13 Common SEO Issues Encountered in Shopify Stores

To shed light on the most common SEO issues with Shopify stores, we’ve gathered insights from thirteen industry professionals, including SEO Consultants and various founders.

Their advice ranges from addressing the lack of blogs and internal links to rectifying incorrect canonicalizations in the navigation menu.

Dive in to discover the top thirteen SEO issues they’ve identified and how to overcome them.

  • Lack of Blogs and Internal Links
  • Limited Advanced Blogging Features
  • Difficulty Adjusting URL Structure
  • Higher Cost of SEO Improvement
  • Non-Unique Product Descriptions
  • WPM URL Issues in GSC
  • Poor URL Structure and Unnecessary Elements
  • Geographical Misalignment and Non-Canonical Links
  • Facing Parameter URLs and Index Bloat
  • Neglect of Meta Tags and Slow Pages
  • Duplicate Products from Multiple Categories
  • Suboptimal Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
  • Incorrect Canonicalizations in Navigation Menu

Lack of Blogs and Internal Links

Working in the SEO department at Viddyoze, the most common SEO issue encountered within Shopify stores is the absence of a blog or very few blog posts. These are crucial for driving a relative amount of traffic. 

Strategically filling your website with blog posts containing related search intent keywords will fuel more of the right traffic to your store. It’s beneficial to focus some of your blog posts on commercial keywords, e.g., (your brand) coffee flavors or the advantages of the video editing software you are selling. Many Shopify stores overlook this, which may limit their potential. 

Other common issues include bad anchor text and a lack of internal links, which don’t contribute to your SEO score. By “bad anchor” text, it means phrases like “click here for more info” or “see this link”. It’s more effective to use related keywords to the page you are linking to. “Click here” provides no value for SEO.

Louise O’Donnell, Junior SEO Executive, Viddyoze

Limited Advanced Blogging Features

One common complaint I often hear from my clients about their Shopify stores is the lack of advanced blogging features. Blogging is a great way to drive traffic and improve SEO, but on Shopify, it can be tricky.

Shopify has a basic blogging platform, but it’s not as flexible as some other platforms like WordPress. For example, it’s not as easy to customize your SEO settings for each post or categorize and tag posts in a detailed way.

This issue can make it harder to fully optimize blog posts for SEO. But don’t worry, it’s not a deal breaker. There are workarounds and third-party apps that can help. Plus, creating high-quality content that’s useful to your audience is the most important part of SEO, and you can definitely still do that on Shopify.

Irina Poddubnaia, CEO, Founder, TrackMage

Difficulty Adjusting URL Structure

An arduous task, especially for adjusting the URL structure. The absence of an exact solution for managing categories can make it even more daunting. 

However, there is a technique that I favor: leveraging breadcrumbs alongside robust and relevant internal linking. This approach eases the headaches associated with URL adjustments and paves the way for substantial improvements in SEO performance.

Aman Solanki, Freelance SEO Manager and Digital Marketing Executive, Shivlam

Higher Cost of SEO Improvement

When compared to other platforms, improving SEO on Shopify stores comes at a higher cost. While the opportunities for enhancement are similar, the plugins and tools required tend to be 20-30% more expensive than those available for platforms like WordPress. These additional costs add to the challenge of justifying what is already a long-term investment.

Jason Vaught, Founder and CSO, 805SEO

Non-Unique Product Descriptions

The most common SEO issue often observed with Shopify stores is the lack of unique and optimized product descriptions. Many Shopify store owners rely on the default product descriptions provided by suppliers or manufacturers, resulting in duplicate content across multiple websites.

To address this issue, it’s crucial to invest time and effort into creating unique, compelling, and keyword-rich product descriptions for each item in your store. Customizing product descriptions helps search engines understand the relevance and uniqueness of your content, improving your store’s visibility in search results.

Optimizing other on-page elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, and heading tags, is essential. Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into these elements to enhance their SEO value.

Lukasz Zelezny, SEO Consultant, SEO Consultant London

WPM URL Issues in GSC

Shopify sites have been plagued with WPM URL issues in Google Search Console since January 2023. The latest issue is that most of those legacy URLs now show as 404 errors, creating large swathes of 404s in all Shopify GSC dashboards. Multiple threads on the Shopify forums show store owners complaining about it.

Matt Jackson, E-Commerce SEO Consultant, Matt Jackson

Poor URL Structure and Unnecessary Elements

The most annoying SEO issue I observe with Shopify stores is the poor URL structure. Shopify’s default page creation often results in long, cluttered URLs. This problem arises because of the automatic addition of elements like products, collections, blogs, or pages in the URL, which are not needed and contribute to the URL length. 

This practice doesn’t just impact SEO negatively; it can also affect the user experience, as it lacks the straightforwardness often seen in other platforms like Magento. Although Shopify doesn’t provide a direct solution to alter this inherent site hierarchy, there are a couple of best practices I implement to organize product categories better. 

I add mega-menus on the homepage and use breadcrumb schema markup to help Google understand categories and sub-categories. Interlinking related categories with each other using relevant keywords as anchor texts also aids in better navigation and improves SEO.

Marco Genaro Palma, SEO Consultant, Genaro Palma

Geographical Misalignment and Non-Canonical Links

Because of Shopify’s hosting locations in the U.S. and Canada, U.K. stores frequently end up ranking for more keywords in the U.S. than their intended market, the U.K. This geographical misalignment can severely limit their reach and conversions.

Shopify’s internal links default to non-canonical pages, which can significantly undercut a store’s SEO potential. It dilutes the link equity, making it harder for search engines to identify and rank the most authoritative version of a page.

Last, a surprising number of Shopify stores cannot set up Analytics correctly, which can lead to distorted insights. Often, it results in most revenue being tracked through a referral, typically Shopify’s payment portal page, “Shop.” This can obscure valuable insights about the customer journey and traffic sources, making it harder to optimize SEO strategies.

Matt Janaway, CEO, Marketing Labs

Facing Parameter URLs and Index Bloat

Shopify websites are built for a purpose—to assist e-commerce business owners with less technical SEO background (or time), and it’s done a superb job fulfilling their role. 

However, every time the team at Digital Search Group has onboarded a new Shopify SEO project, they face one of the biggest crawl budget-eating issues of all, which means facing Parameter URLs, Pagination, and other unnecessary/unwanted index bloat. 

If left untreated, this can grow into an immense problem, one that suffocates your indexation, leaving Google’s crawl budget for your best pages completely ignored because of the unwanted content. 

Joe Ryan, Founder and CEO, Digital Search Group

Neglect of Meta Tags and Slow Pages

The most common SEO issue I see with Shopify stores is “Meta Madness.” It’s like a bad hair day for your website’s search engine visibility. Many store owners neglect to optimize their meta tags, leaving them bland and unappealing to search engines. 

Just like a catchy headline, your meta title and description should entice both search engines and potential customers. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in relevant keywords and showcase your unique selling points. 

Another issue is the “Speed Snail Syndrome.” Slow-loading pages can drive visitors away faster than a cheetah chasing its prey. Optimize your images, leverage caching, and minimize code to ensure your Shopify store zooms ahead of the competition. 

Remember, SEO success is all about making your store stand out like a ripe avocado in a sea of bland fruits.

Himanshu Sharma, CEO and Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing

Duplicate Products from Multiple Categories

For Shopify e-commerce stores, placing the same product in multiple categories can lead to a site being overwhelmed with duplicate products and cannibalization issues. This is because of Shopify’s default setting of creating a new product page for every category a product is added to.

To address this, the following steps can be taken:

Access the Shopify admin panel > Sales channels > Online store > Themes > Actions > Edit code.

Locate the “Snippets” folder and find the “product-grid-item.liquid” file > Find the following line of code:

<a href=”{{ product.url | within: collection }}” class=”product-grid-item”>

This line of code should be replaced with:

<a href=”{{ product.url }}” class=”product-grid-item”>

Will Bourne, SEO Consultant, GrowRoom

Suboptimal Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

The most common SEO issue observed in Shopify stores is suboptimal page titles and meta descriptions. Many store owners either use generic titles that lack relevant keywords or duplicate them across multiple pages. 

Similarly, meta descriptions are often missing or poorly crafted, failing to entice users to click through from search results. This significantly hampers the store’s search engine visibility and click-through rates. To address this, store owners should ensure that each page has a unique and descriptive title, incorporating targeted keywords to improve ranking. 

Meta descriptions should be compelling and accurately reflect the page’s content, encouraging users to visit the site. Implementing these improvements can lead to enhanced organic traffic and better overall SEO performance for Shopify stores.

Samuel Fletcher, Co-Founder, SupplyGem

Incorrect Canonicalizations in Navigation Menu

The most common SEO issue in Shopify is the incorrect canonicalizations they have when linking to products on the navigation menu. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s definitely not a best practice. It can be fixed by editing the .liquid theme files.

Trevor Stolber, Agency Owner, STOLBER Digital

Snail Speed Syndrome

Another issue is the “Speed Snail Syndrome.” Slow-loading pages can drive visitors away faster than a cheetah chasing its prey. Optimize your images, leverage caching, and minimize code to ensure your Shopify store zooms ahead of the competition.  

Page speed is an important ranking attribute for search engines, making performance optimization a prerequisite for successful sites. Here’s how Google PageSpeed Insights can help identify and rectify performance issues.

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