Shopify SEO for Beginners

Michael Lykins

As an SEO Coach at Pathfinder SEO, I have the opportunity to bring my prior SEO, eCommerce, and freelance experience to the table. My aim is to help site owners, freelancers, and agencies grow their businesses with SEO. My SEO strengths lie in keyword research, content planning, on-site optimization, and finding off-site SEO opportunities."

So here you are. You have a new Shopify store with plenty of products to sell. 

But how will people find your store? 

SEO is a great way to get more customers into your website without the costs of paid advertising.

What is SEO?

SEO is the art and science of getting your website found in the free space of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It’s a long-term marketing strategy and a step-by-step process. 

SEO is a series of actions you take that accumulate and lead to more traffic and sales over months to years.

The first step is to understand how the search engines work. Then, determine what approach you’ll take to grow your traffic. Common approaches include hiring an agency, do-it-yourself, or guided SEO.

If SEO is new to you, start by exploring this introductory guide to SEO. Then, dive into the specifics of Shopify SEO with this post.

Getting Started with Shopify SEO in

1. Invest in Keyword Research

Keywords are the words and phrases prospects enter into the search bar on Google. The goal of keyword research is to identify which keywords will reach your intended audience. 

Keyword research informs nearly all of the other steps in a holistic approach to SEO — it’s an essential first step. Keyword research can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow this three-step process:

Brainstorm Keywords

Brainstorm what keywords you think your customers might be searching when looking for your products. Jot down a list as you go.

There are plenty of great tools to help! Use Google to see what words are associated with some of your core phrases. This is called Google Search Suggest.

Coffee mugs search

Don’t be afraid to get specific. If your website is new, you’ll likely face too much competition for a general keyword like “coffee mugs” and instead need to niche down to find a smaller, less competitive keyword space.

Bulk coffee mug search

If your website has been live for a few months, you’ll also find ideas in the Google Search Console. Verify your website and navigate to Performance. You’ll find a list of the queries (same as keywords) that are currently leading to visibility for your website. 

Think about synonyms along the way. For example, if you specialize in wholesale products, then “bulk” would also be a good phrase to include. 

Quantify Your List

Brainstorming keywords is a great way to think about the big picture. Now, we need to look at search volume and competition. How many people search for each phrase every month? Is it competitive? 

Create a spreadsheet with your brainstormed keywords. Then, turn to a keyword research tool like that in Pathfinder SEO to collect keyword data. 

Pathfinder Keywrod Tool

Evaluate, Organize & Prioritize

Let’s make your keyword list actionable. Group like keywords together into clusters. For example, all of the keywords that are about “camping mugs” in one group and another for “custom mugs”. 

Now, sort the list within each cluster. Remove any that may have marginal value due to the intent of the searcher. For example, if your store focuses on luxury goods, then you don’t need to rank for “cheap” or “inexpensive” in a keyword as a person searching for “cheap” isn’t looking for your product. Prioritize the remaining keywords based on volume.

2. Technical SEO & Google Search Console Verification

Before the search engines can display your website, they must crawl and index your content. Technical SEO ensures that the search engine spiders have a seamless experience. It also ensures that your users will have a secure, mobile-friendly, and speedy experience.

Luckily for Shopify users, the technical foundation of your site is sound. There may be optimizations to be made down the road, but out of the gate, you can rely on the out-of-the-box technical SEO foundation.

There is a free tool from Google that will be helpful for technical SEO in the long run and provides you with great keyword data. It’s called the Google Search Console. We think of the GSC as your communication channel with the search engine.

Start by verifying your website — here are instructions.

Next, submit your XML sitemap (which Shopify made for you) to Google in the GSC. That is as simple as clicking the “Sitemap” section and submitting a new sitemap. Here are additional instructions

3. Expand your Content

Many eCommerce sites are notoriously light on content. This creates an opportunity for you to expand the content on your pages. Google values content as it’s how you share your expertise. 

Sure, you have plenty of product descriptions, but how does your homepage and your collection pages look?

There are three types of content to consider adding to your collection pages:

  1. Introductory Text — A paragraph of keyword research content above your products on a collections page.
  2. FAQs — A set of 4-6 questions and short answers below your products on a collections page that showcase frequently asked questions about that collection.
  3. Testimonials — Testimonials build trust. Curate a few of your best product reviews for a given collection and turn them into a testimonial or two on that collection page.

These areas are a great place for beginners to get started on improving the content side of their site. After things like this are in place you can start to think about if a blog would make sense for your site. If so, what should it look like? We won’t get into adding the blogs here, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re looking to include even more content on your site. 

4. Dial-in your On-Site SEO

Search engines need two key ingredients to properly rank a page in the search results:  

  1. Content 
  2. Context 

In the previous step, we talked through the content ingredient. In this step, we are going to focus on context. 

On-site SEO (also known as on-site optimization) is all about placing your content in the proper context for search engines and users. 

To do this, we need to skillfully manipulate specific elements on the pages we want to rank. The proper manipulation of all the right elements on a page is what we call on-site SEO. The elements on a page we need to evaluate and refine are: 

And while how we handle each element differs, there is one common thing we want to include in all of them: keywords. 

The links in the list above include additional learning resources so you can master each of these on-site SEO tactics. In this step, let’s focus on your most important page — your homepage.

Write a title tag and meta description for your homepage. 

How to Optimize Title Tags: 

  • Draft title tag copy that is unique, descriptive, and compelling.
  • Write for humans, not search engines.  
  • Include the page’s focus keyword at the beginning of the copy and add your brand at the end. 
  • Place your brand name after the title separator, except for on the homepage, where it typically goes first.
  • Keep title tags under 60 characters, if possible.  
  • Use separators like the pipe, hyphen, or colon to separate different elements. 
  • Capitalize your copy as if it were a blog title. 

How to Optimize Meta Descriptions: 

  • Use complete sentences so they can be easily read.
  • Tell users how a page will help solve their problems or provide a specific solution they want. 
  • Write meta descriptions in an active voice.
  • Include your focus keyword, if possible. 
  • Have a specific call to action, such as “click to learn more.” 
  • Make sure the meta description is less than 160 characters long. 

Here is a quick tutorial on how to implement your homepage title tag and meta description on Shopify.

5. Get Started with Off-Site SEO

In addition to expertise, Google values authority. Google wants to understand what others are saying about your business website. Off-site SEO is how we grow a domain’s authority. The biggest component of off-site SEO is backlink (links from other sites pointing back to yours).

You can have the greatest content in the world, but if you don't have authority via your backlink network, then Google won’t trust your website and it won’t appear in the search results.

When you first start out with your Shopify store you are going to have no authority. This means you’re the new kid on the block with no street cred. Well, how do you get some? 

Here are some tips:

  • Get listed in registries for what you sell. There are tons of sites online that aggregate all of the vendors of any particular service or product. If you are listed on these you can get more visits from people searching there and more backlinks to point to your site
  • Could you write a guest blog for any blogs that are related to your product or service? If so, that post can include links back to your site. You may want to return the favor if it makes sense for them. 
  • You could spy on the backlinks of your competitors with tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Moz. With these, you can see what domains are linking to your competitors. From there you can look for opportunities on their sites to link to you or replace that competitor's link. This often takes reaching out to the webmasters or people behind the site. 
  • Could you be featured on a podcast? If so, many times those episodes are posted to a blog or have a description which they can include links in. This also counts as a backlink. 
  • Consider adding a resource section to your website which features your partners. Often you can trade backlinks by having a “Resources We Recommend” or “Partners” section on your site. 

Shopify SEO for Beginners

SEO is a step-by-process. Follow these 5 Shopify SEO tips to get started.

Looking for more? Pathfinder is a guided SEO solution. Guided SEO gives you a proven process without requiring you to become an SEO expert.

It offers a series of lessons — each with specific homework assignments — so that you can grow your website traffic in just a few hours a week. It’s both practical and tactical.

Schedule a demo and get started growing your store’s sales.

TAKE A GUIDED APPROACH

Follow our step-by-step process and grow your business.

Michael Lykins

As an SEO Coach at Pathfinder SEO, I have the opportunity to bring my prior SEO, eCommerce, and freelance experience to the table. My aim is to help site owners, freelancers, and agencies grow their businesses with SEO. My SEO strengths lie in keyword research, content planning, on-site optimization, and finding off-site SEO opportunities."
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