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Shopify Technical SEO Checklist

We’ve already gone in-depth into how to set up your Shopify Google Analytics, your Shopify Google Search Console, how to do SEO keyword research and even how to optimize your Shopify store’s pages and products. Now, it’s time to get technical.

First off, you’ll need 3 things: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and  Screaming Frog. Don’t worry – all 3 tools are free! Google Analytics and Google Search Console are extremely useful tools that will help you track your site’s ranking, traffic, search queries and performance over time, as well as measure goals and conversions you’ve set up for your Shopify store. Screaming Frog, will help you crawl your site to perform an in-depth audit of your website’s URLs and SEO. Technical SEO - Fact

So in this article, we’re going to dive into the technical aspects of SEO, listing them out for your Shopify store. This way you won’t miss anything and you can help your store rank better, get more customers, and sell faster. SEO is extremely important because 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Add to that the fact that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results and you’ve got yourself some serious competition. 

Before You Start…

Shopify is one of the best platforms for eCommerce SEO. However, compared to other platforms like WordPress or Magento, there are some technical SEO things that you won’t be able to edit. Shopify as a platform takes many things off your hands, which can be helpful because then you don’t need to change anything. These include:

The fact that Shopify takes these off your hands is good because it’s already optimized so you have one less thing to worry about!

What Is Technical SEO?

Before we start, it’s important to define exactly what we’re going to be talking about. Yoast defines technical SEO as “improving the technical aspects of a website in order to increase the ranking of its pages in the search engines.” This includes any  optimizations that help make your website faster, easier to navigate, easier to crawl and easier for search engines to read it. Now that we’ve cleared our definition we can dive into the technical aspects you should keep an eye out for when optimizing your Shopify SEO.

Technical SEO Checklist

You need to review your store’s technical SEO regularly in order to guarantee smooth sales sailing. Below are a few things that should be included for your Shopify store’s technical SEO checklist:

Zima Media’s Technical SEO Checklist

  1. Step 1: Site Speed
  2. Step 2: Mobile Friendliness
  3. Step 3: SSL Certificate
  4. Step 4: Primary Domain Redirection
  5. Step 5: 404s and redirect
  6. Step 6: HREFlang Issues 
  7. Step 7: Product Schema
  8. Step 8: HTML Sitemap
  9. Step 9: When In  Doubt, Hire A Developer 

Step 1: Site Speed

If you don’t think site speed is important, think again. A fast site loads in under 2.5 seconds. And this is very important because bounce rates increase by 50% if your website takes 2 extra seconds to load, while conversion rates fall by 12% for every extra second it takes your site to load. This means that if your site is 5 seconds too slow, you’re losing 60% of your conversion rate. Sixty. Percent. All for those measly 5 extra seconds. 

Speed is a huge part of user experience, so if your site takes too long to load, users will likely bounce. As a comparative metric, Google’s considers anything under 2.5 seconds a good loading time. 

To review your site’s speed, we recommend using three absolutely FREE tools: 

Technical SEO_Site Speed

All these tools should give you a good framework on which to base your efforts, as well as allowing you to track any improvements you make on your site’s speed. So if your site is slow, there are three quick fixes you can do.

Solution 1: Image Size

The first quick fix to speed up your Shopify store is reviewing your site’s images. If you have PNGs when you’re not using the transparent background function or high-resolution images that haven’t been web-optimized, they could be the culprits slowing down your site. There are two quick fixes here:

The first one is with Screaming Frog:

  1. Open Screaming Frog
  2. Type in your website’s URL
  3. Click Start
  4. Once it’s finished crawling, click the Images tab
  5. Click the Filter dropdown menu
  6. Select Over 100 KB
  7. Export the data

Review if you have any unnecessary PNGs (where you aren’t using the transparent background function) and begin changing and optimizing the images. 

The second one is using a Shopify App, like Image Optimizer or Image Optimizer + Compression and let the app do the work for you. 

Solution 2: Lazy Loading

Lazy loading is a broad term for a computer programming technique which delays the construction of an object until it is needed. For websites, this mainly translates into images. This technique helps improve speed and performance, but most importantly, it helps improve perceived performance, which is making “the user think that the site is loading quicker than it actually is”. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this. To install lazy loading in your website, you need to hire a developer

Solution 3: Theme Change

The best thing about Shopify is all its amazing themes because you can choose the one that fits your brand best. However, this can also be the worst thing about Shopify. Certain themes can take up too much space or have too many elements, which results in slow loading times. 

To speed up your site, you may want to consider changing your theme to a simpler option (one with fewer images, page elements, etc.).

Step 2: Mobile Friendliness

Mobile friendliness & responsive design are very important for two reasons:

This means that your site needs to be easy to use on any mobile device, be it a smartphone or tablet This is how you test your site’s mobile friendliness:

  1. Open Google’s Mobile Friendly Test
  2. Type in your URL
  3. Click Test URL
  4. Wait for the results

That’s it! Or if you prefer, you can always open the website on your tablet or mobile device and navigate through the different pages. 

Step 3: SSL Certificate

In the world of SEO, this is also known as HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). This is the secure version of HTTP, which is the primary protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. All websites should be safe in order to guarantee a safe browsing experience for any user. Google prioritizes safe sites, while non-secure sites are often “flagged”, which can make users bounce.

To secure your website, you need to get an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.  Luckily, Shopify now issues SSL certificates for any store! When visiting your store, check for the lock symbol before your URL. If you don’t see it, we recommend contacting Shopify support

Step 4: Primary Domain Redirection

Technical SEO_Primary Domain

Your website has four possible domain “versions”:

  • HTTPS + WWW = https://www.yourwebsite.com
  • HTTPS + NON-WWW = https://yourwebsite.com
  • HTTP + WWW = http://www.yourwebsite.com
  • HTTP + NON-WWW = http://yourwebsite.com

If you have HTTPS protocol installed correctly, then the secure website should be your primary domain – whether it’s a WWW or non-WWW is up to you!

To check this redirection, simply write out all options on your web browser. If the 3 non-primary ones redirect to the primary domain, you’re good to go. But if they don’t, then you can establish your primary domain redirection with a few simple steps. This will ensure that all traffic is automatically redirected to your primary domain. 

This is how you can do it:

  1. Log into your Shopify store
  2. Scroll down to Online Store
  3. Click Domains
  4. Choose a Domain from the dropdown list
  5. Select “Redirect all traffic to this domain”
  6. Click Save

And done! All traffic, be it non-WWW or WWW, HTTP or HTTPS will be redirected to your primary domain. 

Step 5: 404s and Redirect

To check for broken links and fix them (also known as ‘404 not found error’), you will need Screaming Frog and your Shopify backend. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Screaming Frog
  2. Type in your website’s URL
  3. Click Start
  4. Once it’s finished crawling, click the third tab, labeled Response Codes
  5. Click the Filter dropdown menu
  6. Select Client Error (4xx)
  7. If you want, you can export the data

Now you have a list of all the links with 404 errors on your site, and you can decide where you will redirect users that accidentally land on these URLs. 

If they’re just a few, you can edit the redirects one by one in your Shopify store. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Login to Shopify
  2. Scroll down to Navigation
  3. Select URL Redirects
  4. Click Create URL Redirect
  5. Add the Redirect From Link
  6. Add the Redirect To Link
  7. Click Save

If you want, you can also add your redirects in bulk. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Login to Shopify
  2. Scroll down to Navigation
  3. Select URL Redirects
  4. Click Export
  5. Edit the CSV file and add the Redirect URLs
  6. Click Import
  7. Select the new CSV file
  8. Click Upload File

For more information on importing redirects, you can visit Shopify support

Step 6: HREFlang Issues 

HREFlang is an HTML attribute that specifies the language and geographical targeting of a website. If you want your website to do this automatically, then we recommend installing Weglot, a plugin that “allows you to make your website multilingual in minutes and to manage all your translations effortlessly.”

To check if your website doesn’t have any HREFlang issues, follow these steps:

  1. Open Screaming Frog
  2. Type in your website’s URL
  3. Click Start
  4. Once it’s finished crawling, click the Hreflang tab
  5. Check for issues
    1. Unlinked hreflang URLs
    2. Missing Return Links
    3. Noindex Return Links
    4. Inconsistent Language & Region Return Links
  6. Export the data

Your plugin should take care of this for you so you don’t find any issues. But if you do find something, contact your hreflang app’s support center.

Step 7: Product Schema

Technical SEO_Structured Data

Product Schema is a structured data of your product that will be published when it comes up on a search result. It helps offer more information and provides a better user experience. It’s also called Rich Results. 

To check if your site has structure data, follow these steps:

  1. Open Google’s Rich Results Test
  2. Type in your website URL
  3. Click Test URL

If your site comes up with a “page not eligible for rich results” result, then you can easily fix this with a Shopify app. Errors are obviously bad and should be fixed, while warnings are not important for SEO but could affect the Google Shopping feed. 

To fix it, we recommend:

  • Hiring a developer
  • Installing JSON-LD For SEO, an app that takes care of product schema for your Shopify store

Step 8: HTML Sitemap

The first question here should be: do you actually need an HTML sitemap? The short answer is no, it’s not absolutely necessary. But if you have a complicated site, then it can help improve user experience. Since an HTML sitemap is basically a bulleted list of your site’s pages, it allows visitors to easily navigate through your website. 

If you want to install it, we recommend adding the SEO HTML Sitemap Plugin, which generates your sitemap automatically.

Step 9: When In  Doubt, Hire A Developer 

As time goes by, you’ll get more and more familiar with Shopify’s intricate comings and goings. But always keep this in mind: when in doubt, hire a developer. If you try to edit your site’s code, you might end up screwing up your theme and not be able to get your site working correctly again. So never be afraid to get professional help: there are many things that only a developer can do. Or at least, can do better and faster. 

Now you have all the tools you need to take your Shopify technical SEO to the next level. Are you ready to start ranking? Page #1 of Google Results, here we come. 

We hope this guide has been helpful to you! And be sure to check out our Shopify Marketing tutorials on how to setup your Shopify Google Analytics, how to setup Shopify Google Search Console, how to do keyword research for your Shopify store, and how to do on-page and product page SEO optimizations.

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