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Shopify has over 1,500,000+ subscribers using its e-commerce platform and yet it still has a number of common technical SEO issues. Great for multi-channel retailing but not perfect for SEO and organic performance. Here’s a list of the main technical SEO issues with Shopify and how you can overcome them.
What are the technical SEO issues with Shopify?
It’s well documented from some of the world’s leading authorities on SEO that Shopify has high level technical SEO issues that hinder its performance in the search engines. Having re-engineered many stores over the years, we’re very familiar with the biggest Shopify SEO issues. Here’s a list of the main ones.
1 – Robots.txt File Access
You can’t access it and it’s as simple as that, no matter what subscription plan you’re on. You’re stuck with the Shopify robots.txt configuration which makes it difficult for retailers with large complex inventories including brands, product types, variations, and multi-faceted navigation to control what the search engines and bots crawl, index or nofollow. You have no control whatsoever and you have to work with the following configuration.
UPDATE 2022: Robots.txt Files are now finally accessible!! At last! We’ve been asking for this for MANY years. Please proceed with caution!
2 – Dictated Hierarchical Structure
Unlike many other platforms, Shopify dictates your hierarchical structure and you can’t change or control it which isn’t ideal for ‘link equity’ or ‘page authority’ distribution. Following a logical hierarchical structure for SEO is essential. An e-commerce stores’ hierarchy should be like a champagne fountain at a wedding:
With Shopify, you’re stuck with their hierarchical structure and it can’t be changed. For category or ‘collection’ pages, these are set to: /collections/category-name – without the ability to create a sub-category of the root collection. Product pages typically have duplicate URLs although the longer URL [B] does canonical back to the parent product, alleviating the duplicate content issue and giving you the ability to have products in multiple ‘collections’ such as new in, sale, and standard collections without duplication.
- A – /products/product-name/
- B – /collections/collection-name/products/product-name
Content pages on the site also have a /pages/page-name URL and blog post pages inherit a similar structure with /blogs/blog-tag/blog-post-title again, not ideal, but certainly not unmanageable. You have to structure your e-commerce store’s hierarchy differently from how you typically would.
3 – Image Optimisation
Image optimization isn’t perfect with Shopify as images are delivered through their own content delivery network [CDN] so you can’t fully optimize image URLs and filenames for the search engines to perfection, but you can control the alt=tags which gives you some ability to optimize images for the search results, not perfect but at least they can be optimized to some extent.
4 – Metadata & Content Duplication [Filters] – the biggest culprit.
The ability to ‘filter’ products on a collection page is standard functionality expected on any e-commerce store and is essential for user experience [UX] and conversion rate. You would never expect to land on a large fashion store’s page for shoes and not be able to filter them down by size, color, brand, and type.
This is by far the biggest SEO factor that hinders a Shopify store’s ability to perform in the search engines. A single collection page with no filters has the ability to be optimized to perfection via the Shopify content management system [CMS] with no problem at all. But here’s the problem; major duplication issues arise when product filters are added to collection pages with product tags.
Standard ‘sort’ filters such as A-Z, Price High to Low are not the issue here as these ‘sort’ query string URLs are dealt with by canonicalization back to the root collection page to avoid duplication issues and penalties.
Shopify uses a built-in product ‘tagging’ system to arrange collections of products in filterable results in the sidebar such as size, product type, color, etc. These ‘filter link’ URLs are dynamically generated by the platform and aren’t accessible or editable via the Shopify CMS so 1000’s and 1000’s duplication issues occur instantaneously as soon as you start adding filters to your theme, causing major keyword, metadata, and content duplication issues.
Most if not all other alternatives, more advanced product Shopify product filter apps in the App Store simply canonical the filter page URL back to the collection page parent. Yes, this solves the issue of duplication, but themes using this method are missing out on thousands and thousands of additional URLs that could be indexed in the search engines driving more traffic and revenue.
Most if not all Shopify theme designers and theme developers build filter systems without understanding the implications they have on the store’s ability to perform in the search engines. We recently audited a furniture store using Shopify and they sold around 2,500 products.
They were shocked to find out that they had over 300,000 URLs indexed in the search engines, most of them ‘filter page’ duplicates, massively hindering their site’s ability to rank in the search engines.
5 – 3rd Party Shopify App Installations
There are thousands of apps in the Shopify App Store that allow you to add almost any kind of functionality to your store that you require. This is great for store functionality but can be disastrous for your performance in the search engines if you start adding all kinds of functionality without fully understanding what implications these Apps have on your store’s SEO.
Testing and analyzing before installing is essential. 3rd party app developers don’t care about your site’s performance in the search engines, they’re interested in selling you their App. One of our clients recently added an EPOS integration App to their store and it erased 6 months of work of on-site optimization as it stripped meta titles and descriptions from the whole store.
Is Shopify Good For SEO?
With so many technical SEO issues, I guess you’re wondering; so is Shopify good for SEO? Shopify is no different from any other platform. If you know and understand its limitations and you know its constraints, and you know how to SEO then Shopify can be extremely good for SEO.
Technically yes, it has more issues to overcome and things are much harder to implement but aligning this platform with Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines and known ranking factors are no different from aligning any other.
So What is the Solution to Shopify’s Technical SEO Issues?
RankHigherTheme® with AAP technology and AAP® SEO product filters is the solution. It has over 90 advanced Shopify SEO and conversion-boosting features that will save you over $3,000 a year on SEO apps. It is the only theme in the world with built-in, optimized product filter pages that unleash thousands of additional, high-converting landing pages that will get crawled and indexed in the search engines.
Its unique canonical programming completely eliminates duplications of any kind and swerves the need to access the robots.txt file to control duplications. These themes have been meticulously designed and engineered by our award-winning team of SEO and Shopify experts here at Integrity Search.
We genuinely believe it is the ‘best’ Shopify Theme for SEO. Built for maximum performance in the search engines, there is no other Shopify theme on the market with its unique technology.
This theme however is no longer on sale to the general public and is only available to our clients using our premium ULTIMATE Retail Growth 2.0 service.
What is AAP® Technology?
AAP stands for Algorithm Aligned Platform. We have integrated a significant number of advanced SEO and conversion-boosting features into our theme which aligns your store with Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines, and known ranking factors as best as it can.
At the core of these features is an advanced custom-built product filtering system that negates the need for access to the robots.txt file whilst generating high levels of ‘on-page’ optimization, without creating any kind of duplication issues.
- Optimized filter page URLs
- Unique meta title tags
- Unique meta descriptions
- H1 tags [different from meta title tags]
- Unique indexable content
Our technology addresses the main Shopify issues that hinder organic performance in the search engines. Our theme will ensure your store has:
- No keyword or metadata conflicts and cannibalization
- No duplicate content
- No duplicate title tags and H1 tags
- Page load speed in under 1 second
- Coherent site-wide canonical strategy
- Built-in Structured Data & Open Graph
- Adheres to Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines & known ranking factors
This theme will significantly increase your store’s Rankings, Traffic, and Sales Revenue. As far as I can see, there is no other Shopify theme in the world with this high-level optimization that will supercharge your organic performance.