Shopify SEO: Beginners Guide for New Store Owners

As an online retailer, you know that the key to building a successful business is making sure your customers can find your shop. But how do you ensure that your store is the top result when potential customers search for your products? In this post, we’ll teach you how to improve your Shopify Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so you can maximize your revenue and reach new customers.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your website’s content so you can attract more organic (unpaid) traffic and appear higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SEO improves search engine rankings, drives organic traffic to your site, and increases overall customer awareness of your business. This is important for you because the higher you appear in SERPs, the more likely your potential customers are to trust that you’re a reputable retailer and click on your store over your competitor’s. Another benefit of improving your SEO is that an optimized website is also a user-friendly website. And when your website is easy to navigate, customers find what they’re looking for more quickly, are more likely to complete their purchase and more likely to return.

 

A few factors that affect your online store’s search engine rankings:

  1. The maturity of your domain name
  2. How well your website’s content and structure are optimized for search
  3. The number of backlinks to your store from other sites
  4. Your website’s user engagement

If your store is new, you won’t have much control over your backlinks, engagement, or your domain’s maturity. But you can focus on ensuring that your shop’s content and structure are optimized for SEO so your products will show up in your customer’s searches.

SEO Tips from Shopify pros

 

If you’re a new Shopify retailer and you’re looking to learn how to improve your shop’s content, a great place to start is by learning from other Shopify owners who are doing it well. A guest post on the Shopify blog asked 25 successful store owners what content and SEO advice they would give new Shopify sellers. Below, we’ve shared a few of the most-cited responses:

  • Write your content to be clear and simple. Confusing your customers is a great way to get them to leave your store.
  • Be yourself. People like to shop at brick-and-mortar stores with personality, and online retail is no different. In addition, your content will be much easier to create if you’re focusing on authenticity.
  • Utilize Shopify’s built-in SEO tools! Shopify’s platform has tons of useful features that make improving your search engine optimization that much easier – and with less legwork on your part.
  • Test everything, including your shop’s layout, navigation, marketing messages, images, and checkout page to be sure your user experience is as smooth as possible.
  • Use high-quality product photos. Professional photography automatically elevates your brand and makes your products appear higher-quality.
  • Engage with your customers on social media to increase user engagement and build customer loyalty.
  • Focus on customer service – good reviews boost your SEO and page rankings.

Plan for your long-term content strategy by utilizing these tips for building a great Shopify store. Once your content is on point, it will be easy to focus on improving other aspects of your SEO.

How to improve your Shopify SEO

Once you’ve nailed your store’s content, the next step is to focus on your SEO. Shopify’s Help Center suggests a few basic ways to do this:

 

  1. Use a keyword search tool (like SEMRush or Moz) to find keywords that are relevant to your products and your brand. Look for words that your customers might use when searching for your store.

    For example, if I owned a Shopify store that sold pop culture enamel pins, I might search my keyword tool for “zelda enamel pin”:

Image Source: SEMRush

SEMRush shows me how popular this keyword is, along with the number of organic and paid searches for it. Now I have the data I need to decide if I want to use “zelda enamel pin” as a target keyword in my content and attempt to rank in SERPs for it.

SEMRush’s keyword overview will also show me Phrase Match Keywords:

Image Source: SEMRush
As well as Related Keywords that are similar to your search term:

Image Source: SEMRush

 

The Related Keywords function is very useful for finding other similar words that your customers might be searching for that you can incorporate into your content and begin ranking for as well.

Choose keywords that are specific to your brand and product, and choose keywords with strong search volumes. Keep in mind, however, that the higher the search volume on your chosen keywords, the more difficult it will be for you to rank for those searches because you’ll have lots of competition for clicks.

  1. Add your chosen keywords into your image alt text, page titles, descriptions, content, and metadata – this is how you will begin ranking for those keywords.

    The four main places you can add your keywords to your shop are page titles, alt tags, meta descriptions, and body content.

    Your title tags and meta descriptions are two of the most powerful SEO tools you have. They let both searchers and Google’s spiders know what your content is about and encourage potential customers to click your links and visit your store. Search engines compare your page titles to your content to be sure your titles match what your content is really about. Be sure your page titles are optimized for SEO by using a unique, descriptive title for each page, including your most important keywords, keeping your titles to 70 characters or fewer, and ensuring that your title tags are readable.

    You can edit your title and meta description for your product page, collection page, webpage, or blog posts using the Search Engine Listing Preview in your dashboard.

    Image source: Shopify Help Center

    Alt text tells search engines and visually impaired searchers what your images are about and helps Google to catalogue your images correctly so a potential customer can find your store if they encounter your product in an image search.

    Add your keywords into your body content with natural, readable phrases and sentences – don’t just drop keywords in your pages haphazardly. If you do this, your site will appear spammy and search engines won’t be able to crawl it correctly. 
  2. Ensure that your URLs and filenames match what your content is actually about so Google knows how to index your pages.

    As with your title tags and meta descriptions, be sure all of your store’s URLs and filenames include keywords that match your brand.

    Coherent, descriptive filenames tell search engines what your content is about. When you edit an image or save it from an image search, the default name is generally a string of numbers that won’t mean much to a search engine crawler, or your customers for that matter. You can’t change filenames in Shopify, so be sure to edit them before uploading your files. 
  3. Be sure your sitemap.xml is in your Google Search Console so your Shopify is easy for Google’s spiders to crawl.

    All Shopify stores automatically create a sitemap.xml file that lists all of your products, images, pages, blog posts, and collections. This sitemap is used by search engines to scan your shop’s pages for content so it can index them appropriately. To be sure that your site can be easily crawled by Google, submit your sitemap to the Google Search Console, and note that Google indexes your site automatically within 48 to 72 hours after creation or update.

    You can find your sitemap file at the root directory of your Shopify primary domain name. For example: happy-squirrels.com/sitemap.xml.

    Find your Shopify store’s sitemap video:


    Keep in mind that you can submit your sitemap to Google at any time, but only if your Shopify store isn’t password protected. 
  4. Continue creating great content that’s relevant to your products so visitors will want to share it and link back to your site.

    The more content you have on your site, the more pages Google will index under your domain, making your domain stronger and more trustworthy. In addition, more content means more opportunities to use your target keywords and ups your chances of ranking for them over your competitors.

 

Utilize Shopify’s Built-In SEO Features

 

Shopify’s platform has many built-in SEO features to help you optimize your store for maximum selling potential. Some of your SEO is taken care of for you automatically, including auto-generated canonical tags to prevent duplicate content from being indexed by Google, your website’s auto-generated sitemap.xml and robots.txt files, and pre-built themes that automatically generate title tags with your store name. Pre-built themes also come with social media linking and sharing buttons to make it easy for you to share your new Shopify store with the world.

Get more Shopify SEO help

Looking to boost your sales and get a leg up on the competition? Sign up for a Big Leap SEO consultation to learn how to turn your new store into an e-commerce superstar.

Meg Monk
Meg Monk is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Salt Lake City. When she's not writing about marketing strategy, she's camping in Utah's mountains in her 1976 Airstream or planning her next international trip - 29 countries and counting! You can find more of her work at megmonk.com.
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