As this is a practical SEO guide, I’m not going to promise that your store will reach the first position on Google after taking just 5 simple actions. I can, however, make a different claim: Your shop and all your product pages will have improved Google rankings.
And, in the end, that’s one of your top priorities. You want people to be able to find you and see your products. Converting them into buyers is something that your own shop will have to focus on.
What search engines offer you is a way in for the customers. Therefore, it’s important that your future buyers find you in Search.
If you want to be the first on Google for specific terms, there is a very long road ahead of you. It’s not impossible, but it’s also not the goal of this SEO guide.
We know that most online shop owners have numerous tasks they need to take care of, from product stocks, transport, and packaging, to possibly having to deal with unhappy clients. If you have enough on your plate as is, and just want to make sure that your site is present on Google, this SEO guide is for you.
The First Important Ingredient: Keywords
Keywords are the terms or phrases people use to do searches on different online platforms. If the visitor’s words match the keywords on your product page, then your pages will most likely show up in the results.
This is the main reason why keywords are the first and most important part of SEO.
Focusing on general keywords like “shirt” or “jewelry” is not a great strategy. Why? First of all, you don’t know if people are:
- searching for jewelry to buy
- researching the latest fashion trends or
- just want an image depicting the object.
The intent is unclear. So instead of just using these generic terms, try adding actionable keywords like “Buy red T-shirts” or specific ones such as “handmade silver jewelry”.
But how to find the best key phrases to use?
One great option is to use a keyword research tool.
Here at ChiefContent, we found this upcoming SEO product for Shopify: Squirrly. By using it, you can discover the best keywords for your site and also optimize your product pages and categories. Subscribe on Product Hunt and you can get early access to it.
As an example, I will consider “handmade jewellery” as the keyword I will start my research with using Squirrly. As I want to address UK customers, I will choose Google.co.uk from the country list.
All I have to do is type in the keyword, choose the country and complexity level I want, and click on “Do the research”. In a few minutes or less, I have the full list of possible keywords.
Choose the ones that:
- Make sense for your site and products. Not all suggestions might refer to the exact same industry, even if they use some common terms.
- Have low competition. Good for ranking, easy to rank and very easy to rank keywords are what you want to find.
- Keywords with SEO Search Volumes above 1000. These will be highly-searched terms that get on average that number of searches per month.
Most of the results in the images above are longer keywords that are made up of multiple words. These are called long-tail keywords. The advantage of using them is that even if there are fewer people searching for them, the audience is more targeted, which makes converting them easier.
- Focus on a portfolio of keywords for your site. Having a variety of keywords within the same niche will help your site rank better overall.
- Always do your Research. Whether you’re using Squirrly’s keyword research feature just before writing a product description or another tool like Answer the public, you need to constantly know what people are searching for online.
- Measure your conversions. When you change – even slightly – the keywords on your pages, keep an eye on the conversions from your organic search. If they go up, it means that people who are searching for those particular keywords are closer to buying products. Which means that you found really valuable terms for your site.
Make Navigation Easy
As this is part of an SEO guide, you should first understand how Google searches pages within your site. They use an automatic crawling technology called “spiders” to check and index pages in search results. When your shop has simple navigation, it is more likely for it to show up among the results.
That is because Google’s spiders can easily find any page, as your site is well-organized.
To ensure your own Shopify store has this part covered, you need to take these actions:
- Submit your sitemap to Google. All Shopify sites have generated sitemaps. You can find them at “exampledomain.com/sitemap.xml”. It’s a sure way to make sure Google can find all your pages and that they can easily be crawled.
- Add “breadcrumb” links to your pages. This is a secondary navigation option. It’s the way visitors can see the previous collection page they were on and can return to that page. It is usually located at the top of the page. You can enable it from the navigation tab in your Shopify Admin Dashboard.
- The navigation experience should be flawless. Even if search engines will eventually crawl all the pages linked to your site, visitors won’t do the same. Searching for products and moving from page to page within your site should be easy and pleasant in order for your visitors to become clients. Take how well the navigation works on mobile devices into consideration as well.
Another important part of a good navigation is the structure of your links (URL). Make sure you use words and even keywords in your URLs rather than numbers. There should be a clear connection between the URL and the product featured on that page.
For example, a new necklace in your jewelry store should have a link like this:
rather than one that looks like this:
- Label categories appropriately. You might want to name a collection from your store that only features the latest products as “New”. However, this is not clear enough for the user coming to your site. Second, it’s not Google-friendly. Try to use Keywords or at least descriptive phrases for your collections.
- Don’t overuse long-tail keywords in the URL structure. Having a product URL www.yourshop.com/collections/watch_selection/products/waterproof_watch_for_man/ is a good option if you want to rank for “waterproof watch for man” or “watch for man,” but don’t go any further than this in your URL optimization. The extra work will be more detrimental than helpful.
- Keep your site mobile-friendly. Most buyers nowadays will probably do at least one mobile check-up of their future purchase from their smartphones. So, your store needs to look good on mobile as well. There is no way around it.
Focus on Content
You already know that content is one of the most important parts of any online marketing strategy. It’s what lets crawlers know more about your site. It’s also what can make buyers finish their purchase.
But on your own storefront, you might currently have a limited amount of content, coming only from a few products pages and no blog posts. Ideally, you’d want to have a consistent site that publishes at least an article per week and educates its audience.
For this purpose, our SEO guide will focus on how you can maximize the content you already have and streamline the one you really need to create.
That means you have to focus on product descriptions. Best-case scenario; you craft them on your own from scratch. That way, you know you only have original content on your site that resonates with your brand and can convince people to buy from you.
An alternative for resellers is to take the product description from the main producer and reinterpret it. This means you can keep the same ideas they present but put them in the voice and words of your brand.
These pieces of content bear a far larger importance for human buyers and robot crawlers than generic copied ones.
Your main pages should also include Original Copy. Even if you don’t craft a unique product description for each page, your main landing pages should be unique to your site. These pages include:
- About us
- Transport and Packaging
Make sure to optimize the pages for the keywords that you’ve previously researched. At the same time, make sure not to overstuff your content with keywords, as neither humans or crawlers will be impressed. Squirrly for Shopify can help you with this aspect as well.
All you have to worry about is writing the product description with the keyword in the Live Assistant and following its guidance until everything turns green.
Also, make sure your meta information is original as well. It is the first piece of content your audience will see about your page whenever they find your link. This is what will make them click on the link or not.
- Avoid duplicate content. Sometimes, this happens when eCommerce shops automatically import products. Double check the information after all the product pages have been imported and you should be on the safe side. You still need to be mindful of the fact that having a very similar product with almost the same description is no good. That means you should rewrite the content, not just replace a few descriptive words.
- Have longer descriptions. Most shop owners have an average of 300 words in the description. Most of the time, this just isn’t enough. Visitors need to learn enough about the product to feel confident about it, which then leads to conversion.
- Optimize your images as well. Quality pictures of your products is a must, but you need to make sure that the meta information of your images is also optimized. Make your image title as relevant to the product as possible. Also, include a keyword in the ALT text of your images.
Site Speed Is Still Important
Have you ever shopped online and waited 2 minutes for the checkout page to fully load? Probably not, cause after a few seconds, you left to find a better option. The speed of your site is something that not only search engines care about but also your visitors.
Which means it’s something that can drastically affect your conversion rates.
79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again.
Google will also penalize your site and rank you lower if your site takes too long to load.
So, don’t let potential customers just walk away! There are a few things you can do today:
- Compress images. Having high-quality pictures of your products usually means large files. These elements take longer to load when present in pages and will make your pages slower. A solution is to use sites like Tiny png or Compress Jpeg before uploading images to your site.
- Switch from shared hosting service to a managed Hosting. It’s true that it will be more expensive than the first option, but your site will be safer and faster.
Most Important Things You Need to Remember from this SEO Guide
Having proper SEO for your online shop is a complicated task – especially when this is not your main job. However, there are a few aspects that you need to ensure are properly taken care of.
They might not put you in the first position of Google, but they will help you show up in Search. Remember that you can always:
- Add Apps to your site that will make your SEO tasks be less time-consuming. Squirrly is just one of them; you can also consider PageSpeed Guru to make your site faster.
- Create original content for your site. Writing fresh content constantly and posting it on your blog is what you should aspire to. But the first step is to have at least unique product descriptions. Tailor them to fit your audience and brand.
- Have a clear keyword strategy. Good key-phrases are the core elements of a successful SEO strategy. You need to know which ones you are focusing on with your site in order to take the right actions. Also, make sure you periodically update your keyword list.
- Optimization has many aspects. You can optimize the content on your page, the meta description, and even your images. It’s all about making sure your site is closer to showcasing your products in the best way possible.
Take time out of your busy week to put all these actions into practice. Try out one or two new tools this week. You might be amazed by the time they save you!