83 Simple On-Page SEO Best Practices Shopify Merchants Should Follow In 2023 [Part II]
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 of this guide, we had a look at the first 25 Shopify on-page SEO best practices.
Today, we'll discuss the rest 58 best practices on the list.
Let's dive right in!
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
In Part I of the guide, we discussed the best practices that fall into the first 4 categories on this list.
Today, we'll address the best practices that fall into the other 7 categories: HTML, image SEO, structured data, technical SEO, page speed, mobile usability, and advanced Shopify on-page SEO best practices.
HTML best practices
Best practice #26: Optimize your meta title tags.
Meta title tags are HTML elements that give Google (and other search engines) important information about your website. As such, they have a direct impact on your ranking.
They’re also important for usability. In fact, Google describes them as “critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query.” As such, they have a huge impact on your CTR.
Here are a few best practices to follow when creating your meta tags:
- Write unique title tags. Duplicate title tags can cause duplicate content issues which can negatively impact your ranking.
- Write descriptive title tags. Remember that your title tags should provide Google with enough information on what the page is about).
- Ensure your title tags are compelling - they should be enticing, so that customers click on them.
- Make sure they are keyword-rich and optimized for the right type of search intent. As always, avoid keyword stuffing.
- Write concise title tags. Shopify’s restriction is 70 characters. However, according to Moz, Google usually displays only the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. It will display the full title tag if it is under 60 characters. So, the best practice is to keep your title tags below 60 characters.
- If you don't have the expertise or the resources to optimize your meta title tags in-house, consider using a Shopify SEO app, like ReRank, that optimizes them on autopilot.
Best practice #27: Optimize your meta description tags.
Meta descriptions are HTML elements that provide an accurate summary of the page they are applied to. They aren’t a direct ranking signal. However, compelling meta descriptions can increase your CTR which is a legit ranking signal.
So, the best practice is to write SEO-friendly meta descriptions. Here’s what this means:
- Your meta descriptions should be unique and informative. They shouldn’t repeat the information in the title tag, but rather complement and enrich it.
- They should be keyword-rich and optimized for search intent. It is a good practice to include LSI keywords as well - because Google is becoming much better at understanding context and pays extra attention to semantics.
- They should be compelling - there should be a clear incentive and an action-oriented copy, encouraging customers to visit your page. Google describes meta descriptions as “a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
- Your meta descriptions should be concise. Shopify’s restriction is 320 characters. However, according to Moz, Google displays only the first 155-160 characters of meta descriptions. So, the best practice is to keep your meta descriptions under 160 characters.
- If you don't have the expertise or the resources to optimize your meta description tags in-house, consider using a Shopify SEO app, like ReRank, that optimizes them on autopilot.
Best practice #28: Optimize your image alt tags.
Alt tags provide a text alternative to images. They are important because they are the only source of information about the image Google can understand.
Alt tags are also essential to web accessibility. For one thing, they are read by screen readers, making your store more accessible to visually impaired customers. For another, they can be displayed on the page when an image doesn’t load properly, or appear when a customer hovers over the image, providing a more informed shopping experience.
There are several best practices you should follow in terms of alt tags:
- All images in your store should have unique and descriptive alt tags that accurately describe the image. There is one exception to the rule, though - you must not write alt tags for decorative images, such as background images and buttons, because Google can penalize you for over-optimizing your Shopify store.
- You should write engaging and concise alt tags. Google’s advice when choosing alt text is to “focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content on the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”
- If you don't have the expertise or the resources to optimize your image alt tags in-house, consider using a Shopify SEO app, like ReRank, that optimizes them on autopilot.
Image SEO best practices
Best practice #29: Optimize your image file names.
You should write concise, yet, descriptive image file names.
The best practice is to avoid default image file names that are vague and provide no SEO value. Instead, include relevant keywords. To go the extra mile, head over to Amazon and define specific search patterns. It’s a good practice to divide the separate words in your image file names with dashes (“-”), instead of underscores (”_”).
But the most important thing you should remember about image file name optimization, is that you should optimize your image file names before you upload them to Shopify (you can’t edit the name of an image after you upload it to your store).
Best practice #30: Choose the right image file format.
It’s important to choose an image file format that doesn’t hurt your site speed, i.e., that doesn’t slow down your pages.
The two most common image formats are JPEG and PNG - both use different compression techniques, meaning that image size can vary between the two formats. In general, JPEGs are much smaller, but their quality is poorer as well.
So, the best practice is to use primarily PNG images, as long as they aren’t too heavy and don’t slow down your website.
You can also consider using WebP - a format that provides superior compression for images on the web. According to Google, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs, and WebP lossy images are 25–34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index.
Best practice #31: Compress your images without compromising their quality.
Shopify automatically compresses your images. However, you can also use Shopify’s free online image resizer, the “Save for Web” command in Photoshop, or Canva to initially reduce the size of your images.
Best practice #32: Implement lazy loading.
This means that non-critical resources (including images and videos) won’t load at page load time, but only when the user needs them.
Google explains that “when we lazy load images and video, we reduce initial page load time, initial page weight, and system resource usage, all of which have positive impacts on performance.”
Structured data best practices
Best practice #33: Understand what structured data is and why you need it.
Adding structured data markup to your Shopify store will help Google understand your store better. It will also increase your chances of getting rich results (aka rich snippets), which will positively impact your CTR and help you deliver a more engaging browsing and shopping experience.
There are 3 structured data formats: JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata. Google recommends implementing JSON-LD structured data.
There are 2 structured data schemas (or vocabularies): data-vocabulary.org and schema.org. Considering that data-vocabulary.org is outdated, it’s an absolute must to use schema.org.
So, the best practice is to use JSON-LD and schema.org.
Structured data markup consists of data types and properties arranged in hierarchical order.
You should add structured data to your homepage, collection pages, product pages, blog page, and article pages.
Below, I’ll describe the recommended data types and properties for each page. But before you scroll down, please, make sure to bookmark Google’s Structured Data Guidelines - if you decide to implement structured data, you’ll absolutely need it!
Best practice #34: Add structured data markup to your homepage.
Your homepage should contain the following structured data data types and properties.
- Properties: url, target, query-input
- Required properties: name, url, description, logo, image, sameAs, address
- Recommended properties: priceRange, telephone, geo (latitude, longitude)
Best practice #35: Add structured data markup to your collection pages.
Your collection pages should contain the following structured data data types and properties.
- Collection Page
- Properties: name, url, description, image
- Properties: position, url
- Properties: position, item, id, name
Best practice #36: Add structured data markup to your product pages.
Your product pages should contain the following structured data data types and properties:
- Required properties: name, image, offers
- Recommended properties: productID, aggregateRating, brand, description, review, sku, gtin8 / gtin13 / gtin14 / mpn / isbn
- Required properties: availability, price, priceCurrency
- Recommended properties: itemOffered, priceValudUntil, url, itemCondition, sku
- Properties: position, item, id, name
Best practice #37: Add structured data markup to your blog page.
Your blog page should contain the following structured data data types and properties.
- Properties: abount, name, url, keywords
- Blog posting
- Properties: headline, mainEntityOfPage, imageObject, url, datePublished, dateModified, dateCreated, description, author, publisher, logo (publisher), url (publisher), name (publisher)
Best practice #38: Add structured data markup to your article pages.
Your article pages should contain the following structured data data types and properties.
- Properties: about, headline, mainEntityOfPage, image, url, dateModified, dateCreated, description, articleBody, author, publisher logo (publisher), name (publisher)
Best practice #39: Find the best way to add structured data to your Shopify store.
If you’re tech-savvy, you can implement the code yourself.
But if you aren’t, it’s best to find a Shopify app that can add JSON-LD structured data to your store, such as ReRank.
Best practice #40: Test your structured data markup.
Technical SEO best practices
Best practice #41: Set up 301 redirects.
301 redirects (aka permanent redirects) send Google a clear message: “Hey, the page you’re looking for is no longer here. It has been permanently moved. You can find it here: <new link>”
301 redirects are the perfect solution when your domain has been permanently moved, or when specific web pages (such as product pages) are removed (e.g., because the product goes out of stock) or become inactive (for example, when you remove a product that used to be on sale)
Adding a 301 redirect is the best way to ensure both Google and your customers don’t end up on your 404 page, but are instead redirected to another page on your website where they can continue shopping. This will increase your customers’ time on site and will positively impact your sales, meaning 301 redirects are an absolute must!
To create 301 redirects in Shopify, open your Shopify admin panel > Online Store > Navigation > View URL Redirects > Create URL Redirect > Paste the old URL in the “Redirect from” field > Paste the new URL in the “Redirect to” URL > Click “Save redirect.”
Best practice #42: Fix broken links.
Broken links are hyperlinks that lead to pages that no longer exist. When a customer tries to access such a page, the web browser returns an error message. For example, 404 Page Not Found, 400 Bad Request, Bad host, Bad URL, or Bad code.
Google uses broken links as a quality signal and, having too many broken links, will demean your authority and may hurt your SEO rankings.
Also, broken links take up your Crawl Budget and make it more difficult for Google to crawl your website (and index your new pages), which will result in lower exposure on the SERPs and less traffic.
In addition, they devalue your SEO efforts and can negatively impact the user experience, leading to a higher bounce rate and a decrease in sales.
This is why you should regularly monitor your Shopify store for broken links and fix them in a timely manner.
But detecting and fixing broken links on your own can be borderline impossible.
So, the easiest and most effective way to fix broken links is to use a Shopify SEO app like ReRank (which connects to Google Search Console and fixes all your broken links on autopilot).
Best practice #43: Fix duplicate content issues.
Duplicate content is one of the most common issues Shopify merchants face.
On a domain level, a Shopify store can have several versions:
- The https:// and the http:// version of the store
- The www. and the non-www version of the store
People know this is the same website, but search engines don’t. To fix domain-level duplicate content issues, go your your Shopify store’s admin panel > Online store > Domain > Select a domain from the dropdown > Select “Redirect all traffic to this domain.”
There are also page-level duplicate content issues. For example, product pages in Shopify can be reached through multiple URLs (collection URLs, filtering options, etc.):
Again, people know all these URLs lead to the same product page, but search engines don’t - to them, these are multiple product pages displaying the same content.
Of course, this causes duplicate content issues.
To deal with them, you should implement canonical tags - HTML elements that tell Google which page is the original (aka the primary or the preferred) version of a page, and which pages are its variations. This way Google knows which page to index.
Canonical URLs are built-in in Shopify, meaning that Shopify takes care of canonicalization without any involvement on your end.
But there is a third kind of duplicate content issues you must consider - duplicate meta tags, duplicate product descriptions, and more. And there is no easy fix here. To deal with such issues, you should have a robust Shopify SEO app, like ReRank.
Best practice #44: Create a low-depth page hierarchy.
This means that all important pages in your Shopify store should be maximum 3 clicks away from your homepage. For example:
- Homepage > Category pages > Filters > Product pages
- Homepage > Blog page > Tags > Article pages.
In this way, your homepage can pass link equity to the pages that have a direct impact on your bottom line. The closer a page is to your homepage, the higher its authority will be. This means that creating a low-depth page hierarchy will positively impact your page authority, your domain authority, and, subsequently, your Shopify store Google ranking.
Also, this kind of page hierarchy will optimize your Crawl Budget and help Google crawl and index your new pages much faster. This will maximize your exposure in the SERPs, resulting in more sales opportunities and a revenue increase.
Best practice #45: Create a logical URL structure that follows your page hierarchy. Your URL structure should be as simple as possible.
Optimizing your URL structure is important because URLs have a huge impact on your CTR and your customers’ Time on Site.
Here are several URL best practices to follow:
- Create short and keyword-rich URLs.
- Delete filler words, such as “a,” “and,” “the,” et cetera.
- Create readable and comprehensive URLs. Avoid ID numbers that add no SEO value.
- Use hyphens (”-”), not underscores (”_”) to divide the separate words in your URLs. Bookmark this Character Encoding Chart by Perishable Press to access the full list of “safe” characters you can include in your URLs any time you need it.
Learn more about creating a simple and comprehensive URL structure in Google’s guide on URL structure.
Best practice #46: Create a logical navigation structure.
In terms of primary navigation, the best practice is to create intuitive menus: header meus, footer menus, sidebar menus, drop-down menus, et cetera. You should also have a mobile-friendly menu alternative, such as hamburger menus. This is essential to providing a seamless and informed shopping experience. It is also a crucial part of optimizing your Shopify store for navigational search intent.
In terms of secondary navigation, you should implement breadcrumbs - breadcrumb trails do a great job at helping users navigate your store and easily go back to pages they have previously visited. They also help search understand the entire architecture of your website and define the crawling priority of your pages.
Learn more about creating an intuitive navigation structure in the Shopify Help Center: Understanding navigation
Best practice #47: Create a Google Search Console account and verify your ownership.
Best practice #48: Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to help Google crawl and index your new pages faster.
Your sitemap is located at the root directory of your Shopify store: https://yourshopifystore.com/sitemap.xml
To submit your sitemap to Google Search Console, sign in to your Google Search Console account > Click on your store’s URL > Click “Add/Test sitemap.”
Best practice #49: Submit your sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools to help Bing crawl and index your new pages faster.
Page speed best practices
Page speed is the time it takes a page to properly load. Google recommends that your store’s page speed is under 2 seconds.
The good news is that Shopify is fast out of the box and sports some amazing built-in performance features.
For example, it provides world-class dual CDNs (powered by Fastly) and hosts your website on fast and reliable servers. Scalability and unlimited bandwidth are also a part of the deal. It also automatically sets local browser caching for all cacheable resources.
Still, there are several best practices you can follow to ensure you meet Google’s page speed recommendation:
- Best practice #50: Use the Shopify Online store speed report to gain a better idea of where your site stands in terms of performance and identify opportunities for improvement
- Best practice #51: You can also use troubleshooting tools like the Shopify Theme Inspector for Chrome, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Pingdom.
- Best practice #52: Reduce server response time.
- Best practice #53: Choose a lightweight and responsive Shopify theme.
- Best practice #54: Choose a system font.
- Best practice #55: Uninstall the apps you don’t use.
- Best practice #56: Assess the apps you use and decide if they add enough value to your store.
- Best practice #57: Simplify your design.
- Best practice #58: Remove intrusive popups.
- Best practice #59: Optimize your collections and filtering options.
- Best practice #60: Minimize redirects and broken links.
- Best practice #61: Optimize your visual assets.
- Best practice #62: Avoid excessive DOM size.
- Best practice #63: Unblock the browser from parser-blocking scripts.
- Best practice #64: Remove unnecessary HTTP requests.
- Best practice #66: Ensure your website has a fast mobile version. Consider WebStories - this will improve your discoverability.
Mobile usability best practices
Due to Google’s mobile-first indexing and the fact that m-commerce is becoming more popular by the hour, having a mobile-friendly website is a must.
Of course, the first step is to ensure your Shopify store is responsive.
But, since today consumers expect a shopping experience that is uniquely tailored to mobile, the best practice is to implement mobile-first design principles, such as:
- Best practice #67: Choose a mobile-friendly Shopify theme. Luckily, they all are!
- Best practice #68: Minimize the use of text and let your visual assets do the talking. Mobile devices have a limited screen space - too much text will make your website less accessible. Also, people usually use their mobile devices on the go, meaning they don’t have too much time to read. So, putting product photos and videos in the spotlight is the perfect opportunity to showcase their value in a way that engages with your customers (wherever they are) and encourages conversions.
- Best practice #69: Optimize your navigation for mobile screens. For example, implement collapsible dropdown menus, hamburger menus, toggle lists, etc.
- Best practice #70: Keep important elements (such as CTAs, buttons, etc.) above the fold.
- Best practice #71: Implement a sticky “Add to cart” button.
- Best practice #72: Think vertically and arrange your products in columns. The best practice is to keep the number of columns under two.
- Best practice #73: Optimize your store for the “Thumb zone.”
- Best practice #74: Optimize your forms for mobile and simplify mobile form interactions
- Best practice #75: Simplify your checkout and optimize your checkout page for mobile.
- Best practice #76: Optimize your CTA buttons for mobile - they should be large enough to be tapped with a thumb. Also, there should be a clear contrast between them and the background; still, it’s important that they match the overall feel of your website and brand identity.
- Best practice #77: Improve your Shopify store’s site speed on mobile. Consider WebStories as this will improve your discoverability.
- Best practice #78: Test if your Shopify store is mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
- Best practice #79: Check your store for mobile usability issues with Google Search Console’s Mobile Usability Report.
Advanced on-page SEO best practices
Best practice #80: Keep your store assets secure.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates encrypt your Shopify store’s content (including your customers’ data) and add an extra layer of security to your website.
Shopify creates your SSL certificate automatically when you create your custom domain. It is activated by default for your store’s checkout and for all assets, hosted on your .myshopify.com domain.
The best practice to make sure your assets stay secure is to host them on Shopify. And if you host them outside of Shopify, they must be delivered over HTTPs.
Best practice #81: Regularly audit your website.
In this way, if an SEO issue occurs, you can fix it in a timely manner and ensure your SEO score remains high at all times.
Also, keep in mind that if you install an SEO app that regularly audits your store and completes SEO fixes on autopilot, you won’t have to worry about going through the SEO audit process yourself! ReRank is one such app.
Best practice #82: Learn from the data you’ve gathered and iterate.
Learn from the data that comes up in your site audits. Create extensive lists of errors and wins. Understand what works and double down on it. Find out what doesn’t and adjust your approach.
But also, make sure to always improve your skills and gain as much extra SEO knowledge as possible - keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry is the best way to ensure your approach is always aligned with current trends and best practices. And this is where your list of invaluable SEO resources comes in handy!
Best practice #83: Reach out to an SEO Expert if you need any help.
Even if you have a certain level of SEO expertise and have installed a robust SEO app like ReRank, you may need further SEO assistance.
In this case, remember that it’s best to contact a Shopify Partner who can help you with your SEO strategy, instead of trying to figure it all out on your own!
Sure, on-page SEO is an extensive and complex topic that requires a ton of work and copious amounts of SEO expertise.
I hope this extensive list of 83 Shopify on-page SEO best practices will make your SEO journey more exciting.
I also hope it will give you the right SEO tools and help you make more informed decisions about your business and strategy.
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Of course, I encourage you to share your questions, thoughts, and experience in the comments below - remember that sharing is caring!
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