In 2021, Shopify is powering over 1.7 million businesses across the globe, generating more than $200 billion in sales for merchants on the platform. This being considered, it's no wonder why the all-in-one ecommerce solution is the answer to success for many online businesses.
There’s no doubt that Shopify is a powerhouse, as this platform possesses the tools and integrations that make it easier than ever for merchants to start, run and grow a business online.
However, several key factors fuel a successful ecommerce store and one of those elements is SEO.
An SEO strategy is just one small part of a winning ecommerce strategy, but it’s a great place to start working on your game plan. If you want your brand to revel in its fortune, you must have your goals and objectives mapped out clearly alongside the methods which will enable you to achieve them.
Search engine optimisation is a huge topic that can be confronted with many approaches, but in today’s article, we’re going to be taking a look at choosing a theme with the best SEO for Shopify stores utilising the platform.
Think you know everything there is to know about choosing the right design and layout from Shopify's Theme Store? You might know a lot, but trust us when we say that the 13 tips within today’s guide will change the way that you choose website themes forever.
The Purpose of SEO for Shopify Stores
Building a store with SEO in mind will ensure that potential customers can discover your business and its products organically via search engine results.
We’re sure that you all understand the involvement that SEO has in the running of a successful online store, but have you ever given thought to the Shopify themes that will allow merchants to optimise their online business even further?
That's right, there are additional factors to contemplate here aside from the usual aesthetics so, with this in mind, we've made it our mission to teach you all how to select an SEO-friendly theme to improve your store's chances of ranking higher on search.
Characteristics of Themes with the Best SEO for Shopify
Before we get started, we should probably discuss the characteristics of the themes that boast the best SEO characteristics for Shopify stores.
Many themes on the Shopify store are promoted as SEO-friendly so, what does this mean for merchants on the platform?
This is a question which we’re sure many of you have wondered at one time or another and to answer this question, we have broken down the features that merchants should look for from their next Shopify theme.
So, let’s get started and dive into our list of 13 SEO Shopify tips to check when browsing for a new design and layout that is sufficiently optimised for SEO:
N0.1: Responsive & Mobile Friendly
The first question that you should ask yourself is - is this theme responsive?
A responsive design offers compatibility with any device which receives a huge thumbs up from search engines like Bing and Google who favour SEO to the highest of highs. Mobile-friendly designs and responsive websites do well to remain in the good books of search engines such as this as both characteristics are considered important for healthy SEO.
With Shopify themes, you can always be certain that your Shopify store will render appropriately with a responsive design, no matter whether your customers are browsing your store from a smartphone, desktop or tablet device. So, Shopify merchants can sleep easy when it comes to this bullet point.
N0.2: Loading Speed
An optimised theme renders quickly, reducing the time that a page takes to load. Data has demonstrated that a reduced loading speed will sufficiently decrease the bounce rate for the specific web page that users are attempting to visit.
Separately, if the content supplied on a website is useful to digital users, the average time spent on that web page is likely to increase, giving search engines like Bing and Google a nod that your store is a credible source for other browsers to visit.
Furthermore, a fast loading speed will give the green light to search engines when it comes to crawling and indexing a website.
If you want our advice, we’d suggest choosing a theme with a swift loading speed at the forefront of its makeup for a sufficiently optimised store that will keep your visitors happy.
How can you check out a theme’s loading speed? Head to the theme that you’re interested in, then click ‘View demo store’ at the top of the page.
As a quick and dirty test, you can check out the theme’s speed by counting the loading time for yourself, but sometimes the loading speed of a theme will be mentioned within the description.
However, if there is no mention of the theme's loading time, it should be noted that the loading speed of a web page should be under 3 seconds. So, if a theme can get the loading time closer to 2 seconds you're onto a winner.
If you fancy putting a Shopify design to the test, you can run the demo page of a Shopify theme through a speed test on websites such as; PageSpeed Insights, Web.dev and GTMetrix for extremely accurate results.
Note 📝 A site’s loading speed is largely dependent on code. So, if a theme loads quickly, you can be sure that; posts and product pages alongside other forms of content are fully optimised which will keep a site in Google's and Bing’s good books.
N0.3: Valid HTML Markup
The next of our SEO Shopify tips is to select a theme that has a valid HTML Markup as John Mueller – the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google stated that a valid HTML will help to improve some of the most important aspects of SEO including; browser compatibility, crawl rate and user experience.
Furthermore, if you’re using hreflang ecommerce site may be at risk if a valid HTML is not incorporated here. Therefore, it is always better to check that your theme has valid HTML in place and merchants can use the Markup Validation Service to check this thoroughly.
N0.4: Support for Featured & Rich Snippets
The role of featured snippets is to draw structured information from a website and display it prominently within Google search results.
Typically, featured snippets offer online businesses a chance to rank higher in search results, meaning that a brand and its products are likely to be discovered by new consumers alongside experiencing an increase in the level of no-click searches for their ecommerce website.
While there’s no guarantee that Google will display a featured snippet, the use of a schema markup will increase the likelihood of this occurring, meaning that your brand’s chance will be as good as its competitors for getting noticed.
So, your next move will mean looking for a Shopify theme or app that automates adding markups to a website such as; product schema, FAQ snippets, video object snippets, breadcrumbs and more.
Note 📝 Shopify uses the term 'snippets' to describe reusable code that appears on more than one page (but not sitewide). So, before you move forward, ensure that you have a great understanding of search snippets and those used within theme coding.
N0.5: Customised Metadata
Leveraging the power of customised metadata is a wonderful tool that merchants should utilise often as it can substantially improve an online store’s SEO.
Metadata lives and works behind the scenes within the HTML of web pages, which means that the metadata used most for SEO speaks to search engines directly from each page crawled, to communicate important information or request specific actions.
This communication is important because metadata is not immediately visible to search engines, therefore, it can seem foreign to the likes of Google and Bing. So, with that in mind, being able to customise metadata is a powerful addition to any theme, as this will ensure that your site’s metadata stays on the right side of search engines that favour SEO strongly.
If you’re new to the world of metadata and want to know what you should be looking for from a theme when it comes to this, we’ve compiled a list of metadata tags that ideally should be customisable within the design and layout capabilities that you choose.
These metadata elements are known as; title tag, canonical, open graph, Twitter cards, robots meta, alternative text and meta description.
N0.6: Social Sharing
Billions of people worldwide use social networks and it is estimated by Global WebIndex that 53.6% of the world's population use social media with an average daily usage of 2 hours and 25 minutes.
From these statistics alone, it’s unsurprising that the ability to share content across social media is a fundamental attribute for a website theme to include, as it is an excellent marketing strategy for ecommerce stores to make sufficient use of.
See, when consumers broadcast web content on a social network to their connections, groups, or specific individuals regarding a brand’s products or services, consumers have the potential to generate substantial traffic, links and sales for the business at hand.
This is why social sharing is one of the primary aims of corporate social media marketing strategies for hundreds and thousands of businesses across the web, as it is capable of generating brand awareness by leveraging an existing audience to share content within their circle.
Auto-generated sitemaps allow search engines to locate and identify all of a site’s pages, even if they haven’t been added or linked to any of the pages on that website.
The good news is that Shopify automatically generates a sitemap for each store. So, merchants on the platform won't have to burden themselves with the task of sorting this out for themselves.
Shopify has stated that:
“If you’re on the Basic Shopify plan, then only your store’s primary domain has a generated sitemap file and is discoverable by search engines.
If you’re on the Shopify, Advanced Shopify, or Shopify Plus plan, then you can use the international domains feature to create region-specific or country-specific domains.
When you use international domains, sitemap files are generated for all of your domains. All of your domains are discoverable by search engines unless they redirect to your primary domain.”
So if you can’t see sitemaps as a specific factor listed as part of the theme that you are considering, fear not as Shopify has given merchants access to this feature with every theme.
Note 📝 Once 5,000 URLs have been reached, Shopify will begin to create child sitemaps to avoid surpassing its limit of 50,000 URLs.
N0.8: Product Customisation
The next of our SEO Shopify tips that should be considered is product customisation. Product pages need to be able to stand out and cater to their intended target audience and customisation is one of the ways that online businesses can make their products distinct from the rest.
To create a truly unique product listing, merchants should look for the following attributes when selecting a new theme for their Shopify store:
- Appropriately positioned call-to-actions.
- The ability to test different product positions and layouts.
- A valid product schema.
N0.9: Navigation Options
Do you have options for the placement of your store's navigation? Navigation elements placed above the fold allow for the smoothest customer experience possible. Search engines will also be able to find your store’s main pages with ease, which means that the entire website will be able to be crawled as quickly as possible.
Note 📝 Navigation may not seem like an integral part of SEO but it is a primary element of good architecture for website structure, which is how it can improve website crawlability and user experience on the whole.
N0.10: Language & Translation Support
International Shopify businesses who are looking to improve their store's SEO should implement a theme that covers all grounds of local language and translation.
To ensure that your store displays the correct tongue, ask yourself where your target audience is located? Additionally, what language(s) does your target audience speak?
Once you have given thought to these questions, you will then be able to choose a highly-suited theme that can deliver language and translation support for your customers.
Separately, the correct use of hreflang will help search engines show the relevant version of a page for users to surf. Search engines like Google will consider the location and language preference of the digital user above all else before directing them to the appropriate web page.
This may not be something that a small start-up business would need to consider at first, but language and translation support will soon become more and more pressing as a business begins to grow.
Then, once Shopify stores begin to sell their goods internationally, it will become essential for brands to cater to visitors in a wide range of languages.
So, for now, this may be one of our tips that you could put a pin in for later, but if you’re already shipping overseas with international sales, language and translation support should already be a part of your business makeup.
N0.11: Image Optimisation
If the images incorporated within your online store are too large and increased website loading speed will be the result.
As we mentioned earlier, a slow loading speed deteriorates the level of a website’s usability, not to mention its rank in online search results. To avoid this situation, online stores should aim to make use of a theme that optimises images on behalf of the merchant.
For instance, Shopify’s CDN does a lot of the work for businesses on the platform by:
- Caching images to improve load time.
- Resizing images to make them more responsive.
- Lightly compressing and converting all images to the web-standard 72dpi.
- Serving images in the WebP format.
However, with all of these points considered, we think that retailers should take the time to ensure that they have a good understanding of how to add and edit the alt text within their Shopify theme.
This is particularly important where product photos are concerned, as online businesses should avoid underserving customers with accessibility needs.
Additionally, alt text allows search engines to understand image content further, which is why these elements should be implemented for strong and helpful user-geared SEO.
N0.12: User-Generated Content
[User-generated content](https://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/user-generated-content?ref=karmoon’] (UGC) is an essential strategy to increase brand awareness and generate buzz around an online store.
When users generate content organically, the materials that they share will often lend to your store’s SEO efforts. There are several options for merchants to gather user-generated content and such methods include utilising; user comments, images and customer reviews.
A theme’s support may not be a direct link to your store’s SEO, but support does have the ability to; offer assistance with customisation, fix errors and issues within the theme and listen to recommendations for future features.
So, if a support team is slow and unresponsive, will they be available if there’s a bug to fix? We guess that the answer here would be a no and in our opinion, we believe that great web developers should offer high-end support and excellent customer service to respond to all questions and concerns within a timely manner.
Additional SEO Shopify Tips
If you’re new to Shopify and want to optimise your store outside of the theme that you have chosen, many applications can put certain optimisations on autopilot to improve a store’s [SEO](https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/promoting-marketing/seo Shopify tips?ref=karmoon).
As you’d expect there’s an extensive list of optimisations that certain applications put on autopilot, but here’s a short breakdown of the key attributes:
- Title and meta description optimisation.
- Running weekly health reports (site-wide).
- Broken link inspection.
- File size reduction.
- Schema markup management.
Optimising product titles and descriptions for product search by incorporating researched target keywords.
Using timely lightboxes or pop-ups to improve sales.
SEO management applications are downloadable from the Shopify App Store so, why not do a little digging to check out the apps available to start improving your store’s search engine optimisation?
Shopify makes the task of selling products online as easy as possible and while a lot of the hard work has already been done for you, selecting a theme for your Shopify store is one of the tasks that you’ll need to complete on your own.
Only you’ll know what the best route is to take but we’re here to help you make informed choices that will enable you to reach your objectives.
So, that concludes today’s guide on how to choose a theme with the best SEO for Shopify stores on the platform. We hope that you have found our article useful.
Just remember that a theme is one tiny aspect of a successful SEO strategy, but it is an easy way to begin your brand's journey with a focused approach towards search engine optimisation.
If you’re actively looking to work with a Shopify agency designer or developer to assist you with your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to get started!