Opening an eCommerce store has never been easier. With so many platforms out there, everyone can set up and create an eCommerce shop. And Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms that is very easy to use. It’s no wonder you’re also thinking about creating your eCommerce store on Shopify (or maybe you already have one).
Of course, Shopify is a great platform, but like every other platform, it has its downsides. And one of the main downsides of Shopify that is often mentioned is SEO. There are so many complaints about Shopify SEO, that many people refuse to use it without even understanding the core problems. To clear your doubts, we’ve created this article to understand why Shopify isn’t the best for SEO and whether it’s worth creating your eCommerce store on Shopify from an SEO perspective.
What is Shopify?
As we talked about above, Shopify is a cloud-based platform for online retailers and merchants where they can create online stores, sell, ship and manage their products. With Shopify, you can sell in multiple places including web, mobile, in-person, brick-and-mortar locations, social media and online marketplaces.
Although Shopify has evolved quite a bit to encompass a lot of different services related to eCommerce and commerce in general, the fundamental idea with Shopify is that you pay a monthly fee to be able to use the Shopify e-commerce software under your own domain name as a result having what appears to be a completely unique e-commerce store with your products. This monthly charge also covers the hosting of your site and all its data, as well as ongoing software maintenance. In addition to this with Shopify, you get:
- its own payment platform with transaction management tools (which you have to use),
- tools that help you integrate your marketing activities, analyse their performance and that of your store and create a highly customized experience for your customers,
- customer relationship management, inventory management, shipping, order tracking and tax management tools.
And all of this is accessible to you from any device, from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.
As an eCommerce platform, Shopify is great and simple to use even for beginners. But you should not forget that besides the creation of your store, you need to take care of your marketing and SEO. Especially, when you’re a small business and don’t have a big budget to spend on marketing.
In any case, you still need to make sure people can easily find your store and buy products. That’s why many business owners seek professional SEO services for Shopify to have a successful and fully-optimised online store.
In terms of SEO, Shopify has some downsides that you need to know before your start your Shopify business.
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7 Reasons why Shopify Isn't Best for SEO
One disadvantage of Shopify is that it doesn’t allow your to make changes to the sitemap. It generates the sitemap automatically. Though, for many sellers, it might not be a big issue. Moreover, Shopify claims that they optimize the sitemap in the best way for search engines.
But, if you want to modify the file, or add or delete something, you won’t be able to do it. This becomes more important when your site grows and you’d want to make it more complex.
Another challenge with Shopify SEO is its forced URL structure. For many Shopify merchants, it’s not a big issue, and some don’t even care about this. But if you want your website to be 100% optimized, then this will be an issue for you.
The thing is, all your category pages will have “/collections/” in their paths, and product pages will have “/products/” in the path. And you can’t change that. This is not a big issue if you don’t plan to migrate from Shopify. It won’t harm your website. But if you ever decide to change the platform, you’ll have to redirect every single page of your website. The reason is the URL structure will be different on other platforms.
As we mentioned above, in Shopify the “/collections/” in the URL, is added by default. So, when you have a product and add it to several collections, you will get several different URLs for the same product. They will look like this:
All these URLs will show the same product page and have duplicate content. Though, they will canonicalise back to the main product page. And the internal linking will be based on canonical URLs. This will be confusing to Google, as canonical tags should tell Google what is the main page, yet they don’t link to it.
This issue can be fixed, but you’ll need the developer’s help to do so, and not all eCommerce store owners can afford that.
Shopify offers many apps that you can install and make your site more functional and powerful. But too many apps can also affect the speed of your website, which is pretty bad for ranking and user experience.
So, be careful when installing different apps for your Shopify store. Choose only the strictly necessary ones not to harm your website speed.
Not Flexible for Blogging
Not all eCommerce stores have blogs, but a blog is actually a great way to enhance your website’s SEO, show your expertise and drive more traffic. And if you’re considering adding a blog section to your website, you should know that Shopify’s blog interface is not so flexible. It’s pretty basic, you can’t add comment sections or other fields.
Overall, Shopify is not that flexible in terms of adding custom fields or new features. Shopify simply doesn’t allow all that. And if you want to add custom features to your eCommerce website, you’ll need to invest in the creation of custom themes.
Structured data is important for SEO. An example of structured data is rich snippets, which you see when you search for something and Google brings you reviews, stars, and addresses in a search result.
Shopify has a feature that allows you to add structured data. But unfortunately for Shopify users, its structured data tool is very simplistic and you’ll need additional efforts to make it work as required.
For example, you can install an app to fix it, or insert structured data directly into the theme of your site. In any case, you might need a specialist’s help.
If you want to expand your business and sell a wider range of products, you need to make categories and subcategories for them, so that users can easily find the product they need.
But creating subcategories or subcollections as Shopify calls them, won’t be easy for you. It is possible but you’ll need to mess around with the code, which is not beginner-friendly or you’ll need to hire a developer to do it for you.
So, is it Worth Choosing Shopify?
As you see, Shopify has some SEO flaws that might affect your site’s performance. But these flaws are not as big as many might think, and they would generally affect big business owners or those who are expanding. So, if you’re a small business that’s just planning to launch, I shouldn’t discourage you from choosing Shopify as your platform. It’s very simple to use, and they also provide you with tutorials about SEO so that you can start on the right foot.
No platform is perfect, every one of them has its pros and cons. So, I’d suggest examining other platforms and their features and then deciding which suits you the best.
Common SEO Mistakes
In case you’re already using Shopify and you’re not content with your SEO results, remember that it’s not only Shopify’s fault. Don’t blame the platform for the mistakes you make. Let’s see what are some of the most common mistakes Shopify business owners make.
If you have a blog where you create unique content that’s great. But what about your product descriptions? Duplicate content does not only refer to copying others’ blog posts. It’s the copying of any kind of text you have on your website.
Don’t ever copy-paste anything, especially product descriptions. Search engines don’t like duplicate content, and you may end up having very poor rankings. Spend some more time to write unique and engaging content, or hire a specialist to do that.
Another thing that you might overlook is broken links. Broken links are invalid URLs that have been deleted or changed, and when users click on them, they will link to nowhere. Search engines check if you have broken links, and if you have too many of them, you can’t expect to be ranked highly.
Whenever you make a change or delete something, make sure to set appropriate redirects to other pages. Also, when you check your SEO performance, make sure to check if you have any broken links or not.
Do you know how Google verifies a website as authoritative and determines where to rank it or its pages? There are many factors that play a role in rankings, but it is widely believed that backlinks are the most important factor, accounting for at least ⅓ of the weight.
And you may have noticed that all of the main SEO shortcomings we mentioned were related to on-site optimisation and not backlinks. So, if you do not have a good link-building strategy in place this will be a much greater obstacle to good rankings than probably all of the issues listed in this article combined.
Bad Mobile Experience
Did you check the mobile version of your website? Does it work properly? If not, you better fix it now, because it’s 2022 and people are shopping on mobile phones even more than on desktops.
The best way to ensure the mobile version works properly is to create a responsive web design. This way you won’t have to create many versions of your website, it will automatically adjust to different screen sizes. Professional website design services can help you solve this issue and have a design that is appealing to both search engines and your customers.
SEO is a bit of a complex topic and one article is not enough to understand it and find the best strategy for your website, especially when it refers to e-commerce and Shopify SEO. It’s true, that Shopify has some flaws in terms of SEO and it can hinder you from achieving your desired results. But, as we concluded above, it all depends on your business and website.
These downsides are for those who are much further along in the SEO journey, with the website already ranking well for many keywords. But if you want to just make a start then Shopify isn’t a bad choice. And before that, try to examine other CMS platforms like WordPress (with WooCommerce) as well to better understand what your business needs.
But if these issues are disturbing you and you want to implement more advanced SEO features with Shopify, then I’d suggest seeking professional SEO services for Shopify, as implementing a successful e-commerce SEO strategy can be challenging.
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Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms for online retailers and merchants where they create online stores, sell, ship and manage their products.
Both of these eCommerce platforms have their pros and cons. But overall, when comparing them, Shopify is easier to use and has more automated features, making it ideal for beginners. WordPress takes more time to get used to it, but it offers more functionality and flexibility compared to Shopify.
It’s hard to rank one or another platform as the best one, but it’s clear that Shopify is among the best ones. It’s very beginner friendly and is suitable for both small and large businesses. Shopify offers a lot of integrated functions and features, which makes it very suitable even for very large businesses.