For Shopify developers, there’s more to building a successful website for a client than simply designing something that looks great. The best sites need to be powerful tools for business growth. This means developers need to consider how content is structured, positioned, and optimized for the search engines.
An “SEO-friendly” website is one designed to appear at the top of the search engine results when end-users search for the products or services your clients have to offer. As one of the most powerful tools for ecommerce store building available, Shopify is well-suited to companies in search of excellent SEO results. However, as a developer there are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure your customers can get the best possible rankings.
Here's your guide to the steps developers can take to prepare Shopify sites for SEO success.
- Optimize Shopify Site Structure
First, many developers already know the organization of content on a page can make a huge difference to how well a site performs. From a SEO perspective, your focus should be on building the most user-friendly and intuitive experience possible.
When shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for on a site faster, they’re more likely to spend more time (and money) with a store. With this in mind, make sure your Shopify site is easy to navigate. For most developers, this will mean keeping the site structure simple to begin with.
Don’t go overboard with categories and subcategories. Instead, design a simple structure, such as Home > Category pages> Subcategory pages > product pages.
The navigation should be easy to find too, with a bar at the top or side of a page your customer can easily see when they want to jump to a product page, “About” page, or “Contact” page.
- Enhance User Experience
UX will be an important term for any Shopify developer in today’s digitally transforming landscape. As more companies move online to serve an increasingly “virtual” audience, it’s your job to ensure the online shopping experience is as simple and straightforward as managing transactions offline.
There are a few steps you can take to enhance UX specifically for SEO purposes. For instance, boosting site speed is a must if you want any website to rank. A faster site, with quick loading times is easier to navigate for customers on any device. Make sure your theme is mobile-friendly, and avoid adding endless apps if users aren’t going to benefit from them.
It’s also important to ensure the site is fully responsive for any site. A responsive theme is a necessity in a time when around 3 quarters of the world is expected to be shopping on mobile devices by 2025. Google also prioritizes mobile-friendly pages over their desktop counterparts.
- Optimize Your Product Pages
When searching for a reputable Shopify developer, most clients will prize professionals with a good knowledge of how to make product pages as conversion-friendly as possible. There are plenty of ways to enhance product pages, so they appeal not only to customers, but search engines too.
For instance, to make products easier to find, you should create navigation links to your client’s most lucrative products within the homepage of the website. You can assign products to “Collections” in Shopify, and even showcase new items on homepage carousels and sliders.
Another great way to optimize your product pages is to infuse them with keywords. While you might not be responsible for writing product descriptions as a developer, you can still help to add keywords to the structure of the pages. For instance, adding keywords to title tags and meta descriptions for products will make them more visible from an SEO perspective.
Keep in mind, while keywords are essential, they need to fit with the rest of the copy on a page. Cluttered content packed full of keywords will have the wrong impact on Google’s SEO algorithms.
Remember to set up 301 redirects for older product pages too. This can be done from the Shopify admin portal within the “Navigation” section. It ensures customers won’t end up on a broken page if they click on a product that’s out of stock.
- Enhance Shopify Store Images
Images are likely to play an important role in capturing and converting customers for any Shopify store. As a developer, you’ll need to know how to showcase images according to the latest theme and display trends. At the same time, it’s important to ensure your images are high in quality, without causing issues with page loading times.
One of the best ways to optimize your Shopify store images is to embed the correct alt tags with the correct keywords. Alt tags can also boost the accessibility of a store, by ensuring people using screen readers can still effectively navigate a site.
When creating alt-tags for images, try to use proper descriptions without keyword stuffing, and avoid adding too many words to one description. You can edit the alt text for product images within the “Products” section of the Shopify admin section. Don’t forget to name images correctly too. File images with the right keywords can help boost your rankings.
- Implement SEO Apps and Tools
While you might not create the SEO copy and content for your web development clients, you can implement tools they can use to make this process simpler. For instance, there are a host of apps on the Shopify marketplace specially designed for SEO, such as:
- Plugin SEO: An app designed to help users target the SEO issues they can easily fix on their website. It looks at page titles and headings, speed, content management, article structure, meta descriptions, and article structure.
- Smart SEO: Designed to cut down the time users need to spend optimizing their website, Smart SEO generates relevant meta tags for products, collections, and article pages. The app also gets store information search engines using JSON-LD data structured to suit search engine algorithms.
- Yoast: One of the most popular SEO tools, Yoast checks all pages and posts for SEO strength, and offers recommendations for improvements. You can measure and edit multiple pages with a single click. What’s more, the tech is constantly updated to suit the latest rules developed by Google’s algorithms.
- Remember URL Structure and Meta Data
If you’re helping your Shopify store clients out with some copy creation for their new website, you can start with some basic URL structure and meta data support. URLs should always be structured around a SEO strategy, with each URL slug featuring the blog post or web page’s keyword.
While your client might be responsible for doing the keyword research for each page, you can implement simple URL slugs to ensure they adhere to Google’s sorting needs. Meta data and meta tags can be extremely useful for SEO too. Around 36% of SEO experts consider the title tag to be one of the most important SEO elements on Shopify stores. Title tags and meta descriptions should include the focus keyword of the page.
- Configure the Blog Feature for Users
Finally, one of the most important tools your clients can use for SEO on their Shopify website is the “blog” feature. Shopify sites come with a built-in blog feature where users can develop valuable content for their target audience, to boost their chances of organic traffic.
Setting up the blog feature for your client’s online store will ensure they can start targeting specific keywords and phrases designed for their target audience. You can also provide your customers with the options to set up things like “comment sections” and integrate analytics tools for tracking which content campaigns generate the most attention.
While SEO isn’t always the first thing a developer thinks about when creating a Shopify store for a client, it’s something you can’t afford to overlook. Working with your client to create a site that’s optimized for both customers and the search engine from day one will make you a more valuable addition to your client’s team.
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