Why does everyone recommend Shopify

4 SEO problems with Shopify

Shopify is the most widely used e-commerce platform that allows countless businesses to sell their goods online. The content management system is easy to use and has proven particularly beneficial for small retailers during the pandemic, allowing them to get back a large percentage of the lost sales.

As with any new website, a Shopify store requires a great deal of effort from the store builder to ensure the required visibility and allow users to find the website. And as with any content management system, there are a few hurdles store owners must overcome to ensure their website is efficiently targeting the right audience. Some of these hurdles are more complex than others, which is why I've broken down four of the most common SEO mistakes made with Shopify.

Restricted URL structure

Just like WordPress divides content between posts and pages, Shopify's content management system lets you list your products into two main categories: products and collections, and general posts, pages, and blogs. When you create a new product on this platform, you can list the items for sale one by one. With collections you can put together your different products and divide them into easy-to-find categories.

The problem most people have with this imposed content organization system is that Shopify also pushes standard hierarchical structures with limited customization options. Subfolders, Products, and Collections must be included in the URL of each new product or collection to be uploaded to the site.

Despite the fact that the platform offers great competition to its users, Shopify has stated that there is still no solution to this situation. Hence, you need to be extremely careful with long URLs (the part that can be customized). Make sure you use the correct keywords in the url and categorize your posts to give your products the best chance of being found.

Automatically generate duplicate content

Another frustrating situation for users is to classify content as a product or a collection. This is because linking to a collection will automatically create additional URLs in that collection even though a URL for a product page already exists. Shopify automatically treats the collection URL as canonical for internal links, not the product. This can make things extremely difficult when you want to make sure the correct pages are indexed.

In this case, Shopify has taken some precautions, but it does require some programming knowledge in the backend of your site's theme. In this case, I recommend that you do this with the help of an expert to generate the external links in the canonical / product / url.

No forward slash or subsequent slash (/)

Another issue with Shopify's content duplication concerns the slash, which is essentially that character (/) at the end of the URL that is used to mark a directory. Google treats URLs with or without slashes as unique pages. By default, Shopify ends your URLs without such a slash. However, variations of the same URL with a slash at the end are accessible to both users and search engines.

This can usually be avoided by applying a site-wide address bar via the website's htaccess file. However, Shopify does not allow access to the htaccess file.

Instead, Shopify recommends web developers use canonical tags to let Google know which version of each page is preferred for indexing. This is the only solution currently available, but it is far from ideal and usually leads to data mapping errors in Google Analytics and other tracking platforms.

The robots.txt website cannot be controlled

Aside from content management systems where users create duplicate versions of their pages, Shopify also doesn't allow developers to manually edit their websites' robot.txt file. Apparently, Shopify sees this as a benefit as it fixes pesky SEO glitches. However, if your products are sold out or collections are discontinued, you will not be able to index or track the remaining redundant pages.

In that case, you can edit the theme of your business or add meta robots tags to the section of each relevant page.

Conclusion

This type of situation that occurs with pre-built online store platforms is a problem for your website positioning. However, for many small businesses starting their digital life, this is an excellent option at a relatively low cost for many. If your company is just starting to integrate products on the internet, I recommend that you make the most of this type of platform. If the growth of your business warrants it, then consider hiring a fully personalized service for creating your online business.