How to Optimize Your Shopify Store for Search. 2023 Guide
A strong online presence is rapidly gaining momentum than ever before for businesses as we enter 2023. There has been a significant drastic growth of e-commerce since 2019, with a report from eMarketer predicting global e-commerce sales to rise to $5.5 trillion by the end of 2022.
Like your own baby, you need to make sure your business has all the essential ingredients to get on top. Making your store to be ranked in the 1st position on Google is not a walk in the park. It requires time, commitment, and lots of online marketing strategies that can only be applied after explicit research. However, being on top is both a matter of pride and business success.
From the days of keyword stuffing and clickbait copy until today, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has made tremendous progress.
To rank first in a Google search result, your store's content needs to be tantamount to a potential visitor's intent. Optimizing your site for SEO may seem intimidating and tedious. Nevertheless, it is really all about getting to know how search engines operate and how searchers use them and, in turn, implement that insight into your page's copy, then methodically run through some completely accessible backend tinkering.
That is why here we are with a Complete Shopify Store optimization guide for 2023 that will save you a huge time in case you are aiming to rank at the top of Google search results.
Why is SEO so significant?
Because most of the traffic comes from organic search
In case you lack an SEO scheme for your store, you might be missing out on traffic and revenue. Online stores can anticipate 35% of total traffic to emanate from search engine results pages and 33% of revenue from this organic traffic making it the marketing channel that can produce the greatest traffic and revenue, according to Wolfgang Digital.
Since there is a rise in paid advertising costs yet SEO is “free traffic”
If, by any chance you are earning most of your sales through paid advertising channels like Facebook or Instagram, this can greatly eat into your profit margins. Even though generating organic traffic is gradual, it should subsequently become your best acquisition channel as it is cost-effective. Making efforts to increase organic traffic through SEO may cost you time and sacrifice. However, its compounding effect makes organic traffic the best value-for-money channel to produce customers. In conclusion, SEO ought not to be an afterthought even though the return is not immediate.
Because being ranked first in search engines can get you up to 30% extra daily traffic
There’s a common joke in the SEO world that in case you are looking forward to hiding a dead body, you would put it on page two. That’s because being in first place results in the most clicks—disproportionately so in comparison to being ranked in the 11th position.
In case you happen to obtain a page that is performing pretty fine for organic traffic even without having done any optimizations for search, there are high chances that you can improve the page to bring more traffic, sometimes with comparatively smallest tweaks.
Image showing the click-through rates for searches conducted with a shopping intent and how they start at 30% for the first position and slowly tail off.
Below are the ways through which you can essentially improve your Shopify SEO
There are some crucial things you need to clearly put in place before jumping into improving your Shopify store’s SEO. They are as follows:
Purchase a custom domain. In simple terms, your store requires its own domain to succeed in SEO. With custom domains, more trust is created with potential shoppers clicking through from search engines. Besides, they’re more memorable. If you are still in possession of the brand name ".myshopify.com" it’s time to upgrade to a custom domain like brandname.com. Domain names range between $10 to $20 a year.
Make sure there is Google Analytics installed on your site.
Apart from being free to install on your website, Google Analytics lets you see how much traffic and what it does on your site. You can learn how to set up Google Analytics on your Shopify store.
Make sure you have installed Google Search Console on your site.
Google Search Console equips you with insight into what pages rank for which queries, where they rank, and the number of clicks you get amongst other useful insights.
You can as well learn how to set up Google Search Console on your Shopify store.
Have a mobile-ready theme.
Shopify provides a handful of free themes, which are carefully built with Responsive Web in mind out of the box. If perhaps you’ve made any customizations to your theme or had already had one built, it is ideal you test its mobile readiness with this Google tool even if there haven't been tweaks made.
Remove password protection.
In case your product pages are still created or sorted, you might have to wait to unlock your store to the public and search engines. However, if your store is password protected, search engines will be unable to see beyond your homepage, and in essence, rank your pages on their search engine results page.
Be on a paid plan.
While it is true that stores on free trials can be crawled and indexed unless you are on a paid plan, you’re going to put in all this work and not see the benefits of your efforts once your trial is over since waiting for a new store to rank will take more than 14 days.
Once you’ve proven that all of these are well put in place, you’re good to go.
Technical SEO is a mysterious and hidden type of SEO. Similar to the fresh engine oil that keeps a car in motion, it is often hardly seen but can definitely improve the search performance of your website. Technical SEO is tasked to ensure that your website is optimized for search engine crawlers, has decent page speed, and is mobile device optimized. Additionally, it optimizes your site for humans by seeing to it that its structure, navigation, and internal links permit easy browsing and that meta tags are completely full so both search engines and humans are aware of what the page entails.
In case your website is marred with discrepancies in these areas, it can repress your rankings until the existing errors are identified. By remarkably resolving these mistakes you’ll see the gains like
- Users interacting more with the site because it’s super-fast and all essential content and pages are simple to access
- Enhanced crawling activity from crawl bots since the site is easier to crawl, which in turn increases organic traffic over time
How to effectively make use of Technical SEO
- By creating a coherent internal linking strategy using your menus.
It’s not a big deal to overlook internal linking, especially in the initial days of building your online store. I am aware that—it simply doesn’t seem that significant when compared to publishing new pages and promoting your business.
The truth of the matter however is, creating internal links isn’t just about pasting links to the relevant anchor text across your website. It’s about coming up with the recommended pillar pages that will transmit authority to dozens of other necessary website pages and blog posts, and/or vice versa. This can easily be done through a clear navigation system from your homepage that is not built for both user experience and search engine crawlers.
This is important for building buyer trust. Our research on what strengthens trust with new shoppers found that category navigation that is simple to understand and use across all devices is compulsory if you want to win sales.
- By submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console and rectifying site errors
At the onset of this article, we stated that you ought to create a Google Search Console account. After doing that, the next step is to send your sitemap. Submitting your sitemap on Google Search Console permits your store to be crawled and indexed by search engines. This simply indicates that a crawling bot visits your e-commerce site, views the homepage, and goes through all your product categories, collections, and product pages and back up again until it’s complete. It does this so it can highlight them on search engine results pages.
Luckily, Shopify creates a sitemap for all stores right out of the box. You don't need to build your own—this is only applicable to highly developed SEO managers. In case you’re on the Basic plan, you will have access to one auto-generated sitemap; if you’re on the Shopify plan or higher and use international domains, then you are expected to submit the sitemap file for each domain.
The procedure is aimed at fixing any possible errors on your site. If you’ve just submitted your sitemap, you'll have to be patient and wait until a crawl has taken place to get this insight, so maybe bookmark this section and revisit it in a week or so.
- By optimizing your images for quick loading and easily being found by search engines
crawl both the text on your webpage and your images. Optimizing your images doesn’t restrict you from displaying beautiful photography. In fact, it modifies your images in such a way that you can show off and c lol clearly display them to shoppers.
Cutting down image sizes should be a priority for your store. According to HTTP Achieve, images make up 46% of the average web page’s overall size—an indication that images are large in size and thus can make a page load slowly if well not optimized. The good news is that because Shopify is a hosted e-commerce software, you should not worry about the technical aspects of coming up with a CDN that is secure and readily loads your images since that’s already included in your plan. Nevertheless, below are a few easy tricks for reducing the file size of your images to assist you in getting them found and indexed easier by search engines:
You should use images in JPG or PNG formats. To begin with, Shopify automatically displays images in WebP, a format that provides high-quality compression for images on the web, with an average saving of over 30% in file size over traditional file formats like JPEG and PNG. Apart from this, whenever possible, use only JPEGs and PNGs for images by the time you are uploading them to your site, as they’re already in the smallest image file formats. This can be done in the vast majority of native image programs that accompany your system. For instance, on a Mac, you can comfortably use the Preview app to safely save images in various formats by clicking File > Export, followed by selecting either JPG or PNG from the dropdown menu.
Note: As a hint, a good rule of thumb is to use JPEGs for photography and PNGs for custom graphics or illustrations, and never use GIFs, unless it’s for relocating images
You can as well lessen the file size of your images. Precisely, the bigger the image file size, the longer it can take to load a page. Managing your image dimensions increases the loading of your images and the page. As a caution, there is a possibility that resizing images can affect their quality. You should therefore make sure you use the standard resolution, which is 72 pixels per square inch (PPI). In case you’re unfamiliar with this, it would be ideal if you use Shopify's free image resizer to get you started.
Add images to your sitemap. The ultimate goal is to have your images appear on search results, since the majority of people are visual searchers, especially when it comes to products like apparel. Adding images to your sitemap increases the chances for search engines to crawl and index them. Shopify adds your primary product page image in the sitemap. However, if you want to add all images on your products pages, It would be ideal for you to install Image site map, an app that automatically creates and submits to Google Search Console and .xml Sitemap for every image connected to each product, blog article, and page in your Shopify store.
Optimize your alt attributes painstakingly. Alt attributes are the text options for images used when a browser is unable to appropriately render them. They’re also used for web accessibility, an indication that if a person with impaired vision is looking at your blog they will be able to clearly read the alt text. Alt text is essential for e-commerce stores and image SEO since it assists in products showing up in Google images. Therefore our recommendation here is to carefully describe in plain language what’s in the image to easily help people with impaired vision have an idea of what the image portrays. At the same time, this can also enhance your images' rank.
Let your image be named in plain language. When your image is saved into your computer, the file name is called plain language. When you upload it, its web address remains similar. Ideally, it should match the keyword on the page. For instance, if our page is about Tabasco pepper hot sauce, and we want to save the image file name as "Tabasco -pepper-hot sauce.jpg." This means that with our product page appearing for queries "Tabasco -pepper-hot sauce.jpg," our product images hopefully will also appear under the images tab on search engines.
Thi is the primary method of directly telling readers and search engines what your page entails. Search engines look for specific on-page factors that can assist them in effectively ranking your page on search engine results pages (SERPs). On-page factors consist of keyword and topic relevance, meta information, the slug in the page URL, and your images, just to mention a few.
1. Keyword research
Keywords simply means queries people use and type into search engines. Often, this depicts the way we talk when asking questions—at times it is more of a “caveman speak” format, where you might type “buy new smartphone” compared to “I want to buy the new smartphone.”
Before we proceed further, let us talk a little bit about two different types of keywords: short and long tail keywords
Short tail keywords consist of two or three words in length and specifically of high volume, e.g., “men's shorts,” which registers 38,000 monthly searches in ahrefs keyword explorer.
Long tail keywords consist of either four words or more in length and mostly of lower volume, e.g., “men's shorts with pockets,” which registers 40 monthly searches in ahrefs keyword explorer
Ways through which people use keywords in search engines to buy products
As far as choosing a keyword you would like your page to rank for is concerned, it assists in understanding the intent associated with the search query. Search queries, therefore, fall into the following categories:
- Navigational queries. These consist of searches entered with the aim of finding a particular website or webpage. For instance, a user might enter “Instagram” into a search bar to find Instagram’s site instead of entering the URL into a browser’s navigation bar or even using a bookmark.
- Informational queries. These in most cases begin with “When to,” “what,” “why,” "how" etc. Plus Content that genuinely gives useful information relevant to the query ranks for these keywords.
- Transactional queries. Involve searches that show an intention to finish a transaction. This involves typing a product name directly into the search bar, e.g., “Tecno Pova.”
How to effectively select the right keyword
So far so good. You have now known how users brave their way through the purchase journey and how to know the intent behind a search. It is now time for us to find ways to conduct keyword research.
Keyword research can at times feel overwhelming. Such nagging questions as Where exactly do I start? How do I find one? How do I even know if my keyword is going to rank? and How long will it take? Will over and over again ring into your already occupied mind. Do not worry as we will walk you through getting solutions to these questions.
- Where you should start with keyword research. Start by meditating about what your product is or what category it exists under. For instance, since Shopify is an e-commerce platform, we want a page to rank for this search term. What’s an encompassing term to describe your product?
- Use paid tools or free tools to get competitive insight. There exist many free and paid tools at your disposal. However, the best free tools for Chrome are Keyword Surfer and MozBar, both of which are available as extensions. When you use Keyword Surfer, you have to type your keywords into Google and it momentarily gives you keyword volume in the address bar and on the SERP. MozBar on the other hand lets you know the domain authority and page authority of a website—importantly how reputable or powerful a website is and how well trusted a page is, in that order.
- What you should do with this data. You have now acquired insights into a short-tail keyword. It is now time to filter down on a long tail keyword that is connected with it. In case you’re a new or emerging business, usually, these short-tail keywords are highly competitive to rank for, so there is a need for you to find a differentiator. Never forget that your business acquired its edge and way into the market with an absolutely unique selling proposition. Take an advantage of that and channel it into a long tail keyword, since this can help your product get found and in essence, acquire more traffic. In case you’re using Keyword Surfer, simply click the star in the address bar to add the short tail keyword to the clipboard. Do this while at the same time going through the “Keyword ideas” list, as you seek long tail keywords. Once you’re done, click “Clipboard,” the three dots, and “Export.” And there it is, you now have this data saved in a CSV file, which you can actively use when creating or optimizing your page.
2. Make Sure to Match search intent and create pages relevant to your keyword
Whatever type of search query your page might be targeting, be notified that when it comes to making a choice of a keyword, Google and other search engines will unbiasedly rank the pages that have the highest possibility of satisfying the searcher’s journey. Specifically, Google wants no extra searches, and it doesn’t want the user to hit “Back” and click on another search result.
When you’re selecting a keyword to target, there is a likelihood that you can get a good prudent idea of what the search intent is from the top 10 results on a SERP. To achieve this, simply search the term and make a brief note of whether the page is either an article or a product page. As of now, only concentrate on the organic listings and not the ads, which are marked “Ads” to the left, or any SERP features such as People Also Ask, images, videos, or local listings.
3. Include Content optimization to make your pages visible
Content optimization is another vital on-page SEO element as it makes your pages rank higher in search results for their target keyword. Some of the examples include tweaking or optimizing a page’s content, meta description as well as title tags. Content optimization is pretty easy especially when you have a clear keyword you’re trying to rank for.
The simplest and most straightforward way to understand content optimization is by asking yourself, “By what means can I make it clear to the visitors what this page is all about?” With this question answered, you can run a health check on your pages:
- Is the heading vividly explaining what is on the page?
- Am I using the correct keyword or some alterations of it in subheadings or in the body of the content on the page?
- Is the URL slug containing the keyword? Is it exceedingly long or short?
- Is the title of the page captivating? Does the meta description make this page seem c worthy of clicking?
- What exactly are the image file names? Do they contain alt text filled in that clearly gives details about what’s displayed in the image?
A crucial takeaway for on-page SEO
It is clear from our discussion that creating an SEO-friendly page is all about making the information easily digestible for the reader, and not necessarily the search engines. It’s through the formatting that readers can reach where they need to go, through the appropriate use of headings, bullet lists, or numbered lists. Moreover, it is about lessening friction for the reader's experience by assisting them to get there and readily find what they want. You may have heard that length is a determining factor in whether a page ranks or not. Nevertheless, our take has always been, in case you have a monster-sized article or page, it is simply because the topic deserves it. It’s hardly sensible enough to add more words to an article just to hit a metric that promises a ranking page.
SEO is an irresistible and important factor for every website that aims to thrive on the internet. The same case applies to Shopify stores.
Stores that implement an effective Shopify SEO strategy are poised to gain search engine credibility, enhanced rankings, higher visibility, additional traffic, and, ultimately, increased sales. With the information that we have shared above, you are good to take your website to the next level.