Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 101
From Shopify Wiki
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of getting your website to show up in a top result on Google and other search engines.
Shopify includes powerful SEO features in all plans, including:
- Editable title tags, meta descriptions and URLs for your pages
- Editable ALT tags for all images, customizable image file names
- Automatically generated sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
- Automatically generated canonical URL tags (to stop duplicate content)
This article will cover some advice and suggestions for beginners that will help you improve your Shopify store's SEO and show up on Google, Bing, and other search engines. If you are new to SEO, you may want to read the beginner’s guide to SEO from SEOMoz.
For more advanced information, have a look at the theme designers SEO guide.
In the world of SEO, they often say "content is king". That means if you want people to find your website on Google, you need to have lots of words on your website, and those words should be the "keywords" you think people would be looking for on Google.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the terms that people use to search for things on the web. As a shop owner, you want to know exactly what keywords your customers are using so that you can target them. Say that you are selling leather shoes; you need to know if people who might be searching for your product are looking for ‘leather shoes’, ‘dress shoes’, ‘leather boots’ or maybe even all of those.
A useful tool to help you brainstorm and discover which are the most popular keywords is the Google Keyword tool. This tool helps you in determining which are the most popular keywords by comparing search volumes.
Keep in mind that the more traffic the keywords get, the more likely it will be harder to show up at the top of Google because you'll probably have a lot of competition.
Setting up your web site
Now that you know which keywords you are looking to target, you need all your online store's content to include those words. The content you should setup for SEO includes your homepage, and any and all product pages, collection pages, blog posts, and regular web pages.
There are five primary places on any given web page where you will want to think about placing keywords: the page title, the meta description, the page’s main heading (the H1 tag), ALT tags, and the page’s body content.
The title tag is a one of the most important element of on-page optimization. The title tag can be set for pages, collections, web pages and blog posts using the Shopify admin. The title appears as the clickable link on the search engine result, like "Shopify - Online Store Software & Hosted Ecommerce Solutions" below:
The content of the title tag is used by the search engines as one of the main factors in determining what your page is all about. What you need to know:
- Keywords: You will want your target keywords in your page titles.
- Length: 70 characters is the maximum number of characters most search engines will display.
- Branding: If you want to include your store's name, it's a good idea to do it at the end of the title, unless people do search for your brand (like they do with Shopify).
- Readability: Lastly, make sure your title tag is actually readable; you don’t want it appearing as a jumble of search engine optimized keywords; potential customers won’t click on pages like that.
You can edit the title tag of your online store in addition to setting the title tag for each product, collection, or page in Shopify. Just click ‘Edit title tag and URL’ in order to see the following options:
A "meta descriptions" is the brief bit of text that shows up on a search engine like Google after your title tag. The meta description can be set for your homepage as well as other pages, collections, web pages and blog posts using the Shopify admin. Here's how it looks under Preferences → General Settings:
The meta description should be well written as it a nice description will cause people to click on it. Which of the following would you be more likely to click?
Meta descriptions should only be about 150 characters.
Page Heading (H1)
It is important that you include the keywords for which you are looking to rank in the name of the product, collection, web page or blog post. This name is used as the web page's H1 tag. For example, if you are selling a product called a "Dodocase", you'll want to set the product's name to "Dodocase iPad Case - Black". In that case your web page will show up for people search for "Dodocase", "iPad Case", "Black iPad Case", etc.
Image ALT tags
Google and other search engines can read words and content on your site really well, but can have a hard knowing what an image is about. The image's file name and ALT tags are used as text that describes a pictures contents. Having descriptive ALT tags can help your product images show up in Google’s Image Search. As well, ALT tags are an important accessibility factor: they describe your products images to visually impaired people.
To set the ALT tag for a product image, click the ALT link shown next to a product photo:
The more content you write in your product description, collection text, or blog post, the better chance your page will be found on Google and other search engines. Try to write a few paragraphs of text with some of the keywords you'd like to show up for included. Make sure you don't just copy and paste text provided to you by a manufacturer - chances are that same description is already on hundreds of other web sites.
Showing up on search engines
Once you have all of your homepage, product pages and other content set up and optimized for the keywords you’d like to target, your next job is to tell Google, Bing and other search engines about your website.Submit your site to search engines:
It's important to note that after you submit your website, it can take over a week for it to start showing up.
Links & Anchor Text
Links to your online store from other web sites help Google know that your site is popular and can be trusted. Whenever possible you should be asking for, or seeking out ways to get links to your site.
Anchor text: The text that contains the link to your store is also extremely important. If a web page links to your online store using the words click here, then Google may actually think that website should show up when people search for "click here." Instead, it's a good idea to ask people to link to your website using the keywords you'd like to show up for. For example, Shopify should get links that say ecommerce software.
All Shopify stores automatically generate a sitemap.xml file that contains all your products, pages, collections, and blog posts. Your sitemap file is located at www.STORENAME.com/sitemap.xml.
You can submit this sitemap to Google so that it crawls your page and indexes your content much more quickly. Check out this guide to find out how.
Migrating to Shopify
If you have an existing web site using a different platform and are thinking of moving to Shopify, it's possible to do so without losing any of your existing website traffic. Shopify includes the ability to set up '301 redirects' that help redirect your customers, Google and other search engines that your website's URLs have changed.
Read this guide for more information on setting up 301 redirects in Shopify.
Shopify's ecommerce forums include a ecommerce marketing category where you can ask SEO questions, swap links, and talk about other marketing related questions.
Submit your site to Shopify
The Theme Store has a directory of all the Shopify stores that you can submit your store to. This is a great way to get some free traffic to your store and gives Google a way to find your store. It only takes 1 minute to submit your store.