We’ll start by stating the obvious: SEO is important for pretty much any type of business. 

But for ecommerce businesses, getting your products in front of the right people is paramount to boosting sales. Shopify is one of the leading ecommerce platforms for a reason, and while it does do a some of the hard work for you when it comes to making your store SEO friendly, there are several areas that you’ll need to optimise yourself. Failing to do so will lead to poor organic visibility, which means your target customers aren’t going to find your products.

This guide will walk you through the essential steps to optimise your Shopify store for organic search.

Step 1: perform keyword research

This might seem pretty basic, but your keyword strategy will form the foundation of your Shopify SEO activities, helping you to decide which terms you should be targeting on your collection and product pages, as well as your homepage, blog and any other key landing pages. 

You can use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to find relevant keywords, and to check which keywords your competitors are ranking for and identify gaps you can fill. 

Step 2: optimise the structure of your store

A well-organised site structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site, improving your organic visibility. Plus (perhaps most importantly) it helps website users to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for, increasing the likelihood of a conversion. 

There are three key areas to focus on:

Category and collection structure:

Structuring your website can be somewhat overwhelming if you have a vast product catalogue, but the best approach is usually to keep it simple. Stick to the most important categories and implement a filtering system to allow shoppers to tailor their search by size, colour etc. Be sure to keep on top of empty or low product categories as these will be deemed low quality by search engines. Redirects should be implemented to take users to the next most relevant category where the intended category no longer exists.

Internal linking structure:

Internal linking (when one page links to another) is important for any site wanting to rank higher in the Google SERPs. Internal links do three things:

  1. They allow users to successfully navigate around a website
  2. They establish an information hierarchy for a website
  3. They help spread link equity (also known as PageRank) around a website

Search engines use internal links to find, crawl and index your site. They can be used strategically to send page authority to the most important pages in your Shopify store and to highlight your most valuable collections or products. For ecommerce sites, internal links come in a variety of forms – from the main navigation, mega menu links and footer links, as well as links within collection and product descriptions, blog articles and other pages.

Collection descriptions provide numerous opportunities to include links with key anchor text, which can point users to other collections that include related or alternative products.

Website navigation:

Your store’s navigation is one of the most important elements of your website. We’re referring to your main menu here, which helps website users to easily find the products or information they’re looking for, so it’s safe to say that navigation can make or break your Shopify store. A well-optimised menu usually comprises of two components: top-level categories and sub categories. For example, if you sell clothing, you may have a top-level category containing all dresses, then smaller sub-categories for mini dresses, midi dresses and maxi dresses, helping users to find the specific product they’re looking for straight away. Once they’ve clicked on a category, they should then be able to filter by colour, size or price range. 

There are different types of website navigation – some of the most common are drop down menus, side bar menus and mega menus. Your first point of call is to decide which is going to work best for your site, which will depend on the total number of collections you have, the number of top-level categories and the type of products you sell. A sports brand, for example, may have a more complex website with deep information architecture due to a vast number of categories (different brands, trainers for different sports or purposes etc.), so a mega menu may be the best choice in order to allow users to see the scope of the site’s collections and navigate directly to smaller categories.

Next, you need to decide how you’ll order your menu. Think about the customer journey, your most popular or sought after products, industry trends and ensure the menu follows a logical order.

Step 3: optimise on-page elements

On-page SEO involves optimising individual pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic.

What we mean by ‘on-page elements’:

Title tags: include primary keywords in your title tags and keep them under 60 characters.

Meta descriptions: write compelling meta descriptions with keywords, under 160 characters.

Headings: use H1, H2, and H3 tags effectively to structure your content.

Alt text for images: add descriptive alt text to images to help search engines understand their context.

Content quality: create high-quality, engaging content that provides value to your visitors. 

Step 4: don’t neglect mobile

Mobile commerce is here, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. These days, the majority of transactions take place on mobile devices, so it’s essential for both SEO and user experience that your online store is optimised for mobile, as well as desktop and tablet.

Responsive design: ensure your Shopify theme is mobile-friendly and responsive. Pre-designed options in the Shopify theme store are fully responsive as standard, but if you opt for a custom theme (which we’d recommend), it will be down to your development team to make sure it performs on all devices

Page speed: optimise images and minimise JavaScript to improve load times.

User experience: simplify navigation and ensure buttons and links are easily clickable on mobile devices.

Step 5: improve site speed

Site speed is a critical ranking factor. A faster site improves user experience and reduces bounce rates. Google doesn’t want to serve users a website which takes ages to load, as this is off-putting, so your rankings will suffer if your Shopify store is experiencing slow page load speeds. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights report to check this – a score of 90 or above is considered good.

To keep site speed down, you need to do the following:

  • Compress images (without compromising quality)
  • Minify HTML, CSS, JavaScript files to reduce load times 
  • Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to distribute your site’s content globally, speeding up delivery to users

Step 6: optimise product pages

Knowing how to optimise your product pages for organic search is key to ensuring they rank well and convert visitors into customers. 

Your product titles and meta descriptions should be unique, keyword-rich, and convey key details such as brand names, product names and model numbers where appropiate. When it comes to product descriptions, many retailers make the mistake of using duplicate content to save time writing them from scratch, but this approach won’t do your site any favours when it comes to search rankings. These descriptions help the search engine to understand the page, so make sure you’re highlighting the main benefits of owning the product. We’d also recommend summarising the key details of the product in clear and concise bullet points (such as dimensions, materials etc).

You should also consider incorporating customer reviews into your product pages, as these will add fresh, user-generated content to them. Shopify integrates with popular review platforms like Trustpilot, making it easy to accumulate star ratings and testimonials on your product pages.

Step 7: get blogging

Blogging helps you target more specific, long-tail keywords, build authority, and drive organic traffic. Adding a blog section to your Shopify store is straightforward, and you can use this part of your website as a hub of useful content for your target audience. Put together a content plan based on keyword research, commonly asked questions, trends and events, for example gift guides, product comparisons and lifestyle articles to showcase the benefits of your products and help potential customers decide which products are best suited to their needs. Be sure to include links to relevant product pages, as well as to other blog articles to help the reader find what they need beyond the initial blog post. 

Need a hand getting boosting your Shopify store’s organic visibility? Our team of Shopify SEO specialists can help – send us a message to get started.