Despite the massive impact of SEO on any Shopify store, amazingly many small businesses overlook its importance. SEO is very rarely initiated as key priority for e-Commerce stores. However, done correctly, it can provide targeted and purchase-ready customers at your fingertips for FREE (and everyone loves that word). By getting to grips with the DO’S and DON’TS of search engine optimisation you can leapfrog the competitors who haven’t embraced such a successful marketing strategy.
Throughout this blog we will use our experience developing numerous Shopify stores to identify where e-Commerce owners are going wrong by highlighting their SEO Sins.
The overlooked traits of a successful Shopify SEO strategy include:
SEO Sin 1
Not redirecting inactive product pages
On a regular basis e-Commerce stores will have products out of stock or even become discontinued altogether. Merchants should redirect the non-functioning, non-existing product pages to a similar product to help retain customers and reduce the bounce rate of your store. Ignoring this, will see potential customers drop off and head straight for your direct competitor.
Shopify simplifies this entire process with 301 page redirects. Follow these straightforward steps in the Shopify backend to get started:
- Select ‘Navigation’ from the left hand menu
- Select ‘Add your first URL redirect’
- Add the inactive page URL followed by the redirected page you require
SEO Sin 2
Ignoring Google Analytics
Every business owner relies on feedback and statistical reports to measure the success of their company. The most effective way of interpreting the behaviour of visitors to your store is by embracing Google Analytics. This is a FREE software tool that enables merchants to analyse metrics such as where visitors reside, how long they stayed on the site and what pages/products they interacted with.
When you ignore the behaviour of visitor data, it is difficult to determine how you can make SEO improvements. An in-depth knowledge of your own website will highlight the areas which need attention and help identify the health and performance of your store. You will see the benefits of this through product sales and customer retention.
Easy steps to get started with Google Analytics:
- Go to https://analytics.google.com/analytics/ and signup
- Follow the relevant steps and select “Tracking ID”
- In your Shopify Store click the “General” link in the menu and paste the tracking ID in the “Google Analytics” section
SEO Sin 3
Being oblivious to image keywords and ALT tags
If Shopify merchants direct any emphasis on SEO it’s usually focussed on the written content in their store. Search engines can crawl web pages to understand the context of the text but an image without an ALT tag is impossible for search engines to understand.
The main reason owners ignore images, is that they’re not aware of the human intervention required. Owners can easily add titles and descriptions to images in the backend of Shopify, it’s just a case of knowing where to go. An example of editing homepage slideshow images include:
- Selecting ‘Themes’ and then ‘Theme Settings’ from the left hand menu
- Select the ‘Homepage’ tab
- Add a descriptive text in the ‘ALT textbox of the ‘Slideshow banner’ option
- Click ‘Save’
(Note: There will be some images on your site which require specific code to be entered within the Template editor).
Ignoring ALT tags for product images is pretty high on the SEO Sin list within the e-Commerce industry. In an ideal world every image on your store will have relevant ALT texts, including banners and logos, however it is absolutely essential that each product includes one too. Search engines, like Google, won’t index your product images, meaning they will never appear on search results.
SEO Sin 4
Not using blog efficiently to boost SEO
Although Shopify merchants start out with the best intentions, the blog is normally the first feature on the site to be neglected. What merchants should be aware of is that blogs provide one of many opportunities for enabling their SEO marketing success.
The benefits of having a blog on your store include:
- Keeps your site up to date
This is the area where new content and ideas can keep your site fresh and regularly up to date. Just one post a week, even one or two a month of useful and engaging information is adequate for Google and other search engines to realise your site is still active.
- Platform to express knowledge and experience
Search engines promote websites which express industry knowledge on their site. This knowledge can help support customers and search engines and your your store will reap the benefit in this. Offering a regular blog shows the reader the passion you have for your industry.
- Applying SEO Strategies not suitable for other areas of the site
If you are ahead of the game, there will be plenty of keywords you want included in your store to make search engines take notice. Informative blog posts enable e-Commerce owners to naturally use relevant keywords on your site to provide a useful SEO strategy.
- Adding tags to useful information which improves SEO and helps the customer
Using blogs to provide engaging content is fantastic, but it’s only the first step. Many store owners add tags to their posts to categorise and assist the user experience. Each tag generates a separate page on your store listing all relevant posts, helping users find what they are after much quicker.
However, problems arise when owners start over using tags within a single post. You should apply a tag strategy (similar to your SEO strategy) where you define a minimum and maximum number of tags per post. You should also limit the number of tags used on your store to something manageable.
SEO Sin 5
Ignoring the Google Webmaster Tool
Google is responsible for around 75 – 80% of the organic traffic across the world, so the importance of appearing in their listing is paramount. Using the Google Webmaster Tool ensures your store is properly indexed. A store which doesn’t use the Google Webmaster Tool will have zero control over the indexing of their site. It is useful to help monitor:
- The performance of your store on Google
- The indexing scale and any crawl errors
- Broken links
- All search analytical data
SEO Sin 6
Lacking product reviews and testimonials on your store
Search engines reward user-generated content as it indicates the level of user-engagement on your site. As an e-Commerce store it is vital for visitors and search engines that reviews and testimonials form an important role in your store, for its credibility and trustworthiness. Search engines show product reviews in an elaborate, attention-grabbing way using star ratings, images and product descriptions. Incorporating reviews on your site won’t just assist visitors, it will also direct the attention of the 75 – 80% organic traffic from search engines who will land on your store.
SEO Sin 7
Addressing a slow loading Shopify store
There are only two major factors in providing successful on-page SEO:
- The content
- The user experience
The content has been largely dealt with as part of other SEO Sins, but the first stumbling block of a good user experience is the loading speed of your store. If your store is slow to load, visitors won’t wait long until exploring your competitors. The most common reasons for slow load times is large images or usage of an excessive number of Shopify apps.
These are seven Shopify SEO mistakes which many e-Commerce stores worldwide are making. By rectifying these SEO Sins, you can make a significant impact on the traffic reaching your store. More traffic means more sales. If you want to get ahead of the competition and be the ‘go to’ e-Commerce store in your industry both locally and nationally, we recommend you address the issues listed in this blog as soon as possible. What are you waiting for…