What is SEO
SEO has quickly become one of the most important things a small retailer can do when building an ecommerce store, it’s free, and it can really help drive consumers to your ecommerce website.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” and encompasses all the ways you can increase the likelihood of your website ranking in search engine result pages (SERP’s) and being found by customers.
Why is SEO important for Ecommerce
When searching for a product of service, the number one starting point is a Google search. The main reason for SEO is so that your page can be found in search results, however there are a number of other key reasons why SEO is so important for your ecommerce website.
Allows your page to be found in search engines
The number one reason why SEO is so important is that it enables your site to be found high up on Google’s SERP. Not taking paid ads into account, those sites that appear on the first page in Google will have incorporated the best practices when creating their webstore.
Ranking on the first page on Google is crucial seeing that traffic clicks from search results have been reported in recent as high as 92% on the first page. This is a stark comparison to the 6% of all website clicks attributed to the second page.
SEO is primarily focused on improving your onsite content and incorporating best practices so that your page can be found organically from search queries.
Builds trust and credibility
SEO practices will as mentioned help build the trust and credibility of your site. By ensuring best practices google will recognise the relevancy of your content and direct more visitors towards your site.
In the early days businesses could rank highly easier through buying links and taking shortcuts however the algorithm has adapted accordingly, and now websites with strong SEO are those which rank the highest.
Obviously there are still tricks however Google will try and rank the most trustworthy sites that are relevant to the search terms.
It’s the most cost effective way to grow
If you are invested in incorporating best SEO practices on your site you will save money not having to rely on ads to be found on Google. Rather than investing a large portion of your budget on CPC or google ads you will be working constantly to improve your content which will in turn improve your ranking and increase visibility of your business.
In general SEO is a free marketing technique if you are willing to do the work yourself. Even when it comes to keyword research etc, there are free tools available meaning that you can boost the awareness of your site without eating into profits.
Improves User Experience
Google will rank your website and direct visitors to you based on the relevancy of your content in relation to the search query. By incorporating SEO practices on your website you are ensuring focus and a clear direction and in turn relevancy.
Rather than visitors hitting your page and bouncing off you will guide them through the content, ensuring they have a positive experience with your business and are likely to find what they need, make a purchase and return.
User experience plays heavily into SEO as things such as broken links, poor site speed and duplicates will all be penalised by Google's algorithm.
To consider it in simple terms if customers can interact easily with your site so can Google Bots.
Long lasting Growth
With SEO it's important to consider how it affects your business long term. Rather than simply investing money in ads to drive traffic quickly, you will be investing in your ecommerce store to help it build and develop.
SEO is focused on small wins over time that will continue to grow particularly when supported by a strong content strategy. Incorporating your SEO strategy will be a longer term investment however it will help to provide your business with direction, improving user experience and also help to lower costs in the long run constantly improving your growing organic traffic.
Is Shopify good for SEO?
Out of the box Shopify will help by providing site maps, structured URLs and the ability to add metadata titles and descriptions easily.
Shopify also has great options for site structure, which can be further improved with themes.
Lastly, Shopify optimizes your images on upload, making sure that your website will load fast on all devices, which is super important for how your website ranks in 2021.
For more detail on the built in Shopify capabilities check out their help centre here.
10 SEO Tips to Improve your Shopify SEO
Shopify is great for SEO and it can really help your website visibility on the web. Here are 10 SEO tips that you can follow that will help you create an SEO strategy and improve your ranking in search engines like Google.
The first element to consider when building your SEO strategy is what keywords you want to rank for.
Keywords are what will help Googlebots determine how relevant your content is in relation to the search query of the visitor.
When starting your Keyword research you have two options, paid and free. There are a number of Keyword research and planning tools on the market some of which are incredibly comprehensive but they will also come with a price.
Not all tools are expensive however. For a retailer on a budget, Google offers a number of free tools that you can use to conduct your research such as Google Search Console, Google trends and Google Keyword Planner (it’s part of the Google Ad platform, it’s free to use once registered with Google Ads).
When conducting your research you will want to consider what it is you offer and what it is that visitors would search for to find your business. You will want to consider what it is that your customers care about and how this relates to your product.
From this you can create seed keywords, these are the main keywords for your site. For example if you sell bicycles, it could be words like:
- kids bicycles
- adults bicycles
- Electric bicycles
- Bicycles UK
- Bicycle store
- Bike Shop
Once you have a list of seed keywords you can build out a wider map of long tail keywords that will help you create not only relevant content but also allow your site to perform better. These will generally be things that people might type into Google as a phrase rather than a single word.
Long tail keywords for a bicycle store could be things like:
- Best bicycles for kids
- Best bicycles for adults
- Best bicycles brands
- Bicycle shops in the UK
- Are electric bicycles good for the environment?
Once you have a keyword strategy, you can pick some of these ideas and build relevant pages, blog posts, or products that fit those keywords.
You can also incorporate keywords across your site in meta titles & descriptions, image alt text or blog content.
When adding keywords to your site, try not to overdo it, adding 100 keywords to a page, or bulk adding them to every page is a bad method for ranking for search terms and it could get your penalised in the long run.
If you’re writing good content or creating pages that are relevant to your product and brand you’ll also be able to naturally rank for keywords over time.
Meta titles and descriptions are another easy way to increase traffic to your site and improve click-through rate. In fact it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve your ranking and to get people to actually click on your link in search results.
Meta titles and descriptions will act as a preview to your content in search results, better titles and descriptions will improve the number of clicks you get and how well they perform over time.
Shopify makes it simple to include Meta titles and descriptions on your ecommerce site.
Some of the best practices include:
- Short and snappy taglines (Optimal length 50- 160 characters)
- Keep the content natural and avoid spammy language
- Include relevant keywords
- Don't use double quotation marks
Follow Site Structure Best Practices
Shopify makes building your ecommerce site easy with the use of themes and built in SEO features. However, you will need to ensure when creating your site that you build it correctly from the foundations.
Having good page hierarchy is important so google can differentiate different page types and understand what is most important.
When you are uploading inventory to your site ensure you are categorising them correctly using the hierarchy home page > category page > product pages.
The above diagram is an example of a simple, SEO friendly site structure. This structure will make it simple for customers to navigate through your site and also for Google Bots to recognise your page types.
Issues can arise when a site has made mistakes in its structure, commonly this is seen with the misuse of Shopify Product Tags.
Shopify product tags when used correctly will act as a filtering system allowing visitors to effortlessly browse relevant products. This will create a better user experience and simple navigation of your site.
Often the problem is when these tags are confused with product pages or overused as for each tag, Shopify will generate a unique URL.
This can then lead a large number of duplicate pages which will then be indexed by google harming your search ranking.
Just remember not to go overkill with tags in Shopify, in this case, less is more.
Visit the Shopify help centre for more information on how to build your site structure and information regarding tags.
Although moving online with your Ecommerce store will open your business up to a wider market it’s important not to forget the value of those in your local area. When optimising you site there are ways to make adjustments in order to increase traffic and awareness from local search results.
When considering that 46% of all google searches have local intent it would be naive to overlook the value in your local customers.
Local SEO needn't be complicated. The first step is to incorporate some local keywords in your content whether this is a location name or keywords you find through local reviews. You can then use these to optimise your Google “my business profile” which will include you location, photos of your business, reviews and a description.
It’s also crucial that you include NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations in your profile as these will allow Google to ensure your information is correct when ranking for local search terms.
If you are very invested in ranking locally you may want to consider trying to optimise your page to rank on Google’s Map Pack. This is the set of top three local results that will rank from a local search query and the business location will also be pulled from Google maps.
To rank highly in this section you will need to focus on your local keywords, building out your backlinks and importantly ensuring you have included your NAP’s.
Put simply, fast loading sites are given preference over slow ones. Google’s algorithm will penalise sites that have slow loading times particularly on mobile.
Not only does loading time affect ranking but it also has a huge impact on user experience. With just 1 second extra of a delay you could face 7% less conversions and 11% less page views.
You can review your site's speed easily using Google's page speed insights which will analyse your page giving an overview of its health both on mobile and desktop and importantly, highlight where the problem areas are.
A few key ways to improve your site speed are:
- Reduce HTTP requests (remove any excess scripts on your site)
- Reduce image sizes
- Reduce the number of Plugins you use (plugins or apps will increase number of scripts on the site)
Optimise your images
Although often overlooked, optimising images on your site can play a major role on your site's speed. It’s probably the number 1 reason for slow loading websites, with bad hosting being second.
When you consider that over half of mobile users leave a site if it doesn't load within 3 seconds ensuring your website can load as quickly and smoothly as possible should be one of your top priorities.
Image optimisation will not be the only factor that affects site speed but simply reducing their size and resolution could transform your loading times.
Ensure that all of your images are the appropriate format and size before you upload them to your site, we suggest JPEG or WebP image files. Using a tool like Tinyjpg or Imagify are quick and easy.
With images it’s also important that they have an appropriate file name as this will also be scanned by Google when crawling your site. Before uploading any product or marketing images to your page simply change the names to something relevant to your store and if applicable include target keywords.
Internal linking is a simple way to help Google Bots navigate your site and determine the value of that specific piece of content. An internal link is described as any link from one page on your website to another page on your website. This will help visitors and Google Bots alike to navigate through your site and discover related content.
Why is this valuable for SEO? In order for Google to discover a page and begin ranking the content, it needs to be linked to it. If your page has a lot of links this signals to Google that the content is relevant and of high value to the visitor.
This applies for both internal and external links however internal links are simple as you are in control and keeping visitors within your page whilst improving existing content.
A great tip for an ecommerce website is to include related products on your product pages. For blog posts include links in the post, or include next and previous links at the bottom of your posts.
Use and SEO Plugin or App
Shopify has an extensive app store offering a number of SEO Apps making it simple to optimise your store and rank higher on search engines.
Upon searching SEO in their app store, you will be met with a huge range of tools all varying in price and functionality.
The tool you choose will depend largely on your needs and level of understanding. All apps also come with a star rating and when looking for your plug-in make sure to read the reviews taking user experience into consideration.
All-in-one SEO is a great option, with over 400k installs and a 4.5/5 rating it gives you some automated SEO help, hints and tips so your site can rank better.
Avoid duplicate pages
Duplicate content is when the same content is found in multiple locations with unique web addresses.
Although the majority of business owners are not intentionally creating duplicate pages, this happens quite commonly by accident with estimates that as much as 29% of all web content is duplicated. This is a common problem and can seriously impact your search ranking.
With duplicate content Google doesn't know which version to rank for search authority.
For Shopify, make sure that your product/page titles & descriptions and meta titles & descriptions are unique. Avoid using lots of tags, especially tags that are similar. Don’t copy other websites’ content directly, as this is also bad practice and can get you penalised.
Write useful content
Your website should serve a number of functions, obviously the ecommerce piece is incredibly important but so also is the content and community piece.
Shopify has a blog function allowing you to add useful and insightful content to your blog whilst hitting all the relevant keywords. You can build a community writing content that is relevant to your industry and interests you.
By building out your blog content you are adding value to visitors and increasing their time spent on your site.
As well as this you are providing evidence to google that your site is credible and has a level of expertise which will result in a better ranking score.
Google’s algorithm takes time spent on web pages into consideration when providing a search ranking. Sites that have a high visitor engagement are seen as more credible and therefore seen more positively by Google.
When building your content strategy consider what topics will interest your visitors, what industry are you in and what will drive up clicks.
As mentioned, your blog content will also feed into your keyword ranking and enable you to add both internal and external links naturally.
The Shopify blog function is an opportunity to add a more creative element to your site whilst still driving your SEO strategy and building your brand.
There are a number of SEO tools that can help you track your progress, do keyword research and help with improving technical SEO.
Sign up for Google Search Console and Google Analytics
Simply incorporating SEO practices on to your site is not enough. In order for your efforts to be effective you will need to register your site with Google search console and Google Analytics.
Google Search Console allows you to submit your sitemap to Google which can help with getting your pages indexed by Google. Check out the Shopify site map information page to find out how to access your pages and submit them to google.
Search console also provides useful tools that allow you to track the progress of your site such as popular pages, search volume, number of clicks, keywords that your site has been found for (queries) and site health.
a Google Analytics is another free tool that will allow you to track your website metrics, see how pages are performing, where your customers are from, you can also set up goals, track your marketing efforts and loads more.
Without these tools you won’t have data to be able to analyse your marketing campaigns efforts. Make sure to sign up and add them to your site asap.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for finding out relevant keywords for your site, checking keyword volumes and how competitive keywords are.
Sign up for a Google Ads account (free to sign up) and then you can access this tool for free.
Ahrefs is a suite of tools for SEO, helping you uncover technical SEO issues, track keywords, and analyze your competitors. It has a bunch of free SEO tools that you can use to help improve your website.
If you find it useful the paid plans are also brilliant and can help track SEO performance over time.
Integrate Shopify with AirPOS for detailed reports and Sales Data
AirPOS integrates with Shopify to allow you to easily sync your POS and Ecommerce store. You can build your a powerful Ecommerce store without losing any visibilty across your inventory as you grow and increase demand.
Our integration will make setting up your store simple pulling across all your inventory to Shopify allowing you to focus on optomising your site and improving your organic traffic.
Check out our Shopify integration to find out more about how you can start with multichannel sales today.
LSI keywords: Words or phrases that Google sees at highly related to a specific topic.
Long-tail Keywords: Long tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phases that are closer to how people actually enter search queries.
Image Alt text: This is is the text underneath/attached to an image which describes to the visitor what it shows if they are unable to see it.
Googlebot: Web crawler software used by Google to collect content from the internet to build a searchable index for the search engine.
Keyword Stuffing: This is the SEO practice of including as many keywords as possible in site content in an attempt to rank higher for search queries. This is considered spamming and often penalised by Google.
HTTP requests: HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and forms the struture for how data requests and responses are made over the internet.
Meta description: A Meta description is a summary of a webpage's content which acts as a preview when displayed on Google's SERP.
SERP: Google's Search Engine Results Page