Shopify SEO: How to Hack Organic Search Traffic
What is Shopify SEO?
For Shopify store owners, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can often seem like a herculean task. How are you supposed to compete with hundreds of other businesses vying for the satisfaction of ranking high on the first page of Google for the products you sell? Turns out it’s not as hard as you think. Shopify SEO can be pretty easy to manage and we’ll discuss how to become a Shopify SEO expert in this article.
Let’s start with a simple question. What do you usually do when you’re looking to buy something new? Do you go to social media apps to search for a product or do you call your friends and your relatives to ask about that specific product?
Let’s make a guess about what you do first. You go to Google or other popular search engines to search for products you’re interested in.
If you’re like most people out there, you search for products and services on search engines first. A study shows that around 80% of people use search engines to find information about products and services.
A study shows that around 92% of the total traffic is garnered by being in the first page of Google search results. The point is pretty clear. If Shopify store owners fail to place their website on the first page of the search result for some specific keywords, they will struggle to get organic search traffic to their Shopify store.
Take for example, a person looking for a garage near Seattle. They’ll search for “car garage in Seattle”. A person may use other similar keywords to search for the same thing, and the common words that are used by the people to search for products and services are called “keywords”.
The question is will your website automatically appear on the first page of Google or other popular search engines? The answer to this question is no.
Chances are, your website may not even be visible on the second page of search engines if you haven’t made any effort to optimize your website. In order for your website to appear on the first page of the search engines, it’s necessary to optimize your Shopify store. This is where Shopify SEO comes in handy. If you’re new to eCommerce, you can start a free 14-day trial of Shopify.
Shopify SEO can be defined as the process of affecting the visibility of the website by carrying out various activities to improve search engine ranking positions (SERP). The SEO process doesn’t include paid methods of improving visibility on search engines. So you won’t have to pay Google to help you increase your rankings.
There are various factors that affect the rankings of a specific website, such as page speed, backlinks, social media engagement, keywords, and so on. In this article, we’ll discuss them and reveal the ways to improve SEO for your Shopify store.
Shopify SEO Advantages
Unlike other website owners, owning a Shopify store already puts you at an advantage over other eCommerce stores. There are some powerful SEO features offered to Shopify shop owners, and they are:
- Title tags, URL for the pages, and meta descriptions are editable
- Editable ALT tags for every single image along with customizable image file names
- The sitemap.XML and robots.txt files are automatically generated
- The canonical URL tags that are needed to stop content duplication are automatically generated
Let’s define these terms above:
- Title tags: Title tags are important for both SEO and social sharing. These tags are generally utilized by search engines to show preview snippets of a given page. Make sure that the title element is accurate and it must contain a concise description of the given page’s content.
- Meta descriptions: These are HTML attributes that demonstrate brief and clear information about the web page content. These descriptions are usually used on search engine result pages (SERPs) are are typically around 160 characters.
- The ALT tags and image file name: ALT text is an important feature that describes your product images to the customers. A descriptive ALT text also allows your image to show up in image search results.
- Sitemap.xml: This file comprises of all your web content, such as products, blog posts, pages, etc.
- Robots.txt: The robots.txt is a file that provides the instructions to search engine robots on how to crawl the content and index pages on the website.
Shopify store owners also have the benefit of using SEO apps from the Shopify App Store, but we’ll discuss those later in this article. Now that you know about some basic SEO terms, let’s see how these features can be applied to your Shopify store.
How to Win at SEO for Shopify Store Growth
With all the inbuilt SEO features in Shopify, it’s not difficult for Shopify store owners to advantage of them for technical SEO purposes. Basically, SEO is divided into two categories, and they are On-Page Optimization and Off-Page Optimization.
The first job for Shopify shop owners is to perform internal SEO, which is also known as on-page optimization. After the completion of on-page optimization, the store owner should move ahead to external optimization (aka off-page optimization).
Let’s take a look at how Shopify store owners optimize their store’s on-page optimization.
On-page optimization builds a foundation for a Shopify store. All the tips mentioned in this section should be followed by the store owner to make their store SEO friendly. Here are some of the ways to optimize your content.
1. Conduct keyword research
Before doing anything else with the website, you must be aware of the keywords you want to rank for. Some keywords are very competitive, while others are not. There’s also a lot of hidden gems available if you look closely. For this purpose, it’s important to conduct keyword research.
An example of keyword research using Google Keyword Planner
There are plenty of free and paid keyword research tools that can be used, which we’ll discuss later in this article. For now, let’s discuss the basics of keyword research.
While conducting keyword research, the webmaster should identify the keywords and phrases that may be used by shoppers to search for the products. The keywords can be categorized into two lists.
- Primary keywords: Such as drone store, buy a laptop in Seattle, etc.
- Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI): These are the keywords that are related to primary keywords.
There are plenty of SEO tools available to help with keyword search and general SEO tasks. These SEO tools can help in finding out the list of primary and LSI keywords in a very quick time along with many other details, such as competition, monthly search, trends, and so on.
They can also help in monitoring site performance, rankings, analyzing competitors, optimizing videos and images, and much more. Here are some of the top SEO tools for improving Shopify SEO:
2. Shopify Store Architecture
Some people make the mistake of optimizing their site for search engines only, but not for people. This mistake often leads to a higher bounce rate, which ultimately hampers the ranking of their website.
The architecture of your store is one of the important factors to determine the ranking of your Shopify store. A well-planned store architecture also ensures that customers are able to find the required products and information without much effort, which will increase the time spent by the customers on the store. Make sure to optimize your content too.
Make sure the content is well-organized to make it easier for customers to find your products. A relatively flat architecture instead of deep architecture can help in enhancing user experience and SEO. With a nice site structure, you are not only keeping search engines in your mind, but also the customers that visit your store.
3. Create unique title and meta descriptions for pages
We explained the meaning of title and meta descriptions earlier. The title tags and meta description tags must include important keywords that are associated with the page content.
The unique page title and meta description tags allow the search engine to understand what the pages are all about. There are some important things to consider while writing title tags and meta description tags.
The minimum word count for the title tag and meta description tag are 60 characters and 160 characters respectively. Avoid using words, such as “a”, “the”, “but, “thus”, “if”, and “an”.
4. Page Headers (H1 Tag)
Make sure to optimize your page headers too. The page headers must include the important keywords for your store’s products, blog posts, and pages. Suppose you are selling a blue scarf with the name of your brand in the Shopify store. The appropriate page header for the product page would be “Johnson’s Scarf – Blue”.
5. Remove duplicate content from your store
A duplicate content issue can be defined as any content that is completely matched with the content published on other websites on the internet. Having duplicate content issues can be a disaster for any Shopify store, which will negatively your search rankings on the major search engines.
There are many Shopify stores that have duplicate content issues, and most of those stores are penalized by search engines for publishing duplicate content. A Shopify shop owner must try to keep their store free from duplicates.
To ensure your Shopify store contains unique content, make use of tools like Copyscape. This tool will help you find and delete duplicate content on the site.
6. Optimize store images
Optimizing images is a very important part of Shopify SEO, especially for eCommerce business owners. Optimizing the images on your Shopify store will help in boosting the ranking of your Shopify store on Google and other major search engines.
Make sure all the images include proper ALT-tags, comprised of relevant keywords. The images must be optimized for search traffic. Here are some important tips for optimizing images for Shopify SEO.
- Add a proper description and avoid keyword stuffing
- Always insert unique ALT-tags
- The ALT-tags that are used must be short and clear, which can properly describe the image
7. Optimize videos on your Shopify Store
Video content marketing is gaining a lot of popularity in today’s world. Recent statistics show that around 87% of online marketers use video content to promote their products and services. If you’re using video content to promote your Shopify store, then kudos to you. If not, then start utilizing video content.
Just like images, video content should also be optimized on Shopify stores for a better search engine ranking. Here is a detailed post that will help you optimize the videos in your Shopify store.
8. Link Product Pages from Home Page
There are two types of backlinks that play a part in improving search engine rankings. The first one is internal backlinks and the second one is external backlinks. Internal backlinks are the backlinks that are created within your website and link to your other pages, while external backlinks are linked to your website from other websites.
Among many other pages on the website, the homepage of the site is the most important page, as it is the main page of the website. Create a text navigation links on the homepage of your Shopify to make it easier for the visitors to reach to the important product pages in the store.
Not linking important product pages from the homepage can cost you a lot as a Shopify store owner because finding other web pages on the website is not as easy as finding the homepage of the site. Linking product pages from the homepage is not only important for boosting search engine ranking, but it is also important for boosting sales in the store.
9. Technical SEO for Shopify Stores must not be ignored
Technical SEO can be defined as the SEO activities that do not contain content. A store owner must ensure the following elements are kept in mind, keeping the best SEO guidelines in their mind.
- Check robots.txt file
- Create Google Search Console account and verify the ownership
- Make sure the site has the sitemap.xml file and submit it to Google Search Console
- Install of Google Analytics
- Validate CSS and HTML
- Repair redirect issues and crawl errors
- Proper use of Header tags
- Canonical tag
- Check and improve page speed
Domain Canonicalization and Canonical Tag
Merging multiple versions of the same thing is known as canonicalization. A Shopify store may contain three to five versions working with same content, such as https://abc.com, and www.abc.com. However, they may not be redirected to the same page. This may raise duplicate case content issue, and the site could be penalized.
To stay away from this issue, go to online store>Domains, and then choose “Redirect all traffic to this domain”. You can easily find the ways to deal with canonicalization tags on Shopify Help Center.
Add Sitemap.xml to Google Search Console
A submission of sitemap.xml to Google Search Console means informing Google to regularly crawl the website for indexing.
Google Analytics Integration
In order to track and report website traffic, the store owner must integrate their site with Google Analytics.
301 redirect to outdated product pages
There is a good chance that some of your products are no longer available in your store. The 301 redirects will move the visitors to a new address if they visit the outdated product page. This will also tell Google that the page has moved to the new permanent address.
Page speed is important for decreasing bounce rate and increasing SERP. A study found that around 40% of the visitors will abandon the page if the page takes more than 2 seconds to load. A slow page speed could cost thousands of dollars in revenue for eCommerce sites.
10. Shopify Content Marketing
Adding useful pieces of content, such as helpful videos, related articles, product guides, Q&A sessions, infographics, and so on can help in improving your Shopify SEO and user experience. Shopify has an inbuilt blog feature, which makes it easier for the store owners to manage content marketing for their store.
Useful link: Shopify Marketing Checklist
Shopify SEO Apps
There are some amazing Shopify SEO Apps that can help you find and fix SEO problems in no time. Here are some of the top SEO Apps on Shopify:
Plug in SEO: This is an easy tool available for Shopify store owners for free. It will conduct an automatic regular website scan for identifying SEO problems, which will assist you in quick improvement.
SEO Image Optimizer: A Shopify app offered by Booster apps helps Shopify store owners to add ALT tags to product images with ease.
Reload SEO: This Shopify app can help you conduct keyword research and it also provides feedback on how to optimize the website for better ranking.
UltraSEO: UltraSEO is a one-click install app, which is easy to install and use. You can edit keywords, titles, author tags, descriptions, and more from your admin panel without any difficulty.
SEO Manager: SEO Manager offers control to Shopify owners of how their products and pages are demonstrated in search results, which helps in boosting the store visitors and conversions. This app is mainly designed to improve titles and meta descriptions of the store.
Useful Link: The Best Shopify Apps for Fashion Brands
Doing all the hard work on on-page optimization will greatly help in promoting your Shopify store. Off-page optimization is all about promoting the website to the outside world for boosting the search ranking of that website. There are plenty of ways to get the words out to the outside world, which will tremendously improve your SERP.
Here are some of the off-page optimization techniques that can be used by Shopify store owners to boost their rankings.
1. Social media presence
You must have a strong social media presence to be competitive in today’s world. People spend a lot of time on social media platforms. Recent statistics report there are already over 2.4 billion social media users. This number is expected to further increase in the upcoming years.
Having a strong social media presence can help generate more traffic to your Shopify store. A strong social media presence also plays a very strong role in determining search engine rankings. More engagement on posts and a strong authority on various popular social media platforms gives a huge boost to your Shopify store on search engines.
2. Social bookmarking sites
Like many popular social media platforms, there are many popular social bookmarking sites that can help with the SEO for your Shopify store. Two of the popular social bookmarking sites are Reddit and StumbleUpon.
Search engines just love these social bookmarking sites because the contents of those sites are frequently updated, and they are relevant as well.
3. Build connections with social media influencers and bloggers
There are many influencers who are willing to work for companies and other websites. They can help a lot to boost the SERP. Influencers usually have a very strong fan base. However, you must ensure that these influencers have authentic followers and they are relevant to your niche market.
The social signals sent by those influencers can significantly improve the website’s rank on popular search engine sites. Having contact with bloggers can also help you in getting the words out with the help of their blogs. And, they can backlink to your Shopify store, which can improve your Shopify store’s authority.
4. Guest posts
Writing guest posts for some reputed websites can help you to reach to a mass. Many webmasters just do it for building links, which is a very bad idea. Instead of writing guest posts just for backlinks, try to make it so good that other top publishers and brands online would love to get in touch with you.
5. Answer Questions on Quora
If you’ve been to Quora before, you know it’s a resource for people to ask questions about anything. If you’re selling dresses, people are talking about the industry. The goal here is to answer questions thoroughly, with hundreds of words and detailed, helpful specifics. The best thing to do is make a resource in your blog that answers the question from Quora, then link to the post somewhere in your response.
6. Get Backlinks to Your Top Selling Products
You’re starting in the wrong direction if you try to link to less-liked products. Get the word out about your top-selling items and categories, then move on from there.
7. Create Infographics and Share as Guest Posts
Infographics help make complex information easy to read. Create an infographic that explains the best selling shoes over the past 100 years, or make an infographic that talks about industry trends. Send this out to blogs and publications, and don’t forget to request a link back.
8. Conduct Audio, Video and Written Interviews with Influencers
Your industry is filled with social media influencers who have made an impact, and those stories are worth telling. Not only is an interview with a big shot going to get shares, links and likes from that person’s following, but you’re going to strike a chord with everyone else who looks up to that person in the industry.
Link building for ecommerce websites is not as complicated as you may think, but there are quite a few ways to go about the process. We recommend selecting a handful of these strategies so you don’t overwhelm yourself from the start. Keep track of the links that get directed to your site, and once one wave of techniques is used, look back to see how they worked. Did they improve your sales? Have you seen noticeable search engine ranking changes?
Although this is a fairly comprehensive list, we understand that plenty of other link building techniques are still out there. Let us know in the comments section if you have any other options for the readers.
The number of e-commerce businesses are increasing at a rapid pace. However, the good thing is that the market for e-commerce is also growing at a rapid pace. In 2016, the online sales of physical goods in the United States were $360.3 billion, and this revenue is expected to surpass $603.4 billion in 2021, according to a study.
Among many e-commerce players in the market, Shopify is one of the emerging e-commerce platforms. This study reveals that there are already 380k+ websites using Shopify today. And, this number is also expected to further grow in the future, which means there is and there always will be tough competition in the e-commerce market.
The businesses that stop learning and growing will have a difficult time. Optimizing your Shopify store for a better search engine ranking is definitely one of the most effective ways to stay competitive in the eCommerce business.
Make sure you’ve optimized your Shopify SEO for search engines. Keep offering quality products and services; seek out new ways to promote your business and implement them, and never stop improving and growing.
Doing these things will maximize your chances of being profitable in your market, regardless of competition and changes in the market. Remember, Shopify SEO is easier than you think. It just takes time to see results.
Useful Link: How to Get Started with Shopify eCommerce Marketing
Remember to check out Pollen on the Shopify App Store to set up prospecting and retargeting ads with ease. Our machine learning technology does all the heavy lifting while you can sit back and watch the sales roll in.
Like always, if you need any help or have any questions, send us a note or click the live chat button on the bottom of this page to talk to us directly. We’d be happy to help. Thanks for reading!