Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing your website so that it ranks higher on a search engine’s result pages (SERPs).

As Google absolutely dominates the search engine market, for this guide let’s focus on optimizing your online store for better rankings on Google.

Now, Google search is a major source of traffic and revenue for most websites, especially e-commerce stores. In fact, for retail e-commerce, around 42% of traffic and 35% of revenue is generated from organic search results.

Thus, you simply can’t afford to disregard SEO as it can be the deciding factor in the long-term success of your online venture. Don’t fret, though, as the steps outlined in this guide will enable you to make your site search-friendly even if you’re a complete rookie to search engine marketing.

But before we dive into the various improvements and tips, let’s draw inspiration from some of the...

With so much praise for Shopify as an e-commerce platform, you may be wondering how SEO-friendly it is right out-of-the-box.

Well, Shopify does come with many SEO-friendly features straight out-of-the-box, such as automatically generated sitemaps, editable title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, image alt tags, free SSL certificate, and more.

That said, it still isn’t the most ideal platform for SEO. There’s a lot you can do to climb up in the rankings. So, if you’re considering to just wing it on the fly, you won’t achieve the true heights of your store’s potential, plain and simple.

By making various SEO improvements, from basic to advanced, while picking the right theme and adding the right apps, you’ll soon set your store up for attaining top rankings on Google. Let’s dive in.

On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing your store’s internal pages to improve their search engine rankings. It comprises various factors such as the quality of your code, text and visual content, the HTML tags you use and the user-friendliness of your site and much more.

All these factors are in your control, so start optimizing your store’s rankings by nailing your on-page SEO. Here’s how:

Basic Shopify On-page Improvements

Before you move on to the advanced stuff, ensure you get all your basic on-page elements right.

Optimize Page Titles on Shopify

First off, write compelling page titles that people would actually want to click. While including keywords in your titles is important for the search crawler, make sure they’re not stuffed with keywords and are interesting enough for human readers as well.

As Google only displays the first 50–60 characters of most page titles, keep your page titles under 60 characters so they aren’t truncated in the search results. Furthermore, always include your main keywords near the beginning of your page title, in case the title does get truncated.

Also, ensure that you have one and only one H1 tag on each page. As such, Shopify page titles are the default H1 tag for the pages created through Shopify, so avoid manually adding an H1 tag anywhere else on the page.

Optimize Meta Descriptions on Shopify

The meta description refers to the text displayed below the title on the search results page. As with the title tag, not only does your meta description need to please the Google bots with the help of keywords, but the text also needs to appeal and convince real people so they visit your site.

When writing meta descriptions for product pages, consider your value propositions. Do you offer free shipping, or is there a discount available?

For example, to encourage click-through on to its website, Deramores uses the description to tell the user that all purchases over £25 get free delivery.

optimise-meta-desc

And again, keep your meta descriptions short – under 155 characters, otherwise they risk being truncated in the SERPs. Try and include your unique selling propositions (USP) in the descriptions.

Optimize Meta Descriptions on Shopify

The meta description refers to the text displayed below the title on the search results page. As with the title tag, not only does your meta description need to please the Google bots with the help of keywords, but the text also needs to appeal and convince real people so they visit your site.

When writing meta descriptions for product pages, consider your value propositions. Do you offer free shipping, or is there a discount available?

For example, to encourage click-through on to its website, Deramores uses the description to tell the user that all purchases over £25 get free delivery.

Optimize URLs on Shopify

Include keywords in your pages’ URLs, while keeping URLs short and sweet by avoiding filler words (such as “the” and “for”).

To edit your page’s title, meta description, and URL, navigate to the page you wish to adjust and scroll down to “Search Engine Listing Preview” as shown below.

optimise-url

As you can tell, on-page optimization is very much focussed on optimizing all your textual content for the keywords. Well, the same is true for visual content...

Optimize All Images

Ensure all your product images have a descriptive file name (not something like 298343798.jpg) and write descriptive alt tags that illustrate what each image is. Not only is this helpful for search engine crawlers who can’t “see” your images, but also for visually-challenged people that rely on screen readers.

img-alt-tag

And of course, include keywords in both the file name and alt text of all images.

Optimize Content for the Right Keywords on Shopify

Apart from titles, meta descriptions, URLs, and image alt tags, it’s essential to optimize all your website content – blog posts, product descriptions, the “about” page, and so on – for primary and secondary (or “semantic” i.e related) keywords.

Talking about content, creating keyword-optimized long-form content such as how-to guides, listicles, and articles on a consistent basis will go a long way in achieving those top rankings on Google.

By regularly publishing such useful content, you can target various keywords which have different user intent. That is, some of your pages (such as blog posts) can target searches for information (e.g. “what is romper”), while other pages (such as product pages) can target lower search volume keywords that indicate an intent to buy (e.g. “buy women’s rompers”).

optimise-keyword

An app like Plug in SEO shown above helps you take care of all the basic on-page optimization, and some of the advanced on-page improvements discussed in the next section.

Advanced Shopify On-Page Improvements

Basic on-page optimization factors discussed above need your attention every time you create a new product page or publish a new blog post. But most of the advanced on-page SEO improvements outlined in the following subsections are something you do once and it should work for a while as long as nothing else changes these settings.

Optimize Shopify Site Structure

How well your website is organized is extremely important for SEO. A properly structured site will help both the shoppers and search engine crawlers to better navigate your store.

From the shoppers’ perspective, they’ll find it easy and intuitive to hang around your store and browse products, boosting the odds of a purchase. A solid site structure translates to a great user experience.

Likewise, for the search engine crawlers, they’ll find it easier to crawl the various pages of your website, index them in the database, and rank your various pages correctly for relevant search queries.

So, how do you optimize your Shopify store’s structure? It’s simple – keep everything simple. Don’t have too many subcollections (product categories are known as “Collections” in Shopify) and elaborate hierarchies on your website.

flow-new

Shown above is the simplest, most SEO-friendly site structure format you can have. Your products are only a couple of clicks away from the homepage, making it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for and easy for search engines to crawl all the content of your site.

Also, include a global search box on the top of every page of your site. It won’t directly help the search crawlers, but it helps human visitors having a specific purchase intent find what they’re looking for with ease. This means a better user experience, which indirectly results in higher rankings on Google.

Optimize Shopify Page Load Speed

Page speed, a metric that’s crucial for user experience, is an official Google ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches. So, having a slow loading store is simply unaffordable and it’ll not only frustrate visitors and increase bounce rate, but also destroy your rankings on Google.

There are many things you can do to optimize your Shopify store’s load speed. Let’s look into each one of them in detail:

Minify CSS

It is possible that the comments and whitespace in your CSS files are taking up too much space and slowing down your site. Minification compresses the code by removing extra characters like spaces and comments, and combining common styles.

This makes the file size smaller. When your files are lighter they transfer faster, which helps your store load faster.

Shopify has the ability to auto-minify your CSS by giving it an 'scss' suffix, then including it in your site with the suffix .scss.css

So, if your CSS file is currently named theme.css.liquid and included in your site with {{ 'theme.css' | asset_url | stylesheet_tag }}:

  • Change the name of your CSS file to end with .scss (or .scss.liquid, if the file in question ends with .css.liquid) – so in this case, the file becomes theme.scss.liquid.
  • Change the reference to the file to end in .scss.css – so in this case, the include becomes {{ 'theme.scss.css' | asset_url | stylesheet_tag }} (Note that a .liquid suffix, if any, is not included here).

The result will be a minified CSS file built from your unminified source code. Make sure to save a copy of your original CSS and css.liquid files so that you can restore them promptly if your changes cause any problems.

You can also use an app like Plug in Speed optimizer to compress and minify theme code automatically. This app will also help in optimizing images, discussed next...

Optimize Images

Apart from optimizing your images with a proper file name and alt text, you must also ensure the file size of the image is small. Because having bulky product images will seriously hurt the page load speed and consequently, search rankings.

Here are two things you should do to maintain optimal load speed:

  • Compress Images on Shopify:

    Using the above mentioned app (i.e. Plug in Speed Optimizer), you can set up automatic image compression to reduce all image (blog, product, collection, etc.) sizes while maintaining high quality.

  • Lazy Load on Shopify:

    Lazy loading essentially means delaying the construction of an object, such as an image, until it is needed. By default, all images on the pages will be loaded at their full size, irrespective of if the user is looking at only the top of the website.

But you don’t need all the images to load as they may not be seen by the user if he/she never scrolls down. So, with lazy load, a low-quality image is used as a placeholder. As the user scrolls down the page, and the image appears into the viewport, it will be replaced by a higher-quality version of the picture.

lazyload-shopify

This technique also adds a layer of interactivity to a website, which means instead of looking at a white page, waiting for the image to load, you can see it slowly coming to life. Here’s a step-by-step approach to incorporate lazy load on your store.

Verify CSS Syntax to Ensure Automatic CDN Updates

A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It is a way to deliver content from your website to people more quickly and efficiently, based on their geographic location.

A CDN is made up of a network of servers (“points of presence,” or POPs) in locations all over the world. The CDN server closest to a user is known as the “edge server” – when people request content from a website served through a CDN, they’re connected to the closest edge server, ensuring the best online experience possible.

So, your content, such as images, are cached on a CDN so it’s delivered from the edge to your end users much faster than if it had to be delivered all the way from the origin.

As such, you don’t have to do anything as Shopify provides merchants a world class CDN powered by Fastly. When you make changes to your images, Shopify informs the CDN that the images have changed by using the “asset_url” filter, which automatically appends version numbers to all of the URLs it generates.

However, If you reference an image directly in your CSS, then the URL will be static and will not carry the asset version that Shopify updates automatically. To ensure that your images are automatically updated, change your CSS syntax to include the “asset_url” filter. That’s it!

Choose the Right Shopify Theme

Picking the right theme is critical not just for ensuring appealing store aesthetics and a pleasant user experience, but also for your store’s loading speed.

Whether you’re updating your Shopify theme for new features or to create a more modern look, you must review the theme for its resource appetite. That is, if the new theme places too many demands on your users’ internet connections because of a bloated code or unnecessary features, maybe you should skip it.

To test a theme’s resource demands before switching themes, just run a performance tool like GTMetrix on the themes under consideration. Of course, your own resources will change the exact numbers, but testing the theme will at least give you an idea of what kind of loads the theme itself puts on your site.

Add AMP to Your Shopify Store

Today, over half of your store’s visitors (and conversions) are from mobile devices and this number is increasing with each passing day. Thus, it is especially vital to reduce your store’s page load times on mobile devices.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), is an open source framework developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, which renders better, faster experiences on mobile devices. Simply put, it's a framework that allows you to build lightweight experiences for mobile by simplifying the HTML and following streamlined CSS rules.

For some searches Google shows AMP content in a special slots above organic results . So, enabling AMP can make all the difference for achieving top rankings on mobile search results. Using a tried-and-tested app like AMP by Shop Sheriff, you can easily and quickly amp up your website’s mobile speed and get that lightning bolt next to your search result listing on mobile.

Last but not least, run your site through PageSpeed Insights to get Google’s recommended list of tweaks you can make to boost your store’s speed.

Responsive Design

As just discussed above, your choice of Shopify theme is pivotal to your store’s load speed, and indirectly, its success. Also, again, the majority of your visitors are shopping from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

So, your store must look flawless and function flawlessly on mobile devices. A responsive design means your site will automatically adjust to the screen size on which it is loaded. While every theme on the Shopify Theme Store is mobile-friendly and responsive, even minor errors on mobile can gravely hurt the user experience and rankings.

Consequently, it’s important to review all your pages to ensure they are just as readable and appealing on mobile as they are on desktop.

Structured Data on Shopify

If you want your store to truly stand out in the SERPs, adding structured data markup to your website is a must. Once you’ve provided Google a bunch of data in a specific, structured format (hence the name “structured data”), your product pages, for example, may show up like this:

structured-data

Such a listing is way more convincing to click on as compared to purely text-based results. And more click-throughs to your website over a period of time will hint Google that your listing deserves to rank higher and higher in the SERPs.

Essentially, structured data markup gives search engines more information about your website and its content. In the context of e-commerce, structured data (or schema markup) can provide Google with valuable information about your products (such as pricing, availability, rating, number of reviews, and so on), which Google can then display in the SERPs in the form of rich snippets.

There are three structured data formats you can use:

  • JSON-LD
  • RDFa
  • Microdata

Using JSON-LD is recommended by Google as it’s the easiest to add and update, and it is compatible with dynamic data.

Now, there are various types of schema you can create and add to your store for generating different kinds of rich snippets. Here are three of the most important ones:

Product Schema on Shopify

For e-commerce websites, product schema is the highest priority structured data as it helps pull in interested buyers from the search results by displaying important information such as reviews and price.

product-schemea

Many Shopify themes contain product markup out-of-the-box, but your store may benefit from expanding the product schema to collections pages as well. This means adding the product structured data markup to define each individual product link in a product listing page.

For effectively creating and adding all such product schema to your site, install JSON-LD for SEO. With this app, you don’t need to be a tech-savvy coder and can get started with structured data integration instantly.

Breadcrumbs Schema on Shopify

Breadcrumbs are essential to any e-commerce store, as they provide users with easy-to-use internal links that indicate where they’re at within the hierarchy of the site. What’s more, these breadcrumbs can help Google better understand the website’s internal linking structure.

breadcrumb-schemea
Article Schema on Shopify

If your store’s blog is active and posts are being published regularly, you should use “Article” structured data. This schema lets Google know that your blog content is more editorial in nature.

article-schemea

Google often pulls content with “Article” structured data into platforms such as Google Discover, and ensuring your content contains this structured data may increase the chances of your site’s content being included in these sections.

Other types of schema include:

Add an app like Rich Snippets for SEO to add all these types of structured data to your website within a few minutes without any technical hassle and quickly create rich snippets for your store.

Use Redirects When Needed

Having broken links (“404 not found” error) on your store is detrimental to both user experience and SEO. So, when a page on your site becomes inactive – such as when you remove a product that used to be for sale – you should redirect that page to another relevant, existing page on your site, giving visitors (and crawlers) a new destination instead of a disappointing error.

Do not simply redirect deleted/inactive pages to the homepage or to an unrelated page. Only redirect to a product collection page or something that’s relevant to the deleted page.

Also, any time you change a URL after it has gone live, remember to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, or you’ll generate a 404 error on your site.

navigation

To set up a redirect, go to “Sales Channels,” then “Online Store,” and then “Navigation.” At the top left you will see a “URL Redirects” button and its interface for setting up 301 redirects is pretty intuitive.

Use the Canonical Tag for Duplicate Content Pages on Shopify

Like broken links, another high priority issue that frequently plagues e-commerce websites is duplicate content.

Duplicate content occurs when either same or similar content exists on two separate URLs of the same website. This creates a problem for search crawlers as they may not be able to determine which of the two pages should be considered as the “preferred” or canonical version.

For those who don’t know, a canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site.

Simply put, Google wants to determine the primary version of your page. You can use rel=”canonical” tags to help point search bots in the right direction.

Keep in mind that when linking within your site, always link to the canonical URL. Linking consistently to the URL that you consider to be canonical helps Google understand your preference.

Off-page SEO refers to all the activities you can do outside of your own website to improve your rankings in the SERPs. These activities are meant to make your site more credible in the eyes of Google.

Here are the top two ways you can conquer off-page SEO for your store:

Build Backlinks to Your Store

Backlinks are the external links from other websites that point to your store. Google uses the number, quality, and relevancy of backlinks as a ranking factor. In fact, the amount and quality of backlinks is one of the biggest and direct deciders as to where your store will be ranking on Google.

Simply put, Google considers links as indicators of trust and authority, and without a proper link building strategy, your store won’t make it to the first page of SERPs.

So, here’s what you need to do consistently as a part of your marketing strategy to build high quality links to your store:

  • Guest Posting:

A classic, tried-and-true way to earn quality backlinks and improve online brand awareness for your store is guest posting.

It means creating and contributing quality content, such as blog posts, to authority websites and publications. Apart from improving rankings on Google, guest posting also helps in capturing new audiences, gaining their trust, and building thought leadership as a brand.

  • Blogger Outreach:

As you know, every niche (fashion, fitness, etc.) has blogs with massive followings. The content published by these bloggers is trusted by a huge community of like-minded people.

Blogger outreach is a technique wherein you work with bloggers to create authentic content that promotes your products or brand. In this way, you leverage their influence to gain more exposure for your store.

In a nutshell, blogger outreach involves identifying authority bloggers in your industry. Next, you pitch them in a personalized way and let them know what’s in it for them (such as free access to your products or a sponsored fee) and what you want them to do for your brand. Finally, once the content is published, you and the blogger both promote it on your own respective channels which results in great exposure to new audiences for both the blog and your brand.

The content they create for your brand can be anything ranging from a product review to a giveaway contest. You can work with the blogger to create content that results in a win-win for both parties, while being true to the audience.

  • Promoting Linkable Assets:

Another great way to build links to your store is to create and publish highly-shareable content, such as detailed how-to guides, entertaining listicles, or interactive infographics, on your own website and then pitching them to high authority blogs and media publications in your industry.

Not everyone would be interested in republishing and/or promoting your content on their own web property, but if your content’s truly good, you’ll surely find some (or even many) that’ll be happy to oblige.

  • Link Reclamation and Broken Link Building:

Link building isn’t always about creating new content. Your store may already be mentioned in several places without being linked to. Use tools like these to find these unlinked mentions and then reach out to these publishers and ask them to link to your site along with the mention. This is known as link reclamation.

Finally, you can also do some hunting for broken links on websites in your niche. Once you find a broken link for products/content similar to those you offer, reach out to the owner of the site displaying the broken link to have them replace the broken link for a valid link to your site instead.

Since broken links hurt SEO, this is a mutually beneficial activity for both parties – they get to repair a broken link and you get a free backlink.

Typically, when you talk about backlinks, the more the merrier. However, keep in mind that the quality of links pointing back to your website is just as important, if not more. That is, a couple of natural backlinks from high authority websites far outweigh twenty links from low authority or spammy websites.

Earn Brand Mentions and Social Signals

Backlinks directly add SEO juice to your store, but even unlinked brand mentions on high authority publications (such as Forbes) carry considerable weight.

Thus, you can analyze your competitors backlinks and media mentions using a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer, and tailor your content strategy accordingly so as to earn mentions for your own brand in the press.

earn-brand-mentions

Moreover, establishing a solid, authoritative presence on various social media platforms is an absolute must. While it doesn’t directly improve your store’s rankings on Google, having a strong social media presence means your social profiles will also rank on the SERPs, and these profiles ultimately lead people to your store.

Social media makes your brand more “human”. It enables you to have informal conversations with your fans, provide customer support, and boost brand engagement – things that are extremely important to building credibility for your store and its long-term success.

Furthermore, leverage user-generated content (UGC) on social media by hosting hashtag contests, giveaways, and surveys. You can encourage existing customers to write honest product reviews on social media. This builds your social proof, motivating potential customers on the fence to take the plunge with your brand.

Add an app like Yotpo to garner more and more reviews from customers and display them on your storefront. Using this app, you can also curate customer generated content on Instagram and engage with your customers in the form of community Q&A.

app-yotpo

Apart from boosting brand awareness and loyalty, all these social signals indirectly yet substantially contribute to your store’s SEO.

While Shopify does stand out as an e-commerce platform, it isn’t perfect for SEO. There are issues that need to be addressed.

In fact, some SEO limitations in Shopify don’t really have a fix. For example, you can’t customise the robots.txt file, there are limited customization options for URLs, and you’ve to write the image alt-text individually for every image (even if you use the same image across the website).

But there are other common SEO issues with Shopify that you can fix, such as:

Twitter-Like Character Counts for Titles

Shopify has a character counter similar to Twitter’s for the number of characters that you can use in the title tags. And the limit is 70 characters, which is misleading.

That’s because Google establishes title width in SERPs by measuring pixels, and research shows that this is typically 600-pixels, which translates to roughly 60 characters.

A quick fix to see whether your title tag is too long (in terms of pixels) is to go to Google and perform a site: command (e.g., site:mystore.com), or if you want to look at how a specific URL appears in Google, use the exact URL after the site: operator.

Forced URL Structure

Shopify forces you to have a peculiar URL structure that’s long and not SEO-friendly.

Ideally, URLs should be short and simple, with the product as close to the root domain as possible e.g.:

>mystore.com/boots

But with Shopify’s forced URL structure, the same domain will actually look like this:

A) mystore.com/products/boots

And, when you get into collections, it gets even worse:

B) mystore.com /collections/collection-title/products/boots

As you can see, the URL gets longer and longer. While this does impact SEO a tiny bit, and it’s something you can’t change, it’s not that big a deal.

Because even though there is a lack of control over the URL structure and products can take multiple URL forms, Shopify canonicalizes the product back to the product “root”, so in the above example B canonicals to A, and A is self-referencing. So, there’s no duplicate content issue which can actually be a big nuisance for e-commerce websites.

Robots.txt Access Not Allowed

You can locate your robots.txt file at the root directory of your Shopify store’s primary domain name – mystore.com/robots.txt.

But, unlike other e-commerce platforms, you can’t edit the contents of this text file. The purpose of your robots.txt file is to block bots from crawling certain pages that don’t need to be ranked in SERPs (such as your internal search results).

For example, Shopify blocks your shopping cart from being indexed because it’s much less valuable for that page to rank than your product pages. This makes sense and while Shopify claims to have properly optimized the robots.txt file, it is one of the major limitations of the platform in terms of SEO.

But there’s a workaround to this problem. If there are pages you’d like to hide from Google, which are not already included in the robots.txt file, you can add some custom code to the <head>section of your store’s theme.liquid and by adding some code to the specific page.

  • Go to Online Store > Themes
  • Find the theme you want to edit
  • Select Actions > Edit code
  • Click the theme.liquid layout file.
  • Add the following code to the <head>section to exclude the search template:
    {% if template contains 'search' %}
    <meta name="robots" content="noidex">
    {% endif %}
  • To exclude a specific page, paste the following code in the <head>section:
    {% if handle contains 'page-handle-you-want-toexclude' %}
    <meta name="robots" content="noidex">
    {% endif %}
  • See to it that you replace page-handle-you-want-to-exclude with the correct page handle.
  • Click Save.

Alternatively, if you’re not much of a coder, add the Sitemap & NoIndex Manager app which easily manages your noindex, nofollow tags, and XML sitemap without you having to code anything.

Let’s take a quick look at some actionable tips that’ll improve the search engine-friendliness of various pages of your store:

SEO Tips for Shopify Homepage

Your homepage is your online store’s storefront, not just for human visitors but for search engine crawlers. So, optimizing your homepage to make it welcoming for those bots is just as important as making it easy on the eyes for customers. Here’s how:

  • Use only one H1 tag that’s optimized for the most primary keyword of your business.
  • Write a paragraph below the title and a meta description that describes your business with keyword-rich copy.
  • Include all the broad and related keywords in your homepage content.
SEO Tips for Shopify Collection Pages

Collections are great for gathering similar products into their own buckets or groups. This can be insanely useful for SEO, as you can target different types of keywords on these pages than would be possible for individual product pages.

To make a collection, click “Products” and “Collections,” then “Create Collection.” Set the selection criteria for the page, then click “Save Collection.”

Now, apart from optimizing their titles and meta descriptions, here’s what you can do to achieve optimal rankings for your collection pages:

  • Customize each page to give it a unique touch so the issue of duplicate content never arises.
  • Include long tail keyword phrases for each product in your collection page.
  • Write a detailed description in order to boost that uniqueness score for each page. To avoid creating a boring slab of text, use bullets and bold important keywords.
SEO Tips for Shopify Product Pages

Ranking your product pages on the first page of SERPs can skyrocket your sales. Keep the following guidelines in mind to create search-friendly product pages:

  • Use a clear structure and hierarchy – use of headings, subheadings, and bullets which will make it easier for visitors to scan through.
  • Don’t write a shoddy product copy – incorporate your brand’s unique tone and keep it crisp.
  • Emphasize on your unique value proposition – what are the unique benefits and features of using your product or brand that customers can’t find anywhere else?
  • Kill the jargon – write easy-to-read content with succinct sentences and paragraphs.
  • Optimize for head and long-tail keywords but don’t just shove them for the purpose of ranking. Again, readability is key.
  • Anticipate and address any potential questions or doubts that may arise.
  • Add Product and FAQ Structured data.
SEO Tips for Shopify Blog

Ranking your product pages on the first page of SERPs can skyrocket your sales. Keep the following guidelines in mind to create search-friendly product pages:

  • Focus on making each article high quality instead of churning out a large number of useless posts that nobody wants to read or share.
  • That being said, be consistent with your posting schedule and aim for at least a couple of comprehensive long-form posts every month.
  • Your content should educate, inform, entertain, and delight the readers which will help them resonate with your brand. Plus, it should be original, well-researched, and grammatically correct.
  • In each post, target informational keywords to build internal links to your product and collection pages.
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that guides the reader to take a desired action, such as check out your product catalogue or subscribe to your email newsletter.

Your store may currently be running on another e-commerce platform, such as Volusion or Magento, but realizing how these platforms are lagging behind in terms of user-friendliness, performance, security, and customer support, you’ve decided to make the switch to Shopify.

You’re not alone – numerous brands have made the switch. For instance, after a costly Black Friday crash in 2015, the popular gym clothing brand Gymshark switched from Magento to Shopify, and found major success from then on. Another example is that of Bohemia, a contemporary handmade homeware and fashion accessories brand that switched from Magento to Shopify and witnessed its sales quadruple.

While the migration process itself is well-defined and shouldn’t be a big hurdle, maintaining your website’s rankings on Google when switching platforms is a challenge.

Now, it is almost inevitable that you will see some temporary rankings drop, even if everything goes smoothly and you check all the SEO best practices boxes. That’s because every time Google sees a big change, it will "step back" a bit from the site to reindex and reanalyze everything. So, whether it’s a platform migration or a domain change, it usually results in a temporary drop in rankings.

However, you can substantially reduce the time that your rankings fluctuate and stabilize again by taking the following steps:

  • The biggest factor with any migration is setting up URL redirects. Shopify supports URL redirects, see to it that there is a 301 redirect in place for every page that has a URL change.
  • Pay attention to changes in the website’s robots.txt file and XML sitemap generation to ensure that unnecessary pages don’t get indexed and impede crawl efficiency.
  • Make sure to submit a new sitemap via Google Search Console the second you launch the new version of your store.
  • Mirror the structure of the website – ensuring all collections and even any non-primary pages receiving traffic are retained on the new platform.
  • Check thoroughly for duplicate content issues, and use canonical URLs (the most authoritative URL you want search engines to see) to direct search engines to the original content.
  • Identify and resolve all of the 404 errors on your site.

Again, setting up URL redirects correctly is key. Due to Shopify’s specific system of collections and subcollections, it is impossible to transfer the URLs unchanged. And it is crucial to arrange redirects for the links of your products and collections that will appear in search engine results.

Consider using an app like Cart2Cart while performing data import to Shopify to ensure proper 301 redirects for the links to your new store.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to boost your website’s search engine visibility. If your head’s spinning trying to sort out all the SEO tasks that need to be done, then here’s a handy checklist you can tick off as you progress:

On-page SEO:
  • Use only one H1 tag on each page
  • Write compelling page titles (under 60 characters) and meta descriptions (under 155 characters)
  • Optimize all URLs
  • Set an alt text and descriptive file names for all images
  • Create long-form content such as how-to guides, listicles, and blog posts
  • Optimize all content (titles, metas, URLs, images, and copy) for the right keywords
Off-page SEO:
  • Build backlinks to your store
  • Earn media mentions and social proof
Advanced SEO:
  • Submit sitemap to Google
  • Optimize site structure
  • Optimize page loading speed
  • Use AMP
  • Ensure responsive design
  • Check and remove duplicate content
  • Incorporate structured data
  • Use redirects when needed

And here’s the list of all the recommended (free and paid) apps mentioned in this guide for various SEO purposes that you can add to your store to improve its SEO:

In addition to these, an important free app you must add is Google Shopping. As hundreds of millions of people come to Google for their shopping needs, the Google Shopping tab is an attractive place for online businesses to list their products.

In the past, the Google Shopping tab consisted only of paid listings, but starting late April 2020, free listings will appear alongside paid ads in relevant search results. In fact, Shopify has partnered up with Google to make it easy for merchants to sync, submit, and optimize their products for these free listings through Shopify’s Google Shopping app. So make sure to add this app to try and get your products listed in the Google Shopping tab for free.

Last but not least, it’s important to only add apps that serve some purpose. Of course, you won’t add paid apps to your store that aren’t useful for you, but just because an app is free doesn’t warrant its installation.

That’s because bloating your store with too many apps will slow it down which, in turn, will affect your rankings negatively. Thus, only add apps that are useful for your store.

So, there you have it. Start with the basic on-page optimization techniques, try to be consistent with off-page optimization (building backlinks, earning media mentions, and social proof), and then take things to the next level by using structured data, AMP, CDN, and other advanced techniques.

Remember, building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. The same applies to SEO – it’ll take a few months to see notable results, but with consistent effort and some patience, boy will the results be worth it!