shopify seo

How to optimize Shopify SEO in 2021 – A comprehensive guide

For the past few years, Shopify has created a lot of buzz in the world of e-commerce. And if you are in this industry, you must have tried to find the key to solving the Shopify SEO enigma.

(Fun fact: When I first heard about Shopify, I thought it was an online store. Because shop-ify.) Silly me. What was I thinking? Certainly not how big would Shopify be in a few years.

Not only me but the success story of Shopify surprised many people

As it turned out, Shopify is gradually getting bigger and bigger.

Shopify has nearly 20percent of the market share, making it one of the most dominant e-commerce platforms. Last year, Shopify revealed that it has more than one million merchants on the platform.

The company declared that sales of more than $135 billion were made on the platform.

Also, they had their billionth order in 2018. Yes, billionth!

So, by all metrics, Shopify is one of the dominant CMS when it comes to e-commerce. But for those using this platform, the bigger the competition is, the smaller the share of pie everyone gets.

That’s where Shopify SEO comes into play. This blog will guide you on how you can optimize your Shopify store and rank it higher in the SERPs.

Optimizing Shopify store

Optimizing your Shopify store is not much different from optimizing any other website. The basics remain the same: keyword research, optimizing category pages, meta titles and product descriptions, URL structure, and duplicate content.

But there are few specifics optimizations that must be done on Shopify.

You can have the most amazing website with the best products and pretty photography, but you’ll lose out on customers and money if your website doesn’t show up when people search on the internet.

Shopify SEO problems

Shopify is a simple CMS with an easy-to-use interface. That’s why it is preferred by budding e-commerce stores.

But when it comes to SEO, Shopify has some problems that a site owner must fix to ensure it doesn’t impact the traffic and visibility of the store online. These issues are:

  • Site’s architecture
  • URL structure
  • Content duplication
  • Robot.txt file
  • Page titles and meta descriptions
  • Structured data
  • Alt tags for images

How to optimize Shopify website

Shopify is filled with SEO-friendly features, but there are many changes you can make to it, like on-page and technical optimization. Let’s talk about these changes one by one.

Site’s architecture

A website’s architecture or its structure plays a crucial role in determining how quickly its pages can be indexed on the search engine. Websites have two types of structure:

  • Narrow and deep
  • Horizontal structure

The narrow and deep structure makes it hard for the search engine to find and crawl all pages on your website. However, a horizontal size structure makes every page accessible to users in just a few clicks.

Horizontal website structure

Horizontal website structure

A horizontal website structure is also called a flat site structure which helps search engines find and index all the pages on your site.

Typically, an e-commerce website has thousands of pages, so all of them mustn’t be far away from the homepage. Golden rule: a user should jump to the homepage from any page in just four clicks.

That’s how flat your ideal Shopify website should be.

URL structure

Like every other CMS, Shopify allows you to categorize your products. There are two broad categorizations: products and collections.

You can group all your items that are for sale under the products category, while collections allow you to group products of various types that can be clubbed together as one collection.

Shopify URL structure is predetermined, and you can’t do much about it. It follows a hierarchal structure with very little room for customization.

For example, the subfolders /products and /collections are included in the URL of every new product or collection on your store.

Here is a URL pathway for a product on Shopify: www.example.com/products/productName.

Here is a URL pathway for a collection on Shopify: https://example.com/collections/product /collection

The same rigid URL structure applies to tags and pages as well. You can only change the slug of the URL.

If you are migrating from another CMS to Shopify, it means the entire URL structure of your website will change. So, any migration will involve meticulous redirections, which should be carefully implemented.

Use the right keywords in the slugs and be careful with the categorization to help users find the products easily.

Content duplication

As discussed above, Shopify allows you to categorize your items into /products and /collections subfolders. This creates a big issue of content duplication.

A product itself has a URL, but a second URL is generated when it is placed in a collection.

Shopify automatically includes a canonical tag for the collections URL. But, for its internal linking, Shopify uses non-canonical product pages.

This creates a serious SEO issue because all your internal links are directed towards the ones that are non- canonicalized, while the pages you want to rank are the ones that are canonicalized.

If you want to change this, it can be done in your theme’s ‘.liquid files’. It builds all the links to your products. Follow the instruction here to make your Shopify site point towards canonicalized pages.

Internal linking

If your website uses a flat structure, then by default, all pages are linked from the homepage. It is important for the overall SEO health of the website.

But you can also use these product pages to link to other products on your website. It gives link juice to the other pages while also helping Google to understand your content better.

You can also write blog posts about your products and link them to the product pages.

Robot.txt file

Another problem that complicates Shopify SEO is the lack of control over the robots.txt file. It means you essentially can not make any adjustments to this file.

So, there’s no way of telling Google which pages it shouldn’t crawl. Shopify says that it has optimized them to work in the best possible way. There are some sections that Shopify disallows crawling in:

  • Admin area
  • Checkout
  • Orders
  • Shopping cart
  • Internal search
  • Policies page

With this, Shopify takes away the simplest method to control the crawling activity of search engines on your website. However, it allows you to add canonical tags and no-index tags on pages. The no-index tag can be added by modifying the code in your theme’s .liquid file.

Page titles and meta descriptions

Title tags, meta descriptions, and URL slugs can be edited in Shopify. You can use relevant keywords to boost your visibility.

Go to the “Search Engine Listing Preview” on the page whose title tag and description you want to modify.  You’ll see this window:

meta descriptions

The title tag is a unique element on the page. It has to be unique – one that grips the attention so hard that it doesn’t let it go.

Add your targeted keywords in the title tags. A good way to find out the perfect keyword is to check out your opponents and see what keywords they aim to rank for.

You can also use the keywords research tool to make a repository of keywords based on your product.

Structured data

Structured data helps Google understand and interpret the website’s content. It becomes even more important for e-commerce websites to use structured data (rich snippets, schema tags, breadcrumbs navigation, etc.) because of their huge size.

Google has to use considerable resources to crawl these large number of pages.

One of the most important structured data for e-commerce websites is breadcrumbs. These are the internal links that tell the users the path they followed and how far they are into the website hierarchy.

Structured data

It also eases the job of search engine crawlers by simplifying the data structure. In Shopify, breadcrumbs can be added and marked with the BreadcrumbList structured data. It is available at schema.org/BreadcrumbList.

Alt tags for images

Alt tags for images

The effectiveness and value of Alt tags for images might be a contentious subject within the SEO fraternity, but it is still an important element on a website.

When images don’t load properly or take time to load, Alt text tells the users what the image is about.

You can add an alt tag by going to Products > All products in your Shopify admin panel.

Click on the product you want to edit.

Click Add Alt text

Enter your text and Save the Alt text

Conclusion

As per websitebuilder.org:

  • Last year, 44 million customers purchased from Shopify merchants.
  • The conversion on Shopify is 1.6%.
  • Shopify has more than three thousand apps.
  • Shopify’s annual revenue for the year 2020 was $2.86 billion.

So, all indicators point towards the fact that Shopify is getting bigger day by day.

So, how can you stand out among thousands of merchants? With nifty marketing practices and smart use of Shopify SEO. Combine them with your best products and empathetic customer care, and you have a winning formula at your fingertips.

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