Opening a Shopify store can mean big things for your business. Suddenly, you are able to take orders and process sales online — and that means your customer base just spread to the entire internet-connected world. But, having a successful online store requires more than a Shopify account and an internet connection. You need SEO.

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. “In a nutshell, SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or online store in search engines,” explains Shopify. “Why is that important? Because the higher you rank in search engines, the more traffic and potential customers get driven to your store.” In other words, this is how all those would-be customers find out your online store exists. It basically involves putting the words that people use to search for your company and its products through your site. This way, when they search for a word, your site comes up in the search engine rankings — and that is huge. According to Optify, top-ranked websites are clicked on 36.4 percent of the time, while the No. 2 search engine result gets 12.5 percent of clicks.

Using Paid Ads vs. SEO

Yes, you could pay for ads either via a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy or some other system, but those only work as long as you are paying the bill, and they don’t appeal to many consumers. According to Shopify, “some customers have an inherent distrust of sponsored links, banners, and other online ads” — and it shows on the click-through rate. Wordstream reports that a good click-through rate is less than 2 percent on average. A better bet is to optimize your Shopify store for search engines and use PPC to boost your sales.

Understanding SEO

Clearly, SEO is valuable, but it isn’t straightforward. SEO relies on your content, but it also looks at much more than just the words on your site. You also need to think about HTML attributes like your title tags and your meta descriptions. Your sitemap also makes a difference, as does your robots exclusion protocol (REP), which is a text file that is appended to your site that tells search engines how to index your website. Plus, SEO is not limited to Shopify store content — it also applies to images. In order to have a high search engine ranking, you will need to make sure you are using relevant keywords for each of these things and you can’t just copy and paste. Using duplicate content is a big no-no when it comes to search engine rankings, even if it comes from the manufacturer’s website or if it is a commonly used list. You will need to spend time making sure that the words you use in your content and attach to website properties are completely unique and feature your keywords consistently.

Using SEO for Your Shopify Store

At this point, SEO might sound difficult but it is also easy to use. Shopify offers some great search engine optimization tips on its website, but it also includes SEO features in every plan it sells so if you have a Shopify store, you already have the tools you need — from sitemap and REP generators to title tags and meta descriptions. There are also Shopify apps, such as SEO Image Optimizer, that help you do the things that Shopify doesn’t do for you. Each of these provides a framework to help you win at SEO. In the end, the only real mistake you can make in search engine optimization is not trying.