Shopify SEO

SEO

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Your perfectly optimised content goes here!When it comes to search engine optimisation for Shopify, by now it should be apparent that the platform is beyond helpful. In terms of simplicity, deployment and arrangement of your products, it almost couldn’t be easier, but inversely there are significant limitations and therefore opportunities to improve SEO on Shopify.

This article is designed to illustrate well established eCommerce businesses across all markets about how a valuable digital agency will value-add, perform analysis and enhance your return on investment (ROI) within organic search results. It’s well established that the reason for choosing to use a Shopify eCommerce website is that it’s agile, relatively low-cost, hyper-visual. It’s user-friendly functionality allows new businesses enter the market space in a stylish and simplistic way.

This level of user-friendliness and deployment ease comes at a cost. If your eCommerce online store operates within a competitive market, then at a certain point your Shopify website is going to have a difficult time competing with the other variety of eCommerce solutions, especially the well optimised ones. Unfortunately Shopify search engine optimisation has some key structural issues which inhibits its performance compared to some of the other solutions available.

Below we are going to outline the primary issues associated with optimising Shopify online stores for search engines.

Key implementations that can improve search engine optimization through Shopify:

  • Removal of duplicate URLs from internal linking architecture
  • Removal of duplicate paginated URLs
  • Creation of blog content for keywords with informational intent
  • Addition of “Product,” “Article,” & “BreadcrumbList” structured data
  • Defining how to handle product variant pages
  • Compression of images using crush.pics
  • Removal of unnecessary Shopify apps

 

1. Collection Duplication Issues in Shopify

If we break down all the issues with Shopify to a few problem areas, we’ll find that the duplication issue lies at its heart.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, essentially Google really tries hard to understand what is the most important or authoritative version of your page(s). The issue here is that Shopify makes this less than easy to see. So the best solution here is to try and communicate this to Google the manual way.

They can try to do this themselves, or you can provide them with canonical tags to point them in the right direction, which ultimately leads you to a tangled web. You will find yourself forever adding canonical tags to respective pages.

Because Shopify allows a ‘Collection’ functionality which is great for fashion and other curated products, it as a by-product results in substantial levels of duplication which really limits your performance overall.

Shopify’s page structures to display products has the traditional /products/product-name as well as the respective collections page, which looks something like this /collections/fall-winter-2020/products/product-name. In the latter example, the product can be accessed via the /collections/fall-winter-2020/ page, which is why the dynamic URL is created.

Dynamic URL have the unlucky happenstance of being less ‘Google Friendly’. As both the URLs result in identical pages, at times, the ‘collection’ URL outperforms the original /product URL.

The question you might be asking is ‘how does it matter?’. Well, ultimately you want a page which has the highest authority to be chosen as the ranking page for Google to present to your potential customers. Your pages’ performance is really tied to the concept of page authority and if Google accepts the weaker page as the ‘authoritative’ version then your performance overall will be lower and ultimately results in lesser conversions. For Google, its only left with a choice via algorithm to select a URL which may or MAY NOT be focused and aligned to a users intent.

While it might seem like we are nit-picking, the repercussions can a dramatic impact upon sales.

Shopify duplicate content issues example collections

Example of a product page with two different URL structures, one containing the name of the collection, but both containing a canonical to the /product/ version of the URL

 

The Shopify Duplication Issue Broken Down

We are looking at three pages:

  • Product A – Domain.com/products/product-a
  • Product A in Featured Collection – Domain.com/featured-collection/products/product-a
  • Product A in Sales Collection – Domain.com/sales-collection/products/product-a

All of the above pages are though of as the same product and same page. While Shopify’s canonical tag automatically points search engines to the preferred version of the URL, internal links still point to the various non-canonical versions throughout the site.

The Shopify Duplication Solution

There is a line of code responsible for dynamically generating the collection URLs, which while handy has serious SEO repercussions. To prevent this issue you need to:

  • Access to the Shopify theme’s liquid files.
  • Modify the code within the theme’s template (note this might be different for various Shopify themes).
  • Search for {{ product.url | within: collection }} within the source code for the page ‘collection-template.liquid’. Perform a search (using Ctrl + F) and search for the code. (A more elaborate discussion is available here: https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Discussion/Duplicate-Content-Same-Page-with-different-url/td-p/392224)
  • The line of code above indicates, for products found ‘within’ any collection use the collection name in the URL. We want to override the code so that our product URL shows up in internal links across the site, regardless of the collections it can be found in. Remember, this product URL is our designated canonical, so it should be the version linked to throughout the site.
  • Replace with the following code:

{{ product.url }}

shopify_duplicate_content_liquid_code_fix

By simply removing the “within: collection” we can get rid of this dynamic generation of URL structures. If this is implemented correctly, all your canonical product URLs should be visible from any collections page. But partly this is all dependent upon the number of various collections you have aggregated.

Note:

  • Performing this action will not remove the collection URL, it is still going to be a normal page with a canonical tag pointing towards the original product page (per normal) however this action is making sure we are creating internal links towards the correct page.
  • Be sure to not mark the collection URLs as a no-index as this is generally a bad decision.
  • Be sure to repeat this for any internal links from non-collection/non-sales pages to the page URL.
  • It is possible to redirect from the collection pages. However this is not required unless these pages have a lot of inbound links to these pages.

 

2. Pagination Duplication Issues in Shopify

Shopify sites create duplicate content additionally through the site’s pagination. More specifically, a duplicate is created of the first collections page in a particular series.

This is because once you’re on a paginated URL in a series, the link to the first page will contain :

“?page=1”

So we are really looking at :

https://shopifysite.com/collection/collection-name/?page=2

having a link which points to :

https://shopifysite.com/collection/collection-name/?page=1

where in-fact the actual real and authoritative page is :

https://shopifysite.com/collection/collection-name.

All of this again is a substantial issue not for humans but just how Google and robots engage with your website. Its unfortunate but we need to align with the robots here on this issue.

Not acting results in your site always referring to a duplicate page. A URL with “?page=1” will almost always contain the same content as the original non-parameterised URL. Once again, we recommend having a developer adjust the internal linking structure so that the first paginated result points to the canonical page.

3. Editing the Robots.txt File in Shopify

In Shopify stores, adjusting the robots.txt file is not permitted. This is mentioned within the official help documentation. While you can add the “noindex” to pages through the theme.liquid, this is not as helpful if you want to prevent Google from crawling some page content all together.

Shopify, rightly-so has removed a series of folder paths in which already a noindex direction prevents Google crawling:

  • Admin area
  • Checkout
  • Orders
  • Shopping cart
  • Internal search
  • Policies page

So it makes sense at this level where by-default we don’t need any index commands to exist for these pages, however your business is ultimately limited due to the fact that there ARE occasions in which it might be advantageous for you to add a noindex tag. But as previously mentioned its not possible for users to edit the robots.txt file, and as such prevent unwanted indexation.

A key example of this is where you have search functionality, which generates a series of URLs connected to search queries such as :

https://shopifysite.com/search?q=beige

If we think about the finite resources that Google will allocate to understanding your website, such an omission can results in Google Search console really being lost among the endless search queries. While in a more ‘hands-on’ website the robots.txt is a quick way to address this issue, other methods of adjusting Google’s crawl such as “nofollow” or canonical tags are required.

Adding the “noindex” tag

While you cannot adjust the robots.txt, Shopify does allow you to add the “noindex” tag. It is possible to add a noindex and exclude a specific page from the index, the following code would be required within the theme.liquid file:

{% if template contains ‘search’ %}{% endif %}

This ultimately would be in the case in which you don’t want any search URLs to appear within the Google index which may or may not be valuable. If in doubt speaking to your digital marketing professional would be highly advised. Working with noindex codes can have serious consequences depending upon the nature of your website and how your clients are engaging with it.

As well, if you want to exclude an entire template, you can use this code, but be cautious:

{% if handle contains ‘page-handle-you-want-to-exclude’ %}{% endif %}

4. Structured Data within Shopify

Okay, so if you are still reading then this part is really about the three other areas in which you can align with Google even more so. Its related to structured data which if you are not sure, visiting https://schema.org/ will hopefully illuminate you. Shopify does deliver to a certain extent regarding the implementation of structured data for the site. The products expansion can certainly give you the competitive edge.

To reduce the lengthy process to a few key areas and to help you justify a knowledgeable digital marketeer to guide your team what you need is:

  • Use ‘reviewBody’ within Products to markup review text in Review, not ‘description’
  • Implement product markup even on product category pages. (It work and it counts!).
  • Add ‘Article’ structured data, especially where your site is paired with substantial and valuable content production.
  • BreadcumbList structured data is really still valuable, don’t forget about this added advantage!

 

5. Content on Product pages within Shopify

As you may already know, *sigh* ‘content is king’, and as such the inclusion of content within your product page is really essential. It’s an all too common story that a bulk product upload will contain the same product descriptions across all products with various versions/colours/sizes. This while perhaps time efficient at the beginning can results in a substantial loss of traffic due to perceived duplication on site from your search engine. For the human it might be more than obvious that the size or colour is different however for the robots of the internet its more complicated and we need to be sure we are ranking for all possible permutation of a search query.

If you are not sure where to concentrate your efforts for this activity, simply look at the products which have either the highest sales volume or generate the highest levels of organic traffic.

A more nuanced approach is required especially if your product variants are so similar (for example, different shade of blue) in which the content befitting the product is really troublesome. In which case understanding the interaction between AJAX and Google spiders would be really valuable to see which is the valuable area to generate content.

Note: This approach required a consideration of the previous points use of Structured Data as well as your ability to differentiate content based upon product variant.

6. Optimising Shopify Tag Pages

Tags usage within Shopify are not only an industry standard way for users to sort and filter through your extensive range of products it is also has implication from a data/page perspective. Using tags for the human seem intuitive however the negative aspect of this is that natively its not possible to optimise these tag pages easily. Obviously tags within various markets really has value, for example

  • /collections/women-shirts
  • /collections/women-shirts/long-sleeve
  • /collections/women-shirts/short-sleeve
  • /collections/women-shirts/sleeveless

The primary product page is where you would optimsed for specific keyword phrase but not overly specific, while a collection page is where you are optimised for the generic page. On the tag pages, you’d want to optimize for that very very specific keyword phrase, such as ‘womens long sleeved beige cashmere sweater’ page. There is no easy way in the Shopify admin to add content to these pages. To solve the content issue, you have two options.

Install a Shopify App

Shopify has an wide array of store of add-ons or applications to use with your Shopify store. There apps to help optimize tag pages, though none of them currently offer full control over the pages. If you have to download multiple apps, you run the risk of slowing down your site to a very slow speed. This requires a more delicate approach and is more about optimised the 97% percentile over key SEO optimsation areas for SEO.

Editing a Shopify Theme for Tags

If you are so inclined and are looking to only add additional custom content to the tag pages while not worry about the page titles (not ideal), you can add code to your collection.liquid file using if statements:

You’ll have to add this for every tag, which can be time-consuming and add a lot of length to the code. So again, this is close to an advanced and enterprise level search engine optimisation tactic.

7. Advanced/Enterprise SEO For Shopify

In the paragraphs above we have touched upon the key areas which we really feel are the greatest inhibitors to SEO success when having a Shopify Store. In saying this, there are other areas which need bespoke SEO optimisations. They exist for enterprise SEO and come within very precise level of testing and integration. These optimisations are:

  • Integration Shopify with Cloudflare.
  • Modify Shopify’s URL Strucure.
  • Log file Analysis through Shopify (such as understand user intent via filter chains)
  • Hreflang for Shopify for international of multinational stores. (Especially valuable for those in the Asia Pacific Region).

The Value:

Overall these items mentioned above are critical steps to ensure that each page doesn’t send Google’s robots in a giant link chain, nor appear incredibly irrelevant. Following these steps will keep your website and search engines happy.

If you’re looking for a Shopify SEO Expert or a comprehensive Enterprise SEO Digital Marketing Agency, please reach out to us at Metric Labs and say ‘Hello’!

Frequently asked questions

Shopify is an amazing e commerce building platform that allows search engine optimization. It allows you to customise the headers, meta titles, meta descriptions , alt text for images to be SERP friendly and optimised. This is applicable to all product pages, collections and blog posts on Shopify.

Customisation of page urls, to include keywords that can boost your Google rankings is possible through this platform. You can also integrate social media platforms through to your Shopify store. Collection duplication issues that might arise here can be solved through modifying the theme’s liquid files, with a few lines of code, as discussed in this blog. Duplication through pagination can also be resolved through adjusting the internal linking structure, for appropriate paginated results to point correctly to canonicals.

  • Search Engine Optimisation is definitely possible through Shopify’s user friendly platform through
  • customisation of meta titles, meta description, headers, alt texts, urls to include relevant keywords.
  • Duplication of collection pages can be resolved through replacing a few lines of code in the theme’s liquid file.
  • Duplication through pagination can also be resolved through leveraging Shopify’s own developers’ support.
  • Plugins that facilitate search engine optimisation can be easily installed through Shopify. Some of them are Plug in SEO, SEO Plus, SEO Booster etc. Some can be trialled free , whilst others might need a subscription plan. Page speed optimising plug ins like Page Speed Optimizer are free.

There are many amazing apps available for search engine optimisation on Shopify. Among them , Omnistar Affiliate Software, Plug in SEO, SEO Image Optimiser, JSON- LD for SEO are really cool apps that makes your life easier on Shopify. While it is difficult to point out just one app as being the best, the ones mentioned can be pretty amazing. These apps can be valuable additions to your Shopify search engine optimisation efforts.

You can start by a keyword research and implementation strategy that optimises your site on Shopify (product descriptions, urls, meta titles, headers etc.). Shopify’s user friendly interface allows the keyword implementation, which can be done by a non developer as well. Also make sure you use these target keywords in your content marketing initiatives on Shopify to attract that much sought after organic crowd. This is the first step towards search engine optimisation .

If you want to take your Shopify store SEO to the next level or want an in- depth, enterprise level search engine optimization , give us a yell. Contact us on hello@metriclabs.com.au or call us on 02 9134 3889.

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