s most Shopify store owners will know, finding customers can be one of the most expensive aspects of running an e-commerce business. This is where Shopify SEO comes in.
SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the set of processes that go into helping your web pages rank on search engines like Google. If done properly, SEO can bring your store thousands or hundreds of thousands of highly interested customers for free, every month. This is why search traffic is so competitive.
But, before we dive too deep into how to optimize for Shopify SEO, let's take a quick look at how it all works.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization is a process where you optimize a web page to be found by search engines, like Google. Every time you type a query into Google, Google automatically crawls the web and determines which web pages are relevant, and in what order they should be listed. The more a web page is optimized for SEO, the more likely it is to rank highly on Google search results for related keywords found on the page.
However, SEO is complicated, and there is a myriad of different factors being considered by Google's algorithm. For that reason, there is no silver bullet. If you ignore any of the items on this list, you might have trouble ranking. And, even if you do everything perfectly, it can still take several months for you to succeed. For this reason, we recommend that you look at SEO as a long-term strategy, as it won't produce many results in the short run.
Let's take a step back.
What Does Google Want?
Website owners want traffic. As a website begins to receive higher levels of traffic, it can make more money from sales, more money from ads, and put its features in front of more users.
Search engines like Google, on the other hand, want to direct users to web pages that have value. One of the reasons Google is so popular is because its search algorithm is highly tuned to match up users with relevant, safe websites. People know that if Google is ranking a website as #1 for a keyword, then the website must be popular and trustworthy.
SEO is the process of optimizing your website's content to be easily accessed by Google and other search engines. This can be divided into on-site SEO (optimizing your website) and off-site SEO (increasing your website's authority and exposure).
In this article, we will introduce you to the basic elements of SEO, their importance, and we will finish by giving you actionable steps to boost your Shopify SEO presence.
On-Site Shopify SEO
When people search for products online, they use certain keywords. And, for SEO purposes, it's important to realize that not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords will receive tons of search queries, while a synonym for the same word will only fetch a fraction of the same number. For this reason, you need to make sure the keywords you use on your site align with what people are searching for.
In order to determine what keywords you should use, we recommend you make use of a few online tools. Google Trends is completely free and can show you what a keyword's search volume has been in the past. However, this only tells you what the relative volume has been. It won't give you exact figures. It only shows you the variance over time, or how it compares with another search term.
The second tool you should use is an SEO platform like SEMRush or Ubersuggest. Both of these are paid, but have free trials and awesome free features. These tools are super effective at providing you with important data for making decisions. You can view keyword search volumes, the level of competition, and where your competitors are getting backlinks from. More on that later.
A web page is coded with HTML at its base level, and HTML uses heading tags to organize information. The main title on a web page will be set in a <h1> header, making it the biggest and most prominent headline on the page. Then the content will be subdivided into <h2> sections, and further divided into <h3>, <h4>, and body text. The <h1> headline is what will show in Google's search results as the title. <H2> elements are used to break up your text into sections, such as the "On-site SEO" headline a bit higher on this page.
The reason these tags are important is because they tell Google how to pull information from your website. This way, Google doesn't confuse your headlines with your paragraph text, your footers, or anything else. Setting up this format on your Shopify store will be fairly basic, and will be taken care of automatically for most pages. If you create a new page, and you want to implement this, then you can highlight text and change it in the text box, as seen below.
Every web page on your site that Google can find will have a meta description. A meta description is the text that shows up under a web page's title in search results.
While your web page's meta description doesn't play a direct role in Google's algorithm, it does play an indirect role. Having a well-written meta description will attract more visitors than one that is unedited, poorly written, or irrelevant. Google will measure the proportion of potential visitors that click on your link, and judge you accordingly. If 0/100 people that are shown your meta description click on your listing, then you will likely lose your spot in the search results to one of your competitors.
Customizing your meta descriptions for Shopify SEO is easy. Every page on your site has a meta description that can be altered. Your custom-created pages, collection pages, and product pages all have a box at the bottom of their back-end where you can enter text. You might have to click on "Edit Website SEO" to open the settings. A proper meta description should be less than 155 characters, otherwise, Google will shorten it automatically.
Images & Alt Text
It's important to have images on your site for a few reasons. First, users enjoy them. "A picture is worth a thousand words" because it can visually demonstrate something that would take paragraphs to explain. Most people don't have very high attention spans anymore, and so images allow you to break up the blocks of text that would otherwise make up your website.
It's best if these images are original (i.e. not sourced from other people/websites) since Google prefers original content. It's not a dealbreaker if you use stock images, or images from other sites, but having original images can help your results since users will have to go to your website to view them (since images are protected by copyright).
Even though Google prefers content with a lot of images, ironically, it is unable to view the images as we do. Google doesn't have eyes, and therefore lacks the technology to categorize an image based only on what it sees. Instead, Google uses something called Alt Text to determine if an image is relevant. Alt Text is a line of text that describes what the image is showing, and will often pop up when you hover over it.
If you want the best chance of ranking, then you should write unique Alt Text for each image on your site. Shopify allows you to set the Alt Text for your product images by clicking on the image under the Products tab in Shopify.
Internal links are links on your website to other pages on your website. These links could be to your resources, your other pages, or anything else that is housed under your URL. The purpose of these links is to provide value to your users and keep them on your site. If Google sees that your users tend to spend 30 minutes on your site, and read an average of 4 blog posts, then it will perceive you as adding a lot of value. In contrast, if Google sees that users tend to only read one article, or spend 60 seconds on your site, Google will lower its faith in you.
It's worth putting together a basic strategy for your internal links, as they are one of the few elements of SEO you can fully control.
User-friendliness is a term that describes how optimized your website is for your users. This can include technical optimizations, like making sure that your font is legible, and that your buttons aren't too close together. Or, it can be related to user experience, which is more about setting up your website in an intuitive fashion.
One big consideration for user-friendliness is mobile-friendliness. Google is now a mobile-first platform, which means that it places more value on websites that are optimized for mobile devices more than desktops. You should still optimize for both, but mobile comes first.
To double-check if your website is mobile-friendly you can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. By entering your URL, Google will access your site and make a list of what you need to optimize, if anything.
Another key element is your site's loading speed. According to Google, if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you've already lost up to 53% of your traffic. To check your site's speed for free, you can enter your URL on GTMetrix.com. That site will also provide you with a list of things you can do to improve your site speed and instructions on how to carry them out.
Off-Site Shopify SEO
Backlinks - Google's Currency
A backlink is a link on another website that links to a page on your website. These links play a huge role in determining your website's domain authority. Google is able to find these links, and the more backlinks your website has (from reputable sources), the more Google will judge your website as valuable.
To give you an example, the previous paragraph contains a backlink to a website that focuses on SEO called Ahrefs. Ahrefs wants us to link to its site because 1) there's a chance that our users will follow the link and end up on their site, interacting with their product, and 2) Google will see that we value their web page enough to link to it.
By entering "Ahrefs.com" in Ubersuggest, we can see that Ahrefs has over 2 million backlinks in total. This will make it much easier for them to rank for search keywords.
However, not all backlinks are created equal. There are currently three different types of links a website can set up when linking to another site. First, there are "DoFollow" links, which tell Google's bots to follow the link and give the destination website full credit. Second, there are "NoFollow" links that tell Google's bots to disregard the links and give the destination website no credit. Thirdly, there are "Sponsored" links that tell Google that the backlink is the result of a financial relationship.
One of the best things you can do to improve your SEO results is to build links to your site through other sites. This is a fairly manual process that we'll explore further at the end of this article.
Google Search Console (Easy Win for Shopify SEO)
Google is a search engine, and the Google Search Console is a tool that you can use to tell Google how to find information on your site. It's fairly simple to set up.
Once logged into your Google account, you can enter your URL to get started. You'll be asked to copy/paste a code in your DNS configuration, which is basically the settings for how your domain name is used. You'll be able to find this when logged in to your account on your domain registration service, such as GoDaddy or NameCheap.
Setting up your site in Google's Search Console is one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective things you can do to improve your SEO, so don't skip it.
Every website has a Domain Authority, which is a number between 0-100 that tells search engines how credible your website is. In general, websites with a high domain authority (e.g. Google, Wikipedia, Facebook) will rank higher in search results than websites with lower domain authority. This isn't always true, since each web page can a unique authority as well, but it is true for two websites with similar content.
A website's domain authority is determined by a multitude of factors, but the largest weight is placed on the quantity and quality of its backlinks. A backlink from a website with a high domain authority will be worth more than a link from a website with less authority.
And, as we mentioned in the section on backlinks, not all backlinks are created equal, either. "Dofollow" links are much more valuable than "NoFollow" and "Sponsored" links, and will have a bigger impact on your domain's authority. These other links will still have an impact, but it is minor in comparison.
You can check a website's domain authority with an SEO tool like Semrush or Ubersuggest. The numbers can vary between platforms since they use different algorithms to calculate it, so keep that in mind.
Link Building - The Most Important Part of Shopify SEO
If you've been wondering how to effectively get more traffic from Googe, then this is the section you've been waiting for. Link building is still the #1 method of improving your domain's authority and presence on search engines. The other items on this list still need to be implemented, but link building is the #1 way to increase your domain authority, which will in turn boost your search rankings.
Link building is the process of reaching out to websites and convincing them to set up a backlink leading to your site. The goal is to secure "DoFollow" backlinks from high domain authority websites, for as little cost as possible.
Sometimes, you will be able to set up backlinks yourself, by linking to your site through forums or other sites, but for the most part, you'll need to manually reach out to website owners and ask them for it.
Unfortunately, website owners won't necessarily be eager to link to your site. You might have to write a guest blog post in your niche, offer them a backlink on your site, or even pay them. It's a grind-y process, but this is what it takes to push through all of your competitors to the first page of search results.
Quick Win Checklist:
If you're looking for some quick Shopify SEO progress, then here are 5 things you can do to get started today.
- Set up your site on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This will help two of the biggest search engines find information on your site. Set up shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes per search engine, and the payoff absolutely worth it.
- Edit the page titles and meta descriptions on your most popular web pages. This is what people will see in Google search results, so make sure your page listings scream "click me".
- Check out your site's performance on Google's Mobile-Friendly Test, and make any adjustments they recommend. Also, verify that your site is loading in 4 seconds or less (ideally <3s) using GTMetrix, and make any small adjustments they recommend as needed.
- Optimize your most popular landing pages for the keywords you're targeting. You might find it useful to use a Shopify SEO app like the ones on this list. These will provide you with feedback like how many times to use a keyword given the number of words on the page.
- Install this chrome extension, run it on your website, and make adjustments based on its feedback. Don't worry about all of the little things, just work on improving the bigger items like meta descriptions, titles, tags, and links.
Hopefully you were able to find some value in this article! Remember, SEO is a long process that isn't going to produce results overnight. Just trust in the process, continue educating yourself, and don't get discouraged.
One other thing that we should mention is that Google actively monitors how long users stay on your site, and how many of them return. If you want repeat customers, then you'll want to make sure your products live up to expectations. One way to improve your odds of this is by sourcing high-quality products through DropCommerce, rather than cheap Chinese goods from overseas.
DropCommerce connects dropshippers with high-quality product suppliers from the United States and Canada. We have over 20,000 products to choose from, and our platform has awesome features like branded invoicing and automated fulfillment.
Best of all, it's completely free to get started. Simply click on the "Free Trial" link below to begin browsing our winning products and get your store running today!
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