SEO for Shopify: How to Rank Higher and Drive More Traffic
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Picture this: You’re a Shopify merchant in the bustling digital marketplace, and your ultimate goal is to stand out, draw in customers, and drive sales. However, you’ve tried designing an appealing website and showcasing your high-quality products, and nothing seems to work in your bottom line’s favor. But before you start doubting your business skills and luck in the online retail landscape, you should know that to be outstanding, acquire customers, and drive sales in eCommerce demands a strategic approach to online visibility. And one of the most critical strategies you can employ is SEO for Shopify.
As countless consumers turn to the web to explore their shopping options, one thing becomes clear – your store’s position in search engine results can make or break your business. This is where the power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Shopify comes into play. It offers the key to reaching the top ranks and capturing a stream of organic traffic. But wait, you do not have to take our word for it. According to a recent KPI Report, a staggering 65% of online shopping journeys commence with a search engine query (32% organic and 33% paid search).
But, SEO for Shopify can be challenging for most merchants, especially if one is utterly unfamiliar with optimization strategies. If you are here for tips on leveraging SEO for Shopify to raise your store’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), you’re home. Pull up the seat, consume this guide to the end, revisit your worries, and you’ll be surprised how much they were unfounded.
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SEO in eCommerce: What You Need to Know
SEO for Shopify refers to the strategies and practices you deploy to improve your store’s visibility on the internet. The main objective here is to increase the number of visitors to your store without paying search engine companies to manipulate the traffic. So, the question is: How does SEO work?
Let’s, for a moment, step back from the digital realm into the physical world and see if we can grasp the core SEO concepts. Consider a merchant who sells lemonade to passersby as they head to and from work. The merchant notices that most potential customers simply pass his stand without a cursory look. So, he devises a plan to attract more eyeballs and sell more lemonade.
The merchant puts signs around the stand to signal passersby. He creates a big poster listing the benefits of lemonade juice, like “refreshing,” “homemade,” and “best in town.” Then, he ensures the stand is clean, easy to spot, and well organized. He hires a new server who is friendly and efficient, and, on top of that, he engages a famous lemonade critic who mentions the stand in their blog. Finally, the merchant tracks how many lemonades are sold daily to evaluate if the new approach has any positive results.
For a merchant with a store on Shopify, the lemonade stand is your store, and your primary goal is to make it more visible to passersby on the internet (individuals browsing online) and appealing to potential visitors.
The signs and labels on the lemonade stand are your keywords. Like the merchant chooses the signs carefully (e.g., “fresh lemonade,” “cold drinks”), you must choose the right words and phrases that online users are likely to use when looking for specific goods or services.
The big poster listing lemonade’s benefits is your website’s content. Your website must have a blog section that showcases high-quality content that describes your products or services, just like this poster. So, this content should include the keywords you selected to make your website relevant to search engines.
Just as the merchant ensured the lemonade stand is clean, well-organized, and easy to spot, your website must use proper formatting (like headers and bullet points), contain images, and be user-friendly. This is called “on-page optimization.”
Furthermore, the merchant engaging a critic to mention his stand in their blog helps to spread the message about the spot. In SEO, this is akin to “backlinks.” Other websites linking to your site can boost your website’s authority and make it more trustworthy in the eyes of search engines.
Then comes the friendly and efficient server. The ultimate goal is to create an environment where customers feel appreciated and valued. Similarly, you want to provide an excellent user experience on your Shopify store by making it load faster and easy to navigate.
Finally, just like the lemonade merchant tracks how many lemonades are sold daily, you use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your website’s performance in SEO. Besides, you can see which keywords bring in visitors, which pages are popular, and where you can improve. This data helps you continually refine your SEO strategy.
So, you understand SEO for Shopify and how to go about it, answering some of the frequently asked questions about improving your online store’s visibility and appeal. But do you know why it is critically important for online businesses? Let’s find out:
- It helps eCommerce websites appear at the top of search engine results for relevant keywords and phrases.
- It drives organic traffic, so you don’t have to pay for every click or visitor.
- It increases trust in your store because websites that rank well in search results are often perceived as more trustworthy and credible by users.
- In the highly competitive eCommerce landscape, SEO can give you an edge over competitors. If your website consistently ranks higher, you’re more likely to capture market share.
- SEO is a cost-effective long-term strategy compared to paid advertising methods like pay-per-click (PPC).
How Shopify is a Good Fit for SEO?
Shopify claims 10.32% of the global eCommerce software platforms market share, making it the fourth largest behind Squarespace (14.67%), Woo Themes (14.95%), and WooCommerce (38.74%). Furthermore, the platform continues to attract big names like Unilever, Pepsi, and Nestle because of the immense value it adds to their brand. However, it could be that Shopify’s unbeatable alignment with SEO is the biggest reason for the platform’s surging growth.
How does it achieve the alignment?
- Clean and SEO-friendly URLs: Shopify automatically generates clean and structured URLs, which are inherently SEO-friendly.
- Customizable title tags and meta descriptions: You can tweak meta descriptions and title tags to suit the unique demands of collections, individual product pages, and other content. Also, this level of customization is vital for effective on-page SEO.
- Mobile optimization: With the increasing importance of mobile-friendliness in SEO, Shopify’s responsive themes ensure that your site performs well on mobile devices, contributing positively to your search rankings.
- Page load speed: Shopify has designed its infrastructure and content delivery network (CDN) to ensure merchant stores are so nimble that visitors don’t notice significant lag. The faster-loading pages are also the preferred standard for search engines, giving them precedence in SERPs.
- Structured data support: When using Shopify, you can add structured data (schema markup) to product pages. This way, your store’s website shows up with more detailed information in search results, which can help more people click on your website.
- Canonical tags: Shopify automatically handles canonicalization, which reduces the risk of duplicate content that can harm SEO efforts.
- SSL security: Shopify prioritizes safety for its users (which is also a key consideration for search engines) by providing SSL certificates by default. On the one hand, users enjoy secure transactions and interactions on the platform, and on the other hand, search engine rankings improve because the website is more trustworthy.
- Integration with SEO apps: You can find helpful tools on the Shopify App Store to improve your SEO. These tools include analytics and schema markup apps that enhance your optimization efforts.
Strategies to Optimize Your Shopify Store for SEO
Up to this point, you know enough to craft a successful SEO strategy. It gets better for Shopify users because, as discussed, it aligns perfectly with SEO’s best practices. Specifically, you can implement the following tactics for optimal SEO for Shopify:
1. Doing Keyword Research for Shopify
Reflecting on the lemonade merchant we encountered earlier, we recall our discussion about his effective use of signs and labels to capture the attention of passersby. He meticulously selected labels designed to intrigue his target audience, a process that undoubtedly required considerable thought and research.
Drawing parallels to SEO for Shopify, this concept is akin to keyword research. Successful search engine optimization (SEO) hinges on a deep understanding of the search terms potential customers employ. Yet, grasping the fundamental elements of this strategy, such as distinguishing between short-tail and long-tail keywords, is equally crucial.
Short-tail keywords typically consist of one or two words, like “cement” or “electronics.” They are broad, highly competitive, and often used for general searches, making them challenging to rank for. In contrast, long-tail keywords comprise more specific phrases, often containing three or more words, such as “rapid hardening cement” or “affordable gaming laptops under $1000.” These keywords are less competitive and offer a higher likelihood of converting visitors into customers. Therefore, investing time in thorough keyword research is vital for optimizing your Shopify store’s SEO and attracting the right audience.
Another critical aspect of this strategy is knowledge of the tools and methods for keyword research. The knowledge is especially crucial in the industrial product marketing niche, where precision and relevance are paramount. Here’s how you can effectively research keywords tailored to this specific niche:
- Google keyword planner: Use this tool to uncover relevant keywords and understand search volume within the industrial sector. Input generic terms like “industrial machinery” or “manufacturing equipment” to generate initial keyword ideas. This tool will provide insights into the popularity of these terms and suggest related keywords.
- Industry-specific keywords: In the industrial niche, use industry resources like trade journals, forums, and catalogs for specialized terminology that appeals to B2B buyers.
- Competitor analysis: Examine the keywords your competitors are targeting. Use tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to gain insights into competitor marketing strategies.
- Customer surveys and feedback: Engage with your customers to uncover their language and search preferences. You could leverage customer inquiries, support tickets, and feedback to reveal valuable long-tail keywords.
2. Optimizing the Shopify Site Structure
The structure of your Shopify store is akin to the organization and cleanliness of the lemonade stand. However, whereas the lemonade merchant will achieve optimization by keeping the stand clean and well-organized, your website will require a little more work. For starters, a well-structured Shopify store not only enhances user experience but also plays a pivotal role in effective SEO. Furthermore, search engines favor organized, user-friendly, and logically structured sites. Some benefits you’ll enjoy with an optimized site structure include:
- Improved user experience: A well-structured site simplifies navigation, lowering bounce rates and promoting longer user sessions by aiding content discovery.
- Enhanced crawl-ability: Search engine bots crawl and index websites more effectively when the site structure is organized.
- Keyword relevance: Well-structured sites align pages with keywords or topics, boosting ranking prospects for those specific terms.
Moreover, the following tactics should enable you to enjoy the benefits of an optimized site structure:
- Create a hierarchy of collections and subcollections: Collections are groups of related products. Simply put, they are categories in which products of similar characteristics are placed. The trick here is to organize your collections in a tiered manner, with broader categories at the top and more specific subcollections underneath. However, you may find this approach somewhat challenging without the help of specialized tools like product information management (PIM) systems. The best PIM tools provide a repository for gathering and managing product data and provide the ability to put products into categories. A tool like Catsy PIM will accomplish the categorization automatically as long as users define the rules and standards for stratifying products into specific groups. Then, you can sync the data directly to your Shopify stores. Additionally, the result is a clean and logical hierarchy that helps search engines understand the relationship between different products and improves the overall organization of your store.
- Use descriptive URLs: Shopify allows you to customize the URLs of your collections and product pages. You can optimize the URLs by including relevant keywords that accurately describe the page’s content.
- Optimize navigation menus: Your navigation menus should be intuitive and easy to use. Use clear and descriptive labels for menu items, and consider organizing them based on the most important and popular categories.
- Implement breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are a navigational aid that shows users the path they have taken to reach a specific page. Also, they provide search engines with additional information about the structure of your website. Implement breadcrumbs in your Shopify store to improve user experience and SEO.
- Internal linking: Linking between different pages within your Shopify store is essential for SEO and user navigation. For instance, include relevant internal links in your product descriptions, blog posts, and other content to help users discover related products and improve the overall structure of your website.
3. Improve your Shopify Site Speed
Site speed is king. A Deloitte study commissioned by Google concluded that milliseconds make millions, meaning a slight improvement in a site’s load speed can increase a company’s bottom line by millions. The reality is starker for business-to-business companies. A fast-loading site, preferably taking one second, generates a five times higher conversion rate than one that takes 10 seconds to load, says a Portent study. So, improving your Shopify page load time can improve user engagement and elevate search rankings. Here are some key points to consider when aiming to improve your Shopify site speed:
- Use Google PageSpeed Insights to analyze your website’s performance and use the suggestions to make necessary adjustments.
- Optimize images: Large images can significantly slow down your site. So, compress and resize them without compromising quality. Thankfully, Shopify also offers handy features to do just that.
- Leverage Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): CDNs store copies of your website’s files on multiple servers worldwide. When a user accesses your site, the tool delivers content from the nearest server, reducing loading times.
- Implement lazy loading: Lazy loading loads images and other elements as users scroll down the page rather than all at once. This speeds up initial page load times.
- Monitor third-party apps: If you’ve integrated third-party apps into your Shopify store, be mindful of how they affect site speed. Some apps can add significant overhead.
- Reduce redirects: Limit the use of redirects as they add extra HTTP requests and slow down page loading. Ensure that any redirects are necessary and optimized.
4. Building Backlinks for your Shopify Store
Backlinking involves having external websites link back to your online store. Additionally, it’s a crucial SEO technique for enhancing search rankings and driving referral traffic from other sites. Consider the lemonade stand scenario, where the merchant engages a critic to discuss the business on his blog. In any case, regardless of what the critic writes, anyone reading the post will become aware of the existence of a lemonade stand, potentially piquing their interest to try it out.
But precisely why are backlinks so important?
- They signal to search engines that your site is trustworthy and authoritative on a given topic.
- The more quality backlinks you have from relevant industry websites, the better your SEO rankings.
However, while at it, you must moderate this strategy because some search engines, such as Google, penalize overuse. As such, build the backlinks gradually over time. Most importantly, focus on earning links naturally rather than buying them. Here are some valuable techniques for building backlinks for a Shopify website:
- Create link-worthy content on your blog that other sites may want to link to. Comprehensive guides, product reviews, and unique data/research will likely attract links if promoted well.
- Guest posts on relevant blogs in your industry. Most blogs allow guest contributions, allowing you to include a link back to your store within the post. Focus on getting placements on reputable, high-authority sites.
- Participate in forums and communities related to your products. You can often add your website link to your profile or signature to score some forum links. Just make sure to avoid spammy link practices.
- Reach out to influencers and brand advocates to see if they will feature or link to your store.
The key is to build organic links through great content and relationships, instead of low-quality paid or manipulative links that can damage your site’s trust and authority. Furthermore, taking the time to build quality backlinks steadily over time can pay off with better rankings and more organic traffic.
5. Ensuring Complete and Accurate Product Attributes
Product attributes are all the details that describe and define a product. This includes images, brand, materials, size, color, description, name, SKU, etc. Complete and optimized product attributes are critical for both SEO and converting shoppers.
For SEO, relevant attributes help search engines understand your products and match them to user intent. Some critical attributes to optimize include:
- Product titles: Keep them short but descriptive, incorporating important keywords
- Descriptions: Use long-form, keyword-rich descriptions elaborating on features and benefits
- Image filenames: Include targeted keywords
- Technical specs: Provide all relevant details like materials, dimensions, etc.
- Brand, price, color, size: Help searchers filter and find your products
For conversions, robust product attributes build trust and aid decisions. To illustrate, let’s consider a power tools manufacturer with a store on Shopify. The merchant can include details like:
- Power source (corded, battery, pneumatic)
- Power output (amperage, HP)
- Tool type (drill, saw, grinder, etc.)
- Key features like chuck size, blade length, RPM
- Weight, dimensions
- Safety ratings and certifications
- Warranty information
- Brand name and model number
But such a level of detail may be an uphill task to achieve if you are not using a product content management system of some kind. Let’s say the power tools merchant decides to use a PIM solution. Better still, he opts for a system with a built-in digital asset management (DAM) solution, such as Catsy. Deploying this tool makes work easy and expedites the turnaround time for complete product information. The key features that users enjoy include:
- Centralized database to manage product attributes across channels
- Validation to ensure completeness and accuracy
- Readiness reports to identify data gaps
- Ability to create SEO-friendly, benefit-focused descriptions
- Tools to optimize image names, alt text, and metadata
- Syndication of product data to all channels
For example, Catsy could help the power tools merchant:
- Maintain a master product catalog with 400+ validated attributes per product
- Develop SEO-optimized titles and descriptions highlighting key features
- Normalize product names/specs across brands for consistency
- Add metadata to images like blade type, angles, measurements
- Syndicate the enriched product data across their Shopify store, Amazon, eBay, etc.
This ensures consistent, compelling product information that builds SEO authority and helps drive conversions across channels.
Ultimately, SEO for Shopify is vital for any Shopify store looking to improve visibility, in addition to attracting organic traffic, and eventually driving more sales. With Shopify’s inherent SEO-friendliness, merchants have a solid foundation to build upon. Furthermore, the key strategies outlined in this guide, including keyword research, site structure optimization, speed improvements, backlink building, and complete product attributes, can help unlock the full SEO potential of your Shopify website.
When it comes to submitting your Shopify store to search engines, ensure that your sitemap is up-to-date and that you’ve submitted it to Google Search Console. This step will ensure that search engines crawl and index your site effectively, boosting your chances of ranking higher in search results.
Furthermore, this guide answers common questions that Shopify merchants often have about SEO, such as how to choose the right keywords, optimize product descriptions, and track your SEO progress effectively. These insights are invaluable for those new to SEO and can serve as a valuable resource for ongoing SEO efforts.
Done right, SEO provides a cost-effective way to reach more of your target customers and grow your eCommerce business over the long term. The tips provided offer actionable steps to get your SEO efforts off the ground or take them to the next level. While SEO requires continual effort, the long-term payoff of higher rankings, referral traffic, and conversions makes it one of the wisest investments for any Shopify merchant. Use this guide as your handbook for SEO for Shopify’s success.
And for those seeking an extra edge in their Shopify SEO journey, consider exploring Catsy, a cutting-edge tool designed to streamline and supercharge your SEO efforts. With Catsy, you can gain a competitive advantage in optimizing your Shopify store and receive guidance every step of the way. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to boost your online presence and drive more sales. Request a demo today and embark on your path to SEO success with Catsy. Use this guide as your handbook for SEO for Shopify’s success.
SEO can help Shopify stores rank higher in search results, drive free organic traffic, increase trust and credibility, gain an edge over competitors, and provide a cost-effective marketing strategy.
Use clear navigation menus, optimize page URLs, implement breadcrumbs, create a logical hierarchy of product categories, and use internal linking between related pages.
Backlinks from external high-authority websites help demonstrate your site’s trustworthiness to search engines and can improve your search rankings.
PIM systems centralize product data and allow merchants to optimize titles, descriptions, specs, images, and other attributes to improve SEO and conversions.
Important on-page factors include page titles, meta descriptions, headers, image alt text, site speed, mobile optimization, URL structure, and internal linking.