Setting up your first Shopify page is similar to opening your first brick-and-mortar retail store in many ways. You spend many hours carefully deciding where and how to feature each product. And the layout of your e-commerce webpage is just as meticulously planned as the layout of a physical store.
However, as with brick-and-mortar retail, setting up your Shopify page is only the beginning of your e-commerce journey. To get your online store off the ground, you’ll need to optimize the content on your webpage so that your store will rank higher in search engine results and generate more traffic. That means getting a firm handle on the ins and outs of e-commerce SEO.
If hearing the phrase “e-commerce SEO” is enough to make your head spin, don’t panic! Keep reading for an in-depth guide to optimizing your Shopify page. We’ll tackle topics such as how to research and select important keywords, how to organize and structure your webpage, and how to generate search engine optimized content for your Shopify page.
What is E-Commerce SEO?
Before getting into the details, let’s cover the basics: what does e-commerce SEO entail?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a series of strategies designed to help web pages rank higher in search results. In the world of e-commerce, that means optimizing your online store’s content, backlinks, and page structure so that your product pages will show up among the top ten organic results when someone makes a relevant search. Basically, e-commerce SEO is utilized to help search engines recognize your page as being relevant to queries from potential customers.
Implementing strategies for Shopify SEO involves three major steps:
- You’ll need to conduct thorough research into the types of searches customers are conducting that may include your products.
- You’ll want to examine and optimize every aspect of your Shopify page, including images, product descriptions, URLs, and blogs.
- You’ll spread your page’s reach and authority by establishing a network of links on other credible websites.
Why is Shopify SEO Important?
Getting your e-store to show up on the first page of search engine results is the best way to guarantee steady traffic to your webpage. Studies have shown that people are more likely to use online search engines to find information than any other method, thanks to the speed, convenience, and ease of access afforded by search engines. It’s likely that search engine results will be the number one way that people outside your immediate social circle find their way to your Shopify store.
You could almost say that search engines are like the yellow pages of the internet age, except that most people never bother to travel past the first page of results after beginning a search.
The true importance of utilizing Shopify SEO is to get your store to feature among the top ten results when relevant terms are searched. Generally, only the top ten possible hits end up being featured on the first page of a search result.
The fine points of Shopify SEO go even further, however. Not only do you want to rank among the top ten results for relevant search terms, but you also want to rank as high as possible within those top ten hits. About 75% of people who click on results after completing an online search pick one of the first three links they see; the chances of someone selecting a result farther down the list drop off sharply.
As you can see, increasing traffic to your Shopify page involves a lot more than signing up friends to your email list and asking customers to follow you on social media. Getting the ins and outs of e-commerce SEO down pat can go a long way toward generating a steady stream of new customers to your webpage.
The best part is that once your webpage is optimized, you’ll only need minor tweaks to stay on top of shifts in the algorithm and keep your online store ranked high. New customers will continue to discover your webpage automatically, giving you consistent, real traffic without paying out the nose for ads or conducting innumerable email blasts and social media promotions.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive into the good stuff: how to set up an e-commerce SEO strategy that will catapult your page to the top of relevant search results.
Developing a Shopify SEO Strategy Step by Step
Even if you’re already familiar with SEO best practices, there’s always something to learn about applying those strategies to a specific type of content or webpage. For instance, Shopify SEO strategies might follow a similar rubric to other types of SEO. Still, the individual keywords and links to incorporate into your Shopify page are unique to e-commerce and the types of products you want to sell.
We’ll break down the process of developing a strong e-commerce SEO strategy for your Shopify page into six distinct steps.
1. Determine Your Strongest Keywords
SEO revolves around keywords. Keyword research involves figuring out the search terms customers are most frequently using to look for products like the ones in your online store.
It’s important to note that with e-commerce SEO, you’ll want to rank for commercial, product-focused keywords rather than just information. This is something that distinguishes e-commerce SEO from basic search engine optimization for blogs and informational web pages. The goal of honing your Shopify SEO is to bring customers to your Shopify store who are intent on making a purchase.
Therefore, while conducting your keyword research, it’s a good idea to prioritize your highest-selling and most popular items.
Say, for instance, that we’re setting up a Shopify page that sells organic cotton underwear for men. To conduct your keyword research, type “organic cotton underwear for men” into Google. Make a note of any autocomplete suggestions Google makes since these often contain frequently searched words that may be useful to you in your research.
Once you’ve hit enter, scroll down to the bottom of the results page, where Google lists “relevant search terms” that show you what other people have searched when looking for something similar. You may see terms such as “100% organic cotton briefs,” “mens hemp underwear,” and “best organic boxers.” These could all be used as keywords to optimize your e-commerce webpage.
While Google is by far the most frequently used search engine overall, your keyword research for Shopify SEO can also benefit significantly from conducting a few similar searches on Amazon. According to a survey in 2020, nearly 47% of online shoppers begin their search for a particular product by checking out Amazon. Check out the relevant search terms that show up when you enter one of your top products into the Amazon search bar.
While we’re on the subject of keywords, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a keyword can’t be more than one word. On the contrary, long-tail keywords that are three or four words in length can actually improve your search engine results due to their uniqueness and specificity. The more specific your keywords are, the less competition you’ll have in search results.
If you have the budget for it, there are browser tools that can help you generate top keywords for e-commerce SEO without forcing you to complete hundreds of searches yourself. Once you’ve cobbled together a long list of possible keywords, the next step is determining which ones are the strongest. The two factors you want to prioritize here are volume and competition.
- Volume has to do with the number of times that particular keyword is used. Higher-volume keywords are more likely to drive traffic to your webpage.
- Competition involves the number of similar e-commerce pages using that same keyword. Lower competition means you’ll rank higher for that specific keyword.
Finally, don’t forget that you want your keywords to have a commercial bend to them. You want to prioritize high-volume, low-competition words and phrases that are relevant to your store and that indicates an intention to buy a product you sell.
2. Organize and Structure Your Shopify Page
Once you have your finalized list of high-volume, low-competition, and ultra-relevant keywords, you’re ready to start structuring your e-tail page.
The basic note here is that the better your page runs, the higher it will end up ranking in search engine results. User-friendliness is crucial to SEO because webpages that are easy to use are more likely to lead to satisfied customers who can readily find what they’re looking for when they visit your website.
You also want your website to be easy to navigate without forcing customers to click the “back” button endlessly. Ensure each page on your site is only a few clicks away from your home screen. The primary reason is that other pages that link to your Shopify store will most likely link to your home page; therefore, your store’s home page has the highest domain authority.
The bottom line: Keep your page structure as simple and streamlined as possible so customers and search engines alike will have an easy time finding products in your store.
3. Improve Your Technical SEO
After you’ve set up the bones of your Shopify page, the next stage in your Shopify SEO journey is to get into the nitty-gritty of technical SEO.
Technical SEO is best thought of as the search engine optimization that happens behind the scenes. Customers will never directly see it, but they’ll experience its benefits through your website’s user-friendliness and ease of use.
One of the most critical factors in the user-friendliness of your website is the loading time of your Shopify store. Current research indicates that most potential customers will give up on a page that takes longer than three or four seconds to load. Using the smallest possible sizes for your product images will go a long way toward speeding up the loading time of your online store.
Improving technical Shopify SEO also involves making sure your internal linking is streamlined and easy to navigate. This will improve your customer’s shopping experience and makes it easier for crawlers to find relevant search terms and information on your page. The easier your page is to crawl, the more organic traffic will be generated to your online store through search engine results.
4. Optimize Your High-Value Page SEO
Having structured your website in an e-commerce SEO-friendly way, you’re now ready to optimize your highest-value pages. The two highest-value page categories in a Shopify store are the product category pages and the product pages themselves.
If you’re already familiar with Shopify, you’ll likely have discovered some built-in SEO features the platform offers, such as title tags and social media linking options. However, to really make your Shopify SEO shine, you’ll need to utilize your optimization skills.
This is where your list of top keywords comes into play again. You can edit most of the information on your high-value pages to include your keywords. Some of the places your keywords should end up are:
- Meta titles and meta descriptions
- Alt text for product images
- File names for all uploaded images and files
- URLs for blog posts, webpages, product pages, and collections
For meta titles and meta descriptions, consider including promotional-coded modifiers such as “deals,” “wide selection,” or “free shipping.” These words and phrases are designed to attract interest and encourage potential customers to click on your links.
When coming up with URLs for the various sections of your website, make sure to use your main keywords and keep each URL under 60 characters. Go with a URL that’s easy to remember so customers will have an easier time returning to your Shopify store and recommending your store to others. Finally, don’t overuse keywords because you’ll risk looking like spam.
Product descriptions are another arena where Shopify SEO comes into serious play. The longer and more specific your product descriptions are, the more crawlers for search engines like Google will have to work with. If you have a huge inventory, writing long descriptions for each product can quickly get overwhelming, so focus on your most popular products or the items featured near the top and bottom of your product page.
Finally, creating a thorough network of internal links will catapult your e-commerce SEO into professional levels. Internal links help direct traffic to relevant product pages and category pages, increasing the likelihood that your products will be discovered by people interested in buying them. Don’t overwhelm your readers and customers with an overabundance of links; just one or two internal links for every few hundred words is a good rule of thumb.
5. Incorporate a Blog on Your Shopify Page
Blogging may not seem like an intuitive part of setting up an online shop, but the truth is that having a blog you update regularly is an integral part of an e-commerce SEO strategy. Blogging allows you to produce long-form content to educate your readers and strengthen your image as an expert in your field. The better your reputation as a credible source, the more likely your blog posts (and your Shopify page) will show up higher in search engine results.
Creating a blog to enhance your Shopify SEO is more straightforward than you might think. Start with topics relevant to the types of products you sell in your online store.
For instance, if your primary products are laptops and computer accessories, you could write an article comparing different types of wireless keyboards. Include a link or two to product pages within your Shopify store and a few links to authority websites. The goal is to help potential customers by answering questions they may have about how wireless technology works and which devices are best suited to their particular needs.
One of the great advantages of blogging concerning Shopify SEO is that blogs provide your online store with a steady stream of high-quality, original, keyword-laden content. It can be tricky to get the hang of successful e-tail blogging, but once you get a handle on the ins and outs of writing for e-commerce SEO, the increase of traffic to your store and the improvement of your search engine rankings will be their own reward.
Before you start each blog post, make sure your content incorporates the following three elements:
- Meticulously researched, specifically targeted keywords, with each keyword appearing at a 1.5-3% density.
- A topic that targets at least one of these keywords, with the approach of helping customers answer a question or solve a problem they’re having.
- A section or two that incorporates your products as part of the solution, including links to relevant product pages where appropriate.
Remember, it’s important to keep updating your blog regularly to maintain your domain authority and search engine standings, but you also want those updates to be well-written, genuinely informative, and helpful to your customers. Quality matters just as much as quantity when it comes to blogging for e-commerce SEO.
6. Utilize the Power of Linking
Another powerful strategy for e-commerce SEO is generating high-quality backlinks on other websites. The Google algorithm believes that the most legitimate and authoritative websites are the ones that are cited the most. These citations, called backlinks, must be relevant and high-quality; you can’t expect to show up on the first page of a Google search just by creating multiple Blogspot accounts and linking to your Shopify page on all of them.
New websites often have a hard time getting established sites to notice them, and building credibility in the eyes of search engines takes time. This is often discouraging to online retailers looking to improve their e-commerce SEO. However, knowing how to approach other websites with a mutually beneficial partnership offer will go a long way toward helping you build credibility for your Shopify page and blog through backlinks on reputable sites.
When approaching a website to ask if they’ll give you a backlink, choose credible pages that you want your store to be associated with. While search engines generally consider .gov and .edu sites to have the most authority, you’ll probably have better luck approaching reputable .com sites at first.
To increase the likelihood of another webpage agreeing to give you a backlink, you need to consider what you and your Shopify page can offer them. Remember, they’re giving you a boost to your Shopify SEO; you need to be able to provide them with something in return. Choose websites relevant to the products you sell without being direct competitors.
Let’s return to our computer accessories example. You could approach another tech-related website with an offer to write a guest post that will be relevant and interesting to that website’s followers while also including a backlink to your Shopify page.
Say the website you’re approaching is a video game blog that posts reviews of various gaming products and articles of interest to gamers. The guest post could be something like “Top 5 Ergonomic Gaming Mouses in 2022,” with at least one link to a product you sell on your Shopify page. Make sure your article is well-written, informative, and interesting for the host site’s audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve gotten this far, and you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the world of Shopify SEO, don’t give up! E-commerce SEO is a whole new world to many online retailers, and learning these skills is almost like learning a new language. Alternatively, you may be wondering whether e-commerce SEO will actually make a demonstrable difference in your sales, which is the bottom line for most shop owners.
Here are some questions that e-commerce entrepreneurs frequently ask about the utility and viability of Shopify SEO.
Why Doesn’t My Shopify Store Show Up in Searches?
There are a number of explanations for poor site performance in search engine results. One possible reason is that your Shopify store is too new, and Google’s crawlers haven’t had time to identify your webpage and associate it with relevant search terms yet. You may also be using a trial version of Shopify, in which case search engines won’t index your website.
Of course, the main reason why webpages don’t rank higher in searches is because they haven’t been appropriately optimized using relevant, targeted keywords and high-quality blog content. Incorporating e-commerce SEO best practices into your Shopify page design and content is the best way to help improve your store’s ranking in search engine results.
Will Utilizing E-Commerce SEO Help My Sales?
Overhauling your Shopify store to improve your page’s SEO is a daunting prospect that can take several hours’ worth of research and writing. It’s only natural to want to make sure that all that effort will pay off.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that optimizing your Shopify store for search engines will demonstrably increase your sales. After all, the most important factor in the success of your online store is the quality of your products. There’s also no way to accurately predict how long it will take for your SEO-related labors to bear fruit in terms of higher traffic and conversions.
That said, with online shopping projected to continue its exponential growth into 2022 and beyond, the competition will only increase. E-commerce SEO is one of the most influential and targeted strategies for making your online store stand out. If you can utilize SEO best practices to get your store to rank higher in relevant search results, you’ll be getting more traffic on your website and more eyes on your products, which is likely to increase sales over time.
How Do E-Commerce Sites Do SEO?
Most major e-commerce sites have resources their users can consult for tips on optimizing their pages for search engines. For instance, Shopify has devoted a whole page of their help center to give an overview of how Shopify SEO works.
In fact, Shopify’s online stores actually have SEO built into their design, some of which occurs automatically as you build your website. Some of these automatically occurring SEO practices include title tags that are generated with your store’s name built-in, as well as themes that link to your social media and share buttons that streamline the process of marketing your store.
Of course, you can tweak and customize your Shopify SEO by using other built-in features. For instance, you can edit title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs to include your relevant keywords. You can also include important keywords by editing the alt text for your product photos and other images on your store’s page.
What are the Four Key Types of SEO?
SEO is often broken down into four categories depending on where the optimization is taking place and the specific goal or reach of the optimization. The four types of SEO are:
- On-Page SEO. This includes everything that is on your website or e-commerce store, such as product descriptions, headers, blog content, meta descriptions, title tags, and more. Utilizing on-page SEO strategies helps search engines understand what your page is about, which in turn allows them to provide your website as a possible answer when customers search terms related to your products.
- Off-Page SEO. If on-page SEO involves everything that happens on your store page, then off-page SEO involves everything that happens elsewhere. This may seem like a very broad category; however, the main focus of off-page SEO is link building, which is the process of getting reputable and authoritative websites to host links back to your Shopify page. Some of the most effective link-building strategies for off-page SEO are pitching articles to online publications, extensively researching your competitor’s backlinks, and helping reporters in exchange for a link in their article.
- Technical SEO. Technical SEO serves two important functions: one, to help search engine crawlers find and understand your store page; two, to enhance the experience of visitors using your website. Technical SEO involves making your website load as fast as possible, ensuring your website functions well on mobile devices, and structuring your store page in a way that’s easy to understand and navigate.
- Local SEO. Even if you don’t have a physical store, focusing some of your SEO efforts on your local community can help you expand your customer base close to home. Local SEO often involves utilizing a Google My Business profile, which is free, as well as promoting your store on social media and building links on popular local websites.
The Bottom Line
Managing a retail store online has just as many unique challenges as opening a brick-and-mortar store. It can be frustrating and disheartening to put so much effort into setting up your Shopify page only to find yourself at a loss as to how to promote your products or expand your customer base beyond your immediate social circle. Many e-tailers give up before their stores really get off the ground because they can’t figure out how to get their webpages noticed.
Fortunately, e-commerce SEO provides a straightforward, self-sustaining way to get your page to show up on people’s phones by suggesting your products when customers search for your meticulously researched keywords. The more backlinks you’re able to build on reputable websites and news pages, the more traffic your store will receive and the more likely search engines will recognize you as an authority. After a while, an online store with well-utilized Shopify SEO practices will practically market itself.
Of course, it takes time to learn any new skill, and e-commerce SEO is no different. It takes time, dedication, and management to turn your Shopify page into an SEO success story. You’ll need to do a lot of research to figure out which keywords are the most likely to generate more hits for products on your page. You’ll also need to brush up on your writing skills to produce blogs and guest posts that draw readers in and enhance your credibility and authority online.
Luckily, there are countless SEO experts available to answer your questions, provide guidance, and give you pointers on things like conducting keyword research and optimizing your website structure. Start by following the steps outlined in this guide to Shopify SEO, and soon you’ll be well on your way to getting your store ranked among the first ten results on search engines.