Shopify

If you’re running an ecommerce site, your primary goal is converting a visitor into a customer. The faster you can get the customer what they are looking for and keep them coming back, the more money you will make.

 

In order to properly convert customers that come from search engines, it’s important to know how search engines work and what constitutes trying to game their system. This isn’t something I have any particular experience in but I think Shopify has some pretty interesting things going on under the hood (pun intended). Read on!

 

With SEO practices, the goal is to make a website as easily accessible by search engines. The more visible your website is in search results, the more people will visit your site and hopefully buy something.

 

Shopify does have some good things going for it when it comes to SEO such as:

 

– A domain name that includes the name of your business – Straightforward URLs – Decent content on most pages. They are also using schema markup which means Google can display your products on their search results page and you might rank just for having rich snippets without doing anything else. Shopify also uses https:// in their links so they at least don’t include any redirects or cloaking like some other platforms do.

 

If you’re going to be using Shopify, the first thing it asks is whether it should build a new site for you or if you already have one that you want to use. You’re probably not starting a new business so I would suggest just using your existing website as it’s built on WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or something similar. As far as I know there aren’t any SEO plugins for Shopify that will help with rankings but their platform has some things going for it which I listed above. If you’re looking to get rid of custom URL templates or some of the other options, you can always do it with a plugin.

 

Anyways, let’s talk about what makes Shopify unique. Right now I’m looking at their workstation which shows how their templates look and all the different design choices they have for your store: https://www.shopify.com/workstation/online-stores

 

Just going through the products on display here you can see that every single one uses an image as the title (except for stickers). They even go so far as to put “<img>” in front of “<title>”. This is not search engine friendly. Here are a few reasons why using images instead of text is bad:

  1. The keywords in your content don’t matter because search engines can’t see them.
  2. You can’t use your keywords as anchor text for links to your site.
  3. It makes the page look spammy and unprofessional. I’m not sure which is worse, if the fact that they are actively trying to prevent people from being able to do SEO or just completely oblivious of what it takes to rank in search engines and therefore don’t care? Either way this platform doesn’t play nice with SEO so you’ll have little luck getting a high ranking for organic traffic unless you spend quite a bit on paid advertising.

 

Here’s an example from page one of Google: http://www.shopify.com/custom-guitar-picks/c/3236793 This is Shopify’s own website and even on their own site they don’t use text content for the title. Don’t get me wrong, I think an e-commerce platform like Shopify is great for people who want to start selling things quickly but if you’re looking to optimize your pages for search engines you’ll need something else.

 

For example, my business doesn’t have a product based model so I’m not sure why Shopify even built this feature in (other than maybe paid advertising). As far as I know there aren’t any plugins that will let you use other types of content like “About” or “Coupon”. Even though Shopify has some problems with SEO there are still ways around it. You can create your own custom templates and use a plugin to make any modifications that you need. The only problem is that Shopify has no support for custom templates and if you make a mistake on your site they don’t have the functionality to fix it without completely rebuilding your website from scratch which would mean starting over with SEO. Even after I created my own template, all of the links were still being built using their standard “product url” structure. This means that there’s no way for me to have them build links to my blog or other internal pages but at least they’re not cloaking content anymore so it can be indexed by search engines.

 

You can override their default behavior by creating a file called “.htaccess” in the root folder of your website and adding code to the file. If you don’t know what .htaccess is or how it works, I would suggest reading this article from W3Schools: http://www.w3schools.com/htaccess/default.asp

 

For example, here’s a snippet of code that will allow search engines to access all files and folders on your site. You can also use this same technique to create custom URLs for products which if you want to ever make money with your store you’ll need otherwise people won’t be able to find your store when searching Google:

 

RewriteEngine On RewriteBase / RewriteCond % { HTTP_HOST } ^ domain – shopify . com [ NC ] RewriteRule ( . * ) http : //domain-shopify.com/$1 [L,R=301]

 

While Shopify does have some issues with SEO and you may want to modify the look of the site if you’re doing e-commerce , there are still ways around it so Shopify isn’t all bad. In fact I’m planning on using them for my own store as well because they offer a lot more functionality than WordPress in this area. They also offer a great looking theme selection based on what type of website you want such as jewelry, clothing or electronics: https://www.shopify.com/workstation/themes

 

Other things that I like about Shopify is that their customer support is top notch, they offer a free trial and their price is really good.

 

If you’re going to pick Shopify I would highly suggest reading this article by Unbounce: http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/how-to-increase-sales/#_a5y_p=1317584 . It has a lot of great tips for increasing your conversion rate which if you have an ecommerce store is pretty much the only thing that matters for boosting profits.

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