Ranking Your Store in 2021 is Easy with This Shopify SEO Checklist
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The prosperity of your online store depends on the products you sell and the keywords that you target. Keywords are the search queries that internet shoppers are Googling and Binging on and honing these queries will help you reach out to the shoppers who have been searching for the products all this time. Here is a complete Shopify SEO checklist encompassing things-to-do & not-to-do to rank your Shopify store on Google. But before you set on a journey to improve your store’s SEO, you should know what is so unusual this year – the science behind search engines showing results to people based on their search queries.
This article not only puts forward the 2021 SEO checklist but also includes a quick recap of major announcements by Google to enhance search queries and this becomes crucial for you to know so that you can improve your Shopify store’s SEO score.
Google 2020’s Core Update & Its Impact on Shopify Stores in 2021 –
Search engines are known for not disclosing the ins and outs of how the search algorithm works and one small ripple can affect your store’s visibility on the internet. Probably this is why the experts are debating about featured snippets – recently, there was a significant drop in it. Deduplication is a process to remove identical products so a URL won’t appear in both featured snippets and organic search results.
Then there was the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update in October 2019. A research paper called attention to how Google bots scan and interpret a text. Bots read a text from left to right which helps them to understand the context better. But the BERT update permitted bots to read a text from right to left and left to right which enabled Google to better understand the context of words.
And this update is just one of the many that could affect your store’s ranking on Google. If you know where the waves are coming from you can better judge which way to take your kayaking!
Then Not-to-Do Shopify SEO Checklist 2021 –
- Don’t Forget About Your Audience While Researching Keywords – Many sellers spend sizable time finding suitable keywords for their products but they forget to consider what their target audience is searching for.
To improve your Shopify store’s SEO make sure you begin your keyword research by figuring out your buyer’s persona. Find the search terms that are in use at the moment and leverage analytical tools. Jot down a list of search terms for your target audience.
- Don’t Spam Content – While content marketing is on the bright side of your Shopify SEO checklist, spanning content, is not. If you are abnormally cushioning keywords in meta-tags, URLs, product descriptions, and pages, you are never going to improve your store’s ranking on Google.
- Not Having Security Encryption – If you want to rank your Shopify store on Google then make sure that your store is secured. Keyword research and their placement are just one part of the SEO game. Another part is about portraying your store as a secured place to shop on the internet.
- Using Product Descriptions from Manufacturers – It is not wrong to do that but the thing is product descriptions of manufacturers emphasize selling products to the retailers. In contrast, product descriptions of your store could convince the shoppers to buy the product. Both the descriptions are entirely distinct from each other as they have a diverse audience base. The rule here is – Always create unique content to rank your Shopify store on Google.
- Not Optimizing URLs – Even before your product descriptions do the talking make sure that all of your URLs are self-explanatory.
- Ignoring HTML Language – If unique content attracts online shoppers then a well-structured HTML attracts the bots. Be sure you are working on both of them to improve your store’s SEO score and DO NOT take ALT tags casually.
Ensure that all of your images have ALT tags.
- Prioritizing Link Building – Don’t spotlight link building during the initial days of your store setup, rather focus on expanding your product catalog, optimize product pages by including the most searched queries.
It’s a misconception that to rank your Shopify store on Google you necessarily need an army of links on all your product images. Ranking factors change based on what query a user is searching.
Gary specifically mentioned that there are numerous queries where the highest-ranking pages had no backlinks at all –
And the not-to-do things of the Shopify SEO checklist 2021 come to an end. Understanding the expectations of search engines is critical for your eCommerce SEO strategy. Now that you’re aware of what-not-to-do, let’s head towards the gist of the article.
The TO-DO Shopify SEO Checklist 2021 –
So here is what you should be doing to rank your Shopify store on Google in 2021. Don’t take up all the pointers at once; start with the first possible improvement, and things will eventually sync up.
- Optimize Your Store’s Structure – How conveniently shoppers bump into what they are looking for also matters. A logical structure of your Shopify store will help you in improving your store’s SEO score. This makes it easier for Google to crawl.
Here’s what a logical structure of an eCommerce store looks like –
- Keyword Research – Any SEO checklist is imperfect without keyword research. To rank your Shopify store on Google, you need to know what shoppers are searching for. It’s all about syncing your audience’s search intent by gathering apt (and searched) keywords.
When you search for the term buy shoes online, why is Zappos the top result, and why not famous footwear? That’s the (partial) power of keyword research.
(Please not – Google ranks different links for different people. But the point is, why do Zappos tops the result page?)
There are numerous parameters on which you can judge a keyword’s ability – volume, CPC, competition, value, CTR scope are some of them.
Here are lesser-known facts about SEO concepts
- Optimize Product Pages – With the keywords list by your side, it’s time to optimize your store’s web pages. Start with top pages like your homepage and main product collections. Here’s what you need to do –
One H1 Tag is Enough – The H1 tag is the main headline for a page, and it should have the page’s main keywords. Shopify’s page titles are by default H1 tags. Don’t add H1 tags on your own.
Remember the Length – Google adores page titles with 50-60 characters. The trick is to include your main keyword in the title and make it as informational as possible.
You can structure your page title to make it look more like a listing and less like an editorial title – consider including appropriate characters (like brackets o dash) or callout to highlight essential information.
Have a Robust Meta Description – As per Moz’s research, meta-descriptions should be between 155-160 characters (including spaces). Within this limit, you have to include your target keyword and develop the most solid copy. Avoid going beyond 160 characters.
Meta-descriptions help shoppers know what your Shopify store is all about, what they are most likely to see before they click on the link. The first impression is the last, and meta-descriptions create the first impression of your online store.
And that’s why it’s one of the essential factors of the Shopify SEO checklist. Here’s how meta-descriptions help shoppers understand what the store is all about –
Don’t Forget About Page Titles – Things you write in a page title and meta-description describe your store’s content. To rank your Shopify store on Google and capture your buyers’ attention, include keywords and have a title that allows users to take action.
Include Keywords in Your Page URL – Page title becomes a default URL but develops a better version. Include primary keywords and keep the URL short and sweet. Avoid filler words.
SEO of Images is Crucial – Just like a product is incomplete without a captivating image, the SEO checklist for Shopify is preliminary without image SEO. You should name every image file and write ALT tags that explain what the image is all about.
By doing image SEO, you will ensure that all of your images rank in the image section of Google. Thus, better visibility!
- 301 Redirection Pages – 301 redirects advise search engines that a page is no longer available and relocated to a new URL. Getting a 404: Page not found is deadly!
Buyers will quickly migrate to your competitor’s store if they encounter 4040 errors more often. If you are operating a big Shopify store, you will need 301 redirects. The goal is to lead visitors to a new page. Here’s how you can do –
– Click online store > navigation > URL redirects.
– Select add URL redirect.
– Enter the old URL in the redirect and add the new URL in the redirect.
– Click on add.
- Boost Page Load Speed – Next point in the Shopify SEO checklist is the speed of your store. If it takes time to load, it will hamper its ranking on Google. You can check your store’s speed through Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. Here are some factors to consider while you’re trying to optimize the store’s speed –
– Choose a responsive theme.
– Compress your images before uploading them to your store.
– Install only those apps that you need.
- Focus on Content – You don’t make changes in your meta, page, or product titles now and then, right? So, how do you become consistent in improving your store’s SEO score? You cannot just go on optimizing meta and product titles and ignore the rest of the touchpoints! Here’s what you can do –
Brainstorm Customer’s Questions – Work on what questions customers may ask when they are aware of your product category but aren’t correctly informed. When you have answers to such questions, you can develop an excellent description of your product, emphasizing those points.
Aim for 500 Word Blog Posts – A blog with a minimum of 500 words is acceptable to Google. This is the threshold limit required to fully answer a question and have the possibility of performing well in the search results.
Write Original Product Descriptions – Every piece of content in your Shopify store should be unique and writing just for your store. Registering your product description gives you a chance to sell your product’s features and benefits better.
Shopify SEO Checklist Part 2 –
- Build Reputation – Building your store’s reputation is going to help you more than anything else. But how do you do that?
Just be there for your customers, no matter what! Offer products that they love don’t be a spammy seller and respect Google’s initiatives to improve search results. Here are some other ways with which you can build your store’s reputation to rank on Google –
Let Products Reviews do the Talking – The best way to build a reputation on the internet is by making shoppers happy. Happy customers are most likely to leave a great review, and they will recommend your store to their social circle.
Think Outside Shopify – Building a brand is an ongoing process. To build a recognizable one, you should be open to new channels of selling. Social media is a great way to expose your Shopify store to potential customers. Google considers it authentic if your store is integrated with prominent social media channels.
- Review Site on Mobile – You all know how important it is to be mobile-friendly. Two hundred thirty million US consumers own smartphones, and 79% of them have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months. If you’re serious about your store’s ranking on Google, you need to keep a check on your store’s mobile responsiveness. You can bookmark this link – it tells you how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.
Speed is a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile searches. You can keep a check with Google’s official recommended practices to improve your Shopify store’s SEO.
- Broken Links – You’re going to face this issue if you have migrated your store from a different framework to Shopify. Shopify uses collections in the store’s URL, while other frameworks consider categories. Even if your store migrates with ease, you’ll have broken links. You’re required to resolve this issue by proper link direction.
Have You Added Schema Tags in Your Shopify Store?
A schema is a form of structured data that can mark up different types of content in your store. Adding structured data markup tells search engines more about your store and its content. Doing this will make you one step closed to rank your Shopify store on Google. Google bots and schema tags make sure that the search engine understands your Shopify store better and inaccurate ways.
Structured data can be used to mark up different items like products, videos, events, and much more. We recommend you to read Google’s guidelines before you execute schema tags in your Shopify store.
There are two types of structured data formats – RDFa & JSON-LD. We strongly recommend you to use JSON-LD as it’s easier to add and update.
How to Add Schema Tags to Shopify?
You can add schema tags either manually or by installing a plug-in. There is hardly any Shopify SEO checklist that talks about adding schema tags in your store. It might be the last pointer of the index, but it is equally important. Let’s have a look at how you can add schema tags –
If you want to add a product schema tag, you need to go to product.liquid under Templates. Then paste this code at the top of your liquid. Once done, it’s highly recommended to paste your store’s URL here and run a test to ensure that the page is not broken.
If you want to apply and test any other schemas like FAQs, breadcrumb, location, the process remains the same. Just keep in mind that the tag is embedded in the corresponding liquid file (a mixture of HTML and liquid code have the .liquid file extension. These files are used in Shopify themes.)
Adding Schemas Through Plugin – This step is more straightforward than manually adding schema tags. All you have to do is install an app and let it do it for you. The smart SEO app will automatically favor search engines’ detailed structured data in JSON-LD format.
Vizicare’s Hustle to Rank its Store on Google –
To brawl against the pandemic, Shopify store Vizocare tiptoed with its comprehensive range of products to help people defend the COVID-19 with medical booties, gloves, caps, face shield, no-touch thermometers, etc.
Although Vizocare was prepared to battle against the COVID-19, it had another roadblock. A challenge to attain a respectable position in the SERPs. As Shopify experts, CedCommerce immediately realized the store’s dire need to get a respectable position in the search results.
After analyzing and evaluating Vizocare’s store, the experts found the following things that were stopping them from ranking on Google –
- Duplicate title tags.
- Long titles.
- Duplicate content in H1 and title.
- Pages with one (and sometimes no internal linking).
CedCommerce helped Vizocare in preparing a foolproof SEO checklist which involved –
- Sitemap setup.
- Meta tag optimization.
- ALT attributes.
- Included breadcrumb suggestions.
- Temporary redirects.
- Build internal and external links with regular audits.
- Social bookmarking.
- Ping submission.
Within 3 months, the experts could settle all of the above issues and the store’s health reached 100%. One of its superstar products – PPE Kit was delivered 2000+ times soon after Vizocare started to rank Google. That’s the power of SEO (and Shopify experts).
Summing Up –
Now and then, Google surprises the entire internet kingdom with significant changes in the search algorithms. By all means, it’s impossible to have a foolproof Shopify SEO checklist. But to rank your store on Google you need to stay up to date with what’s happening in the search world and if you’re able to do that, improving your store’s SEO score feels more like an intriguing game where you’re the master!