Advertising has always been essential in all kinds of commerce, ever since humans began to trade for profit. On its own, a product or service is of no monetary worth. Only when you can attract the attention of customers can you turn them into items of value, which means you have to be able to tell people what you have to offer and why they should buy it from you. This is so obvious it barely needs stating.
As result, advertising has grown over decades – even centuries – into one of the most important and profitable of the world’s industries. The spending power of businesses was clearly related to their success. Advertising diversified as it became more competitive, but the channels of customer communication remained fundamentally unchanged. Billboards, handbills, mailshots, press adverts, radio and TV campaigns had always been the most effective ways of spending to grow.
This began to change with the establishment of the internet and the world wide web. By the mid-1990s, the internet was developing from its infancy into an increasingly sophisticated resource which gradually transformed our lives. Search engine optimization (SEO) developed as the best way to make users and, eventually, customers aware of websites and what they offered. One of its biggest advantages over traditional advertising was that it cost a lot less.
It may be apocryphal but we like the story that traces the origin of SEO to the manager of Jefferson Starship. In 1997 he was unhappy that the band’s official website ranked only on Page 4 of a certain search engine instead of at the top of Page 1. That seems a fair complaint. At the time, search engines relied heavily on the use of directories, which worked as a kind of Yellow Pages guiding consumers to business sites that had the approval of editors.
Google wasn’t the first search engine, but today it is the biggest and the practices of SEO have developed in lock-step with it. With millions of commercial websites now active around the world, no business can survive without SEO. 68% of online activities start with searches  and Google has a market share of 92.42% . The experience of businesses is clear: 61% of B2B marketing professionals say that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads and conversions than any other form of promotion .
Monetized online marketing techniques have become popular in recent years, but according to 70% of digital marketing companies, SEO is more effective than Pay Per Click as a means of increasing sales , with an average click-through rate from the first page of search results of 32% . 66% of consumers now conduct online searches before making a purchase . Since the evidence shows that 75% of users proceed no further than this first page , it follows that a strong SEO program is vital to your business.
The Evolution of the Funnel
For many years the journey of the consumer has been pictured by marketers as a funnel, narrowing through awareness, opinion, consideration and preference to purchase. This has been the orthodoxy for a hundred years. Commerce today demands a more complex model which takes account of the diversity of channels, media and devices used for consumer interaction. In the past, the focus of SEO strategy was almost exclusively on keywords and while these remain crucial, their function has evolved into the provision of relevant content to the right user at the perfect moment in their buying journey. At the same time, many other factors have assumed importance, such as backlinks, meta structure, and page loading speeds.
Why Does Your Shopify Store Need SEO?
Since online marketing has taken centre stage in business advertising and SEO is at the heart of online marketing, it’s worth looking at some of the most compelling reasons to make it a priority for your Shopify ecommerce store.
Driving Website Traffic
One of the most successful ways of bringing people to your store is the organic search process. This involves raising your profile by what could be called natural means, without the market distortion of paid advertising. It is based on the compatibility of all aspects of your site with the aims and expectations of web users. Accuracy, relevance and authority are central to its performance. It requires a certain level of knowledge and skill, but the potential rewards are considerable.
Google is, for all practical purposes, the search engine on which you should concentrate, simply because its market share gives it a virtual monopoly. Fortunately, Google has become transparent in what it requires of a site’s SEO strategy and provides a range of free online tools to monitor, measure and improve performance. This isn’t done from the goodness of the company’s heart. It’s in Google’s interest to provide the best search experience possible because it depends for its continued dominance on maintaining its credibility. It is the most visited website in the world and as long as it offers the most comprehensive, responsive service, there’s no reason for it to lose that status.
Building a well-designed website which enables you to meet all of Google’s SEO demands will establish you as a trusted resource. From this flows the visibility you need to reach the top of the rankings, which is the key to massively improved traffic.
Trust and Credibility
The look of your Shopify store needs to be attractive and professional, but more than that, it needs to provide the best possible user experience and offer useful, reliable content. Google’s search engine crawlers will respond positively to natural links, positive user behaviour, machine-learning signals and optimized on-page elements and content. It’s impossible to build credibility and trust instantly, but over time your site will be recognised and indexed accordingly. This is what we mean when we talk about organic SEO. It’s not something you buy with an advertising budget, and it is more valuable as a consequence.
Understanding the Customer
Not everything about your SEO is an outgoing process. You can gather valuable insights about broad market trends and detailed customer preferences from the words and phrases they use in their searches. Search query data, SERP analysis, analytics data and AI insights can be drawn from search behavior, enabling you to improve your understanding of what your customers are looking for.
Better User Experience
It may seem obvious that your Shopify store should make the customer experience easy, convenient and enjoyable. This is a sure way of pleasing the customers over and above the products you offer. What may not be so obvious is the impact it can have on your performance in the search engine rankings. Google’s crawlers can distinguish between good and bad experiences and this information feeds into the way your store is indexed. If your store does a good job, you’ll be rewarded with greater visibility. Google’s Page Experience Update is an essential aid for every online marketer.
SEO doesn’t stand still. Neither should your store. Not only do SEO practices change with every Google algorithm upgrade, but your ecommerce site should also be kept up to date. You need to keep your content fresh and relevant, because Google can tell if, for example, a blog is weeks or months old. Your ranking will suffer if you don’t keep on top of it.
Routine content renewal should be a regular part of your store maintenance. At the same time, you should make sure that every element is optimized so that it meets Google’s constantly changing model. Think of your SEO strategy as a marathon with no finish line – keep pace with Google and adjust to its modifications otherwise, you’ll slip to the back of the pack. It’s also well worth taking the time to examine the online activities of your competitors for ideas on how to make the most of the opportunities Google makes freely available.
We started by drawing a contrast between the expensive option of traditional advertising, which is clearly of enormous value, and the comparatively cheaper use of SEO. It’s not cost-free, of course, because if you need the services of SEO professionals, you’ll have to pay for their expertise. Even if someone in your team feels able to take this on, it will consume a lot of their time. However, unlike advertising campaigns, which often see diminishing returns and have an effect which is largely time-limited, strong SEO is an investment that keeps on giving back. The very nature of organic search is one of cumulative growth and brand-building. Instead of sudden impacts at discrete intervals, it gives you a steadily growing profile which you can maintain at the highest level as long as you keep paying attention to the market, your data analytics and Google’s ongoing program of revision.
Leads generated by search engines have a 14.6% close rate, compared to methods such as direct mail and cold calling, which manage only 1.7% . Paid banner ads seem like an impactful way of connecting with potential customers but 86% of people ignore them and are much more likely to skip down to the genuine organic results .
Consumer advertising is notoriously hard to measure. Paid search and pay-per-click methods are much easier to evaluate. However, SEO is less expensive than either and it is relatively easy to monitor your search engine performance with tracking and analytics tools.
The Power of Customer Reviews
Word of mouth has always been one of the best methods of promoting your business. Ecommerce provides valuable opportunities to capitalize on the willingness of satisfied customers to spread the word. This kind of positive feedback not only acts as a powerful endorsement but also enhances your search engine performance because the crawlers are perfectly capable of evaluating it. 79% of consumers put their trust in online reviews as if they were personal recommendations .
SEO is Forever
Until some genius comes up with the ultimate disruptive idea to revolutionize the way search engines find, index and rank sites, it’s fair to say that SEO will always be indispensable. Consumers will always need a way to search from their smartphones, tablets or desktops because that’s the nature of ecommerce. Google and the other engines will always need to improve their offers in order to convince their advertisers to stick with them. Shopify stores will always need a way to stand out from the competition. It’s a process in which all parties can be winners. The only way you can lose is by neglecting the SEO imperative, which will send you down the rankings and into virtual obscurity. As new routes for online selling open up, with voice assistants, apps, wearables and the Internet of Things, good SEO will only become more important.
As you can see, this three-word phrase contains many of the secrets of success for a Shopify store. It is not without its challenges and it needs to be applied and maintained with constant vigilance, but we think we’ve made it clear beyond question that search engine optimization is critical for the growth and prosperity of your business.
Fortunately, we can make life easy for you. Our RankHigherTheme is matched to Shopify’s industry categorizations and is packed with dozens of SEO optimization and conversion-boosting features. It is the fastest Shopify theme available anywhere in the world, provides outstanding value for money and comes with free expert SEO training. Give yourself a powerful advantage over your competitors with the world’s number-one Shopify store theme. Only available through URG 2.0