With the percentage of internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales consistently growing each year and reaching an impressive 32.8% share in May 2020, having an effective SEO strategy in place for your ecommerce store has never been more important. It can be the key to developing your online business and achieving sustained long-term growth by harnessing the power of Organic search and ensuring that your new website is easily found by people interested in your products or services.
Choosing to neglect it can lead to being overtaken by the competition and unfulfilled potential for your online store.
Shopify as a platform is designed with SEO in mind. It offers various out-of-the-box SEO features (such as customisable page titles, image ALT tags, meta descriptions; SEO-friendly URLs; automatically generated sitemap.xml files) to help you climb up those rankings. By selecting Shopify, you are already one step ahead. As a Shopify Plus Partner, we understand how priceless these SEO features can be for your business, but only if you make the correct and full use of them.
With that said, it is no wonder that Shopify is now more popular than ever before, with statistics showing that Shopify usage has more than doubled since 2017.
In this blog, we outline some of the basics that should be on your SEO checklist when getting started and how Shopify can help you tick these SEO boxes - also worth checking out Shopify’s own SEO guide. But first, we take a look at why SEO is so important.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is the practice of growing the quality and quantity of organic (non-paid) traffic to your website. It is the process whereby all the various factors influencing where your website ranks on a search engine, are optimised to drive more traffic to your website.
The amount of people using search engines is growing each year. Most online customer journeys begin with search engine searches, meaning SEO has never been more important and powerful to take your business to the next level.
However, SEO is not a one-off thing. With regular algorithm changes and updates from search engine companies, you must ensure your SEO strategy is compliant and up to date with the latest goings-on in the world of SEO. These search engine companies now demand more from websites as the rewards from effective SEO are now greater.
Find out more about how the experienced team at Un.titled can take your SEO to new heights.
Your Shopify SEO Checklist
Set up your Shopify store with the essential tools
Before you get to the nitty-gritty of optimising your site for SEO, you need to ensure your store is integrated with and set up on all the essential tools you will need.
Firstly, you will need to make sure that your Shopify store is set up on Google Analytics and don’t forget to also implement Google Tag Manager which can help you track more insights and conversions from various channels later on. This is crucial as it provides you with a ton of insight and details about site performance and incoming traffic. It sheds light on what the visitors to your site are doing and how you can improve their experience.
Another set of tools you will need to set up are Google Search Console and (if you want to be totally robust) Bing Webmaster tools. By registering your website with these two services, you are essentially letting two major search engines know that your website exists.
It is vital that you submit your XML sitemap to both these services. Helpfully, with Shopify, it automatically generates your sitemap for you, which you can find at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml and you just need to submit this to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This is a crucial step regardless of the platform you are using.
Of course, there are a whole host of other tools available as well to assist with your SEO efforts, but for starters, these are the important ones we strongly recommend.
Before you begin optimising your website’s meta-data or create any sort of content, you need to create or update your targeted keywords list. Keyword research is crucial and is a key component in analysing both short and long-term goals.
You need to ensure that your keywords list is relevant, targeted, and realistic for your business. Think about the user journey and the various customer profiles of your target audience, as well as the different types of keywords they may be using when searching online for your products, such as transactional (e.g. buy sofas online), informational (e.g. what are the best sofas), and navigational ones (e.g. sofa retailers near me). Without this step, you will not have any clear sense of direction when writing onsite content or optimising your meta data.
Optimising your website’s meta data
Meta data for your website includes the various heading tags, image alt tags, page titles & descriptions across your website. These variables are vital in deciding where your page ranks. Especially for product and category pages, these factors can often make all the difference. Given the significance of this, Shopify ensures you are in the driving seat when optimising your meta data.
Search engines use these variables when dictating where you rank. With Shopify you can easily edit the title tag and meta description of a page to better follow best practice SEO guidelines.
These guidelines include making sure both these elements are of a specific length, relevant to the page and feature the right set and amount of your keywords. The same applies to all other elements of meta data. You also have full control over the URL structure of your website, to ensure they are also SEO friendly.
Responsive design, mobile friendliness and site speed
These are arguably two of the most important factors in modern day SEO. It’s estimated that by 2021, mobile will make up almost 73% of worldwide ecommerce sales. Considering this, as well as Google moving to a mobile first indexing approach, having your online store operational and optimised for mobile is vital.
Fortunately for you, with Shopify, pretty much every theme on the Shopify theme store is mobile friendly. The Shopify responsive themes mean your site will look equally as great on mobile and tablet and it does on a desktop screen.
While consumer expectations when it comes to their online experience have increased, patience amongst consumers has decreased. This is why you need to consider site speed whenever making any changes or additions to your website.
Site speed has also become an important ranking signal for all the top search engines.
Being an experienced Shopify SEO Agency, a common issue we notice with clients having speed issues is non-optimised images. These are commonly the culprit of slower load times and thus impact user experience. We also recommend avoiding image sliders wherever possible.
With Shopify, you will find there are a plethora of apps and plugins available to make sure your images are optimised for SEO. These can help serve images in an appropriate format and compress them to reduce page load times. You can even use Shopify’s own free image resizer to easily resize images.
For more tips on improving your page speed on Shopify, we also recommend going through SEMrush’s useful guide.
Content and Structure
Writing high-quality, engaging content on your website is a great way to keep people browsing for longer and engaged, and also earn quality backlinks. This is where your keyword list is also of use.
A great way to achieve this is starting a regular blog. When done right, blogging can boost your organic rankings as it gives you the opportunity to write targeted copy and display to search engines that your business is frequently updated and fresh.
Shopify makes it really easy to start blogging. Simply navigate to your admin area and add a blog.
The site structure of your store should also be a priority on your list. Site structure refers to how your website’s content is organised, grouped and linked to each other. This content does not only refer to blogs but also categories and product pages.
A strongly structured site for SEO is more likely to provide your site with sitelinks in SERPs. The way your site is structured gives search engines better guidance on how your site is crawled and where to locate essential content.
By using Shopify, much of the hard work to ensure an SEO site structure is done for you. Shopify follows a logical hierarchy of categories and URLs use standard characters and a simple, readable structure.
A few actions you can take to ensure your site is structured correctly is developing a strong internal linking structure and portfolio and making full use of rel=canonical tags to avoid content duplication.
It would be impossible to list all the SEO factors that should be considered when getting started on Shopify in just one blog, but we hope reading this has got you familiar with some of the main SEO essentials.
We would say this obviously, but it always helps partnering up with a Shopify Plus Partner like Un.titled. Getting Shopify experts onboard to help with your website development and implement your SEO strategy can be a solid way to fulfil your website’s potential by providing a quicker route to market and an overall greater experience for your website’s users.
At Un.titled, we offer a range of services such as developing your Shopify store, digital marketing, support and development and also design and UX for your Shopify store.