SEO 101: A quick guide to SEO automation
Automation is something you may already be familiar with in other aspects of your store. It may be something fairly simple, for example sending automated transactional emails when a customer places an order. Or it may be something more complex, such as sending loyalty rewards based on tagging and segmenting customers.
Ecommerce automation is an extremely useful tool, and it can also apply to certain SEO tasks. There are several different aspects to optimizing your store. Add these on top of every other task you need to complete in the day-to-day running of your business, and SEO can fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
So, why not automate your ecommerce SEO as you do other aspects of your store? Let’s take a look at the basics of SEO automation for ecommerce.
What is automation in ecommerce SEO?
As the term may suggest, SEO automation is the process of automating certain optimization tasks within your store. In other words, you employ the use of tools and technologies to handle specific processes without the need for manual effort from a human. In using automated SEO for your store, you reduce the amount of effort spent on manual tasks that can often be repetitive and time-consuming. This frees up your team’s time to focus on the aspects of SEO that do require a human touch or other optimization tasks such as CRO.
Here are some examples of what you can automate in SEO:
- Metadata - titles, descriptions, and image alt text
- Structured markup
- Site performance monitoring
These can all save valuable time and effort while helping to strengthen your SEO strategy.
Will using automated SEO harm my ranking in SERPs?
The short answer is utilizing SEO automation won’t harm your ranking in search results.
The long answer is that it depends on what kind of automation you’re using. There can be a fine line between automation and black hat SEO. This is where one attempts to manipulate rankings and SERPs using tactics against Google’s guidelines, such as keyword stuffing and cloaking.
With automation and SEO, a black hat tactic would be to generate a large volume content solely using AI. There are many debates around the use of AI in content marketing and SEO, however many agree that it’s a highly useful tool that should be used in tandem with a human content writer. It can be used to provide a starting point or create a first pass at a piece of content such as a product description, blog outline, or an FAQ answer. It can also be used to generate potentially valuable related keywords for a piece of content you have planned.
Using automation incorrectly will harm your ranking in SERPs. Use it correctly, however, and it will not only reduce manual effort but can improve your ranking.
6 ways you can use SEO automation
The most popular way to automate your store’s SEO is by using an app. If you’re a Shopify merchant you’ll likely already be using several apps to power different aspects of your store. SEO is no different, and installing an app through the Shopify App Store to help with SEO automation will keep things neatly organized within Shopify Admin.
One such tool is SEO Manager, which comes pre-built with 40+ features merchants can use to enhance their store’s SEO. Some of those features include ways to automate certain SEO tasks essential to growing and improving your store’s ranking.
#1 - Meta Titles and Descriptions
While catalog sizes vary from a handful of products to thousands, it can still be tricky to optimize all of your meta titles and descriptions. These are pieces of code within a given page that summarize information for search engines. This is also the information used for displaying the page in search results, like so:
The blue title is the meta title, and the text underneath is the meta description. It gives both search engines and users information about the page’s content.
Using SEO Manager, you can create templates for this meta information so that when a new product is created, it will automatically be formatted the way you want it to be.
You can even use this feature to automate the meta information for collections, regular pages, and blog articles.
#2 - Image Alt Tags
Images are vital to any ecommerce store, and so too is the image alt text associated with them. Image alt text is code contained within a page attached to images, and will display as written copy when an image can’t be loaded. Search engines after all can’t physically see an image, so they use image alt text to discern the content of the image. This provides valuable context and can play into the wider SEO for that page.
In the above image, the text in the red box is the image alt text for the image on the left-hand side. Within SEO Manager’s Automated SEO tools, you can also create templates to automatically create and format image alt text for your store.
#3 - Broken Link Redirects
The day-to-day running of any business means that occasionally, some things fall through the cracks. And whether it’s releasing new products, retiring old ones, or migrating your store, ecommerce stores are prone to change. That means it’s easy for a broken link to go unnoticed right away, but too many of these can start to impact your store’s SEO.
A broken link points to a page or resource that no longer exists. The content may have been removed, or there may be an improperly set up redirect. Luckily, this is something that tools like SEO Manager allow you to stay on top of.
SEO Manager automatically tracks and reports broken links, so you can quickly identify and fix these with ease. However, you won’t always be able to remedy these right away and there may be users who attempt to visit the broken link before you can fix it. That’s why there’s also a broken link redirect automation built into SEO Manager.
Using this feature, you can choose for SEO Manager to determine the best redirect for a broken link, send the user to your homepage, or choose a specific URL. This can be used, for example, if you want to create a specific page that acknowledges the broken link with resources for the user.
#4 - Structured Data (JSON-LD)
On SERPs, you don’t have a lot of space to make your case for a user to visit your link over a competitor’s. You have the meta title and description, but if you want to stand out from the crowd you’ll need to implement structured data.
Structured data, or JSON-LD, is code that tells search engines more information about a page’s contents. It does this using tags called schema, to denote information such as the price, availability, and review rating. Here’s what it looks like in code:
And here’s what it looks like in search results:
This gives you a lot more real estate on SERPs, as well as the potential to improve ranking. Offering more information to Google means it can better determine if your content is best for the user and if you have more information than a competitor this can give you an edge. Giving the user more information right away means they can better assess if your page is suited to their needs, meaning they won’t visit and leave right away if it isn’t suitable thereby reducing bounce rates.
In many cases, implementing structured markup requires the help of a developer. However, the good news is that you can automatically add structured markup to your Shopify store using SEO Manager.
By simply enabling structured data for your store, SEO Manager will automatically add the code necessary. You can also separately enable reviews to be added, and select the platform you use to manage your store’s reviews.
Plus, if you have a local element to your business, SEO Manager also has tools to help automatically manage local business structured data.
#5 - Out of Stock Redirects
Planning a big sale? Had a product gone viral on TikTok? Then you may be concerned about running out of stock! It can not only be disappointing for a customer to visit a link and see a product is out of stock, but it can impact your SEO if you don’t have a plan.
One of the more advanced features of SEO Manager is the ability to set up a temporary out-of-stock redirect.
When any product runs out of stock, the feature will automatically redirect the customer to a page of your choosing. This is managed per product, so if you only want to redirect customers to specific products you can do so easily. When inventory is replenished, the feature automatically turns itself off.
#6 - Real-time SEO Reporting
Optimizing for SEO isn’t a one-and-done kind of task. For real results, it requires regular monitoring to give content the best chance at ranking on SERPs. Whenever you make a change to a page on your store, there is a chance it can impact the optimization of that page. It could something as simple as adding some new imagery, or more complex such as making layout changes.
In any case, you’ll want to know how your store is performing. Running a new test for every change you make is inefficient and time-consuming, so why not automate the process?
SEO Manager comes pre-built with a suite of analytical tools. Especially useful is the real-time SEO performance reporting which gives your site an overall grade as well as grading individual pages. This allows you to quickly identify which pages are underperforming, and fix any issues you may find.
When editing an individual page, you can also perform an SEO check-up scan. This will use SEO Manager’s algorithm to identify any areas for improvement and give actionable recommendations. This takes the manual effort and guesswork out of optimizing your content, making the process faster and more efficient.
Automation is an essential part of any ecommerce business. You can free up valuable resources, and focus on what matters most - growing your store. In automating parts of your SEO, you can ensure that your optimization efforts are as efficient as possible and your content is poised to rank higher.