Optimise Your Shopify Product Page With This 7 Step On-Page SEO Checklist
Date: 1 December 2021
A couple of months ago, I spilled the beans on all things technical SEO (search engine optimisation) with a super handy checklist for Shopify stores. Now I’m back to give you the lowdown on, what I would call, the star of the show: on-page SEO.
But Liv, what’s the difference between on-page SEO and technical SEO?
Well, reader, I’m so glad you asked. On-page SEO is the name for the elements you can actually see on your page, whereas technical SEO refers to the back end optimisations you can make to your site that your customers can’t physically see. Just like the actors are key components of a theatre production, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful if it weren’t for the stage crew and various others behind the scenes.
My last blog discussed the pivotal role technical SEO plays in improving site speed. But, although site speed is important when it comes to ranking, it’s key to remember that search engines crawl and rank pages, not sites. If your site has super fast loading speeds but irrelevant keywords and thin content, you may as well be invisible! This is where on-page SEO comes into play. Providing the consumer with rich content and matching their search intent will bring not only more traffic to your site, but more genuine customers who are actively searching for your products and services.
I’ll be guiding you through your Shopify product page to pinpoint exactly which sections you need to optimise, but before we do that, there’s one important step we need to do first...
1. Conduct Keyword Research
Just like every successful SEO strategy, it all starts with a bit of keyword research. Google itself puts it quite plainly:
“The most basic signal that information is relevant is when content contains the same keywords as your search query. For example, with web pages, if those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information might be more relevant.”
Using handy keyword tools can help you find the most relevant keywords, their average search volume and the amount of competition surrounding them. Sure, a small boutique would love to rank first for “women’s dresses”, but with the amount of competition from huge brands with years of experience building authority and publishing relevant content, it’s not something that’s even on the horizon. Your time would be better spent focusing on niche keywords with less competition like “formal gowns” or something more localised like “women’s dresses leeds”.
2. Optimise Your H1s
(Top tip: use only one H1 tag)
Starting from the top with our H1s, which are actually called ‘Titles’ in Shopify. In SEO terms, your H1 is the first heading on your page, which you would usually categorise with a <h1> tag, however, with Shopify being all lovely and that, they add these tags automatically. All you have to do is pop your H1 in the ‘Title’ box.
Shopify does allow you to add additional html in the description section (we’ll get to that later) so, if you know your basic html, you could actually add these tags in manually. But as mum always said, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
Your H1 is important for both web crawlers and real life human users to understand the content on your page, so it should sum up your page perfectly in one cohesive phrase. Make sure to include your main keyword, and possibly a second if it flows well. Do not, I repeat, do not stuff as many keywords into your H1 as possible! Search engines are very clever and they will penalise you for using these black hat tactics. It’s also key to remember you’re creating content for humans, not robots - if it doesn’t make sense to a human, they might not buy your product.
3. Write Original Product Descriptions
(Top tip: don’t copy and paste the manufacturer’s description)
Let’s be honest, we all have our lazy days, but a big no no when it comes to on-page SEO is copying and pasting descriptions from other sites. Crawlers will see this as duplicate content and penalise you, plus it’s a nice touch to be able to add your brand voice to a product description. The recipe to a top notch product description is a dash of original copy and a drizzle of compelling content. We advise including rich content about your product, such as; expert knowledge (the manufacturing process), physical properties (colour, size, material) and key decision making factors (environmentally friendly, easy to assemble, etc). Regarding your keywords, the aim is similar to your H1 best practices - be human! Include your top 3 keywords in your descriptions, bonus points for any more, but only if your copy makes sense. Remember, no keyword stuffing!
4. Optimise Your Images
(Top tip: keep ALT text under 125 characters)
What’s the point in all of this work if your images are blurry or incorrectly sized? Shopify recommends your product images be at 2048 x 2048px in order to maintain a high quality user experience. Anything larger than this is just a waste of time - literally! Larger image files take longer to load and slow down your site speed (learn more about this in my previous blog) so it’s best practice to compress or resize those unnecessarily huge images.
Another factor to consider in your SEO is the image ALT text. Not only is this great for accessibility, but it’s also great for appearing in image search results. Describe what’s going on in these images as best you can, and if it fits, pop a cheeky keyword in there too, as this will help crawlers figure out if your image is relevant for a user’s query.
All you need to do is tap on your image to open up the editor, and click the “add alt text” button.
5. Make Your Meta Titles Beta
(Top tip: keep them under 60 characters to avoid truncation in the SERP)
Titles? Again? I hear you, but these are different, promise.
Your title and description are the bits that appear on your product page, but your meta title and meta description are the bits that appear on the SERP (search engine results page). Your meta title will appear amongst lots of other similar results all competing for the user’s click, so it needs to be enticing! Whilst your title (H1) can be as long as your heart’s content, the meta title needs to be a touch shorter, as search engines tend to cut off text after 60 characters.
Now, let me let you in on a little Shopify secret. Your product title and description will automatically become your meta title and meta description, unless you change them by clicking the “Edit Website SEO” button at the bottom of your product page.
To create a meta title that really packs a punch, follow our ready made formula:
Product Name - Collection Name | Brand Name
This sequence lets the user know what product is going to be there when they click on the page, what other products they can take a look at, and most importantly, who’s selling them.
6. Condense Those Meta Descriptions
(Top tip: keep them under 160 characters to avoid truncation in the SERP)
Similar to your meta title, your meta description needs to be eye-catching enough within the SERP to turn a scroll into a click! Think of the meta description as a brief overview of your product, and it needs to be brief - no more than 160 characters, to be exact.
Your meta description’s job is to entice the reader, so we advise a brief product overview, followed by a friendly call to action towards the end. If you can, it’s always good to pop a keyword or two in there, but remember, don’t be stuffing those keywords!
7. Make URLs Readable
(Top tip: use dashes for spaces so crawlers can read your URLs)
In Shopify, you don’t have to deal with a jumbled sequence of letters and numbers to form your URL as your page title automatically becomes your page URL. But if you believe you can do it better, you can actually edit your URL by clicking that “Edit Website SEO” button at the bottom of your product page. We advise that you keep your URLs as short as possible, whilst still being clear on what the page consists of.
Hopefully I’ve given you everything you need in order to make your Shopify store an SEO success. But if you’ve just not got the time for all of that or just need some help reaching your SEO goals, get in touch with Steve and Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be more than happy to help!
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