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Shopify SEO tips to turbocharge your online store - Part 1 of 4

Sep 20 2016

Shopify SEO tips

Shopify is one of the most popular platforms for hosting an eCommerce store.  It has proven to be especially popular with startups & small business because it allows you to get an online store up and running quickly.  At PACK & SEND, we love enabling eCommerce businesses to grow and thrive, so we've taken a deep dive into the Shopify platform in order to share our top tips to turbocharge your Shopify store sales.

In this post (the first of a 4 part series focused on the Shopify Platform), we’ll share a comprehensive Shopify SEO guide that outlines surefire tips and strategies on how to maximise your chances of ranking highly in search engine results.

Basic Shopify SEO

Let’s admit it. It’s every business owner’s dream to have their business appear first in search engine results for their targeted keywords or terms. So, how do you achieve this feat? Simple. By working on your search engine optimization (SEO).

In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz around SEO with some experts claiming that it could be on its deathbed following the rise of social media, paid advertising, and email marketing. However, nothing could be further from the truth. SEO isn’t going away any time soon - at least not with the continued growth of mobile search and in-app search among other emerging search avenues.

Let’s face it. SEO can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. However, it’s often cost-effective in the end and thus worth the wait and any efforts put into it. And what’s more? You get to enjoy lasting results provided you keep up with the emerging developments and observe various the rules of the game.

As a Shopify store owner, you’re already a few steps ahead of others as far as SEO is concerned. This is because Shopify includes numerous powerful SEO features such as editable title tags and meta description, customizable image file names, and URLs for your pages. Besides, the platform automatically handles some of the SEO best practices like sitemap. Xml generation, robots. Txt generation, server speed, and website security.

  • Title tags

Title tags are undoubtedly some of the most important tags found on the web. They help to inform Google (and other search engines) on what a web page entails. This is why it’s vital to have unique titles for all your website pages.

Title tags should not exceed 70 characters in length (including spaces). If possible, try to include important keywords in your title tags. Fortunately for you, Shopify provides a highly convenient way to modify your title tags and optimize them for SEO.

  • Meta descriptions

While Google doesn’t factor in meta descriptions when ranking websites, it recommends that webmasters use these snippets to help users get a better idea about the content of the URL. An excellent meta description should have a maximum 156 characters, include relevant keywords, a clear call to action, and most importantly, be unique and catchy.

Shopify makes it easy for you to come up with attractive meta descriptions by automatically pulling relevant text from your pages. However, you need to customize the suggested meta description manually to make sure it fits your specific marketing goals.

  • Alt tags

Adding alt tags to images helps to enhance your user experience. The concept behind these tags is to provide a textual replacement for your website's images. This way, users can see the name of the item should its image fail to load fully. Besides, search engines can use these alt tags to understand what that particular page is about which, of course, is great for higher rankings.

  • Canonical URL

Too often, you hear stories of websites or online stores owners complaining about harsh penalties imposed by Google due to the use of duplicate content. However, for many e-commerce websites, the issue of duplicated content mainly arises when owners attempt to help users navigate to particular pages in different ways. Unfortunately, this technique may backfire and lead to disastrous outcomes to SEO.

To prevent such accidental punishments, it is recommended that you use canonical URLs which helps search engines understand the original pages containing specific content. This way, search bots can determine which pages to rank and which to avoid.

Thankfully, Shopify automatically handles the issue of canonical URLs and thus you don’t need to worry about them. Additional information on Canonical URLs can be found here - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en

  • Xml Generation

Having a sitemap file is critical as it enables Google to discover all the key pages of your online store. If for example, Google fails to know that a particular page of your store exists, you don’t expect that page to be indexed on search results for users to see. Of course, this can be detrimental to your overall marketing strategy.

Luckily for you, you don’t need to generate or customize your store’s sitemap since Shopify automatically generates it for you. You can find your sitemap at the following URL;
www.myshop.com/sitemap.xml.

Shopify also updates your sitemap every time you add a new page, product/service, image, or blog post.

  • Txt Generation

These robot files help to control the extent to which Google crawls your online store. For example, they can block Google from crawling to unnecessary pages such as register, account, and cart. Shopify manages these files for you and thus you don’t need to worry about them when running an online store with them. To review the file, visit yourstore.com/robots.txt.

  • Server speed

The speed at which your online store loads can have a huge impact on SEO. With Shopify, you get to benefit from an excellently managed hosting solution that comprises incredibly fast servers and unlimited bandwidth.

  • Web security

Getting hacked is perhaps one of the worst experiences any website owner can endure while running an online business. In most cases, hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities such as an out-of-date software to inject malware and links that end up soiling your good name. This may attract various types of punishment from Google including reduced or even non-existent organic traffic.

Thankfully, Shopify has put in place numerous security strategies and measures that ensure its users enjoy high-level web protection against hackers and other intrusive mechanisms.

Technical Shopify SEO

In this section, we’ll delve into more advanced aspects of SEO as we seek to equip you with additional guidelines on how you can leverage SEO for your Shopify store’s traffic.

  • Google Analytics

When running a Shopify store, it’s important for you to keep track of all analytical data that you may need in future. Thankfully, Shopify gives a provision to link directly to Google Analytics which can effectively provide you with information on various aspects such as your sources of traffic, revenue per each traffic source, etc. This way, you can adjust your store accordingly and maximize your business success.

Below are six simple steps to follow when linking Shopify to Google Analytics;

  • Visit Google Analytics and create a Google account. You can also log on to your existing account.
  • In the Analytics section, click on “Create New Account” and enter appropriate details in that section. Once you’ve completed the account setup process, allow it to send you to your “Tracking Code Page.”.
  • Copy the “Tracking ID Code.”
  • Go to your Shopify Admin Area. Select “Preferences” and then click on “General Settings”.
  • While there, look for a Google Analytics box near the bottom are of the page. Paste your Tracking ID Code there.
  • Revisit your Google Analytics account. While there, click on Admin>Profile Settings>E-Commerce Settings and select “Yes”.

It’s that simple. You can now easily gather all crucial information you may need for better Shopify SEO.

  • Link building

Link building is regarded as one of the most important aspects of a successful SEO campaign for an e-commerce website. As such, it’s crucial that you devise various strategies to get links to your website or pages. An excellent way to build links (inbound) is by adding fresh, high-quality content to your website’s blog on a regular basis. This way, you can easily attract other websites in your niche to link to your content.

When it comes to link building, what matters the most is the quality and not necessarily the quantity of the links. For this reason, try to look for backlinks from authority websites that have a good reputation with all the major search engines. You can begin by contacting respected bloggers in your niche and ask them to review your products. To encourage them to do so, consider offering them exclusive discounts on certain products. You can also contact and request suppliers to link to your website.

Another effective way that will help you rank higher for your targeted keywords is internal linking. This method entails establishing your own anchor text to link various pages of your website to others within the site. However, it’s important that don’t overdo internal linking as this may prompt Google to flag your website for suspicious activity.

When done right, link building can help you significantly improve your Shopify store’s search engine rankings.

  • Redirect Feature

When operating an online store, you may be prompted to stop selling some of the products due to selected factors. In such a case, it’s recommended that you redirect your customers and search engine bots to an alternative category or product page instead of using a return “404 Not Found” request. Fortunately, Shopify comes with a highly convenient tool known as the Redirect Feature to help you achieve this task.  To use it, go to the “Navigation” tab in your site Admin area. At the bottom, you will find two boxes where you can fill in the new URL path.

In another closely related case, it’s recommended that you redirect non-www to www to avoid confusing search engines on the version of your website to index. For example, Google and other major search engines consider mywebsite.com and www.mywebsite .com as two different websites. As such, you need to create a standard 301 redirect which helps resolve any confusion that may arise in such a case. By this, your customers and major search engines will be able to visit the right website.

  • Site structure

Having a seamless architecture can considerably improve your website's usability, conversions, and even rankings. This is why proper planning and organization of information is recommended right from the time you begin setting up your Shopify e-commerce store. Your aim should be to structure your site in such a way that it’s easy to navigate. An excellent way to do this is to adopt a pyramid-like structure whereby the top comprises the homepage, followed by your preferred category pages, then the subcategories, and finally individual product pages.

This kind of set up makes it easy, not just for your users, but also search engine bots to navigate your online store.

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So there you have it! Our top tips for killing your competition with Shopify SEO best practice.  Some of the technical stuff might seem a bit daunting at first, but it's really not as complicated as it seems.  Invest the time to get your SEO right now and reap the ongoing rewards.

Be sure to check out next week's blog for Part 2 of our Shopify series, all about Shopify Social Media tips.

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