SEO Manager: An introduction for Shopify merchants
The way we discover, research, and engage with brands changes as time goes on, involving many different touch points and channels that form our brand experience. Perhaps one of the most important touch points is search. Over 50% of customers say they’ve discovered a new brand on Google, and 83% of US shoppers say they used online search before visiting a physical store. Search gives us access not just to new brands, but quick access to those we’ve visited previously, reviews to compare products against, marketplaces, local information, images, videos, and so much more that impact our purchasing decisions.
With search playing such a powerful role in the customer experience, it makes sense that ecommerce merchants may want to leverage it to bring more customers to their stores. The way to do so is through search engine optimization.
What is SEO, and why do I need an app for it?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of making improvements to certain elements of your website to drive high quality organic traffic. The way you typically attract more of that quality traffic is by appearing higher on search engine results pages (SERP). To do this, we need to go through a series of steps which involve analyzing your current website against different factors and metrics, making changes, and monitoring the results. Those changes include:
- Keyword research
- Site architecture
- On-page experience
- Technical SEO improvements
- Content optimization
- Off-site SEO
- Link building
And much more. These are all things which will need to adapt as your store grows, you gain new audiences, and search engine algorithms change. It can be a very involved process, and the resulting improvements need to be carefully maintained over time to ensure success.
While it may sound daunting, thankfully a lot of this ongoing maintenance can be managed in-house by your team if they have the right tools. The Shopify ecosystem is extremely valuable to many merchants, allowing them access to a flexible, scalable platform while also being able to install and integrate the tools they need to ensure ongoing success. Some of those tools can help manage and automate the SEO process, saving you time and money and ensuring you get the most out of those carefully implemented improvements. The tool we’re going to deep dive into today, is SEO Manager.
SEO Manager - Your SEO power tool for Shopify
SEO can be a complex process, and without a tool to help you may be looking at bringing in experts, auditing, and developer time to identify improvements. SEO Manager puts expert power in your hands, taking the stress and confusion out of SEO by making it easy to both understand and implement changes that will make a positive impact on your Shopify store. It’s trusted by some of Shopify’s biggest brands, like Skims, La Colombe, Atoms, and more.
SEO Manager comes with over 20 features designed to help you improve, implement, and maintain your store’s SEO. In fact, 15 of those features are completely unique to the app. Let’s take a quick look at just some of those features.
#1 - SEO Checkup Scan
It’s important to stay on top of your store’s SEO, and that often means keeping tabs on every page - especially if it’s a key landing page for your store. Being realistic, that’s going to be a huge job especially if you have hundreds of products. SEO Manager’s Check-up Scan feature takes the guesswork out of which pages need attention and which improvements to make.
With this feature, you can perform a SEO scan on any page of your website and quickly identify areas for improvement. The resulting report will detail which tests were performed as well as the results of those tests; these are prioritized with the most critical issues listed at the top, along with what the issue means and how to fix it. Whenever you update a product or page, a scan is automatically run, giving you an up-to-date score for that page along with any quick wins.
Within SEO Manager, you’ll also get an overall site score that will fluctuate as you make changes to your store and pages are updated. This gives you a real-time, up-to-date overview of how your store is performing.
#2 - Target Keywords / Keyword Discovery
Finding keywords is one of the most important parts of SEO - these reflect the words and phrases your target audience are using in search queries. Knowing what they are is one thing, but knowing which to use as part of your SEO strategy can be difficult. SEO Manager comes built in with an easy-to-use keyword discovery tool that can make the lengthy process of keyword research much faster and simpler.
By clicking on the “Google Keyword Trends” on a page within SEO Manager, it will pull up a discovery tool that will allow you to type in a potential keyword and return a list of related keywords. The tool is powered by Google, so you’ll get the live feedback from real search queries. From here you can choose your target keyword for each page which will be used as part of your check-up scans and page score, and start implementing related keywords throughout page content to boost your discoverability on Google. Through this tool, you may uncover long-tail and alternative keywords you or your competition may not have considered that have the potential to bring in even more high quality customers.
#3 - Structured Data
When it comes to getting your store seen on search engine results pages, you want to make your listing stands out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do that, especially in ecommerce, is by making use of structured data. These are pieces of code embedded within the HTML of your pages that give search engines additional information about the page in question. To illustrate, here’s what a search result with structured markup looks like on a SERP:
As well as the usual meta title and description, you can see there’s extra information that may be useful to the search user - star rating, reviews, price, and stock availability. These can help users make quick decisions about whether or not to head to your store.
Implementing this into your store often requires coding knowledge, however with SEO Manager this can be added to products automatically. From within the SEO Manager app, you can control if products and blogs should have structured markup included, and whether or not to include reviews. It will also generate a preview so you can see what it will look like in search.
Structured data is a huge boost for ecommerce SEO, and SEO Manager makes it as quick and easy as flicking a switch.
#4 - 404 Management
Hitting a 404 page can be a traffic killer for your SEO, and the more people hit that page and leave the more it will harm your store’s SEO. Sometimes you won’t even realize a link is broken, and in those cases you really need a helping hand to keep on top of 404s. SEO Manager’s Broken Links tool keeps that management as straightforward as possible, giving you a real-time view on broken links so you can fix them before they cause any damage to your SEO.
The Broken Links tool gives you a clear view on how many broken links are currently on your store, alongside any redirects and the number of 404 errors your customers have faced over time. Any time a customer hits a 404, the app automatically tracks the URL and flags it up within the app so you can resolve it. You can bulk manage the links, or go into each link individually to manually manage the redirect. On the bulk management side, you can also export and import links as a CSV so you can make lots of changes quickly.
To make sure you’re at the top of your 404 management game, SEO Manager can also send daily email notifications letting you know about any broken links and errors.
#5 - Product Availability
Believe it or not, but even product availability has the potential to impact your store’s SEO. Let’s say a product goes viral during Black Friday and your existing inventory vanishes before you even notice. People visiting that product page and leaving due to a lack of availability will not only be disappointed, but can potentially signal to Google that the page isn’t worthwhile. Or perhaps you’ve got a product which will only be available for a certain period of time, and you don’t want people to find it as that’ll potentially harm your SEO. This may seem stressful, but SEO Manager can make these scenarios a thing of the past.
The first is with product availability settings. Within SEO Manager, you can set the availability date for products which will only be available for a certain period of time.
SEO Manager will then automatically add a meta tag to the product which tells search engines that it’s no longer available.
In cases where a product simply runs out of inventory, you can also set up an out-of-stock redirect. When a product runs out of stock, SEO Manager will then redirect the customer to whichever page you designate. This could be a custom landing page which gives the customer recommendations for what they could buy instead, or the catalog page for that product category to give them other ideas.
This means that rather than a disappointed customer leaving your store altogether and harming that product page’s SEO, they may still place an order and your store’s SEO remains intact.
#6 - Bulk Editing and Automated SEO
When you add a new product to your Shopify store, you go through the motions of adding in all that valuable information and content in the product creation process. However when you later want to go back and make lots of changes to all different products, that’s when things become a bit more complicated. Perhaps you’re looking to add something to all your product meta titles, or you want to change up your meta descriptions.
SEO Manager enables you to bulk edit your store’s SEO, so you can have all your meta information in one easily editable place. You can edit image alt text, meta titles, and meta descriptions easily and quickly using the Bulk SEO Editor tool. To make this process even easier, you can also make use of the Automated SEO tool.
This tool allows you to create a template for different aspects of your store’s SEO, ensuring that every new product and page gets the SEO attention it needs. It will pull the variables it needs from the page information, and insert them into the correct location automatically. It keeps things consistent, quick, and simple.
SEO is one of the most important tasks you can do to improve the discoverability of your Shopify store. It can be a lengthy process, full of jargon yet lacking clarity on what you need to do to improve your store’s SEO. Tools like SEO Manager make it easy and straightforward to not only improve your SEO, but maintain and manage it all from within Shopify Admin.