Shopify SEO – The Ultimate E-commerce SEO Store Guide
You have a Shopify store and want to attract an insane amount of traffic?
If so, you’re in the right place.
In this post, I’ll teach you everything you need to know to optimize your Shopify e-commerce website for search engines with a step by step SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guide.
In this way, you can put your team to work on the SEO factors that really matter!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Sell a single product line per Shopify store;
- Use Keywords in the main domain;
- Organize the URLs structure of your Shopify store;
- Use Shopify Collections to optimize your content structure
- Set up Google Analytics;
- Set up Google Search Console;
- Optimize your text structure with headings and subheadings;
- Optimize your eShop for semantic SEO;
- Do a keyword research;
- Optimize your pages for organic CTR;
- Exploit long content to optimize your product pages;
- Maximize the page load speed;
- Optimize images for search engines.
SELL A SINGLE PRODUCT LINE PER SHOPIFY STORE
According to a 2019 survey of DigitalCommerce360 (previously Internet Retailer), there are between 12M to 24M e-commerce sites in the world. And everyone competes for the same real estate in the search results.
Google’s work is to match the relevancy of each web page with users’ intent. In this way, Google skims and selects the search results to place in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
The first step to help Google in its work is to clarify what your store is all about.
What do you sell?
As a digital marketing manager for Lounge Lizard, I’ve seen many entrepreneurs using the same store to sell different products from totally different categories.
You will have a hard time to index your store if you sell clothes, accessories and jewelry all together. Google can’t understand what your website is all about.
A bad e-commerce store example is JCPenney which sells everything under the same domain: from house furniture to beauty products.
A good Shopify store example that also uses the right keyword in the domain is Dylan’s Candy Bar.
It’s crystal clear for both Google and users that Dylan sells candies.
There are many different types of candies which Dylan has placed in proper sub-categories. But even if Dylan sells different products, at the end of the day, they are all candies!
Selling one single product line per e-commerce store is the best way to boost your rankings in the search.
Think about it.
Your website will be packed with keywords related to the same product category. This is a great tactic to boost relevancy and signal Google that your eshop is specialized in a certain sector.
Google loves highly focused and specialized websites, since they match exactly users’ search intent.
Selling a single product line per Shopify store also helps your brand equity grow. You will be recognized as an expert in the industry and consumers will associate your brand to the specific product category. In other words, it’ll increase your market share.
USE KEYWORDS IN THE MAIN DOMAIN
Dylan’s Candy Bar added a very relevant keyword in his domain, “candy bar” (dylanscandybar.com), which helps Google understand and index his website.
According to Moz and SEO experts like Brian Dean, the domain is one of the 200 factors that affect your rankings.
If you have already published a Shopify store on a domain that doesn’t contain relevant keywords, don’t worry at all, because you can simply purchase another domain and connect it to your store:
- Go back to your domain provider. If you don’t have one, you can pick GoDaddy, HostGator or Domain.com. I always suggest Domain.com since it has the best quality-price ratio. Also Shopify itself sells custom domains, but it is more expensive. Eventually, you can learn how to purchase a domain from Shopify by following
The image above represents the elements that can form a URL.
While the https protocol is now standard in Shopify, I will focus on how to optimize the page path.
According to Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, search engines can treat subdomains as separate entities and split your domain authority (Moz correlational data, 2015).
In other words, your SEO efforts (on-page and off-page SEO activities) and signals (e.g. traffic, bounce rate, backlinks…) on your subdomain will not affect your main domain.
For this reason, I never recommend using subdomains.
You might create subdomains to identify different departments or areas of your website. But as I have explained to you above, you want a very specific Shopify store that aims at a niche. So, you don’t actually need subdomains at all.
Everything after the domain represents a page path: the further a page is, the less relevant it is.
In other words, you want the most important pages for your core business as close as possible to the domain.
Every time you use a folder or a sub-folder, the page loses SEO juice and relevancy. It means it is more difficult to rank a page with a long path.
For instance, the URL below represents a long path, in fact the page is inside two folders:
Instead, the example below represents a shorter path:
From an SEO perspective, you are saying that this page is very important for your business. That’s why you should be extra careful about the keywords you use.
Search engines attribute more relevancy to these keywords and use them as signals to define what your store is all about.
In any case, use a short and descriptive product name as a URL slug. The shorter the URL, the better.
Now that you know how to structure your URLs for better SEO results, let’s discover some strategies that you can apply to your eshop.
URLs structure for Shopify stores that sell 5 products or less
If you sell a few products, you don’t need subfolders at all. This is only true when your products belong to the same product line and are very similar to each other.
You want the path to your product pages as neat and short as possible.
The URL below represents an example of what you need to do:
URLs structure for Shopify stores that sell more than 5 products
If your Shopify store sells multiple products, you need categories to better organize them.
When you deal with dozens or hundreds of products, categories are not only useful for SEO, but also for improving your e-commerce UX (User Experience). In fact, they help search engines and users as well.
Shopify already gives you the opportunity to create an optimized URLs structure:
- Homepage » Category Pages » Product Pages;
- Homepage » Category Pages » Sub-Category Page » Product Pages.
Remember to build your structure to help users first. If search engines understand and index your website, but users can’t find what they need, you don’t generate revenue.
For this reason, you should also add a search bar.
The last two pages you should add in your e-commerce structure are the “About” and “Contact” pages.
They are signals that you are a legit brand.
But, is it really true that you need actual pages (with their own URL) for these two sections?
My answer is no!
Sometimes, you don’t want to create an “About” or “Contact” page. For example, you want a specific design that doesn’t allow it or you don’t have enough content to craft a substantial page (thin pages will penalize the rankings of your website).
In addition, if your users need to visit the about page to understand what you do, it means that your Shopify store is not effective at all.
Visitors must understand what you do, what you sell and who you are at a glance from the homepage.
If your Shopify store has this problem, our designers can help you optimize your homepage, request a free proposal!
A Collection acts as a table of contents for your store. It is a hub page about a specific topic which internally links to multiple pages related to the original topic.
Depending on your offering, your collections should start from simple categorizations and dive deeper once those are selected.
The simpler the structure, the better.
There are two types of Collections:
- Manual Collections are the best choice for small or personally curated categories. For instance, you can group items that are part of a special promotion to make sure the discount applies only to products in that Collection.
- Automated Collections associate conditions with products that will automatically get placed in them. This method is faster and helps streamline the process for eshops with a larger inventory.
Content structure and SEO Siloing Theory
Why does organizing your content affect the rankings of your eshop? What is the correlation between SEO and content structure?
The link between your Shopify architecture (or structure) and SEO is the Siloing Theory.
As I mentioned before, the first step to achieve high rankings begins by helping Google have a clear understanding of your website’s subject themes.
What is the SEO Siloing Theory?
According to Bruce Clay, SEO expert and founder of Bruce Clay Inc., siloing a website means:
Grouping related pages together, either structurally or through linking, to establish the site’s keyword-based themes. Much like farmers use separate silos to store different types of grain, webmasters can silo a website to distinguish its various content themes and make clear to search engines what the site is about.
His SEO experiments verified that building a website around themes based on keywords (and not just the keyword phrases themselves) helps rankings.
Above all, after the Panda update, Google has been rewarding websites with in-depth and well organized quality content.
In other words, search engines can only comprehend pages or websites where subjects are clear and distinct.
Let’s say that your content (or themes) are the marbles in this jar.
Green, red and yellow marbles are mixed together with no order or emphasis. In this case, search engines would index the subject as a “jar of marbles”. This is an example of a non-siloed website.
Now, let’s divide every group of marble into separate jars. Search engines would classify them as a green marbles jar, a red marbles jar and a yellow marbles jar.
They represent an example of three separate websites. But what if we put the marbles back into one jar and organize them by color?
The image above represents a website with topics separated into theme-specific categories or silos.
The SEO Siloing Theory is the reason why you should use categories and subcategories to structure your Shopify store content.
Let’s consider an e-commerce website which sells power tools. It should have a content structure organized like the image below.
If you link together pages strictly related to a topic or theme, you will be able to consolidate that theme-relevance to a section of your site.
As Bruce Clay says:
A site hierarchy, with top-level landing pages and support pages for each SEO silo, emerges based on linking patterns alone.
In other words, you shouldn’t build your internal link structure in a random way.
Support pages should link to their silo landing page and cross-links between silos should be avoided.
You can eventually link supporting pages to the silo top landing pages, but remember: random links between supporting pages in different silos can weaken the theming. The image below represents an example of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” links.
SET UP GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Once your Shopify store architecture is ready to go, you should install a tool to monitor the performance of your site.
You should monitor your Search Console account weekly and correct the errors reported.
Sometimes, crawlers try to reach a specific page of your website, but they fail. Every Webmaster Tool tells you what causes the error, so you can go back to your Shopify store and correct it.
OPTIMIZE YOUR TEXT’S STRUCTURE WITH HEADINGS AND SUBHEADINGS
You can mark the relevancy of each text by using heading tags: H1, H2, H3, H4 and so on.
Like in a book, you can create titles, subtitles and paragraphs to help users and search engines understand the importance of each text portion.
According to HubSpot Consumer Behavior Survey 2016, 41% of people skim content while reading online. And this percentage is increasing year over year.
If you don’t structure your Shopify pages with headings, users won’t be able to identify the most important sections. If they can’t skim your content, they will leave your site and your bounce rate will rise.
Bounce rate is a key metric search engines use to determine your rankings.
How to use heading tags
The most important heading tag is the H1. You should have only one H1 tag for each page.
The H1 represents the title of a page and should be positioned as high as possible.
The second most important heading tag is the H2. You can insert as many H2 as you want.
Organize your content according to their importance:
- Give a title to the page by using an H1;
- Divide your text into different sections by using H2;
- If a section can be further split into additional paragraphs, use H3 to name them;
- If your content is very complex and needs more subparagraphs, you can follow the heading tags hierarchy to mark each title and subtitle accordingly (H4, H5, H6).
A proper heading tag structure acts as a table of contents for search engines allowing them to understand the topic of the page.
In addition, your Shopify store will be aligned with semantic SEO best practices.
OPTIMIZE YOUR ESHOP WITH SEMANTIC SEO (KEYWORDS » TOPICS)
Not too long ago keywords stuffing, keywords density and other shady techniques could drive profitable results. In 2013 Google developed powerful counter-measures.
Search engines are now smart enough to interpret users’ intent (and eventually the context of their search) to deliver an answer to their question. Their algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) have evolved beyond keywords.
To optimize your Shopify store, you have to use semantic SEO strategies rather than just focusing on keywords.
If you are undecided between two or more keywords, use Google Trends to compare them.
If you don’t know what people are looking for, how do you know what to optimize your pages for?