Organic traffic is the key to success if you’re running an online store. Even if you are using an SEO-friendly platform such as Shopify, you still need to implement the proper optimizations in order to get the necessary traction for your website.
There are dozens of various improvements you can make to your store to potentially make a difference in your rankings, but if you seriously want to optimize your Shopify SEO, the secret is in the user experience. How well your website caters to your users is now one of the most important ranking factors, and this is especially true in the world of eCommerce.
Rather than making changes to your website to please the search engines, Google has made it clear that we need to start thinking in terms of what our users get out of our websites instead. Are we delivering a fast, hassle-free, intuitive, and useful experience? You should be asking yourself that question every step of the way as you are developing your online store.
Shopify is a powerful platform and certainly gives you plenty to work with if you are building a highly-functional online store. However, there are a lot of points you need to take into consideration if you plan on ranking well in the SERPs. It’s no longer enough to simply build a website on a great platform, upload a few products, and set everything on autopilot. You should be fine-tuning your website so that it actually delivers and incredible experience for your users.
This is what will get you noticed on Google and is what will make your users appreciate your brand and keep coming back for more. We’ll cover a few of the best user experience optimizations you can make to improve your SEO and help you climb to page one, as well as go over just how important UX design is in eCommerce so you know how to better meet the expectations of your customers.
The Importance of User Experience in eCommerce
As an eCommerce business, your goal is to attract customers and sell your products, but on a deeper level, you are offering an experience for your users. Given how competitive the online marketplace has become, you can’t afford to think in surface terms such as marketing and sales. You need to readjust your focus and begin looking at ways you can offer a superior experience than your competitors.
A great product and even a social media reputation can only carry you so far. In order to achieve sustainable growth and build for the long-term, you need to implement solid SEO practices into the core functionality of your website. This is the only way you’re going to continuously meet the needs and expectations of your users, and will ultimately help guide them through the process of conversion.
When making additions and adjustments to your website, one of the elements you need to consider is comfort. How comfortable are you making your users feel? You should craft your Shopify store from the standpoint that you are delivering a top-tier experience. Everything is secure, works as expected, with intuitive navigation and clear evidence of authority and social proof that will assuage their fears and communicate to them that they are in the right place to make a purchase.
Beyond this, you want everything on your website to flow. Part of delivering a superior user experience is knowing what the user expects and simply giving it to them. This means straying away from overtly artsy layouts, complicated navigation, flashy elements or anything that distracts or deters your users from the ultimate goal of helping them find what they are looking for.
Let’s take this another way. Your online store isn’t there for your benefit, it’s there for your users. While there will always be that impulse to want to flex your artistic license a bit when designing your store, this is a self-serving activity that doesn’t provide any benefit or service to your customers. In fact, it could make their time on your website more difficult than it needs to be, and even send the wrong signals to Google.
Everything you do in the process of building your store should be in favor of your customers above all else. You don’t want to leave them dissatisfied. This means streamlining your design and funneling them where they need to be with clear directions, simple navigation, easy-to-read text, and other user experience factors. The better your website is suited for your users, the better you will perform in the search engines.
Google is refining their ranking factors every year, and even though platforms such as Shopify are keeping up in terms of core eCommerce functionality, most SEO still needs to be implemented manually. You won’t provide a great user experience for your customers unless you actually take the time to meticulously go through your entire website and adjust what you need to so that you create a better user experience from top to bottom.
Sometimes this means custom development and other large-scale operations in order to get your website to perform at a certain level. While this may be true, there are plenty of smaller SEO optimizations you can make yourself with the help of Shopify’s features and a little UX design advice. Below we’ll go over some of the essential changes you can make right now that may improve your rankings.
Essential SEO Optimizations For Your Shopify Store
Search engine optimizations range from simplistic to comprehensive and encompass a wide range of different skills and deep knowledge of website functionality, Shopify’s capabilities, specific industries, and even eCommerce as a whole. The good news is, you don’t need to be an SEO guru to implement the following changes to improve the user experience factor in your store.
Truthfully, some of the best and most crucial SEO techniques you can take advantage of are some of the most simple to execute. This is because when you think about building a website to favor the user, everything becomes a lot clearer. This is the secret to easy Shopify SEO optimizations that anyone can implement with a little understanding on the matter. As you will see in our examples below, there a small tweaks you can make on your site that could lead to impressive results.
Readability and Larger Font Sizes
One easy way to improve the user experience level of your website is to increase the general size of the fonts on your website. Larger fonts translate into improved readability, which in turn lowers bounce rate, an important metric that Google uses to calculate how authoritative your website is.
Increasing the size of your fonts also creates a more professional, cleaner look on most devices. These days, small fonts just look strange on our large desktop monitors and are just flat-out inconvenient on mobile devices. If your users have to squint to read a product description, they may not stick around very long.
In terms of readability, you also want to make sure you are breaking up large chunks of text with appropriate spacing. When it comes to writing for the web, forget everything you know about traditional techniques that you may have picked up in college. You’re not writing a term paper, you’re selling a product or conveying an important message.
In that respect, make sure that every page on your website has large, clear, readable bodies of text. The only places where small fonts are still conventionally accepted are in locations such as the footer, or as supplemental text underneath a button or diagram. Other than that, you want all of your fonts to stand out even on smaller phones. While every Shopify theme is different and the way in which fonts are controlled may vary, there is always a way to change the sizing. Refer to your theme’s particular documentation and don’t forget to take a moment to learn how to adjust Shopify theme settings in general.
Increase Your Page Speed
Page speed is an extremely important ranking metric right now. This is obvious because as search engines place more weight on user experience, page speed is only going to be more valuable. Let’s face it, no one likes a sluggish website. What used to be fairly common ten years ago is anathema for most of us today.
Your users will forgive many things, but most of them will not stick around and wait for a slow website to load in. Part of the reason for this is our increased knowledge of what a slow website implies. If your user were to theoretically allow one page to load, they know all the rest of your website will be as equally slow and they simply won’t want to deal with that kind of hassle.
Another issue here is that a slow website is practically synonymous with a lack of professionalism these days. When a user notices that your website is loading slowly, they are wondering “why?” Can’t you afford a fast site like all the other stores they visit have? A sluggish page might take you out of the game before you even begin, so this is an issue you want to address for your Shopify store immediately.
For example, try limiting the size of the photos you upload. While you want to make sure you are using high-quality photos, especially for your products, always try and compress the file before actually placing it onto your website. Large photos can significantly pull down the speed of your website and if you are running an eCommerce site you’re certainly likely to have plenty of them.
Another way to increase the speed of your Shopify store is to start off with a well-made theme. Even if you already found one that you like, do some research and see if it is truly optimized enough for your liking.
Your theme will provide the core functionality of your website, so you want to make sure that it is up to a certain standard. One reason why many store owners opt for custom Shopify development is that it often results in much cleaner, optimized code. However, there are amazing themes available on the Shopify market that are perfectly suitable for professional use.
Something else you want to be aware of if you are concerned about page speed is the plugins you are using. It’s easy to go “plugin happy” when you first build your store, but this isn’t always a good idea.
One other note about page speed is that you want to minimize the amount of fluff on your pages. Clean, minimal websites that are attractive and convey a specific message are what get clicks and conversions. If your store looks “crowded” in any way, it probably means you have too many elements on the page at once. By removing some of these items or sections, you will not only increase your page speed but will also improve the user experience as well.
Improve Your Navigation
Users like streamlined navigation, and so does Google. Make sure that everything important on your website is well organized and easy to reach through your navigation. Many online stores are switching to mega-menus, which are not only aesthetically pleasing but often provide a superior user experience.
Regardless of the way in which you design your navigation, it should help your users find what they need with a minimal amount of confusion and hassle. Rather than merely listing pages and categories on your website, the navigation should be designed with the customers in mind. How does your navigation answer their questions and address their needs?
Keep Up With Your Blog
Informative content creation is one of the best user experience improvements you can make on your website. A well-implemented blog serves as an anchor for your entire website, providing your customers with a powerful and reliable resource. Blog content that includes the right keywords and is comprehensive enough to actually address the needs of your users will always help your site rank higher.
Don’t allow your blog to stagnate however. Google picks up on this and will believe that your website is irrelevant. You want to make sure that you are constantly adding fresh, optimized SEO driven content to your blog on a weekly basis for best results.
Work on Your Product Pages
Lastly, in terms of increasing the user experience potential of your website, you want to take the time to work on your product pages. Each one of them should be attractive and informative, with a descriptive title and the proper keywords in the description.
A high-quality product page will not only make the search engines happy, it will please your users as well. The less research your customers have to do before they make a purchase, the better. A professionally designed product page also has the benefit of making your website visitors feel safe and secure enough to make a purchase. If the product page looks cheap or shoddy, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get consistent conversions. The trust factor is everything when it comes to eCommerce.
The Next Steps For Improving Your Shopify SEO
Once you realize that the secret to better Shopify SEO is focusing on user experience, it will shift your whole perspective on how to build and optimize your website. You will notice that as you make these improvements and see your organic traffic grow, you will wonder what else you can do to make your website better for your users.
If you are serious about meeting all of the needs of your users and truly taking advantage of everything Shopify has to offer as an eCommerce platform, you need the help of a professional SEO agency that knows exactly what the search engines expect and who can deliver a superior experience for your users. Here at Genius eCommerce, we excel at providing this level of service to our clients, because we know how important it is to have an optimized website.
Regardless of which industry you are in or how large your store is, our team of SEO professionals can help you increase your traffic with comprehensive campaigns built on years of experience covering all aspects of eCommerce digital marketing. If this sounds like something your business needs, get in contact with our team today so we can help you and your business take the next steps.