Improving Shopify SEO: Several New Features!


Search engine optimization is the science - some say art - of convincing Google to show your web page or online store at the top of its results.  If you can master SEO, your store will get lots of traffic and you’ll be flooded with sales.  Best of all, SEO costs you nothing and is automatically built into Shopify.

Today we’re proud to announce several features that will make it easier to improve the SEO of your shop without modifying your store’s template files. With a few clicks, you can now change page title tags, the homepage’s meta description and your image alt tags.

Title Tags:

The title tag is one of the most important elements of your store’s SEO. The title tag appears as the clickable link on the search engine results page:

The words used in the title are used by search engines to determine what a web page is about. Here are a few things you need to consider when writing your title tags: 

  • The closer the most important keywords are to the front of the title, the more helpful they will be for ranking.
  • The first keyword spot in a title tag is very important, so if your brand doesn't have any weight, it may be best to place it at the end. However, if people recognize your brand, having the brand name at the beginning can help with getting you more clicks.
  • 70 characters is the maximum number most search engines will display on their search results page.
  • Make sure your title tag is actually readable! You don’t want it appearing as a just a bunch of search engine optimized keywords; your search results will just end up looking spammy.

Here are some good examples of title tags for products:

When editing the content of a product, collection, or page in Shopify, you can click ‘Edit title tag and URL’ in order to see the following options:

Meta Descriptions:

While meta descriptions won’t directly help move your online store up in the search results, they are an important factor that will affect whether people click it in the search results. Which of the following would you be more likely to click?



When composing your descriptions, aim to create great ad copy that will draw the user into your site.  To set your store’s meta description, click Preferences → General Settings.  The content in the ‘Shop Description’ box will populate the meta description for your homepage. Note that Search engines will list up to 140 characters of your meta description below your title tag.

On pages other than the store homepage, most themes automatically set the meta description to the product description.  If that is not the case with your store, please refer to the guide on Shopify SEO for Theme Designers.

Alt Tags:

Alt tags are text that describes a pictures contents.  Having descriptive alt tags can help your product images show up in Google’s Image Search. As well, alt tags are an important accessibility factor: they describe your products images to visually impaired people.

To set the alt tag for a product image, click the ALT link shown below a product photo, as shown on the right.

Along with the launch of these new features, we are going to ensure all default Shopify themes have on-page best practices implemented, which include the recommendations made in Shopify's SEO 101. If you'd like some more information of the technical details of implementing these changes to your site, Julie has written a great post over on the technology blog covering what you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: I change an SEO setting and nothing happens on my website.  Why?
A: Your theme may not support the SEO features described above. You or your designer/coder may need to implement the necessary liquid code into your theme to allow certain functionality. Primarily the shop_title tag to allow title editing ability, the shop.descrption tag to allow homepage meta descriptions and image.alt for alt tags.

Q: Where can I find Liquid information and best practices on SEO?
A: We’ve created a dedicated wiki page for information on implementing SEO best practices into your liquid code.

Q:
Where can I find out more about SEO?
A: If you’d like to learn more about SEO, you can refer to our wiki guide to SEO. However if you are looking for more in-depth knowledge, our friends over at SEOmoz have created the fantastic beginner’s guide to SEO.

44 comments

  • Carson
    Carson
    January 24 2012, 02:30PM

    Really, really great stuff.

  • Danny Policarpo
    Danny Policarpo
    January 24 2012, 02:43PM

    This is such a good boost! Really should have been there from the beginning but better late than never. Our SEO score isn’t that bad atm but this will certainly help things more :]

  • Eric
    Eric
    January 24 2012, 03:04PM

    Cool! Any plans for meta descriptions for product collection pages?

  • @damians1
    @damians1
    January 24 2012, 03:54PM

    I have been lucky to A/B TEST with various techniques of SEO and have Top 10 listing of products on major search engines. Reverse engineering of competition works too.

    TKD – Title ~ Keyword ~ Description

  • Derek Ashauer
    Derek Ashauer
    January 24 2012, 04:15PM

    Leaving out custom descriptions still shows that Shopify doesn’t fully “get it”. A meta description is extremely important to allow site owners to customize for every page of their website. It should not default to the first couple sentences of the content. How I write a product description for meta tags (and thus search engines) is very different from how I write a full product description.

    However, the custom title tags for products is a huge step in the right direction (finally, several years later)

  • Gemma
    Gemma
    January 24 2012, 05:24PM

    och, we need it for each page :( We already have it for our homepage.

  • Kelly Tredwell
    Kelly Tredwell
    January 24 2012, 10:32PM

    This is really good, my Shopify store is new and I’m keen to boost my SEO ranking, this will help a lot. Thanks!

  • @Shopify Alex Commons
    Alex Commons
    January 25 2012, 11:51AM

    Eric/Derek/Gemma: We’re working hard on adding a lot of SEO features over the next while. Stay tuned!

  • Anders Hansen
    Anders Hansen
    January 25 2012, 03:54PM

    Sounds good. I’ll be looking forward to seeing our the new addons :-) Keep up the good work!

  • Ben
    Ben
    January 26 2012, 12:53AM

    Derek is right. Not implementing this functionality for descriptions for each page dramatically shows Shopify doesnt get it.

    These would have been nicer additions if implemented over 2 years ago.

    Why on earth would you not also have allowed meta descriptions to be modified along with titles?

    Sorry Shopify you have been great but this update is still SO wanting. Im off to BigCommerce.

  • Caleb
    Caleb
    January 26 2012, 01:12PM

    I’m really glad you guys are improving on this. Now if I could only change my homepage title to not say “Welcome” Even though I have a page title set, it doesn’t show up, unless I modify the template, and then every takes on that title.

  • Jackie
    Jackie
    January 26 2012, 09:03PM

    hmm…I need to go back and check out what I have for titles and descriptions – Im used to having to write my descriptions to be used as the meta tags as well – I make my first few lines for that then add in the main description so that its more informative, wonder if that works ok.

  • ramakrishna
    ramakrishna
    January 27 2012, 08:23AM

    title tags are important, so better concentrate on getting accurate keywords. http://www.walkdeals.com

  • Corey Rennell
    Corey Rennell
    January 27 2012, 05:35PM

    Thank you so much!

  • Dave Stone
    Dave Stone
    January 27 2012, 07:20PM

    I love it. Learning every day and having Shopify in my corner is great. Keep up the good work!

  • Dean Felker
    Dean Felker
    January 27 2012, 09:26PM

    I would like to get rid of the Welcome too. I tried to change the title tag and meta description as described above and none of it worked. Right now my meta description is what I have have posted for new blogs! What a waste it is no wonder I am having problems getting traffic to my site.

  • david
    david
    January 28 2012, 02:23AM

    Shopify how do we change the " – Welcome " from the homepage??? on the screenshots on this article you use as example your homepage “shopify – Online Store Software & Hosted Ecommerce Solutions” we NEED to be able to change the meta title on the homepage without modifying store template files…

  • DS
    DS
    January 28 2012, 09:22AM

    these new SEO fields are great, but the best thing you could do to help me with google is to add a UPC field to each product variant since mine are all unique. I’ve seen several threads with other users wanting the same thing.

  • Gillian
    Gillian
    January 29 2012, 04:23PM

    Great to see that you are making progress on SEO title tags and meta description. We have been using a meta data app for this. What I really would like is to be able to create unique title tags and meta descriptions for all my products AND all my pages of site.

  • Gillian
    Gillian
    January 29 2012, 04:24PM

    Great to see that you are making progress on SEO title tags and meta description. We have been using a meta data app for this. What I really would like is to be able to create unique title tags and meta descriptions for all my products AND all my pages of site.

  • Kai
    Kai
    January 29 2012, 08:16PM

    This is a great step in the right direction.

    Some suggestions:

    1) When exporting your product catalog to Google or Amazon, it would be great to either a) honor the title tags if set or b) give the user an option to use either just the title or title tag. On our own site a product might be called “Sun”, but on Google/Amazon that title is useless. There we would want the title tag to be displayed.

    Examples:

    :: Our site: http://hingeheads.com/products/sun
    :: Amazon: http://goo.gl/NuPOu

    2) For title and alt tags, it would be great to have a more automated way to generate these. It’s not really practical to write ALT tags for 100s of images. You would want to define a general description with variables (expressions) to include the product name.

    I just completed editing all our title/alt tags, only to realize I had to redo them after an edit :(

    Hope this helps.

    Kai

  • Alison
    Alison
    February 01 2012, 03:28PM

    About time. Shopify is a great product but this is something that was sorely missing. Meta title and description should be available across all pages.

    I am running an e-commerce business as my background is SEO. In the absence of the meta fields previously, I have managed to get good Google search results for my products by use of the Blog provided by Shopify. Search engines like relevant content and every time I had a new product, I wrote a blog article about it with a link to the product.

    Another must to generate sales is to take full of advantage of the fabulous instant upload provided by Shopify to Google’s Product base. By carefully entering key words within your product text, this will be reflected within Google’s product base. I reckon that due to the range of products available matching key word searches within the base, that once someone lands here, they will find what they are after without having to trawl back through internet page results. An absolute must to upload your products here.

    Alison.

  • Gail
    Gail
    February 04 2012, 05:32AM

    I agree with Gillian. I need to be able to write seperate meta, title and descriptions that are specific for EVERY page. Not having this ability is a missing a trick, and not allowing you to change this is very bad in my opinion. No point in putting work into adding products etc, if they are all going to show up as the same description, if this isn’t sorted soon, I will be off to a different Shop site, or just build my own. Can’t believe how bad the SEO is on these shops till I joined. Disapointed so far.

  • Matthew Kennedy
    Matthew Kennedy
    February 07 2012, 10:16PM

    Derek is right, product and page descriptions are very necessary, having a product page on position 3 or 4 of google is all good but if the description isn’t tuned perfectly you could still miss out on valuable clicks!

  • Jennifer Burke
    Jennifer Burke
    February 15 2012, 11:03AM

    Hello, glad to see some progress with the SEO. Was disappointed your custom CMS didn’t have half as many features as WordPress.

    I am now adding ALT tags to all of my images. Am sorry this option wasn’t there when I was uploading them one-by-one.

    Now I have to edit them one-by-one, unless there is a bulk way to do it?

    Let me know,
    Thanks
    Jennifer at CanadianNativeProducts.com

  • Gabe
    Gabe
    February 24 2012, 05:46PM

    Please stop saying you have good seo on shopify.

    1) The product title needs to go BEFORE the shop name in the title tag.
    Correct = “Product Title Name – ShopName.com”
    Incorrect = “ShopName.com – Product Title Name”

    2) NEED unique Title tags and descriptions on EACH page. How can you not have this built in?

    3) Your URL structure is so horrible I want to cry,..

    “shop.com/collections/collection-name/products/product-name”

    It should be “shop.com/productname” or at the least “shop.com/collection-name/product-name”

    I have to now spend several hours trying to fix all these core/basic shopify issues.

  • Aaron Shaffier
    Aaron Shaffier
    February 27 2012, 06:20AM

    I would just like to add my voice to all the others. Shopify is a great platform in many ways, but SEO is NOT one of them. I had my website on oscommerce and then CRE loaded for 5 years and always had the number one ranking in my field. As soon as I moved to shopify I started to drop rapidly and have had to work very hard and invest a lot of money to get my ranking back.

    I am glad you guys are stepping in the right direction, but at this point I will think twice before I build my next site on shopify. BigCommerce looks promising.

  • @Shopify Craig Miller
    Craig Miller
    March 06 2012, 09:32AM

    Let me address a few questions/comments that have come up in the comments above.

    [For the sake of background, I run Shopify’s marketing team and we are focused on making sure that all Shopify stores have all the tools needed for amazing SEO. Prior to Shopify, I worked for one of the top 5 Internet companies in the world and was able to improve SEO by a factor of 10X.]

    Comment: The product title needs to go BEFORE the shop name in the title tag.

    Answer: 100% agree. Shopify is 100% customizable so this is up to you. If the template that you are using is not setup this way right now, just go in and edit the Liquid code to make it that way.

    Comment: NEED unique Title tags and descriptions on EACH page. How can you not have this built in?

    Answer: We didn’t before and I made sure we got this changed. That’s what this post above is announcing.

    Comment: Your URL structure is so horrible I want to cry…

    Answer: All templates should have a canonical tag that points to the /product/ URL. If your template does not have this canonical, then you can easily add it. We have this URL structure because you can actually do some more advanced things if a product is viewed as part of one collection or another.

    Comment: I had my website on oscommerce and then CRE loaded for 5 years and always had the number one ranking in my field. As soon as I moved to shopify I started to drop rapidly and have had to work very hard and invest a lot of money to get my ranking back.

    Answer: Did you 301 all old URLs to the new URLs? If not, you would have this problem migrating to any ecommerce platform (Shopify included).

    As always, love the comments and feedback. Keep them coming.

    Craig

  • Claire
    Claire
    March 19 2012, 02:21AM

    I worked really hard about 6 months ago amended each and every product and description as well as implementing the canonical coding and was ranking really well and had steady traffic. On the 3rd week of January, when this post was made and the changes implemented to shopify my traffic PLUMENTED! I literally went from hundreds of unique visitors a day to 10 yesterday!

    Has anyone else experienced such a dramatic drop in traffic?

    Thanks

  • David
    David
    March 21 2012, 10:50AM

    I’m still wondering when you’ll give us a field to add a unique UPC for each product variant (you give us space for a unique SKU, so this doesn’t seem like a big stretch). We sell rugs and unlike clothing, each size has a unique UPC and price. As is google products will only show that we have one size of each rug since it reads UPCs – and I’m missing out on a ton of sales opportunities :-(

  • Brian
    Brian
    March 21 2012, 01:02PM

    Just want to add to everyone’s comment regarding meta descriptions. Not being able to customize the meta descriptions the same way you can customize the title tag seems to be an oversight.

    As mentioned above, the way I would write my product description in my store and the way I’d write it for a search display are very different.

  • Tony
    Tony
    April 08 2012, 05:23AM

    I’d like to add my vote for an editable meta description.

    I often have to work on what my clients already use. With this one feature missing I will not be able to recommend shopify as a platform of choice.

  • jody
    jody
    April 10 2012, 12:40PM

    Claire March 19, 2012 02:21AM EDT

    I worked really hard about 6 months ago amended each and every product and description as well as implementing the canonical coding and was ranking really well and had steady traffic. On the 3rd week of January, when this post was made and the changes implemented to shopify my traffic PLUMENTED! I literally went from hundreds of unique visitors a day to 10 yesterday!

    Has anyone else experienced such a dramatic drop in traffic?

    YES – I did too. Here is what I did to help fix it. FYI- I am NOT a GURU so take suggestions lightly.

    1) I assigned MAXWORDS to my title code. When I created the titles I think that I made them too long and didn’t keep to the 70 words max rule.

    2) I had lost both keywords and description for my website when I went to the “recommended” code for SEO. I added those back.

    3) I am trying out SEOmoz free 30 day trial.

    I had lost 2/3 of my traffic when I first implemented the SEO recommendations. With these three things my hits have tripled. Good luck to you!

  • aaron Shaffier
    aaron Shaffier
    May 15 2012, 02:42PM

    Hey Craig, I just noticed your response to my comment from a few months ago.

    Yes, I did redirects for each and every page on my website. Nevertheless, I have been fighting an uphill battle to maintain my rank ever since switching to shopify.

    Also you say that you have implemented meta description tags on each and every page. That is simply not true. We have not control over our description tags in the admin. The best we can do is basically hack the template to parrot the product description. This is way less than optimal.

  • Anders
    Anders
    August 09 2012, 04:19AM

    Having just one meta description for a general site and using collection/product descriptions does not quite work for us. Pulling the first 2 lines out of a product description rarely makes for a good meta description in our case, why not add an option to write specific meta descriptions just like title tags?

    Right now i’m doing it manually in code, which is quite unhandy.

  • Tony C
    Tony C
    August 11 2012, 01:39AM

    How do you put ALT.text to the home page pictures?
    Can someone give ma na answer to this please?

  • Tony Cotton
    Tony Cotton
    August 22 2012, 10:22PM

    How do you put a meta description to an article/blog in Shopify.
    SEOmoz shows my articles in Shopify as erros for this reason?

  • Help!
    Help!
    October 04 2012, 02:23PM

    How do I add a title tag on my homepage? There are fields for all other pages except the homepage. Killing my rankings, Shopify.

    www.mybedboard.com

  • Posh
    Posh
    December 27 2012, 05:02PM

    Echoing the above — where are the fields to edit the homepage title and description tags, the most important ones of all? Or do we have to figure out how our theme works, and edit the theme files?

  • Adam C.
    Adam C.
    January 29 2013, 02:10AM

    To Edit Shopify Homepage Title go to Themes→Theme Settings. Near bottom of page is a field for “Meta Info – Home page title tag”. Description can be edited in General Settings. Hope this helps!

  • Adam C.
    Adam C.
    January 29 2013, 02:19AM

    Missed one step: Themes→Theme Settings→Home…then towards bottom of that section you’ll find the field to edit the homepage title – “Meta info – Home page title tag”

  • craig keller
    craig keller
    December 19 2013, 01:42PM

    there needs to be tag and type specific meta descriptions. The collection meta description is insufficient for tag and type pages

  • craig keller
    craig keller
    December 19 2013, 01:47PM

    It should also be mentioned that google specifically states that the canonical url should not be leaned on as heavily as shopify leans on it. Forcing us to nest products under /product/ and /collections/ is a terrible url structure. The correct structure should be http://www.mywebsite/[collection.title]/[product.handle]

  • Younes
    Younes
    March 07 2014, 12:33PM

    I would like to know how to edit SEO titles in bulk on a csv file, not the store titles, only SEO without having to install any additional apps ?

    Also do you believe adding description words to seo titles like instead of having : Diesel dz 4912, write Diesel dz 4912 Watch, would have any effect on ranking or google product ads visibility ?

    Thanks

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