Paid advertising vs. SEO is an ongoing debate, but why not do both? SEO takes its time, sure, but the results are sustainable and rewarding. Organic traffic is ultimately free after all.
If you need to use paid advertising to get an initial start on your business, then it's a smart enough move. However, if you're thinking long-term, an SEO strategy should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy.
Here are all the reasons why SEO is important for your Shopify store.
Why SEO is important for Shopify stores
Many business owners fail to optimize their Shopify stores for search engines, relying on paid advertising and social media channels for conversions instead. However, neglecting search engine optimization (SEO) is rarely a good move. Here's why SEO is important for your Shopify store:
Get large amounts of free traffic
Paid advertising yields fast results, which is a big part of its allure. Why spend months growing your store's search engine visibility when you could run a quick Google Adwords or Facebook advertising campaign?
Well, sustainability is a big reason to consider SEO. Although it takes resources and patience, ranking well is a one-time effort. Afterward, pages do need to be monitored and kept up-to-date, but you're effectively pulling in free traffic for your platform.
Ad costs are rising
Digital advertising costs are on the rise, and thanks to increasing consumer confidence and competition, we can expect ad costs to continue on this upward trajectory. So why keep paying hiked prices for new leads when organic search traffic can bring them in for free?
Ranking first on Google can get you more organic sales
A few years ago, Moz worked out that anywhere between 71%-92% of search engine traffic is directed through the first page of Google. On the other hand, the second page is responsible for less than 6% of all website clicks, making its contribution almost negligible.
Oh, and of these clicks we mentioned, only 15% tend to click on ads. Ranking in the top 3 positions on Google's first page helps you capture organic traffic, and a long-tail keyword strategy guarantees you attract the right prospects. From then on, it's on your funnel to convert them into sales!
How to improve on-page SEO for your Shopify store
On-page SEO includes optimizing your content for search engines, as opposed to off-page SEO, which involves link-building. Here's how to improve your Shopify store's on-page SEO.
Keyword research is the starting point for your on-page SEO strategy. You can use keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or SerpStat to find competitive keywords, and then monitor their trends through Google Trends.
In a given niche, it's best to look for keywords with a balance of manageable competition and high volume. Highly competitive keywords are difficult to rank for, but a keyword with medium competition and appreciable search volume can be your ticket for organic sales.
Optimize Your Shopify Product Pages
Optimizing your product pages helps improve their visibility and encourages users to click through your website. Keep your product pages optimized for both search engines and customers by using original content that includes the right target keywords.
Avoid keyword stuffing, though - that's when you unnaturally include and unnecessarily overuse keywords in a given text. This practice invites negative effects on your SEO and puts customers off because the text seems unnatural.
Your product page titles should follow a similar format, and it's best to keep the titles clear and concise. These titles appear in search results and let users know what the page is about. Also, keep your meta descriptions - these appear in the search results too - concise and valuable to your viewership. Finally, include your target keyword in both the title and the meta description to optimize your search engine visibility.
Research the Right Target Keywords
The right target keywords are ones that help you specifically target your desired audience. Identifying these keywords requires more of a human touch - it's about understanding what your audience is looking for, as opposed to sifting through statistics on a keyword tool.
What are you selling, and what search terms is your audience using to try and get to you? These are questions you need to answer. Checking your competitors out and the keywords they're ranking for is always rewarding too - if they're doing well, then they're likely using the right target keywords.
Match search intent and create pages relevant to your keyword
Identifying the search intent behind a keyword is crucial for creating relevant pages. If, for say, a buyer search query is 'best price for x product', they've likely decided already buy it. Thus, content matching the search intent could be a list of ecommerce stores to buy it from at the lowest price.
Content optimization to make your pages visible
Optimize your content by including the right keywords, addressing the searcher's intent, and of course, making it high-quality and valuable to visitors.
Build your keyword into your heading
Wrapping your primary keywords into your H1 title tags is a good on-page SEO practice, and necessary to rank well.
Understand the topic behind the keyword and build it into your page
Some keywords, especially short-tail ones, don't reveal much about a given topic. For example, let's take a keyword like 'chocolate ice cream' - what does that tell you about the type of content to create? Not much, but a quick Google search for 'chocolate ice cream' reveals a complete first page of chocolate ice cream recipes and guides on how to make it.
This means that the search intent for the keyword is to find a recipe for chocolate ice cream, which gives you a better understanding of the topic. You'd need to craft a 'how-to' piece and include a recipe to rank well.
Build your keyword into the URL or slug
Another good on-page SEO practice - incorporate your primary keyword into the URL or slug. A slug is just the part of the URL that helps identify the page.
For example, our blog posts have a URL of the form gomalomo.com/blog/blog-post-title - the slug is the 'blog-post-title' part. We keep the slug as our post's title since our titles already include the keyword.
Build your keyword into the meta title and description
The meta title is the title that appears on the search engine results pages, and just like with your actual title, it's beneficial to build your keyword into it. The meta description is a description of the page you suggest search engines to display, and it's a good ecommerce SEO practice to include the primary keyword in it too.
Build rich snippets with product details and user generated content
Rich snippets appear as listings in search results, containing information such as:
- A product's price
- Its availability
- Unique information about product categories
Rich snippets provide information at a glance without users having to visit the site. They've been shown to pull in up to 30% extra product clicks. User generated content includes reviews and ratings, that also appear in search results.
Each free Shopify theme comes with built-in structured data and rich snippet functionality, so shopify store owners don't have to worry about manually adding structured data markups. If your content is optimized and Google sees it fit to display, then it'll pull the information up from Shopify and display it as a rich snippet.
Optimize your store’s structure
Shopify already comes integrated with some of the best SEO practices for online stores. Shopify stores do not use iframes, have a clean URL structure, and your content is categorized logically.
Beyond this, Shopify store owners can take steps of their own to improve their store's search engine ranking. This includes optimizing your Shopify site navigation, naming your image files in a descriptive way, and improving your internal linking using descriptive text.
FAQs about Shopify SEO
Is Shopify good for SEO?
Shopify comes with many in-built features to optimize your store's SEO, including structured data and rich snippet functionality, clean URLs, and logical product categorization.
What is the best SEO app for Shopify?
There is no single best SEO app for Shopify - but there are many good ones to choose from, depending on your needs. Reload SEO, for example, is a powerful all-in-one SEO solution, whereas Schema Plus is the best Schema tool.
What are SEO keywords?
SEO keywords are key phrases that you include in content to improve your search engine visibility. Using SEO keywords helps attract audiences that are searching for these terms.
The best Shopify SEO apps
Although Shopify comes with some impressive in-built SEO features, there's always more that you can do to help your ecommerce site rank better. Here are some of the best apps to improve your Shopify SEO:
SEO Manager is a popular SEO tool that integrates with both Google and Bing to help you rank better on these search engines. Boasting over twenty features, SEO Manager includes tools for managing your sitemap and submitting it to Google, editing page titles and descriptions, and dealing with 404 errors. The app also integrates with Google Search Console, Google Trends, and Google Page Speed.
Plug In SEO
Plug in SEO is a powerful Shopify app designed to make the more menial SEO tasks hassle-free. Their popular bulk editor, for example, allows site owners to edit hundreds or even thousands of meta titles and meta descriptions in minutes. The tool comes with an integrated keyword rank tracker and provides site owners with insightful traffic analytics.
SPO (SEO Product Optimizer)
SEO product optimizer does exactly what its name claims - it helps Shopify merchants optimize for SEO. The app's AI technology assesses your products and generates individual SEO scores for each, with accompanying recommendations of what to improve. In addition, SPO's SEO Image optimizer lets you quickly and efficiently add alt text to product images.
Reload SEO is an all-in-one SEO solution for online stores, providing features for everything from keyword research and rank tracking to backlink analysis and competitor analysis. The Shopify app also helps site owners monitor technical SEO; the tool crawls your site and alerts merchants about any issues it discovers.
Schema Plus for SEO
Schema Plus is an industry-leading Shopify SEO app that was developed by former Google software engineers. The application has a unique feature of reporting your site reviews to Google; Scheme Plus claims this helps Google understand your products better. It comes with many other features, too and is the most comprehensive Schema tool in the market, and you can test it out with a 7-day free trial.
SEO is a long-term investment, but one that's sure to pay off if you do it right. Shopify already gives merchants a solid foundation to succeed, thanks to its many in-built SEO optimization features. However, you can take your store's SEO to the next level by implementing the best on-page practices and using powerful Shopify SEO applications.