A well-designed Shopify website is critical for online stores looking to increase traffic and drive sales. The best way to design a Shopify site that ranks high in search engine results pages (SERPs) is to use a theme that has been optimized for SEO.
Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that enables businesses of all sizes to create online stores. It offers users a wide range of themes and templates that can be customized to suit their needs, as well as a host of features and tools to help them run their business.
When it comes to SEO, not all Shopify themes are created equal. In other words, not all of them have been built with SEO in mind. In this blog post, we will provide tips on how to choose the right one for your Shopify stores and discuss some of the best Shopify themes for SEO.
What makes a Shopify theme SEO-friendly?
To pick top Shopify themes for SEO, we first need to look at the characteristics of an SEO-friendly theme. From what Google and other popular search engines reveal about how their algorithms work, there are 6 main features accounting for the SEO-friendliness of a theme.
Valid and clean code markup
Coding standards are updated regularly to align with the development of the coding languages. Therefore, making sure that the theme code is up-to-date and compatible with popular browsers. It should feature valid HTML, CSS, and function well on both mobile and desktop.
There are some code validators you can use to check for a valid and clean code markup, namely: W3C Validator, and HTML5 Validator.
Valid HTML doesn’t have a direct impact on SEO, however, it helps to enhance crawlability and user experience. Running ads on a site with clean code is proven to generate better results as well.
Support for SEO on-page
Elements of SEO on-page are an important part of SEO-friendliness. A great theme for SEO should help you with search snippets, meta tags, and sitemaps.
Search snippets or features/rich snippets are structured information on your website and are automatically displayed on the SERPs.
Example of featured snippets. Searchers don't need to click through the result to see its content so it creates ‘zero-click searches'.
We can’t know how Google shows a featured snippet from your site. Still, a theme with schema markup makes sure it can do it. When displayed, these snippets increase ‘zero-click searches’ and your chances of ranking higher.
An SEO-friendly theme should also allow you to customize metadata or meta tags. These include but are not limited to: meta title, meta description, social cards, alt text, canonical tags, and Robots.txt file. By using meta tags, you have more control of the keywords you want to rank for.
The sitemap is of a lesser issue when it comes to Shopify themes for SEO as Shopify itself generates sitemaps for stores of all plans. However, megastores with a lot of URLs will need to take this into account. When a site reaches more than 5,000 URLs, Shopify will use child sitemaps, which don’t repopulate new pages, instead of the auto-updated parent sitemap. That’s why you need to keep an eye on this feature of the theme so your store’s sitemap is always fresh.
UGC and social media integration
User-generated content (UGC) and social channels have no direct connection to SEO. However, all search engines are putting user experience in the first place and this feature definitely pumps up visitors’ satisfaction.
A study by Business Wire found that 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Social commerce is also on the rise. Therefore, a built-in social sharing plugin is a great way to acquire a generous amount of traffic, make your site visitors happy, and get more sales. The more people land on your e-commerce site, the more credits Google gives you, and the higher you rank on SERPs.
Page speed and mobile-friendliness
We are living in a fast-paced world and it’ll keep speeding up with the popularity of 4G and 5G. As a result, page loading time is an essential criterion of Google’s Web Vitals. To check if a theme is optimized for speed, you can test with Google PageSpeed Insights.
Mobile commerce is also a top-trending approach of both sellers and buyers with more people browsing on a mobile device than ever. Hence, remember to choose a mobile-friendly theme.
Such themes should have a responsive design across all devices. This means it gives users a consistent experience when switching between mobile and desktop. Easy navigation also contributes to an excellent Shopify theme for SEO.
Also check out:
TOP 4 SEO-Friendly themes you should try for your Shopify stores
Ella - Best theme outside Shopify theme store
- Price: $89 for a regular license, $2800 for an extended license (plus $27.75 if you want to extend support to 12 months)
- Rating: 4.82/5.0 on Themeforest
Ella theme from Halothemes is one of the all-time best-selling Shopify themes on Themeforest. With a reasonable price, various skins, and numerous features for SEO, more than 23,000 Shopify merchants have purchased and used it.
The key highlight of the Ella theme is the incredible UI/UX and mobile-optimized layout. There are a dozen layouts and navigation styles for you to choose from. Visitors on mobile devices can enjoy a smooth shopping experience with Ella.
This is also among the fastest responding themes. Using GTMetrix, the quickest fully loaded time of page details is only 3.3s with a 90% (A) page speed score.
The downside of the Ella theme and all other themes outside the Shopify theme store is the lack of support. The regular support period from Halothemes is only 6 months and excludes some important services such as customization,and integration with 3rd party apps.
Related read: A detailed review of Ella theme for Shopify stores
Dawn - Best free theme with quick setup
- Price: Free of charge
- Rating: 49 reviews, 41% positive on Shopify Theme store
Dawn is the very first theme to implement the so-called “Section Everywhere" on Shopify Online Store 2.0. This is a minimal and simplistic theme to quickly set up an online store and get your first sale with SEO-enhanced features.
It is speed-tested and approved by Shopify so you can rest assured that your customers are having a faster shopping experience. Its advantages include a visually appealing design along with product reviews and press coverage for UGC.
What's not so promising about the Dawn theme, however, is the fact that it has only one style. Therefore, you may find it difficult to customize the look and feel of your store based on this theme.
Venue - Best theme for small catalog
- Price: $280
- Rating: 375 reviews, 97% positive on Shopify Theme store
Venue theme is developed by the Safe As Milk team. It was first released 5 years ago and was quickly updated to be compatible with Shopify OS 2.0 from 2021.
This option definitely doesn't have the competitive edge for price. However, it's an all-rounded theme that you should not overlook. The good news is you only have to pay if you publish the theme. Hence, you can spend time scrutinizing its features to decide if it’s worth the price.
With Venue, the Safe As Milk team follows a sharp and minimal design style that brings products into the spotlight. Stores that sell globally will love this theme with the built-in currency switchers. It offers great SEO capabilities. You can customize the stores’ pages with more than 20 sections to fit in with your purpose.
Impulse - Best theme for high-volume stores
Impulse theme is created by Archetype Themes after their research of Fortune 500 retailers. The theme features dozens of selling features, for example, custom mobile menus, powerful sidebar filters, and extra product page content.
Despite being an image and video-heavy theme, the Archetype team has done a great job with compression so the visual content doesn't weigh it down.
Like the Ella theme, Impulse is made to be truly mobile-first. It offers a thumb-friendly zoom popup that allows customers to quickly look closer at a product image with their fingers. There are multiple templates for pages, collections, and products (which they keep updating) so you can find the best fit for your stores.
Related read: A complete review of Impulse theme
Before you leave
Choosing the right theme is the first step to building an e-commerce website optimized for SEO. Although the best theme for your store depends greatly on your industry, catalog size, and brand identity, there are certain elements your Shopify theme should have to make the site get a better ranking. You won't go wrong when looking for a compact, speedy, and mobile-optimized theme with UGC and SEO on-page features.