So, you have set up a delightful e-commerce store that is aesthetically top-notch and want to start getting regular traffic on your online shop from potential customers. It doesn’t matter what you are selling, chances are that you have competition in that field and thus, your potential audience has to decide which brand to go for. And while push marketing can help, intent-based, keyword-centric Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to drive organic traffic to your Shopify store is your best bet.
There are a few questions that you must answer before you start SEO for your E-Commerce store:
- Who are your potential customers?
- What are they looking for?
- What is your competition’s pitch?
- Keeping all this in mind, how will you get your customers to choose you over your competition?
Having these basics clear will help you build your SEO strategy from ground up. Then, you are ready to get into the following:
- Shopify SEO Introduction
- Shopify Keyword Research
- Shopify On-Page SEO
- Shopify SEO Architecture
Your objective with SEO is to rank as high as possible on the SERPs or the Search Engine Results Page for the keywords that your potential customers are searching for. That will determine how easily clients will be able to find your e-commerce store online. And that will ultimately translate into revenue for you.
Search Engine Optimization for Shopify Stores
Shopify is built keeping in mind the needs of e-commerce businesses and SEO is an integral aspect of that. So it comes with a tonne of features that are SEO-friendly. It also has potential for a great deal of customization you can do to build up on the ranks. This falls in the paradigm of keywords, site content, UX design, link building and more.
We will take you through the steps you need to follow to get a high rank and make your SEO game strong!
Shopify Site Structure
A well-planned site goes a long way in delivering high SEO results. The easier it is for a user to navigate your website, the more time they spend on the site looking at pages and content, which gives a positive signal to search engines. Thus, the organisation of content on your site is imperative.
There are a host of ways you can make your site more meaningful and user-friendly, but the most understated of them is to keep it simple. Don’t bifurcate too much with categories and subcategories. Keep it as minimal as required. Remember your site is not just for the users, it is also for search engines to crawl (your XML Sitemap). Effectively, that is what will help you rank your products against the competitors.
The easiest way to structure your site is HOME > CATEGORY > PRODUCT. This keeps the user-journey to the product as short as possible, makes the navigation simple and helps shoppers find value in your site structure. The time that they save in understanding the navigation of your site, they use in browsing products and adding them to their cart. Similarly. The faster the search engine is able to crawl your site, the better it is for your search ranks in the SERP.
Another popular option to organize your site is Home > Category page > Sub-category page > Product Page
Don’t forget to include a search box on your home page which again helps your users reach their end goal faster. This is like your site’s very own search engine listing. The search.liquid template is used to showcase the results of a search box query on the storefront. This can be found as part of any Shopify theme. It will help you optimize the traffic landing on the website to get the most out of those potential customers.
You can’t talk about SEO and not talk about keyword targeting. It is the most fundamental aspect of good Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Identifying the right keywords to go after and optimizing them can help build the right SEO strategy. Here’s where you go back to the fundamental question of what your customers need and how can your product solve for those needs. Once you have this list, try to imagine yourself as the customer and think about what you would search for to fix your problems. This requires a fair bit of research using buyer personas, competitor research (of meta descriptions and image tags), research on forums and review sites etc. Furthermore, you have the option of using plenty of keyword research tools with the popular ones being Ahrefs, Moz, Google Search Console and Keyword Planner. These SEO tools can help you identify the volume of searches on these keywords which can help you align your marketing efforts, specifically for on-page SEO.
There are two straight-forward factors that contribute to a good user experience - Site Speed and Device Responsiveness.
Site speed is inversely proportional to the frustration users may have when they navigate your site. In the current day and age, users are spoilt with sites that load in micro-seconds and are accustomed to such treatment. A website that loads any slower can be a cause of anxiety for the users. They will instantly detest such a site and not wait for it to load, which is especially true in the case of e-commerce businesses that have a wide variety of products to choose from. In essence site speed is a test of how accessible your site is, and thus, search engine crawlers give it a lot of value.
In order to improve site speed, you will need to perform the following three actions:
- Optimize your images and keep them light
- Use a mobile-friendly theme that is quick to load
- Avoid using carousels with slider options
Having a responsive design can further your chances of giving a great user experience. Essentially that means that your Shopify store is adaptive to all screens including desktops, tablets and mobile phones. As a user, we would prefer to have a similar experience with a Shopify store across different devices. Also, adopting a mobile-first approach to the store makes it easier to adapt it across other devices. Several tools, in the PageSpeed Insights tool, can be used to understand your score based on your page speed. Most sites endeavour to have a score of over 80 on both desktop and mobile devices. It’s especially important to make sure that the mobile device score is good since increasingly, shoppers are using their smartphones to make purchases on the go. If a user enjoys their experience with your brand online, they tend to stick around for longer, which in turn helps search engines understand the value you are delivering to the users. This can greatly improve your ranking. And as your ranking improves, so does your traffic making it a benevolent cycle.
You’ve simplified your site for search engines to crawl and made it user-friendly. You’ve also targeted the right keywords to have potential clients give signals to the search engine about their relevance to your website. The next step is to become an authority in the space by having the rest of the web talk about you and your products. Link building does exactly that. Getting link-backs from relevant websites and domain authorities means that search engines will see you as a reliable source for certain keywords and topics. Thus, according to the search engine, the larger community values your opinion and showing your result on top will cut down the audience’s journey to make it shorter and more relevant through that search engine. It is an off-page optimization strategy and the equivalent of word of mouth marketing.
There are several ways of building links and engaging with existing mentions to build a potential synergy and further build more links:
This exercise is to check which mentions you have already and to get alerts for any forthcoming mentions. Mentions.com can help you with your existing mentions. Setting up Google Alerts for your brand or using Talkwalkers can help you track any new mentions. This will help you analyse what kind of websites are talking about you, how authoritative they are and how to engage with them for more mentions. The objective is to get them to link your mentions to your website, which may be done by personally contacting them.
Industry influencers (individuals or brands) are a great authority figure to get link-backs since chances are that they themselves have a good source of following and traffic on their website/social pages. Blogging sites are particularly helpful in this process. Getting link backs from them can help you get exposed to new, relevant audiences and capitalize on a short user journey. When search engines see you getting traffic from these influencer sites, they understand your relevance, and push your website up in their rankings.
Your products may or may not be manufactured by you, and in case your products are manufactured by third parties, it makes a lot of sense to get your suppliers to provide you some links, since that is as relevant as it gets. You will end up getting high quality link backs and customers who are at a later stage in the buying journey.
Broken links send a terrible message to search engines about your website. You could reach out to owners of sites that have broken backlinks of your online store and get them to replace it. It's a win-win situation for both.
Content is what brings stickiness to your web page. And we’re just talking about the description of your products. While your products can be your pull, the content on your website, if interesting for your audience, will have them spend more time and create brand recall. For instance, blogs, DIY videos and other innovative product placements can help you build an online store that ranks high up on search engines.
The starting point for your content can be sales scripts or other online chats and email conversations with customers. It helps to identify what questions are coming up again and again in the discussions. That could help you come up with the most effective and basic piece of content - the FAQ, which can then be extrapolated to add creative layers to build smaller content nuggets in various formats. It’s a well-known fact that most customers who reach out to have a conversation with a brand, connect after going through some content of the online store that makes them interested. Thus, they already form a perspective of the brand by that content. In terms of SEO, it helps to have relevant keywords and a mix of both long form and short form content arranged in a manner that hooks the customers to stay on the e-commerce site. This is imperative to improve your website SEO and go high up on the search engine rankings.
Apps and Tools
It is much easier to achieve your SEO goals with certain plug-ins and tools that are meant for your Shopify e-commerce store.
Plug in SEO
This is the SEO tool that over 30,000 e-commerce stores and tonnes of Shopify stores use to build their SEO. According to reviews, this app genuinely helps you improve your organic search rankings through optimization. You can easily add schema markup on your product pages and ensure that there are no broken links. One salient feature of the app is the ability to edit bulk SEO data i.e. meta tags and descriptions to save time. Also it is great for global stores since it has the ability to help with multi-lingual and non-English SEO. You can easily check and fix SEO issues in headings, subheadings, image ALT tags, page titles, filenames, and page descriptions. It also shows you search engine listing previews for you to optimize the same.
This is perhaps the most impressive SEO for Shopify tool that is meant to deliver SEO automation for your e-commerce store. This tool helps you add product meta tags (title and description snippets) and alt tags using templates without manual intervention. Doesn’t that make on-site SEO so much easier, without which e-commerce SEO can be a daunting task? This is sure to improve your search traffic. Smart SEO claims to reduce the time spent doing on-site SEO by over 80%. I’m sure you could use this time for more meaningful work.
One of the most popular SEO for Shopify tools, SEO Manager is a great if you want to rank higher in search engines. At a cost of $20/month, it powers through with it’s 20 features, of which 15 are claimed to be unique to SEO Manager. Some of the prominent features include ‘Redirect on out of stock”, product ‘unavailable after’ meta tag, SEO control of tag filtered collections, JSON-LD data support, and more. It integrates easily with Google, Google Search console, Bing and Kit. Most importantly though, it helps keep your 404 broken links under check and allows you to automate the fixing process. It’s like having SEO tips delivered to you from time to time.
SEO Image Optimizer - Auto SEO
For an image optimization tool such as this, with a 4.9 star review rating on the Shopify App Store, one would not mind paying. However, the icing on the cake is the free plan available for SEO Image Optimizer. This tool literally takes all your Image SEO stress away and for the most part, runs automatically. Since a lot of search queries on Google end in Google Image search results, it is best to have your images optimized to have up to date SEO best practices and to show up in image search results. All this without the knowledge of coding or help from SEO experts.
JSON-LD for SEO
JSON-LD is the method by which websites and online stores can give detailed SEO-led information to search engines. As long as your website has Structured Data, your SEO will be in good health. Important aspects of this data will be the price of the product, ratings on quality, along with status and quantity available.
This tool is essential for e-commerce sites adding new products regularly to improve their SEO rankings, claiming that the process is often quicker(31 days) than the industry averages (240-390 days).
The SEO features of the SEO booster are one of the best on the Shopify SEO app collection. This app will effortlessly put you on the first page of search engine results pages. An important and understated feature of the SEO booster is that it can help you sort out any duplicate content issues which not all apps can. As a first time store owner, your e-commerce website demands a lot of time and effort to help you rank for your choice of keywords, which SEO Booster can help you solve for. From beginner to advanced level, it will help you go through the entire SEO process hand-in-hand. All this and more in a jiffy, even when you have over 1000 products in your store.
Rich Snippets for SEO
This app that comes at a one-time fee of $69, has earned great reviews on the Shopify App Store. It is supposedly one of the best options to improve conversion rate and showcase the value of the product to your customers. This is specifically meant for you to stand out in the search results through it’s quality-rich snippets. This helps ensure that the quality of traffic that is reaching your website is much better than people coming through a generic search. This is because the users have been nurtured to see the prices, availability and reviews of the product. This increases their likelihood to buy. Conversely, the high number of clicks help with your SEO.
You’ve identified the right tools, you’ve created the right structure for your user journey and you also have the right content. But a large chunk of SEO is the optimisation of your online store’s pages (including your product pages) for the right keywords and through internal links.
Using your analytics tools (such as Google Analytics), you should be able to arrive at the most important pages on your site. Without doubt, the homepage will be one. Additionally, your main product category pages / collection pages and highest selling pages will be part of the mix. This chunk should be your first go-to investment.
In case your store is new and you do not have data to back your claim on the top sellers, you should go after and optimise your homepage before anything else. Additionally, an FAQ and Contact Us page are important too. Once you are done with those, you could identify other pages based on initial buzz and/or offline store data.
Your keyword volumes can also help you identify products with the potential to rank higher and sell more products. We are talking about search volumes over 10000 searches on Google and other search engines.
Once you’ve identified your keywords, your choice of Shopify SEO tools can help you optimise for title and meta descriptions, products descriptions and categories (which you could pick up from the manufacturer sites if you are drop-shipping) and image alt text, all of which need to have the right and focused keywords flowing well into the content of your pages. Also, you want to pay attention to HTML header and footer tags, the URL structures of your product and category pages and the canonical tags. Using canonical tags you tell search engines that a particular URL showcases the master copy of the page.
SEO for your Shopify store can become easy, whether or not you are a webmaster, if you have the right tools in place. If you do it right, your store sales can go through the roof.