Ecommerce

Shopify SEO Best Practices: 7 Traffic Boosting Tips That Work

If you want to succeed in today’s ecommerce world, search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be a substantial part of your strategy.

You can have great products, the best online store, and a top-notch product. But if no one can find you in the search engines, you won’t sell anything.

But SEO can be a difficult task. And if you go it alone, there’s a lot that can slip through the cracks.

One potential solution to this is to use an ecommerce platform like Shopify to help ease your introduction to SEO and help you sell effectively.

In this article, I want to introduce you to Shopify and how it can impact your SEO.

So to get started, let’s look at what Shopify does and why you should consider it.

Why Use Shopify?

As I’ve already alluded to, Shopify is an ecommerce platform that allows you to build a store and start selling with relative ease.

And when you look at the success stories, it’s easy to get drawn in by everything Shopify has to offer. For example, the indie game developers at Snowman recently launched a merch store through Shopify that brought in 60% of their previous year’s revenue in just 30 days.

That’s a huge positive push in Shopify’s direction.

But does it live up to the hype?

From a numbers perspective, Shopify is no small apple. They boast that more than 600,000 businesses have won more than $63 billion worth of sales on their platform.

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So for store owners who are looking for a solid, proven platform, Shopify seems like a good go-to pick. Reviews widely agree that it’s easy to use for newcomers and a great choice for a more aesthetically-oriented user experience.

If you are new to selling online or if you get stuck, Shopify also gives you access to tons of helpful resources that can help you troubleshoot and fix common issues.

And if you’re not a gifted web developer and designer, there’s a vast library of plug-and-play themes that will help you.

More benefits include:

  • High level of flexibility
  • Easy-to-use backend
  • Built-in tools designed to help you grow
  • No coding required.

And on top of all that, Shopify’s platform comes at a fair price.

So it’s clear that Shopify is an enticing ecommerce platform. No matter what your experience level is, it can help you sell your products.

But now for the big question:

Is Shopify a good ecommerce platform for SEO?

And here’s the honest answer: It can be.

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As we’ve seen, Shopify is great if you want to keep things simple. In keeping with that theme, they’ve designed their platform to be a great turnkey solution for those who are new to SEO. You don’t have to sweat the basics, which is a huge plus for many.

But there’s one major downside with Shopify that undermines your ability to get to the top of the search rankings.

Shopify technically owns your store, even if you use your own domain name. That means that much of the true SEO tinkering that you’re able to do with a WordPress site is nonexistent.

You’re completely at the whim of their larger structure, which may not always be good for your specific brand.

That being said, there are still ways that you can optimize your store and improve your rankings.

Tips to Improve the Organic Performance

If you want to beef up your Shopify SEO efforts, there are at least seven proven tips that will help you boost your traffic. Let’s take a look at them.

SEO tip #1: Be sure to use SSL

When someone comes to your site to spend money, they want to know if their information will be secure.

Consequently, so does Google.

They announced in 2014 that HTTPS encryption (also referred to as SSL) on sites would be a minor ranking signal. Since that announcement, webmasters have seen a steady increase in HTTPS pages that make it on the front pages of Google.

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So if you want to generate more traffic to your online store, then one of the best ways to start is ensuring security across the board by using HTTPS.

And thankfully, Shopify makes this easy by offering it as a free service. But since it’s not a default setting, you’ll still need to turn it on.

To do so, you’ll just go to your Shopify Admin and Activate SSL.

It’s a simple step, but it’s a great start for your SEO.

SEO tip #2: Use an SEO app

While Shopify boasts solid out-of-the-box SEO, it’s always a good idea to use an extra tool where you can. It has a robust app store with thousands of possible add-ons for your store, which you should use to your advantage.

When it comes to SEO, there are plenty of affordable and effective apps that will help you double-check your efforts and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

A good place to start is with an app called SEO Doctor. It offers a quick fix for many basic SEO issues, and it will even help you see what your competition is doing for SEO.

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Finding the right SEO app is by far the fastest way to get everything optimized for your online store. At the very least, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you have the basics taken care of.

SEO tip #3: Utilize Google Search Console

One of the major SEO pitfalls of Shopify is that it doesn’t always make it easy for Google to crawl and categorize your online store.

And if Google doesn’t have a good understanding of your store, then it will be much harder to rank.

Thankfully, this is a pretty easy fix. You’ll just need to manually submit your sitemap to Google Search Console.

Here’s a quick video that will help you find your sitemap:

https://youtu.be/kM1m4fQUr4Q

Once you have your sitemap’s URL, navigate to Google Search Console and set it up if you haven’t already.

You’ll see an option that says “Sitemaps” in the navigation bar. When you find it, click it.

On this page, you’ll see a toolbar where you can add your sitemap URL. Copy/paste it into the box and then hit “Submit.”

That’s all there is to it. Google will now have an accurate picture of your site, which means that it can crawl and assess it the way you want them to.

Get Your Free Shopify SEO Checklist

Enter your email and instantly get a Shopify SEO Checklist to ensure that your store is following SEO best practices.

SEO tip #4: Focus on user experience

Customers that come to your site want to be able to use it intuitively. If it’s hard to find products or navigate, then they’ll likely just leave.

That means that everything you’ve done to win that traffic just goes down the drain.

That why SEO and user experience should work hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

So how can you do that with Shopify?

One essential element that you must have is a mobile-friendly site. Google recently announced that mobile-first indexing is rolling out, which means your mobile site is going to be the biggest factor of your SEO.

If you have a poorly designed mobile site or none at all, Google will see that as a poor user experience and dock your rank accordingly.

But besides a mobile-friendly site, here are the recommended user experience tips from Shopify:

  1. Prioritize function over design. Get them to work together if you can.
  2. Customer-centric copy comes first.
  3. Build your navigation so that it’s intuitive.

Those tips are rather broad, but that’s for a good reason. Every site is going to have a different user experience, structure, navigational need, and so on.

And it’s broad because user experience requires input from a broad range of inputs. You have to consider the humans behind the design, your desired outcomes, and the hard data about how your site performs.

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Thus, this is an extensive, long-term process. You’ll have to refine your user experience over the years — much like other SEO disciplines.

But the pursuit is worth it. With the right user experience in place, you’ll be able to win more traffic, keep them longer, and turn them into customers.

SEO Tip #5: Boost Your Site Speed

If you haven’t already heard, your website’s loading speed is a huge ranking factor in Google’s recent updates.

So if your site is slow, you’ll have a hard time edging out the competition.

Thankfully, there are some robust (and free) tools that can help you stay ahead of this situation.

First of all, you’ll need a reliable way to test your site’s speed. A quick Google search will give you about a dozen or so, but you only need one. My suggestion is to use a site like Pingdom.

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When you insert your website’s URL (or a product page’s URL), Pingdom lets you test its speed from anywhere in the world. If you have an international audience, this a great tool to ensure their load time is optimal.

You also get a pretty good assessment of how fast your site loads, as well as a comparison to other sites from around the world.

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And if you don’t like what you see, there are options to help you lower your site’s size and boost overall load times.

For example, a tool like Tiny PNG will allow you to compress large images into smaller, speed-oriented versions. This is especially useful for product pages that may have more than one image.

Another good option would be to utilize Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) to create near-instantaneous load times on your mobile site.

Any of these options are good for optimizing your site and decreasing load times. It may not sound like much, but every second counts in ecommerce.

SEO Tip #6: Optimize and Update Your Product Pages

When you’re creating your finished product page, you want to make sure that it’s using the best practices, and that you update it from time to time for “freshness.”

Let’s look at what that means in practice with a real-life Shopify store created by Bremont.

On any of their product pages, you’ll find keyword-optimized titles, internal links to high-value pages, suggestions for cross-selling, and top-notch product imagery.

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Combined, all of these elements means the page has a higher chance at ranking well for the given product.

Another great example of this, albeit with a different style, comes from Condor Cycles. Their emphasis is more copy-driven but still contains the elements pointed out above.

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But where do updates come into play with these product pages?

According to a study published by Moz, Google seems to have a preference for “fresh” content.

Over time, your product descriptions, images, and other copy will start to get a little “stale” from an SEO standpoint. That means it will be less successful for the searches you want to rank for.

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To combat this, it’s good to do regular audits of your product pages (and other content) to ensure that it’s not stagnating. If you see a page moving in the opposite direction, that’s a good sign that you need to update your copy and images.

Get Your Free Shopify SEO Checklist

Enter your email and instantly get a Shopify SEO Checklist to ensure that your store is following SEO best practices.

SEO Tip #7: Set Up 301 Redirects For Unused or Discontinued Pages

In many cases, when a product is temporarily out of stock, you’ll want to display that on your product page without changing or redirecting your page. While inconvenient to your customer, product pages with out of stock items will still retain their SEO value.

But what happens if a user comes to your site expecting to find a product that you’ll never sell again, only to find a 404 error page?

The likely outcome is that they leave your site forever.

When users “bounce” like this, it can severely impact your SEO.

The solution is to set up 301 redirects in this situation.

To do this in Shopify, select the Online Store section in your toolbar. Then choose Navigation and find the URL Redirects option.

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Use this to set up the redirect to a newer page with an in-stock item. Or, if you do a full website redesign at some point, use this to ensure that you don’t miss customers due to newer URLs.

With fewer bounces, you’ll have better long-term SEO, and hopefully more customers as well.

Just make sure to use this strategically and only when absolutely necessary. You don’t want to lose your SEO progress on a page that you intent to use again.

Conclusion

If you’re starting the process of building your online store, Shopify should be on your list of ecommerce platforms for a number of reasons.

As we’ve seen, it’s a large platform with plenty of tools and themes that can help you, no matter what your experience level is. It’s also built for fast and visually-oriented execution, which are two huge plusses.

But when it comes to SEO, things can get a bit tricky. You’ll still need to ensure that you have the basics in order if you want to be at the top of search rankings.

The perfect starting point is to ensure that your free SSL certificate is turned on. Google views secure sites favorably, which will help in the long run.

Then, make sure you install an SEO app to double-check that you’re doing everything you can to boost your traffic.

You should also take the time to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console. This will help Google crawl your site and assess it as accurately as possible.

It’s also a good idea to spend some time optimizing your user experience. The last thing you want is for hard-earned traffic to leave because they can’t use your store.

Take some time to improve your site’s speed, as this will lower bounce and lead to improved revenue over time.

And take strides to keep your best-performing products and landing pages. Google often prioritizes fresh content, which can give you an edge.

Finally, set up 301 redirects for old pages that may no longer exist. This will lower bounce and help your SEO in the long run.

If you implement all of these tips, you’ll be in a far better position to win traffic to your Shopify store in the long run. With more traffic, you should see more customers, revenue, and long-term growth.

Get Your Free Shopify SEO Checklist

Enter your email and instantly get a Shopify SEO Checklist to ensure that your store is following SEO best practices.

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