Any Shopify developer, marketer, or business owner will know, designing a fantastic store is only the first step. You can have the best, most attractive store in the world, and it still won’t generate results if you’re not attracting enough visitors. While ads and promotions on social media can help, you should also be working on consistently generating organic traffic, with SEO.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is the art of attracting visitors to your online store by ensuring your website is positioned at the very top of the search results. Remember, 68% of online experiences start with a search engine (usually Google).
The good news is Shopify already has a lot of SEO friendly features for business leaders to take advantage of. The challenge is figuring out where to get started.
Here’s the ultimate beginner’s checklist to get you started.
Building your Shopify Store
SEO comes in a variety of flavours, including technical, and on-page SEO. The technical side of SEO refers to how your website is structured, how it performs, and how it looks. When you’re building the ultimate Shopify store, remember to:
- Choose a custom domain name: Not only does a custom domain name look more professional, but it also makes it easier for customers to find your store. Pick a name based on your business, and make sure it’s keyword optimized when you can.
- Pick the perfect theme: If you’re using a theme for your Shopify store, it’s important to ensure it’s optimized for SEO. This means making sure the components (such as images and text files) load quickly, and responsively for all devices.
- Install Shopify SEO apps: The Shopify App marketplace is brimming with tools to help you upgrade the quality of your store. SEO plugins and applications will help you to track the ranking potential of each page you create, and keep you up-to-date with best practices.
- Setup Your Google Search Analytics: While there is a Shopify analytics dashboard within your ecommerce store builder, it’s helpful to have insights directly from Google too. Google Analytics is free to use, and it can give you a clear insight into website user behavior.
- Setup Google Search Console: This another free service from Google worth using if you want to boost your SEO. It will help you to identify technical glitches with your store, and provide you with opportunities to submit sitemaps for better index coverage.
- Optimize the Navigation Menu: A big part of making Shopify SEO-friendly is committing to UX/UI design. If your store is easy to navigate, both your customers, and the Google search engine crawlers will be able to access it more easily.
- Add JSON-LD Markup: JSON-LD is an excellent way to submit structured data to Google, informing the team about your products and pages. You can implement JSON-LD Markup directly into your theme files, or access third-party apps from the Shopify marketplace to help you with this process.
- Boost page performance: Don’t make the mistake of cluttering your website with too many bulky apps and widgets. Focus on creating pages that load quickly and smoothly on all devices. You can test your page speed here to see whether you’re living up to expectations.
Optimizing Your Shopify Pages
Once you’ve checked off each of the items in the list above, it’s time to start working on the SEO of each individual page on your website. This includes not just your blog posts, but product pages, About Us pages, and everything in between.
- Optimize your URLs: Following URL best practices like keeping your URLs short and sweet, will boost your chances of ranking with Google. Always incorporate your keywords into your custom URL slugs where possible, and omit unnecessary words like “the”.
- Enhance tags and meta descriptions: Title and meta tags are considered some of the most important SEO elements. Your title tag indicates the title of your web page, while your meta tags define your content. Include your keywords in both of these areas to get the best results.
- Add Alt Text: Alt text tells the search engines, as well as users who can’t see an image, what the picture entails. It’s a great way to get more keywords into your content, and it’s fantastic for boosting the accessibility of your store too.
- Optimize your images: When saving images to add to your Shopify store, make sure you always use descriptive names, often featuring the keywords you need to rank for. At the same time, boost your chances of images loading quickly by compressing pictures where possible.
- Insert the Products schema: Adding schema into your product pages will help them to fetch better search results and improve customer engagement. To add the schema, simply go into your Themes, click on action, and edit the code. You can also use schema generation apps.
- Make the most of links: Linking is an important tool in Shopify SEO. Internal links help your Shopify customers navigate through your website, while showing Google which pages are connected. External links improve your site authority, and highlight the credibility of any statements you might make in blog posts.
- Find and fix crawl errors: Crawling errors are problems which stop the search engines from understanding your website fully. You can use the Google Search Console tool to track down crawl errors on your website. The report will tell you how to fix each problem.
- Keep Sold-out products active: Although it might be tempting to hide any products you don’t have available until they’re ready again, keeping these pages active will ensure they continue to be indexed by the search engines. This will mean your customers can find the products they’re looking for easily when they’re back in stock.
- Add Social proof: Social proof in the form of reviews, testimonials, and ratings from customers will help to boost your credibility with customers. They’re also great for Google, which can show your star rating on the search results. Use apps like the Product Reviews tool on Shopify to add reviews directly.
Adding SEO to Shopify Content
Most of the SEO tasks you’ll complete on Shopify involve enhancing the content on all of your pages. This can include creating a blog and keeping it up-to-date with fresh information for the search engines to index. It also means searching for the right keywords to target.
- Research keywords: Make sure you know which keywords to use for all of your product pages, blogs, and other content on your site. Long-tail keywords are generally more likely to deliver better results, as they’re more specific. It’s also worth pairing your keywords with contextual and semantic phrases, like “shoes” and “boots” for footwear.
- Create a blog: Give your company more opportunities to rank for the questions your customers are looking for by writing a blog. Regularly updating your Shopify store with blog posts will allow you to rank for a wider variety of keywords. It’s also a great way to increase the time customers spend on your site, which strengthens your SEO.
- Structure content correctly: If you want to give your customers a good user experience on your store, you need to make consuming content simple. Add headings and subheadings to break up content, and don’t be afraid to play around with images in your posts.
- Avoid duplicate content: If you have a multitude of different product pages and landing pages with the same content, this will end up damaging your Google results. If for any reason you need to create duplicate content, use canonical links to tell Google which pages are the primary ones, and which are the duplicates.
- Create specific landing pages: Build specific landing pages for each product and search term you want to rank for when you’re designing ads. Make sure any ads you publish online link back to a relevant landing page with the right information.
- Fix broken links: Since links play a big part in your website’s SEO, the last thing you need is broken ones clogging up your site. Use tools like Ahrefs to detect broken links on your website and repair them as often as possible.
Master Shopify SEO
While there are countless things you can do to boost your SEO strategy, completing the checklist above should ensure you’re on the right track to start ranking. Remember, keep an eye on your organic search results whenever you implement a new SEO strategy. This will help you to determine which of your efforts are paying off in terms of conversions and engagement.