This checklist can be applied to any ecommerce store built with Shopify to increase your traffic from search engines as quickly as possible.
This checklist can be applied to any ecommerce store built with Shopify to increase your traffic from search engines as quickly as possible.
You certainly will not be able to go through this whole checklist in a single day, and that’s OK. Download the PDF version below and so you can keep track of what is done over the next few days.
Search Console is the free tool provided by Google to website owners.
It provides useful data about your website’s performance in Google’s search results. For example:
Plus, Search Console is useful to perform technical SEO tasks like:
Finally, Search Console is how you get communications from Google about:
Search Console is a must-have tool for your Shopify store.
Here’s a resource to help you set up Google Search Console:
If you haven’t installed Google Analytics yet—stop everything else you’re doing and do this instead.
With Google Analytics you’ll be able to link your SEO efforts to the sales of your ecommerce store. You can use Google Analytics to learn things like:
Plus, you can connect Google Search Console to Google Analytics and perform analysis that mixes both data sources.
Here are some resources to help you set up Google Analytics:
Keyword research is the process of understanding what people are searching for in Google and other search engines.
You can use this to discover massive opportunities, prioritize your content plan, and even make product decisions.
When you perform keyword research, you just need to understand 3 concepts: search volume, keyword difficulty, and searcher intent.
Search volume is an estimate of how many times a specific term (keyword) is searched for each month.
Search volumes allow you to compare keywords based on how popular they are.
In ecommerce, you can use this information to learn which new products to launch. For example, if you’re running a Shopify store selling backpacks, keyword research would allow you to know that approximately 60% more people are searching for travel backpacks than laptop backpacks.
Another example is about choosing the right keywords to target. If your store offers a backpack designed for traveling, performing keyword research would tell you that it’s more beneficial to optimize your product for “travel backpack” than “travel bag”.
Keyword difficulty is a calculation offered by some tools about how easy (or difficult) it is to rank for a certain term.
You can use keyword difficulty as a second filter for the keywords you select. For example, let’s say own an ecommerce store for sports apparel. If you relied exclusively on search volume to prioritize your keywords, you would choose to pursue “soccer cleats” over “football cleats”—after all, it has 65% more searches per month.
However, it’s almost 3 times more difficult to rank for “soccer cleats” than it is to rank for “football cleats”.
If you’re running a small ecommerce store, it will be easier and faster for you to get SEO traffic for “football cleats”.
Searcher intent refers to the understanding of what the user was looking for when they typed a specific keyword into Google.
This sounds obvious but it can save you from wasting a lot of time and effort. If you own an ecommerce store that sells baseball equipment and looked at the data above, it would look like a great opportunity to create a page dedicated to baseball bats made of metal, right?
However, when you look at the search for the keyword “metal bat”, all the search results are about a character from an anime series. This simple check tells you that you probably won’t be able to rank for that term, and even if you did, people looking for “metal bat” are not looking to buy baseball bats from you.
Most SEOs today rely on third-party tools instead.
Different keywords will serve different purposes for your business. This depends on which part of your sales funnel each keyword belongs to.
Top of the funnel keywords will typically higher search volumes but have less commercial intent behind them. People searching for these terms are just looking for information and are not necessarily ready to buy.
Middle of the funnel keywords have less volume than the top of the funnel keywords, but people searching for these terms are already considering their options for products, sellers, or brands.
Bottom of the funnel keywords usually have the lowest search volume but high commercial intent. People searching for these terms are ready to buy.
Your keyword strategy should look to balance keywords for each stage of the funnel. Top of the funnel keywords will attract most of your traffic, while bottom of the funnel keywords will generate the most revenue for your business.
Here’s how you might map some keywords against the sales funnel of an ecommerce site selling tea. If you didn’t do this, you might be tempted to dismiss some keywords with lower search volumes until you realize that they are more likely to convert visitors into customers.
Here are some resources to help you understand keywords and the sales funnel:
Keyword cannibalization happens when several URLs or pages on your site are competing for the same target keyword.
You should target each keyword (and related keywords) with a single URL or page.
For example, if you have a blog post that’s ranking for the keyword “best organic coffee” and attracting good traffic, you should avoid optimizing a product page for the same keyword.
Title tags are still one of the most powerful important elements of on-page SEO. The title tag is what people will see in Google’s search results page. The meta description is the snippet of text that appears in search results below the page title. Even though the meta description is no longer a ranking factor, it can indirectly help you get higher rankings by increasing your CTR. To optimize your title and meta descriptions, you should:
In your Shopify website, you can scroll down to the “Edit Website SEO” to edit your title and meta descriptions.
You should optimize the title and meta description of the following pages of your Shopify site:
URLs give search engines and users an indication of what a certain page is about.
In fact, Google has started to give more relevance to URLs by moving it to the top of each search result.
To optimize your URLs, you should:
Here’s an example of bad, good, and better URLs for a product page optimized for “boxing gloves”:
You can edit your URLs in the bottom section of the “Edit Website SEO” section of your Shopify site:
Similarly to what you did with title and meta descriptions, you should optimize the URLs of the following pages of your Shopify site:
Important: in general, you should NOT modify the URL of an existing page that’s already getting SEO traffic or has links pointing to it. This could negatively impact your rankings and traffic for that page. In those cases, it’s better to leave the URL intact and move on to other items on this checklist.
This one’s pretty straightforward. Include your keywords in the page you’re optimizing.
We recommend including the keyword in the h1 heading of the page and again in the body near the top of the page.
Check out this example by Beardbrand.
Don’t overdo it, though. Getting your exact keyword in there 2 or 3 times is probably good enough.
Try reading your text out loud—if it sounds weird, then you should probably dial it down a bit.
Aside from including your exact keyword, it’s helpful to throw in some synonyms and LSI keywords.
Both of these help provide more context to Google about what’s the topic of a page.
LSI keywords are terms that are thematically related to a keyword.
For example, a synonym of “NYC” could be “New York City” and an LSI keyword could be “Empire State Building” or “Statue of Liberty”.
Check out how Cup&Leaf includes terms that are typically related to “black tea” to their product page selling “ginger black tea”.
Google’s entire business model relies on being able to provide relevant results to people’s searches.
That’s why a lot of SEOs believe that Google has started to use engagement metrics to help determine whether a piece of content is relevant to a searcher or not.
It’s simple: if a searcher spends time on your page and interacts with it, Google can assume that the information shown to that user was relevant.
In ecommerce, a few things you can do to increase engagement include:
Check out this great example from Ratio Coffee. For other types of pages on your Shopify site, like blog posts or collections, some best practices include:
Search engines “see” images by reading the ALT tag and looking at file names, among other factors.
Optimizing the images in your Shopify store is a 2-step process.
First, use a descriptive name for the image file before you upload it to your site.
Second, edit the alt text of your image inside the Shopify admin—the best practice is to write a short description of the image.
When you add a link from “page A” to another on your site, “page B”, that’s called an internal link.
Internal links are helpful for SEO for 3 reasons:
In your ecommerce store, you can manually add internal links when they are relevant. However, a quick and easy way to add internal links is to add a “related products” section to your product pages.
To determine which pages to rank above all others, search engines rely heavily on the authority of pages and websites.
In SEO, authority is mainly determined by links—more specifically, links from other sites to yours.
Here are a few general rules for how the authority is calculated:
These are some tactics you can use to build links to your ecommerce site.
Once your business starts being noticed, you’ll often find people including mentions to your business without links.
Just reach out to these people and ask them to include a link along with the mention.
To find unlinked brand mentions:
Start with doing a search for all your current existing unlinked mentions using a tool like ahrefs and reach out to all of those.
Then, implement alerts on Google Alerts or ahrefs for on-going mentions of your brand (and related terms like your own name or names of products) and reach out to new mentions as they happen.
Another easy way to get links for your ecommerce store is to contact writers and website owners that usually write about the industry you’re in.
You can usually send them samples of your product to test out and they might be inclined to write a review if they like it.
For example, check out the link to the Minaal website in this review of the best travel backpacks.
Sidenote: don’t expect that everyone you send your products to will write a review. People are in no way obligated to write about you—even if you send them free stuff. If your product is good or interesting enough, you’ll get reviewed.
An easy way to find opportunities to get reviewed is to just use Google.
Try using the following search “best [keyword or category]”
Then, try reaching out to each of those sites about sending them a sample of your product.
If you write valuable guest posts on relevant websites and add links to your site in a natural (not spammy) way, guest blogging can be a great way to build links.
For example, here’s a guest post by the founder of Cup&Leaf that includes a link to his own site:
An easy way to find guest posting opportunities is to search Google using advanced search operators.
Try these searches for your target keyword:
Reach out to the blogs or websites that make sense, it may be a good idea to have a few post pitches prepared beforehand.
ProTip: if you have already guest posted on other sites, send over examples along with your pitch to build some credibility.
If you have something newsworthy story, you could leverage media coverage to get links.
For example, check out how the founders of Minaal were able to get a link back to their Shopify site from a local media website.
If you can’t afford or don’t have time to do PR for your ecommerce store, HARO is an easy way to get media mentions.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a daily newsletter that will send you requests from reporters, authors, and publishers who want to write stories.
This is how a request might look like:
Here’s a great resource to help you get started:
Podcasts are growing in popularity and many people are jumping into the channel.
What most people don’t realize is that this is a massive link building opportunity. Aside from Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher, people usually publish their podcast episodes as posts on websites, along with the show notes.
So whenever you appear on a podcast, you’ll likely get a link back to your site.
Check out how the founder of Cup&Leaf was able to get a link through an interview on the “Sales for Founders” podcast.
Come up with a compelling story that’s relevant to podcasts in your niche and pitch it to them. You can use Chartable’s charts to find podcasts in your industry.
Here’s a great guide on how to appear on podcasts:
Crawl errors are those preventing Google from viewing your content correctly.
You can find them using the Coverage report in Google Search Console.
Here are great resources on fixing crawl errors:
In an effort to make the web “safer” for users, Google has made a push for more websites to use HTTPS.
So you might see a small ranking boost by switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
Fortunately, Shopify automatically provides SSL certificates for your new stores.
No need for you to take any action here, but we mention it just because people have asked about it.
As an increasing amount of web traffic comes from mobile devices, having a site that is not responsive to different screen sizes and shapes will negatively impact usability, especially for local searches.
Plus, Google recently deployed the mobile-first index, which means they’ll use the mobile (not the desktop) version of your site to crawl and index it.
They are basically saying: “if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it won’t rank highly on Google”.
A responsive theme is one that adapts to any screen size. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check your Shopify site:
Broken links on your site send a bad signal to Google.
A site with a lot of broken backlinks is probably not up-to-date and unlikely to provide a valuable answer to searchers.
You should try to avoid having broken links on your site. To find broken links, you can use Screaming Frog or ahrefs.
Once you’ve identified your broken links, you can fix the issue by redirecting, updating, or removing the link.
Search engines value sites that provide a good user experience and the speed of your site is a huge factor.
A slow loading site will increase your bounce rate, as visitors lose patience and leave.
ProTip: It’s super easy to get caught up in trying to fix all of these speed issues and getting a perfect score. DON’T do this—in general, these are things you can do to improve the speed of your Shopify site:
An XML sitemap helps search engines understand the structure of your site and find all the pages that you want to be indexed.
Shopify automatically creates and updates your website’s sitemap for you—you can find it at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
Then, you can use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap to Google:
Whenever I start working on an SEO project, one of the first things I do is set up rank tracking.
Doing this will allow you to easily monitor your website’s rankings among dozens or hundreds of keywords.
Tracking your rankings lets you know whether your efforts are paying off.
These are the tools I like for rank tracking:
For reputation management reasons, not only do you want to make sure no one else gets your account name, but you can often own all the results on the first page of a search for your brand if you’re a new website or company.
You can use NameChk to help with that.
This was already covered in the link building section, but we recommend setting up Google Alerts or ahrefs alerts for mentions of your brand and products.
This way, you can be the first to know when someone’s talking about your products and respond accordingly.
ClickMinded is an SEO training course that teaches you exactly how to increase traffic to any website, as quickly as possible.
The course includes a final exam. Take the course, pass the final exam, and you’ll earn your SEO certification. It integrates seamlessly with LinkedIn.
ClickMinded certifications are designed to show future employers and clients that you understand how search engine optimization fundamentally works. We also have a digital marketing certification and a social media marketing certification.
Sidenote: we are very open about the fact that certifications don’t mean that someone is good at SEO (or digital marketing)—but some people still want them for various reasons, so we offer them.
SEO works best when combined with other channels.
If you’re just getting started on digital marketing or want to learn more about how to get more traffic and sales from other marketing channels, check out our free strategy guides:
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