Some eCommerce platforms are better for improving or supporting your SEO strategies than others.
Fortunately, Shopify is one of the best platforms available for store owners who are dedicated to growing their businesses.
Shopify’s app store will also provide you with more advanced, in-depth SEO features whenever you need them.
In this article, we will analyse the most essential SEO features to enjoy when you choose Shopify for your eCommerce as well as its weaknesses as a platform for SEO.
Meta Title Feature in Shopify
Meta titles or title tags are HTML elements that describe a web page’s topic and are one of the first texts a user will see on search engine result pages. Title tags must be as engaging as possible to convince your prospects to click on your page.
With Shopify, you can easily edit your page, collections, and product meta titles with its “search engine listing edit” features. You can access this feature after inputting the price and shipping details on the page’s bottom.
Meta Description Feature in Shopify
After the meta title, you’ll find meta descriptions that help summarise a webpage. Meta descriptions are important for SEO because they increase your page’s chances of getting more clicks.
As such, you should prioritise making captivating meta descriptions to catch your prospects’ attention and spur them to click on your page.
Like meta titles, Shopify allows you to edit your meta descriptions to generate more traffic and improve your SEO.
Shopify’s Site Speed and Uptime
There’s no underestimating the importance of site speed and uptime in improving your company’s SEO. With the world becoming busier, site visitors constantly search for business solutions that offer speedy services.
As such, they wouldn’t be patient enough to wait for a slow-loading website, especially when your competitors offer faster load time.
Studies show that site speed is so important that even a 1-second page loading delay will significantly impact site abandonment.
SSL Security Feature in Shopify
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. With SSL security, your website will enjoy enhanced security through webserver/browser encryption. Security is one of the factors search engines consider when ranking stores. In fact, Google has been using SSL security as a ranking factor since 2014.
Luckily, Shopify stores include this feature in their packages. This ensures that your clients feel safe making payments and entering sensitive information on your site.
Heading Optimisation in Shopify
Optimising your webpage’s headings is another way to increase your search engine’s readability ratings. Fortunately, Shopify is one of the best platforms for achieving this purpose easily. Shopify allows you to improve user experience by adding headings while editing page texts. You can also leverage their available structure to avoid having a difficult-to-read wall of text.
Mobile Compatibility in Shopify
Did you know that more than 50% of the total online traffic worldwide is from mobile traffic? This means that most of your target audience will access your site via mobile devices. As such, you must prioritise mobile optimisation to guarantee the best user experience for your mobile audience.
Fortunately, Shopify offers mobile-optimised themes for all store owners. So, if you choose this platform, you can be sure that all your pages will function optimally on desktop and mobile devices.
Image Alt Text Feature in Shopify
Image alt texts are text snippets that describe an image so that search engines know what they are even when they’re not loading. These alt texts also improve the user experience for prospects who may be visually impaired. It enables them to easily access your page when navigating the web through screen reading tools. This ensures that your website is optimised for different types of users.
Shopify includes features that help you upload images with relevant alt texts.
301 Redirects in Shopify
As I mentioned above, URLs can make your website rank high for readability on search engines, especially Google. So, if you don’t already have a relevant and readable URL, you may want to change it to improve it. However, this would mean that users who search for your page with the old URL should automatically be seamlessly directed to the new URL. That’s the job of 301 redirects.
301 redirects ensure that users don’t get to a 301 error page instead of the new URL. Fortunately, Shopify includes this all-important feature as a built-in for all stores. You can set this up by navigating to Sales Channel on your dashboard’s left-hand menu, then clicking on Online Store>Navigation> View URL redirects. This allows you to create and manage your page’s redirects.
Google Analytics and Search Console Setup in Shopify
Shopify allows you to sync Google Analytics with your store for accurate site performance analysis. To access this feature, click on Sales Channels, Online Store, and Preferences. Complete the process by pasting your Google Analytics code in the available box.
Meanwhile, Google Search Console, like Google Analytics, is a free tool that gives you details concerning your website’s URL performance. Google Search Console is also an excellent tool for learning how Google indexes your website and all its pages.
One of the best ways to utilise Google Search Console is to submit a sitemap for evaluation. Sitemaps contain your website’s URL listings, and Shopify can create one for you automatically to enable you to get insights from Google Search Console.
Canonical Tags in Shopify
Canonical tags are essential tools that help search engines distinguish a page’s main version from others to avoid competing for duplicate pages. This boosts your SEO by ensuring that Google ranks the original page instead of a duplicate one in the top results.
Shopify allows for automatic canonical tag generation, using the default product page for each item without selecting variants or collections. Otherwise, you can use third-party apps like the popular Yoast SEO which allows you to customise your canonical tags on every site URL.
Where Is Shopify Bad For SEO?
While Shopify offers numerous SEO advantages for store owners, the platform also has its pitfalls, which include:
Rigid URL Hierarchy
Custom URLs are personalised webpage addresses that you can tweak to improve their relevance. Google’s readability guidelines prioritise sites with custom URLs more than others because they’re as simple as URLs can be.
With Shopify, you can customise your product pages’ URLs when adding new products as you edit meta titles and descriptions. The platform also allows you to enjoy customised SEO URLs for non-product pages.
However, there are a lot of limitations on the hierarchy of your URLs and the rigid URL structure is one of the biggest complaints among Shopify users.
For example, there is currently no way to remove /collections/ from category pages and /products/ from product pages.
Another big complaint for Shopify users regards duplicate content.
When adding your products to collections, Shopify generates as default two same URLs for each product: one within the category page path (*/collections/*/products/*) and one cleaner version within the product path (*/products/*).
The URL within the category path has then a canonical tag pointing to the product path URL which tells to Google that this is the preferred URL choice.
This sounds all great if it wasn’t that Shopify uses the URLs with the category path as internal links to the Collection pages’ products pages.
Missing Trailing Slash Redirect
By default, Shopify automatically ends URLs without a trailing slash at the end and the same URL with a trailing slash is unfortunately accessible to both users and search engines.
Sitemaps list all your website’s pages to enable search engines to determine its structure. In other words, it makes it easy for Google to organise your page links to understand how they relate to each other or index and crawl website content.
While Shopify automatically generates sitemaps, there are some concerns in this area. For example, the platform doesn’t offer a lot of options when it comes to editing XML sitemaps.
If you’re a beginner, you might not have any issues with Shopify not letting you alter your sitemaps much. However, this is a huge problem for those running large websites with numerous individual product pages and subsections. This means that they won’t be able to control their sitemaps as much as they need to. Other eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce also have this problem.
Structured data gives you information for page content summary in a more standardised format, enabling users to view it in search results easily. A perfect example of structured data is a 1-5 star product rating on a specific product page’s content in a Google search result.
Fortunately, on some of the product pages of some Shopify themes, you can find simple structured data markups that Google can leverage to collate valuable information concerning product descriptions, prices, and names. Sadly, the platform doesn’t include advanced structured data for stores that need them.
For example, Shopify doesn’t allow you to make product reviews, colours, and sizes easily digestible for Google. To achieve this, you’ll have to hire an experienced developer to edit your website’s code to allow for such changes.
Besides requiring coding knowledge to customise your Shopify store, Shopify relies heavily on SEO apps for more advanced SEO features.
So, is Shopify SEO-Friendly?
Overall, yes. Shopify has all the basic SEO features covered. It has lots of built-in SEO features & apps that effectively help you get your page indexed and ranked in search engines.
However, when it comes to more advanced SEO features such as structured data, sitemaps, or custom URL structure, this is where the platform shows its weaknesses.
There you go. Now you know if Shopify is good for SEO and if it has all the SEO features you need for your online store.
I hope that you can make a well-informed decision but if you need a Shopify SEO Consultant to bring your online store to the next level, don’t hesitate to reach out.