SEO Considerations for Your Next Shopify Design
Marketing online eCommerce stores such as a Shopify site in order to increase conversions and grow sales in this challenging economy requires you to embrace a number of different tactics and strategies. Often in the marketing sphere, we talk about paid advertising, social media content, maintaining a blog to establish trust and subject matter authority, and other time and budget investments designed to attract traffic to your website and increase brand recognition. There’s no guarantee though that increased traffic to your site will translate into increased sales on your eCommerce platform.
Search engine optimization improvements, however, will help to increase organic traffic to your homepage and your Shopify landing pages, thus improving conversions and your bottom line. In this article, we’re going to break down the various on-page technical tactics you should be employing, as well as provide an overview of technical plug-in tools, local SEO strategies, and general SEO tips.
An On-Page Technical Checklist for Your Shopify Page
When assessing your website’s technical SEO elements, it’s important that you use tools on the market built for helping identify gaps in your page’s design. These tools can be free use such as those provided by Google, such as Google Search Console, to paid software applications purpose-built for managing and optimizing SEO. Whichever route you go, you’ll need to use the tools to accomplish these technical SEO housekeeping tasks.
Ensure Search Engines Can Properly Crawl and Index Your Page
When users execute a search via Google or any other search engine, the search tool sends out software that “crawls” content across the Internet, searching for matches to the query. If your page isn’t built properly, missing data, has broken links, or has other issues that impact how these crawlers read the page, the search will return errors and your page will, over time, be penalized for these errors. Some examples of the types of errors that could be returned are listed below.
Correcting these errors should take priority, as they can prevent your site from operating properly.
- Domain Name Service (DNS) errors generally point to an issue with the configuration of your DNS, preventing crawlers from even connecting to the site.
- Server Connectivity errors occur when it takes your site too long to load so the crawlers give up and move to the next result.
- Missing Robost.txt file errors won’t prevent your page from being indexed but will flag your site as missing the file. If you want to control how search engines crawl your page and exclude certain pages in order to increase your search ranking, you need to set up your Robot.txt file. In conjunction with your Shopify website’s site map (sitemap.xml), crawlers will be able to index and search your page faster.
Your site is ever evolving and built by people using software tools, so errors of various types are bound to crop up over time. URL errors often impact specific pages, which could prevent key product pages or landing pages from appearing in searches. URL errors come back in several forms.
- Slow loading speeds or something preventing the search crawlers from accessing the URL will return a Service Error.
- Not Found (404) or Soft 404 errors can occur if a previously indexed page or linked page no longer exists or contains thin content and should be redirected.
- Access Denied errors occur if the crawler encounters a page that requires a login or for some reason the hosting provider is preventing access.
Repair Broken Links
Backlinking and link-building strategies, including internal linking between your own site’s pages, are extremely useful for boosting your website’s SEO, but they can also hurt your Shopify site if you haven’t maintained and kept your backlinks up to date. Broken links tend to negatively impact your page ranking if left unaddressed.
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Mobile Responsiveness is No Longer an Option
The mobile device usage statistics on Shopify user activity are staggering, with approximately 70% of orders being made through a mobile device on the platform. This trend in mobile user activity has been rising gradually for years, making it necessary for your design team to utilize mobile-responsive Shopify themes when building your Shopify platform.
This ensures that the experience of the buyer is of high quality and the user interface is easily navigable, regardless of the device or platform being used to access your Shopify page. Doing this will also boost your search engine rankings, as major platforms have shifted their ranking standards to give higher preference to websites that have adapted to provide improved mobile experiences for visitors.
Utilizing an App for Shopify SEO
If you have a robust and loyal user base, it may be worth creating a user experience around your brand that is custom-developed by an outside company. Shopify also, of course, has its own application that can be used to manage orders, products, staff, and customers. Simply download the Shopify app.
Site Speed is Crucial
Website performance in search engine rankings is greatly impacted by how fast your site loads when accessed. An unoptimized page that loads slowly will have a high bounce rate, as it creates a poor user experience for impatient shoppers, who will simply visit another, faster-loading site. Over time, Google and other search engines will depreciate slower pages in preference for faster sites to better meet the needs of searchers.
Site Security Certificates Included
With the intent of forcing websites to better protect users, they have changed their ranking standards to boost websites that employ SSL certificates and use HTTPS protocol over less secure HTTP protocol. Using Shopify will place your site ahead of the curve as the site automatically incorporates HTTPS into the service.
What Plug-Ins Should Your Shopify Page Use?
As with many content management platforms, the Shopify platform has been targeted by innumerable developers as it allows plug-ins to enhance and improve customer experience. When we compile lists such as this for what you should or could be using, it’s important to remember to only add plug-ins that actually support your business needs and enhance your users’ experiences. That said, we felt these were some pretty great examples of plug-ins that offer value to your page.
- The Free Shipping Bar by Hextom allows you to customize thresholds, encourages incremental sales, and helps users cut shipping costs.
- Returnly helps your users navigate returns without tying up your sales and service staff.
- Bundle Upsell is another great way to increase your overall bottom line by encouraging users to buy similar or related items or buying bundled items at a slightly discounted rate.
- ReferralCandy is a great way for your brand to build social proof and leverage satisfied customers into word-of-mouth referrals.
- One Click Social Login helps new users skip the long process of setting up a new account by utilizing 3rd party verification from social media sites.
- PageSpeed Monitor helps you quickly and easily keep track of your page’s loading speed and stay ahead of any issues that might slow performance and lose customers.
- Plug In SEO is a great way to learn what’s holding your site back in ranking and provides solutions and guides for users to make improvements to metadata and meta tags, target keywords and keyword research, page titles, and headings.
Local SEO and Your Shopify Page
Growing Shopify momentum means not just focusing your SEO efforts on a general audience, but also using data to identify potential communities where your Shopify store might offer a competitive alternative to local businesses. Whether you’re looking to expand and grow business in new markets or build upon existing markets, using local advertising tactics and local SEO strategies such as keyword usage and localized landing pages will help you outperform the competition already established in those markets if there is demand for your goods or services.
General Tips for Optimizing Shopify for Search Engines
To this point, we’ve covered the major factors that impact your Shopify site’s performance according to the algorithms that control search engine rankings and some of the tools you should be using to manage your site. But there’s also a workflow that goes along with managing a Shopify site’s SEO that you should take into account, as none of what we’ve talked about could be considered a “set it and forget it” strategy.
We mentioned the need to pick a Shopify template that allows you to format your site with a mobile-adaptive theme. It’s important that your theme fits your brand and is one that can be easily modified to your needs. But as with any online software or tool, you’ll need to ensure that it’s updated on a regular basis to take full advantage of the features in the theme. Keeping it updated will keep user data safe, keep your site secure, and ensure that it’s running at optimum speed and in line with current Internet protocols and standards. Additionally, any modifications to Shopify’s Liquid code could result in inefficiencies and slower performance behind the scenes, so make sure an expert cleans up code after modifications are made to keep the site functioning smoothly.
Plug-ins necessitate ongoing maintenance. They must be constantly updated and reviewed to ensure that their functionality continues to meet your needs. Neglecting to update plug-ins and software applications can lead to disaster for your site if an exploit is discovered and remains unpatched. If you reach a point where you do decide to swap to another plug-in or application that better meets your needs, it’s crucial that you remove the old, unused tools so as to prevent any future vulnerability or issues.
Finally, the marketing tactics that you’re using in paid advertising, PPC campaigns, and content marketing campaigns hold true for your Shopify page as well. Ensure you’ve created a robust and accurate buyer persona, and then create listings, meta descriptions, keywords, and long-tail keyword phrases, and alt-text for the images in your product listings, product reviews, or service listings all geared towards the types of organic searches potential customers will be using to find your brand.
Embrace SEO and Improve Your Shopify Sales
These are just some of the steps you can take to maximize the performance of your Shopify website in search engine result pages (SERPs). Search engine optimization must be a strategy that you built into the foundation of your page from the start, but also manage and maintain throughout the life of your business in order to constantly respond and adapt to customer behaviors and search habits. Keeping your Shopify site’s SEO fresh and up to date with the latest marketing trends will not only keep your site fresh in your customer’s minds, but more importantly, it will ensure your listing appears at the top of search results for your business category.