Most brands would love to be in the number one spot in search engine results. Nowadays, there are a couple of ways to achieve that. You can run ads – SEM or Google Shopping – or work on SEO. Online advertisements can have a great ROI, yet they bring us results so long as we invest in them. Once we stop optimizing the ads, we lose a substantial traffic source.
The other way of building our position is SEO – Search Engine Optimization. It requires great effort, attention and time, but it certainly pays off. If you get to the first couple of results for a high-traffic keyword, you can get customers to your Shopify store, basically for free for now on. How to make it happen?
SEO and Shopify
Shopify is a SaaS app, which means that we don’t own the source code, and therefore, we can’t do much about it. Some people claim that boxed solutions have poor SEO, because it doesn’t leave a lot of room for optimization. Is it true when it comes to Shopify? Does it lower our chance of being first in Google or other search engines? To answer this, let’s examine what influences SEO.
What influences your ranking in search engine results?
There are a number of factors that determine our position in Google and other search engines. For example,
- domain authority and age
- permission for domain indexing
- bounce rate for organic search
- site loading speed
- site structure
- site topic
- internal and external linking
- keywords and site content
- metadata (descriptions, titles, URL)
Some of those require time and patience to take effect. Very new sites have trouble ranking. Getting backlinks can help with that, yet the links must be acquired organically and come from sites that have a higher domain authority than a Shopify store we try to position. One of a great tool for establishing domain authority is Ahrefs.
What’s more, a Shopify store’s content, metadata, and site structure are also ranking factors. Search engines evaluate all the words you put in your store. They analyze the sitemap, HTML code and if they suspect that the page isn’t relevant in terms of a user’s query, they will not account for it in the results.
The user behavior is also a vote for value. If a page is visited by many users, but then, they leave it immediately, it might be a signal that our site doesn’t meet their expectations. As a result, we lose our position. What makes users abandon sites too quickly? Most common reasons are slow loading time, poor usability, bad design, and more.
Our position can also be determined by relevant keywords that we put on the site, metadescriptions, metatitles, image alternative texts, etc. If we match them to what the user searches for, our Shopify store content for that keyword will be considered as relevant. It’s important to use long-tail keywords (“windproof hooded rain jacket for weekend hiking”) alongside those short ones (“hooded rain jacket”). With the right tools, we can find what people type into Google to find products like ours.
No single tip will be effective until we did something to block indexing the site. It disqualifies our site from being present in search engines. To learn more about site indexing and how Google works, read this official guide on search engines.
Can a Shopify store rank first in Google?
Of course, it can. Any Shopify store can get to the most desired spot. All it takes is working on your Shopify store’s SEO. Despite being a boxed solution, Shopify allows you to optimize your position in organic results. But it takes a lot of effort to rank first the same way as you need to work on SEO in Magento, WooCommerce, and other e-commerce solutions.
Are you planning to move to Shopify? Read about Shopify migration
Are there any essential tips for Shopify SEO?
There are a couple of things that Shopify users should pay attention to. It’s important to optimize images for fast loading with Image Optimizer or any other app. Speaking of apps, make sure that every extension that you integrate with your Shopify store isn’t disturbing the page speed time. Make a habit of testing site performance each time you connect a new app to a store.
Some merchants have trouble ranking because of content duplication, when two or more URLs direct a user to sites with the same (or nearly identical) content. Search engines can’t tell which one is the original site. You can fix that.
Shopify SEO guide
We learned what influences a Shopify store’s SEO. Let’s see the practical side. What can we do to make our site ranked first? Here is our advice.
Product page optimization
Users tend to run a query for a specific product (or product type). If a product page is optimized for that, the chances of our page showing on the first page are high. How to conduct a product page optimization? Above all, make sure your product page has all the right information even before a user chooses which result to click on.
- take care of metadata, title and URL structures that can be seen in Google results
- add structural data, for example, add ranking stars to indicate customer satisfaction
Data optimization alone won’t do much until you optimize product description and pictures. Put technical details in the description and describe how a product solves the customer problem. Let’s say that you sell backpacks made from eco-friendly fabrics. The product descriptions usually contains information about how much it weighs, its measurements, materials it was made from… But it’s not enough. The description should also tell the customer in which situations the backpack can be used. For instance, our backpack is a great alternative to a purse, or it works great for climbing.
Apart from image compression, add alternative text that contains a relevant keyword to the image. A text like that is important. Visually-impaired people can hear this text when using the browser. For that reason, it should state what’s in the picture. But it also helps Google bot in indexing the site content.
A product description is no less important than the way we show it on the page. Take care of appropriate headings and make sure that the text is easy to scan.
Page speed is also a huge factor in optimizing any product page.
Improving user experience
Shopify ready-made themes are optimized for user experience, and they are built with mobile devices in mind. Also, if you decide to build a custom theme, agencies take care of site responsiveness and build your Shopify store according to e-commerce UX principles for all devices and screen sizes. UX is becoming a strong ranking signal, especially when you look at the newest update that comes into effect in May 2021.
Blogging, podcasting, video production can be a good method of generating traffic to Shopify stores, and at the same time, showing up high in search results. In the context of SEO, you may hear a lot about running a blog. Producing quality content that is full of tips, interviews, reviews seems to be effective. A lot of experts say that every brand nowadays is a media company.
With Shopify, you can easily create and optimize blog posts, yet if writing isn’t your strong suit, you can run a podcast (that has a special spot in search engine results) or publish video content. Just make sure that they are an answer to a specific query. If you’re looking for keyword inspiration, try using Answer the Public or check out the bottom of the page with search results for a keyword that’s relevant to your product.
Creating content in any form helps us improve our spot in search results. If we use it to answer popular questions that potential customers grapple with, more people visit our Shopify store, and other publishers link to it. If you do audio-based content, make sure to put transcription so that your site gets longer. Having long-form content is also a sign of subject-matter expertise.
To boost your content value, work to get quality backlinks that lead to your most-visited posts. It signifies that you are a great source of information, and it makes it obvious that your page should be on the first page of search results. Avoid buying links, because if you acquire too many links at once, you may harm your domain whether than boost its value.
Redirects, 404 error pages and turning off indexing
Site structure impacts SEO. Use redirects to keep your structure without broken links. 301 redirects, for example, are a clear sign for Internet bots that a site is available on a different page, and it’s a nice way of avoiding content duplication.
There’s also other signal that most of us are aware of. It’s a 404 error page that informs a user and web crawlers that a site is no longer available. Our domain reputation can be hurt if we have too many sites that can’t be accessed anymore but are still indexed by Google or there are a lot of external sites are still linking to those unavailable pages. Anytime we want to remove a site, make sure we set up appropriate redirects.
What about a situation when we want to prevent a page from being indexed? Shopify blocks the checkout page, shopping cart, user accounts, Terms of Service, and other documents from being indexed. But we may find ourselves wanting to keep other sites away from being indexed. Shopify doesn’t give us access to Robot.txt file where we can usually do it, but Shopify SEO specialists know how to remove a given page from indexing through making adjustments in code.
Do you want to involve a Shopify agency in SEO?
Most e-commerce businesses have a SEO specialist on their team, outsource the store positioning or hires an agency for link building, content creation, keyword optimization, etc. But it’s not always enough, as they need to improve site speed, do redirects or change something in site structure.
Shopify’s agencies can help you in those areas, especially the ones that handle SEO like WeCanFly. We’re ready to handle:
- technical SEO
- page speed improvements
- code adjustments
- site restructuring
Such work requires the help of an experienced Shopify specialists, who checks technical parameters, analyzes site structure and take steps towards site optimization.
Contact us about Shopify Optimization
Search engine optimization is a great way of getting more traffic to a Shopify store, and that gives us a chance of improving conversion rates. A strong site in terms of SEO leads to more clients, more recognition and better reputation. There are a lot of factors that influence SEO. To improve the technical side of site optimization, you might want to hire a specialist. If you need help in that area, contact us, and we can help you.