SEO consists of practices to drive organic or non-paid traffic to your website. Optimizing your website for search engines is one of the most important practices you can do to make your site appear at the top on search engine results. This ensures that search engines get the utility of your website with the intent you have made it.
SEO comprises of many aspects. It considers what words you have used in the content on your site/store, how other websites link to your website, how pages on your website are structured in terms of keywords, links and content.
Moreover, SEO practices are not only entitled to making your website search engine friendly but also, making it useful for people.
Why do you need SEO for your online store?
Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo bring a considerable amount of traffic to any website or store on the internet. There are many other ways people may reach your store from, like social media platforms.
But, search engines bring the very specific targeted audience. On these, people who have reached your store have searched for something that your store offers. This is where the power of SEO comes into picture.
You sell footwear online. There are many other stores doing the same. How will Google know which one is better? Simple! The one with better optimizations performed will rank higher.
Search engines are advanced. They use a ton of algorithms to determine whether website is serving upto its marks and rank all the websites accordingly. Search engines perform three main functions to be brief.
In detail, this is how it works!
Search query is the beginning of the process from user’s end. When a user searches for something, search engines load up with results that are links to various websites.
So, whenever someone enters the query in that little search box and is directed to your site, will he get what he expected? This is the primary question that search engines try to answer billions of times each day.
The search engines’ primary responsibility is to serve relevant results to their users. So ask yourself what your target customers are looking for and make sure your site delivers it to them.
Search queries can be broken down to three main component types:
Your online store can serve answers to all these basic queries and lending perfect results to users depends on many factors.
SEO and Shopify
You have your store on and running online and you’re waiting for the orders to patch in. Just then, you decide to test how much reachable your store is, via various search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
When you search the name of your store, chances are it is nowhere to be found on first or even second page of your search results. The ambition of Search Engine Optimization is to make sure your website is reachable to interested public, with the use of various techniques.
Keywords are at the core when you are trying to optimize your store. Keywords are words predefined and stored in the search engines’ databases and with using these you let search engines know what your store sells. You should include keywords in titles. description, alt tags, URLs and anywhere else possible.
Now, to simplify all the tricks available out there, we divide optimization techniques into three basic groups.
The techniques in this section focus on bringing your individual product pages at top. Shopify facilitates this by providing an abundant number of techniques which are discusses below.
1. Editable Title tags enhance the use of words that people are using to search for the particular products that you have listed. So basically title tags help people reach to your store.
So, Sell Products Online – Start & Create an Online Store – Shopify is the Page Title and with Shopify, you get to decide what it should be. Your title should be precise and stuffed with necessary keywords.
2. Meta descriptions are brief explanations of your products that will add in improving your rank. Search engines will take into consideration all that you have mentioned in meta description. If it is perfectly crafted, then search engines will rank your store better.
1. Customizable file names and ALT tags are handful just like title tags and meta descriptions, but these are used against and for images that you include. ALT tags contain text that will be displayed when image hasn’t been loaded. That should clearly give idea about the image because search engines do not save images in cache so ALT text helps them know where a particular image belongs.
File names should be relevant and exact, or nearer to what people are searching for that particular product. This helps search engines store data efficiently. The easier search engines find it to index data, the better!
2. Canonical URL tags come in use whenever content seems to be copied or taken from a place and is displayed on some other place. Canonical URL tags can be used in two ways.
- When you are taking content from some other website, you can provide link to that website using canonical tags and that gives authenticity to your website.
- This is the type which helps in improving SEO for your website. When your store has same type of content or products, you can use canonical tags to determine which, among of these is the main, original one, so that it helps search engines to understand what to refer and put at top while ranking. Otherwise, if everything appears to be similar in terms of title tags and descriptions, none of the pages get ranked by search engines.
Shopify offers you to display and arrange products under your predefined theme. For example, if you want to sell summer apparels then you can make a collection of summer apparels and categorize all the clothes under that collection.
Being able to form these types of definitive groups is in itself a thumbs up for good SEO. Search Engines will easily know where these products belong in their database and therefore it serves up for a clearer indexing.
- The simple trick to use is to choose the name of the collection carefully so that it gives proper idea to buyers.
- Another technique which is in trend to attract public is to display these collections on the home page at the top carousel.
- While you have carousel of collections on home page, don’t forget to put a call of action button there for easy navigation.
Search engines can index text the best. This basic principle can get easily overlooked. So, next time when you are wondering how your website may appear to search engines, go check it on Google Cache to verify.
Search Engines don’t index images/audio/video but only text. Hence, you have to pay focus on how content on every page of your store is, and how these pages can be reached.
Some of the techniques that SEO analysts rely on are discussed below.
1. Above the Fold rule
This rule suggests that 70-80% of your keywords and all the important links to other pages be covered in the first half of the article. Better yet, in the first two paragraphs itself! Some say this is a rubbish rule to follow, but Moz had conducted several studies to ensure that this rule works.
In one of their studies, they designed some gibberish blog and then in one main article on home page, they put 3 links to 3 different pages containing almost same things. What they observed was the link that appeared in the beginning got a better ranking than the other two.
So, it is not only important to what you include in your articles but also, where you include it.
Sitemaps come with the simple purpose of letting search engines know and crawl all the pages that you want search engines to display in search results. All Shopify themes come with a default sitemap.xml file that all the pages like product pages, collections, home page of your store.
Sitemaps are handy because it makes it easier for search engines to recognize what pages need to be indexed, hence it is advisable for good ranking.
3. Links and Anchor Text
Your ranking is affected by how your website is reached from other websites. While it is anyhow good to have many backlinks so that your store is reachable enough, but search engines have become peculiar in this field too.
SEO analysts insist that backlinks to your store should be genuine. For this, guest posts are encouraged with atleast some description with what you sell or do.
The text that acts as the link to your store is important. If a website links to your online store using the words click here, then Google might think that the 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 your store name or your main keywords. For example, Shopify might use commerce platform or online store as anchor text.
4. Choose What Pages to Show in Search Results
Pages on online stores are not usual as some information blog. There are pages like checkout, cart which should not appear in search results because it is pointless.
Search engines are meant to crawl data whenever any changes are made on the internet. When your site is being crawled, all its pages are being crawled. So if you want to hide some pages from this process, robot.txt file can be used to achieve this.
Every Shopify store has its default robot.txt file which can be found by appending “/robots.txt” to your store’s primary domain name.
For example, the shopping cart page is included because Google indexing your cart page doesn’t help potential visitors discover your home page or your products. Because the /cart page is where visitors begin checkout, logistically you want visitors to land on your product pages before the cart page, not the other way around.
The robots.txt file also disallows the checkout, orders, and admin page.
You can hide pages that are not included in your robots.txt file by updating the <head> section of your store’s theme.liquid layout file. You will need to include a small bit of code to disallow certain pages from being indexed.
5. Promoting discounts and Coupon Codes
If you are providing exciting offers for customers then make sure to advertise these offers on other coupon sites. This increases reachability of your store and at the same time helps with backlinks too.
There are various more techniques to help improve ranking of your website and SEO is a very deep concept. Ever changing algorithms of search engines only add to more updates and confusions too.
But one way to be assured of how to be at the top is to make sure your store is of use to people and is free from any practices search engines don’t prefer.