The Right Shopify SEO Strategy for eCommerce Businesses in 2018

In a recent expert round-up for the WHSR blog, I’ve discussed the importance of finding the right platform for your business. Among others, several experts opened the discussion about Shopify as a great CMS for e-Commerce businesses, looking to incorporate social media into their sales funnels.Since we are here, let’s talk more about the right shopify seo strategy, and how to prepare your marketing efforts for 2018 (and why not, even further).

Shopify Stats for Non-Believers

According to a combination of official Shopify stats and news reports (source: ExpandedRamblings), as of August 1st, 2017, there were approximately 500,000 Shopify merchants in 175 countries. In 2016, the same source reported over 20,000 merchant clients, with 25% of merchants having enabled social selling for the same year. Since 2016, the platform reported that 62% of traffic and 51% of sales came from mobile. Fast forward to August 2017, there are 1,800 apps in the Shopify App Store, which have been downloaded 7 million times. 1.2 million people actively use the Shopify backend platform. The total amount of sales processed on Shopify to date exceeded $10 billion, according to stats from late 2015. Talk about potential.

How Do These Stats Reflect on Your Business?

To sum up these stats and findings:
  • 500,000 merchants in 175 countries means little competition, to be exact 2,857 merchants per country;
  • Only 25% of them use social selling, to be exact 100,000;
  • 62% mobile traffic and 51% mobile sales means you can jump into mobile optimization of your shopify shop from day one, so all funds and efforts are directed towards a solid ROI;
  • $10 billion sales, and 51% came from mobile – that is over $5 billion in mobile sales!
  • 1,800 Shopify App Store apps, downloaded 7 million times, means on average, each app was downloaded 3,889 times. A close look at Google’s or Apple’s App Store, and you’ll see most apps do not hit that number unless they surround a popular service or product.
This means the Shopify platform offers immense potential, little competition, great dynamic and user engagement, generates money, sales, and opportunities for merchants, developers, and customers.

The Right Shopify SEO Strategy

From the numbers above, it is crystal clear that mobile search optimization should be part of your long-term marketing plan. But don’t skip the basic Google optimization. Shopify businesses can now sync their store with Google Merchant Center, through direct, automated API feeds. If a Google AdWords campaign is set up along the way, products from your store become visible across all of Google’s channels. This is a great option to consider, as PPC has its role in customer acquisition, retention, and reactivation. The app that does this is called Google Shopping, with more info and feedback available here.The platform also has built-in analytics, which can be accessed as stand-alone or integrated into your GA, to monitor the evolution of your e-commerce business. A website optimizer function will help you in making the store search-engine friendly, however note that you cannot rely on the pre-built settings alone, and this will require additional tweaking.

Check for the Basics

No online store can go without these basic calls to action:
  • Title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs for blog posts, webpages, product pages, or collections – all editable
  • Themes auto-generate title tags with the name of your shop, plus xml sitemap files and robots.txt
  • ALT tag for product images, customizable img file names
  • Sitemap.xml and robots.txt files which can be later submitted and tested in GA/Webmaster tools
  • Social sharing and social media profile linking – all themes are required to have these settings
  • Canonical URL to prevent duplicated content or pages – if this sounds like Chinese for you, here is a guide from Shopify.
  • Mobile-ready functions and mobile-responsive templates
  • SSL certificates (these will impact your rankings in the long run, as Google just announced)
  • Security certificates – your customers need to know their data is handled with care and not exposed to data breaches of any kind. Shopify offers Level 1 PCI DSS compliant security features.
  • Additional apps and plugins that can help enhance your search optimization efforts (you might want to consider schema.org and mark-ups that help structure your e-store’s pages, for better user experience)
  • Built-in blogging system and news corner which enables your store to benefit from content marketing and rich keyword content, easily indexable by search engines

What Experts Are Suggesting

When it comes to the best Shopify seo strategy for e-stores, Oberlo has a few tips to add:
  • Choose relevant page titles that best express what is relevant to the customers’ search.
  • Your title tags matter not only for customers, but also for search engines, in understanding what your pages and e-store is all about.
  • Set title tags for each page, product, collection, and blog post. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to generate traffic or leads.
  • Keep your title tags short, ideally under 70 characters, to gain complete display from search engines.
  • Always add your store name in the title tag, to give credibility with search users and create a bridge between products and brands. The best way to include it is by adding your store name at the end of your page title after a separation symbol such as vertical lines “|” or dash “-“.
  • At the very beginning, incorporate your target keywords in your title tag. You might notice in the future that titles containing keywords strive for relevancy and will generate a better ranking than just keywords used for authority purposes.
  • Add variation to your keywords, depending on the page you’re targeting. Home page title tag keywords will most likely differ from product pages, or blog pages. And it is totally fine to differ!
  • Add keywords to your meta-description to boost your search visibility, and use actionable language for your visitors – they need solutions to their search, do not forget to factor in the human aspect.
  • Keep your meta-descriptions under 155 characters, and customize them based on products, pages, posts – you get it.
  • Alt image alt text can contain complex keywords such as 4-6 words (“women denim jeans summer discount”), and ideally, you should rename your image with a proper name – visual search engines will surely pick up on that.
  • Use the platform as a broadcasting environment: each time there is an update, or new product, make sure to write an article or announce it to the world. Search engines love fresh stuff.
  • Product descriptions need periodical check-ups, too. Make sure to keep them fresh and relevant. Don’t over-stuff with keywords, either.
  • Build your traffic with blog posts, customer stories, product updates, new releases, top listings, and so on.

Social Is the New Sociable

You heard me right. Nowadays, there are additional ways to keep in touch with customers and generate new ones. Facebook Live, Youtube Live, AMA (ask me anything) sessions, Instagram Live & Instagram stories. If you’re new to Instagram, check out my Instagram Marketing guide on NinjaOutreach. Instagram has also recently introduced polls into their Insta Stories, so you can ask your audience to directly vote “yes” or “no” (you can also customize your choices) on a new product, update, action the brand is considering taking/making.Plus, you can access insights, and control who is mentioning your brand (option on Instagram). Insights include Impressions, Reach, Website Clicks, Follower Activity, Video Views, Saves, Replies, Exits. With social media platforms enabling video streaming and live video support, this leads to a foundation for community building on other channels besides your own e-store.Word of advice: Don’t shy away from community, as this is also a product itself!

Mobile SEO

Birds of a feather flock together”, and this applies to any type of search engine optimization. In your GA console, you can access specific mobile factors, besides the classic content relevancy, authority, page load speed, and domain age. A mobile page-speed tool from Google will give you access to what needs to be improved for mobile traffic, as well as additional errors, and how to fix them. Plenty of mobile seo tips can be found in the Mobile Usability search traffic section.Now, Google and other search engines pay attention to mobile-specific content and keywords, that are given “preferential treatment” over normal “desktop” pages. Local businesses and local stores are given the upper hand in rankings. Which is great news if you’re planning to optimize your Shopify store deliveries across different countries and cities. To identify which cities and countries to target, start with considering your visitors’ locations (country, region, city-specific), in your GA account, and as well as your social media followers’ location(s), if you wish to target your advertising efforts.Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages) can help in driving more visibility in mobile searches, but not much in desktop searches. AMP works only for publishers or Google News pieces for now, but the future is bright. You could use Google AMP for your PR campaigns or link building efforts.As with search engine optimization for desktop websites, you can improve rankings if you keep in mind the following:
  • Improve your website’s load speed, by file compression, minimization of CSS, HTML, and Javascript, image optimization with alt-tags and size compression, reduction of redirects, faster hosting, better CDN plans, and responsive design.
  • Apply the relevancy principle: help search engines, and users understand what your business is all about. List your business locally in Google Business, Facebook Business, Instagram, LinkedIn, use geo-targeting, and directory listings from Yahoo and Bing.
  • Ask for customer reviews and testimonials. I prefer using Delighted, a simple feedback tracking tool that sends customers an email and asks them to rate your service or shop from 1 to 10, then redirects them to a feedback text box. Once the customer hits Send, the tool collects feedback in a “news feed” type of setup. The tool is free for up to 250 contacts.
  • Use a roadmap or visual planner for your seo strategy to keep tracking updates, changes, optimization efforts. TeamWeek explains better on their blog how roadmap tools work, and suggest first creating separate groups for your departments (or teams), followed by separate milestones along the way.
  • Improve small yet important mobile details such as 404-errors, full screen pop-ups, and faulty redirects.
This SEMRush article explains more about mobile optimization, and recommendations from experts.

Takeaways

As many marketing professionals advertise, anyone today can start a business. The opportunities are endless. But you can’t make it out in jungle without a proper plan. As a CMS, Shopify has potential and clearly benefits the e-commerce business model. The right Shopify SEO strategy starts with the basic fixes and principles, and progresses towards mobile-ready e-stores. Shopify has generated over $5 billion in mobile sales (that’s 51% of total sales), and 62% of traffic is mobile.By introducing the benefits of social media, of Google’s mobile optimization tips, and expert suggestions, there is no way your e-commerce business will lose visibility or exposure in the eye of competition.Image source: Unsplash

6 Digital Marketing Tools You Must Try in 2018

I love this industry because digital marketing is always changing and there are always new tools to check! New tools open up new opportunities, offer new insights and inspire new tactics.

Here are six tools I intend to give a thorough look in 2018.

What are yours?

1. Topvisor

Topvisor

Topvisor is a newer tool in my marketing arsenal but it’s quickly becoming my favorite tool! I love their keyword research and grouping features and use them every time I plan a content strategy for a new client. It also has a nice rank tracking feature that updates me on all changes that need attanetion.

2. Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider

One of the most indepth and flexible web crawlers out there, Netpeak Spider provides smooth experience and lots of features. It automatically checks 50+ parameters and detects more than 60 SEO errors (including http status errors, canonical issues, Robots.txt issues, meta tag issues and more).

Netpeak Spider

It has 5 crawling modes (site-wide, directory, URL list, XML Sitemap and even from Google SERP). Each of them allows to perform certain SEO tasks, for example, by crawling an XML sitemap, you can detect 21 XML sitemap issues in 17 parameters and send the corrected sitemap files to the search engines.

It even has the ability to calculate your site internal PageRank giving your ideas if important pages of your site are not getting enough power internally.

3. Buffer for video

There’s nothing new about Buffer. It’s been around for quite some time now! So why am I including it in this list? Because Buffer never stops and their most recently added feature is a proof!

Buffer for video is the first product to allow native video scheduling to all the big social media networks. So: upload once, share everywhere.

Not in the video game yet? This stats should change your mind:

  • 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter
  • The number of videos in Facebook feeds has grown by 360%
  • In the U.S., people are posting 94% more videos to Facebook
  • 50% of Americans who use Facebook daily watch at least 1 video every day

4. Slack

I am sure many of you are aware of Slack but few people know that it’s not merely about chatting and collaborating. With the ability to add bots, Slack has become one of the most diverse multi-purpose platforms.

The two cool bots to add:

  • Notify: Brings your brand mentions to your Slack feed. It serves as more of an ambient notification feed for these alerts and may inspire more team conversation than individual emails.
  • Statsbot: Brings Google Analytics stats to your Slack feed. Ask the bot about your stats and see the graphs and numbers right in the message thread.

Statsbot

5. Drip

It is no secret that I am not a big fan of Mail Chimp. I find their system overly bulky, difficult to use, and their policies are so unclear you can violate them by accident. I have tried a number of alternatives, but none of them were the simple, effective drip email platform I wanted. Until I found Drip.

It is a cool system that lets you create an easy sales funnel, in a visual way. While I don’t do direct sales, I have found the same principle applies to content promotion. My email campaigns have become much more effective thanks to this little gem.

Drip

Drip workflows seem amazingly easy and fun to set up. Here are options for automation systems and this one seems like a great one to add to the list.

6. Ptengine

ptengine

Ptengine is a great heatmap application, you can find out at exactly what point customers are choosing to leave your site. Isolating that point is crucial, so you can make the necessary changes to push them to the final step.

Unlike many other heatmap tools, this one provides much more insight than just a visualization. See referral information, track social media campaigns and engagement (page views, visit duration and conversions).

If you are planning a redesign in 2018, this is must-have tool to try! M-Connect Media also has a great guide listing more tools and tips.

And which tools are you planning to try in 2018?

6 SEO Secrets to Get Links to Your Website

Backlinks are one of the most important and powerful asset for propelling your site to the top. In our case, we are more interested in organic links. The very definition of the organic backlinks still remain vague, but they do  provide the biggest  value for the users, look natural in the context and have an anchor text that is integrated in a meaningful way.

Let’s review some ways on how to acquire such links and squeeze the most of juice out of them.

1. Be Involved in Link Roundups

Bloggers love publishing posts with links to the recent articles. These are fairly simple to create and share around. And it’s pretty easy to be listed in one of those as well. Being involved in this content is cool because you can get a lot of quality links fast which is really useful for SEO.

If you have an exceptional piece of content that you’ve made recently, you can create one of such great link roundup posts. In this case, I really love the citation from Jeff Jarvis: “If you can’t imagine anyone linking to what you’re about to write, don’t write it”.

To find such articles in a certain blog, you can use the SE Ranking backlink checker and make a good list for your blog post.

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As soon as you publish the article, let people know about it and suggest them to mention your content. Send them a personal email and mention this blogger in your content.

I can say that this is an excellent way to help bloggers by including their posts on your site. They will definitively notice it and will come check your out. And this is the first step to build relationships with them.

2. Offer Your Product for Blogger Reviews

I would like to assure you that there are a lot of bloggers in every money-generating industry who can write a review about your product. As you know, a product review is a good way to let people know about it in details and it usually contains a link leading to your website.

That is not so difficult as might appear at first sight. Just carefully think over your offer, find bloggers in your niche, reach them out by offering something valuable in exchange and wait for their responses.

It is worth noting that asking bloggers for a review or a link via email is not ethical and violates Google policies. Don’t be direct about it. Be more creative!

3. Run Contests

Contests are great ways to attract relevant audience and engage them with your brand. A lot of companies are using this method and I strongly encourage you to do the same.

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The purpose of this method is not to earn money, but give people something fun to do. Notice that contests have a high risk: it if the contest is lame or not well run it can actually damage your reputation.

4. Work With Influencers

Based on NeoReach, an influencer is “an individual with an online presence who has the potential to influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience.” Because these bloggers have such a good follower base by making quality and interesting content, people start trusting them and respect their opinions.

Once you make a list of influential people in your niche, you can start working with them while creating a great content. A lot of companies in your niche have a special press section where they cover news somebody else has written about them. Take a look at these pages for important updates, and you can create your own story on your blog.

If you engage with influencers just for marketing, you can miss the chance to be customer-centric.Focusing on your customers and your business will be more profitable. The best way to do that is to encourage a community and engage bloggers in a two-way conversation. Let influencers know how their opinion shaped your business decisions.

5. Help People and Ask for Links in Exchange

It might sound weird, but the quality links are born from naturally built relationships between websites. Cooperation, support, friendship, partnership – everything makes sense. Here I am not talking about link exchange; it is an illegal way to build links that can get your website penalized.

There are a lot of other things you can do to improve your  your website. For example:

  1. Translate a piece of content into a different language;
  2. Contribute a good content to a third-party blog;
  3. Make a banner or an infographic for another site;
  4. Fix some bugs or errors on a website;
  5. Debug a piece of programming code for someone’s project;

Just extend a helping hand and do the work that serves their interests.

Tip: Take full advantage of your network.

6. Use Q&A Websites

Asking and answering questions are considered to be one of the most effective ways to do better SEO and build quality links. Year after year Q&A websites go on gaining the popularity and become useful at helping people build a good link building strategy.

If you have something interesting and extraordinary, search for the burning issues and deliver the info. Quora and Reddit are one of the most popular websites that can include a number of such unanswered questions.

Why I like these websites is that you can find there some influencers and start building relationships with them. Moreover, you can learn more about your industry and find the right solution to your problem. Deeply held answers will increase your chances to link your content to other pages.

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Conclusion

There are a lot of great ways to get links to your website, and I’ve included only those that work well for me. I hope you will find something useful out there and will begin to create a successful link building campaigns. Cheers!