If you’re currently using Shopify or thinking about using it to host your online store and want to ensure your business is set up for organic search (SEO), then you’re in the right place.
Users want to be able to find your products with minimal effort. A well-optimised website will help them do just that. At Reflect Digital, we’re all about putting the user first and applying a layer of behavioural science thinking to ensure your website attracts the right people; a win-win for you and them!
As an eCommerce-first CMS, Shopify enables business owners and entrepreneurs to sell products. According to BuiltWith, over 4 million e-commerce sites use Shopify in over 175 countries.
These are big numbers, so it’s no surprise that as the world of eCommerce grows, so does the necessity for a strong SEO strategy if you want to challenge your online competitors. With hundreds of websites competing for the same keywords, it’s important to layer your SEO approach with a human behaviour lens, ensuring the phrases you go after are the most likely to drive a conversion.
Below I’ll explore some of the essential SEO improvements you can make within the Shopify CMS that will help amplify your online presence.
You can optimise page titles, meta titles and meta descriptions for every page. Unlike WordPress, you won’t need a plugin, as this feature is built by default.
Your first step is to customise the meta title and page title for all your key pages with keyphrases the user might be searching for to find your product. For example:
You can customise the title and meta for all of these page types:
If you’re amending metadata per page, a SERP preview tool can be beneficial to ‘see’ what your page will look like in a search result before you publish the changes.
Heading tags (i.e. H1, H2, H3s etc.) help break up your page, especially when there is lots of content. This feature is readily available in Shopify. Wherever you see the text editor, click the first feature, “Paragraph”, or add heading size.
Typically, every page will only have one H1 (the title), and H2s are used for secondary headlines. Further optimise your site by using keyphrases in these headings (but don’t keyword stuff) to show Google your content is related to a specific topic. Plus, using heading tags with keywords helps to guide the user and ensure the content is easier to digest. This means they’ll be more likely to stay on the page longer - which, due to Google’s Helpful Content Update, is a win-win for you.
Shopify allows you to effortlessly add ALT tags when you upload images (see below), making it easier for you to optimise these for SEO. Adding alt text to images can help improve visibility in Google Image Search as it helps Google understand what is in the image.
Not to forget, ALT text is a key feature for website accessibility: helping more users access your site and providing context when images cannot be consumed.
Adding content to a product category is super simple; you only need to access Shopify’s text editor. In most themes, you can add category descriptions at the bottom of the page, directly below the products. But, in some cases, you will see the text above the products - depending on which Shopify theme you use. Detailed and descriptive product descriptions help users find your product via search, improving product visibility and rankings, all while ensuring the user finds the best product for their needs.
Best practice depends on how much content you have above and below the product listing. You don’t want users to scroll past big text blocks to get to your product images.
Shopify also has an out-of-the-box blog functionality making it super easy to keep your shop updated with the latest news and information. Blogging for small businesses is a treasure that can help increase organic visibility, as it can grow your ranked keywords for the written topics. Helpful articles can also answer burning consumer questions and help build trust and loyalty while reducing post-purchase anxiety.
When writing blog content, it’s important to consider what topics will be relevant to your audience. Your content should answer the questions your customers are asking. The more helpful your blog is, the better for everyone. Great blog content can help your Shopify website rank for question keywords relevant to your business, not just product keywords.
Unchangeable robots.txt file directives on Shopify websites have been a talking point for many years in the SEO community. Previously, Shopify would create default robots.txt file and directives (Allow, Disallow, User Agents, etc.) for every store, with no ability to change these. However, Shopify has now announced that you can edit these. To do so, please follow these steps.
This means that for more complex sites, it’s possible to dictate which parts of the site search engine robots can access and which parts are not. This, in turn, means that your website is more likely to rank in search results due to giving less ‘noise’ for the search engine robot to have to deal with.
Shopify has an integrated SEO audit tool called ‘SEO Optimizer” by Booster Apps. This tool is a great feature in Shopify that allows you access to various SEO enhancements in just one click.
The tool can suggest semantically related keywords for any of your indexable/published pages, allowing you to create better content on these pages based on search intent. This feature means that, without even leaving the CMS, you can optimise on-page copy to drive users further down the funnel to your product pages.
It’s important to note that some of these features are only available for premium subscribers, but for a small eCommerce website, the free version is a great integration!
Shopify makes it easy for you to integrate with Google Search Console, Universal Analytics or Analytics 4, Facebook Pixels and other tracking codes. These integrations make tracking your website’s traffic, sales and conversions easier by simply pasting the tracking code into the relevant fields within the Shopify CMS - no dev necessary!
Optimising your navigation menu and footer menu links can massively help with SEO as it puts all of the most important webpage links on every page - making them impossible for search engines to miss! Plus, they also help create a more seamless user experience (when done right) by highlighting the most natural path to conversion.
In Shopify, it’s easy to customise your menu. We’d always recommend organising your menu with your priority pages in the top navigation and customer-supporting pages in the footer.
You may find yourself needing to move a product page or change a URL - it’s important that these pages aren’t left pointing to a 404 error, as this can negatively impact rankings and the user experience of your site.
Shopify makes it super easy for you to update and customise your URLs without leaving a trail of 404s by automatically redirecting the page to the new URL path.
Shopify also makes it easy to make manual redirects, should you need to.
Page Speed is a critical factor in user engagement and experience. It’s also important to Google’s CWV scoring system and, therefore, something you should keep track of regularly.
Shopify gives a basic page speed graph directly in your store admin panel for the last 7 and 30 days. While it might be basic, it’s a great feature that will allow you to see how installing a plugin or adding an event changed your page speed score over time.
Shopify is a great eCommerce CMS that makes it super easy for you to make SEO improvements to your website, basic and advanced! One of the biggest things to remember is that you need to do your research and audience discovery to determine what keyphrases your online shop should be ranking for before making changes. Otherwise, you might not notice any difference at all!
If you’re moving your site to Shopify or already using the platform, then we hope our tips have been useful in taking your website’s performance to the next level.
Andy drives high-quality, high-converting organic traffic to a wide range of businesses, from local companies to global brands.
A strategic search marketer, Andy’s expertise lies predominantly in ecommerce websites and technical SEO, and is particularly adept at finding opportunities to provide quick wins and long-term return on investment.More about Andy