4 most popular SEO problems with Shopify and their solutions

Shopify is a widely used e-commerce platform that makes it easier for businesses to sell their products online. The easy-to-use CMS made the platform particularly profitable for small retailers during the pandemic, allowing them to recover about 94% of the profits that could have simply been lost due to quarantine restrictions.

As with any new website, a new Shopify store will require a lot of effort on the part of its webmaster to provide the necessary visibility for users to find the site, let alone converting users to customers. And, as with any other CMS, there are several SEO hurdles that store owners need to eliminate in order for their website to effectively find its audience.

LIMITED URL STRUCTURE

Shopify CMS allows you to divide product lists into two main categories – products and collections, along with more general posts, pages and blogs. Creating a new product on Shopify allows you to list individual items that you have for sale, while collections give you the ability to combine your disparate products and sort them into categories that are easy to find.

The problem most people face is that Shopify also provides a pre-defined hierarchical structure with limited customization options. The /product and /collection subfolders must be included in the URL of every new product or collection you upload.

Even though this is a huge bone of contention among users, Shopify has not yet solved this problem, and there is currently no solution. As a result, you will need to be extremely careful with the URL label (the only part that can be customized). Make sure you use the right keywords in the title, and classify your posts intelligently so that your products are best found.

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED REPEATING CONTENT

Another unpleasant problem with classification occurs when people add a particular product to a collection. This is because, although there is already an URL for the product page, linking the product to a collection automatically creates an additional URL for it in the same collection.

Shopify automatically treats the collection URL-address as canonical for internal links, rather than as a product URL-address, which can make the task much more difficult when it comes to ensuring that the correct pages are indexed.

However, in this case, Shopify allowed the fixes, although this is due to editing the code in the back-end of your store’s theme. Following these instructions, the collection pages of your Shopify site will only point internal links to the canonical / product / URLs.

NO REDIRECTION AT THE END OF THE SLASH

Another problem with duplicating Shopify content is related to the trailing slash at the end of the URL used to indicate the catalog. Google treats URLs with and without slashes as unique pages. By default, Shopify automatically terminates an URL without a slash, but variations of the same URL with a slash at the end are available to both users and search engines. This can usually be avoided by applying a trailing slash redirect to the entire site via the website’s htaccess file, but Shopify does not allow access to the htaccess file.

Instead, Shopify recommends that SEO specialists use canonical tags to tell Google which version of each page is preferred for indexing. This is the only fix available at the moment, but it is far from perfect and often leads to problems with data attribution in Google Analytics and other tracking programs.

NO CONTROL OVER THE FILE ROBOTS.TXT ON THE SITE

In addition to forcing users to create duplicate versions of pages against their will, Shopify also prevents webmasters from manually editing the file robots.txt of the store. Apparently, Shopify sees this as a privilege, solving unpleasant technical SEO issues on your behalf. However, when products run out or collections disappear, you can’t use either noindex or nofollow for the remaining redundant pages.

In this case, you can edit the theme of your store by adding robot meta tags to the <head> section of each corresponding page. Shopify has created a step-by-step guide on how to hide duplicate pages from the search here.