SEO for Shopify
Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms, with more than 600,000 businesses using it to host their store. The platform is full of features, comes with a variety of attractive templates to control the design, and makes it easy for people who aren’t web savvy to sell products – either physical or digital. SEO Inc are experts in optimizing Shopify Websites. You can view our Shopify SEO Services here.
It’s one thing to have a nice website using Shopify, and another to have a steady stream of organic search traffic to it with SEO. The platform itself does have some features to help you with SEO, but out-of-the-box does need some work to maximize the work it does for you.
Here’s a quick list of the things you should address to improve the SEO on your Shopify store.
Use SSL (Migrate Existing Stores)
Search engines give secure websites (those that use HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://) preference in the search results. Browsers tend to display warning messages to users who are going to an HTTP:// website, which affects users’ trust in websites. Because of this, it makes sense to secure your site, and you’ll need a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate to accomplish this.
An SSL certificate is included as part of your Shopify subscription, but you do have to activate them. If you’re building a new Shopify store on a new domain, then activating takes just a few minutes. All you have to do is navigate to your Shopify dashboard, go to Sales Channels, then Online Store, then Domains. You’ll activate it on the domain you’re building your new store on.
However, it’s a bit different if you have a non-secure Shopify store, or you have a site on another platform you want to migrate over to Shopify. Because adding SSL to your site creates a separate HTTPS:// version of the existing HTTP:// site, you can damage your rank if you don’t make sure that all the old HTTP:// links 301 redirect to the same page on the HTTPS:// site.
When you switch on SSL in Shopify, it will automatically create the 301 redirects from all the non-secure pages to the secure versions. The Shopify resources don’t do a good job of indicating this, but their support team has confirmed this is the case. If you’re migrating from another platform to Shopify, however, you’ll have a bit more work, so it’s important to look at Google’s guidelines for switching to SSL before you get started, or reach out to us here at SEO, Inc. for some help.
Add Your Store to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Whether you’re using Shopify, WordPress, or another platform, you should register your site with both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Registering your site with these two services tells the two biggest search engines that your website exists, ensuring it gets crawled and index. It can also alert you of any issues with your site.
Register both the WWW. and non-WWW versions of you website, along with the HTTP:// version and the HTTPS:// versions.
The process is fairly straightforward, but you can find additional information below if you need it.
Additionally, you’ll also want to be sure to create and submit your XML sitemap to each of these platforms to make sure it can catalog all the pages on your site.
Keep Your Shopify Store Lean and Mean
Page speed is one of the signals search engines use to rank websites, and the faster your website loads, the better the chance of getting high ranking.
Because you can’t host your own site and use your own template with Shopify and you’re relying on their hosting and templates, your options here are a bit limited. Their options are perfectly fine, but you don’t have the level of control to fine-tune your page load speed.
However, there are things you can do to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible, such as:
- Limit the use of any custom code or external scripts
- Opt for using only web safe fonts
- Use image compression tools like Compressor.io to reduce image file size without negatively affecting image quality
- Consider paying for and installing a third-party app to use Accelerated Mobile Pages format for all Shopify pages and posts. This will create incredibly fast loading versions of your content in mobile search results, which is sometimes prioritized in Google search results, making it more likely to appear in Top Stories carousels. Because they load so far, it’s more likely people will read them, increasing the time they spend on your site, which is another positive for ranking.
Use Keywords in Your Page Titles
Your page titles are a key piece of information the search engines use to categorize and rank your content. Never create page and post titles that are vague, and when possible, put the desired keyword you want to rank for at the beginning of each page or post.
You’ll use the Sales Channels > Online Store > Preferences area to edit the Shopify home page title. For any other page – whether it’s a page, post, or product, you’ll locate it in your dashboard, then scroll to the bottom of that page and click “Edit Website SEO” link where you’ll be able to edit the page title, metadata, and URL.
Treat Meta Descriptions as a Call to Action
The meta descriptions are displayed underneath your link in the search results, so they should be treated as a free ad and encourage people to click on them. Generally, you should describe the content of the page in a way that entices people and makes them curious. Google says they aren’t a ranking factor, but if you can get people to click using that information, that’s good for you in the end, because click-through rate very well may be a ranking factor.
In short, the best meta descriptions accurately describe the page in under 300 characters and contain the keyword you’re hoping to rank for.
Optimize Your Image File Names and Alt Text
Search engine bots look at the images on your website when they’re ranking it, too. And because of 508 compliance, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can with your image names and alt text.
Screen readers use the alt text to provide a description of the image to visually impaired people who visit your website. Search engines use it to categorize it and attempt to better understand it. In addition, if for any reason your image doesn’t load, the description will display to help avoid confusion.
For best results, aim to craft alt text that works for screen readers and SEO by providing something that contains your focus keyword while also understandable to anyone who may be using a screen reader.
Because it’s not easy to change your image file names once you’ve added them to Shopify, it’s best to name them well before you upload them. Name them much the same way you’d write the alt text, focusing on your keyword, but also what the screen reader will show to users.
Make Use of Clean URLs
Clean URLs are better for usability and SEO. They are short, simple, and easy to understand. Shopify will automatically add /pages/ before pages, /posts/ before posts, and /products/ before products, but you can edit the URL in the “Edit Website SEO” area for each page, post, or product on your site. You can make changes in the URL and handle box, to clean up those URLs to keep them focused on keywords.
If you do make a change to a Shopify URL, make sure you’re checking the “Create URL redirect” option so Google is aware of the fact that you have changed the URL and sends people who attempt to go to the old one to the new one so you don’t lose traffic.
Use Rich Snippets (Schema Markup)
Rich Snippets are details added to the search engine results listing for your page. These can be added with schema data you control. You can include star ratings, prices, author, and more depending on the type of content. To learn more about what you can do with schema and rich snippets, read this post.
Double-Down on Your Content Marketing Efforts
Many Shopify users focus on their product catalogs – images, descriptions, keywords, etc. While this isn’t a bad thing, it means they’re generally forgetting one of the most important aspects of SEO, which is creating great content – most often, blog posts.
Sites that feature in-depth, informative posts on topics that people are interested in, do well in search, especially if there are a lot of other sites linking to them.
Get an SEO Audit
If you want to be sure you’re on the right track, you can get a free SEO audit from us here at SEO Inc. that will provide you with a list of the things you can and should do to improve your SEO. Let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance. We’ll be glad to help!