If you’re an ecommerce retailer looking to score big with organic SEO, you’re likely wondering, “Is Shopify good for SEO?” While closed source site builders like Shopify can help you get started quickly, it’s important to consider all your options before choosing.
Is Shopify really the best choice for SEO? In this article, we help uncover the strengths and weaknesses of Shopify SEO so you can make the best choice for your storefront. We’ll discuss:
- Is Shopify good for SEO?
- SEO features that Shopify provide, including
- Technical SEO problems to expect on a Shopify site
- Which is better for SEO: Shopify or WooCommerce?
- What to do if your site is on Shopify
Is Shopify Good for SEO?
In our humble opinion, no, Shopify sites are not great for SEO. Because Shopify is a closed platform, it is significantly less customizable than open platforms, such as WooCommerce. This means technical SEO experts will have a harder time resolving issues that can impact your site rank and organic search performance.
For the most part, however, a Shopify site can provide all the essential SEO features needed to get started. There are plenty of built-in features and applications that can help get your page indexed and ranked on Google. We’ll cover these in greater detail in the section below.
SEO Features That Shopify Provides
Shopify websites integrate several built-in SEO features that can help your site get ranked and indexed, including:
Your XML sitemap is what provides Google with a complete understanding of your storefront’s structure. This map is what search engines use to crawl and index your website more easily and efficiently.
Shopify websites automatically generate an XML sitemap. You can find it at:
Once you’ve verified your domain, all you need to do is submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to have your site indexed.
Another convenient feature of Shopify websites is their ability to generate 301 redirects. These become important any time you wish to make a change to a URL on your website. For example, let’s say you want to make a change to a collection name on your shop from “Short Dresses” to “Mini Dresses.” This requires you to change the URL from:
Shopify users can easily implement necessary redirects by navigating to Settings > Apps and sales channels. From there, click Online store and choose Open sales channel. Click Navigation** followed by URL Redirects, then choose Create URL redirect. In Redirect from, enter the old URL, in Redirect to, enter the new URL. It’s that easy!
The robots.txt file is one of the most important features of your site in terms of SEO. This is what tells Google which pages to crawl and which pages not to. Ranking well on search engines requires every indexed link to be unique and valuable. If they aren’t, search engines should be directed not to index them.
Some examples of pages that aren’t necessary to crawl on a Shopify site include:
- Search pages
- Admin pages
- Checkout pages
Shopify websites automatically generate your robots.txt file, making it easier for novice users to get their sites up and running.
Responsive web design is critical for providing a seamless user experience across devices. Especially as mobile shopping continues to dominate the marketplace, it’s important for ecommerce retailers to invest in a design that caters to the mobile user experience.
Thankfully, Shopify offers plenty of mobile-friendly themes using responsive web design practices. This allows your store to look great while also improving your core web vitals and SEO as well.
Site speed is a core web vital that is directly tied to your site rank. SEO best practices dictate that a website should load within two seconds to receive a favorable ranking by Google.
Shopify helps make websites faster by default by converting all images to Webp and using a faster global network and CDN. Webp images are 30% smaller than JPEG, allowing sites to load faster as a result. If you find this feature isn’t powerful enough, you can always work to make the storefront faster by compressing photos, choosing a lightweight theme, and avoiding too many app extensions (more on that later).
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools you can use to inform your SEO strategy. Excellent for measuring traffic, tracking conversions, and analyzing trends, it is free to use and offers all the most important insights you need to make informed SEO decisions. Users can easily add the Google Analytics tag to their Shopify store by following the steps below:
- Under Sales channels, click Online Store
- Choose Preferences
- Scroll to the section called Google Analytics, then click Change
- Copy and paste in your Google Analytics tag from your Google Analytics account, then hit Save
- Be sure to check off Use Enhanced Ecommerce, then hit Save
Obviously if you’re selling goods online, you want your customers to feel secure at checkout. Not only are SSL certificates great for enhancing checkout security, but they are also preferred by search engines as a sign of a site’s authority and trustworthiness. SSL security can be easily activated on a Shopify site by enabling the “https” protocol.
Structured data helps search engines better understand unique information about your products, allowing them to display them better on search results. Shopify uses structured data to help Google find the most essential information from your catalogs, including:
- Product names
Note: If you want search engines to show more information (such as color, size, etc.), you may need to install a Shopify app, which can potentially slow down your site speed.
Search engines rely on your on-page SEO to help them better understand how aligned your content is with a user query. On-page SEO typically refers to things like:
- Page title and meta-description
- Image alt tags
- Page URLs
- H1 tags
Shopify users can easily change their on-page SEO each time they add a product page. Simply scroll to the bottom to find the search engines listing preview and hit Edit website SEO to make any necessary changes.
Technical SEO Problems to Expect on a Shopify Site
Despite its broad range of built-in SEO features, there are certain drawbacks to Shopify that can’t be easily overcome. Because it is a closed platform, there are innate shortcomings to a Shopify site compared to a WooCommerce site. For this reason, technical SEO experts regard the platform as one that places store owners at a huge disadvantage.
While some of the problems listed below can be solved through Shopify apps or asking for a developer’s help, others require customizations that simply aren’t possible on the Shopify platform. In these cases, all you can do is wait and hope for Shopify to address the issues in future releases.
That said, here are some of the biggest problems you can expect to occur with your Shopify site (and trust us… they will occur):
Sitemap Can’t be Edited
While sitemaps are automatically generated on Shopify websites, you can’t edit them. Therefore, as your site grows bigger and becomes more complicated, you won’t be able to customize it — even if your project demands it.
There’s an App for That
You’ve probably noticed that a common theme with Shopify SEO is to solve the problem by installing an app or extension to your site. While this might offer a resolution to the problem in question, relying on apps to solve your SEO problems can actually slow down your site speed significantly.
Note: Simply removing apps from your Shopify store won’t remove the code from your website. They just become inactive bits of code that eat into your crawl budget and slow down your user experience. If you remove any apps from your site, be sure to identify and remove the corresponding code to prevent speed issues.
Limited Structured Data Function
As mentioned earlier, Shopify’s structured data function is limited in the number of details it’s able to communicate to Google. This makes it particularly problematic for fashion retailers since they’ll need to communicate more detailed information, such as sizes, colors, product availability, etc. While there are apps that can help solve this problem, adding more apps means adding more to your crawl budget, potentially slowing down your store.
Limited Blog Posts Feature
When it comes to organic SEO, the biggest gains are made through blogging. Especially following Google’s helpful content update in 2022, blog posts have become an integral part of creating a strong organic SEO strategy.
Shopify’s blogging interface is hopelessly simple, leaving out many of the features that make for a well-optimized blog post, including:
- Gallery uploading
- No follow tags for outbound links
- Map and CTA buttons
- Social media share buttons
Because of these blogging limitations, creating an engaging post on Shopify can be difficult without adding blogging apps or relying on your theme’s blog feature.
Duplicate Content & Canonical Tags
Shopify users all over the web have reported several problems with SEMRush reports showing duplicate content and canonical tag conflicts. While Shopify uses robots.txt and canonical tags to prevent unnecessary links from being indexed, this method does little to address bigger problems like:
- Non-canonical links causing mixed signals
- Duplicate paginated collection pages
- Breadcrumbs URLs improperly indexed
- Non-canonical links getting indexed
Unfortunately, the only solution is to rely on external apps that can provide you with full control not to index. However, this method isn’t foolproof or 100% effective. The only alternate solution is to wait for Shopify to release a future update (don’t hold your breath).
Problematic URL & Site Hierarchy
There is no way to add subcategories into Shopify because it uses a fixed hierarchical structure. This might be fine for small businesses, but as your inventory grows, this limitation can make it extremely difficult to organize your products effectively. Again, there is no fix for this issue currently, so users just need to wait until Shopify improves in a future release.
International SEO Issues & hreflang Conflicts
For store owners selling products in multiple countries, Shopify falls short in terms of international SEO. Users have sent in several reports since Shopify introduced international SEO capabilities in 2020 highlighting the platform’s inconsistencies with hreflang tags.
What is an hreflang tag? Put simply, when a website is served in different countries, it may have different, location-specific URLs. For instance, you may have your domain at:
This means your website is serving in English to users in the U.S. and also to users in Canada. However, having these two URLs present on your site without a corresponding hreflang tag can confuse search engines, making it difficult for them to match a query to the right URL.
While Shopify stores automatically implement hreflang tags, the platform doesn’t always get it right. When it gets it wrong, it can cause significant sitewide problems, triggering hundreds (and even thousands) of hreflang conflicts in your source code.
Which is Better for SEO: Shopify or WooCommerce?
By now, you’ve probably realized our team is not too keen on Shopify websites for driving meaningful SEO performance. So, what is the better option for ecommerce retailers?
In our opinion, WooCommerce is the better choice for those seeking greater control over their technical SEO. As an open source platform, WooCommerce offers many features that aren’t available through Shopify. These features can make a huge difference in whether or not your organic strategy is successful.
Key Benefits to Using WooCommerce Over Shopify
The biggest benefits to using WooCommerce rather than Shopify include:
- Control: Unlike with Shopify, WooCommerce provides full control over all the granular, technical SEO aspects of your website.
- Customization: WooCommerce allows you to edit every aspect of your website for complete customization over all elements.
- Scalability: With a WooCommerce site, you won’t run into the site hierarchy and structural issues that would stand in the way of your scalability on Shopify.
- Ranking: While it is possible for a Shopify site to outrank a WooCommerce site, it’s less likely due to the increased flexibility and customization WooCommerce offers.
What to do if Your Site is on Shopify
Don’t panic! While Shopify sites aren’t ideal, they can still compete within the organic SEO landscape. If you already built your website on Shopify, here’s what you’ll need to do to ensure it remains as successful as possible:
Choose an Up-to-date Theme
One challenge that Shopify site owners can run into is running their storefront on an outdated theme. When setting up your website, be sure to select a current theme to avoid any technical SEO issues that may arise. Make a habit of checking for theme updates regularly on your website to ensure you’re always running the most current version.
Craft Original Content & Metadata
Missing or insufficient site content and metadata can be a huge drain on your site health and rank. Avoid these common SEO issues by taking the time to create original content for each of your webpages. Do not leave any metadata fields empty, and ensure each page has a unique title and description to avoid duplicate content problems.
Choose Your Apps Wisely
As we mentioned before, installing apps is one of the main ways to customize a Shopify website. However, adding too many apps can result in slower site speeds, decreasing your rank on the search engine results page. Be selective in the number of apps you choose to add to your website to avoid negatively impacting the user experience.
Conduct a Site Audit
The only way to know for sure whether your website has been properly optimized is by conducting a thorough site audit. Word Nerd offers free website audits through SEMRush to help you make the most informed decision about your SEO needs.
The takeaway: Shopify sites are great for beginners, but aren’t a sustainable solution for storefronts looking to improve their organic SEO. As a closed source platform, Shopify lacks many of the technical SEO features that experts find most helpful in driving meaningful organic growth. If you built your website on Shopify, speak to our team to learn how we can help migrate your site to WooCommerce so you can realize your true SEO potential!