83 Simple On-Page SEO Best Practices Shopify Merchants Should Follow In 2023 [Part I]
You might already know there are a myriad of on-page SEO best practices.
But what exactly are they?
And what can you do, besides installing a robust Shopify SEO app, to ensure your SEO success?
This is the most extensive list of Shopify on-page SEO best practices.
Some are extremely simple to follow.
Others come with more technical requirements (and you may need the help of a reliable Shopify Partner).
Either way, I’m going to walk you through all 83 of them in Part I and Part II of this guide.
Please note that today, I'll only cover the first 25 best practices, and next Thursday (November 17), I'll publish Part II, where I'll have a closer look at the other 58 best practices.
This way, please! ⬇️
83 snackable Shopify on-page SEO best practices to follow in 2023
For better readability and your convenience, I’ve divided the on-page SEO best practices into 11 categories:
- Getting started with Shopify on-page SEO
- The basics of Shopify on-page SEO
- SEO content best practices
- SEO writing best practices
- HTML best practices
- Image SEO best practices
- Structured data best practices
- Technical SEO best practices
- Page speed best practices
- Mobile usability best practices
- Advanced Shopify on-page SEO best practices
Today, I'll explore the first 4 categories, and next week I'll move on to the other 7.
Getting started with Shopify on-page SEO
Best practice #1: Make a list of SEO benefits.
You may thing this is unnecessary.
But here’s the thing: On-page SEO may become a bit overwhelming - the terminology alone is complex and there are a myriad of technical requirements involved in the process.
So, it’s easy to get tired or start wondering if it’s worth it.
That’s when your “SEO benefits” list comes in handy.
Reminding yourself of all the ways in which SEO can benefit you, is the best way to stay focused on what matters and keep moving forward in the right direction.
So, keep your “Benefits” list somewhere close and refer to it every time you need an extra motivation kick.
Of course, every time you come up with a reason why SEO is worth it or how it benefits your store, write it down - keeping your “SEO benefits” list up to date is the best way to make sure you achieve steady SEO growth.
Pro tip: After you create a list of SEO benefits, create a list of SEO goals. Enrich it with achievable and measurable KPIs and OKRs.
Best practice #2: SEO offers endless possibilities and supports continuous business growth. But keep your expectations in check - SEO takes time!
Remember that SEO will have an impact in the long-term, not the short-term.
So, you need to be patient. But, more importantly, you need to be consistent and put in continuous efforts. If you manage to do this and stick with SEO long enough, you’ll notice that:
- SEO is one of the best (and most cost-efficient!) customer acquisition channels.
- SEO will generate a ton of targeted traffic to your Shopify store. And we all know that more qualified leads = more sales.
- Your MRR and annual revenue will increase and you will achieve a steady and consistent business growth.
Best practice #3: Make a list of everything Google looks for in terms of SEO.
Think of it as your success roadmap. Refer to it often - this will ensure you stay on the right track. Here’s an example:
Best practice #4: Make a list of quality SEO resources.
Keep it up to date. Refer to it often - self-improvement is a crucial element of your SEO success. Here are some SEO gems I suggest you add to your list
Best practice #5: Read Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.
Best practice #6: Read the Google Search Essentials.
Best practice #8: Subscribe to Think With Google.
Best practice #9: When in doubt, refer to Google’s Quality Standards and Quality Raters Guidelines.
The basics of Shopify on-page SEO
Best practice #10: Choose a fast and responsive Shopify theme.
Here’s a list of the best Shopify themes for your online store, ranked and reviewed by Shopify themselves.
Best practice #11: Choose a robust Shopify SEO app.
Ideally, choose an app that streamlines a huge part of the SEO optimization process and doesn’t require you to be tech-savvy or an SEO expert to see some result.
ReRank is one such app - it automatically updates your meta tags, alt tags, and fixes your broken links. Plus, you can use it to fix duplicate content issues and add JSON-LD structured data to your store.
You also have access to a comprehensive dashboard that gives you a detailed overview of your store’s SEO score, the number of SEO fixes performed by the app, and the amount ReRank has saved you in SEO costs. This way you can easily stay on top of everything!
Best practice #12: Leverage Shopify’s built-in SEO features.
Shopify sports some amazing SEO features which you must absolutely use:
- It automatically generates canonical tags and adds them to your URLs.
- If you change the URL of a page, Shopify automatically creates a permanent redirect (aka a 301 redirect) from the page’s old URL to its new URL.
- It automatically generates robots.txt and sitemap.xml files for every store.
- It automatically generates title tags that contain the name of the store they’re applied to.
- The platform is 100% secure. Also, SSL certificates are available with every plan.
- Merchants can create a blog (or more than one blog if they wish) using a comprehensive web-based management system.
Best practice #13: Setup Google Analytics and integrate it with your store.
Being metrics-driven is key to your success. Integrating your Shopify store with GA will help you track website traffic and analyze your customers’ behavior. This will give you incredible insight and help you iterate better. Plus, it is completely free.
The best practice is to add the Universal Analytics code (the latest version of GA). To add it, open your Shopify store admin panel > Online Store > Preferences > Paste your tracking ID code snippet in the Google Analytics field.
Watch the video below to learn more:
Best practice #14: Ensure you meet Google’s Quality Standards.
Pay special attention to E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) as Google may give an edge to websites with high levels of E-A-T.
Following Google’s recommendations will ensure your Shopify store has high website authority, which will positively impact your rankings. To level up your strategy, read Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. Ahrefs has a great blog post that demystifies the guidelines and gives you a detailed action plan.
SEO content best practices
Best practice #15: Create a blog.
As I mentioned, Shopify has a built-in blog feature, so, all you need to to is set up your blog page and set up proper blog categories and tags. Read Shopify’s detailed explanation on adding and editing your blog on the Shopify platform.
Best practice #16: Publish high-quality content that adds value to your target audience.
Content is one of your most powerful brand assets. Not just for SEO, but in general. So, leverage it!
By publishing meaningful content, you’ll position yourself as a thought leader in your niche, which will help you establish a trustworthy brand and nurture a loyal customer base.
Here are some guidelines to follow when creating and optimizing your Shopify store’s content:
- Write compelling page titles.
- Write intuitive and straightforward category names.
- Write detail-rich product descriptions. The best practice here is to highlight the product benefits and focus on its value and how it improves your customers’ lives. Make your descriptions compelling and include action-oriented copy, enticing your customers to click the “Buy” button.
- Include helpful supplementary content on product pages (such as size charts, currency converters, policy pages links, and more). This will help you deliver a more informed (and more enjoyable) shopping experience, which will boost sales.
- Leverage UGC and other forms of social proof (such as reviews and testimonials). This will give you more credibility and facilitate your customers buying decisions. So, make sure to place such content at strategic locations across your store, especially on pages that directly impact your brand image and bottom line, such as your homepage, collections, and product pages.
- Publish interesting case studies and customer success stories. This is yet another way to convince customers that your products (or service) would be a perfect fit for them and showcase exactly how they’ll improve their lives!
- Write informative blog posts that add value to your readers. Use them to provide richer and more compelling product experiences. Create a detailed content plan and build a value ladder over time, meaning: provide more value with each next post.
- Regularly audit and update your content. Google loves fresh content! Customers do too!
Ultimately, your goal is to create a content strategy that is in line with your business goals. Of course, make sure to consider Google's requirements as well - Google looks for trustworthy, unique, and valuable content.
Best practice #17: Do keyword research.
First things first, choose a powerful keyword research tool. Some of your best options are Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, Ubersuggest, Answer the Public, Moz Keyword Explorer, Semrush Keyword Magic Tool, and Ahrefs Free Keyword Generator.
But also, it’s important to adopt a more holistic approach to keyword research. This means that you should use Amazon’s autocomplete feature and Amazon’s category and product pages to find keyword ideas and define specific search patterns.
You should also use Google’s autocomplete feature and do a scavenger hunt for hidden keyword gems on the SERPs (organic results, featured snippets, the “People also ask” box, and the related searches section).
Ultimately, remember that your goal is to find relevant short-tail keywords that are relevant to your brand and products.
Keep in mind that Google has gotten much better at understanding context, so it’s essential to include relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords and long-tail keywords in your keyword list as well.
You should also do competitor research (to see which keywords your competitors rank for) and create a negative keywords list.
Of course, once you’re done with your research and have your keyword list ready, you should refine it. And I don’t mean just once… I mean, constantly check the data and iterate.
Last but not least, don’t forget to include your target keywords at strategic places across your entire store - your homepage, collection pages, product pages, blog page, and article pages; include them in your categories and subcategories, in your filtering options, menu links, landing page titles, and more.
Learn more: Adding keywords for SEO to your Shopify store
Best practice #18: Optimize your store for different types of search intent and different stages of the sales funnel.
There are four types of search intent: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.
In general, each search intent type refers to a different stage of the sales funnel. Therefore, different pages of your store should be optimized for different types of search intent, i.e., target keywords that show different types of search intent.
For example, informational keywords refer to the top of the (sales) funnel (aka TOFU) and their primary goal is to raise brand awareness and provide information about your products and business. You should include these keywords in your blog page (or pages) and article pages.
Navigational keywords and commercial keywords refer to the middle of the (sales) funnel (aka MOFU). Their purpose is to help shoppers navigate your store and get more valuable information about your products. Category names (and other page titles in your navigation menus) are a perfect example of navigational keywords. And comparisons, such as “Coats vs Jackets” are amongst the most common examples of commercial keywords.
Keep in mind that understanding and satisfying different types of search intent is one of Google’s top priorities and all pages ranking at the top of the SERPs have passed Google’s test on search intent.
So, your goal here is to understand what each type of search intent represents, map it to the proper stage of the sales funnel, and optimize the right pages in your store for the right keywords (showing the right search intent).
Best practice #19: Create a content strategy.
Consider implementing a topical content strategy.
Choose a topic (or several topics) that is relevant to your business, brand, or products. The more specific you are, the better.
Once you have your topic, explore it from different angles and divide it into multiple subtopics. Then, publish a post for each subtopic.
When coming up with specific topics and articles, consider your target audience’s pain points and problems. Think about how they approach solving them.
Come up with meaningful solutions. Present each solution in a separate article. Provide as much value as possible - share indispensable business insight, your unique POV, talk about how your products could solve the problem and how the customers’ lives will look after using them. In other words, sell the impact and benefits of your products, not just their features.
Best practice #20: Create a content calendar.
When creating your content calendar, consider your blog content, social media content, email campaigns, video content, guides, policy pages, website updates (for example, product page updates), and more. Basically, every single content piece you plan to produce over the next month or so.
Best practice #21: Create a powerful interlinking structure.
This is one of the most powerful and valuable SEO practices. There are multiple ways to create internal links:
- Add relevant internal links to all articles you publish - share links to other articles that will provide extra value and help you build a solid value ladder; add links to relevant product pages that will help you engage your customers with exciting offers and make more sales.
- Add a “Related products” section to your product pages.
- Feature selected products on your homepage. Of course, remember to include relevant keywords in the anchor text.
Best practice #22: Use AI tools to generate unique and exciting product descriptions and informative blog posts.
Make sure that you should always (always!) review and edit the content, generated by the AI tool you choose. Google doesn't mind this type of automatically generated content at all, but they specifically stress the importance of it being reviewed by a human upon publication.
Best practice #23: Use content optimization tools for product descriptions, blog posts, email campaigns, and more!
SEO writing best practices
Best practice #24: Use headings (H1-H6) to categorize your content, improve your store’s usability, and help Google define your pages’ hierarchy.
The H1 tag defines the topic of the page. It’s important to remember that you can only have one H1 tag per page - in Shopify, this is the page title (this is a default setting). So, make sure to NOT add H1 tags anywhere else (otherwise you risk dividing the scope of the page and confusing Google what it’s about).
You can use H2-H4 to specify different sections of your pages and define their importance. The only rule of thumb is that your tags should be arranged in hierarchical order, meaning that H2 tags should be nested under the H1 tag, H3 tags should be nested under H2 tags, H4 tags should be nested under H3 tags, and so on.
It is also important to remember that all H tags should be relevant to the topic of the page (which, in general, is defined by the H1 tag). All tags should have a meaningful correlation between each other, especially the headings and their subheadings.
If possible, avoid using H5-H6 tags - the simpler your page structure is, the better.
Of course, include relevant keywords in your headings.
Best practice #25: Proper formatting is a must.
Essentially, this means that you should format your content for skimmability and readibility. Here are the best practices:
- Use plain language.
- Write short sentences.
- Include maximum 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
- Use cool content frameworks and writing rhythms, such as 1/3/1, 1/5/1, 1/2/5/2/1, and 1/3/1 + 1/3/1. Check this amazing 30 for 30 resource for more information on this!
- Add a ton of visuals - videos, images, GIFs, what have you. Visuals help people understand your content better. The only rule of thumb here is to ensure they don’t slow down your site! But more on this later!
- Use white space (aka negative space) to improve legibility, branding, and focus.
So, there you have it - the first 25 on-page SEO best practices (from our extensive list of 80+ best practices) Shopify merchants must follow.
Stay tuned for Part II of this article where we'll discuss the other 58 best practices on our list. The post comes out next Thursday, November 17, so, make a note in your calendar!
See you then!