews quickly and easily
- CSV import and Export – Import and export your reviews as a spreadsheet
13 IMPORTANT GOOGLE SEO TIPS
I love analogies, so here’s another one to explain briefly how SEO for SERPs such as Google and ranking works.
It’s a bit like when you go to a night club or even a church, they have certain dress regulations (or criteria) that have to be met, otherwise they won’t let you in.
Ranking on page 1 of Google is a bit similar. Unless you meet their criteria, in terms of matching a search intent, they won’t put you on page 1 and you get sent to the end of the queue, or don’t even rank.
Tip 1 – Quality and quantity of content
Approximately 23,000 web sites are added to the internet every hour. That’s a lot of competition in any given product category or niche.
Therefore, you need to aim for your content to be the best and most valuable and informative content it can be, whether it’s a product description or a blog post for example.
When creating content, your content should be better quality than the content that is ranking number one for that particular keyword.
The two most important considerations are engaging content, and content that provides value to the shopper or reader.
Quality content will also prompt shoppers or readers to share that content with other people via email, social media, forums, blog posts or otherwise.
Quality content also does not equate to complicated content. There is no need to overuse words that are not commonly used in everyday life. Make the information provided simple and concise and keep spelling and grammatical mistakes to a minimum.
If your customers or audience is mainly located in The United Kingdom, use British English instead of American English.
The quality of your content should convey an impression of knowledge and or authoritativeness. This will then reassure the user that you are an expert in that particular field, and value is being provided.
In terms of quantity, when someone searches for something online, depending on what the topic is, Google tends to favor articles that are over 2000 words compared to say another article that only has 500.
Obviously, this is not relevant for a search such as “how to tie a tie” but for something like “The History of The Roman Empire”, then it’s not only about quality content, but the quantity. You can cover the history of the Roman Empire in 500 words, but it’s not going to be as informative or in depth as a 200 word article.
Tip 2 – Make your website secure
If your online store doesn’t have an SSL Certificate, this is a very big negative from Google’s point of view.
Domains registered via Shopify have a free SSL Certificate included. If you don’t want to register your store’s domain through Shopify, many other web hosting companies offer a free SSL Certificate (for example Siteground) with their web hosting plans.
An SSL Certificate also gives your store visitors peace of mind when the “Your connection to this site is not secure” warning doesn’t appear.
Sites that don’t have a https:// and a locked icon next to their URL instead of just http:// are deemed by most search engines to be NOT secure.
Tip 3 – Help Google’s crawlers find your content
Google constantly crawls the internet for new or updated web pages and then indexes them in order of relevance related to particular search terms. It does this by following links, reading sitemaps, etc.
To speed up this process, you can give Google a bit of a “Hey, I’m here… I exist” using the tools and methods below.
Google Search Console
Register for Google’s Search Console to get tools and reports to measure your store’s search traffic and performance. It allows you to also address site issues and improve your Google Search results.
A sitemap is a file containing information about your websites content, pages, videos, and other files. Google reads this file to more intelligently crawl your site. Site maps also provide valuable information about these files: for example, when a page was last updated, the frequency of page changes, etc.
Site maps for web sites can be found by adding /sitemap.xml after your web site’s domain name, for example at http://your-url/sitemap.xml
Do the following to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console
- Sign in to Google Search Console.
- In the sidebar, select your website.
- Click on ‘Sitemaps’. The ‘Sitemaps’ menu is under the ‘Index’ section. …
- Remove outdated or invalid sitemaps (if any) like sitemap.xml.
- Enter ‘sitemap_index. …
- Click Submit.
robots.txt files are mainly used to manage crawler traffic to your site, and usually to omit a page from Google search results, depending on the file type.
Check your robots.txt file on a regular basis to make sure you’re not blocking pages that shouldn’t be blocked.
Tip 4 – Improve your page load times
From Google’s point of view, the speed of your web site counts for a lot, because the UX or the User Experience is very important.
When Google delivers a service to its users or customers, they want everyone who uses pages from their search engine results to have the best possible experience online.
Therefore, if your store’s or website’s pages load slowly, this is not a favorable experience for the user and therefore it will contribute towards your store not ranking as high as it could on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
This is relevant not only for results via desktop browsers but even more so for mobile.
We all know how frustrating it is when a web page takes what seems like forever to load.
Use Google PageSpeed Insights to test any web page’s speed. The content of a page will be analyzed and then suggestions will be made as to how the load time can be improved on both mobile and desktop devices.
Tip 5 – Make the mobile experience as good as possible
Because traffic on mobile devices has increased so much in the last 4-5 years, in 2016, Google began using primarily the mobile version of a site’s content for ranking in order to continue delivering the best possible user experience on a mobile device.
First and foremost, your store’s pages must be responsive on tablet and mobile devices.
This means that text and graphics should always automatically resize on those devices for easier consumption.
There are 3 main considerations here…. visibility, accessibility and navigability. Text cannot be too small to read, content must not be blocked by advertisements, and all menus must be clearly visible and function properly.
Tip 6 – Give Google as much help as possible with Keywords
Let’s face it, you can implement as many SEO tactics as possible, but if Google can’t determine if the product you’re selling or the information your providing on your store matches a particular search query, then it’s going to always be an uphill battle to rank highly.
How can I simply explain how keywords work, and why they can make or break your SEO success… and your business.
Let’s use the simple analogy of dating. When you go on a date, if you’re not “offering” what the other person is looking for, then they’ll move on to the next person until they find that particular thing.
If Google doesn’t think your Shopify store is “offering” what the customer is searching for in Google or Bing, then you simply won’t be matched… date over.
That’s why it’s critical you use the keywords you want to rank for in your page and product titles, descriptions, meta description and tags and image alt tags, and even in your store’s blog posts, without keyword stuffing (we’ll get to stuffing a bit later on). Keywords can also be included in your URL and in social media hashtags
Tip 7 – LSI Keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are quite important as well. These are other keywords that are related to your main keywords, and can often distinguish the difference between one thing and another and minimise any confusion from Google. For example, the keyword “apple”. Is someone searching for the fruit or the computer? Apple fruit or apple computer would be the LSI keyword.
Tip 8 – Title and Description Tags
Title and Description tags are very important elements of SEO.
The inclusion of description meta tags on all of your pages is always good practice. These tags assist search engines if they cannot find an appropriate chunk of text to use in the snippet.
A description that is relevant to the content and informs and engages users will definitely help users to determine if it is the content they’re looking for.
Filling the description with keywords only does not have the best interests of the user in mind.
Tip 9 – Leverage the power of video content
Video is very quickly becoming a powerful content delivery tool when it comes to satisfying a customer’s search intent, whether they need more information on a product, a review, or are ready to buy.
Many people today would prefer to watch a product review video than read a blog post review. The user engagement is much better.
YouTube has become the world’s most popular video content website and the world’s second largest search engine, so consider video content to improve your SEO.
If you’re ready to leverage the power of YouTube, here’s a very informative article from Shopify’s blog titled: YouTube SEO 101.
Tip 10 – Perform periodic technical SEO audits of your store
Ranking as high as possible in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) is not a fix and forget aspect of your business. It requires constant work, whether that has to do with keeping up to date with search engine algorithm changes or simply keeping your SEO “engine” in good running order.
Tip 11 – Always include Image Alt Tags
Remember, these can help your SEO as well. No image or photo (exclude buttons) on your store should be without an Alt Tag. These tags act as keywords, especially for image searches. If it’s a leather dog collar, name the image ” leather dog collar” and not just “dog collar”, or worse “image_435”.
Add Alt Text To Product Images from Shopify’s Help Center gives a clear explanation of how to do it properly.
Tip 12 – Create a network of links
There are basically 3 types of links:
- Internal links – from one of your pages to another. Great for boosting the amount of time a visitor stays on your site, which contributes positively towards your ranking. The other page’s ranking will be boosted by linking to it.
- Back links (aka inbound links) – links from another site that link to your site. These are the most valuable in terms of improving your authority ranking. Google thinks if someone is linking to one of your pages, then the content value must be high. The higher the authority of the web site that’s linking to you, the higher the ranking benefit for you.
- Outbound links – links within your site that go to another site. These links can add value to the content you’re offering, but can backfire sometimes if your customer or reader gets distracted an doesn’t come back to your site.
Tip 13 – Test Browser Compatibility
You need to test your online store in as many browsers as possible to make sure that all your visitors are getting the best UI and UX experience.
The top 5 web browsers used today are:
- Google Chrome.
- Internet Explorer
Unfortunately, different browsers and versions can produce different results. Google Analytics will indicate which browsers are being used the most by people visiting your store.
13 SEO BASIC MISTAKES YOU MUST AVOID
Tip 1 – Keyword stuffing
The uninitiated sometimes assume that they can fool Google’s algorithm…. think again. Keyword stuffing, where you include the keyword you want to rank for many times within your web page’s meta tags and visible content such as headers and descriptions, to gain a ranking advantage, is a huge negative as far as Google is concerned.
This attempt to gain what is considered an unfair advantage will always to a lot more harm than good, so avoid it at all costs.
Tip 2 – Poor keyword relevance and type
First of all, keywords need to be highly relevant. Many people overlook this basic criteria.
As far as the type of keyword is concerned, single keywords can be very difficult to compete for.
Medium and long tail keywords often get overlooked, but they can produce some good results.
Not only will you be ranked for those keyword phrases, but many other associated keywords.
Tip 3 – Not using snippets
Snippets are like a summary of your web site or page that contains your page’s title, URL, and a description. It appears amongst all the other search result snippets. It was basically created to provide more information for the searcher without having to open every link.
Amazingly, only 1 in 10 search results have a featured snippet. If you don’t add a meta description for your web site, search engines will try and create the most accurate description from information on your web site.
Tip 4 – Don’t include poor quality or unoptimized images
Take the time to optimize your images so that they load as quickly as possible on any device. There are a number of apps that can speed up this process.
The main image optimization considerations are:
- The physical size – there is no need to have a 5000px wide image when under 1920px (full width) will do
- The file format – the most common file formats for web images are .jpeg and .png;
- The resolution – 72 dpi (dots per inch) is high enough for web images. 300dpi resolution is usually reserved for print images in magazines for example.
Optimizilla is just one of many online image optimizers available.
For more information on the importance of quality images and much more, check out my blog post on design and branding.
Tip 5 – Don’t use raw camera image file names
If you use a camera or smartphone to take product photos, the image file name will be something like DCMIMAGE115.jpg. For SEO purposes, it is much wiser to name and add any appropriate product name, such as brown_leather_boots.jpg.
Tip 6 – Fix all broken links immediately
No page on your store should have the dreaded “404 Not Found” appear. This means that the link is broken, and has many negatives connotations, from both the user’s perspective and Google’s ranking.
Fix any broken links before Google finds them! The Broken Link Manager app from The Shopify App store, can automatically keep an eye on broken links for you.
Tip 7 – Ignoring Schema Structured Data Markup
So you finally made it on to page one, but the battle hasn’t been won yet. You still have to compete with the other page 1 results that may have more valuable information under the link, such as a star rating and publication date. Social proof and how old the content is can be the difference between someone clicking on your link or someone else’s.
Find out how to add Schema Markup to your pages from Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Tip 8 – Don’t breach copyrighted content
As incredible as it may seem, there are still many people who think they can get away with copying or plagiarizing other people’s written content online.
Google can detect this as well. This type of content will not only be classified as spam, it is also highly illegal and can result in penalties in the first instance from Google and the original copyright holder.
If you don’t have written permission from the original author to use their content, then always create original content to avoid law suits and also poor SEO results.
Tip 9 – Don’t breach Image Copyright or Trademarks
To check if an image or a slogan has a Registered Trademark, in the United States got to United States Patent and Trademark Office’s web site.
Tip 10 – Don’t stuff your pages with links
External outbound links are definitely more about quality than quantity. If you think you can simply stuff your content with 20-30 external links and get good SEO results, you’re mistaken. You’re better off putting in just 3-4 quality links that take the buyer or reader to websites of authority. This will also improve the user experience.
Tip 11 – Get professional SEO assistance if you need it
Once your business is making a healthy profit, outsourcing your SEO to a professional makes a lot of sense (and also cents) in the long run. SEO can become a real chore if you’re not getting results, so get help if you need to for this very important aspect of your online business.
If you would prefer to leave your online store’s SEO to the experts, a Shopify SEO Expert can help.
Shopify Experts is a directory of professionals that can help you with just about anything to do with your Shopify store.
Tip 12 – Don’t include meaningless anchor text
Commonly “Click Here” or “Learn More” are used as anchor text, but repeating these words several hundred times in your online store can hurt your ranking.
Wherever possible, use anchor text that has a meaningful context, such as “10 Best Vacuum Cleaners”.
Remember, every word and how it is used counts with SERPs.
Tip 13 – Don’t be lazy and ignore backlinks
The creation of quality backlinks is widely regarded as one of the best ways to get quality and targeted traffic and rank you higher. Create a profile of your store wherever you can, and track those links.
If you have made it this far and read all 5,000+ words, well done. I hope you’ve found this article super helpful in terms of learning all about SEO and implementing certain things to improve your rankings.
Especially in the beginning, SEO can feel overwhelming with all the things to consider and implement, but after a while it will all start to make sense and become second nature in terms of running your business efficiently.
Please leave a comment below. Maybe let me know the 3-5 SEO tips from this article you feel comfortable implementing. Reader feedback is always appreciated and responded to.