In the competitive e-commerce industry, one of the key elements leading to your store’s success is to have a high ranking on search engines such as Google. Knowing how to work on Shopify from an SEO perspective is vital for online store owners as it helps your website stand out in the search engine result pages (SERPs). If you can make your Shopify collection page pop in the SERPs, online searchers get to view a lot more products than when the product pages show up. Therefore, collections are an integral part of Shopify stores that you need to optimize to expose more items to online shoppers.
Let’s get a deeper insight into why you need to improve your Shopify collections with SEO and how to do it.
What is Shopify collection page and how does Shopify create collections?
76% of shoppers believe the most vital element in web design is product findability. No one would come back to your store if they have a bad site search and navigation experience. Shopify collections can give you a hand with site navigation.
Shopify collection is a site page where you can group your products into categories to facilitate browsing journeys.
Example of “Sweaters” collection (Source: Banana Republic)
The Shopify collection pages are handled by Shopify’s Liquid codebase in a quite simple way. When a collection page is loaded on the Shopify site, Liquid executes a series of if-then logic statements to gather all necessary information.
However, we’ve got a big update this year! In the 2021 Shopify Unite event, an annual partner and developer conference, many updates to Shopify were announced, including Online Store 2.0. It comes with greater flexibility and customization so that store owners can better showcase their brands, improve customers’ online experiences, and integrate apps without code.
Online Store 2.0 also introduces a brand new JSON template, allowing you to add, remove, and reorder sections from any page using the Shopify theme editor. Therefore, merchants can have more power to personalize their stores without the help of a developer. Moreover, JSON templates minimize the amount of data in settings_data.json and store data directly in the template, thus enhancing the theme editor’s performance. To sum up, if you want to use sections in a template, you should move from Liquid templates to JSON templates.
Back to Shopify collection pages, to have a fully functioned collection page, you must ensure to have:
- Clear collection title and description
- Clear categorization and description of products of each collection
- User-friendly product display and interaction, for example, sort by prices, sizes, best sellers, etc.
You should ensure that each collection page includes enough items to support its existence. There’s no point in creating specific collections with only 1 or 2 products for sites with small catalogs. Instead, you should use a “Product All” collection to display your offerings.
If your store has large product catalogs, you’d better break up the primary collection or category into sub-categories for navigation purposes. Sub-categories deepen the internal links, reinforce the site architecture, and make the content niche, so both shoppers and search engines find it easier to browse your website. An appropriate site architecture looks like this:
- Collection 1
- Sub-collection 1
- Sub-collection 2
- Sub-collection 3
- Category 2
- Sub-collection 1
- Sub-collection 2
- Sub-collection 3
However, Shopify doesn’t come with a built-in feature to create sub-collections. There are some other ways to do it, like using product tags, plugins, or link lists to create sub-collections.
Why do you need to improve SEO for Shopify collection pages?
When trying to run an online store that generates sales, one of the biggest puzzles you need to solve is how to get customers to find you quickly.
Collections make it easier for shoppers to navigate through your site and attract visitors through search engines as they show up in the SERPs as a separate page.
One of the most effective ways to get more traffic to your online store in general and collections, in particular, is to use Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
SEO is the technical act of optimizing your page or website around target keywords to have a higher rank in search results like Google, making a search engine recognize your content as relevant to users’ queries.
Shopify collection pages can enhance your SEO because they have the role of hub pages, internally linking to other pages related to the initial topic. To put it another way, they resemble a table of contents for your store. Collections will start with simple, top-level categorizations and then go deeper into sub-categories, depending on the range of markets and the number of products available.
Basic SEO tools that Shopify provides
You can optimize your content with the SEO built-in features of Shopify online stores. Some can be done automatically. To be specific, the sitemap.xml and robots.txt files of your website are automatically created.
Themes are required to include social media linking to spread your store to more customers and automatically generate title tags including your store name. Pages with auto-generated canonical tags are included to avoid duplicate content showing up as search results.
Using Shopify’s built-in features, you can optimize your content by editing the title tags, meta descriptions, URLs for webpages, blog articles, collections and products, and the alt text for images.
Don’t wait any longer! Let’s focus on SEO elements that you can do yourself to optimize your Shopify collection pages.
SEO elements for Shopify collection pages and best practices
The Collection Title is an important part of your collection page's SEO setup because it is what the user sees when they visit the page. Shopify automatically uses the title you enter to create the page’s H1 heading, and search engines use the H1 heading to define what the page content is about.
Enter the Collection Title here. The collection title will also be the meta title for the collection page by default.
Here are some pieces of advice for setting the collection title:
- Make an effort to stay current. The page should be named something that makes sense to users and is related to the products of the page.
- The Collection title can stick to your brand because it's an H1 and has a bit of a lower SEO impact. However, remember to include relevant keywords in your title.
- The length of the H1 is another issue you need to keep in mind. On both the front-end and the back-end, an overly long Collection title will look terrible in SERPs.
This section allows you to add summary information above your products.
Enter Collection Description here. You can also change the Meta description for the collection in Shopify.
- A description with around 100 words is a good goal. It is better to give a good summary about the product in the category without revealing too much detail. Include a ‘Read more' link that leads to a separate web page or blog piece if you want to expand on your descriptions.
- Consider the keywords customers would use to find your products and include them in your collection description to get better SEO results.
Collection Featured Image
Although the image section has little impact on your page’s SEO performance, it is advisable to upload a clear, relevant, and optimized image for your Shopify collection pages.
Some search engines can read your content in the text but can’t read the image. That’s why you should use descriptive alternative text or alt text. It should describe what appears in the image and include relevant keywords of your products or collections. However, to avoid keyword stuffing yet still maintain SEO, you can pick one or two images to insert keywords.
Drop a featured image for your Collection here
Website SEO title and description
Both SEO title and description highly contribute to how your site ranks and is shown to users.
When you enter a page title, make sure to contain targeted keywords and your brand name. A short title is better, between 30 and 60 characters.
A meta description is a brief text beneath the page title in search results. Make it short, clear, and to the point, from 70 to 155 characters.
The page title and meta description will look like this on the search results page.
A good URL must be short, consistent, descriptive, readable, and use lowercase so the search engine bots will understand and give it a higher ranking. Users (and search engines, too) should have a grasp of what to expect on that page.
Although there can be ID numbers and codes in URLs, the best way is to use words so that everyone can comprehend. If possible, use hyphens to separate words for readability. Remember that URLs should exclude spaces, underscores, or any other characters that separate words.
The URL structure of Shopify pages is quite fixed. The slug, also the last part of a URL, is the only part that can be changed.
By default, the URL structure for a collection page will look like this: https://example.com/collections/$collectionName and you can set the collection name as you wish. For example, that collection URL will become https://example.com/collections/jeans for a collection named “Jeans”.
Product information in the Collection
Now let’s get into the product pages, the composition of a Shopify collection page, where you can get your potential customers to fill their carts. If you do SEO well for each product page, then the whole collection page can get a higher rank on search engines. 20% of e-commerce shoppers reject a purchase and abandon the site because of terrible product descriptions. Therefore, product descriptions are an important element to attract customers’ attention.
- Fill in all information that customers need to know about your products, including size, color, materials, specifications, delivery costs, customer reviews, and discounts/promotion deals if any.
- Don’t just copy the product content from a supplier’s source - it is not good for your SEO performance. Include relevant keywords you think users will type to find your items and write your own specific, engaging descriptions.
- Don’t describe the product and feature only. You’d better add the end-user benefits that those features bring customers.
A well-optimized product page shows images of that product and necessary information, including price, size, color, product description, and reviews. (Source: Clarks)
Other SEO elements to consider
Navigation plays an important role in every website’s success as it leads users to the destination they want. The most common aid for site navigation is the website menu, and here is some advice to make use of it.
The menu, which plays a role in navigation, usually is located at the top of a website. (Source: Yummy Bazaar)
What makes a good website menu depends on the type of website and your goal. For instance, if one of your goals is to attract customers to contact or subscribe to you, then try adding a “Contact” button to your menu. If you want the online shoppers to view the “Sales” and “New Arrival” collections, highlight them in the navigation menu.
Before coming up with the official one, consider the two factors: the best menu structure for your site and the essential items to be displayed in your menu. Using a drop-down menu for important sub-items is another way to optimize your menu.
Don’t put everything in one menu; otherwise, it will clutter your site and worsen your site structure. Just focus on the most important collections that embody your brand to show in the menu bar.
Shopify is a hosted service that significantly relies on caching and runs on a massive infrastructure that includes a robust CDN. Good for merchants, Shopify is continuously attempting to reduce storefront response times. However, if you clutter up your theme, post oversized photos, and install too many Shopify apps, the loading speed of your site will be affected accordingly.
E-merchants should know that many customers use image search when shopping online. Therefore, it is essential to optimize images for organic search.
Shopify’s standard features can meet the basic demands of small and medium stores. But if you have high expectations for your store and SEO performance, you will need more control on image optimization, and Shopify allows you to do that.
Here are some practices to optimize your images:
- Serve images over a CDN – Shopify does this for you.
- Include images in your XML sitemap so that search engines can find and index them. Shopify automatically does it; however, it will be harder to keep track of how many of your images are indexed in Google Search Console, for example. Therefore, you’d better have a separate XML sitemap for your images.
- Compress your images - Shopify doesn't do this by default.
- Use a descriptive file name and the appropriate image file format for the job, and resize images to the desired proportions - all of this can be done before uploading.
- Define the image alt text, which can be done in the Shopify admin console.
It’s a good idea to choose a lightweight theme to ensure faster loading speed. Although all Shopify themes are responsive, they don’t offer quality control regarding page speed. If you have the ability or budget, you can build your custom theme.
Crawling and indexing directives
Thanks to crawling and indexing directives, search engines can understand which content you want them to index and display as search results. It's critical to send clear and consistent signals to search engines. You can do this by following several ways.
A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is most representative of a set of duplicate pages on your site. When you have several URLs sharing the same parts, Google search engines will only pick one as a canonical URL and ignore others, thus negatively affecting SEO.
In URLs that contain parameters, Shopify always comes with a self-referencing canonical to the URL without the parameters. For example, if someone clicks a link to your collection page shared on Facebook but land on a URL like https://example.com/collections/dress?fbclid=XXXXXX. The self-referencing canonical links to the URL variant without ?fbclid=XXXXXX, namely: https://example.com/collections/dress. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about duplicate content.
Currently, the Shopify admin console doesn’t allow merchants to adjust canonicalization preferences. However, to optimize URLs for SEO, you can use a third-party app.
In Boost Product Filter & Search app, turn on the Canonical URLs setting, which tells the search engines that a specific URL is for a corresponding product page. For example, this setting will switch https://example.com/collections/top/products/white-search to https://example.com/white-search. The duplicate content issue will be prevented and your SEO ranking will be improved.
By default, this feature is turned off. Go to the “Display Settings” tab in Filter Setting to enable it.
Pagination is a method of dividing content into multiple pages.
Pagination is usually found on e-commerce websites (Source: Sephora)
Google has modified how it handles paginated pages within its index. It treats each page separately instead of combining paginated pages into a single piece of content as before.
A common problem caused by pagination is duplicate content. Google indexes paginated collection pages with the exact same page title, meta description, and body text content as the original Collection page. To make your site more crawlable and rank well on search engines, you need to reduce duplicate content in Google’s index. Here are some ways to solve this problem:
- Add an <link> element with the rel="canonical" tag to the head section of the duplicate page that points back to the canonical page. Ensure that paginated pages can be found through internal links but are not indexable by the search bots.
- Using robots.txt file is another solution to prevent internal duplicate content. Then, all pages are excluded from being crawled, except from the first one.
As you can see, SEO is an essential part of establishing an e-commerce website. And Shopify collection pages play a vital role in the platform. To have a higher ranking on search engines and reach more customers, Shopify store owners should pay attention to design collection pages for SEO.