Did you know there are 90 free and paid Shopify themes you can use for your e-commerce website? However, not all themes are created equal. We can say this for a fact because we have been building Shopify stores for our clients, so we know which themes are SEO-friendly and which are not. As part of our Shopify SEO services, we only recommend SEO-friendly themes.
When choosing a Shopify theme, the aesthetics count. But this should not be your only consideration. First, you want a visually appealing online store that stands out from the competition. Second, users must organically discover that website on Google and other search engines.
Improve the chances of getting found by Google bots and ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) by choosing an SEO-friendly Shopify theme. Here are the things to look for in a theme.
How to choose an SEO-friendly Shopify theme
In a mobile-first world, you want to ensure that your e-commerce website is available on mobile devices. If not, you are losing massive sales opportunities.
More than 230 million people in the United States own a smartphone, and 79% of them purchased their mobile devices in the last six months. Other figures suggest that the current mobile e-commerce market share is 72.9%. That means $3 for every $4 spent on e-commerce is done through a mobile device.
A responsive or mobile-friendly Shopify store theme makes your website compatible with any device. This is crucial since Google prioritized mobile-first indexing, displaying mobile-friendly results for mobile queries.
Thus, we firmly believe mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor, not just a signal. Furthermore, Google opts for responsive websites compared with those that are not.
Speed is another Google ranking factor. Page loading times affect user experience (UX), and the tech giant is keen on providing optimal UX.
Two things could happen when your Shopify store loads in 3 seconds or less. First, dwell time or the time spent exploring your online store is improved. Second, the bounce rate is reduced. And because of how fast the page loads, the users stay on your website. And the more the user stays, the higher the chances of conversion.
Some Shopify themes mention how fast the site loads. You can always view the demo if this information is not included in the specification. Through this, you may gauge how fast or slow the loading time is.
Alternatively, you can use tools such as PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to determine the speed of the entire website or specific pages. They offer recommendations on improving speed scores on both mobile and desktop.
You may harness the power of any Shopify theme with customizable metadata, optimization-wise. Metadata refers to descriptors in the form of HTML elements. These are invisible to the users, but they clearly communicate with the search engine crawlers what the website or web page is about.
Some of the most important SEO elements to customize are:
- Title tag
- Meta description
- Alt text
- Canonical tag
- Robots meta
Regarding images, alt text is not the only element to consider. However, alt text is crucial in making your Shopify store more inclusive because it aims to serve consumers with accessibility needs. In addition, alt text allows users and search engines to understand the image’s content.
Not all understand how image impacts the performance of your Shopify store. However, no e-commerce stores thrive without product images. The workaround is to optimize the images as well. Good for you if the Shopify theme comes with image optimization features.
Excessively large images are heavy, increasing your store’s speed. A slow website impacts both UX and, thus, search ranking and traffic. Optimizing the images is paramount, and Shopify’s content delivery network (CDN) easily integrates a theme to:
- Resize images to make them responsive
- Compress images to load them faster
- Convert images to 72-dpi
- Serve images in .webp format
- Cache images to improve page load time
Some Shopify themes allow the customization of navigation. At first glance, this might not concern you at all. However, you want to emphasize navigation, more so if your e-commerce site has several product categories and thousands of product pages.
Navigation elements should be placed above the fold so the spiders can immediately crawl them and the entire website. While at it, the emphasis should be on the main pages, such as the product, contact, and FAQ pages.
The navigability of Shopify stores may seem irrelevant to some, especially concerning optimization. Nonetheless, it improves the website’s information architecture, enhancing its findability, crawlability, and displayability.
This sounds technical, but proper HTML markups help your Shopify store through optimized displayability. HTML per se does not impact SEO, but it influences some fundamental SEO aspects. This is also why you should choose a Shopify theme with valid HTML markups rather than one without any. Some of the SEO aspects we are talking about are:
- Browser compatibility
- Crawlability and crawl rate
Another critical element that the Shopify theme must include is the support for rich snippets. Rich snippets are structured information about your website displayed prominently on SERPs. These snippets have their own boxes beneath your actual domain result. If a theme supports these features, it can automate adding markups, including:
- Product schema
- Video object
A caveat, though. There is no guarantee that Google and other search engines will display rich snippets on SERPs. However, a schema markup increases the chances of triggering an algorithmic response from Google bots. When this happens, your website will have a better chance of ranking higher and having more clicks and traffic. In addition, rich snippets encourage users to click on specific pages on your site, giving them more entry points to your website.
Social sharing buttons must also be built-in into your chosen Shopify theme. Millions of people shopping online interact with other people through social media. You want this feature to come in handy if the user wants to share your product pages on their wall or feed.
This prevents you from integrating additional third-party apps or tools that may not be compatible with your chosen theme. Also, these apps may slow down your Shopify store—and you don’t want that to happen because it affects the overall store experience and performance.
By default, Shopify themes use the English language. This is fine until you realize the need to utilize the language that your target market is most familiar with. So it pays to ask yourself first where is the location of your target audience and what language they speak.
A Shopify theme that supports language and translation is what you need, particularly one that supports hreflang. It is an HTML attribute that can specify the language based on the geographical targeting of the website. For example, if you target global markets with page variations in different languages, you need to use the hreflang tag. In this way, Google will serve the right page to the target audience.
Again, hreflang does not directly impact the Shopify store’s performance, but it boosts the UX. If the store starts making international sales, it only makes sense to use a theme that allows a broad range of languages.
Shopify provides auto-generated sitemaps regardless of your chosen plan. Sitemaps are built-in even if a Shopify theme does not explicitly mention this information.
The only problem you may have is if you are running an e-commerce store with thousands of URLs. You want to ensure that your theme can generate child sitemaps. This is more so because the platform has a 50,000 URL limit. If your theme cannot do this, it will only repopulate the sitemap with new URLs and hit the limit in no time. When this happens, you need to either reduce the number of URLs or generate categorized sitemaps.
You might be wondering how support or technical assistance is related to SEO. If you cannot customize a particular product page to include images in the right sizes, then you have a problem. You want a Shopify theme with fast and responsive support to help you navigate its tools and features.
Theme developers need to keep their Shopify themes up to date, offering support to thousands to millions of users. They should be readily available to answer questions users may have. Excellent support can:
- Assist with theme customization
- Fix bugs, errors, and other issues with the theme
- Integrate user-generated recommendations
Shopify remains to be one of the most used e-commerce platforms. SEO-wise, it offers users tools, features, and capabilities to optimize their online stores. However, not all themes are created equal. Above are the things you should look for in a Shopify theme to boost your online store’s search performance.
Having been in the business for the longest time, Optimind develops fully-optimized Shopify stores. We also offer Shopify services from design, development, migration, integration, and customization to marketing and Shopify SEO. Talk to us today!