Beginners Guide Shopify SEO
Your Shopify store is your lifeline. It’s the tool you use to reach out to your target market and sell your products or services. But just like a brick-and-mortar store, your Shopify store is just a shell if prospective customers cannot find it when they need it.
Just as you would put proper signage to help customers find your brick-and-mortar store, you need to put some effort into making sure your store can be found online.
This is where Search Engine Optimization or SEO comes in. In this article, we dissect Shopify SEO into actionable steps you can take to improve your website's visibility and organic reach.
What Is Shopify SEO?
Effective Shopify SEO focuses on 2 main factors – traffic and conversions. Without these, making enough sales to run your ecommerce shopify store profitably can be almost impossible.
You can optimize your Shopify store to rank high on search engine results and get traffic. But if you don’t convert the traffic into sales, your online business won’t succeed.
That’s why most Shopify SEO processes don’t achieve the desired results. They consider traffic a separate entity from conversions and pay attention to gaining more of it while leaving out sales conversions.
From our experience, the two go hand-in-hand. When done right, Shopify SEO attracts high-quality organic traffic that converts into sales continuously. With this in mind, GoldenWeb has created a system that helps us deliver incredible results for our clients.
Specifically, our system allows us to multiply our client’s organic traffic 65x and increase their conversion rates by 54% consistently.
In this article, we outline the exact process we use step-by-step for you to learn what successful Shopify SEO entails. You’ll also learn how to use the basic SEO features on Shopify, even if you are a beginner.
How to Optimize Your Shopify Store for SEO
This is an outline of the steps we take to ensure you get the best results from your page, growing your organic traffic and turning that growth into conversions.
Step 1: Full SEO Audit
An SEO audit is a comprehensive analysis of your website to identify any potential issues that could be holding back your organic traffic.
Think of it as a health check for your website. It’s important to do a full SEO audit before you start making any changes to your standard or Shopify plus store.
Here, the goal is to identify any issues to fix or strengths to harness to optimize your store further. We go through approximately 285 technical indicators that search engines consider to rank sites on the SERPs.
These factors guide our analysis of different aspects of SEO for your Shopify store, including on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
We use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Screaming Frog to identify the most common SEO issues. We also do a manual check of your website to identify any potential issues that the tools might have missed.
Some of the things included in our Full SEO Audit:
On-page SEO Audit
We check the backend elements of your page one by one to see whether they are optimized for search engines to scan and rank them highly. Some factors we look at when doing this include meta titles, meta descriptions, HTML tags, image alt text, and internal linking.
Off-page SEO Audit
For this part, we examine how you link to your pages externally to boost their rankings on the SERPs. Often, we focus on the quality, quantity, and distribution of the external links pointing to each of your pages.
Technical SEO Audit
A technical SEO audit inspects your store’s technical features.
Specifically, we look at the technical aspects likely to affect how your store performs on search engines. Some of them include your site’s structure, speed, security, and source code.
Content SEO Audit
This audit involves evaluating your content to see whether you’ve met Google standards on expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T). The three factors are crucial for your content to rank high on the SERPs.
Often, we check your store for thin content and keyword cannibalization because these are the most frequent content SEO errors we come across. When present, your store fails Google’s E-A-T test and ranks low on search engines.
We also identify opportunities to improve your content's length, quality, and accuracy to boost rankings.
At the end of this first step, we have a detailed audit report we can use for the next steps. The report lists everything that needs fixing and opportunities for optimizing your store for better results.
It also contains recommendations on the best actions to fix the issues. Our strategies follow the current SEO trends to ensure you outrank your competitors and maintain high rankings to succeed long-term.
It’s worth noting that we use different tools to help with our SEO audit process. Ahrefs, Semrush, and Screaming Frog are our favorite tools because they are straightforward. You input your site and get an assessment that can guide your manual review process.
Other things we check in your SEO audit include indexing issues, HTTPS configuration, competitor analysis, and backlinks.
Once we’ve identified any potential issues, we start making changes to your Shopify store.
Step 2: Full SEO Audit Implementations
Once we’ve completed the full SEO audit and identified potential areas of improvement, we start making changes to your Shopify store.
Some of the common changes we make include:
- Fix broken links: We start by fixing any broken links or 404 errors on your website. We do this by redirecting the old URL to a new one.
- Disallow spammy domains: The next thing we do is disallow any spammy domains that might be linking to your website. This improves your website's link profile.
- Update titles and meta descriptions: We also update your website's title tags and meta descriptions to ensure they are optimized for your target keywords.
- Implement schema markup: Schema markup is a code that helps search engines understand the content on your website. It is used to provide rich snippets in search results.
- Submit sitemaps: We also submit your website's sitemap to Google. This helps the search engine index your website and all its pages correctly.
- Resolve missing content issues: We also resolve any issues with missing content on your website. This includes pages that are not being indexed by Google or have duplicate content.
- Fix canonicalization issues: We also fix any canonicalization issues on your website. This helps to ensure that your website's pages are being indexed correctly and prevents any duplicate content penalties from Google.
- Disavowing spammy domains – Spam is a hazard to SEO. We remove all spammy links.
Overall, this step allows us to deal with the foundational issues that prevent your store from ranking well on search engines. It helps Google understand your site better, simplifying the crawling process.
These are just a few of the common changes we make during a Shopify SEO audit. The exact changes we make will depend on the specific issues we find on your website.
Step 3: Keyword Mapping
Keyword mapping is the process of determining which keywords to target on your website based on numerous factors including search volume, competition, and relevance.
This is an important step in any SEO campaign as it allows you to focus your efforts on keywords that drive traffic and generate sales.
We do keyword mapping by defining the top 20 pages on your store and mapping out the primary keywords, as well as keyword variations for each page.
This process gives us a good overview of your website's current keyword landscape and allows us to identify new opportunities for growth.
We then use the best keyword research tools, such as Ahrefs and SEMRush to further validate our findings and expand our list of target keywords. These tools also help us:
- Analyze search volume and competition: We want to target keywords with high search volume but low competition. This gives us the best chance of ranking on the first page of Google.
- Identify new opportunities: We also want to identify keywords that you aren’t currently targeting but have the potential to drive traffic and generate sales.
- Identify keyword position: We also want to identify which keywords you’re already ranking for and track your progress over time.
Our goal is to unearth the keywords your competitors are ignoring and use them to outrank them in the SERPs. We focus on long-tail keywords with high search volume and low competition. This allows us to generate more targeted traffic that is more likely to convert into sales.
Step 4: On-page Optimization
The next step we take is on-page optimization. On-page optimization is the process of making sure your website's content, structure, and code are all optimized for SEO. This includes things like title tags, meta descriptions, headings, URLs, and images.
We ensure we use the right keywords in the following places:
- Title tags: The title tag is one of the most important on-page factors for SEO. It should be unique and reflect the main keyword for the page.
- Meta descriptions: The meta description is used by Google to generate the snippet that appears under your website's listing in the search results pages. It should be unique and reflect the main keyword for the page.
- Headings: Headings are used to structure your content and make it easy to read. They should be used to highlight the main points of each section.
- URLs: URLs should be short, descriptive, and contain the main keyword for the page.
- Images: Images should be named with relevant keywords and alt tags describing the image.
Apart from meta tags, below are a few other on-page SEO factors you should keep in mind:
- Content length: Longer content tends to rank higher in search results. That's because it usually indicates that the piece is more comprehensive and informative than shorter articles. However, longer isn't always better. Your content should be as long as it needs to be to thoroughly cover the topic at hand.
- Content quality: Regardless of how long your content is, it needs to be well-written and informative. Google's algorithms are designed to surface the most relevant and authoritative content in search results, so it's important to make sure your site's content is up to par.
- Rich snippets and structured data: Rich snippets and structured data are code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand your content.
This can be things like review stars, event information, or product details. Including this type of code on your website helps you increase click-through rates from search results and better placement in some types of searches.
Keyword density: We use various methods to determine the density of keywords on a given page. Once we know the density, we can adjust the content accordingly.
Step 5: Content Planning
Content planning is the process of mapping out the topics you want to cover on your website. This is important for a few reasons:
- It helps you ensure your content is relevant and informative.
- It can help you target specific keywords and phrases.
- It can keep you from duplicating content.
When planning your content, keyword research is one of our top priorities. We use Ahrefs and SEMRush to help us find the right keywords to target.
Once we have a list of target keywords, we use tools such as Cluster.ai to group them into related topics. We manually go through the clusters to ensure no unrelated or duplicate content sneaks in.
After clustering, we organize topics into SILOs. SILOs are a hierarchy of topics on the same subject, with the more general topics at the top and the more specific topics at the bottom.
We analyze the top results on each topic. This competitor analysis helps us create outlines that not only outrank our competitors but also provide more value.
We ensure every article links to all articles in the same SILO. This helps Google understand the relationship between your content and improve your ranking in search results.
Step 6: Content Writing & Uploading
Now that you have a content plan, it's time to start writing and uploading your content. We write valuable and compelling content that enhances brand exposure, generates leads, and improves website traffic.
When writing website content, we keep the following in mind:
- Write for your target audience: We make sure our content is relevant and informative to our target audience.
- Use keyword-rich titles: We include target keywords in our titles to help improve our ranking in search results.
- Use headings and subheadings: Headings and subheadings help break up your content and make it easier to read. They also give you another opportunity to include your target keywords.
- Include images: Images help break up your content and make it more visually appealing. They also give you another opportunity to include keywords in the ALT text.
- Link to other articles on your site: We link to other articles on our website to help improve the ranking of those pages in search results.
Content length: In general, longer content tends to perform better in search results. That said, there's no magic number when it comes to word count—the key is to write the best, most comprehensive content you can.
We create a publishing schedule and stick to it. This helps us ensure we're regularly publishing new content, which is important for both SEO and website visitors.
Step 7: Linkbuilding
Linkbuilding might be one of the "old-fashioned" SEO tactics, but it’s still one of the most effective. Having top-quality backlinks pointing to your Shopify store ranks your page higher in search engine results pages (SERP).
There are a few ways to go about building links. They include:
- Guest posting: This is when you write an article for another website in your industry. In return, they link back to your website.
- Infographics: These are visual representations of data or information. They're often shared on social media and other websites, which can help you get links back to your site.
- Outreach: This is the process of reaching out to other websites and asking them to link to your content. You can reach out to online magazines, high DA (domain authority) websites, and media outlets. You may have to pay for some of these links, but it's generally worth it.
- PBNs: Private blog networks are a network of websites that you own and control. You can use these websites to link back to your Shopify store. Remember, PBNs are risky and can lead to a penalty, and usually lower the value of your domain/brand as a whole.
- Broken link building: This is when you find a broken link on another website and replace it with a link to your own site. You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to help you find broken links.
Our preferred link-building method is outreach link building. We have a database of magazines and media outlets we use to build high-quality backlinks for our Shopify SEO clients.
Often, we select the most relevant outlets, pay them a sponsorship fee and write a feature article on the same topic as our main website. Then, we link back from the sites with the feature article to our blogs, collection, or product pages.
Outreach link building increases domain authority and boosts your rankings on search engines.
When it comes to link building, we recommend that you avoid the following mistakes:
- Using low-quality directories or link farms: These are sites that exist solely for the purpose of selling links. They offer little to no value and can actually do more harm than good.
- Submitting to too many directories at once: This can come across as spammy and will likely not result in high-quality links.
Excessive link exchanges: This is when two website owners agree to link to each other's sites. It's best to avoid this as it can come across as unnatural.
Generally, Shopify SEO is one of the most reliable ways to drive traffic to your store and increase sales. But you have to do it the right way to get results.
Using our system, we’ve helped our clients increase their average order values by 15% and make up to $1M in extra revenue from organic traffic. We repeat our Shopify SEO Case Study process monthly for our clients to achieve these results consistently.
You can get similar results within 5-6 months if you use our process on an ongoing basis. Visit our website and request a free mini audit to get started.
"GoldenWeb’s work has been amazing for us.
We already had a decent base with content and structure, but their work has positioned us to continue to make gains in very competitive areas."
"Benjamin and his team have been great to work with, have proven themselves with a ton of results.
Benjamin goes out of his way to provide value in all areas of the business as he's an operator himself."