Shopify vs WordPress SEO – Which is Better for eCommerce

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When we think of selling online and establishing a strong search engine visibility, two of the options that quickly come to mind are Shopify vs WordPress SEO.

Which is better for improving SEO and driving more relevant search engine traffic? The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. As the typical SEO answers – it depends.

There are no clear-cut pointers or directions to go. It depends on several factors including your business needs, technical knowledge, budgets, and more.

Shopify vs WordPress for e-commerce SEO are evenly comparable, which makes it even more difficult to say why Shopify is better than WordPress for eCommerce.

However, in this Shopify vs WordPress for SEO, I will be focusing solely on the SEO aspect of both platforms. Leaving other areas aside, so that you can get a clear optimization feature of both platforms.

Let’s dive in…

Shopify vs WordPress Overview 

This review of WordPress e-commerce SEO vs Shopify SEO is based on the self-hosted WordPress platform. This is where my expertise lies and it is what I would base this comparison post on.

If we’re on the same page, continue reading…

WordPress Overview

WordPress was founded in 2003 primarily as a blogging platform. It is an open-source project with a huge community of developers and contributors from all over the world.

Since it was launched, the CMS giants have undergone numerous core updates and evolved to fit other website needs such as e-commerce, business websites, portfolios, etc.

WordPress powered more than 43% of the web and can be used to create any type of online property. 

However, to use WordPress as a full-fledged e-commerce platform, you need an additional plugin such as woocommerce, memberpress, easy digital download, etc.

Straight out of the box, WordPress is SEO friendly, easy to use, and gives endless customization possibilities.

Shopify Overview

With an active daily user of about 2.1 million from 175 countries, Shopify is truly a global brand. Started in 2006, Shopify is primarily an eCommerce software developed to make it easy for anyone to start, grow and manage an online shop.

Shopify is suited for non-technical users who want an easy-to-use solution, a one-click setup process without the hassle that comes with hosting and website maintenance. 

While you can set up a blog on Shopify, it is an afterthought and can’t be compared to WordPress blogging software. All-in-all, Shopify provides a quick and easy setup process for beginners and small-sized businesses to start an online shop.

Shopify vs WordPress For SEO 

Now, let’s take a look at what’s better Shopify or WordPress, and how each compares in the following areas. Mostly, we will be looking at how each platform helps with all aspects of SEO and optimizing user performance.

Simplicity

Both WordPress and Shopify provide an easy way to start on their platform. Getting started with WordPress self-hosted platform is easy, fast, and straightforward. 

You need to purchase a domain name and a hosting account from a web host. Once you get these things, you’re all set up. Next, you need to install WordPress on your host, install the necessary plugin, and themes, create pages, and start blogging. 

Apart from the domain name and hosting, WordPress is free to use. And many of the plugins you’ll need to extend the functionalities of your blog or eCommerce site are free. Though if you need more control, advanced features, and security, you may be required to purchase a pro feature.

Also, you need an eCommerce plugin to sell on WordPress with all the functionalities like payment, checkout page, add to cart, product pages, automatic tax calculation, receipt, etc.

On the other hand, Shopify is a premium platform where you pay to get started. This means you have everything to kick off your eCommerce store pre-installed and ready to use. You don’t need to worry about hosting, themes, payment systems, product pages, SSL certificates, checkout, cart, etc.

All the tools and features required to sell online come with your Shopify subscription. And it takes a few steps to open an account on the website. Shopify is a hosted platform, you don’t need a website of your own to use Shopify.

For non-technical users, and businesses that want a simple and quick way to start an online store, Shopify is better than WordPress. 

Blogging Capability

Blogging is an integral part of SEO, the more often you blog the more traffic you can drive from search engines and referral traffic. The quality and consistency of your content output have a direct correlation with a higher ranking.

WordPress is arguably the best blogging platform anyone can start with. It makes blogging fun, easy to manage, and provides all the tools and features to blog. Blogging on WordPress can improve your SEO and give you the capability that only a store platform can dream of.

Shopify as an eCommerce platform offers blog functionality, but it’s far from giving the same level of features as WordPress-powered sites. It lags behind and can only be improved over time to rival the likes of the WordPress blogging platform.

If blogging is part of your online shop SEO strategy, you need to think through your choice of an online store.

Search engine-friendly URL 

Search engine-friendly URLs are part of an SEO strategy, though a minor ranking factor for search engines like Google. But having a page URL that is consistent, keyword rich, and easy for users and search engines to understand is essential to seo.

WordPress offers more customization and control over permalink structures. It is user and search-engine friendly. You can control how your website or store URL reads in WordPress. Woocommerce, one of WordPress eCommerce plugins offers a variety of permalink settings for your product and category pages.

You can set product category-based URLs, product tag bases, and more. And have total control over the setting of your store URL structure.

Shopify does not offer URL customization like WordPress but that is not to say that is Shopify bad for SEO. By default, when you add a product after creating a collection, you’ll also generate a canonicalized product collection URL. 

Whatever your product name will define the last part of the URL. Also, you can’t bypass the product folder, but you can update the product handle URL and force it to link from the collection to make it more SEO friendly.

For beginners, understanding how to structure Shopify store URLs can be a challenging task at the beginning. If you want to edit the last URL part of the product or collection entry, scroll down the page to the search engine, click on edit, and enter your ideal text in the last part. Now you’re able to have a page title that is different from the slug.

For more helpful information on how to make your Shopify URL more user and SEO-friendly, check out this post.

Customization

There are endless possibilities when it comes to customizing your WordPress eCommerce store. You can do incredible things with your store with the help of its eCommerce plugins.

No matter what you think of your store, you can achieve it with WordPress. There is a plugin for everything in WordPress, from payment solutions, engagement, security, performance, seo, to web sign, WordPress is blessed with a vast community of active developers.

And if you’re a tech guru, web design expert, or SEO professional, you can tweak your WordPress software or themes files to fit your blogging or eCommerce needs. 

Shopify, on the other hand, has a limited number of apps in its store. While you have apps to extend the functionality and features of your online store, there are limits to what you can achieve compared to WordPress. 

Shopify does not offer advanced SEO professionals and web designers the capability to fine-tune their online stores as per their business demands. However, it does handle many of the repetitive SEO tasks like sitemap submission, titles, meta descriptions, image alt text, keywords, etc.

With the addition of Yoast to the Shopify app store, Shopify eCommerce owners can now enjoy the SEO plugin for optimizing their content and stores.

Supports for Structure Data

Structure data is part of an SEO best practice as it helps search engines understand your content and pages better. It can also help increase the click-through rate through rich snippets. And as you sell through an online store, it is worth even more to implement structure data on your website.

If search engines understand what you sell and your target audience location, your store will rank for more relevant queries.

WordPress provides comprehensive structured data support through its plugins and a manual approach. Using a plugin is more recommended and an easier way to get around implementing Structured data markup on your eCommerce site. 

There are a few plugins to implement structured data on WordPress eCommerce stores – Yoast woocommerce SEOeCommerce SEO by WordLift, and Schema woocommerce.

Shopify also provides an easier way to implement structured data in its store. It offers a standardized schema structured data markup. 

You can implement it with one of its apps, or try to do it manually. Using an app is the recommended option. You don’t want to risk tweaking code and breaking something in the process. Moreover, you need a good knowledge of Shopify Liquid and HTML to do it manually.

The best option is to use an app design for implementing structured data on your Shopify store. You can use the TinyIMG Shopify app or JSON-LD for SEO to create and add structured data to your online store.

You can increase your search visibility, drive more relevant traffic and improve click-through rates. Both WordPress and Shopify provide support for structure data implementation which is a good thing for SEO.

Performance 

How your web store performs in terms of speed and user experience affects search ranking. The faster a page loads, the better the user experience.

And for search engines like Google, page speed and user experience are part of the ranking signals. So you need an e-commerce platform that’s built for speed and optimal performance.

Being a self-hosted platform, WordPress e-commerce store performance largely depends on your web host server quality and third-party resources.

This means you can choose where your online store is hosted, and what resources you install on it. This has its advantage as you can get rid of what you don’t want and keep what makes sense to your business.

It can also mean that small businesses and individuals on a tight budget will struggle to get the services and tools required for optimal site performance, especially if you have little to no knowledge of codes.

Shopify is a hosted platform that’s built for speed and optimal user experience. The backend infrastructure scales the computing systems to give maximum speed and performance.

Also, Shopify’s underlying technology is lightweight and less resource intensive, this gives it an upper hand over WordPress in terms of speed.

All these can also mean that you have less control over optimizing your Shopify store. For example, you don’t have control over which CDN to use, local browser cache, and server-side page cache. 

So if you suspect that performance is affected, there are things within and outside your control. You can check a list of what you can and can not do to improve a Shopify store’s performance.

Pricing

This Shopify vs WordPress SEO won’t be complete without looking at the starting price of each platform.

It is next to nothing to start an eCommerce store on WordPress. The only exception is registering a domain name and buying a hosting package. And you don’t need a high-cost hosting plan in the beginning.

With less than $100 you can start your eCommerce store on WordPress. It costs less than $10 for a domain name and a hosting plan for less than $20/month is a good starter plan.

You can buy a theme like Astra Pro for $47/yr, and install the free starter templates which give you access to hundreds of professional design themes. This allows you to build stunning web pages in minutes without coding or being a developer.

Woocommerce, the most popular WordPress e-commerce plugin is also free. 

Shopify’s basic plan starts at $29/month which gives you access to basic tools you need to sell online. $29/month seems pretty decent for an all-in-one e-commerce solution, but when you start adding more premium apps to your store, things can quickly add up.

However, you have access to advanced e-commerce solutions you would otherwise pay separately for. Shopify saves you all the hassle and legal work to operate an online shop.

So, in the end, it all depends on your choice, your business goal, and your technical knowledge. You can take advantage of the Shopify 14-day free trial period and experience the e-commerce platform before making a decision.

Conclusion…Shopify vs WordPress SEO For eCommerce

Shopify vs WordPress for e-commerce SEO is a debate that will go on for a long time. Both platforms have advantages and disadvantages. 

If you want an easy-to-use done for you SEO solution Shopify is the right choice. But you won’t be able to dig deeper into more SEO opportunities and explore advanced tactics that could help SEO growth.

If you want a high degree of usability, absolute control over SEO, and a very strong content management system, go for WordPress.

It may require some level of training and time to get used to certain features and tools, but in the end, you have a great platform to sell your goods online.

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