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Shopify SEO: Key issues and solutions to enhance your e-commerce site

Shopify popularity has risen exponentially over the last 12 years, outpacing many popular e-commerce CMS platforms. The rise of Shopify looks to be in-large down to the lack of complexity in the setup of the platform for retailers.

Digital marketing specialists, Glass Digital, have put together a comprehensive guide to Shopify SEO, looking at how to get the most out of an e-commerce site and improve website rankings.

As anyone familiar with SEO knows, there are three main pillars of SEO: Technical SEO, content and relevancy, and links and authority. Glass Digital have highlighted some of the most common Shopify SEO problems associated with these three pillars and offer tips for solving them.

Product URL canonicals

Problem

Crawl budget inefficiencies are leading to key pages not being indexed on Shopify. In order for Google to understand that URLs have canonical tags pointing elsewhere, it will need to continue to crawl them. This can end up being a complete waste of crawl budget, or the time Google spends crawling your website every day, especially if you have a large collection and product set. If crawl budget is being wasted on unnecessary pages, you’re going to end up with important pages not being indexed.

Solution

There is a relatively simple fix to this issue. Within the theme editor and specifically within a file called product-grid-item.liquid, we will be asking Shopify to no longer reference the collection as part of the link to the product URL. Depending on your theme, use of apps etc. there may be multiple instances of this, so you want to make sure you pick them all up.

Product variant canonicals

Problem

This can create an issue similar to what we see with product URL canonicals, only this time with what is called a variant parameter. Shopify allows a range of variant parameters to be added to product pages which changes when we select different sizes. Again, this might be a problem when we start looking at the implications on overall site size and the impact on crawl budget. If each of these products have on average four sizing options, then Google has to crawl 4x that just from the size variations. This means that a single product has multiple URLs, only one of which is indexable, yet all of them will be crawled.

Solution

The solution here depends on the products you sell and how search worthy the variants in the products are. There are four potential solutions and each one depends on the search viability of the variants.

Individual product colours

Problem

Tying in with product variant canonicals, make sure with varied product colours to get your keyword research done prior to setting up your Shopify store. Knowing where the search volume opportunities are prior to building out your store can help you make the right decisions when it comes to site structure and Shopify SEO.

Solution

With this specific issue there isn’t an ideal solution as it depends on the nature of the products. See full guide for further details.

Faceted navigation

Problem

Faceted navigation, also known as filters, can help customers find exactly what they’re looking for. An example of faceted navigation could be filtering products by price, colour, brand, or style. It’s great for UX and, when done well, these filters will create a new URL with a hash fragment. Faceted navigation can be a very efficient way to generate keyword ranking opportunities around mid- to long-tail category search terms. At present, there is no way to create an SEO-friendly faceted navigation structure using Shopify SEO tools without hefty theme-specific development. And, while there are apps out there that allow for faceted navigation functionality, none of them address the optimisation element at scale.

Solution

There are workarounds that are not as ideal as the system shown below but they are still viable in order to rank for mid- to long-tail category keywords and boost the SEO of your Shopify store. The solution is to simply build collections around high-value faceted keywords.

Core web vitals

Problem

Core Web Vitals (CWV) were introduced as part of Google’s ranking algorithm in June 2021 with the aim of simplifying the diagnostics and recommended solutions around metrics that impact a website’s performance, particularly within speed and usability. The three main metrics involved, and there look to be others in the pipeline, include LCP, FID and CLS.

While we can see that Shopify websites have improved their overall % of good CWV scores over 2021 and into 2022, there are areas for improvement. When we break the scores down to the individual CWV metrics we can see which areas Shopify merchants struggle with.

Solution 

  • Check your CWV scores on an individual page basis directly in Chrome using Chrome DevTools.
  • View your overall CWV performance within your Google Search Console account under the “Core Web Vitals” report. This report aims to show you groups of pages across different devices and their grouped CWV performance which can be either “poor”, “needs improvement” or “good”.
  • View your overall site scores based on actual user data by creating a Chrome UX Report dashboard. This tool links raw CrUX data with BigQuery data, all visualised through Data Studio to help monitor site performance increases/decreases, as well as main competitors.
  • Render-block JavaScript & CSS by preloading key elements, defer or async resources and lazy loading resources.
  • Check if you have images that are either too large or could be better served in what are known as next-gen formats such as WebP, JPEG 2000, or JPEG XR.
  • Identify where layout shifts are taking place within a page load.
  • Reserve a space within the document for images, divs, and other elements to assist the CLS. Ask your developer to get these dimensions added to your CSS file to save on layout shifts.

Tori Atkinson, Lead Digital Strategist at Land Digital commented:

“Shopify’s innate user-friendliness, from its intuitive information architecture to its best-of-breed checkout flow, means users on your new website will be funnelled seamlessly from entrance to post-purchase exit. The missing piece of the puzzle here, though, is the acquisition of the right users – the ‘build it and they will come’ approach unfortunately doesn’t yield results in the world of SEO.”

Anthony McMaster, Sales and Partnership Manager at Alt Labs added:

“SEO should be a key component of any website migration, including Shopify. Great functioning SEO is a powerful tool for web traffic generation but, like all marketing efforts, it must be diligently maintained in order to reap the most benefits.

There are plenty of steps involved in SEO migration, including redirects, keyword rankings and analytics code. A lot will depend on whether migrating your site to Shopify involves simply switching platform or switching to an entirely new URL.”

See the full guide here: https://knowledge.glass.digital/ultimate-guide-to-shopify-seo