Ah, SEO. For some, the words “search engine optimization” sounds like music to your ears, for others, it’s a nightmare and you are already Googling “SEO experts in my area”.
SEO can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. In fact, most SEO tactics are easier than you may think and there are plenty of tools available to help you optimize your Shopify store.
If you want your Shopify store to get noticed, the best way to do that is by implementing SEO tactics. Read more to see the essential Shopify SEO checklist.
A Quick SEO Rundown
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your website so that it is easily understandable and indexed by artificial intelligence, or “crawlers” used by search engines. When you optimize your website, crawlers can more easily access information that they deem relevant, giving you a higher search engine ranking (i.e. the first page of search versus the fifth) making you far more likely to show up in the searches made by potential customers.
There are two facets of SEO, referred to as on-page and off-page.
On-page SEO is what you can do within your website to make it more accessible to search engines. This includes things such as keywords, URL optimization, title tags, meta data, and H1/H2 headings.
Off-page SEO is everything that happens outside of your website. This includes backlinks, reviews made by customers, and advertising campaigns done on other websites and social media.
Note: while there are many search engines, most of the examples used in this article will reference Google, as it holds 90% of the worldwide search engine market share.
The Essential Shopify SEO Checklist
Choose and Purchase a Domain Name
While having a unique and solid domain name for your Shopify may seem like a no-brainer, many people fail to understand its importance. It is the first thing potential customers will see when they click on your page, so it is essential to make a good first impression. Your domain name should have the following qualities:
- Unique, but easily readable
- Relate to your industry or brand name
- Evoke a feeling in your customers
- Be free of typos, AKA, not look like a website that is going to give people a virus
Domain names can be expensive, especially if you picked a good one, but it is more than worth it.
Purchase a Paid Shopify Plan
As you may have guessed, money talks, especially when it comes to the e-commerce industry. To have a successful Shopify store, you will need to have some sort of paid Shopify plan, whether it be the basic, standard, or the expensive advanced package.
If you are using a free trial, Google will crawl and index your pages because it recognizes your store as having an active domain. Once that free trial is over, Shopify will pull your page, meaning that it will disappear. Having an established, active webpage is essential for SEO, and when your website is taken down, all of the work you put towards building your site ranking will go down the drain.
Use Headings to Your Advantage
Every page will have headings. This page has quite a few! These can be seen in the code of the page and they are how Google’s crawlers understand what a page is about and its contents.
Your H1 tag is the title tag of your page. It is the most important tag for your page to have because this is how crawlers will classify your page on Google. Your H1 tag should match (or be very similar) to the title of the page and include keywords.
H2 and H3 tags are mainly used in articles (like this one!) or pages with multiple topics/subheadings. These are not quite as important as your H1 tags, but they still help crawlers (and readers) find the information they are looking for as they do show up in searches.
As a general rule of thumb, try not to have so many subheadings that you have to make H4 or H5 tags, as that tends to get muddy.
Think of H1 and H2 tags like an outline of an essay: the H1 tag is the topic while H2 tags are the paragraphs that follow.
Customize the URL Handle For Each Shopify Page
Just like your domain name is important, so are the remainder of your URLs. Shopify’s default setting is to use the product or page name as the URL handle (also called a “slug”), but that can be difficult for crawlers to read. Instead, you should customize each page to reflect what they are in a more AI-accessible fashion using lowercase letters and dashes. It should also include relevant keywords (if the product is not already titled as such)
For example, if your product is a pair of vintage Levi’s jeans, the slug should read something like: yourshopifydomain.net/products/vintage-levis-jeans
Use Keywords and Use Them Wisely
Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO, because keywords are how crawlers and customers find your page. Again, using the jeans example, your keywords would be “vintage”, “Levi’s” and “jeans”, with long tail keywords being “vintage Levi’s” and “vintage Levi’s jeans”.
If you don’t include accurate keywords on your page, crawlers and potential customers will not be able to recognize what your page is about, much less find and purchase them. Think of it this way: if you are selling vintage Levi’s, you wouldn’t title your page “old pants”, because you know that no one will be searching for that.
Use SEO Tools
While Shopify has plenty of ways to help you optimize your page, there are a number of SEO tools — both paid and free — to help you navigate the SEO landscape.
One of the most useful tools is Google Analytics, which allows Google to track your page and show important information such as website traffic, click-through and bounce rates, the success of your ad campaigns, and helps you understand where your Shopify page can improve.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to submit your sitemap and it will show you if and where crawlers are having issues indexing your site. Crawlers frequently experience errors when they cannot reach a specific page (usually due to coding or linking errors).
SEO-targeted tools, such as the one by Ahrefs, offer a full-service SEO toolset and learning materials that is basically like having an SEO expert in your pocket at all times.
Other tools, like Moz its Mozbar plug-in help you see SEO work in real-time across the internet.
Start by choosing an appropriate domain name, purchase a paid Shopify plan, use headings in order to make it easier for search engines to understand what’s on each page of your site, customize the URL handle for every page with keywords specific to its content and finally employ some powerful online SEO tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs/SEMRush which can give you insights into how well-positioned you are within certain competitive markets.
Without SEO and the basics, your Shopify store will never reach the front page of Google. Start optimizing today.