5 Technical SEO Problems Within Shopify & How to Solve Them
Shopify is an easy to use e-commerce platform for small businesses. While it has good SEO features, it is not without pitfalls.
If you want to make the most out of your selling experience, then you should be wary of these 5 problems in technical SEO for Shopify – and what you can do about them.
Problem 1: 70-character title tags
Whenever you write a title tag or meta-description in Shopify, you will be met with a counter, telling you how many characters you have used already. The limit is 70, as suggested by Google.
This number, which was established by measuring pixels, is said to be faulty. After all, research shows the best number proves to be 600 pixels. This corresponds to only 60 characters, considering that some characters (W, for example) are wider than the others.
Unfortunately, going overboard can affect the SEO of your store. Those who are not aware of this pixel issue will definitely miss an opportunity to optimize their sites.
What You Can Do:
Unless you want to count the characters one by one, the best way to ensure the right number of pixels for your title tag is to visit Google.
You could type “site:command”. If you want to see how your URL looks like, type “site:operator”.
Problem 2: Image ALT tags
ALT tags can help describe the products you are selling to search engine crawlers.
It’s beneficial for visually impaired users who use screen readers. At the same time, it may be advantageous to individuals who only use text-only browsers.
With its many benefits, adding ALT tags to your pictures is necessary. Unfortunately, you will be met with one glaring issue if you are using Shopify.
Compared to other e-commerce platforms, you need to type an ALT text for every image. This could be cumbersome for someone with hundreds of products, as you will need to encode the same thing over and over again.
What You Can Do:
Unfortunately, there’s no concrete solution to this technical SEO problem. The best thing you could do is to be consistent with your ALT text, ensuring that it’s descriptive but not stuffed to the brim.
Problem 3: URL structure
If you use Shopify, you will need to follow a sub-folder format. To illustrate, this would be “yourshop.com/pages/shipping” instead of just “yourshop.com/shipping”.
For products, you could either go for “yourshop.com/collections/category” or “yourshop.com/products/product-name”. Even on a premium plan, you can’t circumvent these forced formats.
Sadly, this may be bad for website health. For one, experts recommend having a short URL, as this can help you rank higher in search engines.
With Shopify’s predetermined format that makes URLs longer than usual, you will fail on this front.
What You Can Do:
Again, there is nothing much you can do about this – except follow the prescribed URL format by Shopify.
While it may be troublesome, there is one benefit. This structure helps prevent duplication, which, if unaddressed, could negatively affect your search engine rankings.
Problem 4: Access to robots.txt
Similar to other websites that cater to small and medium enterprises, Shopify users cannot edit their FTP and robots.txt files. It is important to remember that robots.txt files help block content that could be counter intuitive to your SEO strategy.
With that being said, Shopify creates a file that has two pitfalls. One, Google ignores robots.txt files – unless they are specifically named. Two, even if Shopify creates an XML sitemap, it doesn’t declare it in the file.
What You Can Do
Since you can’t edit this in Shopify, The opportunity to improve your technical SEO is out the window.
Although this is the case, you could hide pages that are not included in your robots.txt file. All you need to do is customize the head section of your website’s theme liquid layout file.
Problem 5: Redirects
Redirects happen when a user wants to go to a certain link but is diverted to another instead. It is essential if you need to make updates or URL changes in the meantime.
If done badly, redirects can lead to loss of content and a slide in search engine rankings. With that being said, it’s best to redirect a page to a related one – not something that’s completely out of context.
Fortunately, Shopify tackles this problem well. Redirecting is easy to implement, compared to other platforms such as WordPress.
What You Can Do
As the webmaster, you can add redirects as needed. All you need to do is go to the Online Store – Navigation. Click URL redirects, then add URL redirect. You can choose from Redirect from or Redirect to.
Additionally, you could manage your redirects according to date. You could also edit the URL, export or import the URLs, and delete redirects one by one or by bulk.
Should you need to do bulk redirects, you will need to download a program from the Shopify App Store.
Remember, even if it isn’t perfect, you can make little tweaks that will help improve SEO for Shopify.