How to Perform Shopify SEO Audit

Jun 10, 2024

shopify seo audit case study

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms and they are steadily growing. Back in 2017, I was contacted to do an SEO audit on a Shopify site because they were experiencing a huge traffic drop being moved from a custom PHP based e-commerce platform to Shopify.

I investigated the site to get a better understanding of the website migration. Speaking of website migration, check out this website migration database (Spanish market) curated and maintained by MJ Cachón and the articles mentioned below

Also, check out this e-commerce SEO article from Shopify by Shanelle Mullin.

I was given access to the company’s Shopify CMS, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google Ads account to conduct the audit. I also asked when was the site migrated and if they followed any specific guidelines like this one from Google.

They followed none of these steps and migrated the site straight to Shopify without considering the consequences.

I found several technical reasons causing the site to drastically lose its ranking and traffic. This post is to discuss details about those reasons. Also, If you are looking for Shopify SEO tips this is an ideal post.

1. Store-Owned Domain & Shopify-Managed Domain Both were Allowed to be Indexed and Causing Duplicate Content Issues

Web pages from their own domain and Shopify-managed domain were being indexed. It is not helpful for the search engines when they find duplicate content, and the website itself was damaging its crawl budget by allowing this

shopify managed domain indexed store owned domain indexed

Last year I tweeted about it as well

2. Both URLs With and Without Trailing Slash were Returning 200 Response Code

I used Screaming Frog SEO spider tool to check the HTTP status. Please always try to verify the HTTP status result with Chrome DevTools or Firefox Developer tools to make sure.

with and without slash

From a technical search engine standpoint, these two URL versions can contain different contents. So, search engines (Google, Bing etc .) are considering the pages as separate ones and that must be fixed to avoid the duplicate content issue.

3. Both WWW and Non-WWW Versions were Indexed by Google

www and non-www versions google indexed

Google has specific guidelines on verifying WWW, non-WWW, HTTPS and non-HTTPS versions of the site and specifying the preferred domain. I told my client to verify WWW, non-WWW, HTTP, and HTTPS, all four versions of the site, with Google Search Console. I also recommended verifying the site with Bing Webmaster Tools because Bing is another popular search engine.

4. IP Address of the Previous Site was Indexed by Google

During the audit of the Google Search Console account, I discovered that an IP address had been indexed by Google. It was revealed to be the IP address of the previous site.

ip address indexed by google

The previous website was not blocked for search engines, so a large number of pages got indexed by Google. Additionally, it was using the same Google Analytics tracking code as the live site, which was affecting its traffic data. Therefore, I advised them to immediately restrict access to the old site by IP address, block it, or password-protect it.

I also found that there is room to optimize the sitemap file by submitting a separate sitemap for the images.

shopify CDN image sitemap

5. Internal Search Terms Dropped According to Their Google Analytics Account

While auditing their Google Analytics account, I noticed a significant drop in the number of internal search terms since the site moved to Shopify.

google analytics on-site search stats

Which search terms did the potential buyers enter, and how effectively did the search results create deeper engagement with their site? This information is vital for an e-commerce business. Therefore, it was clear that this issue must be fixed.

6. Structured Data Markup, Canonical Tags, Testimonials, Google AdWords Remarketing Tracking Code, and Duplicate Meta Description

After completing the audit, I suggested to the client that they should include structured data markup, look into canonical tags further, and update the testimonial page to gather more reviews. I noticed they were using AdWords but not the remarketing tracking code, so I advised them to add it.

They had a significant number of duplicate meta descriptions, which is not a critical issue for a large e-commerce store. However, I still advised them to keep an eye on it.

7. Allowing Search Engines to Index Internal Search Result Page URL

I suggested that they analyze their traffic data carefully and allow search engines to index the internal search result pages that are bringing traffic and revenue. Here is a helpful article that discusses this topic.

index internal search result page

8. Update Google Analytics Goal and Connect Google Analytics & Search Console Account

My client forgot to update their funnel URLs in Google Analytics when their site was moved to Shopify. I advised them to update it promptly, as this is crucial for measuring conversion numbers. Since their AdWords and Analytics accounts were linked, I also recommended that they carefully investigate the AdWords conversion numbers.

google analytics goal funnel

Connecting the Google Search Console & Google Analytics accounts allows us to view organic ranking data from the Google Analytics account. Therefore, I recommended linking those accounts.

9. Pages with HTTP 404 Errors were Hurting Traffic and the PPC Budget

404 error in google analytics

It was evident from the image that many pages were returning 404 errors. I advised the client to immediately pause the AdWords (Now Google Ads) shopping, text, and Bing campaigns to prevent further financial losses and address the 404 errors.

I instructed them to identify the 404 pages that were valuable for link building and were used by the affiliates. Once those 404 errors were fixed, I recommended that they set up a Google Analytics alert (Custom Insights in GA4) for easy monitoring. I also suggested redesigning the 404 page to inform visitors that the site had been moved.

10. Traffic Drop in Google Search Console

google search console errors

The picture clearly showed that the website was experiencing a drop in traffic and other technical issues as a result of a poor migration process. Many important keywords and pages had significantly dropped in ranking on both mobile and web platforms. This may have also been negatively impacting their link-building efforts.

After sharing those 10 points with the client team, I scheduled a meeting with them. During the meeting, we agreed upon a plan to conduct extensive server log file analysis, conduct a meticulous coding audit, and use external tools such as Screamingfrog, Ahrefs or Semrush to obtain additional migration error data. This will help us prepare an organized task list to fix the errors accordingly.

I didn’t focus much on-site speed during the audit, but it’s crucial to understand that Google uses Core Web Vitals for ranking. Additionally, Shopify formed a team dedicated to website speed performance to ensure that the platform continues to be speed-friendly. We should check out the resources they offer to keep the Shopify site running smoothly.

Despite conducting this audit in 2017, it’s alarming that several websites continue to face the exact issues identified back then. As an example, let’s examine the Google search results for the well-known footwear and apparel brand Allbirds.

allbirds google search result

Given this, it’s crucial to meticulously plan and implement preventive measures to shield your Shopify site from encountering similar challenges, especially during the migration from a different CMS.

I also published an article on Magento (acquired by Adobe) SEO audit, which you may find useful. You are encouraged to read my e-commerce marketing tips article as well. Lastly, if you need help with e-commerce SEO, web development, and digital marketing projects, you can hire me. I would like to be of assistance. Thank you!