[Tutorial] Shopify Image SEO and Off-page SEO To Boost Organic Traffic
This is a guest blogging article from the expert at TinyIMG
Ranking well on Google is essential for the success of your ecommerce store.
Even if you get customers to your store using Facebook ads, social media presence, or even good old fashioned word of mouth, customer searches on Google are still going to account for a huge amount of your traffic - especially as you’re getting started. In fact, a study by Sixads shows that 26% of all traffic to Shopify stores comes from organic search.
And this means you’re going to have to think about SEO for your Shopify store. And thinking about SEO is a bit like thinking about that closet that hasn’t been tidied for a decade. You know it’s there and needs doing, but somehow you never feel like doing it today. Know that feeling?
Don’t be hard on yourself. There’s a good reason why you have that feeling. In fact, there are a couple:
Reason 1: Google uses an algorithm that assesses 200 different factors when deciding how to rank your store. That’s a lot of factors, and knowing where to get started is tricky. Worse still, Google keeps changing how its algorithm works, so what worked in 2019 might not work in 2020.
Reason 2: SEO takes time to have an impact, and this impact can be hard to measure. This makes it different from other jobs you have when building your ecommerce empire. Run a social media ad and you see straight away how many new customers it has brought. Make design changes or add new products and in an instant your store is different. But SEO doesn’t offer instant results (at least not many). In general, it’s a long, slow climb upwards rather than a rocket-powered blast off.
Read more: The A-Z Guide on Shopify SEO for Beginners
It’s enough to give anyone a headache. So it’s natural that SEO jobs are the ones you keep putting off as you’re building your Shopify store. But you really shouldn’t. Instead, let’s take some advice from Saint Francis of Assisi.
In this blog, we’re going to cover:
- Image SEO Best Practices For Your Shopify Store>
- What Is Structured Data and How It Can Help Your Store SEO
- Quick and Easy Off-page SEO Tactics You Can Implement Right Away
- What's Next with Shopify SEO
- Key Takeaways
Let’s get into it.
I. Image SEO Best Practices For Your Shopify Store
Image optimization is a great place to start because it can have an immediate impact and it’s super easy to do.
1.1. Why image optimization matters
Any proper Shopify store should be full of engaging, high quality images, cause an image sells better than a thousand of words! Unfortunately, due to their “weight”, professional pictures can significantly slow down your website.
That doesn’t mean you have to stick to grainy pictures though! With tools like TinyIMG at your disposal, you will be able to automatically shrink images without compromising quality. Faster load times equals better Google rankings, simple as that!
1.2. How To Optimize Your Images For SEO?
01. Choose proper dimensions. Currently, Shopify allows users to upload images of up to 4472 x 4472 px. For square product images, Shopify recommends 2048 x 2048 px. Purely decorative pictures can be uploaded in smaller resolution, but don’t forget that the image must be at least 800 x 800 px in size, if you want it to be zoomable.
02. Name files properly. Image optimization starts with creating a proper filename, something more understandable than IMG_7896.jpeg. Put in relevant keywords, as Google crawlers will take them into account.
03. Choose the right file type. There are two types of images you’ll be dealing with - JPEG and PNG. It is considered best practice to use JPEG for product images and posts. PNG should be left for decorative elements like logos, trims and borders.
04. Compress the images. Aim at having your files in the 70-140KB range. Reducing file size is key to boosting load speed and enhancing user experience. If you have just a handful of files, you can do it manually with the help of GIMP, Photoshop or some other image editor. If you have more images, you might consider using an automated tool developed for Shopify merchants. That way, you will always be sure that the platform’s best practices are taken into account.
For a more in-depth look into the creation of image files that don’t slow down your store, refer to this blog post explaining the 7 steps of optimizing images for Shopify stores.
1.3. Optimize Alt-texts for your Images
Have you ever wondered how Google understands what’s depicted in an image? Together with the filename (which should be fairly descriptive), Google uses something called alt attributes.
Alt attributes come in two types - alt tags and alt titles. Alt tags are short bits of text that will be displayed if an image doesn’t load. They are also read aloud by accessibility software used by visually impaired users. Alt titles are somewhat less important, as they appear only when the user hovers over the image. Having them in place is useful, but less crucial than alt tags.
When writing alt tags, remember the following:
01. Avoid generic keywords. Stuffing your alt tags with phrases like “sale” or “offer” might get you penalised by Google.
02. Be descriptive. Include the concrete model and SKU, as sometimes users formulate very specific search queries.
03. Write for the user. Your image filenames can consist of separate keywords, but alt tags should be written as coherently as possible.
An example of a good alt tag would be “Woman wearing striped navy blue and white Bershka blouse and straw hat”, whereas a poorly written alt tag would read “Special offer blouse female purchase today”.
We’ve discussed the creative part of alt tags, but there are also some purely technical aspects you should bear in mind:
04. Don’t write alt tags for decorative elements, as this might confuse the search engine and get you penalised.
05. Use the surrounding text on blogs to add descriptions of what is seen in the picture. This will help Google understand the images better.
06. Create a separate sitemap for your images. A dedicated sitemap helps you to ensure that more of the content you post is crawled. This tip is especially useful, if your store features a lot of carousels and galleries.
II. Structured Data for Your Shopify SEO
Structured data is a standardized format that helps Google classify the content of your pages. In other words, structured data (also known as schema) is a sophisticated language that tells search engines what your pages are about. This is extra useful for ecommerce.
Search engines like Google can also use the data to generate rich snippets that display visuals and additional information (e.g. rating):
Such rich snippets have the potential to increase click-through rates, as search results displaying them provide additional information that instills trust. You can test whether your store currently supports rich results with a handy tool by Google.
NB: Handling Structured Data manually might be a bit tricky, as it requires substantial tech knowledge (Shopify Liquid, JSON-LD, HTML and schema.org). If you want to learn more about it, we advise you to read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and General Structured Data Guidelines.
How to Add Structured Data To Your Shopify Store
01. Define your main page types - homepage, collection, product, blog, and article pages in the schema.org file. This file contains the markup language that is used to process Structured Data.
02. Include Structured Data on your homepage, product pages, collection pages, blog page, and article pages.
03. Choose what’s needed: As Structured Data can be expressed with more than 900 separate properties, choose and focus only on those relevant to you.
04. Add 3 data types to your product pages: Product, Offer and BreadcrumbList. The first one defines the product, the second defines its variant on sale, and the third helps Google better categorize the information on your page.
05. Include these main attributes: productID, brand, mpn (Manufacturer Part Number, MPN), and gtin (Global Trade Item Number, GTIN). That way Google will match search queries with your products more easily.
III. How to improve SEO on your Shopify store: off-page SEO
Now that we’ve talked about ways to improve SEO on your page, let’s talk a little bit about ways you can improve your rankings while creating additional buzz for yourself.
In other words, off-page SEO. We’ll run through 2 smart off-page SEO tactics: Review sites and Social activities.
01. Review sites
There’s no better way of building trust and getting the word out about your brand than through good reviews. That’s why having your reviews on third-party services like Facebook or Google My Business is a fantastic off-page SEO technique for your store.
Google, in particular, is very partial to reviews, as they are real drivers of clicks and engagement.
To drive up your ranking you should consider asking your trusted repeat customers to leave reviews for you on the sites mentioned above. Also, it’s super important that you track your reviews, and reply to them to help build additional trust and engagement.
02. Social activities
If you have an ecommerce store, you are already no doubt keenly aware of how important social media is in getting the word out about your brand. There are literally thousands of blogs out there that will give every strategy under the sun for generating great social content.
Here we’ll not be focusing on what to write, but on the fact that you need to do it and do it a lot. Why? Because every share or hashtag that mentions your name or handle grows your presence. Each post might seem like a tiny thing at first - but over days, weeks, months and years all those mentions will add up and eventually give your SEO a big boost. So, the trick is to post, post, post.
Not only that, with Google and other search engines now including social media content in search results, you could find that you gain some brand recognition and placement from a flattering Instagram post or tweet.
IV. What's Next in SEO Shopify? Page Experience Benchmark, an upcoming Google Search ranking factor
SEO today is massively different from what it was just several years ago. And the techniques of making your store appeal to advanced Google search algorithms are evolving every day. In 2021, Google is set to roll out a new set of criteria by which it will rank websites – Page Experience. Basically, Google will put more emphasis not just on the content of your pages, but also on the experience of your users. Don’t get us wrong, content is still king, usability, load time, and interactivity are going to become more and more important for Google’s search rankings.
Here is a quick breakdown of factors Google will using to evaluate Page Experience:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – a loading performance metric. Sites should strive for an LCP score of less than 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID) – an interactivity metric that reflects what users feel when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. An FID of less than 100 milliseconds is considered good.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – a metric measuring visual stability (think mobile). To provide excellent user experience, sites should aim for a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Here are some ways that will help you optimize your page:
- The Mobile-Friendly Test helps you understand what should be improved for the best experience.
- The Security Issues report helps you check for safe-browsing issues.
- This Webmaster blog will help you identify issues with mobile accessibility.
V. Key takeaways on Image SEO and off-page SEO for your Shopify store
Optimizing your store for organic search is a long journey, and good marketers never stop tweaking their stores. Here are the steps you can start taking today and increase your store’s traffic and sales:
Optimize image size. Decrease loading speed by automatically shrinking ALL of your images.
Add alt texts to your images. Image search is a powerful tool these days, and having the right texts in place will help you rise in search results.
Utilize structured data. Help Google understand what your pages are about, where to find information on prices, discount, reviews and more.
Utilize your network to get backlinks. Ask partners and customers for shout-outs, and do the same for them.
Prioritize loading times and being mobile-friendly. Google is going to be paying more and more attention to this in the near future.