Shopify has seen substantial growth since its launch in 2006. It is one of the leading ecommerce platforms and continues to grow in popularity working with well-known brands such as Gymshark, Kylie, Polaroid, Huel, Lindt, and even more across their Shopify Plus platform.
For fast-growing retailers like these, one of the quickest and easiest ways to build brand presence would be to run PPC campaigns, however, for longevity and to lay down a solid foundation, you should think about starting SEO campaigns.
But, how well does Shopify actually perform when it comes to marketing through these channels?
Head of PPC, Dave Karellen and SEO Project Manager, Tom Chapman give us a breakdown of the pros and cons of using Shopify when it comes to managing PPC and SEO campaigns.
Pros of Shopify
Firstly, we need to understand how Shopify can actually serve us best. Once we know what works well with PPC and SEO we can think about what the cons may be. So, as always, let’s start off on the positive notes first.
1. Easy Set-Up and Useful Integration
First of all, Shopify is extremely easy to set up. With their whole sales approach being focused on the ease of use they have certainly hit the nail on the head with their product.
Our SEO project manager, Tom, Chapman said “For startups and smaller businesses, I always recommend Shopify over platforms such as Magento largely because of its initial ease of use. Whilst it isn’t all bells and whistles it is certainly idiot-proof and far easier than some more complex options out there. It’s especially useful with its prebuilt integration SEO and PPC offerings.”
2. Ready SEO Features and Automatically Created Sitemaps
In terms of SEO capabilities, you can set up redirects, meta tags, and descriptions, and other aspects pretty easily. As you build your site, a sitemap is also automatically created meaning whenever you then update your page this will be done for you. Less time coding and more time selling.
3. Easy Product Feed Management and Set-Up
In terms of PPC, Shopify integrates incredibly well with both Google Shopping and other product feed management platforms. Dave Karellen, Head of PPC said “A lot of the product feed management platforms are able to scrape a feed directly from a Shopify site, even if one doesn’t already exist, which is a big bonus.”
4. Easy Back-End Interface
With any site, PPC and SEO experts will need to have a regular look under the bonnet to see how a site is performing. There are numerous reasons why this may need to be done, such as for audits to identify gaps and opportunities. For many business owners and marketing managers, looking into the back-end of a site can seem like quite the daunting prospect. Your SEO team, however, should be able to look at the site’s back-end without any issues.
In Shopify’s case, the back-end interface is very user-friendly especially for non-technical people. This means it’s easy to match products up with Google Analytics, which makes solving tracking related issues as painless as possible – which is usually a big pain point for many when initially setting up PPC or SEO campaigns. It’s also something we often have to fix for a client once they’ve come on board. This is very easy to do with Shopify.
5. Security and Reliability
Finally, Shopify is incredibly reliable. With data security and payment protection being crucial for any consumer, using a reputable ecommerce platform is extremely important for any brand. Without a trusted, safe place to process online transactions, consumers are less likely to make a purchase.
Shopify has people monitoring their network constantly, looking for any attacks or potential issues which may arise. With SSL certificates and PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) Compliance – Shopify has been accredited to be secure in both data and purchasing data.
With the likes of Gymshark, Huel, and Lindt within their repertoire – spending big bucks and hundreds of thousands of purchases being made on a daily basis on Shopify, you can be pretty reassured that Shopify is both a secure and reliable platform for your ecommerce site.
Cons of Shopify
Ok, so we’ve looked at the good, it’s now time to look at the bad.
1. Duplicate Pages
One issue we have found is the way that Shopify creates duplicate pages and canonical issues.
For example, the image below is of a product. You have the original product, but that product also is included in other sections and collections of the site. Because of this, you end up getting multiple URLs.
“You want the product appearing and not a collection product – because that’s where your structured data is along with your star ratings – so it has a higher CTR,” says Tom. “However, really, in an ideal world, you’d only have the one product.”
Now, these multiples are usually set as noindexed to avoid duplication and keyword cannibalisation. Noindex means that a web page shouldn’t be indexed by search engines and so shouldn’t be shown on the search engine’s result pages.
With doubled up or multiple URLs this can eat into your budget and can also slow the site down. Tom said, “From my position though, the noindex is more of a suggestion to Google – although canonical tags help point things back to the product, the product will be the one appearing in SERPs.”
2. Structured Data Integration
Structured Data is becoming an incredibly important factor when it comes to SEO and general optimisation. With Google openly admitting to a move towards AI, data structure provides a way to organise information so that search engines such as Google find it easier to crawl sites. We have previously talked about the importance of Structured Data and how to implement it yourself.
So, how does Shopify fair when it comes to implementing structured data? Well, not too well. It’s not currently very user-friendly and often requires development support – or someone who knows their way around Shopify code. This means that when Google does finally shift fully into AI, your site will be left behind and won’t be as crawlable (or in layman’s terms, it won’t be “seen” by search engines).
Without some form of SEO or web dev expertise, you won’t get advanced structured data functions without this support.
3. Heavy App Reliance
Shopify has an incredibly heavy app reliance. There’s a huge app network on Shopify and Shopify Plus, which means if you need something doing, there’s probably an app that can help you.
However, in order to get the most out of your Shopify SEO, you’ll need to invest in SEO specific apps and plugins. This means there are roadblocks in the way that stop people from completing the tasks they need to optimise their site. Tom Chapman states “It almost feels like a pay to win scenario, there are often ways around it but for those who may struggle with coding or back-end it can be difficult”.
Shopify is more cost effective than other ecommerce platforms such as Magento, and so it is likely you will still get a strong return on investment, even with investment in apps, however this can result in your team losing time and energy searching for and managing these extra apps. Multiple apps can also slow down your site and site speed which can attribute to poor Google rankings.
Is Shopify Worth Using?
At the end of the day, Shopify is an incredibly viable solution for your ecommerce site. From an SEO and PPC standpoint, Shopify is generally fit for purpose and easy enough to use for a wide range of skill sets. If the standalone Shopify platform isn’t enough, there is also Shopify Plus which offers more apps and integrations should you need a little more oomph.
It all depends on your needs, goals, and knowledge. The more you invest in proper PPC and SEO campaigns, the more you will be able to get out of Shopify as you will be supported by professionals who know their way around the nooks and crannies of Shopify settings and back-end. However, if you’re on your own you may struggle.
Need help setting up PPC and SEO on your Shopify accounts? Contact us today and our team of experts can help guide and advise you on what you need to do.