Common Shopify SEO Issues – And How To Solve Them
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Many business owners opt for Shopify when choosing an ecommerce platform for their business due to its intuitive design and cost-effectiveness. Plans start from just £19 per month with options to upgrade as your business grows, resulting in advanced reports, more support and lower fees to name a few. A Shopify website can be live with a basic theme and products very quickly after initial sign-up.
A well-optimised website is essential when it comes to running an ecommerce website built not just on Shopify, but other platforms as well such as WordPress and Magento. With Shopify in particular, however, there are some challenges that must be overcome when trying to optimise your website from an SEO perspective.
In this article, we’ll cover the most common issues that business owners face when optimising their website for SEO. We’ll also go into detail about how to solve these common issues.
Forced URL Structure
Duplicate content is a common issue that many websites face regardless of their platform and it can have an impact on a site’s rankings. For Shopify, this needs careful consideration, especially when it comes to products that appear in multiple collections.
Shopify creates a product URL for each collection that it sits under, as well as a root product URL. For example, a Nike golf shoe product may appear in 3 different collections, those being a Nike golf collection, a Nike golf shoes sub collection, as well as a generic footwear collection. They could look a little something like this:
Ultimately, Google and other crawlers will treat these as four separate pages on your ecommerce website and as such, will likely be classified as duplicate content.
Thankfully, a canonical tag pointing to the root product version on each of the collection versions should solve this. You’re essentially informing Google and other search engines that this will be the master version of this Nike golf shoe product. This should be standard practice for any ecommerce website as a way to help tackle the duplicate content issue that comes with Shopify.
Once the canonical tags have been set, this can be taken a step further when it comes to internal links to individual products from product listing pages. Each link to a certain product on collection pages will point to the version of the URL which includes the respective collection. For example, if you’re navigating to the Nike golf shoe from the footwear page, the internal link will include “/collections/footwear/”. As a result of the canonical tag being put in place, this link is now effectively a non-indexable, canonicalised page.
As part of a wider internal linking strategy for Shopify, you can consider updating all of the internal links on collection pages to point to the root product URL.
In doing this, it can have an impact on breadcrumb structure, and would revert to an “All Products > Nike Golf Shoe Product” structure. This can be alleviated through the use of appropriate horizontal and vertical internal linking between collections, sub-collections, products and blog posts as a means to help enforce a website hierarchy outside of relying solely on breadcrumbs.
Each website is different and as a result will have varying needs. This type of internal linking structure may not suit all websites. Consult with Shopify SEO Experts before making any larger changes to make sure the right actions are being taken.
Out of the box, Shopify has a very convenient way of creating sub-collections through the use of product tags. These are dynamically created sub-collections which pull through any products from their parent collection based on their product tag.
For example, you could have a “Women’s Necklaces” collection which has dozens of products, varying from silver and gold necklaces to initial and personalised necklaces. When setting up products (and retrospectively), you can assign certain tags to products for later use. You may have a necklace that could be classified as “silver” and “initial”, and Shopify allows you to assign more than one tag to a product.
One fundamental problem with these auto-generated sub-collections is the lack of control of on-page content and meta content. As these are auto-generated through the use of product tags, there is no physical collection in the Shopify admin panel. As a result, there is nowhere to house and control the on-page and meta content. This means that you cannot fully optimise them for their target keywords and search terms.
In fact, these dynamic pages actually inherit H1’s and collection descriptions, as well as title tags and meta descriptions from their parent collection. This can quickly spiral out of control and cause duplicate content issues in addition to those mentioned earlier in this post.
The main solution, for now, is to create collections for the pages that you want to rank for certain keywords, directly in the Shopify admin panel. This will take more time but is more than worth the effort as ultimately it will give you complete control over your title tags, meta descriptions and heading tags, as well as collection descriptions.
The process can be sped up slightly if you’ve already assigned your products the relevant tags, as you have a choice to set up manual or dynamic collections. Manual essentially means that you have to add each product to their respective collection(s), which can easily build up to a large amount of admin work. Dynamic collections take the worry out of this, giving each collection an instruction to pull any products which have a certain tag assigned to them.
Unless you’re working with a very small selection of products, it is almost always recommended to use dynamic collections.
Forced URL Structure
Another common issue with Shopify is a forced URL structure for certain page types. For example, category pages will always be www.example.com/collections and currently there is no way to change this. If you’re a business owner looking to set up an ecommerce site, and you’re very particular about how you want your URL structure to be, then Shopify is going to create some roadblocks for you.
Each page type has a predefined URL structure, which at the time of writing can’t be changed:
www.example.com/collections/t-shirts – Category page
www.example.com/products/nike-black-t-shirt – Product page
www.example.com/blog/blog-post – Blog post page
www.example.com/pages/about-us – landing page
Shopify Category pages
Whilst forced URL structures for product pages, blog pages and landing pages aren’t ideal, they are definitely not the be-all and end-all. The main issue most Shopify website owners face relates to collection pages.
Shopify’s collection structure is very flat and as a result, every collection essentially sits on the same level within the website hierarchy. The lack of being able to create customisable sub-collections means that you need to create a brand new collection which could and in most cases, should have been a sub-collection.
As a result, a “t-shirts” collection sits on the same level as a “blue t-shirts” collection; ideally “blue t-shirts” should be a sub-collection which branches off from the main “t-shirts” collection.
As it stands there isn’t an outright solution to a forced URL structure and it is something that Shopify website owners will need to adapt to if Shopify becomes their platform of choice. As mentioned earlier, they will need to reinforce website structure with appropriate horizontal and vertical internal linking.
This will provide crawlers such as GoogleBot and BingBot as much information as possible on the hierarchy of their Shopify website, particularly when it comes to collections and perceived sub-collections.
Also make sure you have a mega menu incorporated on your website, particularly if there are lots of collections and sub-collections as this will not only help web crawlers to navigate the website easier, but will also benefit the user in finding what they are looking for as easily as possible once landing on your website.
By default, Shopify offers a basic myshopify.com domain for your website when you sign up in the form of www.domain.myshopify.com. This is perfect for a temporary solution whilst getting your website up and running. However, such a URL structure can give off an amateur impression and can make your website appear less trustworthy than other websites.
It is always recommended to have your own domain name when setting up a professional ecommerce website. It gives off a better, more trustworthy impression to potential customers when browsing your website or when your website appears in the SERPs.
You can add your own, custom domain to your Shopify store through the admin panel. Make sure that once you have connected the two, to set your custom domain as the primary domain for the store.
Once this change has been made, it is always a good idea to run an audit of your website. This will highlight any areas where internal links may have not been updated and will provide you with the information to action these changes. It will also highlight any potential duplicate content in the form of the same page appearing under two different indexable URLs.
Shopify offers some fantastic benefits to business owners who may be looking to open an online store. You can have an online store set up within minutes of registering and from there you can customise the layout of your store to suit your brand tones. Setting up products and collections is very easy and you have direct control over stock and price for individual products.
There are however many technical challenges that must be overcome when optimising your Shopify website when it comes to SEO. This article should provide a good starting point for identifying what those challenges are and how to overcome them.
It is important to remember that each website is different and as such will have differing needs. Feel free to get in touch with us at Clicky if you need help optimising your Shopify website for SEO performance.