In this post, we’ll discuss four ways to take your Shopify site from undiscoverable to discoverable with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Optimizing Your Images for SEO
- Easy Navigation
- Optimize Your Meta Titles & Descriptions
If you've been meaning to dust off your SEO strategy but never seem to get around to it, you’ll want to after reading this.
With over 500,000 active stores on Shopify, knowing how to stand out matters. And in case you were wondering, the best way to stand out is to get found, and what better way to do that than making sure your SEO strategy lands you on the front page of Google.
Follow these tips to make sure you’re optimizing your site for success:
Optimize Your Images for SEO
You know the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words?’ - well, it’s worth about ten billion if you add SEO to it.
Why? Because Google Images is the world’s third-largest search engine and you won’t want to miss the important step of optimizing your images for SEO.
Images play a big role in how your customers experience your website. In fact, visuals help people process and remember information faster. So adding the right images to your Shopify store doesn’t just matter, it's a must.
So now that you’re aware of how much people are paying attention to the images on your website, it’s time to cash in on making sure they also boost your SEO.
Google algorithm pays attention to all kinds of behavioural metrics that explain user experience, bounce rates, time spent on pages, and you guessed it… images!
How search engine crawlers differ from customers is by caring about the text behind the image, versus the image itself. And believe it or not, adding text to your images is one of the most overlooked (and easiest) steps to improve your SEO.
Here’s how simple it is:
Step 1: Customize the filename (title) to make sure it’s not only relevant to the image, but also includes one or two of your keywords. Ensure the file name is all lowercase and whole words are separated by hyphens (no underscores allowed).
Step 2: Upload the optimized image to your website.
Step 3: Add alt text to help search engines understand what the image is. This also helps with website accessibility for those using screen readers. In your Shopify settings choose Files and then the image you wish to add alt text to. See below for an example:
Remember, customers rarely see the alt text associated with images, so don’t stress about creating the perfect caption or filename.
Adding alt text to your images is just a SEO trick that provides search engines with more information about what’s on your page and the best keywords to associate with it.
Backlinks Increase Your Rankings
The quickest way to let search engines know that your site is visible, popular, and trustworthy is by creating backlinks.
What’s a backlink? A backlink is an external link from a third party website that links back to your website. And the most common way business owners create backlinks is through blogging.
A blog allows you to not only increase your credibility by sharing valuable information, it also acts as the perfect canvas to create backlinks. Just make sure that the content you post is strategic in identifying a problem you know your customers have and provides links to your website about how they can work with you to find a solution.
Another way to create a backlink is to partner with other reliable and recognized websites in your industry and have them alert their customers that you’re someone to watch.
Think about all those times you’ve read a review page in search of which product is right for you. And in nearly every instance, I’m going to guess a link was provided to where you could find said product or service, am I right?
When a trusted website lists your website it not only builds brand prestige, authority, and reputation, but it alerts search engines, like Google, that you’re popular and trustworthy! The above image shows our position on Clutch, a platform that ranks vetted market leaders (see where we rank) and their website links to ours, which results in a backlink.
Search engine bots think just like you and I - they’re looking to understand what sites are the most sought after so they can turn them out first on their result pages. And the higher authority you score with search engines through your backlinks, the more valuable search engines will see you.
Navigating Your Website Shouldn't Be a Jigsaw Puzzle
Another simple way to improve your site’s SEO, is to make sure visitors can easily navigate page to page without worry of getting bogged down by broken links and confusing redirects.
Remember all that content you published a few years ago but forgot about? It’s pretty likely that some of those pages have either moved to another location or become completely irrelevant. And in many cases, forgotten content like this is the cause of broken links. These are more commonly known as 404 errors.
Cleaning up broken links might sound like a daunting task, but in the world of SEO every bit of optimization matters. This means revisiting a blog post or web page from several years ago and updating links that direct a visitor to a place on your website that no longer exists or has changed. These are called 301 redirects, and your visitors and Google will thank you for them.
And although search engines understand that broken links can happen, it negatively impacts the user experience and will deter visitors from returning which sends a signal to Google that you aren’t popular. Yikes!
Here’s how to find broken links on your website:
The simplest way to find a broken link is through the Shopify Link Manager - an app that automatically detects broken links and can issue 301 redirects in bulk. It’s commonly used by many store DIY owners and offers a free version that usually gets the job done. This app will automatically create 301's when you update a URL.
The screenshot above shows how you can do this manually for every page, product, or collection in your store. In the example you can see we've changed the URL from /contact to /contact-us. You'll notice that, by checking the 'Create a URL redirect' box, a 301 redirect will be created automatically.
If you’re diligent about checking for 404s and creating the necessary 301s, then this app probably isn’t for you. But if checking over your site (at least monthly) isn’t something you have time for, then this app might just become your best friend!
Optimize Your Meta Titles & Descriptions
Good product pages include more than just a brief description, they include high quality images, videos, and other useful details like customer reviews.
And the more detail you add to your pages, the more fuel you give search engines to work with, which makes you more likely to be found.
Here’s a few things to think about when creating a product page that will excite your customers and get you ranked by search engines:
Clear Product Titles - Specificity matters when it comes to product titles, so always be clear over clever. Focus on including, at minimum, the brand name and product type (ex: t-shirt, jeans, boots, etc.) and colour, especially if there’s only one option.
Unique Product Descriptions - Ever notice how product descriptions are often just recycled blurbs from manufacturer sites? Yeah, you’re going to want to steer clear of that.
Duplication is a no-no when it comes to SEO because search engines will quickly see your site as low quality. So whenever possible, put your own spin on your product descriptions and stay unique. Make sure to describe the product benefits first, followed by the features. Customers want to know first and foremost how your products will benefit them.
Use Meta Titles and Descriptions - To avoid search engines pulling confusing text from your page to create their own meta description, be sure to author your own - and like your product descriptions, make them unique.
By default, Shopify will use your product title as the meta title, which is a-ok as long as it’s less than 59 characters (the ideal limit so the entire description appears in the search results).
Likewise, Shopify will use your description as the default meta description. This is often too long and confusing so shave it back to the basics and include an incentive such as ‘Get free shipping over $100.’ or something similar.
Use Simple URLs That are Easy to Remember - I know sometimes it’s fun to be clever, but search engine crawlers and customers have no interest in your humour, so keep it simple!
Images - as discussed in detail above, be sure to always add high quality images with proper descriptions to your product pages (at the very least include the product name in the filename of the image and remember to use lowercase letters and hyphens to separate words).
And don’t forget about video - visual content goes a long way with your customers and search engines!
For more information on how to improve SEO and drive your site for success, get in touch with us today.