How to Design Your Shopify Store for SEO
“If you build it, they will come” is unfortunately not the case in the digital age. All websites require careful consideration and planning to perform well for search engines.
A global leader in ecommerce, Shopify has clearly defined rules regarding how it is built and what you can control (or can afford to make mistakes with) for SEO. Let’s explore the ins and outs of designing your Shopify store and how to maximize search engine optimization.
We’re going to look at:
- SEO basics
- What makes Shopify different?
- Top 5 pieces of advice to improve SEO in Shopify
As you are likely already aware, search engine rankings greatly influence how customers find your store. In the simplest terms, search engine optimization is taking a piece of online content and optimizing it, so search engines show it first when someone searches related keywords. The higher in ranking that your Shopify store appears on search engines, the more traffic will be driven to your store, which in turn, leads to more sales.
While you’ve likely heard a lot about search engine optimization, it is a broad term that naturally evolves–professionals who have been doing it for years need to constantly relearn the basics, as the rules of the game change monthly. There is sadly no quick fix of sprinkling the latest keywords into your site in hopes of a higher ranking. Thankfully, there are many tips and tools anyone can easily utilize and implement in the pursuit of topping search engine results.
What makes Shopify different?
In the world of ecommerce, Shopify has established itself as one of the go-to powerhouse platforms with millions of users worldwide. Targeted at web experts and non-technical users alike, Shopify provides ease of use, modern themes, and a tailor-made experience for any small-to-midsize business.
In theory, Shopify is no different than other forms of CMS/ecommerce stores and comes with a range of unique benefits. Shopify’s ease of use, access to a wide range of features, available themes, and numerous payment processors (Visa, Master Card, Apple Pay, etc.) cater to a large range of clients with nuanced needs. Shopify also comes ready-made with powerful tools that aid your SEO, such as blogs, built-in mobile optimization, the ability to redirect, and much more.
Shopify is also an approved ecommerce integration for both Facebook and Google, making your Shopify stores even more widely findable. Retailers who sell products through Facebook or Google properties such as Instagram, YouTube or Google Maps will be able to offer shoppers the chance to pay for their purchase using Shopify’s Shop Pay checkout. This is a valuable resource that can make your products easier to sell with ads (or retargeting with ads).
But like with any website, research and planning your Shopify store is paramount. Common issues include overdoing it with plugins and apps, not properly mapping out your store’s design or checkout process, and rarely keeping up with site maintenance and testing. These can all hurt performance and SEO.
It’s important to think outside the box and keep up-to-date with Shopify’s SEO best practices and technical customization to design an ecommerce store that works best for you and your store goals.
Top 5 pieces of advice to improve SEO in Shopify
1. Use data-driven keyword research
You’re only as good as your keyword search. Conduct regular keyword research to ensure you’re utilizing the search terms your customers are actually using. And much like the evolving needs of your customers, keywords change, adapt and progress.
Keeping in-tune with keyword research ensures that your store is optimized to attract ready-to-buy shoppers and tells Google exactly what your store is all about. With a plethora of online keyword research tools at your disposal, you don’t need to be a Shopify SEO expert to identify which keywords would work best for your store.
2. Create a site hierarchy
You want your customers to find your store easy to navigate, and google is no different. By structuring your store, not only does it make it easier on your customers, but Google will know which pages are the most important.
When designing your site hierarchy, be sure to create categories and subcategories that link back and forth. This will indicate to Google which pages should take priority, while giving vital context to each subcategory. Much like the best laid out brick and mortar store, think about your site hierarchy like a map of your store that guides customers to the products they want.
3. Blogs, blogs, and more blogs
The process might seem daunting, but regularly blogging creates more opportunities for your customers to find your store while also increasing your SEO ranking. You can also use blogs as an opportunity to target shoppers that may not quite be ready to buy just yet, and nurture them by providing valuable and engaging content. High quality and relevant blogs will be more likely to be shared through social media, which will in turn lead to more exposure for your store. It’s a win-win!
4. Optimize site speed
With customers spending more time browsing online than ever before, slow loading speeds can be a major deterrent for any consumer. With most online shoppers expecting a site to load within a few seconds, time is truly of the essence for your Shopify store. If your store lags behind consumer expectations, this will indicate to Google that your site isn’t relevant to commonly used search terms, thus bumping it down in search results.
Prioritize speed and agility by implementing Shopify best practices like choosing a fast Shopify theme like Booster, Turbo, Shoptimized, or Flex. Also, keep in mind to only use compressed images and be selective of the Shopify apps you have running on your site.
5. Optimize for mobile
Online shoppers are increasingly relying on their phones for their ecommerce solutions, and it’s up to you to ensure your store is mobile-ready. As a designer, it is now imperative to think beyond the desktop to provide an experience tailored to the mobile user. Not to mention that a properly optimized Shopify mobile site is favored by Google.
Enhance your mobile experience for users by selecting a mobile-ready Shopify theme like Handy, Reach, or Express. Remember to emphasize simplifying your designs, removing distractions, and creating a seamless mobile checkout experience. Also remember to check your Shopify Analytics, where you can quickly see what percentage of your store visitors are mobile versus desktop.
These guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimizing your Shopify site for SEO. As Shopify continues to grow in users and offered features, it will become crucial for businesses to understand and consistently revisit the SEO basics of the platform.
This guide is a great starting point to mastering the knowledge necessary to increase your Shopify SEO ranking and stand tall above the competition. If you have any questions or need a little extra advice when setting up your store, feel free to reach out – we’re always here to help.