Search engine optimization (SEO) is the lifeblood of e-commerce shops looking to compete in today’s online landscape. With so many companies vying for the top spot on Google, even incremental improvements to your site’s SEO can mean the difference between receiving the lion’s share of traffic and a pittance. Don’t believe us? Check out this chart from Advanced Web Ranking (November 2018 stats):
On both mobile and desktop devices, there is a huge step down from ranking first place and ranking second; CTR is effectively halved when users are searching from desktop devices. So e-commerce business owners know that they should have the best SEO possible.
But what does that mean if you are using Shopify as your platform? While you benefit from the convenience of not having to build your online presence from scratch, what does Shopify do for your ability to rank higher on Google? In other words, is Shopify good for SEO?
The short answer is yes. In this Shopify SEO tutorial, we'll dive into exactly what Shopify does well in terms of SEO.
Shopify and SEO
Shopify hits all the SEO basics.
Luckily for users of Shopify, the e-commerce platform does many things right when it comes to SEO, especially the foundational basics. This includes:
- The ability to manage and update meta tags, the short bit of text that describes each page on your site. While meta keywords are fairly useless these days, the title tag and meta descriptions are still used by the Google bots when they scrape your site.
- Automatically generating a sitemap for your store, which tells the Google bots which URLs to categorize (so they can be ranked). Yes, for advanced SEO you may want to do this manually (to exclude certain pages; more on this later), but in general Shopify does a good job at creating the sitemap for you.
- Creating 301 redirects, the way to redirect traffic from one defunct URL to another without diminishing search rankings.
- The ability to canonize URLs, to tell the Google bots which one is the master version of multiple identical pages.
- Intuitive User Interface (UI) that, while somewhat dependent on what Shopify theme you use, in general has a smart architecture that makes navigation simple.
Shopify either handles for you or gives you the ability to optimize these basic SEO necessities, and you’d be surprised how far ahead of the pack you can get just by focus on getting them right. Shopify has a mobile-friendly design.
Though it depends on your theme, most Shopify themes are mobile-friendly, meaning that Shopify-based e-commerce stores function well on phones and tablets. This is especially important to SEO lately because Google announced that they are rolling out mobile-first indexing in 2018.
Until recently, Google has prioritized the desktop experience first; if the website worked well on desktop computers, then they received an SEO boost. But as users migrate more and more to surfing the web via their mobile devices, Google has now made the mobile version of your site the main factor in whether its bots deem it “friendly” or not.
Not only does every Shopify theme come with the ability to enact mobile checkouts, they offer a slew of responsive mobile themes (ie. able to resize fluidly for different screen sizes) that you can use to make sure your store is mobile-optimized. Shopify has an app for that.
The Shopify app store can covered over a multitude of sins, and SEO is no exception. In many instances, if there is an SEO issue that isn’t built in or isn’t quite easy to adjust in the code, you can find a free or paid app to help you out.
As of this writing, 218 apps show up for a search on “SEO” in the Shopify app store, covering everything from optimizing images, conducting an SEO audit, and more. This is a major benefit of using a robust platform like Shopify, and just because you can’t quite do something out of the box, doesn’t mean you can’t do it at all. So, while you can do a good amount of SEO with just Shopify alone, you can do even more with the right app.
For example, the Shogun app takes care of the on-page SEO for you, so you don’t even have to worry about it. Having the right tools in place to create the content your store needs to compete is incredibly important to outranking your competitors on search engine results pages.