by William Smith
You have a Shopify store. You want to grow your business. Not necessarily by spending tons of money on advertising. If there's one thing we can definitely recommend, it's Search Engine Optimization. We can even put a number on that, with research showing 5 times the return on investment compared to paid acquisition.
Here at Plug in Useful, we've developed one of Shopify's top SEO apps and we'd like to think we know a thing or two about SEO overall. This blog post will fill you in on pretty much everything you need to consider to bring more organic search traffic to your store.
How do I do Shopify SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of improving your visibility on search engines. In an ideal world, you’re the first search result, on the first page, when someone types the product you sell into Google. How you make that happen isn’t always easy or straightforward, but we’re here to help guide you through the basics and point you on to the more advanced strategies. Rest assured, you don’t have to tackle everything all at once but, with SEO, every little helps.
Luckily, Shopify has decent SEO capabilities out of the box, so you chose well with your web store platform! But with so many helpful blog posts, video courses and certified experts out there, where do you get started? We’re going to guide you, step-by-step, through the fundamentals of:
SEO traditionally starts with keywords. What are the most important words associated with what you sell? What do you imagine a potential buyer would type into Google to find your product? What words are competitors using to describe their product? Sounds like a lot to think about? Well, luckily, there are a wide variety of useful tools to help you figure out the best keywords: Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, Keyword Tool or Moz Keyword Explorer are a good place to start. Specifically for ecommerce SEO, the (wonderfully named) Keyword Tool Dominator can also help you figure out how similar products are described across other ecommerce sites.
Back in the day, we would stuff as many keywords as possible into our pages but search engines have got a bit cleverer since then. Any dodgy behavior could result in search penalties, so it's best to stick to the best practice rules: put your most important keywords in your page title, main heading and page body. Same goes for faking positive reviews and anything else in that murky grey area - better safe than sorry.
The most basic and important information to pass along is all about your products. Make sure each product has an attractive, engaging and unique description including your relevant keywords. It might be tempting to just copy paste a supplier's description, especially if you have a lot of products, but it pays off for both SEO and conversion to tailor something perfect for each product. Also, if possible in your theme, collection pages should be given the same copywriting love and attention.
While all of the intricacies of SEO might seem a little opaque, one thing we definitely know counts is what you include on a page wrapped up in H1 tags. The simple version is that each page should have one main H1 heading text and every other heading on the page should be H2, H3 or H4... For more advanced strategies, you can also check out this post: How to make headings in Shopify sections SEO-friendly.
Duplicate content / broken links
Search engines aren’t the biggest fans of repetitive content. Make sure you don’t have several pages on your store with the same text. (And, for the same reason, don't just steal your content from elsewhere online!) You also don’t want to send the search robot down a dead end, so keep an eye on broken links to pages you’ve removed or moved. You can double check on both with a tool like Siteliner.
When you do a search for your product, search engines results usually display what you have submitted as the meta page title and meta description. A title is recommended to be under 60 characters and description less than 155 characters so as to not be shrunk. It’s definitely also worth trying to include a Call To Action in your meta description, so anyone reading about your product will know exactly what step to take next! If you're working with a lot of products, Plug in SEO Plus has a templating system to help make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Company info and contact details
Your site should have an up-to-date info page with details of your company. There are a lot of stores out there and potential customers want to know that you’re the real deal: established, trustworthy and credible.
Here we are content marketing ourselves and we’re going to strongly suggest you do the same. Having a regularly updated blog with relevant, valuable, sharable content lets search engines know that your site is active and useful to customers. Plug in SEO (even the free version!) includes a blog check to review your setup. What makes a good post, you ask? All the research points toward detailed, longer (500+ words) posts giving you the biggest boost to your SEO juice.
Beyond your Shopify store, search engines also take into account how many other sites are linking back to your pages. It's not just a case of having as many links as possible - you should prioritize quality over quantity. External blog posts, reviews, collaborations, influencers, and partnerships can help signal that your site content is valued by the wider internet world. It's a whole blog post (or more) of its own, but we'll suggest starting with sharable content that your social following helps you distribute but also building awesome partner relationships to get your content onto well-read blogs and well-followed
Site maps and structure
It’s important to give search engines a map of your site and what is where. Shopify creates sitemaps by default for your site and products. You should submit your sitemaps via google webmaster tools and, after it's verified, you can check into how your content is being indexed.
Shopify keeps your site structure quite neat and tidy by itself, which is positive for your SEO. What you can do here is make sure your collections are as well-named as your products, because that counts too. Simpler is better structure-wise, with (ideally) every page within a few clicks from your storefront. The same way it’s easy for customers to find the perfect product, it is for that search engine to index it.
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Make sure search engines are effectively indexing your images by always including a description of the images you upload. 23% of web searches happen via Google Images and it can be a much bigger driver of traffic than you might expect. Like all of your awesome SEO writing, keep it natural and don’t try anything tricksy.
Your theme might include this as standard or you might need an app. Feeding price, availability and other rich snippet data to Google improves your credibility and click-throughs. We’ll be publishing a deeper dive into structured data, how it works and how to optimize it later this week, so stay tuned to the blog.
The speed at which your store loads is important for both SEO and optimizing conversions. For every extra second it takes a page to load, conversion drops 12 percent. Google also uses its own speed metrics as part of its ranking decision. What can you do to improve? Shrinking the size of your images and code are the starting point. You can optimize your images before you upload using a tool like TinyPng and talk with a developer about “code minification”. But there are also handy apps available, including our very own Plug in Speed, which will take care of this for you.
Most themes and Shopify stores are set up to work “responsively” across phones, tablets, computers and more, but you can always double check with Google’s mobile experience tester. You can also preview how your store looks across various devices using a tool like Responsinator.
Hopefully, this guide will help you tick the basic boxes of Shopify SEO, but there’s always more to learn out there. If you’re a Plug in SEO Plus user, you can always reach out to our friendly customer support pros.
Here are a few other guides we like online, if you're looking for more tips and tricks:
How can Plug in SEO help?
Plug in SEO brings together a suite of tools to help you stay on top of the ever-changing world of SEO. Whether you’re a free or paid user, we notify you when you might need to make some changes. For Plug in SEO Plus users, we offer extra features to maximize your SEO impact and premium support. If you need a technical expert, our Blimpon fix packages can get your site sorted quickly and cost-effectively. We’re already helped more than 2000 stores.