Make your online store visible in search results - tips and tricks for SEO in Shopify

A strategy ensures that you are on the right track. That you are working towards relevant and realistic goals - and that all your efforts make sense in relation to your goals

When creating an SEO strategy (or evaluating your current one), there are many questions to ask, twist and turn.

A common misconception is to opt-in to all SEO measures. It is rather a non-choice, a non-strategy.

I believe an SEO strategy is about assessing what actions make sense for the specific situation - not pulling all the cool SEO tricks out of the toolbox at once.

So here are 19 questions to ask yourself, your (marketing) team, your SEO agency or maybe just your cat.

seo-shopify

Get the basics right - webshop SEO for dummies

Before you dive into more complicated SEO technical disciplines such as canonical tags and structured data, you first need to get all the SEO basics right on your webshop. A bit like a craftsman building a house doesn't start thinking about meticulous aesthetic details until he has poured the foundation and built the skeleton.

But what do I mean by basic SEO - or webshop SEO for dummies, as I've arrogantly chosen to call it?

By this I mean the low-level SEO measures that you absolutely must be able to tick off if you want to have any hope of giving your webshop good rankings in search results.

Basic SEO on your online store

  • Correct H-tags on your front page, collection and product pages
  • Unique meta/page titles and meta tags on front page and key collection and product pages
  • ALT tags

The above is one of the first things Google looks for when it allocates rankings in search results. So make sure they are optimized.

What are H-tags?

An H-tag (or header) is an HTML snippet that defines a piece of text as a heading. In this way, it tells Google what a subpage is about - just like the headline and subheadings in a news article tell readers what the article and its individual sections are about.

H-tags come in several levels - from H1 to H6, with H1 being the most important and H6 the least important. Just as a newspaper article will have one headline and several subheadings, a subpage on your webshop should have one H1 and preferably several of the lower levels of H-tags.

  • The H1 is the "angle" of the landing page - it describes and frames what the overall page is about
  • The H2s are elaborate but important information
  • The H3s are nice to know, but not necessarily need to know - and so on

To learn more about H-tags and how to use them, click here.

How do you create H-tags in Shopify?

You don't need to be an HTML shark, code-breaker or web prodigy to create H-tags in Shopify. Shopify has an easy-to-use and simple text editor that makes it easy to insert, edit and tag text on your collection and product pages.

To tag Hs in the text of a collection or product in Shopify, do the following:

  • Click Products > All products or Collections
  • Search and click on the collection or product you want to edit
  • Copy-paste or type your text in the text field
  • Specify the desired heading level in the Formatting dropdown menu ("Heading 1" corresponds to H1, "Heading 2" to H2 and so on)
shopify h-tags

When you select a piece of text and click "Heading 2" for example, the formatting will change so that Google reads it as an H2.

Be aware that Shopify will often automatically give the text in the title field an H1 tag. So to avoid multiple H1s, don't assign H1 tags to headings in the text field itself.

how to create h tags in shopify

What are meta tags?

You've probably come across meta tags before. Meta tags are information in search engine results that describes the content of a website or subpage. A meta tag consists of an SEO title (also called page title or meta title) and a meta description.

It looks something like this:

snippet meta tags

How do you create meta tags in Shopify?

You also do this in the text editor. Scroll to the bottom of the text editor and click Edit SEO for website.

You can then write your page title and meta description. Below is the text editor of one of Amplify's webshop customers selling makeup. Here I'm editing meta tags on a blush collection page.

Tip: Want to make sure your meta tags aren't too long - and also encourage potential customers to click through to your webshop? Then try the Amplify meta tags tool.

What are ALT tags?

ALT tags (also known as ALT text or alternative text) are text in the source code that tells Google and other search engines what an image is about. Google is pretty "smart" - but not smart enough to understand images. That's why the all-knowing search engine needs a little help understanding the images on your webshop. Because the more Google knows about a collection or product page, the more likely it is that your webshop will rank well in search results.

And that's where ALT tags come in - literally! So make sure to provide your images with relevant ALT tags.

How do you create ALT tags in Shopify?

  • Click Products > All products
  • Search for the product or collection you want to ALT tag
  • Click on the image you want to tag under the Media section
  • Click Add alternative text
  • Write your ALT tag
  • Click Save alternative text

Voila: Google now knows what the image is about. And it increases the likelihood that the search engine understands what the rest of the page is about.

You can (and should) ALT tag all the images on your collection and product pages. But remember to give them unique ALT tags.

For example, if your online shop sells tools, don't ALT tag all your hammers with 'hammer'. Therefore, make variations such as 'hammer', 'carpenter's hammer' and 'rubber mallet' if you need to ALT tag multiple products within the same category.

ALT tags will not be visible on the webshop itself. But they will be visible in the source code - and that's where Google looks. For example, below you can see the source code of the aforementioned blush collection page. Here Google can read that an image has been assigned the ALT tag 'blush'.

alt tags alt text shopify

Write unique collection and product texts

I can't emphasize it enough: Content is king on the web - also on your webshop. Sure, H-tags, metadata and ALT tags are an important part of Google's vocabulary. But Google is also pretty good at understanding ordinary human language - so good that text is one of the most important parameters in Google's equation when the search engine is handing out rankings in search results.

Let's say you have a collection page with red shoes on your webshop. You have lots of products - but no text that says you sell red shoes. Google will have a hard time understanding that the page is about red shoes. Even though you may have the basic SEO down, Google will still prioritize pages with more in-depth text.

In other words: If you want to make your webshop visible on Google, you need to write user-friendly SEO text for your product and collection pages. And copying text from your competitors is a no go. Google penalizes duplicate content with poor rankings.

However, it's not just for SEO purposes that online store copy is important - it's also important for your customers. Having an online store without product information is like having a physical store where the staff don't bother telling customers about the products.

Tip: Do you get sweaty palms at the thought of a blank text document - or do you just find writing texts for your webshop a chore? Then you may want to build your texts according to the following template - it makes it easier and faster to angle and write webshop texts:

  • Introduction to the collection or product
  • Buying guide
  • Benefits and advantages of the products
  • Answers to common questions about the product - Answer the public can be worth its weight in gold
  • Benefits and advantages of shopping in your webshop
  • Call to action - what do your customers need to do to get their hands on the product?

Tip: At Amplify, we have professional copywriters who are happy to help you write catchy, SEO- and user-friendly content for your webshop. But if you just need inspiration to write good web texts, I highly recommend you read the following posts:

Create landing pages for important keywords - filter function does not benefit your SEO

Shopify has an excellent filter function that makes it easy for your customers to narrow down their product selection based on personal preferences. For example, on a collection page with red shoes, it will be possible to set up filters so your customers can sort based on parameters such as brand, model or price.

And this will definitely benefit your users - but not your SEO! The problem with the filter function is that you're not utilizing the SEO potential of creating separate collection pages for each filter parameter. 

For the sake of example, let's say you have an online wine and spirits store. You've created a wine collection page and set up filters so your customers can search for their favorite wine based on parameters like:

  • Type: Red, white, rose or sparkling wine (etc.)
  • Country of origin: French, Italian or Spanish wine (etc.)
  • Region: Burgundy, Amarone Della Valpolicella or Rioja (etc.)
  • Grape type: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Merlot (etc.)
  • Price: Under 50,-, under 100,-, under 200,- (etc.)
  • Alcohol content: Non-alcoholic or alcoholic wine

The site is optimized for the somewhat broad and generic keyword 'wine'. This means that the H-tags, metadata, ALT tags and text on the page are optimized to be found when people Google 'wine'. And filtering doesn't change that.

(Keep my last wording in mind. I will return to filter functions in the next section).

This means that you won't be found on high-volume keywords such as 'red wine', 'Italian wine', Amarone Della Valpolicella', 'Cabernet Sauvignon' and 'non-alcoholic wine'. You're missing out on a lot of potential traffic and revenue.

According to the SEO tool Ahrefs, 'non-alcoholic wine' is Googled no less than 1,500 times a month, and the keyword is relatively easy to get into the top 10.

landing pages shopify

This gives the following equation:

  • High search volume + low difficulty = low hanging fruit!

That's why you need a landing page with your selection of non-alcoholic wine. And you optimize that landing page based on my first two tips. That way, you increase your chances of being found on 'non-alcoholic wine' countless times. And with 1,500 potential customers a month, there's good reason for that.

But does that mean you should choose landing pages over filters? The answer is a resounding no! The filter function in Shopify has a huge impact on the usability of your online store - and usability (or UX) also affects SEO. So filters and landing pages are by no means opposites - on the contrary, they support each other.

Bonus knowledge for those who sell well-known brands

If you sell well-known brands in your market, you should strongly consider creating landing pages for high-potential keyword combinations of generic product collections and specific brands.

For example, it could be:

  • Hästens beds (monthly search volume: 400) for the webshop selling beds
  • Nike running shoes (monthly search volume: 1,100) for the webshop selling sports equipment
  • PH lamps (monthly search volume: 2,500) for the webshop selling lamps

If you're not sure which keyword combinations you should focus on, do a keyword analysis(or have one done). It will tell you which keyword combinations are high-potential.

Manage canonicals on pages with filter function

As mentioned, Google penalizes duplicate content with lower rankings. But this doesn't just apply to content from your competitors - it also applies to your own content.

But what exactly do I mean by that? Because why would you copy your own content? You wouldn't use the same text, images, ALT tags, meta tags and H tags on two completely different products or collections. Let me return to Shopify's filter function for a moment to elaborate on what I mean.

The image below shows a section of a product page on a webshop selling beauty and health products. Notice that the quantity of the product is set to 200 ml by default.

landing pages shopify

Shopify has assigned the following path to the product page (the part of the URL after the domain name):

/collections/iles-formula/products/iles-formula-serum

But notice what happens to the path when a customer uses the filter function to select the product in the 1000 ml variant:

/collections/iles-formula/products/iles-formula-serum?variant=33744616914989

Because of the filter, the path is now expanded. This is potentially problematic because the new URL basically tells Google that a new product page has been created. And the "new" sub-page is completely identical in content to the original - and therefore counts as duplicate content!

This is especially a risk factor on collection sites with many filter parameters (for example, the wine webshop in the previous section), where you can end up with as many URLs as there are filter combinations.

So how do you prevent Shopify's otherwise excellent filter function from hurting your Google rankings?

The answer is canonicals tags and canonical URLs!

What is a canonical tag?

A canonical tag (or a canonical tag ) is a piece of code written like this:

  • <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.webshop.dk/collections/produkt/”>

Et canonical tag bor i <head></head>-sektionen i din webshops kildekode og kan blandt andet bruges til at definere canonical URL’er.

What is a canonical URL?

A canonical URL (or canonical web address) is the URL chosen as the "master" of a collection of duplicate pages - for example, the multiple "duplicate" pages that a filter function (in the eyes of search engines) creates.

Or in Google's own words:

A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google believes is the most representative page of the identical pages on your website.

Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters: Search Console Help

In other words, a canonical URL is the version of a page that Google needs to crawl.

However, it is important to tell Google which URL is the canonical one - otherwise the search engine will choose an arbitrary version.

Modern eCommerce platforms like Shopify automatically assign canonical tags to your pages when you create collection and product pages. Therefore, you don't need to assign canonical tags to your desired canonical URLs by default.

But I would still highly recommend that you double-check that your eCommerce canonicals are in order - especially if you use an eCommerce system other than Shopify. That way you can avoid these 3 SEO (horror) scenarios:

  • Duplicate content!
  • Google crawling a less relevant version of the page
  • Google crawling hundreds of filter-generated URLs on your website, getting confused and instead showing a competitor with their canonicals in search results

How to check canonicals on your online store

You can check canonical tags on your Shopify online store in one of the following ways.

1. look at the source code

  • Open any collection or product page in your browser (on desktop - does not work on mobile and tablet)
  • Right-click anywhere on the page and click explore
  • Now the page source code will pop up in a new window
  • Click control/command + F to search the source code and type "canonical"

If the page URL has been assigned a canonical tag, it will appear in the URL after the yellow marker.

canonicals source code

Prøv nu at bruge filterfunktionen, så URL’en ændrer sig, ligesom i eksemplet fra før, og gentag samme proces. Nu skulle du gerne få samme resultat, når du kigger i kildekoden – URL’en efter <link rel=”canonical” href= skal altså være uændret til trods for filteret. Det betyder nemlig, at den oprindelige URL er angivet som kanonisk.

And then it's all good - Google will only consider the canonical URL.

2. Check it with an SEO crawler

If you want a more general overview of canonicals on your site, you can use an SEO crawler like Screaming Frog. Here you can get an overview of all canonicals on all subpages of your online store.

I won't go into the application here, as you can read much more about it in the post "Seven tips to improve your SEO with Screaming Frog".

3. Check theme.liquid in the Shopify admin panel

Endelig kan du kigge i theme.liquid-filen i <head></head>-sektionen i admin-panelet i din webshop.

  • Click Actions > Edit code under Webshop > Themes
  • Select theme.liquid and search for "canonical"
  • If all is well, you should see the following (see yellow markings):
canonicals source code

Ligger der ikke allerede et canonical tag i <head></head>-sektionen? Så kopierer du blot følgende kodestykke ind i sektionen:

				
					<link rel="canonical" href="{{ canonical_url }}">
				
			

For more information about canonical URLs and tags on your Shopify online store, follow Shopify's guidelines and best practices.

Give your page and URL structure a health check

The page structure of your online store should make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for. This will also make it easier for Google to find your webshop.

In a supermarket, you wouldn't expect to find cat food in the produce section, just like you wouldn't look in the butcher's section if you need a socket.

Similarly, make sure your webshop is divided into "sections" that make it easy for your customers to search for the product they need - and make it easy for Google and other search engines to crawl your webshop.

Make sure your page structure is simple and easy to navigate. Ideally, it should look something like this:

  • Homepage > category > (subcategory if applicable) > product page > product

The page structure is important - but so is the URL structure. Your paths should correspond to your page structure. In other words, they should be as simple as possible. For example, the URL on a product page for men's shoes should be something like this:

  • www.webshop.dk/collections/herresko

Shopify generates URLs itself when you create collection and product pages, so the path will be identical to the name of the collection or product. So if you have named the collection men's shoes, Shopify will automatically assign the path /collections/men's shoes to the page.

If you still want to change the URL manually for search engine friendly reasons, you can easily do so in the URL and merchant field in the Edit SEO for website section under each product or collection.

Use schema.org - structured data makes you visible in the SERP

Have you ever noticed that some of the results on Google's results page (SERP) are more detailed than others?

For example, in the result below from bicycle retailer Saxil Cykler, you can see both the price and stock status of the popular Hövding Bicycle Helmet. This gives Google users more information than the SEO title, URL and meta descriptions, which is the information normally displayed in a search result (snippet).

Such a search result is called a rich snippet. And it makes your webshop stand out in the search results - partly because it stands out visually from the other results and partly because it tells potential customers relevant information about a product even before they have visited your webshop.

And that benefits user experience, SEO and click-through rates.

How do you get a rich snippet?

You do this by using structured data.

Structured data is HTML that tells Google and other search engines what a website is specifically about. My colleague Peter has already written an excellent introduction to structured data, so I won't go into what structured data is here. But it might be more interesting to know what it does - and not least what it can do for your online shop's visibility in search results.

Structuring data yourself requires some technical understanding, but luckily there are tools to help you - such as this Schema Markup Generator. Here you can choose a Schema.org markup that suits your business type. If you have a webshop, it makes sense to choose Product.

You can then specify different parameters you want to tell Google and potential customers - for example, stock status and price as in the example above. Based on the specified parameters, the markup generator will generate a JSON-LD script. You can then test and implement your schema code in your online store source code (typically in the collection.liquid or product.liquid file).

How do you get a rich snippet?

You can use structured data for many different purposes - for example, to display reviews in search results so your customers know if your webshop is worth a visit.

Of course, this requires you to get your customers to review your business on Trustpilot, Google, your webshop itself and other platforms - and of course, you want good reviews.

For example, I've structured a schema (the most universal vocabulary in structured data) to display reviews:

				
					<script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https:\/\/schema.org\/","@type":"Product","name":"","image":"","aggregateRating":{"@type":"AggregateRating","ratingValue":"5","ratingCount":"299"}}</script>
				
			

When we talk about structured data in relation to webshops, it's dynamic. If a product goes out of stock in your online store, the inventory will also change in the structured data - if you have set it up correctly and according to the guidelines.

The same goes for the price of your product if it's on offer or discounted. This means you don't have to change anything manually, which saves you a lot of time.

Blog amok!

If you've read my post "Why your business should write blog posts", you already know 5 good reasons to write blogs with tips and tricks about your products. If you haven't, I can briefly summarize what a blog on your webshop can do for your SEO:

  • You capture customers early in the buyer journey
  • You get found on long tail keywords
  • Increase your chances of getting backlinks

Firstly, you capture customers early in the buying journey. Because your potential customers might not even know that your products can fulfill their needs. So you need to help them along the way. And you can do this by blogging about your products.
That way, you can guide potential customers through the decision-making phase.

  • For the makeup retailer, it can be advice on how to apply makeup that lasts
  • For the wine merchant, it can be advice on how to choose wine with food
  • For the health shop, it could be a post about the benefits of collagen powder

That's why a blog is the perfect platform to be found on keywords that people use when they google a problem. These will typically be so-called long tail keywords - longer, highly specific search terms. For example:

  • Breathable raincoat with high water column pressure
  • Supplements for skin and nail care
  • Breathable running socks with compression

In the early part of the buyer journey, people aren't looking for products - they're looking for solutions to their problems.

You may have a health webshop that sells collagen as a dietary supplement. But your potential customers won't find your webshop if they don't know that collagen is an important component of the skin and that collagen powder can help tighten the skin.

That's why it's a good idea to write a blog post about skincare and then talk about collagen and link to a relevant product page.

It also gives you ample opportunity to do internal link building, which also strengthens your SEO. And speaking of link building: If you write really good, informative blog posts, there is also a chance that other websites will link to your site - in other words, you create the basis for strong backlinks.

How to create and edit a blog in the Shopify admin panel:

  • Click Online Store > Blog posts
  • Click on Manage blogs
  • Click on Add blog
  • Name the blog
  • Blog amok!

Want to know more about SEO for Shopify webshops?

Are you too busy running your webshop to play SEO specialist? Or does SEO of your webshop seem a bit too complicated?

Then contact Amplify at 70 60 50 28, or write to me directly at ak@amplify.dk

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