As an Shopify store owner, you’re probably familiar with the term “search engine optimization.” Search engine optimization (SEO) tips and tricks are all over the web, but how crucial is SEO to your store’s success?
When I first started working in eCommerce, I didn’t realize how in-depth SEO can be. In my mind, all I needed was a list of good keywords and some decent content.
Boy, was I wrong.
Yes, keywords are an important part of SEO. And you can create and direct your own SEO strategy, if you have the right knowledge and tools at hand. But whether you choose to do your own SEO or you choose to work an agency, you’ll need to make investments for your strategy to work.
“But Steve, I’m not a Shopify SEO expert, and I don’t have the money to invest in the help of a professional,” you might be asking.
It’s okay, I started in exactly your position many years ago. Armed with only my research tools and a will to learn, I began absorbing as much information about eCommerce SEO as I could. Now I’m offering you everything I know so you can reach new audiences and improve your bottom line.
You won’t learn the ins-and-outs of Shopify SEO overnight, but this guide can get you started on the right foot. Whether you invest time in learning Shopify SEO or you decide to invest money in a professional marketing agency, your organic reach will depend on your store’s optimization.
Keep reading to get a crash course in Shopify SEO 101. Whether you’re totally new to the scene or you want to know how to improve SEO on Shopify, our guide will take you through the ins-and-outs of Shopify SEO, and prepare you for the next step of your marketing strategy.
Is Shopify Good for SEO?
Before we begin, let’s look at why your Shopify store needs a good SEO strategy.
Google looks to search engine optimization to organize search results based on their relevance to a given search query. A store or website with excellent SEO is also considered more trustworthy to Google, thanks to off-site SEO factors.
Bloggers and writers generally use SEO differently than Shopify store owners. Articles and blog posts give the writer a lot of room to make their strategy work, whereas stores without a blog are in a different position.
Some eCommerce store owners think SEO is irrelevant to Shopify stores when they’re not accompanied by a blog of some kind. You might not have the same opportunities to implement SEO if you don’t have a blog, but it’s crucial to your organic reach either way.
With Shopify, most of your SEO efforts will center around product descriptions (even if you do have a blog). If you ignore SEO when you write your product descriptions, you could miss out on hundreds or thousands of potential customers.
So yes – Shopify is a good place to implement SEO, whether or not you have an accompanying blog. Without an optimization strategy, you’ll encounter a lot of problems, and you’ll have more trouble attaining new customers and attracting new store visitors.
How to Improve SEO on Shopify
Many of the same SEO strategies you use for blog posts and other content can be applied to your Shopify store. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can improve your overall SEO strategy, avoid Shopify SEO problems, and make your bottom line grow.
#1: Stress Your Product’s Benefits, Not Its Features
Let’s say you’re shopping for new running shoes online.
You find some you really like. In the product description, it reads: “These shoes offer light rubber soles and memory foam inserts.”
Okay, so you know what to expect when you get the shoes. But how do those features benefit you as a runner?
This product description might be more effective if it read “These shoes offer light rubber soles to help you walk or jog with minimal strain, and memory foam inserts to keep your posture aligned and your feet feeling great all day.”
Notice the difference?
The second description discusses how the product benefits the buyer, not its objective features.
Listing a product’s features is easy, but it doesn’t help your buyer understand what they’re buying. They want to know how a product will help them, they don’t really care which features it uses to make that happen.
Stress your product’s benefits in the description. List its features, but discuss exactly how they help your buyer. The product’s benefits should be easy to see, and should include relevant keywords if at all possible.
If you’re having trouble finding out the real benefits of your product, try this exercise:
List each of your product’s features.
Ask yourself why someone would design a product with those features.
Figure out how those features connect with a buyer’s wants or needs.
Use your findings to determine how this product connects with buyer’s on a personal level.
Heed a word of warning: never list fake benefits in a product’s description. It’s common for brand’s to list half-truths or even lies as benefits of a product, which is a great way to lose customers and get chargebacks or returns. Stay honest with your reader, and offer your product’s real benefits in the best possible way you can.
#2: Offer Your Product’s Raw Features, Too
Stress how your product benefits your buyer, but offer a list of its features, too.
Again – don’t lie about your product. Don’t list any half-true features or features that might not be present. Be upfront and honest without stretching the truth.
Don’t list a product’s features as prominently as you list its benefits. You want your readers to see the benefits first, than the features. Consider putting the features off to the side of the page, further down than the benefits, or on a differently tab entirely.
#3: Include All Important Information Relating To The Product In Its Description
There are dozens of words and phrases you can include in your product descriptions to help your customer better understand your product and achieve a higher rank on Google’s search engine results pages.
Keywords are only the beginning – in fact, there’s much more you can add to improve your rank:
Product-Related Keywords: Every product you offer probably has an SKU, a UPC, a catalog number, a part number, and numerous other tags you use to identify it from others. Some shoppers will use these identification tags to search for your products in Google. You might have your product’s name, but it won’t show up in a search containing just its SKU if you don’t include it in your copy. Be thorough, and include any and all information directly pertaining to the product.
Variations of the Product: Depending on the product, there’s probably a synonym for it somewhere on the web. Some people might search for “athletic shoes,” others may search for “tennis shoes,” and others might prefer “sneakers.”
If your product goes by numerous names or titles, include them in your copy. If you sell athletic shoes, but you don’t include the words “sneakers” or “tennis shoes” in your copy, you’ll miss out on searches.
Product Name: Repeat your product’s name in the description. You don’t need to do this a lot, but it helps reaffirm what your page is about, and it makes it easier for Google to trust you.
Fill up your product descriptions with anything you can think relates to your product. Try to imagine every potential search term you think relates to your product, and implement it in your copy. Your product will show up on more search engine results pages, and you’ll see an increase in your store’s visitors.
#4: Don’t Forget About Product Variations
A big Shopify SEO problem I see is using the same product descriptions for product variations.
It’s a really common issue – unsurprisingly so.
“It’s the same product, with a twist. Why can’t I use the same description? It gets the point across,” I hear from time to time.
This might work if you’re offering the same product, but in different sizes. Otherwise, it’s important to create unique product descriptions for each of your products – even if they’re present on another product page.
For example, you might offer a guitar singularly, and you might offer it in a bundle. The bundle comes with the same guitar, a lesson book, guitar picks, an amp, and other assorted tools to help a young musician get their toes wet. And you’re probably charging more for the bundle because it offers so many extras.
Sure, the guitar might be the same. You can share the same benefits and features in the bundle description as you do the guitar, but you’ll want to share the benefits of choosing the bundle over the guitar as well.
Ask yourself, why would someone pay $100 more for this bundle than the guitar alone?
List the benefits, and offer a unique product description for the bundle. Describe how the included extras can help a new guitarist. Tell your customer exactly how much they’re saving by choosing your bundle instead.
Do the same for products in different colors or flavors. Google doesn’t care for duplicate content, even if it relates to both of your product listings. To avoid being penalized, take the time to create unique product descriptions for your entire store – it’ll pay off in more visitors and better reach.
#5: Avoid Excessive Keyword Use in Product Descriptions – But Use Them Effectively
Google and keywords have a weird relationship. Keywords were the bread and butter of SEO back in the day, but today they play a different role. They’re still important, but in a much different way.
When Google caught wind that websites were ranked highly because of keyword generators, they changes their algorithm. Now, Google punishes anyone who they think uses too many keywords.
There’s no set number of keywords you can use before it impacts your page’s ranking. You need to feel it out, based on the length of your copy and the frequency of your keywords.
We recommend adding only a few, and spacing them out. If your description reads like you just strung a bunch of keywords together, you might face a penalty from Google.
Choose the keywords that best relate to your product, and include those. If your keywords become too obvious, expect Google to penalize your page in return.
#6: Don’t Use Thin Content
“Since a picture is worth a thousand words, is a product description really necessary?”
I’m not sure if this is what anyone’s thinking, but I’ve seen it far too often not to make mention of this SEO problem.
Your customer can get a good idea of a product from its image. A short description might seem like it’ll do the job, but it’ll greatly limit your organic reach. The longer your description is, the more information you can offer about the product.
Make your product descriptions at least 100 words each – preferably more. If Google classifies your content as “thin,” they’ll filter you out of relevant search results.
#7: Optimize Product Page URLs With Related Keywords
Google looks to page URLs when it ranks search results. Pages with randomly generated URLs generally rank lower than those with unique URLs. Your URL also gives you another place to put valuable keywords.
Some products in your store might be part of multiple categories. A women’s jacket might be found under the Women’s, Best Sellers, and Outdoor Attire categories. If this is the case, your products might have multiple URLs leading to the same page.
The best thing for you to do is create a singular URL for each of your products. No matter where you list your product, links should lead to the singular URL. This makes it easier for Google to locate your products in a search, since the algorithms won’t find the same things at different locations.
#8: Make The Most of Review Content
Reviews can have a very positive impact on your store. Good reviews help you build trust with your customers, and Google can use them to rank your store.
For Google (and other search engines) to read your reviews and consider them part of on-page SEO, you need to use the right plugin. Not all product review solutions are SEO-friendly.
Once you’ve chosen an SEO-friendly review plugin, you need to optimize it.
Add roughly 8 reviews to each page. This increases your freshness score in Google’s algorithm, boosting your page’s ranking.
Sort reviews by relevance. Content-rich, recent reviews should take the top spot on your reviews page.
Don’t list more than 30 reviews per page. This can make pages cluttered and actually hurt your search engine ranking.
#9: Control How Google Sees Your Store Using An App
Numerous development teams offer software and apps to help you control and optimize your Shopify store. Some apps are more effective than others, and we recommend SEO Manager from our own positive experience.
What exactly can you do with an app like SEO Manager?
Fix 404 errors and redirect page visitors in real-time.
Redirect customers when a product goes out of stock.
Manage your sitemap.
Use and create title templates.
Get keyword suggestions.
Access a Google Result Simulator to see how well your SEO works.
Edit titles, tags, and descriptions.
Use an SEO Scan to analyze your content.
See how well your site works on mobile, using the Google Mobile-friendly test)
Get access to advanced meta settings.
New and seasoned digital marketers can benefit in some way from an app like SEO Manager. Using this tool, you can identify and fix Shopify SEO problems you may have never otherwise noticed.
SEO Manager is priced at $20 a month, meaning you’ll need to make room in your budget. If you can justify the extra expense, SEO manager is a very helpful tool and can help you get your SEO strategy on track.
Shopify and SEO should go hand-in-hand. The better your page is optimized, the more likely you are to reach new audiences and attract new customers. With the right SEO strategy, your store can show up at the front of Google’s search engine results page, and you can attract hundreds or thousands of new buyers you never expected.
What are your tips for Shopify SEO? Let us know in the comments below!