Shopify SEO guide: detailed tips on Shopify store optimization

Shopify SEO guide: detailed tips on Shopify store optimization
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Shopify SEO optimization is no small task, so you need a Shopify SEO guide to tackle it effectively. 

Ours stretches across everything, from website speed to content quality. It’s designed not only to help you establish web presence on search engines, but also to get clicks, traffic and eventually sales.

We’ll begin by looking at SEO features Shopify platform takes care of for you. Then, we will do a walkthrough from keyword research, to UX, to content marketing. 

By the end, you’ll have an optimized eCommerce store in front of you, ready to conquer search engines and attract clients.

Your product deserves to be seen, let’s make sure that happens.

Is Shopify good for SEO?

Shopify does a good job covering the basics of good SEO practices.

Your Shopify store comes with built-in SEO features you can edit, such as meta and title tags, URLs. It also generates a robots.txt file for you with essential “Disallow” commands.

On top of that, Shopify ensures you’re working with top-notch CDN (Content Delivery Network) powered by Fastly, which is crucial for good store speed. Another perk is that whenever browsers support WebP file format, that’s how Shopify serves your images, ensuring minimal image load times.

It sounds like a lot is covered, so do you really need to do anything yourself?

Most definitely.

First of all, some SEO issues, such as duplicate content and page titles or forced URL structure are quite common for Shopify and you need to know how to take care of that. But most importantly, you want to gain a competitive advantage and outrank all those who are enjoying the same SEO perks from Shopify.

We will help you do just that.

Shopify SEO optimization checklist

How much work are we looking at if we want to improve your Shopify store’s SEO?

To be fair, there is quite a lot to handle.

We’re going to simplify everything and break down this Shopify SEO guide into 9 actionable steps.

Here is a Shopify SEO optimization checklist that covers all bases:

  1. Do thorough keyword research
  2. Optimize Shopify store structure
  3. Optimize store for user experience
  4. Perform Shopify on-page SEO optimization
  5. Take care of technical SEO
  6. Make your store stand out in the SERPs
  7. Leverage content marketing
  8. Build backlinks to your store
  9. Analyze your Shopify store’s SEO performance

We will discuss each of these steps in detail and provide actionable tips on how to make the most out of Shopify SEO.

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1. Do thorough keyword research

Before posting any content on your Shopify store, make sure you complete keyword research.

Using appropriate keywords can help you get discovered by your target audience and increase the number of customers and sales.

Here is some keyword-related advice you should follow on your Shopify store pages:

Choose correct keywords to target 

Don’t get lured into optimizing for the highest volume keyword you can find around your product. Those keywords are usually very broad and practically impossible to rank for. Instead, optimize for long-tail keywords related to what your store’s actually offering. 

Also, understand keyword intent. Being able to explain why someone is searching for this specific query is key to effective on-page Shopify store optimization. 

There are four main types of search intent:

  1. informational,
  2. transactional,
  3. commercial, and  
  4. navigational.

If you determine the intent of every specific query, you will successfully provide what the user is looking for and see growth in rankings.

Another important point - optimize keywords to improve topical relevance and context, but avoid keyword stuffing. The days when using as many keywords on one page as possible meant good rankings are long gone. If you put too many keywords in the text, you can even get penalized, so be smart about this and check keyword density.

Map keywords to your store pages

Every page on your Shopify store needs to be optimized for a different keyword. Create a map with pages you have or are planning to launch on your Shopify website and assign each one of them a separate keyword. That way you will avoid keyword cannibalization

If you can’t avoid overlapping or duplicate content, use canonical tags. These tags tell Google which version of your page should rank for the preferred keywords.

2. Optimize Shopify store structure

The way you structure your Shopify store directly affects the user experience (UX) and helps your website’s visitors decide how long they want to stay. It is also how Google sees your store’s organization and hierarchy, which largely determines search rankings.

So let’s get it right.

Plan and edit your store’s structure

It is always easier to start on the right track than fix mistakes. Therefore, when setting up an online shop, consider the following tips:

  1. Simplify your online shop’s structure as much as possible.
  2. Use the Shopify product page template.
  3. Include Shopify sub-collections to target more specific search queries.
  4. Plan for future growth of your Shopify store.
  5. Use breadcrumbs to ensure your users can navigate the store conveniently.
  6. Make content easy to read by using simple and clear fonts in user-friendly colors. 
  7. Use effective internal linking strategies to show relationships between your pages.

Here’s an example of how a simple yet powerful website structure could look like:

shopify store structure example

The structure of your store largely depends on your chosen Shopify theme. Choose a theme where collections list the raw product URLs and link directly to canonical parent, not the other way around.

Use SEO-friendly URLs

A URL specifies the location of a resource on the internet. A well-crafted Shopify URL provides both search engines and users with a clear idea of what your page is about. 

Here are some of the best practices to stick to if you want clear and consistent URLs:

  • Consistency. All your URLs should follow the same formatting rules. 
  • Keyword usage. Keywords in a URL can act as a ranking factor, so build them around your main keywords. 
  • Avoiding special symbols. Symbols such as &, %, $, or @ make your URLs harder to read. 
  • URL length. If your URL is already less than 50-60 characters, you're all good.
  • Avoid dates and numbers. Regardless of the title of your page or article, do not put any date markers or numbers into the URL because you might want to update your page later.

Here’s how a good URL could look like:

https://tastyfood.com/collections/avocado-dip/

As you can see this is a short, yet understandable URL. It is clear that a user can expect to find an avocado dip selection after clicking on the link.

Get your URL structure right with a walkthrough and examples included in our Shopify URL guide.

Be very careful about editing URLs of pages that are already live and indexed, you can lose a lot of site traffic because both Google and users will be looking for your page at the old URL. If you must do so, make sure you set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one to make the transition smooth.

3. Optimize store for user experience

The link between smooth UX and solid Shopify SEO strategies is undeniable. Google puts a lot of emphasis on store speed, mobile performance and usability when determining rankings.

Check these two UX-related tasks off your list.

Speed up your Shopify store

No one likes to wait while they’re browsing. This is why your Shopify store speed has a direct impact on your rankings and conversion rates.

Some of the ways to boost your Shopify store speed include:

  • Image compression. Shopify stores are usually heavy on visuals and if they’re not optimized, they will massively slow down your store.
  • Image sizes. Uploading appropriately-sized images will speed up your store. Consult our guide on Shopify image sizes for more details.
  • SEO-friendly theme. Choose a theme with clean code that was designed for fast load times.
  • Control third party scripts. Not all apps need to load on all pages. Choosing the right pages to load apps on will improve your store speed significantly.

For more steps and detailed explanations, visit our guide on Shopify speed optimization.

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Optimize store for mobile-shopping

These days, the majority of people read and shop on mobile. Google rankings are also mobile-first. That’s why having a mobile-friendly Shopify store is a must.

You have take into account:

  • Responsiveness. All of your on-page elements need to be dynamic. Shopify allows you to choose a responsive template for your site and have built-in mobile commerce shopping cart features. 
  • Mobile visual hierarchy. Choose correct paddings, image and logo sizes, increase font size to improve readability. 
  • Navigation. Dropdowns and huge menus don’t work well on mobile. Create effective navigational structure with as few layers as possible.
  • Fast loading speed. Surprise surprise, fast load time is crucial for good mobile performance. 

Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to understand how well your store is doing in the eyes of Google.

4. Perform Shopify on-page SEO optimization

Let’s see how we can improve individual Shopify page types and general on-site SEO details.

Optimize metadata

Metadata is your way of talking to search engines. Thankfully, Shopify stores have all the basics covered, you don’t need to worry about meta tag implementation.

However, Shopify meta titles and descriptions are individual to each of your pages and thus should be crafted carefully. Let’s take a look at how you can effectively optimize metadata for your Shopify store pages.

Meta titles

The job of a meta title is to tell search engines and visitors what they can expect from the page.

Since title tags are visible on search engine results pages (SERPs), they must be well written, short yet descriptive.

Here are three tips to follow when optimizing your meta titles:

  1. Begin with keywords. Your title tag should contain the target keyword you want to rank for. The closer to the start of the title tag your target keyword is, the more likely it is to rank well for that query. 
  2. Keep it short. Your meta title should be between 50-60 characters long. If it exceeds 60 characters, Google will cut off some parts of it and only show the beginning.
  3. Keep your customers in mind. Your meta title is a lot like an ad for your page, so make sure it is designed to drive clicks. 

TinyIMG offers handy tools to help you check that your meta titles are optimized to include your keywords.

Meta descriptions

A meta description is a snippet of text displayed in the SERPs underneath the title of the page. 

Meta description is your space to briefly explain what the page is about, and, if done right, it allows your listing to stand out.

Here are three tips to follow when optimizing your product page meta description:

  1. A well-crafted meta description should include relevant keywords.
  2. Meta description should be optimized to improve click-through rates. Make the description specific and relevant, emphasize the benefits for the user and use action verbs.
  3. Keep the meta description no longer than 145 characters

Use a Shopify SEO app that allows you to check the length of your meta description and preview it in the SERPs. Alternatively, you can use a SERP snippet optimization tool.

Optimize product pages

Product pages have the most potential to bring in a well-converting audience. Don’t be afraid to spend time on them, pushing them to the top of SERPs will be well worth it.

  • Establish a focus keyword. Determine what specific keyword with transactional intent you want this product page to rank for. Analyze competition for on-page elements, find synonyms to serve as secondary keywords and optimize the page to perfection.
  • Work on metas. Meta titles and meta descriptions are what’s first seen by people searching for your target keywords. Not only will well-crafted metas help you climb up in rankings, they can also be the deciding factor for a person choosing between you and your competitor.
  • Write informative product descriptions. Unique and thoughtful Shopify product descriptions will serve your product page rankings well.
  • Show customer reviews. Implement structured data to capture rich results and show ratings of your product.

Optimize homepage

Homepage SEO is an interesting topic, since a lot depends on your store’s name and what you choose to feature on the homepage. However, your homepage will acquire the most organic links from other websites and is the starting point when Google crawls your website.

To ensure you homepage SEO is doing justice to the rest of your Shopify SEO strategy, make sure that:

  • Metadata is in place. Just like any other page on your store, the homepage will have SERP snippets. Meta title should contain your store name and meta description should give a good understanding of what you offer and a click incentive.
  • Navigation is on point. Visitors and Google should be able to get to the most important pages of your store from the homepage directly. Links from the homepage are very valuable though, so choose them wisely.

Optimize collection pages

Shopify collection pages are oftentimes overlooked when it comes to SEO, and that’s very unfortunate. Just consider (or check for sure around your niche) how many people are searching abstract product descriptions, such as “white women sneakers” or “vanilla-scented candles”. 

If your collection pages aren’t ranking on the SERPs, all of that is wasted potential.

In general, collection pages are subject to the same best SEO practices as your homepage or product pages. 

On top of metadata and on-page keyword optimization, make sure you:

  • Introduce user-friendly product filters or search functionality
  • Make your collections easily accessible from your homepage and product pages

5. Take care of technical SEO

On-page SEO strategies will benefit your rankings immensely, but missing technical SEO can harm your effort to gain more visibility on the SERPs.

Technical SEO might sound intimidating, but in reality it can be covered in simple steps anyone can follow.

Improve internal linking

Effective internal links help people navigate your store. Plus, Google has a better understanding of your store’s hierarchy. 

Design your internal linking strategy to boost your most important pages. To do that, make sure those product and collection pages are receiving the most internal links with relevant anchor texts.

Another thing you have to take care of is duplicate pages. This issue is specific to Shopify and comes up because products have two URLs, original and collection one. They do not create duplicate content issues because of default canonical tags, but that can cause redirects for your internal links.

More info and solutions can be found here.

Review robots.txt rules

Robots.txt file is the foundation of your store. Basically, it tells search engines which pages it should and shouldn’t crawl. 

Shopify automatically generates a robots.txt file for your store and adds default “Disallow” tags. You have the option of introducing new rules to it, but it’s not recommended to do so, one mistake can cause complete loss of all traffic.

If you want to make adjustments to robots.txt file, hire a professional to avoid harming your website.

Check sitemaps

A sitemap is a list of all pages that exist on your store. There are three main types of sitemaps:

  • Main XML sitemap. A blueprint of your entire store.
  • Image sitemap. Helps Google find all images on your website.
  • Video sitemap. Maps out all video content on your site.

Submitting sitemaps to Google helps to find and crawl all pages of your website. However, if your internal linking strategy is on point, Google should be able to find them anyways. This makes sitemaps more of a best practice than a necessity.

Conveniently, Shopify generates the main XML sitemap for you, the only thing you have to do is submit it to Google.

Fix redirects and broken URLs

Incorrectly-implemented redirects and broken links are detrimental to site health. Any unnecessary redirect adds to page load time and every 404 page is a dead end for users and Google alike.

A few best Shopify redirect practices here:

  • Find and eliminate redirect chains. Any internal link to a page that is now redirected will create a redirect chain. Find those links and replace them with those that are live.
  • Take care of 404 pages. Never leave unattended 404 pages on your site, especially if they’re receiving organic traffic. It wastes the crawl budget of your store and damages site health as well as user experience. Remove all internal links going to a 404 page and set up a redirect to a live page to salvage all incoming traffic.

If you use TinyIMG, you can create broken link redirects in bulk to any chosen page of your store.

6. Make you store stand out in SERPs

One thing is to rank well on Google, another is to get actual organic traffic. Make your high SERP positions count by improving click-through rates with these two strategies.

Optimize Shopify images for search

Captivating product pictures can keep your site visitors engaged and showcase how your product will look and feel to use.

However, if image files are heavy, they can slow down your page speed, which harms your SEO and, more often than not, negatively affects your sales.

Therefore, make sure you follow these best Shopify image SEO practices:

  • Reduce image size and dimensions
  • Choose appropriate file type
  • Optimize image title and alt tags
  • Ensure images are responsive

For even better image SEO performance, create image sitemaps based on Google guidelines.

Add structured data to product pages

Structured data is HTML markup that helps Google understand the content of your page better. Implement it on your product pages and you will capture rich snippets, such as ratings, product pricing, number of reviews and more. 

Rich SERP snippets boost click-through rates and attract an audience that is more likely to convert.

Adding structured data to your Shopify store is very simple:

  1. Choose a Shopify app that will provide search engines with structured data. Most often it will come in JSON-LD format.
  2. If you’re code savvy, you can also choose the manual route.

7. Leverage content marketing

A sure way to bring in informed visitors is writing quality content and having it rank well. If you’re running a Shopify store, you definitely know a thing or two about your industry, use that!

Share information with your shoppers in blog format and you will:

  • Improve topical authority. Having a blog establishes you as an industry authority in the eyes of Google as well as readers. The more you write, the easier it will be for your product pages to climb in rankings as well.
  • Attract organic visitors. No one converts better than an informed reader who got to your store through organic search, especially if your content helped them solve issues.
  • Boost product pages with internal links. People who land on your well ranking blog pages can easily end up on your product pages if you set up internal linking strategy right. Create a silo structure with your main product pages at the center of it and enjoy increased sales.

Let’s get one thing out of the way - quality backlinks come with a solid product and valuable content.

Do not begin a backlink building effort with superficial blog articles full of recycled information. You will waste hours in planning, cold-emailing and writing guests posts without any tangible results.

Once you’re confident that your store is solid, proceed with outreach and be smart about it.

  • Understand the scope. Analyze backlink profiles of your main competitors to get an idea of what you’re up against. Try free Ahrefs backlink checker for that.
  • Ask for credit. Find links from other websites with a nofollow tag or even unlinked mentions and reach out to their marketing teams asking for credit.
  • Use HARO. Provide journalists with insights into your industry in exchange for publicity and potentially dofollow links.
  • Write guest posts. Reach out to other websites in your niche and suggest writing a guest post for their blog in exchange for a dofollow backlink. 
  • Bonus: do reverse outreach. This study on effective link building by Brian Dean walks you through the process of creating content for your eCommerce blog others want to link to.

9. Analyze your Shopify store’s SEO performance

Now that you’ve taken so many steps towards a foolproof SEO strategy, you can’t just leave it off.

Learn from your results by analyzing your SEO performance.

In general, you want to monitor your main keyword rankings, new backlinks, and organic traffic on a weekly basis and react to any changes promptly.

Same applies for technical SEO, but that can be rather time consuming. Apps like TinyIMG can solve this problem affordably by providing you with regular, automated SEO audits. They point out all errors, such as broken links or missing metadata, so you can effectively resolve them and focus on other things.

Bonus Shopify SEO tip: combine SEO and social media strategies

If you’ve covered all steps above and want to go the extra mile, start looking for indirect ways to boost your Shopify SEO.

For example, you can facilitate SEO growth and general presence in your niche with cross-channel effort. 

That’s especially true when it comes to social media. Combining Shopify SEO and social media effort leads to:

  • Increased brand awareness and growth of organic brand searches
  • Organic backlinks
  • General engagement

True, the direct impact is hard to measure. But if you read our full Shopify SEO and social media guide, you’ll realize a lot of useful stuff is happening behind the scenes.

Summary

There is plenty you can do with your Shopify store to better optimize it for SEO. Start with the basics, like meta descriptions and keyword maps, then tackle more complex tasks, like structured data implementation and internal linking.

If you invest the time, the results will speak for themselves.

Thinking about what else you can do to conquer Google rankings?

We recommend:

 

Frequently asked questions

How to do SEO on Shopify?

To optimize a Shopify store for SEO, start with the product pages as they have the most potential to bring you new website visitors. On your product pages, make sure that you upload optimized images, provide clear product descriptions, use filename and alt texts for the product images.

Are there any Shopify apps for SEO?

Shopify store offers a broad selection of Shopify SEO apps. Some of the best rated are TinyIMG, Booster SEO, and Plugin In SEO. If you want to read more, check out our guide for best Shopify SEO apps.

How much does Shopify SEO cost?

If you hire a dedicated SEO expert, Shopify SEO can cost thousands every month. Luckily, Shopify apps like TinyIMG are designed to cover most of your SEO needs with automated and affordable solutions.

How to optimize your Shopify page speed?

To help your Shopify store rank higher on Google, focus on these tips:

  • Optimize meta titles and metadata. 
  • Create high-value content. 
  • Optimize your images and use ALT texts as well as filenames. 
  • Improve your website’s speed. 
  • Optimize your website’s structure.
About the author
Vita Klimaite
Vita believes that every great product must be supported by an even better marketing strategy. Armed with SEO and Content Marketing experience, Vita is dedicated to helping website and eCommerce store owners unlock the power of search engines and scale their businesses. A big fan of remote work, she is always on the road, so you can also hear some exciting travel stories from her.