Last updated on 3rd October 2023 at 18:55 by Alex Nicholas
As detailed in my comprehensive Shopify review article, Shopify has become one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in recent years, providing a user-friendly interface and a comprehensive suite of tools to help businesses launch and manage their online stores.
One critical aspect of online success is search engine optimisation (SEO), which helps ensure that your store ranks high on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In this article, I will explore the various factors that contribute to Shopify's SEO-friendliness and provide insights on how to leverage these factors for maximum visibility and organic traffic.
But to answer your question, is Shopify SEO friendly? The answer is yes, Shopify is very SEO friendly, as are the majority of website builders on the market.
So, from addressing the Shopify SEO URL structure to implementing technical SEO best practices, I've got you covered in this post.
The Importance of SEO for Shopify Stores
SEO is crucial for any online store as it helps improve search engine rankings, leading to increased visibility, higher organic traffic, and ultimately, more sales. A well-optimised Shopify store will ensure that search engines can easily crawl, index, and rank the site, making it more likely to appear in relevant search results.
On top of this, SEO will work long into the future if it's done correctly, unlike PPC which stops the moment you stop paying for the ads!
Shopify SEO Basics
Shopify comes equipped with a variety of built-in SEO features, making it easy for store owners to optimise their sites for search engines, but to give you some of the fundamental aspects of Shopify SEO, these are the areas that you must address if your Shopify store is to be a success in the SERPs:
- Title tags
- Heading tags (H1 etc)
- Image optimisation
- Alt text for images
- Internal linking
Additionally, Shopify automatically generates a sitemap for your site, which helps search engines understand the site's structure and content. It's not a massive SEO benefit, but it's a good thing that it's there.
But let's take a deeper dive into the 6 key Shopify SEO tasks that every store owner should implement as part of their strategy.
Your page titles are one of the most important aspects of SEO and should be optimised in a way that speaks to your audience because it's the first thing they'll see in the SERPs and it's one of the key areas search engines look when trying to understand your web pages.
Page titles are also part of the metadata that provides relevance to a search query so you should include your main search term/keyword and make it appealing so that you entice a click.
Your H tags are also one of the first places search engines look to understand your page, so make sure that they are in tune with the rest of your page and include the main search term as well as closely related search terms.
eCommerce stores are image heavy by their very nature and will slow a site down if they're not optimised for performance, so it's vital to install an image compression app that will compress and “lighten” your images so that they load quickly.
And remember, having a fast-loading store is not only about SEO, it's also about conversions and revenue. A fast-loading Shopify store will convert a customer infinitely better than a slow site.
By adding alt text to your images you're doing two things:
- Adding another keyword to your page
- Making your web page accessible to impaired browsers using screen readers
Alt text might not seem like a big deal to most store owners, but you need to look at SEO as a whole, made up of lots of little parts working together, and alt text is certainly part of this mix.
Internal links are a big deal for any website because they add semantic relevance throughout the site when done correctly, however, they play an additional role within an eComm site.
By using “related products” within every product page you're also internally linking to different and possibly more expensive products that the customer might prefer, therefore increasing your AOV (average order value).
Lastly in this 6-step overview of optimising a Shopify store is backlinks. Links still, and always will play a pivotal role in ranking pages in the SERPs, especially for competitive search terms.
The way in which linkbuilding should be carried out has changed over the years, and Google has gotten better and more skilled at detecting and ignoring bad links.
At the end of the day, if you've built out a well-structured linkbuilding campaign you'll have a competitive advantage over everyone else and an online presence that'll be hard to match.
Shopify SEO Apps
On top of the 6 tasks outlined above, you should also consider using apps to assist you in optimising your Shopify store.
There are several Shopify apps that can help store owners with their SEO efforts, including the Yoast SEO app, which offers a comprehensive suite of SEO tools, including keyword research, content analysis, and technical SEO best practices.
But in all honesty, you don't need an app like Yoast, so I don't recommend you install it!
What I do 100% recommend (as mentioned above) is an image optimisation app like Crush Pic, which is what I use on my Shopify stores.
This app can resolve Shopify SEO issues by compressing your images and speeding up the load time of each web page, which in turn will increase conversions and give you a very small increase in rankings.
And it is only a small rankings boost, despite what most of the “SEO gurus” say about things like Core Web Vitals.
Content Optimisation for Shopify Stores
You might have heard the term “content is king” when it comes to SEO, and whilst that is true to some degree, the thing that's lacking from this statement is intent.
So the truth is, the intent of your content is king.
Optimising your Shopify store's content is crucial for success, but only if the intent of your content is in line with the search.
And to get a better idea of what this means, simply go to Google and search for something. What are you seeing in the results? Are you seeing eCom pages? Videos? Long-form article content?
You need to create content that is showing in the SERPs because you won't rank without matching the intent.
But on top of matching the intent and as a basic rule, make sure you're crafting unique and engaging product descriptions, blog posts, and collection pages that provide valuable information to users and search engines alike.
Keyword research should be conducted to identify target keywords and phrases relevant to your products and industry and you must build authority around those main keywords by covering each topic in detail and internally linking through to your collection and product pages.
User Experience and Site Design
A well-designed Shopify store with a focus on user experience (UX) can significantly impact your SEO so choosing a responsive Shopify theme to ensure fast loading times and provide clear navigation will not only improve the user experience but also boost your search engine rankings.
My recommendation for themes is anything from Out of the Sandbox.
I personally use Out of the Sandbox themes on my personal projects because they're very well-built and well-supported.
They're not free or cheap, but they're definitely worth the investment.
Addressing Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content can harm your rankings because you could be forcing Google to choose between different pieces of content, so it's essential to avoid this issue on your Shopify site.
This can be accomplished by making sure your canonical tags are implemented correctly and by carefully managing product variants.
There are plenty of Schema markup apps that you can use to display review ratings and stars on both your site and in the SERPs.
Everybody knows how important reviews are for conversions so I won't go into that here, but what's often overlooked is how your aggregate reviews are displayed in the SERPs.
Making sure that your reviews appear in the SERPs is really important for CTR (click through rate) because you stand out from your competitors. This is especially true if you have lots of 4.5+ star reviews because you'll automatically gain the confidence of the browser.
Technical SEO Best Practices for Shopify Sites
Shopify is a technically sound platform so there isn't much to be too concerned about in all honesty, but it is worth keeping an eye on technical SEO best practices for a well-optimised Shopify site.
These include optimising your site's URL structure, ensuring mobile-friendliness, using HTTPS, and employing the strictest security, among others. You're basically carrying out a mini Shopify SEO audit to make sure that nothing is broken.
You should also connect your Shopify store to Google Search Console because GSC will provide you with basic information about your site for free that can be helpful in making sure there are no technical issues Google themselves aren't happy with such as a security breach.
GSC is also helpful for optimising your content because from within the performance section, you can see what search terms your pages are getting impressions for.
It's generally considered best practice to add the most relevant search terms to each page if at all possible.
Regularly monitoring your Shopify store to identify any areas for improvement and development will give you a comprehensive understanding of what's important and why.
It should be part of your Shopify SEO strategy in the same way that conducting competitor analysis should be a semi-regular task.
Shopify SEO disadvantages
It goes without saying that nothing is going to be perfect unless you have hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend and a great development team on hand.
But to be fair to Shopify, there aren't many issues. And there certainly aren't any issues that will stop you from ranking. So let's look at where any potential problems lie.
Your robots.txt is a file that's attached to the root of your website that lets you block certain pages from being indexed by search engines.
Would it be nice to have it? Yes, because you can be granular with the access you want bots to have to your site. Is it critical to have access to this file? Not really, because Shopify handles this adequately on your behalf.
This is where the likes of Magento, WordPress and WooCommerce have the advantage because you have full access to things like this.
It's also nice to have access to server logs to see what Googlebot and other web crawlers are doing on your site, but like the robots.txt file, it's not super important. In fact, it's even less important until you have large amounts of traffic going through your site on a monthly basis.
Shopify SEO expert
Leveraging various Shopify SEO tips and tricks on your own can provide a competitive edge in the crowded eCommerce landscape, but sometimes you need help from a Shopify SEO expert that can quickly get to the heart of an SEO problem and get you pointing in the right direction.
An eCommerce SEO consultant like me has years of hands-on experience and can be the difference between owning a successful Shopify store and being part of the 90% that don't make it past the first 3 years.
That's a wrap
Google looks at lots of aspects of a site to see if it fits within any given search term. Thankfully Shopify is an SEO-friendly eCommerce platform that offers a wide range of tools and features to help store owners optimise their sites for search engines and satisfy user intent.
By implementing the best practices and strategies outlined in this article, you can improve your Shopify store's organic visibility.