The Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Your Shopify Store

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Your Shopify Store

Your store is up and running and you’re starting to see visitors trickle in. There’s definitely interest in the products you're selling, as well as your business as a whole.

But something's missing when you check your store dashboard – you aren’t seeing any visits from organic search. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and all the other search engines are totally off your radar.

The thing is, you know search traffic is important to any business, you just don't know where to begin to use search as a marketing tool. Why should you be paying attention to search traffic anyways?

In this post, we’ll take a look at search engine optimization for your Shopify store, and some best practices you can begin to employ so you can see your traffic and business grow.

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization for Your Shopify Store

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The Importance of Search Engine Optimization

Wikipedia defines SEO as "the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results - often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results."

A potential customer searches a term or keyword related to your business or product, and as a business owner your goal is to be the first result(s) on search results.

There's buzz of SEO being dead with the rise of social media, email marketing, and paid advertising. The truth is, search isn’t going away any time soon – especially with the continued growth of mobile search, in-app search, and more.

Besides the fact that SEO is here to stay, it’s also a fairly cost-effective marketing play. While paid advertising can provide direct, almost instant traffic (and maybe sales) – it can get costly very quickly. So SEO may be the ticket when it comes to a lesser investment depending on your business, and goals.

Search Engine Watch reported that a research study by Optify discovered that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent" - that's huge potential for traffic and sales depending on the keywords you're targeting!

Yes, it can take some time for you to really start seeing results with SEO if you're doing it all yourself, and it has the potential to get expensive if you're outsourcing the work – but it ensures you’re in the game for the long-run, and that you're producing quality content.

Let’s take a look at how your Shopify store is optimized for SEO, and some tips and tricks to ensure you’re getting the most out of it.

Consider this: take a look at our beginners guide to content marketing to get a head start on your SEO initiatives by producing quality content.

Search Engine Optimization and Shopify

Search Engine Optimization and Shopify

As a Shopify store owner, you’re already ahead of the game. No matter what plan you’re on, Shopify includes powerful SEO features like:

  • editable title tags, meta descriptions and URLs for your pages
  • editable ALT tags for all images, customizable image file names
  • automatically generated sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
  • automatically generated canonical URL tags (to stop duplicate content).

So, what does all that mean? Here are some standard definitions from MOZ's SEO guide, as well as our official documentation on search engine optimization 101 to get you started:

Title tags are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important both for SEO and social sharing. The title element of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page's content.

Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages. Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine result pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page.

The image's filename and alt text are used to describe a picture's contents. Having descriptive alt text can help your product images show up when customers search for images. As well, alt text is an important accessibility feature: it describes your product images to people who have visual impairments.

Your sitemap.xml file contains all your products, pages, collections, and blog posts.

The robots exclusion protocol (REP), or robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl and index pages on their website.

With those settings and features defined, let's next take a look at how they can be applied to your Shopify store.

Optimizing Your Shopify Store for Growth

Optimizing Your Shopify Store for Growth

While Shopify does cover most of the basics of search engine optimization for you by default, you can take advantage of powerful features to extend the potential of your store's organic search reach.

Here are a few of many different things you can tweak on your store:

Title tags

You can edit the title tag of your online store in addition to setting the title tag for each product, collection, or page in Shopify. Simply scroll down to the Search engines section on these pages in Shopify to make any necessary adjustments.

Meta descriptions

Another great trick, is to modify the meta descriptions. Shopify will automatically pull text from your page, but you can customize the meta description manually to fit your marketing goals. The meta description can be set for your homepage as well as other pages, collections, and blog posts using the Shopify admin.

Page headers (h1)

It is important that you include your main keywords in the names of your store's products, collections, pages, or blog posts. For example, if you are selling a red t-shirt with your store brand on it, you'll want to set the product's name to something like "McFadden's T-Shirt - Red". This will make your web page more likely show up when people search for words like "McFadden's", "t-shirt", and "red t-shirt".

Content is king

The more content you write in your product description, collection text, or blog post, the better chance your page will be found on Google and other search engines. Try to write a few paragraphs of text with some of your main keywords included.

Try an app

There are plenty of different apps available in the Shopify App Store that can help make your life easier when it comes to all of the intricacies of search engine optimization. Be sure to play around with some of the apps to see which one suits your business needs.

While I suggest playing around with all of these features yourself to get a better understanding of how search engine optimization works, there's no harm in getting expert help. If you are looking to hire someone to give you a hand, be sure to take a look at our Shopify Marketing Experts.

Learn More

We've really only scratched the surface when it comes to SEO for your Shopify store. There's so much more you can do to learn about how SEO can be incredibly valuable to the growth of your business.

If you're interested in learning more about SEO, be sure to head over to the Shopify forum where you can ask SEO questions, swap links, and discuss other marketing topics.

Learn More

About The Author

Tucker Schreiber is an entrepreneur and content crafter at Shopify. He writes to inspire and educate readers on all things commerce.

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