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by Michael P. Hill June 30, 2015

Having a great looking Shopify store (thanks to a killer Shopify theme) is one thing, but what if no one can find your online store? That’s where on page SEO comes in.

SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is a broad term that defines the techniques and strategies that site owners and managers can take to ensure their content is listed prominently when someone searches for related keywords in a search engine such as Google or Bing.

The Shopify platform is built with an eye to, specifically, on page SEO tactics — and almost every page has SEO aspects that you can control from the control panel (and without having to know any code).

In this three part series, we’ll explore the various aspects of the Shopify platform and the techniques you can use to maximize them for SEO.

How to manage SEO properties

For Shopify products and collections, you can control the various SEO aspects near the bottom of the editor screen — just click the “Edit website SEO” link on the right side of the “Search engine listing preview” box.

On Shopify pages, you can control these properties using the “Search engines” section under where you enter the main body text.

All of these areas let you control three important parts of your page for SEO — title tags, meta description tags and URL handles.

Let’s take a look at each one of these areas:

Title tags

Title tags are pretty much exactly what they sound like — the title of the page. As a title, this tag should be used to describe what a user can expect to find on a particular page.

In most cases, search engines use a page’s title tag as the heading of each result — so this is a great opportunity to have control over what users see and reinforce that the result they’re seeing will contain the information they’re seeking.

Title tags are generally limited to 55 characters so it’s important to make every character count.

When writing title tags with SEO in mind, your first goal should be to accurately describe the content of the page in question — whether it’s a product, collection or informational page. It’s also vital to find ways to naturally weave in relevant keywords into the tag whenever possible.

When using keywords in any of these three areas, look for ways to include not only the “official” product name or title, but also look for ways to include alternate names that people might use when searching for your product.

If your title tag contains more than one category or phrase that should be grouped together, a good practice is to separate each of these with a pipe character (to get this character, hold down shift and hit the backslash key just above “enter” or “return”).

If you have the space, it’s also a good idea to include more specific details such as color or major features into the title tags of product pages.

Good title tag example

Wool Scarf & Shawl | Winter Clothing | Acme Store

This tag includes a specific description of the type of product on the page as well as works in an alternate name for the item. It also emphasizes the category of the product, Winter Clothing and, finally, gives the name of the store to help build brand awareness.

Bad title tag example

Wool Scarf, Wool Shawl, Woolen Scarf, Woolen Shawl and More

This tag uses an unnaturally-sounding list of keywords and also doesn’t really give the user a clear idea of what might be on the page.

Meta description tags

Meta description tags are frequently used on search engine results pages just below the title tag and is another great opportunity to enhance the way your pages appear in search engines — at least some of the time.

When they are displayed, meta description tags, which are generally limited to 160 characters, are a great way to give a bit more detail about the page’s content and draw in the searcher and encourage him or her to click.

As you write meta descriptions, it’s a good idea to find ways to integrate as many of these points as possible:

  • Work in alternate names that you couldn’t fit into the title tag
  • Include an “action word” that tells exactly what the user can do on this page
  • Give some examples or a detailed list of descriptions or feature points
  • Create a sense of intrigue or offer a creative angle

It’s also worth keeping in mind that while many of these tactics are clearly oriented toward a keyword-related SEO strategy, just as much effort should be given to using natural, effective language to appeal to human emotions and get users to click on your result listing — and the meta description tag is a great place to do this.

Good meta description tag example

Explore quality handmade wool scarfs & shawls, including a wide variety of colors, materials and styles.

This tag includes an “action” word (“Explore”) that isn’t overtly salesy and also includes some more detailed description words, such as “handmade” and “wool.” We also create a bit of naturally sounding intrigue by mentioning that the items come in other options.

Bad meta description tag example

Scarfs, shawls, wool scarfs, silk scarfs

Doesn’t compel the user to click and uses too many keywords without any additional context.

We’ve gotten off to a good start on SEO in Shopify themes and stores.

Next week, we’ll explore two more advanced features on enhancing SEO on your site, as well as tips for making your writing sound natural. The final part of this series will focus on how to write product descriptions that make sales and are optimized for search engines.

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.

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2 Responses

Hill
Hill

September 16, 2016

Very informative and easy to digest. I’m looking forward to implementing these strategies throughout my product lineup. Will definitely be checking out the next post in this series.

Rhoda
Rhoda

June 15, 2016

Is it worth hiring a pro to carry out the linkbuilding,
or do you do it in-house?
Will surely be coming back, ’tis a great blog!


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