Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to any online storefront's success, as customers will often visit your store through a search engine's results. Shopify provides sophisticated tools to improve ranking and maintain steady web traffic.
Use the platform's built-in tools
Shopify allows merchants to steer their own SEO through fields for keywords, meta descriptions, titles, and more. For example, static pages (found in your Pages admin) include their own fields for enhancing SEO. In the page editor, scroll down to Search engine listing preview and select Edit website SEO.
Gather the right keywords
Keywords are the various terms people use to search for information online. Knowing which keywords potential customers could use is important for improving SEO.
Tip: Looking at the how your competitors use keywords on their website can help you find what you can do better and how you can stand out
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner can provide suggestions keywords, as well as forecasts for predicted clicks and estimates how competitive a keyword might be.
Use Google Trends to quickly compare similar keywords and their relative popularity over time. For instance, this tool can help you determine whether to market your new product as a “small wallet” or a “card wallet” on your store. Use this in combination with Keyword Planner for the best results.
Paid SEO tools
There are dozens of paid SEO tools you can use to strategize a shortlist of keywords suitable for your store, analyze your competition, and find your own SEO weaknesses. Many offer more details, instructions, and data that can help you optimize your website. If you can budget for this extra help, it might be worth trying one of these services:
Add title and meta description for the home page
Go to your Online Store and select Preferences.
Home page: Title
The information you put in your Homepage title field will be what is included within your
<title> tags in the code for your home page. That means that when your store's home page is returned in a search on Google, that is the text a user will see.
Your Homepage title is the first thing users will see if your home page appears in their search results. It also tells search engines what your site is about and what content it might find there. Search engines use your title tag and page content and rank it against other sites about the same topic accordingly.
As you think about your title tag, an important aspect to consider also is the placement of your keywords in the title. Google considers keywords closer to the beginning of a title tag most important.
If you have a shoe store that’s called 'Boat Company' whose most important keyword is “Canadian handmade shoes,” then place that keyword at the front of your title tag, like:
Canadian Handmade Shoes by Boat Company
Canadian Handmade Shoes | Boat Company
Your company name or brand can appear at the end of the title.
Title tags should also be easy to read and fewer than 70 characters long, as most search engines will not display titles longer than that.
Home page: Meta description
The Homepage meta description is the description in search results underneath the title and URL of a page. This is what users often look at to decide whether to visit a page or not.
Shopify puts a cap of 160 characters on the Homepage meta description. Aim for fewer characters (around 140) for the best results. This is a sort of pitch to persuade customers to click the link and visit your store.
Add headings and keywords to products and pages
Optimizing all your pages with headers (by using the Formatting option in your rich text editor's toolbar) that use your targeted keywords also helps them rank better in search engines. Each page is another opportunity to use well-placed keywords to attract customers. Headings serve to highlight these keywords.
Search engine fields
Shopify’s SEO fields enable optimization for all of your pages, product pages, and blogs quickly. From the Pages section of your Shopify dashboard, you can look through each of your pages and ensure its Search engine listing preview section is filled out with its own unique Meta description and an optimized URL & handle. The area above will update automatically with what users will see when your pages show up in their search results.
URL and handle
Using keywords within your URL is advantageous for SEO. Google interprets words within a URL to determine what the page is about. Putting exact keywords in your URL is a good way to start helping your page rank for those keywords.
Tags and images
Tags will help organize your inventory for those searching for specific features or attributes, and images will show customers how a product looks, and maybe how people use it.
Almost as important as the image itself are the image’s alt text. Alt text tells search engines what an image shows. This text also serves to replace an image if a customer is experiencing difficulty when viewing the image.
Alt tags are also important for accessibility. Adding text that is descriptive and includes keywords is advised.
Once you have a list of SEO keywords that will help customers find your store, it is time to ensure that your content uses those keywords and is interesting enough that people will link back to your pages, products, and blog posts. Keep a guide to on-page SEO close by – or your top-performing freelancers – and get creating.
Make engaging product descriptions
If many people are searching for products like yours, you can anticipate what they’re searching for or what interests them about it. So write content that engages with them personally. Make it clear, concise, and honest. Make sure each word carries its weight. Correctly identifying your customers and their needs are the first hurdles. Now it’s time to communicate with them.
Tell stories worth telling
What makes your company’s story unique? Why should customers care? What makes your products preferable to your competitor’s products? How do customers use your products? Does your industry trust what you have to say about anything? Read some recent top stories on Medium and figure out how you can best engage your customers. What content will inspire them and make them want to send it to friends?
Write often and write well
Having an active blog that comes at your products from different angles can help bring in new visitors, help returning visitors become first-time customers, and help returning customers remain loyal. Writing engaging content marketing can be an act of customer service in itself. But it isn’t enough to just write often. You need to care about the content, and you need to show that.
Good anchor text and quality links
Creating links on your store helps customers find useful information about your brand and how it connects to the world around it. You will want to create both <<internal links>> to your store's other pages and <<external links>> to other high-quality websites that help inform your customer.
Use anchor text instead of naked links
You could link to this Moz article about anchor text with anchor text, or as a naked link, http://moz.com/learn/seo/anchor-text. Naked links are links where the anchor text is just the full URL. These can often be long and ugly – sometimes upwards of 50 characters long.
Using anchor text is often a better way to describe what the user will find on the other side of the link, too. For example, you know that when you click on the text “ this Moz article about anchor text” you can expect to read an article about anchor text, although you might not know what Moz is.
Use descriptive anchor text
Many people use anchor text like “ click here” or “more info” for their links. This is unhelpful for two reasons. One, it doesn’t tell users to understand where they are going. And two, it doesn’t tell search engines what the page on the other end of the link is about, and whether it's relevant to the content on your own page.
Open links in a new window whenever possible
If you want customers to stay on your page after they’ve decided to follow a link, make sure you’ve set the link to open in a new window when adding it.
If you are able to use the Show HTML button from the rightmost side of the rich text toolbar, you can also check that your link includes a
target="_blank" attribute, which is what encourages web browsers to open links in a new tab or window, depending on the user’s settings. The full link will look like this:
<a href=“http://example.com” target="_blank">Anchor text</a>
Good anchor text boosts your Shopify SEO
When linking to your own pages, you’re telling search engines what your pages are about, and you’re reinforcing the relationship between your pages and their hierarchy. If some pages aren’t linked to from your own store, neither your customers or search engines will be able to find them. In most cases, that’s not what you want.
When you start to see links to your pages from other websites, you can see what their anchor text says about your store.