Straight out of the box, Shopify is SEO-friendly. But is it enough to get your store higher search engine visibility? And rank in the Google SERP top 5?
Well, it depends. The niche, industry, competitors, SEO strength, and keyword competitiveness matter where your website ranks in search engines.
If you want to give your Shopify store added advantages to outrank competitors in SERP and drive more organic search traffic, here are some of the best Shopify SEO for beginners checklists or tactics you must employ.
From technical SEO to content optimization and link building, you will learn how to do SEO for Shopify stores in this guide.
It is not rocket science or a complex process; anyone with half SEO knowledge can optimize a Shopify store and get more search engine traffic.
Let’s get to business.
We start with the basics of eCommerce store optimization, making sure your store foundation is solid from the start.
Shopify has done a pretty job at technical SEO; it automatically creates a sitemap, enables SSL, and adds a robot.txt file, but that’s just a part of SEO; you can do more.
Once your store is set on Shopify, complete these tasks:
Setup Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the best SEO tools for eCommerce website owners. It’s the platform Google tells you about the health status of your website property.
GSC shows Google organic traffic stats, impressions, ranking queries, CTR, positions, etc. This information helps optimize underperforming keywords in SERP.
The best part is that the Google search console is free; you need just a Gmail and a website URL.
Follow these steps to connect your Shopify store to the Google search console.
Go to the GSC website to create an account. After that, you need to verify your domain to claim ownership. You need to do this so Google can provide search console services for your website.
Adding your domain to Google Search Console is straightforward, but not so with verifying the Shopify store.
However, Shopify has a step-by-step tutorial for adding the verification code to its theme file. The steps require editing the theme.liquid file in Shopify. Also, you must remove the Shopify store password to complete the verification in GSC.
Set Your Prefered Domain Prefix
Once your domain is verified in the Google search console, setting your preferred domain URL is next.
To search engines, these are different URLs:
Technically, your website can be reached from any URL version above, assuming you’ve set up the 301 redirects correctly.
But if you don’t set the preferred URL prefix or domain, Google and other search engines might not know which version of your website to index.
Also, it creates duplicate content issues and dilutes the SEO authority of a website.
Shopify does set the preferred shop URL for you, but it may not be the one you prefer. If you want to choose, go to your Shopify account and domain settings and check the default URL.
If you’re okay with it, that’s fine and good.
But if you see a different URL version different from what you prefer, use the check box to select another and click Set as Primary.
Connect Google Analytics (GA4)
Shopify has robust store analytics that lets you track performance but lacks the depth of information you get with GA4.
With Shopify analytics, you can track average order value, sales performance, visitor channels, trends, sales channels, conversions, etc.
Connecting your Shopify store to GA4 lets you track traffic, users, and product performance data even more. You can learn how people find your store, traffic sources, engagement level, store events, conversions, user activity, etc.
Google Analytics 4 lets you understand how people find your store, channels, and engagement level; you can dig deeper into your business data.
Use Responsive Shopify Theme
Having a responsive theme is part of effective Shopify SEO best practices.
Your store themes should adapt seamlessly to users’ devices.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, or big screen; your store should display equally well and be usable for all users.
Shopify has a gallery of mobile responsive themes optimized for speed and optimal user experience. So, you don’t need to spend extra creating separate mobile stores.
When you build with one of Shopify’s store themes, your store pages automatically adapt to the user’s device screen resolutions. Choose from its free or paid options.
Create an SEO-Friendly URL Structure.
A good URL structure is essential to SEO for a few reasons;
It helps search engines crawl and index your website pages faster, improves user experience, resolves duplicate content issues, saves crawl resources and reduces the load on your server.
Attention to eCommerce URL structure is important, especially when creating different product pages and product variations.
You must think deeply about product collections, subcollections, and product pages. How you categorize these pages depends on product type, collections, price, product variants, etc.
For example, how do you structure URLs for product variants?
Let’s say you have one T-shirt in four colors – white, green, black, and yellow.
- Option 1. /cloth/t-shirt/yellow/
- Option 2. /cloth/t-shirt?color=yellow
You can use path segment or query parameters URL structure, respectively. Each option has its pros and cons. To help Google understand which option is the best to show in a search, you must set the product’s canonical URL.
Google has an in-depth article on eCommerce URL structure. Read it to understand how Google sees permalink on an eCommerce site and the best way to structure your Shopify store URL.
Create and Submit Sitemap
Shopify automatically handles sitemap creation and submission; you don’t need much to worry about here.
Unless you require something specific and need to submit a sitemap manually, you have nothing to work on here.
Shopify creates sitemaps for product pages, collections, product images, and blog posts and submits them to the Google search console automatically.
Your Shopifty sitemap can be found in your store root directory (https://yourstore.com/sitemap.xml). This primary sitemap contains individual sitemaps for pages, images, content, and product collections pages.
Shopify also automates sitemap creations for international stores with different domains for each country. But you need to be on the Shopify Basic plan or higher to have this feature enabled.
The ecommerce industry is a billion-dollar market with big brands and competitors on Google’s top 10. To get a chance, you need to optimize for on-page quality and give search engines more context about your website content and products.
So, how do you optimize for on-page SEO signals?
Follow these steps.
Optimize Titles and Meta Descriptions
Shopify makes writing optimized titles and meta descriptions for your products and collections pages easy.
After adding products or creating your collection pages, scroll down the page to where you see “Search Engine Listing,” click edit, and enter your page title and meta description text.
You will see the URL field beneath.
Here are some tips to remember when writing titles and meta descriptions:
- Ensure your tiles are within 55 – 60 characters.
- Add the keyword in the title, preferably at the beginning.
- Include the keyword in the meta description to help users understand the page’s purpose, and it should be less than 120 characters.
- Keep it short, simple, and concise, yet informative.
Titles and meta descriptions are some factors that influence CTR in SERP. Even though their effectiveness has ranking factors questionable, you should pay attention to optimizing them for users.
Most eCommerce websites have hundreds to thousands of pages, making optimizing titles and meta descriptions at scale challenging.
If you’re starting with fewer pages, it is easier to do, but when it gets to hundreds and above, you will need a system to handle editing and writing titles and meta descriptions.
These apps automate essential SEO processes like Schema markup, real-time 404 eros repairs, SEO suggestions and improvements, GA4 integrations, etc.
Write Keyword Optimized URL
In addition to the title and meta description, you must write SEO-friendly URLs for each product page.
Page URL is helpful to both search engines and site visitors; it guides them in the right direction and helps people find items on your store faster.
Following the best URL practice is important to improve Shopify store SEO and provide an optimal user experience. A good page slug or URL is simple, short, and contains a target keyword.
Here are some examples:
- Add product keywords.
- Use a hyphen, not underscores.
- And ensure your URL is readable.
Combining all three factors should make your URL like this: https://yourdomain.com/products/mens-yellow-shirt/
This is better, keyword-optimized, and readable to search engines and human visitors.
Optimizing store images is one of the best Shopify SEO practices.
Since most ecommerce shops are image-heavy sites, it’s important to ensure all images are correctly optimized for user and SEO. This has a direct impact on website performance, ranking, and speed.
First, ensure each image has its alt text, which describes the purpose of the image on the page.
Adding descriptive text to images helps search engines understand the content on a page better and for proper indexing. It also helps make content accessible to visually impaired website users.
Don’t name product image files with something like “image1234.jpg”; instead, give it a descriptive word that helps people understand the purpose.
For example, you can name an image of a Cup, “white Coffee Cup,” to help describe its type.
Then, ensure you optimize images for fast loading and proper container sizes.
Shopify has several image optimization apps you can try. Most of the apps automate image optimization tasks like:
- Image resize
- Convert to WebP image format
- Lazy load, including iframes.
- Automatically generates image alt.
- Compresses the image file to reduce weight and improve fast loading.
Add Schema Markup
Schema markup isn’t a direct ranking signal; it does help search engines understand the content of a page better. It also provides reach snippets which can influence click-through rates and help users find meaning in your content.
Adding the proper eCommerce Schema markup or structure data isn’t as easy as it sounds; it requires some technicalities and expertise. But all hope is not lost; many Shopify themes have built-in Schema markups for breadcrumbs, products, recipes, FAQs, and others.
If your theme lacks this feature or the Schema markup you require is unavailable, you can use apps like Schema Plus. This app automates adding Schema markup for the Shopify store; its features include LocalBuisness, Article, Blog, and Website markup.
If you have a Shopify blog, which I assume you should, interlinking relevant content can improve your store’s search engine visibility and drive more organic traffic.
It will also help more blog readers discover relevant products in the store, leading to more sales and revenue.
Ecommerce stores are known for having hundreds to thousands or even millions of pages; depending on the business size, search engines will find all pages and crawl them faster if links lead to each page on the website.
For an ecommerce site, several internal linking strategies can be implemented. You can use sitewide linking, footer links, in-content links, and a navigational menu.
Site-wide links can be used in the footer, making it possible for the links to be present on all website pages, regardless of where the user is. The navigation menu can be category or collection pages, with a drop-down menu leading to the product pages, and in-content links apply for blog posts.
Look at how the 8and9 streetwear ecommerce store implements internal links on their Shopify Blog.
And look at the Allbird uses the sitewide footer link to other important pages on the website.
Check this article on the SEL blog for in-depth information on the eCommerce internal linking process.
You would want to rank your product and category pages in SERP, but this won’t happen without knowing what keyword to target.
Without keywords, it’s hard to find the right customers online.
Do Keyword Research
There are several tools and ways to research and find profitable keywords or search phrases; my favorite is keyword tools.
Keyword tools eliminate guesswork.
You don’t have to guess which keyword is worth your time and investment. The data will guide you in picking the right keywords, knowing the search intent, PPC value, search volume, and how competitive it is.
You will have better content marketing strategies if you know what you’re doing and how to find the best keyword for your campaign.
Semrush is a powerful keyword tool you can trust to find matching keywords for your store and content.
Here’s a data view for the keyword “sneakers.”
We have more in-depth information about the broad keyword “sneakers.”
Now we can analyze by search intent, traffic volume, get more keyword ideas, broad match, exact phrase match, everyday phrase, CPC, etc. We can also research by excluding or including specific key phrases, which makes our keyword research targeted and refined.
This information will help you make smart marketing decisions and not blindly pick keywords and hope they stick.
People search by brand or specific product online, so you must focus on this when doing keyword research for an eCommerce store.
For example, I could search for “HP laptop under $500”, “Air Jordan 2022”, or “11 Gen laptop SSD Storage”.
Depending on the search internet, you mostly target keywords in your subcategories and product pages. However, targeting product keywords will be much easier since your product pages will likely contain the keyword naturally.
Semrush and Ahref are two famous keyword tools, but these can be expensive if you’re a beginner. The best alternative tool is the SEO Powerrsuite Rank Tracker keyword tool.
If Semrush and Ahref are beyond your reach, download Rank Tacker from this link, install it on your computer and open the software. Type your website name and hit enter to start the tool.
Here is how the free version interface looks when you run keyword research.
As you can see, the free version is limited in its data, but it is more suitable as a starting point for beginners. The full version costs just $149 per year if you can afford it.
If you want to buy the complete SEO Powersuite bundle kit comprising four independent SEO toolkits, here is the link.
Create a Blog
If you want to maximize your Shopify SEO to its fullest, creating a blog is one of the best tactics to explore.
Adding a blog to your Shopify eCommerce store can be positive in so many ways:
- You can use blog content to reach more people with your products and services.
- Create brand personality
- Establish your brand as an industry leader through expert-type content.
- Build a loyal community around your brand.
- Educate your customers about product usage, specs, and more
- Promotes flash sales, discount offers, summer sales, etc.
- Encourage engagement and more.
To create a Shopify blog, log into your store admin areas and click “online store” from the side menu. Then, click “Blog Posts” and “Create a blog.”
From here, everything is straightforward. However, by default, your Shopify blog is named news.” You can change this by clicking the Create a New Blog button.
Next, start writing and make your blog visible to all users. Check this page for more information on creating a blog and multiple blogs in Shopify.
No Shopify SEO for beginners is complete without link building.
Links are still one of the core ranking factors. Be it an eCommerce store, business website, or personal blog, links are powerful signals for search engines.
Building links for an eCommerce store is even harder when you don’t have a blog. Marketers will be more willing to link to valuable and informative content than product or commercial pages.
If you have a blog for your ecommerce store, link-building becomes easier.
You can promote your content to attract links from relevant pages, partner with other content creators, and share exciting content with different audience platforms.
Here are some proven link-building tactics for eCommerce sites.
- Publish linkable asset
- Claimed unlink mentions
- Write guest post
- Publish industry statistics
- Partner with blog authors.
Read this post for more in-depth link-building strategies.
Shopify has a decent SEO, a good starting point for improving rankings.
Every Shopify shop is enabled for HTTPS secure layers protections. Optimize for faster page speed, generate sitemap, and built-in SEO features.
However, having that SEO built-in is just a tip on the ice bag; you need to optimize for target keywords, improve user experience, titles and meta tags, optimize images, and every other stuff that helps your store rank higher in SERP.
The above steps will help you in the right direction and save time with trials and errors.