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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

More resources:


Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Read More On SEJ

Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

More resources:


Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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