Boost Your Organic Shopify Rankings With This Technical SEO Checklist
Author: Olivia Murphy - Marketing Executive
There’s no magic rulebook when it comes to SEO, but there is one key thing you need to do in order to succeed - be relevant. Search engines work hard to provide the consumer with the best results possible, in the easiest way possible. If you’re not going to give the consumer what they want, search engines simply won’t give you what you want, which is good rankings.
Due to the pandemic and more people turning to online shopping, Shopify is now one of the fastest growing CMS platforms for businesses as small as your local coffee shop, all the way up to multi million pound companies like Gymshark. Powering approximately 1.7 million businesses worldwide, Shopify is an all in one ecommerce platform with a whole host of useful features - including some very handy, built in SEO - meaning you don’t need to be a coding genius to optimise your site!
We’re here to help you utilise those features in the most effective way possible and find a way around Shopify’s hidden quirks, in order to achieve those organic results you desire.
Delete unused apps and plugins
More apps and plugins means more code, which is okay if this extra code is getting you sales. However, when this code is lying dormant, adding no real benefit to your site, these “nice to have'' apps turn into a bit of a burden. Make sure the apps and plugins that are currently installed on your Shopify store actually provide value to your site, and if not... get rid, hun! Make sure that when you delete these unwanted apps, you are also deleting the accompanying files that are still clogging up your theme. These hidden nuggets will continue to slow down your store until you locate them and remove them for good - this detailed tutorial shows you how to do just that.
Optimise your site structure
Shopify truly blessed us with their embedded tools to allow us to create a site structure that is perfectly optimised for SEO. This makes sure your site follows a logical hierarchy and produces URLs that just make sense. The typical structure tends to look like:
Homepage > Collection > Product
Even though Shopify provides us with this smooth sailing structure, we still need to play our part in ensuring our site is SEO friendly. It’s up to you to make sure every product belongs to a collection and every collection is visible from the homepage. Search engine bots can understand your site quicker, making it easier for them to crawl, rank and index your content. Even though we’ve agreed as an industry not to take the 3 click rule too seriously, users still don’t want to be sent on a long and confusing journey around your poorly structured site just to find what they were looking for. If your site is structured well, with clear and logical paths already drawn out, customers can navigate your site easier, providing them with a better overall experience, resulting in a longer dwell time and hopefully… a sale! Better still, search engine bots will pay attention to this positive feedback, recognise you are providing value to users and subsequently boost your content higher up on the search engine results page (SERP), which (you guessed it!) will make you more visible to customers! This SEO stuff really is never ending, isn’t it?
Optimise your site structure
Sometimes, when a page is deleted or its content is updated on another page, a redirect is put in its place. Sites that are updated regularly may unknowingly have multiple redirects in place, from when a page has been redirected more than once. For example, page 1 may have been deleted and redirected to page 2, but later on, page 2 was updated and redirected to page 3. This leaves the redirect sequence looking like:
Page 1 > Page 2 > Page 3
Because the user needs to follow this sequence to reach their desired page, the loading time will suffer as a result. To fix this issue and improve the overall speed of your site, cut out Page 2 to create:
Page 1 > Page 3
Not only will your loading times speed up and your user experience improve, but search engine bots will be able to crawl your page with ease and therefore add your valuable content you’ve worked hard on into the all important index.
Add canonical tags to duplicate pages
Shopify is known for its trouble with creating duplicate pages, which is one of the reasons so many SEO experts are put off by the platform.
Your Shopify site can not only be reached by www.yourdomain.com, but also by:
... and so on and so forth.
The issue with this is, we want our Shopify store to only be accessed through one URL, and redirect all other variants to this chosen URL. The main goal of domain canonicalization is to avoid duplicate content which will not only dilute your website’s link equity, but also appear disingenuous to search engine crawlers.
You’ve probably already done it, but it’s so quick to double check, you may as well just do it now. I mean, you could have done it by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence. Or even this one. All you have to do is:
Step 1: Log on to your Shopify admin console
Step 2: Go to Online Store > Domains
Step 3: If it says, “Traffic from your domains is not being redirected to this primary domain”, click the blue “Enable Redirection” link.
If it’s already ticked, jobs a good’un, you’re an SEO whizz! That’s 7 seconds of your life you’ll never get back, but it’s always nice to check, isn’t it?
Due to Shopify’s site structure, products need to be added to a collection, which needs to be visible from the homepage, creating a breadcrumb sequence of links. But the trouble with this is, depending on how many collections a single product is added to, the product ‘pink dress’ will be under the URL:
As well as:
If crawlers come across both of these pages, they may see the duplicate content as deceptive and penalise both pages. Just like when your mate used to copy your homework word for word, and you’d both get told off - it’s not your fault and it’s not very fair, is it?
Luckily there is a way around this, and it’s a bit similar to our previous exercise. You need to choose which URL you’d prefer to send traffic to, preferably one that already has internal and external links directed to it. You will have to add a little bit of code to tell those crawlers what you need them to do, but it’s worth it when you see the results in the rankings, honest!
Ask search engine bots to not crawl pages featuring thin or duplicate content
If there are any pages that contain thin or duplicate content, but you don’t want to delete them, you can actually just tell crawlers you’d not like that page to be ranked. Usually, this would be done by editing your robots.txt file, but Shopify has this secured under lock and key. We need to edit the theme.liquid file and add in this code. Don’t worry, it’s only 3 lines! This prevents low quality content being evaluated as lesser value or even as spam by search engines, which could seriously affect your overall rankings on the SERP.
Hopefully we’ve given you enough expertise for you to start working on your technical SEO and get your Shopify store up to speed - literally!
If you can’t be bothered with all of that, or just need some help reaching your SEO goals, get in touch with Steve and Amy at email@example.com and we’ll help you out!
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