A Shopify SEO Guide: How to Optimize Your Shopify Store for Search Engines

Over one million businesses in 175 countries utilize the Shopify platform to run their eCommerce websites. In the past year, the global number of merchants employing Shopify’s point of sale (POS) app has increased by 22%. As one of the best eCommerce platforms, Shopify is designed to accommodate scalable online stores, offering hundreds of customizable and SEO-friendly features and apps.

Global brands, with excellent SEO, like Gymshark, Unilever, Red Bull, Pepsi, and Tesla Motors, have built their digital presence with this powerful eCommerce platform. Surveying Shopify Plus customers by industry, we can see that retail (20%), fashion (13%), wholesale (6%), and computer software (5%) are the largest segments.

Clearly, Shopify is one of the most versatile, full-featured, and constantly evolving eCommerce platforms available, and should be a top choice for any eCommerce business. Its integrated SEO features provide a robust starting point; however, you need to know how to leverage these SEO elements to increase the chance of making sales from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Let’s get started!

How Shopify SEO Works

Sellers seeking to improve their online presence look for the ability to connect directly with buyers and encourage them to spread the word, thus growing their customer base and market footprint. Just like any other website, Shopify SEO success is dependent on a variety of factors:

  • The number of backlinks pointing to your Shopify store from other websites
  • The authority of your website, based on engagement and 200 other ranking factors
  • The age of your domain name
  • Your website’s structure and content optimized for search engines

Developing a reputation online and ranking at the top of Google search engine results (SERPs) takes time and forms part of a long-term SEO strategy. In the short term, an effective way to increase organic traffic is to optimize your content so search engines recognize it as relevant to queries related to your products. This is Shopify SEO in a nutshell.

Shopify and Search Engine Optimization: Why Do We Care?

Shopify and SEO

Ecommerce SEO services guarantee high ROI that improves with time. However, it’s important to note that the top 10 ranking pages on search engine results pages are 2+ years old, and 95% of newly published pages don’t reach a top 10 ranking within a year. SEO is a long-term investment- with time it does pay off.

Half of shoppers use Google to find products, and online stores without an SEO strategy miss out on potential clients. While businesses unfamiliar with Shopify SEO may rely on social media or paid ads, effective SEO combined with technical, on-page, and off-page SEO can increase visibility and lead generation.

To achieve success in the competitive world of e-commerce, it’s crucial to optimize your Shopify online store for search engine results. Although Shopify has SEO features integrated into the platform to help you optimize content, there could be underlying issues to take note of, such as duplicate content. Shopify provides automated canonical tags and sitemap.xml features to mitigate this issue. In our article on Shopify SEO, we’ll delve deeper into these issues and provide expert insights to help businesses achieve maximum search rankings and ROI.

How to Optimize Your Shopify Store for Search Engines

Optimizing your Shopify site for users, creating pages that address specific keywords and user intent, and getting backlinks from other websites all form part of a strong Shopify SEO strategy.

Remove Duplicate Content

Google does not officially impose a penalty for duplicate content. However, it can impact rankings because they struggle to determine which version is most relevant to a given search query. When there are several versions of the same content available online, Google inadvertently lowers the performance of all of them, since they’re competing against each other.

Duplicate content can occur onsite and offsite. Onsite duplication is when content appears twice or more on multiple URLs. Offsite duplication is when two or more different websites publish the same content.

There is a caveat, though; It is impossible to create 100% original content. Think about it, with the sheer volume of eCommerce descriptions on Shopify sites, unintentional duplication is bound to occur. Even a quote in a blog post is considered duplicate content. So, as a rule of thumb, while it’s impossible to remove all duplicate content, you should always eliminate it when and where you can.

An example of dublicate content

Duplicate content isn’t merely limited to the copy and multimedia on a webpage. It also appears in search snippets via meta titles and meta tags. The free website health monitoring program Google Search Console is helpful to detect such content.

Onsite Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can be eliminated by doing the following:

  • Meta tags: Use canonical meta tags to tell search engines which pages not to index.
  • Heading tags: Ensure heading tags (labeled H#) within a web page’s body copy differ from other pages’ headings. Using non-generic, meaningful words and keywords will make this easier.
  • Unique product descriptions: Put in extra effort to write unique product descriptions. This may be challenging, but it will help differentiate your product pages from thousands of other product pages online.
  • 301 redirects: Applying a 301 redirect URL steers Google toward the page you deem most important for ranking. This resolves the issue of overlapping product category pages.

Offsite Duplicate Content

Even though you aren’t responsible for duplicate content on other online store websites, the onus is still on you to ensure your Shopify store rank remains unaffected. Manually finding duplicate web copy is possible but tedious, hence why most organizations use tools like Copyscape that are designed to detect plagiarism and similar content on the web.

Once you’ve identified duplicate off-site copy, you should first ask the duplicating website to remove it. If they don’t, you can request Google remove the pages by filing a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, whereby the search engine withdraws the content from the Google Index.

And remember, about 25%-30% of content online is duplicate, so don’t be disheartened by it. Just keep careful tabs on it and do away with it when and where possible.

The Complete Shopify SEO Checklist: 12 Steps to Dominate Search Engine Rankings

Main types of website structures for Shopify stores

There are many Shopify sites, and competition is fierce. Therefore, it’s essential to optimize Shopify store elements like UI, product pages, load times, and site structure. A typical website structure with eCommerce functionality includes pages like categories and products.

A smart SEO structure should look something like this: Homepage > Category Page > Sub-Category Page > Product page.

This Shopify site structure is intuitive and can be easily navigated by users and search engines. When adding new pages to your store, you should ensure each has a link in your store’s main navigation, and it’s no more than three clicks away from the homepage.

Website structuring aims to group content topically, so it’s simple for a search engine to find and determine the importance of pages and ultimately achieve a high search engine ranking.

There are four main types of website structures for Shopify stores:

  • Hierarchical: This is the most common site architecture. Its layout is like a tree trunk. The homepage is the trunk, and the pages are the branches. For example, CNN.
  • Sequential: Whereas hierarchical structure leads visitors down or across to another page, sequential structures guide visitors through a step-by-step process. wikiHow’s individual pages are a good example of this.
  • Matrix: This structure is one of the oldest and lets visitors choose where they want to go next. Usually, these sites are navigated via search or internal links—for example, Wikipedia.
  • Database: Building a website with this structure requires careful planning because it integrates a database using searches. Medium’s posts and pages are excellent examples.
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1. Create Clean URLs

Clean URLs (webpage addresses) are shareable and immediately give users and search engines a clear idea of what a page is about. The words used after .com are called a “slug”, and it’s here that your website page should be defined in the same way as a page title tag, meaning it must include keywords where possible and be concise.

For example, if your URL is:

  • www.prettycakes.com/uehisf&*&$0?php, it means absolutely nothing to a user and makes no sense to search engines. While it works as a Shopify store link, it looks like random code.

However, if your URL is:

  • www.prettycake.com/chocolate-cakes, then it immediately makes sense to visitors and search engines.

Using clean URLs is a prerequisite to meeting the high standards of search engines and users.

2. Use Product Tags

Shopify store tags are customized descriptors used to categorize products, customer data, orders, blog posts, transfers, etc. As many as 250 tags can be added to a single product, which helps to improve business organization, communication, and marketing tactics. While they don’t rank in search engine result pages, they can be used as keywords on a page’s content, title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs.

Enhance Shopify SEO with Product Tags

An example of product tags

Essentially, product tags offer optimized product taxonomy to your product page links, which improves Shopify SEO. For example, tags listed on the main product area, count towards page content, impacting search engine results page ranking. Similarly, using product tags as relevant keywords in a page title will enhance SEO.

Before attempting this, it’s important to conduct keyword research to know what terms users are typing into Google and other search engines. This allows you to strategically include them in your content. An SEO tip: You should always tag products according to function and physical attributes. For example, “wooden, serving utensils.”

Learn more about SEO copywriting.

Shopify Product Tags in Page Content

So long as product tags align with users’ queries and don’t appear more than 20 times, it’s perfectly acceptable to use them in page content to help boost SEO success. You can also optimize Shopify meta descriptions with product tags.

A meta description is a small blurb that appears under your website on SERPs, providing a brief summary of what a page is about. It’s advisable to keep characters below 60 characters, as Google won’t display more.

Shopify Product Title Tags in URLs

Shopify product selections can be browsed by tag, and each tag receives a URL. For instance, https://www.example.com/collection/[collection]/[tag]. It’s vital the keywords in a URL are unique; otherwise, you may have duplicate content. As we mentioned earlier, technically, it’s not a penalty; Google just ignores the URLs and doesn’t rank them at all.

Using clean SEO-friendly URLs is also encouraged by Google. If you can read and understand a URL, then it is clean. If you have URLs that are ranking but not clean, it’s best to keep them to avoid losing a page’s social proof. Ideally, you want to get the URL structure correct when creating pages and uploading products.

For example:

  • A bad URL: https://happyshoes.com/about.html
  • A good, clean URL: https://www.happyshoes.com/about

3. Write Catchy Page Title Tags

Page titles are meta tags (not to be confused with web page content headlines). These tags appear in browser windows, in search results, and on social media. Importantly, search engines use them to define what entire pages are about and where they should rank in SERP.

Writing optimized page title tags is an essential skill for Shopify SEO. Some general pointers to make sure your page title tags are an SEO success include:

  • Keep the length to 70 characters, so titles aren’t cut off by search engines.
  • Include primary and related keywords where possible to help a search engine determine the topic of your pages.
  • Make sure every page has a unique title. Search engines find it challenging to distinguish pages from one other if they have the same titles.
  • Accurately describe what the page is about and write for readers—they pay attention to titles to determine whether a webpage has the information they need!

You can change Shopify page titles via the search engine listing preview section. Click the “Edit website SEO” button and then enter an accurate and descriptive page title.

4. Use Meta Descriptions to Improve Click-through Rates

Optimized meta title and description

A meta description is a brief description of a website, business, or web page. It’s utilized by search engines to describe a page link and is featured underneath the title tag. If your page title hasn’t convinced someone to click on it, then your meta description certainly should!

The basic rule: Keep your description succinct and give people a reason to click through to your Shopify website. Ideally, meta descriptions should be less than 160 characters, contain strong calls to action and target keywords where possible.

5. Implement Structured Data

Structured data provides information to a search engine about the content on your Shopify store by using a standardized format to organize and label your data. This helps Google understand your content better and can improve your search engine rankings.

One area where structured data can be implemented is in breadcrumbs. By adding structured data to your breadcrumbs, you’re telling search engines how different pages on your site are related to each other, which can give them a better understanding of your site structure.

An ecommerce shop's breadcrumbs

Another area to implement data is in articles. By using structured data to mark up your articles, you’re telling Google that the content is an article and providing additional information about the article such as the author, published date, and headline. This can help to display your article in richer search results.

Structured data

Structured data can also be added to collection pages. By marking them up, you can provide more information such as the number of products in the category and their individual names, URLs, and prices. This way, you are telling search engines that your category page contains multiple products, which can help them display your collection pages in richer search results.

To enhance your Shopify store’s SEO, consider implementing structured data on your product pages. Through data markup, you can inform search engines of valuable information like the product’s name, description, image, and price.

Reviews

Overall, implementing structured data on your Shopify store can provide a range of benefits for your SEO efforts, including improved search engine rankings, higher click-through rates, and more targeted traffic.

6. Improve User Experience

User experience has to do with how an individual interacts with an eCommerce site. Websites are lead-generating tools. They must lead users through the process of understanding what your Shopify site is about, why your product or service is valuable, and what they need to do when they’re ready to purchase. A website is useless without consideration of user experience; 88% of online shoppers say they won’t return to a site after having a bad experience.

Improve Your UI

UI or user interface design focuses on a website’s look or style. Obviously, an eCommerce site should be easy to navigate with clear and simple menus. Implementing the following also helps:

Use White Space

White space on two sides

Of all the ways to improve website design, using “white” or negative space is the easiest because it makes content legible, and helps users focus on specific elements. For example, research indicates negative space between paragraphs and in the margin increases comprehension by 20%.

A website design should breathe, and you won’t know how yours reads until you test it. However, as a rule of thumb, try not to cram information into pages. A clean and spacious UI automatically calms a viewer’s mind and leaves a stronger visual impression.

Consider Page Intention

Every website page should have one intention. While an internal linking structure can connect all pages, each should be devoted to a particular subject or goal. Navigational elements, blocks, and page titles should immediately inform visitors of the page’s goal. Additionally, having clear calls to action makes it easy for them to know what to do next, too.

Focusing on the most relevant page is also important. For instance, if you open a blog post, it’s possible to view other articles below, but their headlines or icons don’t detract from the page you’re reading. The same goes for product pages. To keep users interested, eCommerce stores often have “you may also like” sections at the bottom of the main product listings.

Choose Color Carefully

Choose colors carefully

Color is the first thing visitors notice when they visit a site. If you think about brands like Nike, McDonald’s, and Burger King, they all have specific color schemes, making them immediately identifiable online and offline. Every website requires a color scheme to attain brand consistency.

Colors convey mood and define emotional states. To quote a branding strategy insider: “Having [online shoppers] be in the most receptive mood is essential for their engagement with your brand. Color sets the mood of brand expression, and more importantly, creates mental associations to the meaning of your brand within the context of the world it lives in.”

Work on Responsive Design

Work on responsive design

Responsive design aims to build web pages with layouts that change according to screen size and orientation. This helps optimize web pages for mobile search, providing a consistent user experience across all devices. Considering 80% of website visitors use their smartphone when searching online, being mobile-friendly is a must to remain competitive.

Thankfully, there are several great Shopify themes already optimized for mobile. Choosing one of them alleviates a fair amount of UX work and ensures your website displays perfectly from a tablet, smartphone, desktop, or laptop. Fair enough, but why does this matter?

On a rudimentary level, happy customers spend more money. And a great site = happy customers. But, there’s more to it than that; mobile-friendly sites experience a higher search ranking due to Google’s mobile-first indexing, which was introduced in 2020.

It means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your Shopify site to index and rank pages. Historically, it used the desktop version, but since most website visitors come from smartphones, it makes more sense to evaluate relevant mobile pages relating to a user’s query.

A quick SEO tip: Related to responsive web design is Shopify site load time. Google’s acceptable loading time for an eCommerce store web page is under two seconds. This matters because Google will push slower loading sites below relevant ones that load faster. Therefore, you must ensure load speed is optimal.

7. Leverage Blogging to Attract Traffic to Your Online Store

Blogging for ecommerce shops

Blogging can significantly enhance your Shopify store’s SEO efforts by providing fresh, relevant, quality, and engaging content that can attract more organic traffic to your site. Not only does it help you target long-tail keywords related to your products, but it also allows you to showcase your expertise and build trust with your audience.

With blog posts, you have an opportunity to include internal links to your product pages and create a strong internal linking structure that can help Google discover your content and understand the context of your site.

When it comes to selecting keywords for your Shopify SEO blog posts, it’s important to think about the words and phrases that your target audience uses when they’re searching for products or information related to your brand. For example, instead of targeting a generic keyword like “guitars,” you might target a long-tail keyword like “acoustic guitars for beginners” or “best jazz guitars under $1000”. These long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive, making it easier for your blog to rank high in search engine results pages.

To choose the right keywords for your blog posts, do some research using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or Ahrefs to find the keywords that have decent search volume, low competition, and are relevant to your audience. You can also look for related search terms and questions that your target audience might use when searching for your products or services.

Utilize ahrefs to find relevant keywords

Once you’ve identified your target keywords, you’ll want to include them strategically in your blog content.

8. Optimize Your Pages for the Right Keywords

Keywords determine where Shopify stores appear in search results. If you want to rank higher, you have to optimize your site for relevant keywords that users are searching for. The way to do this is through keyword research. Useful keyword research tools like Google Search Console and Google Keyword Planner will help you find and target related keywords for your site.

When it comes to eCommerce stores, it’s a good idea to focus on long-tail keywords. These contain three or more words, like “buy iPhone 12”. These work better for eCommerce because they provide specific details that help improve visibility in a niche, rather than just writing “buy smartphone” or “buy iPhone.”

Once you’ve identified relevant keywords, you’ll want to include them in the meta description of pages, headings, and title tags. Positioning keywords in these high-value spots ensure you rank better for them because Google can quickly determine what each page is about and its relevance to users.

A sentiment that Shopify holds, and something worthwhile reiterating, is the usage of keywords in a natural and readable way. It doesn’t matter how high a keyword ranks; if it doesn’t make sense or is randomly used, search engines and users might ignore it.

Finding the appropriate keywords to match search queries depends on search intent. There are four types of keywords:

  1. Informational: Answer a specific question.
  2. Navigational: Intend to find a specific page or site.
  3. Commercial: Suggest an intention to buy something
  4. Transactional: Answer how to complete an action or purchase

The intent assigned to different keywords reveals if a searcher is looking to buy something immediately, shop around, or gather information. For eCommerce, the majority of keywords will be commercial or product-based. In most cases, you’ll want to rank for commercial keywords.

So, here is the list of actions we recommend to optimize your Shopify Store:

9. Only Publish SEO-Friendly Content

Besides videos and images, web copy is what customers engage with the most to understand more about your company’s services and products. No matter how technical your product or profession is, always ensure your content is easy to read, correctly formatted and projects an air of professionalism.

Your web copy should sell your brand, your vision, and your product and be SEO-friendly. On-page SEO entails keyword research to find out which queries your target audience is searching for on Google and then creating content with keywords that answer those queries.

Target keyword research and content is a lengthy process as marketing material has to be specifically developed to match user queries at different stages of the buyer’s journey:

  1. The awareness stage—The buyer becomes aware they have a problem.
  2. The consideration stage—The buyer defines their problem.
  3. The decision stage—The buyer evaluates and decides on the right provider (online store) to resolve their issue.

Top-of-the-funnel keywords and page titles often have question phrases such as “why,” “what,” “how,” and “when.” Bottom of the funnel content tends to use modifiers like “buy,” “offer” and “nearest,” because prospects are closer to making a purchase. This is where SEO specialists are helpful because they have intimate knowledge of how Shopify SEO correlates to both the sales funnel and buyer’s journey.

10. Craft Product Descriptions That Convert

An example of an appealing description

Shopify store owners often don’t pay much attention to product descriptions, especially since high-quality photos suffice in depicting products exactly as they are. Of course, its true strong visuals are more compelling than text; however, product descriptions provide a great opportunity to use target keywords and improve search engine rankings.

Shopify aptly suggests asking yourself the following questions when crafting copy for your product pages:

“Does this help the online buyer? Does it inform them, enlighten them, and ultimately, help them make a purchase decision?”

Instead of simply listing features, paint a vivid picture that helps potential customers envision how they’ll benefit and enjoy using your products. On that note, avoid using manufacturer descriptions—if other online stores do the same thing, Google may assume this is duplicate content and not rank your page at all.

11. Technical Optimization to Improve Your Shopify SEO

Disclaimer: There are many Shopify apps available to supercharge SEO. However, when it comes to technical SEO, Shopify is developed in Liquid, an open-source template language written in Ruby. If you aren’t an expert web developer, it may not be possible to solve all technical SEO issues by yourself.

Enable Fast Page Speed

Are you aware that a slow-loading Shopify website ranks lower in Google search results? Page speed is a Google ranking factor and any page that takes longer than two seconds to load compromises SEO success. You can assess your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Using a content delivery network (CDN), optimizing images, minifying JavaScript and implementing browser caching can rectify even the smallest delays to improve page speed. Hiring a technical Shopify SEO specialist is highly recommended as this process may involve coding.

A quick note on content delivery networks: Shopify stores with large inventories use CDNs to improve user experience and SEO. If your Shopify store is hosted on a single server, all users requests are sent to the same hardware, increasing the time needed to process each request.

Moreover, load time increases when shoppers are further away from the server. With a CDN, users’ requests are redirected to the nearest server. Consequently, the content is delivered to users quicker and your Shopify store works faster. Granted, it’s expensive, but it’s well worth it for an online store with thousands of products.

Make Your Shopify Store Mobile Responsive

Responsive Shopify ecommerce store website

Mobile-responsiveness and mobile-friendliness are used interchangeably, yet they’re not the same thing. Mobile-friendly is being able to “see” the same information on different screens (whether it’s a desktop or smartphone) whereas mobile-responsive is being able to “experience” the same information on different screens.

A responsive Shopify store design varies according to the size of the screen it’s viewed on, meaning navigation menus and layouts change depending on the device. Given that 60% of the US population are mobile shoppers, it’s no longer an option, but rather a basic requirement for all Shopify stores to be responsive.

Ultimately, this ensures your target audience can easily and intuitively navigate your website, regardless of the device they choose. Guaranteeing a positive user experience naturally bodes well for Shopify SEO.

Mobile-responsiveness and mobile-friendliness are used interchangeably, yet they’re not the same thing. Mobile-friendly is being able to “see” the same information on different screens (whether it’s a desktop or smartphone) whereas mobile-responsive is being able to “experience” the same information on different screens.

A responsive Shopify store design varies according to the size of the screen it’s viewed on, meaning navigation menus and layouts change depending on the device. Given that 60% of the US population are mobile shoppers, it’s no longer an option, but rather a basic requirement for all Shopify stores to be responsive.

Ultimately, this ensures your target audience can easily and intuitively navigate your website, regardless of the device they choose. Guaranteeing a positive user experience naturally bodes well for Shopify SEO.

Robots.txt File Access

Robots.txt file

A robot.txt is a text file that informs web robots about which areas of the website should not be scanned or crawled. Getting “crawled” is essential to rank on search engines, and preventing them from accessing certain pages is vital for site privacy and SEO.

Unfortunately, regardless of the Shopify subscription you have, Shopify creates default robots.txt files that are optimal for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but they can’t be edited. Incorrect use of a robot.txt can result in the loss of traffic, so if you’re having Shopify SEO issues, related to robot.txt files, it’s most important you hire a Shopify expert to edit the code for you.

Tag Pages and Category Pages

Another technical SEO issue that arises with Shopify is the inability to optimize pages easily. For example, if you were a fashion eCommerce store, you might want to set up tags on a dress collection as follows:

  • /collections/women-dresses
  • /collections/women-dresses/short-sleeve
  • /collections/women-dresses/long-sleeve

While the main collection page is one you’d optimize for general women’s dresses target keywords, you’d also want to optimize for each category. However, there is no easy way in Shopify admin to add content to these pages. You either have to edit your Shopify theme (time-consuming!) or use Shopify apps, which are still limited. Again, the best solution is to get expert help.

12. Don’t Neglect Image Optimization

Alt tags are metadata that offer text descriptions of web images for search engines and screen readers for the visually impaired. They’re an important part of Shopify SEO because they allow to better crawl and rank your eCommerce store’s product images.

So, if you’re posting a product picture of a brown sweater you sell online, then label it as a brown sweater. Better yet, use the brand name, size, material, so your alt tag will read something like, “burberry-chocolate-brown-cashemere-sweater.” You don’t need to write a full sentence. Rather keep it short, descriptive and specific.

Increase eCommerce revenue
Increase eCommerce revenue

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Increase eCommerce revenue

Supercharge Your Online Store’s Traffic with These Shopify SEO Optimization Tips

By implementing these SEO techniques, you’ll convert prospects into customers and improve overall sales for eCommerce success. As you can tell from our Shopify SEO guide, SEO is a complex undertaking with many moving parts. From doing keyword research to developing structured data, there’s a lot that store owners need to implement to ensure the best SEO practices.

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone! Comrade Digital Marketing Agency specializes in helping Shopify businesses with ecommerce SEO services. We’ll do everything to make your website run fast and receive organic traffic to boost sales. With our team of experts, you’ll increase search engine traffic by 175%. To start, try our complimentary SEO audit.

Learn more about choosing the right SEO company.

About the Author
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
More Stan's articles
Stan Bogdashin

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