Shopify has gained a considerable popularity as an online store platform over time especially with smaller brands who wish to migrate from ordinary e-commerce platforms to a more sophisticated one. There are a number of reasons why. First, it’s easy to get started. Second, with the assistance of a plethora of apps in their app repository, you can quickly create stores with your desired specifications.

However, while it is a great tool to get started you might face issues while creating awareness of your product. It is primarily designed as an efficient e-commerce store platform with multiple functionalities available through paid/free apps. Shopify has weak support on SEO and this is due to their objective of making things easier to manage.

Shopify and SEO

Shopify lacks support for really good technical SEO. For instance, on Shopify, you’ll face issues regarding creating the structured paths that are essential for SEO. Your top funnel is your organic traffic and you really need to work on your SEO in order to bring tons of organic traffic to your store. If you are into making evergreen content to improve on your brand loyalty, working on the SEO once, although time-consuming, works a long way for pouring traffic into your online store.

The downside is getting to the first page. It takes time and technique. Nonetheless, if you aren’t on the first page of the search results, you aren’t going to get much traffic to your store. It is a long-term investment and requires one to have a good deal of patience. For the very reason, many good stores out there don’t really put efforts in this area.

So, how do you get the SEO done for your online store on Shopify? In this post, we are going to delve into the nitty-gritty of SEO, how RankBrain works and what does it mean for your Shopify store.

How does Google Search Work

For starting it is essential to understand what Google is looking for when finding the best search results.

Typically, a search engine algorithm will be a carefully devised mathematical formula that scores every page that it scans. Using the score that the page gets for a specific keyword they rank it on the SERPs(search engine result pages).

Over the years, Google has been continuously improving its search algorithm to refine search results and show the most relevant pages on the web.

But with the latest update as the RankBrain algorithm, Google has started using AI to refine search queries and rank web pages.

Basically, Google uses a complex set of marketing signals. These signals are what Google uses to help determine how to rank web pages. There are 14 different marketing signals in all but we are only going to discuss the top 3.

The 3 marketing signals are:

  1. Popularity based backlink (Off-Page SEO)
    This is also known as technical SEO. It is basically how popular your web page is. This is essentially determined by the number of authority backlinks your webpage has.

  2. Keyword in the content aka (On-Page SEO)
    Also known as content-based SEO, On-Page SEO are the techniques you use to select your keywords and place them throughout your content. This determines how you rank on Google Search. It is the most determining marketing signals when done right.

  3. RankBrain
    The first two are the most important marketing signals. However, over the past two years, Google has integrated another marketing signal called the RankBrain.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is the science of intelligently detecting and combating keyword stuffing and backlink manipulation. It is an Artificially Intelligent system that takes millions of user searches and matches those searches against a user’s intent. In short, Google is trying to imitate more of a human behavior than a robotic behavior.

With RankBrain, Google can now watch how users interact with a page and judge if that page is truly a good match for a search query. People who previously tried to hack the algorithm by keyword stuffing or fake backlinks are now in deep waters. It is really hard to beat the algorithm that is based on machine learning for its working.

Why is RankBrain becoming exceedingly important?

Simply, because it is the answer to all the hacks that people have been using to manipulate the algorithms, because it is better than the previous robotic signals and because it beats the human.

Fact: Google search engineers were asked to read some pages and guess the PageRank in the search result. While the humans guessed correctly 70 percent of the time, RankBrain had an 80 percent success rate.

It’s highly scalable and Google need not hire more humans to test the PageRank. This is the future of the keyword based SEO.

If you simply ignore RankBrain and the technology behind it, you’re not only risking your organic rankings but the traffic from organic search too.

I want to share 5 tips to increase your rank for your Shopify store by targeting the RankBrain algorithm.

1. Optimize for Mobile Speed

Use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Over the years Google has been preferring mobile traffic over desktop traffic especially on awareness sites. With the advent of RankBrain Google has started to rank mobile-friendly pages above the desktop ones. There are multiple reasons why Google prefers AMP pages over the regular HTML pages.

Major contributions of AMP to SEO are:

● AMP has a faster load time. Developers simply insert AMP code on their website that pulls data from the AMP cache and load page at lightning fast speeds.
● AMP allows Google to cache easily. It allows displaying without scanning the entire page every time.
● It decreases bounce rates and leads to high conversion.
● AMP content are now most favored by Google as they appear on top of organic search results which lead to the better ranking of web pages.

AMP on Shopify

In order to improve the client’s experience, quicker article loading, and higher user engagement, it’s important that you optimize your Shopify pages as AMP to drive sales.

To get going with AMP on Shopify, you can install the Shopify AMP plugin.

2. Optimize content for Voice Search

A few years ago, the trend in content was to write for keywords. Voice search is the next generation of search especially on mobile phones. Content should be written for the user. You should, therefore, write conversational content, just like you talk to friends.

The first step in writing any content is to identify who the content is for. Often referred to as personas, this is the typical customer for your website.

Ask yourself:

  1. Who is my typical customer?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. How old are they?
  4. What questions can typically come up during the buying process?
  5. Do they use different terms for industry standard names while searching?

This will often give you a higher rank in voice search and SERPs. Structure your page according to these answers, because this is exactly what Google is looking for on voice-based searches.

3. Reduce dribble time by Creating an Engaging story

You need to reduce dribble time on search engine results. Dribble time is the time a user takes between switching from one page to the other. You need to keep your users engaged on whatever page they land.

Use Hollywood for help, build tension, and put all of your important answers at the beginning and not the end. Give them a solid reason to stay longer. Use titles like Our top 10 most popular articles of 2018 and so on to augments the users interest.

4. Go deep into detail

Create value content with great knowledge for your users. Don’t write shallow content, go niche or go home. Once you decided to focus on the niche, go deep and go long form. Delve profoundly into the subject to create brand loyalty.

Usually, people go for a 500-word length content on their websites. If you want to rank higher in RankBrain go for 1000+ or better still around 2500-3000 words. Longer content definitely performs better than short content.

5. Don’t think like a robot, think like a human… Be more relevant

Be grammatically correct and very understandable. Remember the intent of your content and whom the end user is going to be. You are not writing for robots but for humans.

AI is powering the RankBrain, and it is programmed to look for patterns in trillions on a search. It will start by grouping all of the keywords and use customer dribble time to determine how good the page is. User intent, customer engagement, longer times on a page is all better than just being found.

Focus on the intent behind the keyword.

  1. Use click bait term
  2. Use top 10 list
  3. Use dates

Learn More

There was a time you could have done without RankBrain but you can no longer ignore it. You have to learn the technology behind it and every little change you need to make to rank higher on search results on Google. If you do not do this, you are risking your organic traffic and risking being found by the right customer. Do these small changes to your Shopify store and get found by your prospective clients. Get yourself out there on search engines.

Remember even after doing all this we are only just scraping the topmost layer of RankBrain for your Shopify store. The future is all about AI and RankBrain is going to become even more essential. The sooner you start the better.

Are you going to optimize your Shopify store for RankBrain in 2018? Be sure to let me know in the comments section. Also if you have other concerns about RankBrain and SEO let me know in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to share my knowledge of SEO and other marketing techniques with you.