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?
I didn’t realize how in-depth SEO can be when I started working in eCommerce. In my mind, all I needed was a list of suitable keywords and some decent content.
Boy, was I wrong?
Yes, keywords are an essential part of SEO. And you can create and direct your SEO strategy with the proper knowledge and tools. But whether you do your SEO or work for an agency, you’ll need to invest in your strategy.
“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 my research tools and a will to learn, I began absorbing as much information about eCommerce SEO as possible. 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 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 new to the scene or 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 examine why your Shopify store needs a good SEO strategy.
Google looks at search engine optimization to organize search results based on their relevance to a given 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 a blog does not accompany them. 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 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 an excellent place to implement SEO, whether or not you have an accompanying blog. Without an optimization strategy, you’ll encounter many problems and have more trouble attracting new customers and store visitors.
How to Improve SEO on Shopify
Many SEO strategies you use for blog posts and other content can be applied to your Shopify store. Let’s look at some of the best ways you can improve your overall SEO strategy, avoid Shopify SEO problems, and grow your bottom line.
#1: Stress Your Product’s Benefits, Not Its Features
Let’s say you’re shopping for new running shoes online.
You find some you like. The product description 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 care which features it uses to make that happen.
Stress your product’s benefits in the description. List its features, but discuss precisely how they help your buyer. The product’s benefits should be easy to see, and include relevant keywords if 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 buyers personally.
Heed a warning: never list fake benefits in a product’s description. It’s common for brands to list half-truths or 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 tangible benefits as best as possible.
#2: Offer Your Product’s Raw Features, Too
Stress how your product benefits your buyer, but offer a list of its features.
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, then the parts. Consider putting the features off to the side of the page, further down than the benefits, or on a different tab entirely.
#3: Include All Important Information Relating To The Product In Its Description
You can include dozens of words and phrases in your product descriptions to help your customer better understand your product and rank higher 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 on Google. You might have your product’s name, but it won’t show up in a search containing its SKU if you don’t include it in your copy. Be thorough, and include any information directly about 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 don’t include the words “sneakers” or “tennis shoes” in your document, 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 makes it easier for Google to trust you.
Fill up your product descriptions with anything you can think relates to your product. 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 widespread 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 offer the same product but in different sizes. Otherwise, creating unique product descriptions for each product is essential – even if they’re on another page.
For example, you might offer a guitar singularly and surrender it in a bundle. The bundle comes with the same guitar, a lesson book, guitar picks, an amp, and other tools to help young musicians get their toes wet. And you’re probably charging more for the bundle because it offers 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 also want to share the benefits of choosing the bundle over the guitar.
Why would someone pay $100 more for this bundle than the guitar?
List the benefits and offer a unique product description for the bundle. Describe how the included extras can help a new guitarist. Tell your customers exactly how much they save 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 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 in the day, but today, they play a different role. They’re still important but in a much other way.
It changes its algorithm when Google finds that websites are ranked highly because of keyword generators. Now, Google punishes anyone who they think uses too many keywords.
You can use no set number of keywords before it impacts your page’s ranking. You need to fill 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.
#6: Don’t Use Thin Content
“Since a picture is worth a thousand words, is a product description necessary?”
I’m unsure 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 significantly 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 at 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 so, your products might have multiple URLs leading to the same page.
The best thing you can do is create a singular URL for each product. No matter where you list your product, links should lead to the particular 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 must use the right plugin. Not all product review solutions are SEO-friendly.
Once you’ve chosen an SEO-friendly review plugin, optimize it.
- Add roughly eight 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 thoughts page.
- Don’t list more than 30 reviews per page. This can make pages cluttered and 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 from an app like SEO Manager. Using this tool, you can identify and fix Shopify SEO problems you may have never noticed.
SEO Manager is $20 monthly, meaning you’ll need to make room in your budget. If you can justify the extra expense, SEO Manager is a beneficial 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.