Ecommerce is growing faster than we’ve ever seen before! Shopify provides an easy way for small businesses to start a store so they can ride the eCommerce wave.
Of course, getting sales online isn’t easy. You need to drive traffic to your store. One of the best ways to do that is to optimize your Shopify store for Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective, scrappy, low-cost, high-ROI way to increase sales.
Basic Rules of Search Engine Optimization for Your Shopify Store
First, before you can focus on the nitty-gritty details of search engine optimization, you might want to review some of our other guides first:
- How to Set Up Your Shopify Store for the First Time
- How to Market Your Shopify Store for the First Time
- How do you write good product descriptions?
Once you have foundational knowledge on how Shopify works, we can talk about how to optimize your store for Google. As we see it, there are three basics ways to improve your Google rank.
Improve the quality of your content. Google has gotten very smart over the last two decades. You can’t game the keyword system to rank well. You need to write pages that are genuinely important to your customers.
In practice, that means your pages need to have meaningful, long product descriptions, quality images, and – ideally – product reviews. All of these and more help swing the Google algorithm in your favor.
Follow technical SEO best practices. Though a good system overall, Shopify has a few quirks that can harm its Google ranking. These are small annoyances that can make it harder for Google’s bots to crawl your websites and index your pages. We’ll talk about a few practical ways you can avoid technical hiccups.
Improve user experience. Starting in 2021, Google will be considering user experience when ranking your website. Put simply, user experience is essentially “an emotional version of ergonomics.” Translation: you don’t want your website to annoy your customers.
How to Improve the Quality Your Shopify Store’s Content
If you want to improve the overall quality of the content on your Shopify store, there is one thing you need to get absolutely right. That is keyword research. Good keyword research will help you first find out what people are genuinely interested in and will also help you to make pages that rank well in Google.
Good keyword research involves first finding keywords that you have a realistic chance of ranking for (that is, specific but not obscure). Next, you need to make sure that those keywords indicate an actual intent to purchase something.
According to BigCommerce, keyword searches with serious buyer intent include something like “Asus VivoBook E200HA.” That search is so specific that it indicates someone has made a decision and is ready to buy. Similarly, they recommend ranking well for searches like “best X product” too.
So how do you identify these keywords? The easiest way is to go to Google and see what your competitors are using. Then slightly vary your searches from there. Amazon is also another good tool to use.
Other Ways to Improve Shopify Store Quality
Once you figure out which keywords you want to rank for, improving the overall quality of your Shopify store is relatively easy. You want to mention those keywords as often as you can in the titles, meta descriptions, and text of your page. Do so by using the keywords naturally in speech, and not by awkward packing them in.
Next, you’ll want to focus on writing long, detailed product descriptions. Long descriptions help people know what they’re buying and reduce return rates, so it’s a good idea to write them anyway. Descriptions around 1,000 words in length tend to rank particularly well.
On all of your product pages, focus on adding as many high-quality images as possible. High-quality images may help you to rank higher in the Google Image searches, and possibly even the main Google search as well. Plus, quality images increase the odds that your shopper makes a purchase anyway.
Lastly, solicit as many product reviews as possible. Product reviews help add fresh content to your pages, which helps your rank in Google. They also add to the overall word count of each of your pages, which further improves your rank.
How to Improve Your Shopify Store’s Technical SEO
As elegant as search engine crawlers may be now, they still run into technical issues. Thankfully, you are able to take specific actions on your Shopify store that will help Google bots and the like to index your pages.
Here is more a in-depth guide on technical SEO for Shopify. That’s a pretty complex guide, though, so we’re going to go with some simpler fixes recommended by Search Engine Journal which most people savvy enough to set up Shopify should be able to implement.
Title tags and meta descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are used by Google to style the search results.
In the example above “Start a Business, Grow Your Business – Shopify 14-Day Free …” is the title tag. You can set this for each page in your Shopify store. Ideally, you want it to be short enough to where it doesn’t add the “…” to the end of your title in the search results.
Shopify has a character counter that suggests you keep your search result to 70 characters max. In reality, you will see the “…” somewhere around 60 characters. There isn’t a precise limit. So you’ll want to check each of your important pages manually by typing in “[name of page] site:mysite.com” into Google. If the title has a “…” at the end, you need to make the title tag shorter.
The meta tag in the above example is: “Try Shopify free and start a business or grow an existing one. Get more than ecommerce software with tools to manage every part of your business.” If this is long enough, you will also get the “…” at the end, and you want to avoid that if you can.
Other Technical SEO Concerns
Image alt tags. When images don’t load, the alt text is displayed instead. Search engines like Google consider alt tags when deciding how to rank your page, so make sure every image on your site has a descriptive, but not keyword-packed alt tag.
Handling redirects. Whenever you take a page down or move a page, you need to set up a redirect. That way, whenever people try to access the old page, they do not receive an error. Shopify has a lot of apps in its store that can help you do this. Download one of those apps and commit to setting up redirects whenever you move pages around on your store.
How to Improve Your Shopify Store’s User Experience
We know that starting in 2021, Google will be factoring user experience into SEO. We don’t know everything that’s going to involve yet, but here are a few things that we know are going to be a factor in the search engine rankings going forward.
First, your store needs to be mobile-friendly. Most Shopify themes should be by default, but it’s up to you to test and make sure this is the case!
Loading time needs to be quick, too. According to the Inc. article we linked above, the “largest contentful paint” needs to happen within the first 2.5 seconds of loading the page. That means your web page needs to load quickly or else you will be dinged in the search results.
If you haven’t done it already, you need to make sure your website operates on HTTPS. Shopify does this by default, but you should still test it!
Another thing to minimize is “cumulative layout shift.” You know how sometimes when you load a page, that different elements jump around as they load? You want to minimize that as much as possible to promote visual stability. That means if you need to switch Shopify themes to make this happen, do so.
Finally, stay away from intrusive ads and lightboxes. Google will finally start penalizing websites that use annoying techniques like this to keep users’ attention!
While there are a lot of factors to consider, optimizing your Shopify store to rank well in Google is one of the easiest ways to increase sales. Focus on creating high-quality, relevant web pages first, and then make sure you’re providing a good user experience. Finally, make sure there aren’t any technical hangups too.
If you follow all these steps, you’ll very likely see an increase in your Google ranking over time.
But why stop there? If you want to learn more about marketing your Shopify store, check out this post for more practical tips.