In the last few years, Shopify has emerged as a titan of e-commerce. Powering over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries, Shopify has become the go-to solution for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to launch their online stores.
However, despite its many advantages, Shopify presents unique SEO challenges and issues that can stump even the most tech-savvy entrepreneurs and SEO teams. From issues with URL structures to duplicate content, these challenges can hinder your store’s visibility in search engine results, affecting your bottom line. But fear not, for every problem, there’s a solution. And that’s what we’re going to explore in this guide.
1. Limited URL Structure
Shopify’s URL structure is rigid and doesn’t unfortunately allow for much customisation.
For instance, every product URL must include “/products/”, and every collection URL must include “/collections/”. This can lead to URLs that are longer than necessary and limit your ability to create clean, keyword-rich URLs.
A poor URL structure can make in fact harder for search engines to understand the context and relevance of your pages. This can impact your site’s ability to rank well in search results, leading Google to struggle to properly understand, and therefore better rank, your site content.
While you can’t change Shopify’s URL structure, you can make the most of what you can control.
First, make sure to use relevant keywords in your URL slugs, which are the parts of the URL that you can customise. For example, if you’re selling handmade wooden tables, a good URL slug could be “/products/handmade-wooden-table”.
Also, consider using breadcrumb navigation. This can help search engines understand your site’s hierarchy better and improve your SEO. To implement breadcrumb navigation, you can use a Shopify app like Smart Breadcrumbs ($4.98/month) or modify your site’s theme code if you’re comfortable with that.
2. Duplicate Product Variants
Shopify automatically creates duplicate pages for product variants (like different colors or sizes of the same product). If not optimised correctly from an SEO standpoint, this can lead to a ton of duplicates.
And what’s the deal here? Duplicate product variants can confuse search engines, as they may struggle to determine which version of the content is more relevant to a user’s query.
To tackle duplicate content issues, consider using canonical tags. These tags tell search engines which version of a page you want to be considered the “main” version.
Shopify automatically sets the canonical URL for product pages, but you can also manually set canonical URLs using a Shopify app like Easy Redirects (a free plan available for it).
3. Duplicate Product Tags
Like the product variants we just discussed, Shopify automatically creates duplicate product tag pages. Product tags in Shopify are a great way to organise your products, but if you create too many tags or use them inconsistently, it can lead to a large number of unnecessary pages being created. These pages often have little unique content and can be seen as duplicate content by search engines.
Excessive and poorly executed product tags can actually dilute your site’s SEO value, as the tag pages compete with your main product pages for rankings and this can lead to lower visibility in search results and less organic traffic to your site.
To address this issue, start by reviewing your current product tags and removing any that are unnecessary or not being used consistently. Then, implement a strategy for using product tags that focuses on creating tags that are valuable for your customers and help them find the products they’re looking for.
If you have many tag pages already indexed by search engines, consider using the “noindex” directive to prevent these pages from being indexed in the future. This can be done by modifying your site’s theme code or using a Shopify app like Sitemap NoIndex Pro ($3.49/month).
4. Lack of H1 Tags on Homepage
H1 tags are important for SEO as they tell search engines what the page is about. Many Shopify themes, though, do not include an H1 tag on the homepage, have an empty H1 or sometimes they even use the logo as H1.
Without a properly optimised H1 tag, search engines may have a harder time understanding the content of your homepage, as the H1 it’s the most important place they would look at. This can be a missed opportunity to optimise your pages from an SEO perspective and increase your chances to better rank for targeted keywords.
To add an H1 tag to your homepage, you’ll need to modify your site’s theme code.
You can do this by going to Online Store > Themes > Actions > Edit code in your Shopify admin.
Then, find the file for your homepage (usually “index.liquid”) and add an H1 tag with your desired text.
If you’re not comfortable editing code, consider hiring a Shopify expert or using a Shopify app like Plug in SEO ($19.99/month) that can help you optimise your H1 tags.
5. Limited Blogging Capabilities
Shopify’s blogging platform is not as robust as other platforms like WordPress. It lacks some SEO features like categories, custom meta descriptions for blog posts, and the ability to customise URLs.
A lack of blogging capabilities can actually limit your ability to fully optimise your blog for search engines. This can impact your blog’s visibility in search results and limit the amount of organic traffic you receive from Top of the funnel content (TOFU).
While Shopify’s built-in blogging capabilities are limited, there are ways to work around these limitations.
For example, you can manually add meta descriptions to your blog posts by going to the “Search engine listing preview” section when editing a blog post in your Shopify admin.
For more advanced blogging features, you might want to consider using a Shopify app like SEO Blog Optimizer (free plan available) or Blog Studio ($9.99/month). If you’re comfortable with coding, you can also modify your theme’s code to add categories to your blog.
6. Limited Redirects
Shopify only supports 301 redirects, which permanently redirect one URL to another. It does not support 302 or 307 redirects, which are temporary redirects. This can limit your flexibility in managing redirects on your online store.
While 301 redirects are the most common type of redirect used in SEO, there are situations where a temporary redirect might be more appropriate. So, without the ability to use temporary redirects, you may not be able to effectively optimise your store from a technical SEO standpoint.
While Shopify doesn’t natively support temporary redirects, you can add them using a Shopify app like Easy Redirects (free plan available). This app allows you to create both 301 and 302 redirects, giving you more flexibility in managing your site’s redirects.
7. Hreflang Issues and International SEO
Shopify does not fully support hreflang tags, which are HTML elements used to tell search engines about localised versions of your website. This can make it more difficult to optimise your site for international SEO.
Without proper hreflang implementation, search engines may not correctly understand which version of your site to show to users in different countries. This can lead to lower visibility in international search results, less organic traffic from users in other countries or worse, getting the wrong content in the wrong locale.
As Shopify doesn’t natively support hreflang tags, you can add them using a Shopify app like Langify ($17.50/month). This app allows you to add hreflang tags to your site, helping to improve your international SEO strategy. You can also consider using a third-party tool like Hreflang Tags Generator Tool to manually generate your hreflang tags, then add them to your site’s HTML code in your web page’s <head> tag.
8. Limited Schema Markup
Schema markup is used to provide search engines with additional information about your site, and can help improve your visibility in search results. Shopify automatically adds some schema markup to your site, but it’s limited and you can’t customise it.
Without the ability to fully customise your schema markup, you may not be able to provide search engines with all the information they need to understand your site fully. This can in turn limit your site’s visibility in search results, particularly for rich results like product reviews and ratings.
To add more detailed schema markup to your Shopify site, you can use a Shopify app like JSON-LD for SEO ($399/one-time charge) or Schema Plus for SEO ($14.99/month). These apps allow you to add a variety of schema types to your site, including product, review, and business schema.
If you’re comfortable with coding, you can also manually add schema markup to your site’s code.
9. Issues with Pagination
Shopify uses a pagination structure that can lead to duplicate content issues. And it also does not support the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags, which are used to tell search engines about the relationship between paginated pages. It must be said though that Google dropped the use of rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags as a hint many years ago, although some search engines might still use it.
The point is that pagination can easily lead to duplicate content issues, as multiple pages can contain the same products. This can confuse search engines and lead to lower rankings in search results so they must treated carefully.
There are several strategies you can use to address pagination issues:
Index all paginated pages and their content: This method requires you to optimise each paginated URL according to search engine guidelines, such as using unique titles, descriptions, and headings for each page. This will make each paginated page as a standalone and unique page.
Index the View all page only: This approach is to canonicalise the View All page (where all products/blog posts, comments, etc. are displayed) and prevent the paginated pages from being indexed by using noindex tags or robots.txt. This way, you can avoid duplicate content issues and consolidate your ranking signals to one page.
10. Product Links Set to Non-Canonical URLs on Category Pages
On Shopify, product links on category pages are often set to non-canonical URLs. This means that the product link includes the category in the URL, creating a different URL for the same product depending on how it’s accessed.
This can lead to duplicate content issues, as the same product can be accessed through multiple URLs, which in turn can confuse search engines and potentially lead to lower rankings in search results.
To address this issue, you can set all product links to point to the canonical URL of the product, regardless of how the product is accessed. This can be done by modifying your site’s theme code.
If you’re not comfortable with coding, consider hiring a Shopify developer or using a Shopify app like Easy Redirects (free plan available) that can handle this for you.
11. No Trailing Slash Redirect
Shopify does not automatically redirect URLs to include a trailing slash (“/”). This means that the same page can be accessed with or without the trailing slash creating effectively two different URLs for the same page.
This can lead to duplicate content issues, as search engines like Google may see the two versions of the URL as separate pages with identical content and potentially get conflicting signals to which is the correct page to index. No need to say that this can have an impact on your rankings.
To address this issue, you can set up 301-type redirects to redirect the non-trailing slash version of the URL to the trailing slash version. This can be done in your Shopify admin’s “URL Redirects” section. Simply enter the non-trailing slash version of the URL in the “Redirect from” field and the trailing slash version in the “Redirect to” field.
If you have a large number of URLs to redirect, consider using a Shopify app like Easy Redirects (free plan available) to bulk import redirects.
Ready To Fix Your Shopify Issues and Grow Your Online Store?
Now that you’re aware of the common SEO issues that Shopify stores face, you might be wondering how to implement the best eCommerce SEO strategy for your online store. It’s not an easy task, especially if you’re busy running your business. That’s where I come in.
As a Shopify SEO consultant, I’ve helped numerous businesses navigate these issues and optimise their Shopify stores for maximum visibility and growth. I can help you too.
Don’t let these SEO issues hold back your Shopify store’s potential. Contact me today, and together we’ll ensure your store is fully optimised, visible, and ready to attract and convert more customers.