Introduction

I know what you’re thinking – you have a small business that you’re trying to get off the ground but have absolutely no idea what to do and how to do it. Or maybe you have an already established business but you’re just not seeing the return on your investment that you expected?

It’s no secret that when it comes to marketing your products or services, these days it’s all about the internet and the online community. Although word of mouth is still important, getting your business recognised by a relevant audience involves a carefully thought out online marketing strategy.

Before we delve into the areas you should focus on first, you need to understand that a successful, organic (free) online business campaign won’t see your bank balance skyrocket overnight. Paid advertising may see you reap financial gains quicker, however this will cost you up front. This article will concentrate on organic digital marketing.

It’s a common misconception that once you create a website for your business, you will start to see an increase in paying customers straight away. Unfortunately, many small businesses have found out that it is just not that simple, costing them valuable time and money in the long run. Remember – most people don’t get rich quick!

So, with a bit of expert knowledge to guide you in the right direction, some hard work, patience and determination, you too can achieve anything you set your mind to, without paying a fortune up front.

Firstly, let’s get to the absolute basics.

Where Should I Start?

Before you do anything else, you will need to take a good look at your website, as this is where your potential customers will probably end up, where you want them to stay, buy something, and keep coming back for more!

Whether you’ve created your own WordPress site, or you have enlisted the help of a professional website developer, the following are crucial to your online marketing strategy, and ultimately, your businesses success.

Web design

1. Your website should be optimised for conversion

This is where a lot of people get it wrong from the beginning. Sure, having an attractive site is important, but it won’t get you sales if you haven’t considered everything else.

Your site should be doing several things to keep a potential customer on your pages (lower bounce rate), making it easy for them to find what they need and guide them to purchase. You should think about what works for you when you visit someone else’s website and put yourself in your customers shoes. Here’s why:

Website Speed

Your potential customers won’t hang around for your website to load, they’ll most likely go to the next site listed on Google, and that could be your competitor. Stats show that they’ll do this in as little as a couple of seconds! So, you want to be able to answer YES to each of the following:

Do you know how long your website takes to load?

There are numerous tools available for you to test your websites speed and performance. Your results will vary depending on the time of day and how much traffic you currently have on your website and/or shared host, but you can simply average these out to get an estimate.

Pingdom

Enter your website URL and be sure to select the closest location:

Pingdom

GT Metrix

You will need to create a free account to get access to the additional options such as location.

Gtmetrix

Your results will vary depending on the time of day and how much traffic you currently have on your website and/or shared host, but you can simply average this out to get an estimate.

Speed test

If you would like more in-depth info on your website load time, see our blog: How do I make my website load faster?

Mobile Responsive

Of all the different sized screens, your smartphone is currently the most popular way people are accessing online content. Remember, people are becoming increasingly impatient and they want a seamless user experience at their fingertips.

If your site is not mobile responsive, or can’t be navigated on a smaller screen easily, your potential customers will move on to a site that can. Tips include:

Mobile responsive

Website Content

Design by itself doesn’t sell your products or services. It’s one thing to have an attractive site that initially draws visitors to your site but keeping them there is something else entirely.

Have you ever seen a great ad or post that made you want to click on it and learn more, only to be met with lines of irrelevant and/or boring content? All of a sudden, that post is long forgotten, along with your business.

Good content is what sets your website apart from the masses and delivers the right message into the hearts and minds of your customers. The success of your website is determined primarily by its content.

Ultimately, content wins the buying power of your customers. All other components of your website (design, visuals, videos, etc.) provide a secondary support role. If you have effective taglines, great design will only enhance their effectiveness.

The key to a successful website is having clear, relevant and keyword-rich content that delivers the right message with power and conviction. The content on your website should target your audience, engage them and persuade them to take action.

For more detailed information, see our Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO] blog here.

2. Local Search Engine Optimisation (Local SEO)

In case you’re wondering, Local SEO differs from organic SEO as it has a geographical component which organic SEO does not necessarily have. It’s the practice of building signals of relevance around a specific location; a brick-and-mortar business.

Organic SEO is a marketing practice that pretty much just revolves around your website.

Local SEO is the best way to promote your small business to a finely targeted audience and generate more revenue from it. To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.

You might have performed Google search and seen results that populate at the top of the search results page including the map, address, star ratings, and phone number. This is Local SEO.

Local SEO

Depending on the industry, it has the potential to become the very first result on a Google search results page and can have a positive impact on driving new leads to your small business.

Local SEO provides online searchers with results that are most relevant to their current location.

Optimisation of local search is an effective way to put your business in front of customers in your area, at the exact time they are searching for a particular business or service using a precise targeted approach.

Not many small business owners are aware of this process which makes them lose out on generating more revenue from their local business. This is where you can capitalise on their shortcomings.

Consumer local search

First, it is important to look at the different details that your customers may look for while performing local searches to learn more about your small business. These can include:

Local SEO statistics

Local Backlinks Are Everything

Backlinks can be the single most important aspect of your SEO campaign on a local level. Instead of reaching out for backlinks on national blogs or articles, start in your local market first, as this is where you’ll initially be targeting your potential customers.

Every local market has a local market directory. Add your business to these local directories first. These local directories and localised websites add hyper-local relevance to your website which is key for trust flow and authority.

One link on a localised directory is better than a few links on random directories that aren’t relevant to your target audience.

Directory listings

Establish a Foundation First

What is more important than backlinks alone is making sure you have the core foundation of content on your website to support those backlinks. It won’t look natural if your website has thin or irrelevant content with a wide variety of backlinks.

Instead of hitting backlinks hard straight away, you want to focus on a core foundation of content. Creating well-written articles that provide users with true value is incredibly important.

Hit Local Links Hard Once You’ve Created a Solid Foundation

Without creating a core foundation of content that offers value, how do those backlinks look legitimate in the search engines eyes? They don’t. What you have heard about backlinks is true, they are important.

What is more important than a backlink is a localised and geo-targeted backlink. These backlinks are from websites in your local market that are also topically relevant. These are the backlinks you want to focus on in 2019.

3. Create Social Media accounts

As a small business owner, you’re constantly looking for new ways to get your company’s brand on the radar of potential customers. If you don’t already, using social media in business is a great way to engage with current customers as well as attract new ones.

Social media effectiveness boils down to engagement. If a business doesn’t engage with its customers, chances are it won’t have success in social media marketing.

Social media accounts

Here are some reasons why small businesses can actually have more success on social media than big companies:

4. Build a Comprehensive Email Marketing Strategy


Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage your audience. Email is a big part of our lives as professionals, individuals and your potential customers!

How many people do you know without an email address? There’s a good chance that you can count these people on one hand.

Email marketing

Not only does email marketing allow you to take advantage of the prospect of reaching a large group of people, but it can also offer benefits that other digital marketing tactics can’t provide. Email marketing allows you to personalise your messaging and tailor messages based on customer actions.

You can also segment your audiences to ensure that the right leads are getting the most impactful information at the most effective times.

Building a successful email strategy really boils down to four things:

Creating an Email List

Before you start sending out emails, you need to have contacts to send those emails to.

In order to do that, you need to set up lead capture forms on your website. Be sure to include text that explains what users are signing up for when they give you their email. Keep in mind to follow privacy guidelines for compliance in Australia.

Email marketing stats

Planning out the types of emails you need

The types of emails you send will depend on what type of small business you have. Just remember that every email you send should provide value for your customers.

If you’re sending an email without a clear goal and purpose or because you feel obligated to send something, it might need some rethinking.

Email design and content creation

After planning out the emails you want to send, you’ll need to actually create the content and email designs.

The key to this step is to always keep your customer and the goal of your email campaign in mind. You want the content of your message to be clear and add value for your customers and the goal or action that you want them to take should be very clear.

Sending the campaign and studying the results

Email marketing provides a unique opportunity to learn from your customers. You should always be analysing the performance of your emails regarding your email marketing KPIs.

If you notice certain types of emails perform poorly with your audience, look for new ways to improve on the next campaign.

Analysing your email performance doesn’t just let you improve your future emails. It also teaches you more about your customers, which can help you make improvements in every aspect of your business!

Email marketing results

Summary  

Now that you have a handful of small business digital marketing tactics up your sleeve you can get to work implementing them across your marketing channels. Some of you may not have time to do it and that’s where we can help you out. It’s what we do every day, and we’re passionate about it.

Helping small businesses grow and build their dreams through digital marketing is what keeps us going.

Take a minute to schedule a quick conversation with us to learn more about the marketing services we customise for small businesses like yours.

Slow loading websites kill sales

If you already have a website, do you know how long it takes to load when somebody visits your site either on a desktop computer or a mobile phone? The answer is probably no, and you could be losing a ton of possible leads and sales if it’s not loading - fast.

Why? Because we live in a fast world and people are now notoriously impatient when it comes to information available at their fingertips.

They expect “results right now” when browsing the net.

They want a smooth experience so they can effortlessly receive the information they were searching for.

In recent studies, about half of all web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. If it isn’t loaded within 3 seconds, those users tend to abandon the site.

An even more alarming statistic is that 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with an online store’s experience and loading time will take their business elsewhere. (Online shopping behemoth Amazon stands to lose up to $1.6 billion per year if their site was slowed by just 1 second!)

Clicking or tapping on a website link seems simple. But behind the scenes, hundreds of requests are instantly pinged around the world to bring you the images and text.

There’s a lot going on in those few short seconds, and a lot can go wrong in that time. Things can start to slow down, taking your website with it.

The bottom line is that your users expect your website to load fast, and they won’t stick around if it doesn’t.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most common reasons why your website is slow to load and ways to optimise your website for the best possible performance - which will increase your sales!

1. Server performance issues

Your website loads from the ground up and it all starts from your browser (Chrome, Explorer, Safari etc) sending a “ping” (response time to a request) to your server.

It’s asking for all the information and data, so it can load up your website.
If your server’s performance is low, it will take longer to respond. It doesn’t matter how quick everything else is, a slow server will always give you a slow start.

Poor server performance is almost always down to your web host. A cheap web host will usually give you a shared server, which means you’re sharing space and resources with countless other websites and you will be charged extra if you use more than your fair share.

If your site is slow, it’s partly because you’re in a queue with a lot of other sites.

If a hosting plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Many of us are bound by cashflow when it comes to what we want to achieve with our business.

Don’t fall prey to a cheap hosting deal as chances are you will end up forking out a lot more of your hard-earned dollars in the long run.

You should check customer reviews before you commit to a website host and remember that cost should only be a factor of the overall services that a hosting company can provide, depending on your business needs. This is the first thing you need to get right from the start.

2. Location of your website server

We’ve all made long distance phone calls, so you already know that it takes longer to make the connection and that’s because the information needs to physically travel to get there.

The same thing happens when you click on a website. One you click, you send a message to the server asking it to load.

If your server is based in America, and an Australian visitor clicks on your website, the information has to travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean requesting access to the server. Then, it must travel all the way back to load it on the visitor’s screen.

Do your research before signing up to a hosting provider.

If your business’ target market is in Australia only, then you may want to consider an Australian service provider with local servers. This will undoubtedly allow your site to load quicker.

But be careful. Some of these companies charge a fortune for their hosting so it’s best to check out what other customers have to say about them first.

Alternatively, there are several international hosting providers that have servers or data centres in numerous countries around the world, and by signing up with them, your site information will be requested from the closest server to your site visitor’s location.

Lexa Digital chooses to use SiteGround for our hosting needs. We find them to be superior in price, speed, ease of use, and overall performance. They also have integrated Cloudflare so your website will load ultra-fast no matter who clicks on it. Check them out for yourself: www.siteground.com

3. Increased traffic will use more resources on the server

If your website is experiencing a lot of traffic at any given time, it will eventually cause your website to slow down.

At its current level, your web server can only serve a certain number of people at once. Kind of like queuing in a shop. The more people that come into the shop, the slower they get served.

The same thing happens on your website. Your server will try to manage all the extra traffic, but it will slow down somewhere in between.

So how can I speed things up without losing all my customers?

There are a few factors you should assess first in order to help your website perform faster whilst experiencing high traffic. I have listed the integral areas below.

4. Browser caching is a vital part of your site performance

When someone visits your website, the elements on the web page they are trying to access are automatically downloaded and stored on their hard drive in a cache (temporary storage).

So, the next time they visit your site, their browser will load the requested web page very quickly, without having to send a request to the server again.

WordPress offers a vast range of Caching plugins.

The best WordPress caching plugins are W3 Total Cache, which is the most popular performance plugin, and WP Super Cache, which is best for websites with high traffic and underpowered servers.

For those not using WordPress, your site builder will have a caching service available in the dashboard settings.

5. Extra-large images on your site will slow      download time

Remember the good old days of dial-up internet? A large image could take minutes to load. One. Small. Bit. At a time. It was agonising, to say the least.
Thankfully, things have improved greatly since broadband, but the general rule still applies.

After you ping the server, it will start carrying each bit of a website to your browser screen. If you’ve got a ton of large images on your website, you’re adding extra load time for every picture, as they take up most of your page space.

Having lots of images isn’t a bad thing, as they bring life and emotion to a site. But most people go wrong by forgetting to optimise their graphics for page speed and the size of the page.

Format selection, resizing, and compression are the among the biggest factors in reducing the size of a page and increasing speed. Avoid using BMP (Bitmap) images and try to work towards compressing your images down to between 60 to 70 percent of their original size.

Your images will look the same on the screen, but they’ll load faster for your visitors.

If you use WordPress, there are heaps of plugins available to make your images less bulky.

If you’re looking for an easy, straightforward way to alter your images, tools like Smush are a good start.

It will automatically resize, optimise, and compress images for free. You can also compress up to 50 images at a single time and you can elect to automatically compress upon upload, making it super easy to keep your website load time down.

If you prefer to Photoshop your pics before uploading, try using TinyPNG. These guys give you a little bit more control over your finished product and tell you how big your image is without having to leave the site. Try it for yourself: www.tinypng.com

6. Keep your code clean and your file requests low

We’ve already explained how big, heavy elements take much longer to load but it’s not just about their size. It’s how many of them there are and ultimately, it’s about how simple the code is that makes your site.

Every small element on your site requires a different file request to load. Every CSS file, every image, every social sharing button, and every piece of JavaScript is a new file request.

Your server can only handle a certain number of requests per second. If you’re on a small server, that’s going to seriously slow things down when you have a high traffic period.

Flashy websites that are bloated with features will undoubtedly have clunky code that will dramatically lower site speed.

Stay away from pre-built website templates that have a lot going on. Some may look great, but ultimately you need to keep your site clean and simple and you’ll be one step closer to maintaining optimal site speed.

We have built our ready-made website templates around speed and overall functionality using a feather-light theme in WordPress. That way, customers know they’re not getting a bulky back end that will drag their site down with unnecessary code.

Wrapping Up

There are several tools available to help diagnose your site load speed, however, keep in mind that varying factors may cause this speed to differ throughout the day.

High traffic periods and a visitor’s personal internet connection are just a couple.

We recommend conducting 2-3 tests per day. That way you can get an overall picture of how it’s performing.

Website Speed Test

But first, let’s see how quickly your site is loading right now. Here is a simple speed test tool you can use:

https://tools.pingdom.com/ - enter the page URL in the first field and then choose a location from the drop-down box to the right.

Eg. For Australian websites, you would choose Pacific – Australia – Sydney.

Remember that it is running a test on individual pages of your site, not the whole site itself. Take note of the detailed report it produces which is choc-block full of useful information.

We recommend testing every page on your website so you can get a clear picture of what needs to be fixed, and where.

If you would like more information on anything discussed here or anything website related in general, get in touch with us today.

So you’re a small business without the need or budget for an in-house marketing specialist. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pick up the phone or email someone to ask for advice, to delegate marketing tasks or to handle new projects?

How many times have you put a project or marketing needs aside because you didn’t have the time?

At Lexa Digital, we use a marketing subscription model for many of our clients for this very reason – convenience. We offer a range of product packages such as website creation, updates and maintenance, search engine optimisation, and content marketing, to name a few. This way, you’re in full control, only subscribing to what you need and not having to pay for a service that you don’t. 

This model has proven higher customer satisfaction and retention, because it allows us to become your brand ambassador and advocate focusing on results while you focus on other responsibilities.

So how would a monthly subscription with a marketing agency benefit you?

 

It is more cost and time efficient

Have you ever wondered how much of your time is wasted on project descriptions, estimates, emails, phone calls and cost negotiations for your business? It's probably more than what you want to admit. 

Many projects (mostly small) never come to fruition because they get lost in the estimate, negotiation phase or they simply cannot afford an up-front fee of anywhere between $3000 to $5000 for an integral digital marketing service that their business needs in order to be successful.

With a monthly subscription, you don’t have to write up a budget, description, and timeline for a small project and then wait for the estimate. You just call your marketing agency and begin working on the project without waiting. Booking time in advance saves money, compared to budgeting projects one at a time. 

The result is a quicker turnaround for your request and more time to devote to other tasks on your list without the worry of how you’ll come up with a lump sum of thousands of dollars up front. 

You can simply subscribe to a monthly package for a lot less and save money when it matters.

Focus is on results, not the project.

Results are often an afterthought or put on the back burner for task-oriented projects. The focus is to complete the project within the budgeted hours, which often does not include assessing your brand first and how it should integrate.

Buying a subscription in advance saves money, compared to budgeting projects one at a time. Working with a marketing agency on a subscription ensures that they know your brand and they are results-focused. They are not task-driven but instead strategic-driven

They can use subscription hours to look at the big picture and produce results-oriented marketing elements to achieve your goals. Time is not wasted trying to “keep within budget” because the subscription gives them the flexibility to produce great work for you. 

An ongoing, monthly relationship will also support experimentation and optimisation and you can guarantee that an agency will find out what works best for your business moving forward.

The agency becomes a trusted brand partner, not just a contractor.

When a marketing agency has the mindset of a contractor, they won’t usually possess an emotional connection to your brand. The mentality is that you will call when you need something or they “check-in” every once in a while to see if you have any new opportunities.

An agency that is a trusted brand partner invests their time in your brand’s mission, vision and goals. They have that emotional connection because they are looking for new ideas to help you succeed. Working with someone who already understands your brand saves time and leads to better content. 

A monthly subscription helps build this partnership because they have the freedom to lead you in the best direction without project budget constraints on the mind.

The agency is available when you get too busy.

How many times have you looked at your workload and realise you need another 10 hours in a day to complete your list? With a marketing subscription, the agency is available to help relieve your workload. 

As a trusted partner who understands your brand, you are able to delegate assignments to them such as blog posts, social media, and graphics and rely on them for thought leadership. 

You don’t have to worry about finding external resources and bringing them onboard. You have priority access to an agency you trust and don’t need to worry about whether they’ve already booked another project when you need them.

At a glance - why monthly subscriptions are forward-thinking:

  1. Intimate understanding of your brand, business, and industry sector
  2. Build a long-term relationship and trust
  3. Priority treatment and quick response when you need it
  4. Better value for money. Lower hourly rate
  5. No surprise costs, hidden fees, and no lump sum costs. Easier to budget
  6. Commitment to getting a return on your marketing investment
  7. Clients benefit from proactive thinking from the agency
  8. Keep ahead of the competition in the fast-moving digital space

By working with your marketing agency to subscribe to a service that meets your needs, you will find more peace of mind, a quicker turnaround on requests, and the ability to do more with your budget.

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions available, currently, it is used by more than 600,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries to run their eCommerce store. The platform is feature rich; comes with beautiful templates, and ultimately offers its users a very easy way to sell their products online.

However, it’s one thing to create a great-looking Shopify website and quite another to drive organic traffic to it. I have seen so many small businesses build an ecommerce store, add all of their products, make it look fantastic and then sit back and ask why they’re not getting any sales. Now there are multiple reasons for this, from SEO to social proof and paid advertising. In this post we are going to cover the basics of the SEO side.

Below you’ll find a checklist of key things you need to do to maximise the chances of your Shopify site appearing in organic (free) search results. Although most of these steps apply to optimising any website, we have aimed to provide pointers that are as specific to Shopify SEO as possible.

1. Get your Shopify page titles right

The title tag is the boldest, most obvious element in a search result and therefore a major part in the decision-making process of whether a searcher will click on your result or not. According to Moz, title tags have “long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements.” And the closer to the start of the title tag any given keyword is, the more likely it will be to rank for that keyword-based query.

From an SEO point of view, the title tag should contain all the keywords you wish to rank for. And the most important keyword should be at the beginning, followed by second most important, then finally your brand name.

Moz provides this handy reference:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

However, one thing you must remember: write title tags for humans.

Although they should be formatted to some degree for search engines, it’s vital that the tag makes perfect sense to humans and reads like a legible sentence.

(popular ones include Ahrefs and Moz’s Keyword explorer).

In Shopify, there are two different processes for editing page titles - one for your home page, and one for every other type of page.

Editing your Shopify home page title

To edit your home page title, you need to click Sales Channels > Online Store > Preferences. Then, use the box provided to enter your home page title. 

Editing other page titles in Shopify

For other pages, the method you use to edit a page title in Shopify is more or less the same, regardless of whether you’re working with a static page, product or post.

You need to locate your page, product or post in the Shopify dashboard - once you've found it, it’s simply a case of scrolling down to the bottom of it and clicking the ‘Edit website SEO’ link. You’ll then be able to edit the page title (along with your meta data and URL - see below).

Edit Shopify SEO

2. Use headings properly

Not using headings is a common mistake made by people who build and update their own websites using platforms like Shopify. Instead of applying headings correctly (H1, H2, etc.) to their text - as a developer or webmaster might do - they add bold or capitalised text to break up their content.

This causes quite a few problems: first, from an aesthetics point of view it can look bad. Second, it makes it harder for visually impaired visitors to your website using screen readers to understand your content. And third - and of most relevance here - it makes it more difficult for search engines to index your content properly.

Give each page a unique H1 reflecting the topic the page covers, using your primary keywords in it.

Use H2-H6 tags where appropriate (normally, there’s no need to go further than H3), using secondary keywords relevant to each paragraph.

Don’t overuse the tags and the keywords in them. Keep it readable for users.

In terms of adding headings and subheadings in Shopify, it’s very easy: when editing a page, you just highlight a piece of text and then choose your desired heading from the formatting drop down menu, as per the screenshot below.

Shopify Heading SEO

To add a heading in Shopify, highlight the relevant text and then choose the heading type using the formatting bar.

Of all the heading types, your H1 is the most important, because search engines use it (along with the page title) as a primary way of ranking the page. So it should always include (and ideally start with) your focus keyword.

3. Use engaging meta descriptions

Meta descriptions provide short summaries of your web pages, and usually appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page.

Although Google says they are not a ranking factor, a well-written meta description can encourage more clickthroughs to your website - which raises the clickthrough rate (CTR) of a page. The CTR of a page is generally believed by most SEO experts to be a ranking factor, so getting meta descriptions right is very important.

Your meta description should:

As with page titles, different processes apply depending on whether you want to edit your home page meta description or the description for any other page.

To edit your home page's meta description, you'll need to click Sales Channels > Online Store > Preferences and use the box provided on the right of the screen to add or change it.

To edit a meta description for other types of pages, you just need to locate your page, post or product and then click the ‘Edit website SEO’ link.

Edit

4. Use alt text and optimised file names with your images

Search engine algorithms don’t just look at the words on your website when indexing your site; they factor in your images too.

To do this, they look at two bits of data associated with your pictures: ‘alt text’ and file names. Accordingly, you need to ensure both are up to scratch from and SEO perspective.

Adding alt text in Shopify

There are three main reasons why you should add alternative text (‘alt text’) to your images:

You should aim to add alt text that works for both screen readers and search engines - a description that that contains your focus keyword but is still perfectly understandable to anybody who is using a screen reader to access your content.

Editing alt text is very straightforward in Shopify.

For images on pages or posts, you just locate the relevant picture and double click on it. You’ll then see a box appear which allows you to edit various aspects of the image, including alt text.

For product images, you simply locate the relevant picture, hover over it and then click the word ‘ALT.’

Shopify alt tags

Click the 'ALT' icon to change the alternative text for a Shopify product

You’ll then see a box appear which gives you the option to edit your alt text.

Shopify image alt tags

Changing image file names in Shopify

Changing file names is actually not very straightforward in Shopify - so it is better to get your file names right before you upload them to the platform. This essentially means ensuring your focus keyword is in the file name, and that the file name is short.

For example, if you are selling rose gold watches in your Shopify store, ensure that the image you upload is called ‘rose-gold-watch.jpg’ instead of something indecipherable like ‘IMG379A-2.jpg’

If you do have to change an image file name after you’ve uploaded it to Shopify, then it’s unfortunately going to require you delete your existing image and replace it with a re-uploaded version that contains your focus keywords in its file name.

5. Use clean URLs

Using ‘clean’ URLs with a simple structure is encouraged by Google. Clean URLs are short, simple and intelligible: as an example, if you were selling hooded blankets, it would be advisable to use a URL of www.yourdomain.com/hooded-blankets rather than www.yourdomain.com/products/p101.php?ref=375hdblkt

Fortunately, with Shopify, you're not going to end up with long-winded URLs like the latter example, but unfortunately the platform does generate URLs in a way that is slightly less clean than we prefer.

This is because the platform adds prefixes to your pages and products, i.e.,

This isn’t ideal from an SEO perspective, but it’s not going to stop you ranking highly in search results, as there are many other ranking signals which will take priority over this.

What I would say is that you should still aim to ensure that whatever comes after the above prefixes is as ‘clean’ as possible and includes a focus keyword. The focus keyword helps both search engines and humans understand what your content is about.

To edit a page URL in Shopify, go to the page, product or post you wish to edit, scroll down to the bottom of it and then click 'Edit Website SEO.' Then, make your changes in the 'URL and handle' box (see screenshot below). If you DO change a Shopify URL, make sure that you tick the 'create URL redirect' option. This lets Google knows that you have changed the URL.

Shopify URLs

Changing URLs in Shopify for SEO purposes - if you do make a change, don't forget to tick the 'create URL redirect' box!

Note: changing URLs of pages that aren't currently performing in search results is usually a good idea - but if you are contemplating changing a page that IS already ranking highly, you should tread carefully.

This is because a high-ranking page is likely to have a lot of backlinks to it, and these don't count for quite as much if you change its URL (and won't count for anything at all if you don't create a redirect from your old URL to the new one).

Changing a URL can also affect the 'social proof' of a page because it will reset the stats displayed on your social shares counter for that page to zero.

So in an ideal world, it's good to get the URL structure right at the point at which you create your Shopify page or product, or shortly afterward.

And if you do end up changing a page URL on your Shopify store, always check that 'Create a URL redirect' box!

6. Register your Shopify store with Google and Bing

Registering a website with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools is something all website owners who are serious about SEO should do, regardless of the platform they have used to build their website. By registering your site with both of these services you are telling the two major search engines that your website exists and you’re ensuring it gets crawled.

One important thing you should remember with these services is that you should register BOTH the www and non-www version of your domain (i.e., www.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com), and, if you’ve got a secure and non-secure version of your website, the http:// and https:// versions of each.

Registering a Shopify site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools is pretty straightforward - but for more information please review the below resources:

7. Submit your Shopify store’s sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Once you’ve registered your Shopify site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, you’ll need to submit an XML sitemap to both services - this helps them to index your site accurately and quickly.

Shopify generates a sitemap automatically for you - the URL for this on your store is simply www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml - and you just need to enter this link into Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

In both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools you do this by going to your site’s dashboard, and then clicking ‘sitemaps.’

Shopify sitemap

8. Ensure your Shopify store is loading fast

Page speed is a signal used by search engines to rank websites, with fast-loading sites given preference over slower ones.

Your options for reducing page speed are a bit limited with Shopify - because rather than being able to buy your own hosting and code your own template, you have to use Shopify’s servers and their templates (although good, you won’t have detailed control over the speed with which your site loads).

That said, let us focus on the things you can do to make your Shopify site load as quickly as possible:

Rocket Amp app will speed up the load time of your Shopify store on mobile devices - this is something which will also improve SEO.

9. Add rich snippets to your content

Rich snippets data can be added to your content to help both searchers and search engines understand what a page is about - are an important part of how your website behaves in search results (check out this Search Engine Journal article about rich snippets to find out why).

Rich snippets feature visual clues about the content of a page or post - for example, star ratings, author, prices and so on - which appear just below the page/post title and before the meta description, as per the example below:

Shopify rich snippet

Example of a rich snippet. Using them can help improve a search result's CTR, which can in turn ultimately improves its position in search.

Rich snippets are typically generated through the addition of 'Schema Markup' - HTML code featuring tags defined by Schema.org (a collaborative project involving Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex aimed at helping webmasters provide more accurate information to search engines).

There are a couple of ways to add rich snippets to a Shopify store. The first is to add some ‘data markup’ code to your Shopify templates (you’ll find some more information about this along with a code example here).

The second approach is to use a rich snippets app - there are tons of these available from the Shopify app store.

Either way, it makes sense to add rich snippets as they can help increase the click-through rate (CTR) of search results - something many SEO experts believe to be a positive ranking signal.

10. Focus on creating great content and building backlinks to it

A lot of Shopify users focus so much on their product pages that they forget a hugely important aspect of SEO: creating great content, usually in the form of blog posts.

Sites that feature in-depth, informative posts on topics that people are genuinely interested in tend to perform very well in search - and particularly so if there are lots of backlinks pointing to them.

You’ll also find some more resources on how to go about creating strong content and building links to it below:

A word of warning however: before you invest time in writing great content and building backlinks to it, some keyword research is essential. This helps you get a strong understanding of the niche topics that people are actively searching for, as well as how hard it will be to rank for a particular niche.

11. Assess the quality of your on-page SEO

On-page SEO is a set of steps that are taken to ensure that as many ‘ranking signals’ as possible are present on an individual page.

These include:

We’ve touched on some of these above, but there are many other things you need to do to ensure your on-page SEO is of a high standard. One way of checking that you’ve ticked all the relevant boxes is to make use of an SEO-checking app from the Shopify App store - there are several available which check the quality of your on-page SEO and supply a report containing a list of things you need to do to improve it.

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