SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the key to your Google rankings. Get this right and your store could be seen by the world (or at the very least, exactly who you want to target).
There are things you can do immediately (or check that you already have in place) to quickly improve your SEO. You can improve your page ranking by adding keywords to page titles, meta descriptions, ALT text, and the main body of the content on a page to start with. This is simple to do in Shopify.
In fact, Shopify makes it easy to sell online and to optimize your site SEO to get good search results. It’s an eCommerce platform packed full of benefits, and one of those is its ability to help you see exactly what is happening with your SEO and how to improve it. For example, in Shopify, you can see your search engine results by viewing your Listing Preview. There’s a button here to enable you to: ‘Edit website SEO’. This is where you can add a page title and description. When buyers search Google, this is what they see.
Aside from that, there are a few more hacks that we’ll reveal to help you get the most of your site and send your SEO through the roof.
Simple site structure
The way your site is structured will affect your overall SEO ranking. Simple site structure not only makes it easier for buyers to navigate and discover what they’re looking for (read more about your user journey), it can also help to optimize your SEO. In Shopify, a store site is best organized simply as homepage, which leads to category (or sub-category) followed by the product page. There are not too many layers to get through and it reduces the risk of repeated content (see below).
So, how does this help optimize your SEO and improve your store’s Google ranking?
Well, Google ranks your site according to the time a user spends on pages. So, if your online store is easy to browse and to understand, chances are potential buyers will spend more time on it. This has a double benefit in that the longer a viewer spends on your site the more likely they are to buy from you. So it’s not just your SEO that’s top-notch, a smooth site will help your store conversions too.
To optimize SEO on your Shopify product pages, it’s a good idea to have the product name as a keyword, followed by ‘shop for [product]’ and include the location for shipping. It’s really important to note that, while you may be using keywords, they need to fit the natural flow of the copy. Once you’ve written your titles and descriptions, read them aloud. Then ask yourself the following questions: does the content sound true to my brand? Does the tone sound natural? The answer to both of these should be ‘yes’. There’s no use in just piling keywords into your site. Google will notice and, more importantly, your customers will notice and more than likely ‘bounce’ away from a page that is stuffed with a collection of words they cannot make sense of. SEO optimization is a delicate balance of knowing what your customers are searching for, and elegantly putting into practice across your site.
Links to other sites from your website will help to better your SEO ranking. Why does it matter? Because search engines see this as credibility. If you are referenced and/or make reference to others across the internet, it helps your site’s social standing. If you can, include links to suppliers, shippers, influencers, and review sites. As with keywords, the rule here is not to overdo it. Don’t fill your site with links. After all, you want your visitors to stay and shop on your site, not be distracted by too many links to other places. Use well, and sparingly.
It’s always worth periodically checking through your site to make sure that you don’t have broken links cluttering your site and taking your customers to dead-ends.
Creative content marketing
Perhaps you’re happy with sparse product descriptions. It works for some traders, and there is something to be said for the ‘less is more’ approach. However, if you want to climb the SEO ladder and take your store to the next level, you could take the time to create great content marketing for your site. Informative and interesting content is a useful way to connect to your audience without doing the hard sell. You can implicitly communicate your values, for example, without listing them. Or use your industry knowledge to enhance your position in the market. You might want to try thought leadership articles or how-tos. If your company sources ethically, what sustainable topics could you teach your audience about? If your products are interior based, do you have tips and tricks for interior design? Creative content marketing is where you can use your imagination. Plus, it’s a goldmine for SEO-rich content. You can use your keywords, internal and external links, images and more to optimize your site.
All of this content can be used across your marketing platforms. You can drive traffic to your site using emails that are positioned as interest pieces, rather than a ‘buy now’ angle. Test it out and see what works, that’s the way to get to know your audience needs. And, you need to meet your audience’s needs for great SEO.
When populating your Shopify site with content, it’s worth remembering that Google hates to read the same thing twice. Duplicated content can seriously damage your SEO ranking. Words that are unique and true to you and your brand will help your SEO. Anything that is not yours, or has been reworded will push you further down the ladder.
This is not the same as repeated content. As an online store, you may need to repeat certain blocks of text (for example around shipping details) but as it is on the same site (yours) it won’t affect your SEO as it would if you had taken it from another source on the internet. However, it’s good practice to keep anything repeated to a minimum. If you have many product descriptions on your Shopify store, you might want to categorize them in a more streamlined fashion. For example, if you have one product in multiple colors can you keep that to one product page, with one description, and utilize a drop-down choice of color for your customer? That too, keeps your site streamlined, tidy, easy to use, and will help your overall SEO.
Images are words too
Images, too, are important in SEO optimization. Words associated with images are commonly known as ALT text, and it doesn’t just affect SEO. Alternate text has multiple uses. It allows the search engines to discover what kind of pictures you have on your site by scanning the keywords used. It can also help users to understand what a picture should be if it is missing. This is especially useful in emails where old or outdated inboxes can restrict user access to pictures. Instead of a blank box, the reader gets a brief caption of what ‘should’ be there. Buzzfeed is especially adept at creating engaging alt text for email images, so much so that it almost doesn’t matter if you can see the picture or not.
The ALT text feature was also designed and enabled to guide visually impaired users in our online world. The text can be read out by an onscreen reader, enabling them to understand what pictures are visible as well as the written content. So, bear this in mind when you write your ALT text. Is it concise, explicit and explanatory? Just a few carefully chosen words will do.