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You’ve put in the work to optimize your Shopify ecommerce store for maximum customer satisfaction. It’s well-designed, easy to navigate, and your product listings are enticing and descriptive. Your customer service integration is all lined up, your social media marketing is on point, and you’re open and ready for business. But…where are the customers?
Online retailers that struggle to grow are often overlooking a crucial element: SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO, when done well, will continually drive waves of customers to your website–or, when overlooked, will drive those same ideal customers to your competitors’ websites instead. The world of ecommerce is a big one, and showing up in search results takes a little bit of effort on the part of the merchant.
In this post, Gladly outlines why having a Shopify search engine optimization plan is crucial for your business growth, along with key Shopify SEO tips. Ready to bring in more traffic than you ever thought was possible? Let’s get started.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, represents a group of techniques that help websites, images, or video assets appear in search results. Properly implementing SEO will improve both the quality and quantity of customer traffic to your website.
Think about Instagram: have you ever seen a photo, followed by a wall of hashtags, half of which have nothing to do with the image? That’s one example of an SEO strategy gone a bit off the rails. Sure, the number of people seeing the photo may increase because of the hashtags in the caption, but plenty of those people may be following a hashtag that’s unrelated to the content of the photo. This is why it’s vital to consider both the quality and quantity of traffic when building your Shopify SEO strategy.
How SEO Works
When a query is made in a search engine, the search engine sends what are called “crawlers” to gather information about that query from content found on the internet. The crawlers then build an index with said information, which is fed through an algorithm to match the index with your query. The algorithm is based on a number of matrices, such as exact-match keyword and page-level content and link features. The output of the algorithm is an index of only the most relevant links to the querent’s search. These relevant links are what appear on the results page after a query is submitted.
Shopify SEO: Getting Started
Your role as a Shopify merchant is to create a variety of content for your store that will appear when customers are browsing for products on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The good news is that the basic techniques for improving SEO in Shopify apply to merchants of all kinds: whether you’re selling pet products, clothing, or home goods, SEO won’t really change.
Before you get started, we recommend having a few tools on hand:
- Easy access to your Shopify store
- Keyword planning tool (Ahrefs has a list of free keyword research tools)
- Spreadsheet tool, like Excel or Google Sheets
See why fast-growing Shopify brands are choosing Gladly.
Shopify SEO Tricks: The Basics
This first set of SEO tips for Shopify store owners will guide you through the basic elements to ace before advancing to intermediate techniques.
Use a free keyword planner tool to research the keywords most relevant to the products on your Shopify site. Ideally, every individual product you’re selling should align to an easily identifiable keyword. Once you have your list of keywords, match them up to the products on your site. For each of the product pages, add the keywords into your Page Title, meta descriptions, image alt text, URL, and on the page’s body copy, such as the product description copy.
Accurately describe your product, but don’t go overboard. Customers are more likely to look up “Women’s Purple Maxi Dress” than “Women’s Knee-length Dark Plum Linen Sundress.” Conversely, if you have a particular product that’s a top-seller for your brand, be sure to include the unique name in the Page Title. To see this in action, consider Michael Jordan’s beloved sneaker line, Jordan. Millions of customers search for “Air Jordans” every day, and although the product is a sneaker, “Air Jordan” is included in the Page Title because it’s the exact product type customers want to buy.
Images are unfortunately overlooked as a key component of any Shopify search engine optimization strategy. A surprising amount of customer-business connections are made through image browsing via Google and other major search engines! This means that ecommerce product photos are an entire SEO resource on their own. However, when search engines send crawlers to look for content on the internet, the crawler can’t see the photo–they rely on image alt text and image file names to understand what the photo is depicting. To maximize Shopify SEO traffic from images, write descriptive copy for your image file names and alt text. Ensure the copy is easy to understand, and include your keywords from your keyword research. Let’s say you sell women’s jumpsuits in your store. If the alt text and file name on a black jumpsuit image is SKU_BLK5690, the crawler cannot tell that the photo shows a jumpsuit. Change the file name and alt text to include the words “womens black jumpsuit” or “womens jumpsuit” to accurately reflect the product.
Don’t overlook the power of descriptive copy for your products! Think about the key details your customers may want to know about your products. Do your products include specific ingredients or materials, like being organic, hypoallergenic or biodegradable? Do your products have specific benefits, like being recyclable or multi-use?
Shopify SEO Tricks: Intermediate
Include a search bar
If you have more than one page on your store, absolutely include a search bar. Customers should be able to navigate your store smoothly and easily, which includes quickly looking up specific product types. Again, make sure to include keywords in your product pages so that customers using the search bar on your site will find products that match the query they’re entering.
Increase backlinks to your site
Backlinks are links to your website from external sources. These are SEO gold! Backlinks essentially act as votes of confidence to crawlers that your site provides quality content. For example, let’s say you sell pet products and a pet blogger writes a blog post about their favorite dog leash brands and links to one of the dog leashes you sell. This backlink will drive traffic to your site from people who read the blog post and are shopping for dog leashes. It’s important to note that links from social media or paid marketing efforts do not count as backlinks.
Write about it in your blog
Shopify stores feature a native blog platform, allowing you to create more unique text-based content with the power to bring even more organic foot traffic to your site. Blogging regularly allows you to talk about your products, as well as include juicy, keyword-filled search-magnets on your page for maximum visibility. An added benefit to regular blog posting is that search engines tend to prioritize websites in search indexes which are updated regularly, giving you even more exposure.
Keep track of your traffic
Integrate Google Analytics into your Shopify store to keep tabs on site-traffic. It’s completely free, and allows you to track and analyze your customer’s behavior. A temperature reading on visitors can help you understand whether your SEO efforts are working, and what steps you need to take to improve them.
Ready to Start SEO for a Shopify Store?
It’s important to remember that SEO takes two things: persistence and time. Remember, other business owners are implementing SEO strategies to grow their business long-term. Make sure that you’re including SEO for your Shopify store from the beginning: every time you upload a new product or SKU, use your keyword research to inform the copy you write. Use descriptive copy in your image files to increase the likelihood of shoppers browsing product images finding your store. Remember: as Google is reviewing and ranking your site, it’s also doing that for other brand websites. If you can give it time, and keep improving the SEO for your Shopify store as you go, you’ll be rewarded with more traffic, and more sales–without running a single additional marketing campaign.
More Resources for Shopify & SEO