27 Things You Need To Do To Optimize Your Shopify SEO
Although you’d think you could optimize Shopify’s SEO just like any other website, that’s not entirely true. There are some differences.
But although there are some differences, that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult and overly-complex.
You can still increase Shopify’s SEO just like any other page if you know what you’re doing.
You don’t need a Shopify SEO expert or expensive Shopify SEO plugins.
This article will give you the 27 things you NEED to do to optimize your Shopify SEO.
Setting Up Your Shopify Site
If you’re about to set up your Shopify site, then follow the checklist below to make sure that you’re SEO is optimized from the very beginning.
Even if you already have your Shopify site set up, go back through each of these steps to ensure that your SEO isn’t being bogged down due to ineffective setup.
1. Make sure you’re buying/installing the right theme
How quickly your site loads is really important for SEO.
Nowadays, if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load then over 40% of folks will leave.
Google is smart. And if folks are leaving before they even get to your website then your SEO will be negatively affected.
You have to make sure you pick the right Shopify theme.
Some load faster than others.
So here’s what you need to do:
These sites will let you know if the Shopify theme loads quickly or slowly.
You’ll get something that looks like this:
Make sure that the result of this test is at least “Good” – I’d say anything over 75/100 is decent and could be used. But it’s best to shoot for something over 85/100.
Right now I’m really keen on Codazon’s Fastest theme – it has a 97/100 Google loading speed, it’s relatively cheap, and it has great reviews.
So with Codazon you’ll still get good functionality and a beautiful site without sacrificing speed.
2. Upload a robots.txt file so bots can crawl your site.
When you’re setting up your Shopify site, make sure you upload a robots.txt file so that you can have bots crawl your site.
You might be wondering what a robots.txt file is:
No, it’s not an actual robot crawling or dancing around your site…
It’s a bit of code that communicates with Google and other search engines.
It tells the search engines where they’re allowed to visit within your site and what they’re allowed to save.
Think of it like this:
If you accidentally have the wrong instructions in your robots.txt file, you could be telling Google to not look at your site…
And if Google isn’t looking at your site, then it’s not indexing your content and as a result your SEO will basically be nonexistent.
I can’t get into all the details in this article on how to go about adding a robots.txt file to your site, but…
When you submit your robots.txt file make sure to “Allow everything and submit the sitemap”
3. Validate HTML and CSS.
Sorry for all this technical stuff.
This one’s pretty easy though:
Essentially it’s just making sure that your HTML and CSS code complies with the standards (which it should).
If your code does not comply with regulations then your site will most likely load much slower.
All you have to do is go to this site and put in your web address and it’ll let you know if your HTML and CSS is up to code (“up to code”… – did you catch the pun?).
4. Upload a XML sitemap to let Google know all the cool stuff on your site
Okay, I know this article is starting out with a bunch of very technical stuff, but bear with me.
An xml file with site map, when uploaded to your webserver, enables all search engines to crawl your site, take a look around at what you have to offer, and then use that information when ranking your page.
So the more information you give Google, the faster and more efficient it can determine when you make changes to your website, add new content, and more.
And if Google knows exactly what’s on your site, and is able to determine that it would be useful, then you are more likely to get ranked higher (aka increase your SEO)
5. Install Google Analytics.
Most of you know about this. Well I hope you do…
Don’t underestimate the power of Google Analytics for SEO.
Here’s why Google Analytics for you Shopify site is so good:
Once integrated, Google Analytics will show you all of this information.
It’ll let you know whether or not folks are coming to your site from mobile devices or from desktop computers.
Essentially, Google Analytics will let you know how well your SEO is doing – what is working well and what isn’t based on a bunch of different metrics.
It also only takes a couple of minutes to set up, so even if you end up not using it you won’t have to waste a bunch of time.
6. Purchase an SSL certificate and upgrade to HTTPS.
If you don’t know what HTTPS is vs. HTTP, I’ll explain it all below:
HTTP or HTTP is simply what goes before your website’s URL.
HTTPS is essentially a more secure version of HTTP, as the communication between the browser and your website are encrypted.
That’s why next to the https:// you see a padlock.
To set this up you’ll need to buy an SSL Certificate in order to transfer your HTTP to HTTPs.
7. Download Yoast so you can optimize almost everything SEO-related directly through their dashboard
Most people consider Yoast to be one of the best SEO plugins you can get.
And it’s definitely a great resource (not to mention they have a free version):
It has built-in content analysis to determine what’s missing from your content, description management, managing duplicate content, meta keywords tools, XML sitemaps, social features to make it really easy to integrate with social media, rich snippet optimization and previews, and a lot more.
It takes a bit of time to get used to the panel, so you can check out this guide to get you started on using Yoast.
If your code is overly complex and long, then your site will load much more slowly.
Google will take a look at your site and not be happy with the code, and consequently rank it lower.
But you should be really careful when minifying code.
Sometimes when you minify your code it could mess up the functionality of your website and cause problems.
Thankfully, to minify your code you don’t need to know how to code (hallelujah):
Simply find a reputable code minifier – here’s a list of code minifiers that Google recommends, so you know you can trust it.
From there, grab the code from your Shopify site and see if it can be minified in one of these softwares.
After it’s properly minified, re-upload it to your site.
9. Enable browser caching
This comes back to how quickly your site loads.
Again, take a look at this stat….
Not to mention how many people will leave if your site loads slowly from page to page…
If your site loads slowly, visitors will leave and find a competitor’s site that’s easier to navigate.
So when you enable browser caching here’s what happens:
It lightens the load on your web server, which will reduce the time it takes for the site to load.
You enable browser caching by this two step process:
- Change the request headers of your resources to use caching.
- Optimize your caching strategy.
10. Use a content delivery network (CDN)
A content delivery network is another way to increase the speed of your Shopify site, especially if you’re selling internationally or have international reach.
If you don’t use this, there’s a chance that your site could load slowly for folks searching online across the globe.
And, if it loads slowly, they will bounce immediately, which would hurt your SEO.
I know, I need to back up and explain what a content delivery network is:
A content delivery network is a large, geographically distributed network of servers that accelerate how quickly web content and other media load on devices.
I’ll try to explain it more simply:
Let’s say you’re in Italy (sounds nice, huh?…)
Yep… That looks nice.
Okay, you’re in Italy.
But the website’s server or origin is in California.
It’ll take a bit of time for all of the contents of that website (html, images, etc) to get to Italy.
Instead, with a content delivery network system, all of the files on your website are cached at a local data center (or Point of Presence).
So instead of the website’s server being based in California, there’s a copy of the website cached at a data center in Germany (just across the border).
Therefore, your Shopify site will load faster for that person in Italy.
So how do you use a CDN?
Check them out using the links above.
11. Avoid Duplicate Product Pages
Yoast (which you’ve already downloaded based on #7) will help you navigate duplicate product pages.
This can be especially difficult when using Shopify.
I’ll explain why:
You’re obviously selling something. Let’s say you’re selling cell phone cases.
If you sell an iPhone case that comes in white, blue, red, grey, and black, but don’t change the content of the descriptions on each of those separate product pages, you could have a TON of duplicate content.
So, if duplicate products are unavoidable, apply the rel=canonical tag to the product you want to take priority. This option is available through Shopify.
I figured instead of me giving you step by step instructions on how to apply the rel=canonical tag, it’d make more sense for you to read the step-by-step instructions from Shopify itself.
Optimizing Your Shopify Site
By optimizing your Shopify Site you’re making it easy for the user to travel through your site and buy your product.
By doing this, you’re letting Google and other search engines know that you’re an authority that they should trust to send traffic to.
Let’s jump right in.
12. Have an easy-to-navigate, clear homepage
Your homepage is the first thing that people see.
And if it’s confusing, overcrowded, and a pain to work with, then the visitor will most likely leave. And they’ve leave quickly.
And if they leave before visiting more than just the homepage, you’re going to have a REALLY high bounce rate (the bounce rate is the percentage of folks who leave your site after just visiting one page).
And if you have a high bounce rate, your SEO is going to plummet.
So your website needs to be…
It needs to be visually appealing, represent you and your brand, and clearly lay out what you’re selling and what the visitor should be doing on your site.
It should be immediately clear what product you’re selling.
Below is a great example.
You immediately know that they are a company based around beard products.
It’s well done, clean, and isn’t over-crowded.
13. Give the users a path to follow to buy the product
If you don’t give the users a path to follow to buy your product, it won’t matter how beautiful your website looks.
Your Shopify site needs to very clearly lay out where your products are.
It needs to be very straightforward where your blog/articles are if you need to educate folks on your products.
If folks don’t know where to go once they get to your site, they’ll leave.
Take a look at this site below, it’s really well done.
In the bottom left there’s a big button that says “Browse Products” and in the upper left there’s a tab that says “Buy Teatox.”
It’s simple and straightforward. And that’s how your site should be too.
14. Make your navigation buttons straightforward
This relates to the last one, #13.
If your navigation buttons are straightforward and guide people through your Shopify site, then they’ll spend more time engaging with your website.
And the longer they spend on your site (the longer the “dwell time”), the better your SEO will be.
If your buttons all are vague and say something like “Learn More” or “Click Here” then that’s a problem…
This website below has a bunch of VERY clear buttons that guide you to exactly where you want to go.
You can easily search for rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc based on the buttons/links.
In the bottom right their button that says “Message Us” is even super clear – you know that you’ll be communicating with them via facebook.
15. Have as much content as possible (blog, videos, images, etc)
You’ve probably heard “Content is King” a million times.
There’s a reason you’ve heard it:
If you have engaging, rich, entertaining, and value-adding content then folks will engage with your Shopify site more (not to mention probably buy from you more).
And by having great content (with optimized keywords, meta tags, etc – which I’ll get to shortly) your SEO will skyrocket and folks will start to organically find you.
Content can be more than just a blog post – take a look below:
The beginning of this blog has a video.
It looks like a well produced video based on the thumbnail you can see.
And not only does Google’s SEO really like video content, but so will your audience.
They’ll spend time reading your articles and watching your videos. As a result, they’ll trust you more and most likely be more likely to buy from you too.
16. Research Keywords
How to find the best keywords?
This tactic will be used for #s 17-20.
You find keywords by…
Going to one of these three sites.
Let’s say you’re selling hockey sticks on your Shopify site. You’d type in “hockey sticks” to one of these websites.
Then the software will give you all of the related keywords and how many people search for each of those keywords each month.
For example, the second from the top is “field hockey sticks” and gets 8100 searches per month.
Even if you’re not selling field hockey sticks, it might still be a good idea to try to integrate that keyword into your description or webpage.
So by integrating the top keywords onto your Shopify site, Google will begin to rank you higher.
17. Include target keywords in the title and H1 of each page
Here’s what this means:
There’s different html code within your Shopify site.
Google and other search engines take this into account.
Take a look below:
The title tag is what shows up on Google as the title – makes sense.
Your title needs to have at least one keyword (your main keyword) and then at the end of the title you need to have your brand name. This will boost your SEO.
The header tag <h1> is what indicates a heading on a website.
Make sure you only have 1 <h1> heading on your site!
And make sure that it explains exactly what that page is about.
If you’re selling organic peanut butter, your <h1> tag BETTER say “organic peanut butter.”
18. Optimize meta descriptions for every single page.
What’s a meta-description?
It’ll be easier to explain with an image.
The description of your webpage is the meta-description. It’s what shows up below the title on Google and other search engines (all the text below the title).
It should be keyword-rich and get the visitor to click.
At this point visitors are scrolling through Google trying to quickly find the best site to solve their problem.
Obviously they’ll be looking at the title first, but they’ll also scan the meta-description.
19. Optimize headings (H1s, H2s, etc.)
I already explained how to optimize <h1> headings – if you forgot, take a look at #17.
But just know that the most important part about <h1> headings is that you should only use them once and make sure to include your main keyword.
The rest of the headings on your site, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, etc. work in a hierarchical order.
Before I explain exactly how to structure your headings, think back to all those keywords you researched.
Make sure to integrate some keywords into your headings.
But, please don’t do this:
Don’t just add a bunch of keywords and have it not make sense. You don’t want a heading that says something like…
“Yogurt Gogurt How to Make Yogurt Best Yogurt.”
Yeah, that’d have a lot of great keywords. But it makes no sense.
Okay, so how do you structure your headings?
You wouldn’t use an <h3> heading unless you’ve used an <h2> heading before it…
Take a look below at the exact structure:
H1: How to Make Yogurt
H2: Why You Should Make Your Own Yogurt
H3: You control the ingredients
H3: Oftentimes making your own yogurt is cheaper
H3: Making yogurt is fun 🙂
H2: The Yogurt-Making Process
H3: Buying the right ingredients
H3: Getting a yogurt maker
H3: etc. etc. etc.
H2: In conclusion…
20. Optimize images (file name, alt text, and image size).
There are so many things that people do wrong with images:
They’re blurry. There aren’t any images on the site. The image file sizes are MASSIVE.
Here’s why optimizing images is so important.
Images are what give your Shopify Site richness and they control your brand.
This is especially important for a Shopify site:
You’re selling a physical product and need high-quality, beautiful pictures of that product.
Look at how beautiful the images are on this Shopify site:
Oftentimes your images are what’s going to sell your product.
And if you have a gallery of images, visitors will spend time enjoying the product images. And as I’ve said before, the longer they spend on your site the higher your SEO will be.
But if your image files are huge, then your site will load REALLY slowly.
To make things easy, here’s what I’ll do:
A checklist for your images:
- Your image files need to be smaller than 150 KB
- Make sure they’re professionally done (no iPhone images…)
- Clear images (not blurry)
- Uniform throughout (their should be a consistency to your images)
- Name the file size appropriately (don’t have it say a23lgd3235sadn.jpg) – this is additional content and keyword optimization for your SEO
21. Correct any crawl errors and redirect issues.
Go to your Google Search Console and take a look at all your crawl errors and redirect issues.
There are a bunch of potential errors your could have (404, 403, 503, etc).
The more errors you have, the more Google looks at your site with skepticism. As a result, your SEO could be negatively affected.
I can’t get into the details on how to fix EACH crawl error and redirect issue, but you can take a look at this site that gives you more details on each.
22. Make sure each page converts
Every single page on your site needs to CAPTURE the visitors attention.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
If a visitor spends lots of time on your Shopify site, you’ll have a higher average dwell time and your SEO will increase.
Here’s how you should structure your pages:
- Don’t overwrite. Keep things simple.
- Put yourself in the visitors shoes – what do THEY want to know, see, learn about, etc.
- Grab their attention immediately at the top of the page (engaging title, beautiful image, educational video, etc)
- Don’t have a million sidebar images that distract them
Refining Your Shopify Product Pages
Your product pages are essentially your salesmen.
They need to look good and get visitors excited about buying.
Below are a couple of tactics to boost your Shopify product pages.
23. Write a captivating product description that makes them want to buy
This is your time to sell:
Before you write your product description, ask yourself these questions:
- What keeps my potential buyer awake at night?
- What does my potential buyer’s average day look like?
- How does my potential buyer make decisions? Thought out? Impulse?
- What problem does my product solve?
- What are the most important features and benefits of my product?
From there, break up the content so that it’s easily scanned. Don’t have one HUGE paragraph chunk that’s hard to navigate.
Add in a couple of keywords too.
Read this wonderful example of a killer product description – they’ve gotten into the customer’s mindset and RELATED to what the customer wants to hear.
24. Have shipping, return, and sizing information clearly visible on your product page.
You don’t want your potential customers to have to work hard to find information:
Do all the work for them in advance.
Have all your shipping, return, and sizing information directly on the page.
If you do this, they will spend more time looking through all the features that come with your product, which’ll increase your SEO. And if you have free shipping, or a great return policy, or all the sizes their heart desires, then they’ll also be more willing to buy.
25. Free content? Allow reviews on your product page.
Before you decide to do this make sure that people actually like your product…
Having horrible reviews will do nothing for your SEO – if anything it’ll hurt it.
If you have great reviews, it’ll get those folks just thinking about buying to actually pull out their wallets.
But having reviews is HUGE for SEO for this reason:
Having reviews is FREE content.
Buyers will write about your product. And when they write about your product they’ll use a bunch of different keywords. And the more content you have, the better for your SEO.
Having really good content is the best thing you can do for your SEO.
Businesses spend a TON of money on content marketing.
And enabling your buyers to write reviews is like getting free content marketing.
It’s a no-brainer.
The Aesthetics of Your Shopify Site
Don’t underestimate the way your Shopify site looks.
I know that if I’m going to buy something online and the website looks horrible and cheap, I’d be hesitant to buy.
And it’s not that hard to make a couple of changes to your Shopify site to make it reflect your brand in an authentic way.
26. Have welcoming and consistent graphics
Having images that look different from one another will throw off the entire vibe of your site:
And I’m not just saying this as an afterthought.
Three different studies have determined that your website has 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression.
The studies have proven it:
If your website doesn’t look well-done, then folks are more likely to leave. And that’ll hurt your SEO (and your wallet)
So, remember these things:
If you’re taking pictures of your products, make sure to do them all in the same place, with the same backdrop, and with the same resolution.
If your brand is a luxury brand, you better have incredibly beautiful images.
If your brand is focused on the outdoors, your website should have an “outdoorsy” feel.
Use common sense here.
27. Get rid of distracting ads and popups (if they’re unprofessional)
I won’t get into too much detail here:
If your Shopify site constantly has distracting ads and popups, then it could really annoy the visitor.
At some point they’ll get fed up enough to leave (probably without buying anything…)
So if you have advertisements and popups, then don’t have too many of them and make sure they’re relevant.