Organic search drives 53.3% of all web traffic, which means it’s extremely important to get your online store as high up in search engine results as you can. And while it may be difficult and take some time, it’s possible for even a brand new online store to hit page one of Google.
1. Basic SEO checklist: Set up your website
Let’s start with the basics: actually getting and setting up your website and online store. It takes a lot more than just buying your domain and getting a website design to get your site ready for SEO.
Buy a custom domain
Your store needs its own domain to succeed in search. It also builds trust with potential shoppers when clicking through search engines. It’s also memorable. Choosing a domain name related to your industry helps you rank higher for related keywords. Configuration and setup are fully automated through Shopify.
Create your Google Analytics account. Head to Google Analytics and click “Start for free.” Follow the instructions to set up a property and set up a tracking code so Google can collect your website data.
Create a Universal Analytics property. Next, you’ll want to connect Google Analytics to your Shopify Store. Start by creating a Universal Analytics property. Then, turn on ecommerce tracking in your Google Analytics account. You can enable basic ecommerce tracking, which only tracks transaction and revenue data. You can also enable enhanced ecommerce tracking, which provides more information about visitor behavior.
Set up Google Search Console
Submit your sitemap to Google through your Webmaster Tools account you just created. All Shopify stores automatically generate a sitemap file, which lists your website’s individual pages. A sitemap tells Google and other search engines about the organization of your site. If you’re curious, Shopify store owners can access their sitemaps through [www.yourstore.com/sitemap.xml].
Use Google Webmaster Tools to check for any crawling errors. Search engines index websites through bots that “crawl” a website and its pages. A crawling error happens when a bot tries to reach a specific page (or site) but fails. If you are alerted about any errors, work to fix them immediately.
Verify your Shopify domain. Third-party services like Google Webmaster require you to verify your domain. This makes sure you are the correct owner of your Shopify store before they provide services for you.
Set up Bing Webmaster tools
Create a Bing Webmaster Tools account. Bing is the second largest search engine in the United States. Bing Webmaster Tools is a free Microsoft service that lets you add your store to the Bing crawler. Once added, you’ll show up in the search engine.
Be on a paid plan
Get a paid Shopify plan. Stores on free trials are crawled and indexed. But, if you’re not on a paid plan, the work you put in will disappear once your trial is over. It’s also important to remove password protection on your pages, even if you’re still working on some. Unlock the finished pages so Google can start crawling and indexing your site.
Consider SEO tools
Note 💡: Shopify online stores have built-in SEO features to help optimize your content. Some things are taken care of automatically: canonical tags are added to pages to prevent duplicate content from showing in SERPS, your website’s robots.txt files and sitemap.xml, and a theme’s automatically generated title tags that include your store name. Themes also have social media linking and sharing options to make it easier to market your store.
Keeping up with algorithm changes, rankings, and competitors is challenging but necessary for online businesses. There are good paid and free SEO tools you can use to meet search goals. You’re already one step ahead by setting up Google Search Console and Analytics.
- Ahrefs, a complete SEO tool suite for audits, research, tracking, and more
- Keywords Everywhere, for simple keyword research
- Surfer SEO Chrome plug-in, for free search data and content guidelines
- Keyword.io, for free keyword suggestions
- Screaming Frog, to find crawl errors on your site.
- Moz, for a full SEO marketing suite
- MozBar, for on the go SEO research
We’d also recommend downloading an app like the DH SEO for your Shopify store. It’ll help you run SEO audits, fix broken links, add redirects, optimize HTML title tags and meta tags, and more.
2. On-page SEO checklist: product, blog, and collections pages
Getting your individual pages ready to rank requires a lot of time and effort. After all, you’re going to be competing with some already established brands. So follow along with our on-page SEO checklist to make sure your product pages are as optimized as they can be.
Conduct keyword research
Use Moz’s Keyword Explorer to determine the search volume of keywords and get keyword ideas. Familiarizing yourself with a keyword research tool is a good idea. When we say search “volume,” we’re talking about the rough number of monthly searches for a specific keyword.
I also use and recommend Ahrefs, but regardless of which keyword tool you go with (there are dozens), it’s more important that you explore it fully and continue to learn the fundamentals.
Map keywords to content types. It’s important to remember each page on your site—product pages, categories, blog posts, homepage—can rank for different keywords. Keyword research can actually inform what pages you should create. For example, some of your pages can target searches for information (“what is aromatherapy”), while others target keywords with a lower volume but that indicate an intent to buy (“buy aromatherapy bottles”).
Optimize your webpages
Ensure you are using one, and only one, H1 tag on your pages. H1 (header 1) tags often are used as the main headline for a page and usually contain the page’s main keywords. Note that Shopify page titles are the default H1 tag for pages created through Shopify—avoid manually adding an H1 tag anywhere else on the page.
Keep your page titles under 60 characters so they aren’t truncated in results. Currently, Google consistently displays the first 50–60 characters of most webpages. Always include your main keywords near the beginning of your page title. Finally, remember that you can structure your page title to look more like a listing rather than an editorial title or complete sentence, including appropriate characters or callouts to highlight key information.
Keep your meta descriptions punchy and under 155 characters. Google has confirmed there’s no exact character count for showing or truncating meta descriptions. Research from Moz indicates many meta descriptions are being cut off around the 155–160 character mark. To adapt, include your target keywords and strongest copy at the very beginning of your meta description, and try to avoid going over 155 characters.
As a refresher, a meta description is the text under a page title in a search result—the copy you write here should clearly describe the content on the page and also be compelling enough to click.
Write compelling page titles that are human-readable. The copy you write for page titles and meta descriptions should clearly describe the content on the page, include important keywords, and be interesting enough to click. Don’t forget about the people reading your copy: Appearing in the search results is only part of the job, as you also need to convince users to visit your page over all the other options.
Include a keyword in your page URL. Shopify store owners should note that a page title becomes the default URL. I recommend including your target but keeping URLs short and sweet by avoiding filler words (note the URL we’re using for this very blog post).
Ensure your images have descriptive alt text and filenames. Google Images now make up nearly 23% of all web searches. To ensure your photos appear in image results, you should name each image file something descriptive (i.e., don’t name an image “298343798.jpg”) and write descriptive ALT tags that explain what each image is.
Add schema markup to get rich snippets. Schema markup helps Google understand your website content better. It improves how your page shows up in SERPs, which can lead to higher click-through rates and more website traffic.
For example, this Shopify article that ranks for “online selling sites” uses schema markup.
Here’s how it looks without schema markup.