When the possibility for businesses to manage their activity online first came around, it was hard to predict the magnitude it will reach.

The Internet has practically changed the retail industry to a point where e-commerce sites are now a prerequisite for both new businesses and experienced ones seeking to expand their operations – be it locally or globally.

It’s important to stay ahead of the Shopify Stores trends, so we’re going to mention a few main influences shaping up the online business world right now. Some of them are:

  • ensuring an optimal cross-platform experience;
  • better big data absorption;
  • more proficient use of analytics;
  • optimal user experience;
  • clean, crisp and uncluttered design;
  • ease of use when it comes to the buying decision and shopping cart experience;
  • using social media platforms to maximize buying potential.

Does it look like a whole lot of work to put in? It sure does. And with a lot of work come many issues holding online retailers back. Among these issues, the SEO-related ones which are reflected in low SERP (Search Engine Result Page) positions.

So, to help you maximize your website’s potential, I’m going to explore 5 SEO aspects Shopify stores might encounter.

e-commerce sites

1. Sub-par Product Descriptions

Lack of time and preoccupation for thoroughly-crafted content across the whole online store results in poor sales.

It’s about the attention you pay to the smallest bits of content on your e-commerce sites. And these include product descriptions – which, most often, may be:

  • short
  • automated
  • manufacturer-provided.

This happens especially in the case of big retailers that don’t have time to nibble at thousands of product descriptions. To be honest, it’s a pity, because they’re missing out on a lot of opportunities in the SEO department.

Sure, it could be a bit time-consuming to manage all those descriptions. But when e-commerce owners do this, they stand to avoid SEO pitfalls like:

  • not providing enough content for search engine bots to work with – longer content created for each product is more likely to propel product pages in Google SERPs.
  • ‘automated’ content – indeed, it’s more convenient to take the manufacturer description, change a few words and keep the same structure across all product information pages. Except, this practice is penalized by Google that interprets it as duplicate content. You don’t want something as small as product descriptions to hold your site back from getting among the top search engine listings.
  • lack of unique content – Nobody says you can’t and shouldn’t use information that is already available out there about your products. But consider adding pages which are unique to your site. This way, search engine bots will rank you for those pages, if not for your product pages.

So what would the solution be? Spending dozens of hours on crafting this kind of content? Creating a dedicated job opening to have all the product descriptions in check?

There are other things you can do as well:

  1. Tweak the product descriptions.
  2. Turn these product pages into high-converting landing pages with plenty of unique and conversion-oriented content.

Proof that this practice works reasonably well is the success of e-commerce sites that understood the value of quality product information. For instance, The Motor Bookstore company used this ‘in-depth content’ tactic to fix pages that were affected by Google’s Panda update.

They got penalized because they had little content that was unique or in-depth on their site. It’s hard to recover from a Google penalty, especially when it comes without warning. This happened because their navigational pages had content which was very similar to their competition. And their product pages were straight from the publishers’ descriptions.

e-commerce sites

2. Lack of Unbranded Keyword Optimization

We stay in product page territory and point out to another SEO issue e-tailers might not be aware of: the lack of keywords that are not related to the brand.

Most business owners build their Shopify Stores without extremely thorough planning.

They only think of optimizing for generic keywords containing the store name. Best case scenario, they focus on brand-related keywords and maybe one generic, high-competition keyword, in the hopes of standing out among their competitors.

Why is this a faulty practice?

Because it does not take users’ search behavior into consideration.

People don’t generally search by brand name – unless they’re loyal to certain brands (but these people are in the minority). The overwhelming majority just surf the net, compare a few offers for the product they have in mind and then make a decision based on their budget and preferences.

Shopify Stores

So, for buyers to land on your site and explore your offer, you need to anticipate the search query they’re most likely to use.

Here’s where a keyword research tool is a life-saver.

Note: not all keyword research tools are SEO-driven (here’s a more technical explanation). Google’s popular Keyword Planner is aimed at researching keywords for Google Ads – which are indexed differently, making it unreliable for search queries.

This being the case, the right research tool that also helps your SEO efforts can be provided by an SEO App. A great upcoming option would be Squirrly SEO Plugin’s keyword research tool – fast, price-effective and providing in-depth results. You can get early access to this product from Product Hunt.

3. Informational vs. Transactional Content

Here, it’s about content. And keywords. Again 🙂

It’s because the whole content strategy of e-commerce sites has to revolve around a diverse batch of keywords. Ideally, Shopify Store owners would need to focus on different kinds of keywords at once:

  • Commercial: these are related to the business niche you’re in.
  • Transactional: those containing transactional/salesy buzzwords like “for sale”, “free” or “buy” and “subscribe”.
  • Informational: long-tail keywords that cater in-depth to a business’s offer, they often contain question words (‘where’, ‘how to’, ‘what’) that aim at specific needs searchers have regarding a type of product.
  • Navigational: they are manufacturer-related and are useful for customers who already know what brand product they want to buy from. These are used to offer a bit of guidance to navigate the site, as they are frequently used in collection titles.

These four types of keywords cover pretty much everything an e-commerce needs to have in terms of basic on-site content. So, naturally, you’d think online business owners do take care of building their sites around all these types.

But not all website owners are aware of the importance on-site SEO has from the get-go.

So, they tend to go for only one or two types which they think would help them edge out competitors. Not rare are the cases where transactional keywords are used much more than the informational ones. 

This happens due to the false impression that ‘salesy’ is what people are always looking for.

e-commerce sites

Truth is, transactional keywords might be great short-term and when used on campaign landing pages. But in the long run, an e-commerce can build authority only when it also offers informational value.

4. An Ineffective Way of Showcasing User Reviews

Another on-site SEO aspect that could go under the radar is the lack of user reviews.

What online business people may not be aware of is that user reviews – both positive and negative – can have great SEO value.

What are the benefits?

  • They constitute fresh, relevant and constantly-delivered content. This is the type of content Google loves and rewards. Having customer-generated content might spare businesses the headache of building and keeping a highly-active blog section that pleases search engines.
  • In their reviews, users will use their natural search language, which is an SEO goldmine you could use for keyword research and link building.
  • Reviews ensure your pages have relevant long-tail keywords which keep a site among top SERPs.
  • User-generated content is also the foundation of a solid social media optimization (SMO) strategy. Social media sites have internal search engines that favor unique content provided by users (within their comments and reviews).

Plus, the good news is that even negative reviews have great SEO value – as long as they’re not super brief. After all, Google penalizes sites for shady or sub-par SEO, not for a little bit of imperfection.

e-commerce sites

5. Top Keywords that Are Not Explored to Their Full Potential

This part refers to a technique called the ‘low-hanging fruit’ technique.

In the SEO world, it means there are some keywords for which your pages rank really well, even though the page has not been (fully) optimized for them.

This is something e-commerce businesses can take advantage of by:

  • performing a website audit to see which URLs present the kind of resourceful keywords they need.
  • using Google Search Console or SEMrush to get their website’s keywords ranking.
  • picking the high-performing keywords for which the pages have not been optimized, and tweaking the title, description, headings, and content accordingly.

Shopify Stores, Get Your On-Page SEO Right!

Having read this article, I hope you can now identify more on-page SEO issues you can fix. To recap, they generally refer to:

  • not maximizing the potential keywords have;
  • excluding external content with SEO value – like user reviews;
  • poor management of on-site content – especially product descriptions.

In a way, it can be said that all the above come as a result of the fact that retailers don’t quite realize the importance of anticipating their prospects’ needs. Or, in other words, they haven’t heard of expectation marketing and the SEO it requires.

By the way, have you encountered any particularly stingy SEO issue that really hurt your Shopify Stores sales? We (and our readers) would be grateful if you’d share your experience in the comments section.

On the web