Shopify Technical SEO

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demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

I am fairly new to Shopify and this is my first post to this great community. But I have been working since 1996 with SEO and web development and as some of my clients wanted to move to Shopify I spend the last couple of months getting into all the details of this platform. 

As my primary focus is still SEO, performance, UX, conversions and sales I have been trying to figure out how to utilize Shopify to create the best results. 

Many aspects of SEO is off course not directly dependent on the platform - such as SEO-strategies, keyword research, copy writing, user engagement optimization and link building. It's more about the technical limitations options - where are the weak (SEO) spots of the platform, how can they be improved and what (more or less cray creative) options can me utilized to gain better results. 

I think I have a pretty good overview of the most important aspects of technical SEO on Shopify - from indexing (and thanks for that robots.txt update!), navigation, dealing with Duplicate Content, many aspects of speed optimization, Core Web Vitals, Schema, AMP and how Metafields (still waiting for them to be added to all page types though) and the new Sections Everywhere (thanks for that too!) can be used in great ways. 

But, I am always looking for good ideas - and maybe I missed something.

And with all you great people here I thought I would just ask you all: What are your greatest tips for improving SEO on Shopify sites (that are specific for Shopify)?

I am interested in both general structure tips (as said, I could have missed something) and more advanced and creative solutions. My team and I are also in the early stages on developing some apps that should fill the gap in areas where I believe SEO could be stronger (or easier) on Shopify. So if you have ideas that requires such developments I would love to here about that too. No limits 🙂

 

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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Accepted Solutions
KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

This is an accepted solution.

Off the top of my head:

  1. Learn some liquid to help customize title tags, canonicals where needed. 
  2. Figure out the seo.hidden metafield for if/when you need to no-index or remove a page from sitemap.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the URL structures and the duplicate page structure. 
  4. Look into the new-ish robots.txt customization and how you can blend in liquid logic
  5. Form an opinion on if it's worth flattening the site structure down to root /product/xyz URLs and removing the longer duplicate /category/abc/product/xyz URLs from being internally linked to
  6. Figure out how to improve SCHEMA, rip out crap low-quality microdata from a theme code, and how to integrate with 3rd party review apps. There are some pre-built scripts and decent apps out there that will do it for you - or write your own. 
  7. Familiarize yourself with the OS2.0 theme architecture and how it can be leveraged to introduce unique/deep BTF content to each product page like additional sections, FAQs to increase topic relevance. 
  8. Familiarize yourself with product feed apps like Google Shopping Feed and DataFeedWatch that pair well with Shopify and understand limitations of the default app. Now that Free Product Listings are a thing - optimizing them is important
  9. Figure out how to bulk edit - Matrixify can be extremely useful here
  10. You can actually use CloudFlare O2O
  11. Figure out multi-domain, currency pricing, i18n, hreflang tag options - there have been some new features released in the last year or so.

That's a few things. There's a decent article by ContentKing on Shopify SEO that looks at some of the technical aspects too. 

 

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.

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Replies 17 (17)
KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

This is an accepted solution.

Off the top of my head:

  1. Learn some liquid to help customize title tags, canonicals where needed. 
  2. Figure out the seo.hidden metafield for if/when you need to no-index or remove a page from sitemap.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the URL structures and the duplicate page structure. 
  4. Look into the new-ish robots.txt customization and how you can blend in liquid logic
  5. Form an opinion on if it's worth flattening the site structure down to root /product/xyz URLs and removing the longer duplicate /category/abc/product/xyz URLs from being internally linked to
  6. Figure out how to improve SCHEMA, rip out crap low-quality microdata from a theme code, and how to integrate with 3rd party review apps. There are some pre-built scripts and decent apps out there that will do it for you - or write your own. 
  7. Familiarize yourself with the OS2.0 theme architecture and how it can be leveraged to introduce unique/deep BTF content to each product page like additional sections, FAQs to increase topic relevance. 
  8. Familiarize yourself with product feed apps like Google Shopping Feed and DataFeedWatch that pair well with Shopify and understand limitations of the default app. Now that Free Product Listings are a thing - optimizing them is important
  9. Figure out how to bulk edit - Matrixify can be extremely useful here
  10. You can actually use CloudFlare O2O
  11. Figure out multi-domain, currency pricing, i18n, hreflang tag options - there have been some new features released in the last year or so.

That's a few things. There's a decent article by ContentKing on Shopify SEO that looks at some of the technical aspects too. 

 

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Thanks a lot for all the great tips 🙂

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Just a few additional questions/comments to all your great suggestions ... 🙂

  1. Yes I do some coding but leave most of it to my developers. They are always faster and better than me. But as an SEO I do like to at least read code and do simple adjustments
  2. I am not too happy about the seo.hidden metafield. For two reasons. 1) When I want to use NOINDEX I always want it with FOLLOW. The seo.hidden do (as far as I can see) not have that option. And maybe more important ... 2) META-robots is a VERY unreliable way of managing Duplicate Content and indexing issue. Its NOT a "directive" but a "signal" and unfortunately Google do quite often not respect it (or fail) - and then we are left with serious SEO-problems. So I always seek to find better solutions to indexing issues.
  3. I did, thanks 🙂
  4. Yes - that is very good that they (finally) added that option! (by the way - the robots.txt standard IS a directive!)
  5. Yes, I always do that. Its a much better archtiecture and (in regards to what I said above) a more stable/secure solution to DC
  6. Yes. I never work with the larger themes. Prefer to start by scratch with something basic and simple and only add what we really need. The new Dawn theme looks great!
  7. Yes, I really like all the great new options with OS2.0! 
  8. True - although the free feed option is not rolled out in all countries yet
  9. Tanks. I will look into that
  10. Good to know. For some sites that may be useful
  11. The multi language options of Shopify appear to not work perfectly, as far as I can see - and understand from people I consulted on this with far more (also Plus) experience than me. Especially with regards to Hreflang I am faced with some serious issues. For example one large site we are about to migrate from another platform to Shopify. The Shopify experts we engaged for this recommended the two languages the site use run as separate shops (Plus solution). But they also wanted the product URL's to be named the same to make an easy match for Hreflang. That is NOT a good solution. I want my URL's to be language specific - for both SEO and usability reasons. Still trying to figure out better solutions for this as manually matching thousands of products, and hundreds of updates each month is not really an option. Do you know of any better solutions?

Again, thank you so much for taking the time help. I am very grateful for that 🙂

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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Renars
Shopify Partner
222 25 276

Hello @demib and @KieranR 

Renars here from Matrixify (Excelify).
Thank you for mentioning our app @KieranR 

You sure can use our app for bulk editing your store details, including SEO.

The most common use of the app related to SEO would be to bulk import and export actual SEO Title and Description, which is fairly easy with the app and we also have a tutorial that explains how to bulk update Shopify SEO Title and Description.

Another popular use case that we have a tutorial for is on How to hide Shopify Products from Google, sitemap and other search engine results – in bulk.

But of course, there might be other SEO-related uses that we do not have specific tutorials for, such as bulk updating regular titles and descriptions, bulk update product handles, and possibly more.

I hope that our app will be a useful tool for you and if you have any questions, issues, or suggestions, please reach out to us directly.

Matrixify | Bulk Import Export Update | https://apps.shopify.com/excel-export-import | https://matrixify.app
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Thanks  - it may become useful in some situations 🙂

However, for the sites I am currently working on they are either small (where will handle all TITLEs and META-descriptions page by page) or very large (where we prefere to "scripts" and automate them based on dynamic data already present). 

As mentioned above I am not too happy with the way Shopify handles META-robots by default and with seo.hidden - and NOINDEX in general (for the reaons explained). So I will always try better solutions first 🙂

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

Yeah pretty much agree with your entire reply.

Yeah a couple of inflexible things, for the SEO.hidden nofollow thing, I mean yeah not optimal but in most situations where it's a couple of pages you don't want showing for brand sensitivity reasons or something, good enough.

You could filter the Shopify head output string to remove it or use a CloudFlare worker, but probably overkill in most situations to get a setup that only pleases an SEO perfectionist. But workarounds exist anyway.

Yeah i18n is not very robust especially with unique language slugs. You could go Plus which gives you free add on stores, and find a way to push product data, could use a PIM or a 3rd party CMS or something but it would be a pretty custom setup. If intl SEO is critical for your organic visibility and sales, I would seriously evaluate a few technical approaches on Shopify vs other ecom platforms.

But yeah I was meaning my list as really just a few things that keep coming up, not a prescriptive do it this way. There's usually more than one way to skin a cat with Shopify, and the templating is actually quite flexible now so knowing what's possible server side vs not is useful to have a handle on.

Hopefully you have access to better Devs than me because one thing I've noticed is often change requests get implemented by JS/Jquery when there's a perfectly valid no-JS approach using Liquid. Something to be aware of if getting changes done as not many Devs seem to understand what is possible with liquid and take the easy (for them) route of JS, which ofc introduces client side render reqs, page load time implications etc.

 

 

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Thanks KieranR

As the SEO-geek I am I pay attention to even very small details. In my experiences it pays! Not only is SEO the sum of all factors but in fact, even very small things can make or break a site in Google. I had cases with clients where litterally one comma the wrong place in some code turned them almost invisible in Google. And just recently I helped a large corporate client get back into Google with their multilingual sites - some minor errors in XML-sitemaps and Hreflang had made Google exclude most of the same language sites intended for different regions. Now they are back 🙂

I think I do have pretty good developers. My own development skills are limited but I know enough to discuss details with my developers about how I want things coded and evaluate it - and JS is often NOT the right solution.  Not the least for any elements important for SEO. 

We are working on moving one of my clients from another platform to Shopify Plus and will be using a multi-site setup for the two regions/languages they operate in. We are working on a solution matching SKUs (probably appended to product URL's) to match for creating a Hreflang XML sitemap (maybe with Hreflang Builder - great tools btw). This way we can maintain localized URLs and still have correct Hreflang. Collections we can match manually - the number is more limited and permanent by nature. Also, this solution will not slow the speed on the sites at all which is another of the many "details" I am very focused on.

It would be great though, if Shopify at some point would make a native management of multilingual sites better.

We are by the way also working on a custom solution for product variant - another area where core Shopify could be improved. The current server side and CANONICAL-tag solution is not perfect from a SEO point of view. My preferred solution, in this case, would have been to move the variant selection to the client layer with # but unfortunately my developers have not been able to do that without suffering on the speed - which is not acceptable to me. They are also still working on the best solution to show all variants in collections, and manage order. 

No platform is ever perfect but I am looking forward to work more with Shopify. Especially with SO2.0 I think we can do great things. And in contrast to WooCommerce and Magento the user interface for my clients is much better - which is also very important. It is not enough that we - as developers, SEO-geeks etc get what we want. Out clients also have to like the day-to-day work and be able to get it done fast and without the risk of making errors. 

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

Oh yeah for sure, I mean just small details like that tend to matter more at scale right, so depends on context. Attention to detail where detail actually matters is all I'm saying. 

Yeah plenty of things to whinge about with SEO on Shopify haha. But not perfect doesn't seem to prevent sites from ranking, plenty of levers left to improve. Far better in my view than some other platforms. The business value you get to be able to easily to admin/ecom stuff in just time-saving and platform integrations far outweigh the -ve SEO gripes (in most cases). But yeah some sites because of their tech SEO requirements are probably just not a fit for Shopify at all. 

Recent platform changes have been tending in the right direction but there are still sooo many things I wish there was flexibility to do haha.

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

Yeah canonicalisation is annoying, I tend to use metafields to set a custom canonical if necessary, but in some situations that just doesn't scale or isn't practical. Categorisation is annoying (no parent/child relationships) between collections/sub-collections/products, can use metafields or tags for that. Breadcrumbs are annoying too due to lack of categorization.

Variants yeah I mean now you have per-variant metafields so there are more options to address this, but still annoying and variant URLs yep. URL routing in general is inflexible - also annoying but I can live with that usually. The entire Shopify head block that gets injected - not customizable, annoying. 

Nav menus are pretty basic, gets tricky if you want to create a complex mega-menu structure and have it editable within the admin menu editor UI, or linked to a site category structure.  URL redirect limits, no regexp (or similar) redirect rules.

Bunch of other things too, but yeah you're right, every platform has its issues. 

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Agree!

When I evaluate platforms for SEO I look for things like:

  • Are there any important core problems - and how easy can they be fixed
    On many platforms speed is a serious problem that can be hard - if not impossible (often due to bad server setups and bloated server code) to improve. Shopify is very good on speed and I love that. 
  • Are there any "nice to have" problems - and how easy can they be fixed
    There are many small and medium important issues with Shopify - such as product variants and hreflang, as we talked about. A site can do fine in Google without this - but even better with. And if you are in competitive markets (as my clients often are), every little detail count
  • How easy is it to utilize new, creative and ever changing SEO-strategic needs
    What works well in the SEO (an ecommerce/sales) change constantly, new options pop up all the time and we (as SEO- and sales-geeks) constantly come up with new ways to improve visibility. A good platform will let me implement my ideas - long before the platform (may or may not) include it as a standard. All in all I think Shopify is very well suited for this. I already have a pretty long list of things i KNOW is very good for SEO but that Shopify (as default) cannot do, and that there are currently no (good) apps for. But then we can just make the apps. In fact it looks like I will be making a new Shopify app company in corporation with one of the best developers I know and a very strong ecommerce/sales expert. We already work as a team so this will "just" be an extension/new venture to that 🙂
SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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KaiDavis
Excursionist
10 1 1

 

  • Familiarize yourself with the OS2.0 theme architecture and how it can be leveraged to introduce unique/deep BTF content to each product page like additional sections, FAQs to increase topic relevance. 

 

 @KieranR What are your top two of three favorite new things from OS2.0 for SEO/on-page content/etc?

Kai Davis is Your Shopify Growth Guy • CEO/Founder of Double Your Ecommerce
Feel free to say hi or ask a Shopify growth or SEO question: kai@doubleyourecommerce.com
KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104
Well, that. It really just enables better content admin and easier to
manage unique per product content. It's not really a thing you can "switch
on" its the way the site theme and content can be cohesively designed and
built together in a more maintainable and scalable way.
Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
KaiDavis
Excursionist
10 1 1

Let me rephrase my question: what are the ~2-3 SEO opportunities you're most excited for use on product pages thanks to OS2.0?

I'm personally most excited about reusable sections and how they can be used with product pages to surface SEO and sales content.

Kai Davis is Your Shopify Growth Guy • CEO/Founder of Double Your Ecommerce
Feel free to say hi or ask a Shopify growth or SEO question: kai@doubleyourecommerce.com
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

The best 2-3 things for SEO with OS2.0 ... speed, speed and speed 🙂

Actually, it's not entirely a joke. Speed is one of the most important things. I have had cases where we doubled organic traffic on a site JUST by optimizing speed. It is such a strong signal. 

Behind the improved speed is all the goodies that I look forward to explore more. More use of CSS and less JS, Hydrogen etc. all seems very good to me. 

I'm personally most excited about reusable sections

From a design and content management point of view I love this too. But for SEO its only valuable if coupled with dynamic fields. Because, using the exact same content elements will not really do anything good for SEO. Google do "block level analysis" of content and filter out content that is used across many pages to focus on what is unique for the page. 

Sections everywhere is very good and especially coupled with the option to inject app block elements. That will be very helpful in the SEO-boosting apps that I am planning to make.

In general (not OS2.0) - the way you can manage dynamic collections is one of the best and most effective tools in Shopify for SEO in a webshop. Often, far more than half of all relevant searches for a business are generic product category keywords - and collection pages are the best to optimize for that. Not having to assign products manually is awesome. It makes my work with SEO on a site super dynamic and flexible. Love that!

What we do is have a limited number of main collections in the top navigation. Less is often best (if you know about P.E.T. analysis you know the theories behind this). Then in a separate structure, we feature all the other landing page collections (typically labeled "inspirational pages" or something similar).

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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KieranR
Shopify Partner
310 25 104

I'm personally most excited about reusable sections and how they can be used with product pages to surface SEO and sales content.

I think we're all saying the same thing. When I mentioned "unique/BTF content", this sections everywhere is exactly what I was referring to as well, so that is 1 for me too 🙂

Yeah Dawn is significantly (35%) faster than Debut, but then that is still just a demo theme. I didn't think there were any speed improvements made to the underlying Liquid theme architecture with 2.0 to facilitate this.  There was the Storefront Rendering change made about a year ago - which they recapped again in Unite, but this is old news. I was under the impression the Dawn speed was simply due to a different dev approach which intentionally focused on reducing JS footprint. Same treatment can be applied to any theme, not OS2.0 specific.

They Hydrogen/Oxygen thing, there's a bit more to it. I mean yeah it can make for a much "nicer" dev experience when building decoupled (headless) sites with React/Vue or something. Though that's not an SEO positive in and of itself. In practice pure headless sites (without some form of pre-rendering) can sometimes become a real PITA with getting crawled/rendered frequently enough by Googlebot, which for some sites is not good for SEO.  You could theoretically make an even faster (than Shopify Online Store) headless site, which could be good for SEO. However generally, headless tends to be a huge dev resource/money pit as you're building the site effectively from scratch, so it tends to be a much larger scope of work (both upfront and ongoing). The devs required (React, Vue, Angular specialists) tend to charge higher rates and be harder to find. So yeah Hydrogen/Oxygen are a welcome change for headless dev workflows, if you already have a valid reason to build a headless site, then good. 

The app blocks are nice, once their usage is more common (or enforced) for app installs, then they could lead to an ecosystem where the problem of old app "tech debt" code floating around in themes disappears. Which could reduce the effects of old apps cluttering up the site with unnecessary JS. But hard to say this is a clear cut "benefit" or tangible feature that you can use to help SEO right now. 

I mean the metafield improvements are nice. I like the reference fields introducing an easier way to link up parent/child categories in a scaleable and easily-adminnable way. Could lead to better Information Architecture, content clustering configurations (with the right theme support) that could lead to better SEO if wielded the right way.

But really most of the OS2.0 improvements were dev-oriented not a whole lot in it for SEO I don't think.

Full time Shopify SEO guy, based in NZ. Sometimes freelance outside the 9-5.
demib
Shopify Partner
123 12 57

Agree (almost) 🙂

As much as I love JS it is often a SEO nightmare to deal with. I have had many clients on react and JS-framework solutions and for that you do need either prerendering or some other workarounds to make it work for SEO. 

Having better, more flexible development environments and structures is, however, potentially an improved basis for also creating better SEO-solutions. In the span between what I want to do (because I know it works in Google), the (often very) creative and alternative ideas I develop and what is possible, better dev options makes it more realistic to do. 

I do very much like the basis of Dawn - and moving more JS to CSS (when possible). A leaner, faster result is, in my mind, always better. Not just for SEO. KISS 🙂
But yes, much of that could be done before SO2.0 too - but just (most often) was not. With Dawn the starting point is better for many and that is good. 

I hope, and trust, that Shopify app developers will embrace the new section and block options. That, in combination with SEO-skills, an understanding of what works in Google and a more flexible implementation can lead to much better results. 

SEO Geek since 1996, consultant author and public speaker. Admin of the Shopify SEO Facebook Group

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Abdullah46
New Member
2 0 0

Your topic is very interesting. You have share your experience with us that could be very helpful for the beginners.