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5 Major Technical SEO Issues with Shopify & The Solution

Shopify has over 800,000 retailers using their e-commerce platform and yet it still has a number of common technical SEO issues. Great for multi-channel retailing but not perfect for organic performance. Here’s a list of the main technical SEO issues with Shopify.


What are the technical SEO issues with Shopify?

It’s well documented from some of the world’s leading authorities on SEO that Shopify has high level technical SEO issues that hinder its performance in the search engines. Having re-engineered many Shopify stores over the years, we’re very familiar with its biggest SEO issues. Here’s a list of the main ones.

Robots.txt File Access

You can’t access it and its as simple as that, no matter what subscription plan you’re on. You’re stuck with the Shopify robots.txt configuration which makes it difficult for retailers with large complex inventories including brands, product types, variations and multi-faceted navigation to control what the the search engines and bots crawl, index or nofollow. You have no control whatsoever and you have to work with the following configuration.

Dictated Hierarchical Structure

Unlike many other platforms, Shopify dictates your hierarchical structure and you can’t change or control it which isn’t ideal for ‘link equity’ or ‘page authority’ distribution. Following a logical hierarchical structure for SEO is essential. An ecommerce stores’ hierarchy should be like a champagne fountain at a wedding:

  • domain.com
  • domain.com/category/
  • domain.com/category/sub-category
  • domain.com/category/sub-category/product-name

With Shopify you’re stuck with their hierarchical structure and it can’t be changed. For category or ‘collection’ pages these are set to: /collections/category-name – without the ability to create a sub-category off the root collection. Product pages typically have duplicate urls although the longer url [B] does canonical back to the parent product, alleviating the duplicate content issue and gives you the the ability to have products in multiple ‘collections’ such as new in, sale and standard collections without duplication.

  • A – /products/product-name/
  • B – /collections/collection-name/products/product-name

Content pages on the site also have a /pages/page-name url and blog post pages inherit a similar structure with /blogs/blog-tag/blog-post-title again, not ideal, but certainly not unmanageable. You have to structure your ecommerce store’s hierarchy differently to how you typically would.

Image Optimisation

Image optimisation isn’t perfect with Shopify as images are delivered through their own content delivery network [CDN] so you can’t fully optimise image urls and filenames for the search engines to perfection, but you can control the alt=tags which gives you some ability to optimise images for the search results, not perfect but at least they can be optimised to some extent.

Metadata & Content Duplication [Filters] – the biggest culprit.

The ability to ‘filter’ products on a collection page is standard functionality expected on any ecommerce store and is essential for user experience [UX] and conversion rate. You would never expect land on a large fashion store’s page for shoes and not be able to filter them down by size, colour, brand and type.

This is by far the biggest SEO factor that hinders a Shopify stores’ ability to perform in the search engines. A single collection page with no filters has the ability to be optimised to perfection via the Shopify content management system [CMS] no problem at all. But here’s the problem; major duplication issues arise when product filters are added to collection pages with product tags.

Standard ‘sort’ filters such as A-Z, Price High to Low are not the issue here as these ‘sort’ query string urls are dealt with by canonicalisation back to the root collection page to avoid duplication issues and penalties.

Shopify uses a built-in product ‘tagging’ system to arrange collections of products in filterable results in the sidebar such as size, product type, colour etc. These ‘filter link’ urls are dynamically generated by the platform and aren’t accessible or editable via the Shopify CMS so 1000’s and 1000’s duplication issues occur instantaneously as soon as you start adding filters to your theme, causing major keyword, metadata and content duplication issues.

Most if not all other alternative, more advanced product Shopify product filter apps in the App Store simply canonical the filter page url back to the collection page parent. Yes this solves the issue of duplication, but themes using this method are missing out on 1000’s and 1000’s of additional urls that could be indexed in the search engines driving more traffic and revenue.

Most if not all Shopify theme designers and theme developers build filter systems without understanding the implications they have on the store’s ability to perform in the search engines. We recently audited a furniture store using Shopify and they sold around 2,500 products. They were shocked to find out that they had over 300,000 urls indexed in the search engines, most of them ‘filter page’ duplicates, massively hindering their sites ability to rank in the search engines.

3rd Party Shopify App Installations

There’s 1000’s of apps in the Shopify App Store that allow you add almost any kind of functionality to your store that you require. This is great for store functionality but can be disastrous for your performance in the search engines if you start adding all kinds of functionality without fully understanding what implications these Apps have on your store’s SEO.

Testing and analysing before installing is essential. 3rd party app developers don’t care about your sites performance in the search engines, they’re interested in selling you their App. One of our clients recently added an EPOS integration App to their store and it erased 6 months work of on-site optimisation as it stripped meta titles and descriptions from the whole store.

Is Shopify Good For SEO?

With so many technical SEO issues, I guess you’re wondering; is Shopify good for SEO? Shopify is no different to any other platform. If you know and understand its limitations and you know its constraints, and you know how to SEO then Shopify can be extremely good for SEO. Technically yes, it has more issues to overcome and things are much harder to implement but aligning this platform with Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines and known ranking factors is no different to aligning any other.

So What is the Solution to Shopify’s Technical SEO Issues?

Well, in our opinion, our Shopify Theme is. Our award winning team of e-commerce SEO & search marketing experts have meticulously designed and engineered a ‘premium’ Shopify theme that will supercharge your organic performance by addressing the major SEO issues that hinder a Shopify stores’ performance in search engines. It’s called Integrity Commerce AAP® technology. We genuinely believe it’s the best Shopify Theme for SEO. It’s built for maximum performance in the search engines and there’s no other Shopify theme on the market with our unique technology.

What is AAP® Technology?

AAP stands for Algorithm Aligned Platform. We have integrated a significant number of advanced SEO features into our theme which aligns your store with Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines and known ranking factors as best as it can.

At the core of these features is an advanced custom built product filtering system that negates the need for access to the robots.txt file whilst generating high levels of ‘on-page’ optimisation, without creating any kind of duplication issues.

  • Optimised filter page urls
  • Unique meta title tags
  • Unique meta descriptions
  • H1 tags [different from meta title tags]
  • Unique indexable content

Our technology addresses the main Shopify issues that hinder organic performance in the search engines. Our theme will ensure your store has:

  • No keyword or metadata conflicts and cannibalisation
  • No duplicate content
  • No duplicate title tags and H1 tags
  • Page load speed in under 1 second
  • Coherent site-wide canonical strategy
  • Adheres to Google’s algorithms, quality guidelines & known ranking factors

This theme will significantly increase your store’s Rankings, Traffic and Sales Revenue. As far as we can see, there is no other Premium Shopify Theme in the world with this kind of high level optimisation that will supercharge your organic performance.

For more information about our bespoke Shopify Theme Development service using our premium Shopify theme (Integrity Commerce with AAP® technology) please contact us.

Get to know more about Shopify today here for free.

Published by Kristin Atkinson

Multi-award winning owner, founder and Managing Director of Integrity Search. Passionate about all things search including SEO, PPC & Web Design for ecommerce using our own premium, algorithm aligned Shopify theme; Integrity Commerce®.

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