Is Shopify Good for SEO?

For the first time ever, shoppers are going online for most of their purchases. Currently, 35% of US digital shoppers start their product searches on Google.

Organic search is clearly a great way to get potential customers to your store. In addition to increasing your traffic, optimizing for SEO has the added benefit of increasing the quality of your website by making it user-friendly, faster and easier to navigate.

Shopify is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) for eCommerce businesses, with over 600,000 businesses using the platform. But is it good for SEO? According to the website ecommerce-platforms.com, Shopify SEO is one of the best with a score of 98 out of 100, placing it second only to Magento.

See how Shopify can help maximize the chances of your online store appearing in search results with this breakdown of Shopify SEO pros and cons.

Pros

Free SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate allows secure connections from a web server to a browser via the HTTPS protocol. Not only does Google favor secure websites, but 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection. Having an SSL certificate is an easy way to boost your conversions and check off an important SEO box.

With many hosted eCommerce solutions, you’ll have to purchase an SSL certificate and pay hundreds annually to keep it. But not with Shopify! Shopify includes a free SSL certificate that uses standard 256-bit encryption technology.

Easy Editing of Title Tags, Meta Descriptions & URLs

Optimizing your on-page content can greatly improve your website’s online visibility. Title tags, meta descriptions, and URL handles can all be easily edited in the Shopify admin dashboard.

Each of your pages, products, collections and blog posts should have unique title tags optimized for certain keywords. Meta description tags aren’t directly used for rankings but are a great opportunity for increasing your click-through rates.

Editing SEO for a blog post in Shopify

Not sure where to start? I offer a Keyword Research and Site Optimizations service to help you identify the right keywords for your business.

Image Optimizations

From attracting shoppers browsing Google Images to increasing site speed, image optimization is an important part of optimizing your online store. Shopify lets users modify image file names and add their own alt text. Since crawlers can’t “read” images, it’s important to add descriptive alt text that includes keywords you’re trying to target. Shopify also automatically compresses images to reduce file size, helping your site to load faster.

Automatic Sitemap and Robots.txt Creation

An XML sitemap is simply a list of all the pages on your website. It assists search engines in crawling a website. Shopify automatically creates sitemap.xml files for a store and locates them at the store’s URL, e.g. www.myshopify.com/sitemap.xml. Sitemaps are automatically updated when a new page, post, product or collection is added. Upload your sitemap to Google through Google Search Console to get pages indexed as quickly as possible.

Your store’s robots.txt file blocks page content that might otherwise reduce the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. Shopify automatically creates this file at the root directory of your store’s primary domain name, e.g. www.myshopify.com/robots.txt and includes rules to block pages that might cause duplicate content. For example, the shopping cart page is blocked so customers can find product pages before the cart page. Alternatively, any area with a login (such as a customer profile page or order history) is blocked.

Automatically Generated Canonical URLs

Many online stores have the problem of the same product appearing under different URLs. Search engines view this as duplicate content and are likely to penalize a website for it. Fortunately, Shopify automatically generates canonical URLs to point search engines to the original product page, effectively preventing any duplicate content issues. E.g. /collections/shopify-seo/products/technical-seo-website-audit canonicals to the main product page /products/technical-seo-website-audit. 

Free Shopify SEO Report

Cons

Unnecessary URL Folders

Shopify URLs are structured in such a way to include /pages, /products, /collections, /blogs, etc in the URL path. Not only is this not very user-friendly for those typing out a URL, but it adds an unrelated keyword to the URL structure and lengthens it. Typically, shorter URLs are preferred for SEO. It is very unlikely that Shopify will ever remove these folders and, as it is is a hosted platform, hacky URL rewrites will not work.

While certainly not ideal, I’d consider this a very small SEO issue in the grand scheme of things. Focus on what you can control, like optimizing the URL handle for relevant keywords.

Locked Sitemap and Robots.txt

While Shopify’s automatically generated sitemap makes indexing recent pages, products, and posts a breeze it, unfortunately, doesn’t create video or image sitemaps. The absence of these sitemaps can complicate indexing of visual content. Fortunately, some of these drawbacks can be corrected with the help of 3rd party Shopify apps like Image Sitemap.

The robots.txt file also can’t be modified with Shopify. While it’s already mostly optimized to work the best possible way with search engines, there may be more pages you wish to block.

You can hide pages that are not included in your robots.txt file by using meta robots noindex tags on particular pages. To exclude a specific page, past the following code in the <head> section:

{% if handle contains 'page-handle-you-want-to-exclude' %}
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
{% endif %}

 

A Technical SEO Audit can help you identify which pages you might need to block on your website.

Duplicate Content from Filtering with Product Tags

An eCommerce store that has many products may require filtering to help a user navigate items quickly and efficiently. Filtering on Shopify is often based on product tags.

Why is this bad?

For every new product tag created, a new URL is also created by appending the tag to the collection handle.

/collections/main-category/product-tag

For sites with many collections, this can create a duplicate content issue, where a site has too many duplicate pages compared to unique pages. Shopify doesn’t currently allow canonical tags to be edited on a page by page basis, so a snippet of code will have to placed within your theme.liquid file to noindex these pages and point them to the main category.

Inside the head element, replace <link rel="canonical" href="{{ canonical_url }}" /> with the following bit of code:

{% if template contains 'collection' and current_tags %}

<meta name="robots" content="noindex" /> <link rel="canonical" href="{{ shop.url }}{{ collection.url }}" />

{% else %}

<link rel="canonical" href="{{ canonical_url }}" />

{% endif %}

 

Overall, Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms for SEO and will likely be a great boon for your business. What few limitations it does have can mostly be corrected with 3rd party apps or custom code in your theme.liquid.  

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