• August 2023
  • 8 minute read

Shopify SEO Guide: How Can It Help Your Online Store?

Discover what SEO is and how it can transform your Shopify or Shopify Plus online store. From keywords to optimization strategies, SEO enhances the visibility of your online store in search engines and attracts quality customers. Optimize your online presence and drive long-term traffic to your business.

by Luciano Mobilia

Shopify SEO Guide: How Can It Help Your Online Store?

In the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your Shopify or Shopify Plus online store, keywords are the fundamental foundation. Moreover, it's important to understand that SEO goes beyond: It involves meticulous optimization on your Shopify online store to ensure a strong presence in search engines (on-site SEO) and also involves linking your online store with relevant external references from other sites (off-site SEO).

SEO is an iterative and constant process. It's not a one-time execution tactic but better viewed as an ongoing practice in marketing your business. Many keywords show seasonal variations, affecting organic traffic on a weekly basis. Regular checks are essential to ensure that trends are heading in the desired direction.

SEO represents a crucial strategy to enhance the visibility of your Shopify online store. By conducting keyword research, optimizing your website, and implementing effective external strategies, you can attract quality traffic and significantly increase your business opportunities.

What is SEO?

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at positioning your Shopify online store in relevant search engine results.

We can divide SEO into three parts:

  1. The first part, and the most important, is keyword research. This stage is the foundation that ties everything together.
  2. The second part is on-site SEO, which focuses on optimizing your Shopify or Shopify Plus online store.
  3. Lastly, off-site SEO focuses on external strategies to enhance the visibility of your Shopify online store.

SEO optimization is the most powerful strategy to organically and sustainably attract traffic and customers to your Shopify store. Between 60% and 80% of all website traffic comes from search engines like Google, presenting a significant opportunity to enhance traffic and conversions in your Shopify online store."

Why is SEO important?

Firstly, SEO provides high-quality traffic for your Shopify online store. When someone searches on Google, they are actively looking for something related to your business. By positioning your keywords appropriately, you can showcase your Shopify store to people seeking your products or similar products. It's not about running ad campaigns and hoping for clicks. People searching on Google already have the intent to purchase, and your goal is to appear in front of them as soon as possible.

Secondly, SEO offers sustainable long-term traffic. While other traffic sources like advertising, newsletters, or social media require ongoing management, SEO is a strategy that, once established, continues to attract traffic to your Shopify store month after month.

Lastly, the initial steps in optimizing SEO are free; it only requires your time investment. By improving your store's SEO, Google will rank and display your content in search results, allowing you to position yourself at the top of result pages, generating more traffic.

Part 1: Keyword Research

A keyword is any term entered into a search engine like Google. The idea is to discover the words people are using to search for products like yours.

There are 3 types of keywords:

  1. Navigational Keywords: These are used to navigate to a specific destination. For example, if someone types 'The New York Times' into Google, they are likely trying to access the newspaper's website, simple.
  2. Transactional Keywords: These are used when someone is trying to take an action. For example, someone searching for the keyword 'buy running shoes' intends to make a purchase.
  3. Informational Keywords: An example of this could be 'what is the most popular running shoe style.

For your Shopify online store, you'll want to focus on the last two, transactional and informational keywords.

Keyword research is actually a straightforward process, and here's a three-step strategy to find the right keywords for your store and business.

  • The first step is to create a list of relevant topics for your business: Will the customer find what they're looking for when they use these keywords? Is the keyword relevant to the products you sell? How do you want to be found? How do your customers talk about your products? Will they be satisfied with what they find? For example, if you sell home armchairs, do your customers call them 'sillones' or 'sofás'? It's also a good idea to consider using informational keywords to drive your content marketing. This can be achieved through blog posts or pages dedicated to educating your audience and guiding them towards making a purchase. For example, if you sell garden hoses, a transactional keyword could be 'rubber garden hose.' An informational keyword could be 'how to choose the perfect garden hose'.
  • The second step is to find related searches and take note of them. Long-tail keywords (phrases of 3 or 4 words) have less competition but also lower search volume. As you search for your keywords, type in a word or phrase and then scroll down on the Google search results page to the 'Searches related to' section. Add those keywords to your list; it's a simple but very useful step because it gives you an idea of the keyword universe around your products and your Shopify online store.
  • The third step is to use a keyword research tool to expand your list. There are many tools that can facilitate this process. They will show you how many times a specific keyword is searched on Google each month. Although most of these tools are paid, there are free trials available for many of them and even cost-effective starter plans.

Part 2: On-Site SEO Optimization of Your Shopify Store

On-site SEO is the optimization of your Shopify online store specifically for Google searches. It involves tailoring each page of the store (product page, collection page, FAQs page, etc.) with the keyword you want to associate.

Some ways to correctly perform this optimization are:

  1. A general rule is one keyword per page. You have to be honest with the keywords you use. If people arrive at the store through a search and don't find what they're looking for, they will leave your store. Google will recognize this and may penalize you with that keyword for some time, as it considers it a scam or deception.
  2. Add keywords to the title tag and meta description for all store products. In Shopify, there's an area at the bottom of the product page and other pages, called 'Search engine listing preview', with fields named 'Page title' and 'Meta description'. Whatever you fill in these two fields will appear on the search engine results page - the SEO title is the first line and the meta description is the paragraph below. In case you don't fill in these fields, Shopify will do it automatically, but you won't know which keywords it's optimizing for. For the meta description, describe what searchers can expect from your product and include the keyword you want to relate to. Sometimes, even if you're not in the first position on Google, you can get more clicks just because you wrote a more attractive meta description.
  3. Customize the URL with the keyword. This is done from the same section we mentioned earlier, in the search engine listing preview for the title tag and meta description. It's only recommended for new products you upload to the store. If for some reason you change the URL of a page that's already published, make sure to check the box that says 'Create a URL redirect'. This way, if someone visits the old URL, they'll be redirected to the new URL.
  4. Add alt text to all images. Alt text describes an image and is an important part of a product's description. If an image fails to load for some reason, the alt text is displayed instead. The browser will read everything you completed for the alt text. It's important to make sure you've tagged each photo with the appropriate alt text as it gives Google a significant signal of what that page is about, and it's also useful for visually impaired customers.

If your Shopify online store is already published with many products, it might take some time to make all these optimizations. We recommend starting with the top 4 or 5 products and then gradually planning the rest.

Part 3: Off-Site SEO Optimization for Your Shopify Store

Off-site SEO refers to any search engine optimization that is not conducted directly on the Shopify online store.

The most important aspect is link building. The general idea behind link building is to have other websites link to your store, akin to an external endorsement. When an external entity links a post to your Shopify store, it's like a vote of confidence, signifying value. Google sees your Shopify store as a website worth ranking. External linking in SEO speaks to domain authority. The more links you acquire, the higher the domain authority, and the higher the domain authority, the easier it becomes to rank for relevant keywords for your Shopify store.

Finally: Advertising or Optimization? SEM or SEO?

The term SEM (Search Engine Marketing) refers to paid search ads, such as Google Ads. SEM can be a complementary strategy to SEO once you have built a solid foundation of the latter.

Ads are displayed in search results alongside organic results. SEM allows you to have immediate visibility on search engines and effectively reach your target audience. However, you have to pay for each click on your ads.

So, what's the best option for your Shopify or Shopify Plus store? In general, we recommend using a combination of both strategies, starting by establishing a solid foundation with SEO, optimizing your store, and creating relevant content for your customers. Once you have achieved some visibility and position in search engines, you can consider complementing your strategy with paid advertising through SEM.

Remember, both SEO and SEM are constantly evolving strategies, so it's important to keep track of search engine changes and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Do you need a customized solution tailored to your needs?

At times, reaching the top of search results requires a unique strategy tailored to your needs.

If you're ready to take your SEO strategy on Shopify to the next level, consider us as an agency to guide you and initiate a project for a fully customized solution.

Written by

Luciano Mobilia

Project Manager. Enjoys mountains and listening to music. Enthusiastic about trying digital products and improving workflows. Writes about eCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce and everything in between.

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