Do you run a Shopify website that isn’t bringing in much organic traffic? Or perhaps you get a decent amount of traffic and want to know how to take it to the next level? Our SEO tips for Shopify will help.
Below we’ve listed 5 highly actionable Shopify SEO tricks that will help you to gain more traction on Google and other search engines. But first – let’s look at a question that crops up a lot when discussing Shopify SEO.
Is Shopify Bad For SEO?
Shopify is an interesting platform. When it comes to creating an online store, there is no doubt Shopify is one of the easiest ways to get your products online. However, it does have some ‘quirks’ that can make effective SEO challenging… but not impossible.
Some of the default settings, such as dynamic URLs (which we will come on to in a second), seem counterintuitive to SEO efforts. But the good news is, most of the bigger issues are easily fixable if you know what to look out for.
Shopify SEO problems – In A Nutshell
There are instances where you simply cannot make some of the technical fixes that you could on an alternative CMS, such as WordPress. It was only a few months ago that Shopify made it possible for users to edit their robots.txt file. Up until this point, you were simply given a template robots.txt file that you had no control over at all.
An example of some of the current limitations you may encounter on Shopify are the fact that you can’t redirect from page A to page B unless page A is removed from the site. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be inconvenient at times. There are also some more technical issues around not being able to set up redirect rules for URLs with/without trailing slashes. Again, not a critical issue, but it would be better if it was possible.
So, is Shopify bad for SEO? In short, no. There are lots of Shopify websites that do very well organically. However, you should be prepared to encounter some slight limitations and make some strategic changes to your template files to get the most out of your site.
With that in mind, here are some Shopify SEO tricks for your Products and Collections pages.
Shopify Product SEO
When it comes to products on Shopify, there are a couple of key areas that need to be looked at from an SEO perspective.
Optimise Your Product Titles and Descriptions
Our first recommendation applies to any online store – regardless of which platform you use: optimise your on-page content effectively. This applies to your product titles as well as your product descriptions. Below, we will outline some best practices for both.
How To Optimise Product Titles
Product titles are hugely important. They not only uniquely identify each product, but they also give users (and search engines) a clear understanding of what the product is.
Your product titles should be descriptive and make use of relevant keywords for maximum impact.
To give an example: on a clothing website, you may have a jacket that’s called “BrandName – Pioneer Jacket – Red / Black”.
What does this product name tell us about the product?
We know it’s a jacket, we know it’s red and black. Aside from that, we know very little else, and neither does Google.
How do we improve this? Be more descriptive in a way that uses relevant keywords. An example of how this could be improved is: “BrandName – Men’s Pioneer Waterproof Jacket – Red / Black”.
In doing this, we have a much better understanding of who the product is for and what it does.
If you work with electricals or any other products that have serial numbers that people may use to search for the product, it’s often a good idea to include those in the product title too.
How To Optimise Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are another key area on any e-commerce website. And, so often, businesses get them wrong.
First and foremost, all of your product descriptions should be unique. Duplicate content can cause issues for your organic performance. Writing unique product descriptions can be quite a long task and can seem especially difficult when you have lots of products that are similar. However, it’s worth it in the long run.
But what should you put in your product descriptions?
Your product descriptions’ primary function is to help customers to understand how buying this product will add value to their lives. A good way to do this effectively is by using a feature/benefit format in your copy.
Instead of telling a customer simply that “this jacket has a fleece lining”, it’s far more effective to tell them that “this jacket has a fleece lining, ideal for brisk walks in winter months”. It connects the dots for them and helps them to visualise how the product will improve their day-to-day life.
In terms of SEO specific recommendations, keyword optimisation is important here too. You should do some keyword research to find terms that are specific to your product, then use them in a natural way throughout your copy. Do not go overboard with keyword optimisation, your content should be written with humans in mind, rather than search engines.
It’s important to try and include keywords in your headings, subheadings, product description, and image alt tags – but only where it feels appropriate.
Disable Dynamic URLs
One of the biggest issues with the default setup for Shopify websites is Dynamic URLs. One of the easiest Shopify SEO tricks is to disable them.
The dynamic URL feature on Shopify means that a single product can have multiple URLs, one for each category it appears in, as well as a central URL that doesn’t sit in any category.
To give an example, let’s say we have a red women’s t-shirt product. The various URLs for this product may look like this:
All the collection variations of the URL will then be canonicalized back to the central URL, which is a step in the right direction. However, this still can be problematic for SEO for a couple of reasons.
Potential Problems with Dynamic URLs
The first is crawl budget. When a search engine robot or crawler comes to your website, it won’t stay and crawl every page, especially if you have a huge website. It will crawl a limited number of pages before it moves on to another website, we refer to the number of pages it crawls as ‘crawl budget’.
The more bloated your website is with duplicate pages, the more chance that search engine bots may move on before crawling all your most important pages. This could lead to content updates being missed and organic performance being limited.
The second issue relates to backlinks. In an ideal world, if an external website links to a product page, we would want them to link to the central product page that we want to rank on Google. However, when we have multiple versions of each product page, the chances are that they will link to one of the duplicates.
If this were to happen, the central product page that we want to rank won’t receive any strength from the backlink.
However, if we were to only have one URL for each product, both issues could be avoided. So how do we do that?
How To Fix This Issue
Although this may seem like quite a big task, it’s straightforward to fix. Dynamic URLs are controlled by a single line of code in the collections-template.liquid file in the backend of your Shopify website.
By default, the line of code looks like this:
And you will need to edit it so that it looks like this:
Doing this will mean that all the links on collection pages to your product pages will automatically update to the new non-dynamic URLs – without the /collections/collection-name subfolders.
Something to be aware of with this, however, is that not all links will update automatically. For example, if you have linked to a product in a blog post using the old URL format, you will need to change them manually.
If somebody clicks on a link to an old URL the page will still be live, so they will still be able to view the product, however, it would be best practice to ensure that all links to dynamic URLs are removed from the site.
Ensure you are making full use of Product structured data
One final thing to keep in mind for Shopify product SEO is Structured Data. You may know this as Schema. Essentially, it’s code that goes on to your product pages that gives Google and other search engines more information about your products.
By including this code on your product pages, Google can pull certain parts of the information through to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Below, we can see that the listing makes use of structured data and, as a result, we are able to see its rating, number of reviews, price, and stock status without having to click through to the product itself.
There are loads of different properties that can be added to your product structured data, but only a handful are recommended by Google these are:
- Review / aggregateRating / Offers
- Gtin / gtin8 / gtin13 / gtin14 / mpn / isbn
How to add Structured Data To Your Shopify Products
There are two main ways that you can add structured data to your product pages on Shopify.
- You can add structured data to your Shopify site through a plugin. There are a number of plugins available that will allow you to do this. This is a good option if you are less technical and don’t know much about how code works.
- Alternatively, you can add structured data manually in the backend of your site. However, this will require knowledge of Shopify Liquid, JSON-LD, HTML and Schema.org. We would always recommend that you only take this approach if you understand what you’re doing – always back up your site before making any significant changes.
Shopify Collections SEO
Your collection pages are a fantastic opportunity to rank for top-level keywords relating to your products, giving your visitors the opportunity to browse your range. Below are three SEO tips for Shopify collection pages.
Avoid creating duplicate category pages by using tags
Using tags on your products in Shopify can be a great way to separate similar products into categories, making your product range easier to understand and navigate. For each tag you create, a separate collection page will be created for it, so that users can view all products with this tag in one place.
While this is a useful feature, for the most part, use it with caution as it can create duplicate pages on your website.
The issue comes when tags are created that are too broad and essentially create a duplicate of one of your core category pages.
To give an example – let’s say you run an online shop that sells boxing equipment. You will likely have a gloves category page that lists all the gloves available on your website. The URL for this may look like: https://www.boxing-equip-shop.com/collections/gloves
If you were to add filters to group products for particular sports, e.g. boxing, kickboxing, you may find that your boxing gloves page (https://www.boxing-equip-shop.com/collections/gloves/boxing), features most, if not all, of the same products on your main gloves page. In doing this, you have inadvertently created a duplicate page.
With this, it’s important to be aware of this potential issue and ensure that duplicate category pages aren’t created where possible.
Add keyword optimised copy to your collection pages
Collection pages are highly important pages in your customer’s journey. They allow customers who have an idea of the type of product they’re looking for, without having a specific product in mind, the opportunity to browse your range.
For this reason, it’s important to optimise collection pages accordingly. In terms of the types of keywords you should be targeting, you should be looking for terms that are too broad for an individual product page, but still specific to the category of products.
Going back to our boxing equipment website, you may have a category page for boxing gum shields. On this page, you will want to optimise for keywords such as “Boxing Gum Shield”, “Gum Shield for Boxing”, “Boxing Gum Shields for Braces”, for example.
Add sections of copy to the top and bottom of the category page which provide more information on the range of products you have available. Within this copy, you should try to use a combination of all these keywords, where possible. However, the main thing to remember is that it needs to read naturally. Your copy is for humans first and foremost. Writing for search engines and over-using keywords, also known as keyword stuffing, will often have a negative impact on your organic performance.
Create Category Pages To Target Specific Keyword Groups
Category pages are the ideal place to optimise for top-level product terms. The types of terms you should be optimising for here are terms that are too broad for any single product page.
For example, if you sell watches, your product pages will likely be optimised for terms relating to the specific model. However, your category pages should be optimised for terms relating to the brand, style or range.
For example, if you sell digital watches for men, you will want to create a category page specifically for this style of watch and optimise it for terms such as:
- ‘digital watches for men’
- ‘mens digital sports watch’
- ‘digital wrist watch for men’
Look at your product range, are there any opportunities to diversify your collection pages, and drill down into more specific categories? It would be worth doing some keyword research as part of this process to find out where the most search volume is.
It’s important to ensure that all the collection pages you create for this purpose have enough products to make it worth separating them off into their own page. If you only have one or two products, and don’t have any plans on expanding the range in the future, it may not be worth creating the category page.
SEO Tips For Shopify – In Short
- Optimise your product titles and descriptions effectively
- Disable dynamic URLs to eliminate duplicate product pages
- Ensure you’re making full use of Product structured data
- Avoid creating duplicate category pages using tags
- Add keyword optimised copy to your collection pages
- Create category pages to target specific keyword groups (providing you have enough products to justify it)
And there we have it, 6 actionable Shopify SEO tips that will help your online store to rank perform better on the SERPs. As well as these, you will also need to follow general best practices for SEO to get the most out of your website.
Want to improve Shopify SEO for your site but aren’t sure how to go about it? We can help. The ClickThrough Marketing team have extensive experience working on the Shopify platform. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you.