September 16, 2021

Shopify SEO Guide: 9 Steps to Quickly Rank Your Website

Shopify has been steadily rising in popularity over the years, and it’s no secret that the platform is a favorite among eCommerce retailers for its flexibility, ease of use, and built-in tools.

From foam hats to phone cases, retailers across the web embrace Shopify to grow their businesses every day, hoping to outrank their competition in the process. Whether you’re a new business looking to make your mark or an older retailer adapting to new trends, here’s our step-by-step guide to putting your Shopify site at the coveted #1 spot in SERPs.

Step 1: Set up Your Shopify Site Structure

Content organization is a key part of SEO success, acting as a core component in how well your site ranks among search engine results. While larger, more robust websites might look enticing, the truth is that simpler is often better, meaning your Shopify site should be built with customers, customer journeys, and search crawlers in mind.

Picture walking into a store with products strewn all over the floor. Though you have a rough idea of what that store sells, there are no departmental directions, and you can’t find anyone to help you find what you need. If that makes you want to bail, you’re not alone, and the same can be said for Shopify customers. Like you, they want a streamlined experience, something that starts with how your site is laid out.

Start by choosing an SEO-friendly theme, usually consisting of Home Page, Category Pages, Sub-Category Pages, and Product Pages, similar to this diagram:

Homepage > Category Pages > Sub-Category Page > Product Pages

Not only does this ensure your products are only a few clicks away from the homepage, but it streamlines the shopping and site crawling experiences as well, making it easy for customers to crawlers to find what they need with little trouble.

As equally important parts of your core website structure, you’ll need to include an About page and Contact page as well, as these will give visitors a clearer understanding of what your company has to offer, doing their part to help drive conversions.

Last but not least, be sure to include a Search box on your page. While this won’t directly help with SEO, it’ll absolutely help customers to narrow down their searches, building trust and revenue for your company as customers enjoy a better, more positive user experience.

Step 2: Optimize for User Experience

Speaking of user experience, it’s no secret that a satisfied shopper is more likely to stick around your website longer, browse more pages, and engage with it more. That being said, there are some things you can do to increase those odds. These include:

Site Speed Optimizations: While slow and steady might win the race, the same can’t be said about search engine optimization. In the world of eCommerce especially, page speed and site performance are key factors to staying one step ahead of the competition. Said optimizations can include using a fast, mobile-friendly theme, using smaller, better-optimized images, removing apps you no longer need, and avoiding the use of sliders. Best of all, you can check your Shopify site using Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool, as it’ll reveal critical elements where your site could improve.

Design Optimizations: Above all else, your Shopify site should be accessible and easy to navigate. Whether via desktop, tablet, or smartphone, online shoppers expect their experience to be streamlined, meaning your content should translate seamlessly across all platforms.

Not only does this improve the overall user experience of your site, but it improves your chances of ranking higher in Google SERPs as well, as Google factors dwell times (how long users stay on a page) and bounce rates (how frequently users click away from a page) in their overall scoring system for websites.

Step 3: Research Your Keywords

As one of the foundations for SEO success, no Shopify website would be complete without proper keyword research and implementation. That being said, how do you figure out the right keywords for your site? The best way to start is to make a list, not of keywords, but of topics.

Put yourselves in the shoes of one of your buyers and ask some key questions:

  • What search terms might you use to find your store’s products?
  • What kind of persona do you have?
  • What kind of social media hashtags would entice you to check out the products you sell?
  • What forums or subreddits would you frequent for more information?
  • What kind of titles, meta descriptions, or alt text are competitors using to entice clicks?

While these are just a few topics among many possibilities, their function remains the same: to nail down your target audience, figure out how they think, and build your Shopify site in a way that speaks to them. Finding the right keywords will come much easier, as there are a variety of keyword research tools to streamline the process.

Step 4: Optimize Your Shopify Products Pages

Now that you’ve got your site structure in place and you’ve nailed down the keywords you want to use, it’s time to optimize them throughout your products pages. Navigate to your top, most profitable pages first. These will likely be your home page, main product collections, and top-selling product pages. Once there, scroll down to the “Search Engine Listing Preview” option for each page and begin your optimizations. Given their importance to SEO, we’ll be focusing on your title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs. 

As a general rule of thumb, your title tags and meta descriptions should include keywords related to their respective page content. Whether you’re selling boots, mobile accessories, or health and wellness products, this metadata helps search engines to understand what your page is about, giving you better chances to rank higher in SERPs through your optimizations.

For the most SEO and Customer-friendly format, be sure your titles and meta descriptions look like this: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

Step 5: Optimize Your Shopify Store Images

Ask any SEO specialist or web developer, and they’ll all say the same thing: image optimization is a huge part of organic search ranking, especially when it comes to Google. Not only does it make content easier to digest, but it provides valuables cues as well, helping everyday users, search crawlers, and the visually impaired understand what an image represents, even if that image can’t be “seen.”

For this reason, you want to ensure all of your site images are as accessible as possible, starting with unique, keyword-focused alt text. Thankfully, adding alt text to your Shopify images is relatively straightforward:

  1. From your Shopify admin, navigate to Products > All Products.
  2. Click on the product name that you want to make edits to.
  3. Hover your mouse over the product image, click the three dots, then Edit Alt Text.
  4. Make your adjustments, then click Save.

While the process of editing alt text is an easy one, there are some key points to consider when writing it out. These include:

  • Description Specificity: Whenever possible, be specific with your alt text, as it will naturally rank higher in Google Image Search thanks to detailed image context.
  • Description Relevancy: Keyword stuffing is bad, and it’s especially bad in alt text. Likewise, avoid adding unnecessary information. Instead, keep your alt text relevant to the page topic/products at all times.
  • Alt Text Length: As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your alt text description to 7 words or less, with no more than 125 characters. This prevents screen-reading tools from getting get caught up on awkwardly long descriptions.
  • Formatting: Never start alt text with “picture of…” or “Image of…”: Not only is this redundant, but Google and screen-reading tools will automatically identify your images as images based on the page’s HTML source code.
  • Keyword Stuffing: Keep keyword usage natural, only including them in your alt text if it’s an easy fit. Otherwise, jump right into the specifics of that image.
  • Error Review: Misspelled words in image alt text can easily hurt the user experience or confuse search engines as they crawl your site. Be sure to review your alt text as you would any other piece of content.

Step 6: Build Up Your Backlinks

As another important part of site optimization, backlinks help search engines determine how users feel about your website, acting as a word of mouth indicator for SEO. Offer a positive user experience with straightforward answers to user questions, and your ranking score goes up, with Google taking note of how long and how often users visit and stay on your pages. Offer a disjointed, unoptimized experience and your ranking fluctuates accordingly, giving insights as to where you can improve to reclaim those higher rankings.

That being said, the process of building backlinks can sometimes feel awkward, given that it requires you to reach out to other site owners in your niche to convince them that you’re worth linking to. Thankfully, there are some quick tips that can help you to speed that process along, especially if you’ve already been working to ensure your site content is strong. These include:

Supplier or Manufacturer Links: If you happen to sell products made or supplied by larger, more established companies, a quick email asking them to link to your store might be all you need. After all, they likely have a policy that authorized retailers can get a link.

Industry Voices: Setting up a meeting or interview with leaders in your industry is a great way to generate content and backlinks.

Influencer Voices: Similar to industry leaders, influencers are a great way to generate some extra content and links, as different types of campaigns can be organized and run to coincide with product lines, product launches, seasonal offerings, sales, giveaways, and more.

Store Profiles: Creating a profile of your store on Amazon, Yelp, or other similar websites is an easy way to generate quality backlinks as well as site traffic.

Step 7: Optimize Your Content Marketing

As with any website, content is king. It’s what entices users to visit your site, and it’s what keeps them engaged once they get there. As a Shopify site owner, you might think that product descriptions are your only content concern, as revenue is typically the primary concern for the site. That being said, among Shopify’s many built-in tools, its blog feature provides an excellent way to increase that revenue through additional organic search results.

For instance, let’s suppose you’re on the hunt for t-shirts. You hop onto Google, type in “t-shirts for men,” “t-shirts for women,” or some variation of the term to try and find a store worth visiting. While the initial results will be product-related, you’ll likely spot a few “X Best T-Shirts” or “Top X Shirts” articles as well.

This is because while Google understands you’re probably looking to make a transaction, its algorithm has also started to rank informational content as high or higher in SERPs. With that being the case, supplemental blog content makes even more sense, as it gives Shopify owners the chance to combine their keyword optimization among multiple formats. In other words, eCommerce retailers can double or triple their chances of higher search rankings by optimizing and highlighting their best products among product pages, product descriptions, images, and rich, informational articles, all of which can serve to improve internal link-building for the website.

Step 8: Set Up Some 301 Redirects

Speaking of links, there’s no denying the power of a good 301 redirect. Useful for sending users from one page to another automatically or to avoid users/search engines encountering a 404 Error Page, they provide a convenient way to keep your site in tip-top shape regarding user experience.

Run out of stock on a product? Set up a 301 redirect. Want to tell search engines that a product has moved to another page? 301 redirect. In all cases, these redirects keep you from encountering potential drops in customers due to poor linking processes. Setting them up requires a few simple steps.

  1. Navigate to Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects
  2. Click Add URL redirect
  3. Type in the old URL in Redirect from and the new one in Redirect to

Important Note: If the URL you are directing from still has a web page, you’ll need to delete that page for the redirect to work.

Step 9: Check for and Remove Duplicate Store Content

Duplicate content is bad for any site, but it’s especially bad for Shopify websites, many of which are prone to having it. While these duplications aren’t typically deceptive or malicious in nature, having large blocks of content can hurt your site rankings. After all, your goal is to stand out amongst the competition, not rank lower because your site is being penalized for having pages or blocks of content that look too similar to each other or another website’s.

To avoid this, Google encourages “canonicalization,” aka the process of declaring that one domain or page is the “primary” version of multiple. For instance, if your store sells one style of sweater in multiple colors with pages for each shade, you might want to consider canonicalization to one page. After all, the product descriptions will be near-identical, and the last thing you want is for search engines to think you’re padding your site with deceptive, duplicate content. By opting for canonicalization, you give them a better, more SEO-friendly message instead, stating that you know there are multiple domains or pages for this sweater, but only one of them is important.

For domain-level canonicalization: Navigate to Online Store > Domains. Choose your preferred domain in the dropdown, then click Redirect all traffic to this domain.

For page-level canonicalization: Navigate to Online Store > Themes. Find the theme you wish to edit, then click Actions > Edit Code. Under Layout, click theme.liquid. Paste the code on the line above the closing </head> tag.

Want to learn more about optimizing your Shopify website? Talk to the Shopify Marketing Experts at VELOX Media.

So, there you have it, your nine-step guide to getting your Shopify site to rank #1 in SERPs. Should you have any further questions on how to boost organic rankings for your site, we’d love to help! Whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, cosmetics, or something in-between, our Shopify experts understand what it takes to give your site the competitive edge.

Contact VELOX Media to learn more about how we can build and implement a customized SEO strategy to help drive new customers and enjoy long-lasting organic results.

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