These days it seems as though getting traffic to your site is tougher than ever. And this might just be true. According to traffic study conducted by Ahrefs, 90.63% of all pages get zero traffic from Google, and 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less. This means that most published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic.
And this is even more important for Shopify stores. According to BuiltWith, 5.14% the top 10,000 sites are using Shopify, with a whopping total of 921,708 live Shopify sites in the USA alone. But these numbers mean nothing if you can’t get people to visit your website.
So if you’re a Shopify store owner, there’s a wonderful SEO tool you might be missing out on. It’s called Google Search Console. Here’s why you need it:
What Is Google Search Console & Why You Need It
Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google that allows you to improve your search ranking on Google Search results. It’s the way Google views your website and shows it to the world when a search is made.
It can help you:
- Confirm that Google is able to find, crawl and rank your website
- Fix indexing issues & send alerts when there are problems on your site
- Check your website traffic data
- Show backlinks
- Troubleshoot Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), mobile usability and other Search features
Anyone can – and should – use Google Search Console. Web developers, website administrators, marketing professionals and SEO specialists are a few of the obvious choices. But Shopify business owners will benefit especially from this amazing tool. This is because Google Search Console can help you understand how your site is performing in organic results and most importantly, why it’s performing well or not.
It’s an irreplaceable tool for search marketing. Here’s why you need it:
- It can help you analyze and increase your traffic
- It can help improve your search appearance
- It makes crawling & indexing easier for Google
It can help you analyze and increase your traffic
If you’re looking to increase the traffic to your site, then Google Search Console is one of the best ways to achieve this. Google Search Console (which we will abbreviate as GSC) can show Shopify stores the search terms that your site showed up for in Google Search results, the average position where you appear and the number of clicks that led to your site.
It can help improve your search appearance
Google likes the way you look. And we don’t mean just your outfit. Adjusting your site’s search appearance can improve your overall position and results, driving more traffic to your Shopify shop and boosting your sales. Simple things like adding more data, improving your HTML and removing links you don’t want included are part of this search appearance makeover.
It makes crawling & indexing easier for Google
An XML sitemap is an XML file that contains a list of a website’s pages and subpages. It helps search engines understand a website’s structure and content. Manually adding your XML sitemap to Google Search Console will make it easier for Google to find you and link you to a relevant search result.
So now that you understand exactly what Google Search Console is and how it can help improve your Shopify’s stores traffic and performance, it’s time to learn how to set it up.
How to set up Google Search Console
STEP 1: Verify all properties
There are two ways to verify your site: Domain & URL Prefix. The first requires DNS verification and the second one will use other verification methods. Here’s the difference:
- Domain Name System (DNS) Verification: used to verify the domain, all the URLs of all your subdomains, including HTTPS and HTTP. It requires DNS verification through your DNS provider.
- URL Prefix (Other Verification Methods): used to verify only the URLs included in the address entered, only the URLs included in the indicated protocol, can be verified through an HTML file, an HTML meta tag, your Google Analytics account and even your Google Tag Manager Account.
However, since it’s simpler and doesn’t require a developer, we’re going to teach you the second verification method: URL prefix. The best way to verify is using the HTML meta tag since it ensures the tag stays in your site. To do it, follow these steps:
- Go into Google Search Console
- Log in with the same credentials you used for Google Analytics
- Open the menu.
- Click the “Add A Property” button
- Select URL Prefix as the Property Type
- Type your canonical website property*
- Click Continue
- Under Other Verification Methods, choose HTML
- Copy the meta tag
*Your canonical website property refers to the URL used for your main page. If your site is HTTPS secure and you use WWW protocol, then it should look like this: https://www.yourwebsite.com. If you use non-WWW protocol, then it should look like this: https://yourwebsite.com.
Now it’s time to paste this code into your Shopify theme.
- Log into your Shopify store
- Click Online Store
- Click Themes
- Click Actions -> Edit Code
- In your theme.liquid, locate <head> and <body>.
- Copy the code after <head> and before <body>.
Go back to Google Search Console:
- Click verify
- That’s it!
For this method, you will have to repeat the verification steps to claim all your URL prefixes and protocols (HTTP/HTTPS and WWW/non-WWW):
- HTTPS + WWW = https://www.yourwebsite.com
- HTTPS + NON-WWW = https://yourwebsite.com
- HTTP + WWW = http://www.yourwebsite.com
- HTTP + NON-WWW = http://yourwebsite.com
Verify these URLs and you’re done! Keep in mind that if you decide to change your Shopify theme, you will need to re-add the HTML tag to your theme.liquid.
STEP 2: Add the XML sitemap to the primary property
Now on to step 2. First, as we mentioned before, you need to know which is your primary property, be it HTTPS/HTTP and WWW or non-WWW.
Once you have established this, follow these steps:
- Open your browser and type in your primary property URL
- Add sitemap.xml to the web address and check that your sitemap is in order
- Open Google Search Console
- In the Index Menu, click Sitemaps
- Copy the sitemap suffix
- Click Send
Your sitemap should ONLY be in your primary property. Check the other properties you verified to review that it’s not duplicated.
STEP 3: Change International Targeting settings
Now on to Step 3. It’s time to check your International Targeting settings and adjust them depending on whether your target is local or domestic.
- Go into Google Search Console
- Click Old Tools and Reports (formerly Legacy Tools and Reports)
- Click International Segmentation
- In the new window, go to Country
- Select the country you want to target and check the box
- Click Save
This feature helps establish your country of preference, which helps Google determine your location and makes it easier for potential buyers to find your site through relevant searches.
Step 4: Connect Google Analytics with Google Search Console
Connecting your Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account will help you analyze your SEO rankings along with more Analytics data, giving you a complete scope of how your Shopify store is performing.
To connect them, follow these steps:
- Sign into your Google Analytics account
- Select the website you want to connect to Google Search Console
- Go to Admin
- In Property, click All Products
- Go to the Google Search Console area and click Link Search Console
- Click Edit
- Click Add and add the primary site from your Google Search Console account (needs to be the same URL in both Google Analytics & Search Console)
- Select the preferred View and enable
- Click Save
Now that they’re linked, your Search Console data will be imported in Analytics and included in your Google Analytics reporting. All your store data in one place.
How To Use Google Search Console for Better Insights
Now that you have access to all this information, it’s time to see how to make it actionable.
Let’s look at a quick example of what the information on the Performance Dashboard (Position, Views and Clicks) can help you accomplish:
- Google Search Console allows users to find your site organically
- It lets you know how well your site is performing
- Enlists the key factors driving people to find, click & convert in your Shopify store.
It’s a one-way road to analytic-based success!
Bonus! Common Issues & How To Fix Them
We’ll walk you through a few of the most common issues users face when setting up Google Search Console in their Shopify stores and tell you how to fix them!
You recently changed or updated your site’s Shopify theme
If you’ve changed your Shopify theme or have recently gone through a site migration, you willl need to re-add the HTML meta tag to your site’s code.
You verified another URL as your primary property
If you verified a different URL prefix, then the information isn’t being gathered correctly. Go into your Search Console and review that the primary domain is correct.
You included the HTML meta tag outside the section in theme.liquid
If you added the code to your theme.liquid and don’t see any changes after some time, then it’s possible that you added the code in the wrong section. Go into your Shopify’s theme code and check that the HTML meta tag is placed correctly in the <head> section.
You haven’t been patient enough
Patience is a virtue, and this is still the case when it comes to Google. Give it a couple of days for Google to be able to gather your information and show you valuable insights.