When building Shopify websites for clients, I always make sure we're thinking about form and function. As a designer, I want your website to be beautiful, eye-catching, and on-brand, so you can build credibility with your website visitors. But function is equally as important—things like a user-friendly experience, a back-end that provides you with robust e-commerce analytics, and a strong SEO foundation to make sure your website actually gets found.
So what goes into building a strong SEO foundation on Shopify? Here's my checklist before launching a Shopify website for a client:
Keywords: Each piece of your SEO strategy should have keywords infused into them. Start by researching keywords that are going to be relevant for your business and make a big master list. For example, keywords for a couture women's tuxedo brand might be "women's tuxedo," "black women's tuxedo," or "women's tuxedo for wedding." Don't overthink it—just think about what people might be typing into a search bar that would lead them to your business. My favorite tools for researching keywords to see what people are searching for most are Keyword Planner (accessible via Google Ads) or Pinterest (just starting typing into the search bar and see what auto-populates!).
Alt Text: E-commerce websites in particular have tons of photos—from your hero images to your product and blog photos. While Google can't read what's in the photo, it can read alt text. This is how images show up on their "image search" bar—Google is reading the alt text the web designer or merchant added to that particular photo. Shopify makes it easy to add alt text to each photo. Keep it short and descriptive of what's in the photo—and whenever possible, infuse keywords into it. Google can also read your image's file name, so change that to a (very) short description before uploading.
Meta Tags: Write a meta description for every single blog post, product page, and site page and infuse it with keywords. This is the short description that will show up on Google for that particular page. Make sure not to just list keywords—it should be a sentence or two with keywords naturally infused in. And keep it under 150 characters to make sure it all shows up.
Product Descriptions: Write unique product descriptions for each product that are (again) infused with keywords and consider adding product reviews as well, since all of this can show up in search results.
Page Titles: Write page titles under 70 characters—that also include your keywords whenever it makes sense.
Header Tags: Make sure you have only one "H1" tag per page on your site (this is the primary header tag and it should be used for the header at the top of the page). All of the headings below the main one should be H2, H3, H4, etc, in hierarchical order.
Sitemap: Shopify will automatically generate an XML sitemap for your website. Submit it to Google to help them "crawl" your site and find relevant info for searches across your site. (If you're not sure how, check out Shopify's blog for a step-by-step tutorial).
Google Analytics: Install Google Analytics to track where your visitors are coming from and what they're doing when they get to your site—are they immediately leaving? What pages do they end up on? Revise your SEO strategy if people keep landing on your site and then leaving—you might not be using the right keywords, which means the wrong visitors are ending up there.
Questions about building a solid SEO foundation for your Shopify site? Drop them below! If you're struggling, you can also check out our web design services—we include a basic SEO foundation for every site we design and would love to help you level up your Shopify store.