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Do Links Still Matter for Rankings? A Study by Ahrefs

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Do Links Still Matter for Rankings? A Study by Ahrefs


In the past few years, I’ve seen more people saying that links are dead, they don’t matter for rankings, or they’ve lost their importance. Links are a confirmed major ranking factor, so I figured it would be interesting to test their impact. 

Instead of building links to pages, I figured the easiest way to test this would be to remove links to a page and see what happened. With the help of Joshua Hardwick, Ahrefs’ head of content, we picked three articles and disavowed all links to these pages for a month, thus removing the value of the external links. A month later, I removed them from the disavow file, which should have restored the value of the links.

The disavow file was processed immediately, but the links inside the file still needed to be recrawled before the impact of the disavow could be seen. It was the same once the disavow was removed. The linking pages had to be crawled again for us to see the impact. I figured a month for each time period should be long enough for the most important links to be crawled and for us to see an impact.

We disavowed 3,476 links across three blog posts. It was uploaded on Aug. 17 and removed four weeks later on Sept. 14.

Disavowing links to Ahrefs' pages

Spoiler alert: Links still matter. Traffic and ranking keywords were down after I disavowed the links and up after I removed the disavow file.

Graph showing impact of disavowing links

Organic traffic disavow test.

Look at the immediate drop in traffic when I uploaded the disavow file on Aug. 17. The downward trend continued for a while as more of the pages linking to these blogs were crawled. You can also see the immediate lift when I removed the disavow file on Sept. 14. I suspect this immediate impact is because more valuable links are on pages that probably have higher PageRank and are crawled more often.

Now let’s look at the examples in more detail.

The test pages

The chart above shows Ahrefs’ Average Organic Traffic, which is a stable metric that measures search visibility. It approximates traffic based on rankings and expected CTR for all the keywords a page ranks for.

I wanted a stable metric because things like clicks or impressions could be impacted by seasonality or user behaviors. The metrics for clicks and impressions from Google Search Console mostly followed the same trends, but not in all cases.

The test covered three different pages in total, so let’s look at each example.

Example 1.

Page: Top YouTube Searches (2021)

Graph showing organic traffic trend and markings of when article was disavowed and then removed from disavow file

I expected that we would lose rankings for some of the more popular searches and end up losing some traffic because of how competitive this topic is. That ended up being accurate. This page lost about 18% of its search traffic in the first month. But I didn’t expect it to be another 4% down after we removed the disavow file.

We’ve recovered over half of the loss since then, but the search traffic is still down overall.

Let’s look at why.

Here are some of the terms that influenced our traffic estimates the most and their ranking positions during the test.

List of terms and corresponding ranking changes on Aug 17, Sept 14, and Oct 12

For “youtube searches,” a YouTube page and a Google Trends page pushed our page down in the results during the test. We are back to #1 and have recovered the traffic for this term.

For “what is the most searched thing on youtube” and “most searched thing on youtube,” a competitor took the featured snippet from us and still holds it.

Example 2.

Page: SEO Pricing: ~350 Agencies, Consultants, and Freelancers Reveal How Much SEO Costs

Graph showing organic traffic trend and markings of when article was disavowed and then removed from disavow file

I wasn’t expecting much of an impact on this page by removing the links simply because the competition here was a lot weaker. But in this case, I was wrong. While the links were disavowed, this page lost 13.3% of its traffic. But when we removed the file, the page got back to 99% of the previous traffic.

Here are some of the terms that influenced our traffic estimates the most and their ranking positions during the test.

List of terms and corresponding ranking changes on Aug 17, Sept 14, and Oct 12

Example 3.

Page: Top Bing Searches (2021)

Graph showing organic traffic trend and markings of when article was disavowed and then removed from disavow file

Because of the competition here, I expected this page to see a decent drop. Interestingly, the traffic barely dropped during the disavow period. But once I removed the disavow file, the page shot up in traffic by over 44%.

This is actually the page that messed with the trends for clicks and impressions. I think that’s mostly because a lot of the terms weren’t really impacted.

Only one term really impacted the traffic estimates for this page.

List of terms and corresponding ranking changes on Aug 17, Sept 14, and Oct 12

Conclusion

Links still matter. The pages tested are still down from where they started. It could be because of algorithm changes, of links not being recrawled yet, or that other sites got more links while we dropped. But I’m hopeful we’ll be back to at least where we were.

I definitely do not recommend disavowing all the links to your pages. The disavow tool, in general, should be used with caution, as Google mostly devalues bad links for you these days.

Do you think we should run this test multiple times to see what happens? Let me know on Twitter.





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SEO

Web Team Project Prioritization Frameworks To Set SEO Up For Success

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Web Team Project Prioritization Frameworks To Set SEO Up For Success


Corporate web teams are often overloaded with a combination of one-off change requests and large projects.

Teams are forced to find a balance between requests coming from other stakeholders in the business and their own internal web team initiatives.

This state of affairs can create tremendous unnecessary stress and lead to unnecessary work. It can make it difficult to get the right work accomplished – and that includes SEO-related requests.

In this post, we’ll explore how to deal with this quandary by creating and adhering to a project prioritization framework.

The Difficulties Of Project Prioritization For Web Teams

Most corporate web teams include some combination of Development (developing and maintaining the code and systems), Operations (publishing content and making changes), and Strategy (specialties such as SEO, Analytics, UX, and Content) – along with management.

Web teams are typically in a precarious position in a corporate setting as they’re expected to:

  • Maintain mission-critical infrastructure 24/7/365.
  • Maintain content that may have no stakeholder owner
  • Execute as flawlessly as possible on projects that have executive visibility.
  • Execute on an endless stream of content changes and technical requests from stakeholders around the business – which likely will not have executive visibility so long as they’re completed sufficiently and in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Advance towards improvements in KPIs or OKRs – many of which will be internally driven.

Meanwhile, the team must:

  • Keep things interesting and engaging for the web staff.
  • Improve team morale and unity & not burn people out.
  • Write and maintain documentation & automation scripts in support of all of the other work.
  • Demonstrate the value of the Web team to other teams and top executives.
  • Demonstrate the value of sub-teams and individuals to the Web team leader and their manager.
  • Accurately plan for the right number of humans, with the right set of skills, required to do everything that will be needed in the coming months and years for development, operations, and strategy.
  • Be prepared to pivot to new objectives at any time.

Conflict can arise due to having more requests and committed projects than the team can reasonably handle – or even intake and scope.

Simply adding more team members doesn’t solve the issue (and can even exacerbate it) for a few reasons.

Hiring/onboarding can take months, more management is required for more staff, and discreet projects requiring specific staff or skills might only last a few months (among others).

And this all takes time away from the most effective, skilled, and knowledgeable staff the team already has.

Web teams are in a unique position within a large organization because websites have become not just the front door but the virtual headquarters.

As the world has moved online (and accelerated due to COVID)  more employees working from home still need to be seen as productive.

Corporate web teams have experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of requests to publish new things, make minor edits, and deal with stakeholders.

Many stakeholders view a web team as simply order-takers and not strategic partners.

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The options are basically:

  • Take on every request received, with urgency. This necessarily results in an overwhelming volume of work, burnout, and mistakes.
  • An individual on the web team spends much of their time reviewing and arbitrarily deciding on each request – whether to pursue or not and where it fits in the order of priority – and trying to explain to stakeholders why their projects are being delayed or not being worked on.
  • A leadership committee reviews requests on a periodic basis and determines which type to support regularly, which new projects to take on, and in what order.
  • The team develops and sticks to a rubric or framework for decision making and prioritization, which is used to evaluate requests and prioritize among other commitments. If a stakeholder’s request must be delayed or not acted on, the web team can point to the framework for justification.

These aren’t necessarily exclusive of one another – there is no reason a committee can’t also rely on a framework.

Whatever the method is, it’s important to communicate to the entire web team and external stakeholders so they can understand how and why decisions are being made.

Basic Requirements For Balancing Projects

Before your team can prioritize the work they’re going to commit to, there are a few basics to put in place.

These are the guard rails that guide other decisions and actions and help the team set clear boundaries with executives and other teams.

1. Team Charter

Your web team needs to have a charter in place that includes things like the mission statement, the values that are important, and the general goals for the team.

2. Inventory Of Existing Commitments, Services Provided, And Systems Maintained

Consider a working list of the services the team provides to other teams, the systems and processes the Web team is responsible for, and an inventory of the commitments the team has made to executives and other teams in the organization.

3. Scoping Of Potential New Projects

In case there is a backlog of potential projects already, you can accurately scope the projects to include possible timelines, individuals required, cost, etc. which helps with deciding what projects get worked in what order.

4. Support From Leadership

If corporate leaders do not support the Web team’s ability to push back on stakeholder requests or view the Web team as strategic expert partners, then your team has no chance at maintaining the balance between internal Web-driven needs and the flood of requests a Web team receives.

5. Web Team Roadmap

It’s critical to begin plotting out the projects that are expected to occur at different times in the future.

Some projects are recurring, some are done once and never to be done again.

Some projects must happen within a very specific timeframe.

Some projects are incredibly important, but have no critical due date and are thus deprioritized forever.

For the short-term, consider 6-month or 12-month roadmaps with specific projects identified and the expected timeframe for project completion.

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Start with the known date-committed projects, like supporting quarterly product launches or an annual event, upgrading the version of a critical system, or migrating to a new technology to avoid losing critical functionality that will be end-of-life’d by a vendor.

For the long-term, it can be helpful to consider very broad goals in a 2- or 3-year timeframe. How do you want the team to be operating that far in the future and how is that different from today?

A Framework For Project Prioritization

The following represents a draft of a framework that can be used to prioritize web team projects and requests.

Think of this as a starting point, but consider what is most important in your organization and with your technology stack – and consider what buckets make the most sense for your team.

Highest

Keeping The Lights On (KTLO) – Addressing production bugs impacting large numbers of users in significant ways and necessary updates to critical systems.

These activities are necessary for everything else on the list and become the very top priority when they occur.

Examples might include:

  • CMS-critical infrastructure updates.
  • Website or section is down with a Status Code 0 or 5XX.
  • Broken links.
  • Other UI on mission-critical web pages.

High

Executive Special Request Projects – Projects that a VP or other top executive is asking for, even if it may not seem likely to move the needle on a stated business-critical KPI.

In practically every organization, the most important thing you can do is support and trust your executives.

In some cases, working on these projects will mean not working on other projects and potentially not hitting some KPIs.

If a trade-off with other work will be required, it’s important to let the executive know what we won’t be doing to act on their request so they can make an informed decision.

The trade-off KPI that you might now be less likely to achieve could become a stretch goal.

Examples might include:

  • Redesigning the homepage.
  • Redesigning site navigation.
  • Developing a microsite.
  • Adding visual bells and whistles.

Business-Critical Projects – These are projects necessary for the business to continue operating.

Typically, these requests support stakeholders outside of the Web team.

A top executive might have visibility into these projects, but it’s not their pet project.

Examples might include: Dealing with acquired websites, product renaming, and launches, fixing analytics for existing reports/use-cases, legal-requested changes, retiring old domains & websites, updating an annual event website, publishing new blog posts, making edits to critical webpages, implementing cookie notices & accessibility standards.

Medium

Web Team Initiated Projects – Projects that advance a Web team towards their business KPIs and “doing the right thing” for the business.

Examples might include: Optimizing for conversion rate, improving user experience for prospects, bringing a website up to speed with competitors for areas like resource centers, improving product or free trial pages, A/B tests, or improving site navigation.

Web Team People Projects – Projects that demonstrate the Web team’s value or improve team culture.

Examples might include: Quarterly on-site/off-site meetings, quarterly meetings with other business units, monthly analytics reporting, all-hands meetings, virtual or in-person coffee, games and team building activities, creating T-Shirts/mugs/swag for the team.

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Enabling Projects – Projects that automate or free-up Strategy, Development & Operation time to enable the Web team to have more time for other projects.

Examples might include:

  • Website/domain footprint reduction.
  • Component-izing HTML areas.
  • Automating sitemaps.
  • A redirect management tool.
  • Jira clean-up.
  • Improved processes with other teams.

Low

Non-Critical Bugs – These are problems that need to be fixed, but they might not be impacting business KPIs quite yet.

Examples might include:

  • Production bugs experienced by end-users on minor pages.
  • Fixing analytics issues to enable future reporting use-cases.
  • Improving UI for a subset of device types.

Non-Critical Improvements – These are improvements to the site that needs to happen, but not necessarily immediately.

Examples might include:

  • Eliminating redirect chains.
  • Non-critical A/B testing.
  • Site speed optimization.
  • Non-critical user testing/feedback/surveys.
  • Non-critical bugs not seen by users (such as bugs on internal interfaces or redirects missing analytics tracking).

Other Stakeholder Requests – Projects being requested by others that are not critical for the business or Web team KPIs and that are not advocated for by Executive leadership. Working on these projects can be helpful for improving relationships across teams if there is capacity available.

Depending on your particular team and organization, some of these areas will be a higher or lower priority – or the tasks might be completely different from what is described here.

Assumptions And Other Considerations

To implement a project prioritization framework, certain assumptions are required. Some of these may include:

  • There will always be a large backlog of potential projects. There is always more that can be done to a website, more optimization, more automation, more changes, more maintenance.
  • Not all projects are of equal importance. Some sound good, some are advocated by top executives, some will advance the site or team towards a KPI.
  • Some proposed projects are a bad idea and should not be worked on.
  • A Web team can’t and shouldn’t act on every request they receive.
  • The priorities of the broader team that the Web team reports into – whether marketing, growth, or something else – should guide prioritization and decision making.
  • Data accuracy is paramount when the data is used to justify projects, in prioritization, or to measure success. Thus projects to improve or maintain data accuracy must be elevated to enable prioritization.

Wrapping Up

Web teams simply can’t do everything they want to do, and everything is being asked of them by their stakeholders – including those in SEO.

In order to decide what the team should work on immediately, what to work on eventually (and what requests or projects to never touch), set up a framework.

By setting up a framework for decision making, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of constant arbitrary one-off decision making and help your team stay aligned and motivated to accomplish the most important work for the business.

More resources:


Featured Image: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock





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The Only Shopify SEO Checklist You Need To Rank Your Site

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The Only Shopify SEO Checklist You Need To Rank Your Site


When it comes to driving motivated traffic to your Shopify store, no other digital marketing strategy is as affordable or impactful as SEO.

For e-commerce retailers, taking the time to ensure your web pages are properly optimized can help increase your organic traffic, meaning more potential customers browsing your products.

Unlike Google Ads or social media advertising, SEO strategies can drive site traffic to your Shopify website long after your ad budget runs out.

For this reason, leveraging SEO is one of the best digital investments a Shopify site owner can make.

What Is Shopify SEO?

Shopify SEO is the process of optimizing a Shopify website to perform better in search engine results.

Although SEO can be applied to any website, Shopify SEO is focused on helping e-commerce retailers who utilize the Shopify CMS to earn more keyword rankings and organic traffic.

Common SEO Challenges For E-Commerce Websites

In general, e-commerce websites are more likely to face certain challenges that can negatively impact search engine performance.

  • Thin Content: Google loves in-depth, long-form content. Because product pages tend toward thin content, it can be difficult to boost their rankings in search.
  • Duplicate Content: With multiple product pages that are so similar or auto-generated, many e-commerce websites face duplicate content issues.
  • Poor Site Architecture: Google likes to see an optimized site structure that users can easily navigate. With so many pages on their website, e-commerce retailers can easily suffer from poor site architecture signals.
  • Not Utilizing Schema: Products schema helps Google crawlers understand your products and promote them accordingly. Not utilizing schema is a huge mistake for Shopify retailers.

To make sure that your website doesn’t suffer from these common setbacks faced by e-commerce sites, the Shopify SEO checklist below is a great place to start.

Automated SEO Features In Shopify

The Shopify platform does have some SEO features built-in that ease some of the SEO workload on-site owners.

These features include:

  • Auto-generated “rel-canonical” tags: this feature helps avoid duplicate content penalties!
  • Auto-generated robots.txt and sitemap.xml files.
  • Automatic SSL certificates: Google prefers to rank secure pages with HTTPS protocols.
  • Auto-generated page titles that include the store’s name.

However, SEO is a vast and multidisciplinary field.

Counting on the Shopify platform alone to do the work of SEO for you is not going to produce the best results.

19 Must-Do Tasks On Your Shopify SEO Checklist

Remember that SEO is not a one-and-done process and will require work both when you initially set up your store and throughout the lifetime of your website.

The checklist below is organized by the type of optimization, but it can be easily completed “in order.”

Some of these steps are a one-time optimization, but the majority will need to be repeated whenever you add new products or pages to your online store.

General SEO

1. Invest In A Custom Domain

It’s generally better to invest in a custom domain and drop the “myshopify” from your URLs.

Why? Because the URL path is visible to users at the top of the SERP result. Custom domains look more professional and more enticing to users, and higher CTRs lead to better SEO performance.

Screenshot from Google Search, January 2022

You can buy custom domains from Shopify or any third-party domain provider.

Then, add your custom domain in the Settings > Domains menu of your Shopify account.

2. Choose A Fast And Responsive Theme

With last year’s page experience update, fast page speed and load times are non-negotiable if you want to rank well in Google.

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Although flashier themes might be tempting, it is better to choose a theme that is optimized for speed and performance.

Your theme also needs to perform well on mobile devices, as Google will index the mobile versions of your web pages.

Screenshot of a shopify theme and speed reportScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022

You can get a sense of how fast your current Shopify store is in comparison to others in your dashboard or via your PageSpeed Insights report. If your scores are low, it’s likely impacting your ability to rank in top positions.

Consider another, more SEO-friendly theme.

Here is a list of some of the fastest themes on Shopify.

3. Setup Your Analytics Tools

Your Shopify Analytics dashboard will give you an overview of your e-commerce metrics.

However, you need to set up additional tools to better understand where your website traffic comes from and how users behave once arriving at your website from search.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are must-haves for any site owner, and they are completely free to users.

After you create your accounts, here are some other key steps you’ll want to take:

4. Get Helpful Shopify SEO Apps

There are all sorts of Shopify SEO apps that can help ensure you are meeting SEO best practices across your web pages. Some of my favorites include:

  • Plug In SEO: Similar to Yoast SEO for WordPress and ensures best practices.
  • SEO Pro: Great for schema and more advanced optimizations.
  • Smart SEO: Very affordable option for lots of SEO value.

On-Page SEO

5. Do Your Keyword Research

Before you start optimizing your content, you need to identify which keywords have strong relevance to your products and will bring qualified traffic to your website.

There are hundreds to thousands of ways users might be searching for products like yours. A keyword tool allows you to discover what users are searching for.

Example of Keyword research for a shopify website using a keyword toolScreenshot from SearchAtlas, January 2022

Some of those keywords will be easier to rank for than others, and a part of your SEO work is identifying which keywords present the best opportunities for your store.

The most important keyword metrics to pay attention to are:

  • Search Volume: You want your keyword targets to get a reasonable number of searches per month, otherwise you’re optimizing for no one.
  • CPC: Higher CPCs represent stronger conversion potential. Higher CPCs are more common with commercial and transactional keywords.
  • Keyword Difficulty: Higher scores will mean the keywords are more difficult to rank for. Make sure you choose keyword targets where you can realistically rank on page 1.

Ideally, each web page in your Shopify store will be targeting a different keyword or keyword cluster.

For your product and category pages, optimize for keywords that show more transactional intent, as those users are more inclined to make a purchase.

For your blog posts, optimize for informational queries to capture searchers near the top of the funnel.

6. Optimize Your URLs

There are some URL best practices that are essential to improving your rankings in Google.

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Include your target keyword.
  • Avoid unnecessary words like and/or/the/etc..

You can easily edit the URL paths in the Search Engine Listing Preview at the bottom of any page in the Shopify CMS.

Screenshot of Search engine preview in Shopify Screenshot from Shopify, January 2022

7. Optimize Your Page Titles And Meta Descriptions

While you’re editing your Search Engine Listing, make sure you also optimize the other meta tags visible in your SERP result: the title tag and meta description.

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You’ll want to follow best practices here as well by including your keywords and meeting SEO best practices, especially length – no more than 60 characters for your title tag and no more than 160 for your meta description.

Example of adding keyword into the page title in a shopify websiteScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022

Google looks to these pieces of metadata to understand what your content is about and when to promote it.

And because the meta description may also be visible as a search snippet (although not always), it can influence whether searchers click on your result.

Google is smart enough to understand the terms and phrases that have a semantic relationship to your primary keyword, so there is no need to stuff these on-page elements with the same keyword over and over again.

Your meta tags should read naturally and adequately describe the content on the page.

8. Use A Content Optimization Tool For Your Product Descriptions

Thin content on product pages can be a serious hindrance for e-commerce websites.

Make sure you take the time to craft original, descriptive product descriptions that include relevant keywords, synonyms, and related terms.

Optimized product description in ShopifyScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022
Screenshot of an content optimizer toolScreenshot from the SEO Content Assistant, January 2022

A content optimizer tool can help you identify which related keywords have the most SEO power and show strong relevance signals to your products.

Do your best to include them in a natural way to elevate the ranking potential of your product pages.

9. Optimize Your Alt Text

Your Shopify website likely has lots of images that showcase your products.

But remember, Google cannot see your images. It’s important you communicate to Google what those images are through descriptive file names and keyword-rich alt text.

Example of how to optimize alt text in ShopifyScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022

This also makes your Shopify website more accessible to users with visual impairments.

10. Create Blog Content To Target Long-Tail Queries

To capture users who are near the top of the sales funnel, create high-quality blog content that is optimized for relevant long-tail queries.

list of Blogs in shopify websiteScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022

By answering the questions users are asking about products like yours, you can build brand awareness and expertise.

It’s also a great way to increase the total number of keywords that your Shopify store ranks for.

Technical SEO

11. Create An SEO-Friendly Navigation Menu

Navigation menus help your users easily move throughout your online store. Not only will a SEO-friendly navigation menu look better to Google crawlers, but it will also create a better user experience.

Navigation Menu in ShopifyScreenshot from Shopify, January 2022

A few SEO tips for navigation:

  • Prioritize clear and easy navigation.
  • Take the time to make sure that your products are well organized into collections.
  • Keep your navigation consistent across the page.
  • Use the nav to help users easily contact you or your support team.

12. Leverage Internal Links

Your internal links accomplish a few things.

They keep users moving throughout your website, they help search engine crawlers understand your site architecture, and they distribute your PageRank across more of your site.

The majority of your Shopify website’s PageRank will be on your homepage, which is why the links you include in your nav menu should be strategic.

Navigation Menu of Shopify WebsiteScreenshot from macaronqueen.com, January 2022

Avoid sending link equity to items that are out-of-stock, seasonal, or are unlikely to rank well in search results due to thin or unoptimized content.

Instead, push PageRank toward pages that you want to elevate in search, like your primary category and collection pages.

See also  Google Says You Can Ignore Toxic Links

13. Add The Products Schema

There are a few different ways to add structured data to your Shopify website, and which is best for you will be determined by how comfortable you are editing your website’s code. To add schema manually, go to Themes > Action > Edit Code.

You can use a schema generator tool to generate your markup and input all of the required properties.

Shopify users should consider using the following Product Schemas when applicable:

  • Aggregate rating.
  • Brand.
  • Category.
  • Color.
  • Dimensions.
  • Model.
  • Material.
  • Special offers.
  • Image.

If working in your HTML editor isn’t your jam, plenty of Shopify plugins have Products schema features and make the process simple.

14. Add Product Reviews

Positive reviews on your products can push users toward a click or purchase.

Download the Product Reviews app in the Shopify store to start leveraging product reviews. This app sends structured data information to Google so those yellow stars appear with your SERP result.

example of shoe's from Allbirds shopify store with product reviewsScreenshot from Google, January 2022

They can be game-changing in improving CTRs and generating more clicks to your store.

Off-Page SEO

15. Build Links To Your Shopify Site

You will also need to build off-site signals in order for Google to trust your online store and rank it in search results.

This is arguably the most difficult part of SEO because you don’t have control over whether a website chooses to link to yours.

However, there are some easy ways to start earning links:

  • Create high-quality content like blog posts and ask other site owners to link to it.
  • Get featured in gift guides or product roundups.
  • Guest blog on relevant sites.

16. Invest In Public Relations

Public relations and organic outreach are at the heart of link building and one of the best ways to earn high-quality links from authoritative websites.

If you don’t yet have the time or resources to do PR outreach, sign up for Help-A-Reporter Out (HARO). You’ll get daily emails from journalists and publishers looking to hear from experts or feature certain products.

Shopify Website Maintenance

17. Regularly Audit Your Website

Over time, your website will change. This occurs as you add or delete pages on your website, as your pages accrue backlinks, or as the landscape of search changes.

A regular website audit can help you determine which of your pages are performing the best in search and which are underperforming.

The insights provided from a website audit can help you identify key content, page experience, or authority issues that you need to prioritize and resolve.

18. Repair Broken Links

As you change up your product offering or items go out of stock, you will likely unpublish or delete pages of your Shopify Website.

If that page was linked to anywhere else on your website, you will create a “broken link.”

Google does not like to rank websites with excessive broken links, as it looks as if the website is not active and being properly taken care of.

Once a quarter, it’s a good idea to run a site crawler across the entirety of your website to identify broken links and repair them.

19. Study The Data And Iterate

As more users visit your online store, your analytics tools will provide you with loads of data about how they are behaving on your website, how they got there in the first place, and more.

Make sure to draw insights from that data to iterate on your keyword targeting, page content, internal linking, meta tags, and more.

Conclusion

Remember, SEO has a wonderful way of lowering customer-acquisition costs in the long term.

Learning the basics of Shopify SEO and taking the necessary steps can be all the difference in outranking and outperforming your competitors.

Follow the checklist above, and you’ll most likely see Google reward you with more keyword rankings and more site traffic.

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Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock





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Google Gives Sites More Indexing Control With New Robots Tag

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Google Gives Sites More Indexing Control With New Robots Tag


A new robots tag, called indexifembedded, lets websites give Google more direction over which content to index in search results.

With this tag you can tell Google to only index content on a page if it’s embedded through iframes and similar HTML tags.

The indexifembedded tag overrides the noindex tag.

That means you can use noindex to keep a whole URL out of search results, and apply the indexifembedded tag to make a specific piece of content indexable when it’s embedded on another webpage.

Google says it created this tag to fix an issue affecting media publishers:

“… while they may want their content indexed when it’s embedded on third-party pages, they don’t necessarily want their media pages indexed on their own.”

When To Use The Indexifembedded Tag

This new robots tag is not something that applies to a lot of publishers, as it’s intended for content that has a separate URL for embedding purposes.

For example, a publisher of a podcast may have webpages dedicated to each podcast episode, which each have their own URLs.

Then there would be URLs pointing directly to the media, which other sites can use to embed the podcast on one of their pages.

Such a URL might be used when inserting a podcast episode as a source of reference, like I recently did in an article about Googlebot crawling.

The podcast creator may not want the media URLs indexed in search results. Previously, the only way to keep them out of Google Search was with a noindex tag.

However, the noindex tag prevents embedding the content in other pages during indexing. So if the publisher wanted to allow embeddeding they were forced to have the media URL indexed as well.

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Now, with the indexifembedded tag, publishers have more control over what gets indexed.

The indexifembedded tag can be used with the noindex tag, and will override it when the URL with noindex is embedded into another page through an iframe or similar HTML tag.

Google offers the following example:

“For example, if podcast.host.example/playpage?podcast=12345 has both the noindex and indexifembedded tag, it means Google can embed the content hosted on that page in recipe.site.example/my-recipes.html during indexing.”

How To Use The Indexifembedded Tag

There are two ways to use this new robots tag.

To enable your content to be indexed only when it’s embedded on other pages, add the indexifembedded tag in combination with the noindex tag.

See an example of what the code would look like in the image below:

Screenshot from: developers.google.com/search/blog/, January 2022.

Alternatively, you can specify the tag in the HTTP header.

Refer to the image below for an example of how that would look.

google indexifembedded tagScreenshot from: developers.google.com/search/blog/, January 2022.

Currently, only Google supports the indexifembedded tag.

Source: Google Search Central Blog


Featured Image: IgorGolovniov/Shutterstock 





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