Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform known for its ease-of-use and plug-and-play capabilities. Unfortunately, like most popular eCommerce platforms, Shopify is not explicitly designed for SEO, so there are some drawbacks and headaches involved with optimizing a Shopify store for search engines. In recent years, Shopify has begun to consider SEO as it pertains to their platform, but they still have a long way to come if they want our complete blessing.
So, are Shopify sites the absolute best eCommerce platform for SEO? Probably not. Is it possible for Shopify sites to rank well in Google and drive substantial organic traffic and revenue? Absolutely. Follow these 13 Shopify SEO tips to get started!
1. Optimize your Shopify Homepage
Your homepage is one of your most important pages from an SEO perspective. Make sure that your homepage has an optimized title based on the broad keywords that summarize your store. Make sure to add a meta description that describes all of the products and services available at your Shopify store.
Also, be sure to include an H1 on your homepage that includes your target keyword for the homepage. It is also smart to include a paragraph that describes your business with keyword-rich copy.
2. Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a well-known no-no for SEO regardless of the CMS you work with. There may be broader digital marketing reasons that you decide to have multiple product URLs for the same product, with identical content. In those cases, you'll need to ensure you are utilizing canonicalization to let Google know which URL should be indexed and to ignore the others so that you are not penalized for thin or duplicate content.
3. Optimize Page Titles
This is important on any website but still often overlooked. Make sure that you manually write keyword-rich titles for all of your most important pages, including your homepage, your category and subcategory pages, as well as your product pages. If manually writing them will take some time, lever dynamic title tags in the meantime.
4. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions
Sure, meta descriptions might not be a direct ranking factor, but increasing click-through rates in the SERPs CAN improve your ranking.
Before writing a meta description, make sure you know what keywords the page ranks for. Then create compelling meta descriptions that include the keyword and entice them to click your result. Make your meta description stand out and exclaim "CLICK ME!"
5. Image Optimization
Here's what to know about images for your eCommerce Shopify store:
- Use only high-quality images that have been compressed and optimized for the web.
- Images should be named with descriptive keywords, NOT random numbers and letters. Use dashes (not underscores) to separate words within your slug, eg., "custom-red-ear-tugs."
- Leverage "alt" attributes in the source code to describe your images to search engines and the visually-impaired.
- Try a tool like Tiny PNG to compress images for the web without a designer or developer at your disposal!
6. Product Page Optimization
If you're an ecommerce store, you need your products to rank in Google organically. Be sure to dial in your product pages to make it easily digested by users and search engines alike. You need to make sure that your products are described using keywords that people looking for those products actually use. Using keyword research tools like Ahrefs, you can review the associated search volume and competitiveness with any of the keywords you wish to target. Then, determine how to incorporate these terms within your product page copy, image file names, etc. You can also support your product pages by adding links to relevant resources about your products. This helps educate your visitors while associating your product pages with high-quality content that you post to your blog or information center.
Product page optimization will be very similar to other CMS, but implementation may differ and, at times, will require help from a developer. Read more about on-page optimization for eCommerce stores in our eCommerce SEO guide.
Why it Matters on Shopify:
There are tons of new Shopify sites popping up every day. Unless your product is exclusive or unique, you need to make your product pages stand out. To give your products a chance to rank in Google, you need to find low-competitive longer-tail keywords to start with, until your store has the authority to rank for broader keywords. For example, it will be way easier to rank for "custom white shirt with your logo" than "custom white shirt." Find a small keyword niche you can rank for and expand upon it! Go to Shopify -> Products -> to edit your product pages and metadata.
7. Category Optimization
The most important part of category optimization, and on-page optimization, is picking the most relevant keywords with eCommerce intent. Once you have picked the right keywords to target, update your category page content to include your target keywords in your title, meta description, headers, content, image file names, etc. Read even more about on-page optimization for eCommerce stores in our eCommerce SEO guide.
Why it Matters on Shopify:
Same as product optimization, you need to make your store's categories stick out in Google among a sea of competitors. In Shopify, your categories are called "collections." These can be edited by going to Shopify -> Products -> Collections.
8. Google Analytics (GA) Integration
Google Analytics is the best free website traffic tool for monitoring and collecting data about your traffic, its source, and its behavior on your website.
- Use the latest GA code, Universal Analytics.
- You can add your GA tracking code within the Shopify store admin by going to Admin > Online Store > Preferences.
9. External Linking Strategy
Your Shopify store's "backlink profile" refers to all links on the web that point to your store. Google pays attention to the quality, quantity, and relevance of links in your backlink profile to evaluate your site authority and ability to rank for your desired keywords.
You need to figure out a strategy for how to get other websites to link to your Shopify store. This can involve creating great content that people want to link to, having contests, discounting products to have the lowest price to incentivize organic link building, reaching out to blogs and authoritative websites that share your audience, and much more.
See the link building section of our eCommerce SEO guide for tips and tricks for earning links for your eCommerce store.
Above, note that Facebook has the strongest backlink profile, according to Ahrefs.com, with nearly 15 million unique domains linking to Facebook.
To avoid Google and other search engines treating your website as multiple domains, you need a canonicalization strategy in effect. For example, these four iterations of the OuterBox domain all resolve at our "official" homepage location, https://www.outerboxdesign.com.
Each domain (and any URL on your site) typically has four addresses:
By setting a domain canonical early on for your Shopify store, you can then force a redirect sitewide to force it to resolve to your preferred iteration.
Since Google treats the above four examples as four different domains, canonicalizing and forcing the redirect lets Google see all of these different iterations of your domain as one. By now, all Shopify stores should be on the full HTTPS. When it comes to www or non-www, It doesn't matter which you prefer, its more important that you pick one and remain consistent with your usage When building links to your site, always ensure you use the correct canonicalized version of the domain to get the most "link juice" from your work!
To handle this sitewide in Shopify, go to Online Store > Domains, and then select "Redirect all traffic to this domain."
11. 301 Redirects
301 redirects refer to redirecting an old URL that no longer exists to a new relevant page on your current site. 301 redirects are especially important when building a new website to ensure Google and other search engines pick up on the new URL location of previously existing content.
For eCommerce stores, the most important 301 redirects to worry about are products that are no longer in stock or have been discontinued. It is important to not delete these pages when removing them from your store without implementing a redirect for search engines to understand what happened to this content, and to pass along any authority, aka "link juice," from the old URL to the new one.
In Shopify, you can easily handle 301 redirects within the admin. Go to Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects. You can add them manually or by importing a spreadsheet. We recommend keeping an active spreadsheet for better organization.
12. Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml
Your website's robots.txt file instructs web crawler bots on how to behave when crawling your site. While it is not binding -- the bots can ignore your robots.txt file if programmed to do so, telling the bots which files and folders on your website to crawl and not crawl is advantageous for SEO reasons. Every website should have a robots.txt file, this isn't exclusive to Shopify.
However, one disadvantage of Shopify is that there is no way to edit the Robots.txt file because Shopify does not grant FTP access to its users. It is still important to understand which folders Shopify's robots.txt blocks automatically, which includes the shopping cart page, since Shopify assumes you want your customers to find your product pages before the cart page in search engines.
Since Shopify doesn't allow customizing your robots.txt, the only way you can block a specific page from indexation is by customizing the <head> section of your store's theme.liquid. More information on that can be found straight from Shopify here.
Shopify will automatically create your sitemap file and locate it at your domain.com/sitemap.xml.
It is important to make sure you submit this sitemap to Google Search Console to help ensure all of your pages are indexed.
13. Product Reviews
Product reviews are extremely important for eCommerce stores. There are several things you need to make sure of as it pertains to product reviews for your Shopify store:
- Have an active strategy to incentivize or encourage product reviews. There are companies that offer this as an ala carte service for you.
- Ensure your product reviews are marked up correctly using structured data. Schema.org and JSON-LD based Schema are the standards at the time of publication.
- Use a tool like Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to see how your competitors mark up their product pages, emulate and / or improve on their work.
- Google Structured Data Markup Helper
- Google Structured Data Testing Tool
- Google for something like "JSON-LD generator" or "Schema generator" and you will find a lot of great tools, but none of them are perfect, and most of them do not account for all of the different Schema.org elements available. Unfortunately, none are reliable nor robust enough for us to link to in this article at this point.
Now You're A Shopify SEO Guru!
Well, probably not yet. But, hopefully, you're closer than you were before you read these Shopify SEO tips! If you still have questions about Shopify store and SEO, give one of our experts a call today!
By performing extensive keyword research and choosing keywords with the most relevant search intent for your business objectives, OuterBox SEO campaigns are built to succeed from the ground up. Let's discuss your project.