SEO best practices

Many merchants are confused by SEO and what should be done or not. This guide is here to answer some common concerns and questions regarding SEO. SEO is a constantly changing field, and unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation, inaccurate information, and outdated information.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of common practices to optimize a website to make it easier for search engines like Google to find your website, and ensure it appears as high as possible on search results.

Is the theme optimized for SEO?

Yes, all our themes are optimized out of the box for SEO. Our themes ensure that all required information, such as a meta title or meta description, is properly added. The themes also ensure the usage of proper web semantics, heading structure, and structured data.

From a code point of view, you usually have nothing to do, from a code perspective. The theme already does most of the hard work.

What should I do to improve my SEO?

SEO is a large topic, and the code is just one minor part of it that is already managed by the theme. However, SEO also encompasses other areas that only you, as a merchant, can handle. This includes:

  • Write a lot of original content, such as blog posts and pages, and add new content often. Avoid copy-pasting content from other websites, as this can hurt your ranking.
  • Avoid tricking search engines by including a long list of keywords that are not relevant to your users. The best content is content that is helpful for humans, not machines.
  • Promote your store, and use social media: SEO does not stop at your website. You should also use social media to promote your store and create backlinks. The more popular your store becomes, the higher its results appear.
  • Pay for ads: while organic traffic is nice, if you are selling products with a lot of competition, this won't be enough. You will need to invest money for ads to gain trafic.
  • Get help from experts: creating an SEO strategy that perfectly fits your brand and products can be a complex task. Do not hesitate to hire an SEO expert to assist you.

How to change the heading structure?

We receive a lot of messages from merchants wanting to change the structure of the heading tags, because some random tools reported it. There is, unfortunately, a lot of outdated and incorrect information around heading tags. 99.9% of the time, you should not change the structure. The theme is already using a correct structure that optimizes for accessibility.

Back in the origin of the web, search engines were pretty basic and would use heading tags (such as h1, h2, etc.) to determine the most important element on the page and give more importance to this text. Heading tags are, however, no longer a relevant ranking factor, as it was too easy to abuse. This has been confirmed several times by the actual engineers behind the search engines.

Modern search engines now use the whole content and complex techniques to understand what is the most important content.

This does not mean, however, that a proper heading structure is not important. Headings are still essential for accessibility. They help people with disabilities to quickly locate the main structure of your store, and quickly navigate to them. As a consequence, when it comes to headings, you should rather think from an accessibility point of view, rather than a SEO aspect. Changing a given element from h2 to h1 will have zero impact on SEO, but it might make it harder for some of your customers to use your store.

We therefore strongly recommend you not touch or attempt to modify the heading structure. Unfortunately, a lot of SEO tools are using outdated techniques, and might ask you to do it. Ignore such tools, and trust what the theme is doing. If, for any reason, you still want to modify the structure, then your only option will be to do it through code. If you do not have coding knowledge, you will need to hire a developer.

Which element does my theme pick up as the h1 heading?

The theme is architectured to use a heading structure optimized for accessibility and content discovery (please refer to the previous point for more information). The h1 will use the following information:

  • Home page: the store name is used as a h1
  • Product pages: the main product's title is used as h1
  • Collection pages: the main collection's title is used as h1
  • Blog posts: the main blog post's title is used as h1

My SEO tool complains that I have several h1, what should I do?

By default, the theme will only create one h1 per page. However, when using rich text editor in Shopify (such as product description or blog post content), you can add another h1.

Let's be clear: having multiple h1 is completely valid and will not negatively affect any SEO ranking. Having more than h1 used to be not allowed, but this has been relaxed in HTML5, and now having multiple h1 or h2 on a page is perfectly valid. It has been over 15 years. Therefore, if a tool still reports you that, this means that the tool has probably not been updated for over 15 years, and you should not trust it.

Why does my store not appear on search engines?

Appearing on search engines (especially on the first pages) is not easy, especially for highly competitive stores such as clothing, jewelry, or cosmetics. Just having your store live does not mean you will get immediate traffic: tens of thousands of other stores are competing on the exact same keywords as you. Improving your ranking on search engines can take months, if not years.

Should I use an SEO app?

We strongly discourage the usage of SEO apps. Themes are already optimized for SEO, and an SEO app will, most of the time, add an extra layer that will prevent some native features of Shopify from working properly. We have seen many merchants' stores not working properly because such apps edit the code badly.

How can I change my title and SEO description?

Each page should have a unique title and description, describing what the page is about. The title and meta description can be edited on each Shopify page right into the admin. You can find more information in Shopify official documentation.

Why the description and/or title I have entered do not match what appear on search engines?

Title and meta descriptions are just a hint for search engines to better understand your content. You should write unique, short, and meaningful titles and descriptions. However, they are just a hint. Modern search engines will, most of the time, rewrite them to dynamically adapt them to your customers based on their previous searches and how they typically interact with websites... Studies show that over 70% of titles and descriptions are automatically re-written by Google (this study is from 2020, it is probably even higher today).

Please note that it is impossible to force Google to use your title and description exactly. The re-writing process is automatic and part of how modern search engines work.

What are alt texts?

Alt texts are short for "alternative texts" and apply to images. Shopify allows you to specify an alt text for all images, and the theme will automatically use it when rendering an image.

An alt text is important for several reasons, and not only SEO. From an SEO perspective, this helps search engines understand the image, add some context, and better index your images. From a user perspective, it helps drastically people who have visual disabilities, such as blind people. The alt text help such users to understand what the image is about.

As a consequence, writing a unique alt tag is recommended. We recommend writing short, descriptive text targeted for humans. Do not use alt tag to add a list of long, unrelated keywords. You might be penalized for that.

Writing alt tags can be a daunting task if you have a lot of media. Some apps available in the app store can help you to automatize this process. We recommend you to reach Shopify support for more information.