Optimizing Shopify for SEO
As you may already know, Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms for online retailers and businesses in the world. The platform offers a wide range of e-commerce solutions for brands and businesses that wish to sell their products and services online. Individuals and businesses of all sizes can use Shopify to set up fully-functional online stores that can sell anything from physical and digital products and services to rentals, classes, and event event tickets. With Shopify, the sky is limit with regards to what and how much you can sell on the web.
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If you intend to make use of the Shopify e-commerce platform to market and sell your products on the internet, it is important that you familiarize yourself with how to setup your Shopify site so that its SEO friendly.
Although the Shopify e-commerce platform comes pre-loaded with many search optimization tools and resources like dedicated blog pages and redirect tools, it does have its fair share of challenges especially when it comes to Shopify SEO and content management. In most cases, Shopify store owners are required to take deliberate steps to ensure that their e-commerce websites meets the ever-changing demands and requirements of search engines like Google. Google is particularly picky about the websites it grants to its top ranking search positions. If your online store is not properly optimized with the right keywords, meta-data and content, then don’t expect to be anywhere near page one of Google.
Why Is SEO Important?
Although other digital marketing strategies like email marketing, video marketing and social media marketing may be effective in getting you brand recognition, SEO is one the few traffic channels that generates traffic with a high level of buyer intent built in.
Take a few seconds to imagine the amount of traffic that high ranking e-commerce websites like Amazon or EBay get. These well known online stores have evolved to become some of the biggest and most established websites on the internet and they built their businesses on the back of Google’s search infrastructure.
Getting started with Shopify SEO
SEO has played a significant role in helping many small/local businesses grow into big brands with enormous customer bases. How does it do this? Well, search engine optimization gives online businesses the opportunity to promote their products and services on organic search results. An Shopify website that has been properly optimized for the search engines, and thus ranks high on search engine results pages, stands a better chance to win over consumers. A majority of internet users do not have enough time to peruse through the millions of search results available in Google. Users typically click on the top few results on the first page of the search results. Websites that fall below page one stand little chance of being noticed. This is precisely how brands that invest in Shopify SEO end up taking up a big chuck of the online consumer market in various niche industries.
How To Add SEO Meta Data To Shopify
In general, the term ‘meta data’ refers to information that describes or summarizes other information. In the context of websites and the internet, meta data refers to elements such as titles, descriptions and tags found on web pages. These elements are particularly crucial during search engine optimization because search engines bots and crawlers are constantly on the lookout for them. Search engines rely on meta data to identify what the purpose of a web page is and what type of content is published on it. Meta data is therefore a very crucial component of any Shopify SEO project.
Shopify stores need to have well-crafted and positioned meta data in order to rank high on search results. Meta data creates a base structure for ranking of a store’s products, categories, collections and many other segments. Meta data plays a key role in the on-page optimization of each and every web page on your site.
Below are the steps you should follow when adding meta data to your Shopify store:
- – Go to Collections or Products to add meta tags.
- – Click on a collection or product to add meta tags.
- – Click on ‘Edit website SEO’ in the search engine listing preview section.
- – Enter the Page Title, Meta Description and its URL in the respective text boxes [For URL, only collection/product/page name should included. Use ‘-’ instead of a space between the words in the URL]
- – Click ‘Save’ to finish.
You can follow the same process to add meta data in all pages, collections, and product categories in your Shopify store.
Optimizing Your Site Structure For Search Engines
Site structure is extremely important, especially when it comes to websites that contain a lot of information. A typical e-commerce websites is composed of various pages dedicated to individual products and resources that are required by consumers. Planning, creating and organizing all the individual web pages and resources that make up your Shopify store is basically what Site Structure Optimization is all about.
Just like a physical store, an online store must be neat and properly organized if it is to operate at optimal efficiency. You cannot afford to have site organization problems like duplicate content, redundant pages or even broken links and URLs as this can derail your Shopify SEO efforts.
Search engines like Google use your site structure to find and index content on your website. The content on your website greatly determines how well you rank on search results. In order to make it easy for search engines to identify and understand the content on your website, it’s important that you have an search engine optimization friendly site structure. Crawlers must be able to easily and conveniently navigate through all relevant parts of your website without any problems or impediments.
Here are some tips you can follow to optimize your Shopify site structure for search engines:
1. Plan Your Site Architecture
When establishing a new Shopify store, it’s important that you first come up with preliminary site architecture before you proceed to develop and design your website. Your site architecture basically includes your site structure and hierarchy of pages. Planning will help you save time and avoid future errors and complications. A simple draft like this should be adequate.
Your site’s hierarchy should be shaped like a typical organizational chart where the ‘CEO’, or in this case the Homepage is at the top of the hierarchy. Under the Homepage (CEO) are important category pages which can be considered as the ‘Managers’. Hierarchy helps search engines understand the importance of a particular page on a website.
2. Use The Best-Possible Keywords In Your Page Titles (H1, H2, H3…)
After you are done planning your site structure and hierarchy, the next thing you need to think about is optimizing the titles you will associate with each and every page on your website. Page titles must be optimized with the best-possible keywords for maximum online visibility and exposure. You can find appropriate keywords for your H1, H2, H3… headings by using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Serpstat.
Also, make sure to consider your site’s page hierarchy when using H1, H2 and H3 tags. Any mistakes with heading format can be detrimental to your search engine optimization efforts.
3. Facilitate Seamless Navigation on Your Site
Site navigation focuses on how a user moves through different pages on a website. Seamless site navigation occurs when a user never has to manually type in a single URL in their browser in order to access a specific page on your website. More often than not, websites get filled up with unnecessary pages that don’t serve any particular purposes. These pages are basically useless and can make site navigation a nightmare. The solution: remove any and all unnecessary pages on your website. This will not only make site navigation more easy to navigate, but also increase user engagement and conversions. Google bots will also be able to more easily crawl through your site.
A navigation menu is great way to highlight key pages on your website. So, prioritize pages that make navigation to other parts of your website easy. Users love this.
4. Use Shorter URLs
Indeed, the length of individual page link or URLs on your website can have an impact on your SEO ranking. A research done by Backlinko (https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking) established that pages with shorter URLs rank better on organic search results.
So, when building your site structure, try and keep those page links and addresses as short and concise.
5. Create A Site Map
A sitemap is a special document that tells users (and search engines) how to navigate through your website. A sitemap of your Shopify store helps Google understand the structure of your website even before it crawls it. Sitemaps are typically saved as .xml files on your server.
How To Submit Your Shopify Sitemap To Google
It is common practice for website owners to submit their sitemaps to Google and other search engines directly. They do this in order to expedite the process of crawling and indexing their sites so that they can appear in the search results quicker. Although you don’t have to manually submit your sitemap.xml file to Google in order to be featured in search, doing so will ensure that your site is crawled and indexed in record time. Google may otherwise take a while to find, crawl and index your site if you don’t submit your sitemap to them directly.
To submit your Shopify sitemap to Google, follow the steps below:
1. Find Your Sitemap
You will typically find your sitemap.xml file in your domain’s root directly. For example: carol-shoes.com/sitemap.xml. The .xml will generate automatically. It will include all pages, blogs and other resources you have on your website.
Note: It is important to check whether your website is password protected before generating your sitemap using third-party sitemap readers.
2. Verify Your Site With Google
Google requires you to verify your domain in order to prove that you are the owner of the Shopify store you are submitting for indexing. Please make sure that your website is not password protected before proceeding with the verification process. To verify using Google Webmasters tools, follow the steps below:
- Click the HTML tag button on the Alternate methods tabs to verify your site using meta tag verification.
- Highlight the meta tag on Google Webmaster Tools and copy it to your clipboard. Make sure all the text, including the < and > are copied. For example:<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”IV7BPLESttSpBdxSWN1s4zlr4HIcuHkGQYmE3wLG59w” />
- From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store>Themes.
- Find the theme you want to edit, and then click on Actions>Edit code.
- In the layout section, click theme.liquid to open the file in the online code editor.
- Paste the meta tag that you copied on a black line directly under the opening <head> tag
- Click Save.
- Complete the verification process on Google Webmasters.
Once your site is verified with Google you will be able to submit a sitemap, which will enable your store to appear in search engine results.
3. Submitting Your Sitemap To Google
- After your site is verified, go to Google Search Console.
- Click Sitemaps.
- In the add a new sitemap section, enter your domain’s sitemap (for example: https://www.your-shopify-domain.com/sitemap.xml) and then click SUBMIT.
How To Optimize Images In Shopify
Graphics and images are a key component of any website today. In the case of a Shopify store, images are useful in catching the attention of potential buyers. Most Shopify store owners are tempted to plaster beautiful and high-quality images of their products all over their websites without any consideration on their overall impact on their site’s performance. However, it’s important to not only focus on the aesthetic benefits of using images on your Shopify store but also think about their impact on your SEO efforts. Images can have a significant impact on SEO.
Image File Size and Format
Image file size can have an impact on page load times. For instance, multiple high-resolution images on a web page can significantly increase the load time. This can put off certain users and in turn decrease user engagement. JPEGs are considered to be more SEO-friendly than PNGs because they are generally smaller in size and can be compressed easily. GIFs, which are basically moving images, should be used in moderation. It’s advisable to go with short animation GIFs with simple color scales (limited to 256) for best results. For longer animations, it’s preferable to go with an embedded video instead.
At the end of the day, image file size has a significant impact on SEO. With that said, you should avoid using images with a file size over 100 Kb. Keep image file size small!
When it comes to dimensions (width, and height), ensure that your images fit within the largest screen resolutions available on most devices (basically 2,560 pixels max). This is to avoid your images ‘falling’ off the screen or being automatically scaled down by browsers.
Crush.pics is an excellent tool that you can use to compress large images so that they can fit on their websites. Adhering to the above Shopify image optimization guidelines should help you avoid getting into trouble with Google.
Schema Markup for Shopify
Schema is a form or code of structured data that you can employ to markup different types of content on your website. Schema markup offers clear and accurate details to search engines about your Shopify store and the content in it. Schema markup for Shopify can highlight crucial information about your products. This type of structured data allows you to display richer results on organic search results.
On top of this, schema markup helps Google read and understand your website better. For instance, while a typical search result includes a website’s title, URL and meta description, a schema markup can also include product pricing, ratings and reviews as shown below:
Put simply, schema markup (structured data) can help your online store stand out in the search results. Users are more likely to click on your link if it offers more information than other links on the same page.
Note: You can manually add schema to your Shopify store but you must be familiar with schema.org, HTML, JSON, JSON-LD, and Shopify Liquid. If you’re not a skilled developer (or don’t have one in-house), we don’t recommend this option because of the possibility of introducing errors to your website’s HTML. Instead, you can add a plugin like Schema Plus for SEO, or Schema & Breadcrumbs
For a more in depth overview on schema markup, check out our blog post titled A Beginner’s Guide to Schema Markup
Shopify is an excellent e-commerce platform that you can use to take your business to the next level. Running a successful Shopify business is no easy task. You have to dedicate a lot of time and effort in promoting and marketing your business on the web. SEO is one of the best ways to do this. Working with a professional and experienced digital marketing agency can help you navigate this complex marketing space with ease.
Remember, it’s not enough to open an online store if no one knows about. Consider investing in Shopify SEO today.