SEO for Shopify Webinar

1.75 million merchants sell using the Shopify platform, so if you’re an SEO that specialises in e-commerce, you absolutely need to master Shopify SEO. That’s the subject for this month’s edition of Old Guard vs New Blood.

Joining Dixon Jones are Kevin Indig from Shopify, Aaron Orendorff from Common Thread Collective, and Dominika Tracy from Speedbird Media.

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Transcript

Dixon Jones

Hello and welcome to Old Guard-New Blood episode 20 with Majestic. And today’s episode is all about SEO, Shopify SEO and Shopify in general and how to make your Shopify sites work better. Thank you very much for coming along. Thank you very much for listening in. Let’s meet the guests. Let’s start with the head of SEO at Shopify, Kevin Indig. How are you? Tell us, how is Shopify doing?

Kevin Indig

I think we’re doing okay. I think we’re doing okay. I’m doing fantastic. I’m actually joining you from the lovely city of Hamburg in Germany. I’m here on vacation and I am in the first hotel that I ever have seen with a podcast recording studio right now. So I hope the audio is coming through loud and clear.

Dixon Jones

You’ve got soundproofing on the back of the back of the set at a hotel. That’s awesome, amazing. Thanks for coming in. Dominika Tracy, how are you? Tell us about yourself. Where do you come from?

Dominika Tracy

Well, I come from a long way away, but I currently live in Weybridge, which is Surrey, near London. And I work from home which is nice.

Dixon Jones

As we’re all doing really apart from Kevin who’s traveling around the world still. Thank you very much for coming along. And Aaron Orendorff, where do you come from?

Aaron Orendorff

I’m hailing from Portland, Oregon. I am not Canadian. I believe I represent the old guard here.

Dixon Jones

Well it’s you and me on old guard and Kevin and Dominika. So thank you for volunteering the old guard. This is the youngest panelists I’ve had a combined, I’m just guessing. I know I’m not up for actually asking everybody, but I feel that I’ve got a very young group here compared to 56 year old Dixon. I’m pretty sure you’re nowhere near me really. And I’m pretty sure 20 years ago none of you were sitting around in SEO. So thanks for volunteering on the old guard there Aaron, I do appreciate.

Aaron Orendorff

Oh absolutely. I’m former Shopify. So when you asked how is Shopify doing that was sort of the joke around our parts.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Well in that case that makes you, old guard Shopify by default then really.

Aaron Orendorff

That’s what I’m going for, exactly.

Dixon Jones

We’re good, we’re there. Right. Got it sorted. So before we jump into the show, I’d like to bring in my producer David because usually I forget something at the start of these things. David, how are you?

David Bain

Very well thanks. And how are you Dixon?

Dixon Jones

Yeah I’m doing very, very well. So have I missed anything out?

David Bain

No, not at all. We’re broadcasting live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We did have a little glitch towards the start of our Facebook actually but we’ve relaunched that and we’re broadcasting live there as well. So if anyone’s watching live and you’ve got questions about Spotify SEO, please make sure you ask them in the chat and we’ll try and feature your question during the discussion as well. And remember of course, if you’re listening to the replay on Spotify, not Shopify, on Spotify, on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts then sign up at majestic.com/webinars and watch a future episode live.

Dixon Jones

Okay, brilliant. So guys, I want to start with one thing. If people haven’t got time to stay for the whole of the show, one thing… Before I should jump in I should say thank you Majestic for putting this on. I couldn’t work through without this. Without you guys doing the whole thing and helping me get through this every month, it wouldn’t be possible. But guys, I want to jump in and say, what is the one thing that people could take away from this show that would improve their Shopify life if they had only two minutes to get an opinion back? And I’ll jump in with you Kevin because you’re bound to know these straight off the bat. And what would you go for?

Kevin Indig

Of course. I think my number one tip would be to fatten up the content on your product pages. Category pages are important, the blog is important, but if I had to choose one thing, I would really invest in helpful content on product pages that is something like a representation of somebody who would consult you or advise you in a shop. Imagine you were going to a fashion clothing store not on the internet but in the real world and somebody helps you find the right product or helps you with the right size. That’s a job that great content can at least to a certain degree fill. So you want to think about all the questions that people have and put them on product pages and individualize these questions. You want to think about reviews from people. You want to think about product pictures, videos all that good stuff. So I’m going with per page content.

Dixon Jones

Okay, great. Aaron, do you want to come in with something here?

Aaron Orendorff

Absolutely. I’ve been on a mission for years to kill SEO cannibals. Pages that Google is confused about as to which page specific URL on your site should rank for specific key terms. So pick your top 5, 10 keyword terms, open up an incognito Google window, enter site, colon yourdomain.com and then do a search for each one of those 10 phrases. And as much as you possibly can, this is especially for e-commerce sites where there’s often a high turnover in product pages and just not a lot of attention to 301, all of those old product pages to direct them to the new one.

Or even if you’ve got something like different versions of a skew and they actually on different pages, try your absolute best to kill and consolidate as many of those page one and page two results through site calling yourdomain.com, using those keywords which is just going to show you what Google thinks is currently ranking and important on your site in order get rid of as many as you possibly can. And 301 them to a single page, a single URL to rule them all for each one of those keywords.

Dixon Jones

I might come back on that one in a minute. But that’s a great tip. Okay, Dominika, any suggestions for everybody?

Dominika Tracy

Oh, I think I’ll be probably agreeing with Kevin here and-

Dixon Jones

Yeah, I thought you might. Yeah, content person yeah.

Dominika Tracy

My main battle with clients is trying to explain that they should not be scared of word counts and it’s not the case that less is more. In fact most of what I do is convince clients that putting more copy on product pages, building copy on category pages is actually a good thing which seems to be an uphill battle.

Dixon Jones

It’s funny that it’s an uphill battle. I mean maybe just people like product fees and things like that, but it does seem odd that people are not prepared to put content on a product page. But let me check you back then Aaron and point at you first. But the others jump in by all means. Let’s say that you’re selling diodes and you’re just selling loads and loads of versions of electronic components, they’re all the same. They’re all you’ve got a thousand different types of resistor with different resistances, a thousand different I don’t know valves or whatever it may be. So clearly you want to rank for valves and your strategy is to try and focus everybody into those valves. But clearly each skew I would guess, has to have a different URL at checkout for the product cards.

So does that mean that you’ve got a real problem? And I guess Dominika is saying here that you start to put content in and you start to, you mentioned cannibalization, Aaron, but if you try and sit there and say that every one of these 20 content things is unique and individually its own right. You’re going to end up writing the same content at the same place. We’re just saying don’t do that. But ultimately they’re all different products. So how do you reckon those [inaudible 000813] to those two points? Aaron.

Aaron Orendorff

I deal primarily with clients that have limited skew sets. Early to mid D to C brands rather than what you’re describing sounds more of almost like a wholesale B2B issue where you have just a wide variety. But I think of something like shampoo if you sell a hair products. And one of the things I often push people to do is begin by separating informational, educational content related queries from your pages themselves. Because it’s going to be a lot easier to rank quickly and drive more traffic organically to something that’s content, educational information related, not necessarily to a product page. This is where the blog content can really be incredibly helpful. And then be very disciplined with your use of collections to product pages because collection pages are also a lot easier to rank inside Shopify than the individual product pages themselves. And as you get further down the funnel, you just really, you end up having to pay for the SEM to get somebody to a specific product niche query related search.

So you’ve just got to bite the bullet further down the funnel. Which if it’s brand related or very product specific to something that you sell, it’s absolutely worth it. And the rows that we’re trying to ad spend for Google shopping, even smart shopping campaigns. Those sort of things are so much higher that they’re absolutely worth investing into. But to think of it in these like larger buckets of informational, content related, information related, so that’s what we’ve got to serve up. And then to collection pages and making sure I’m really disciplined about as soon as something comes out of stock or something gets removed from the catalog to be redirecting that page or finding widgets where you can build different variants of skews into one product page itself.

Dixon Jones

Okay, okay. Dominika, any other thoughts on that? I can see Kevin’s hand up there.

Dominika Tracy

No, kind of. My background is probably the opposite of Aaron’s. I’ve started working in SEO, working for a slightly dodgy category of weight loss, sexual dysfunction, medicine, things like this. So I actually find writing content for products which are very hard to run for and very hard to write in a way that would differentiate products that like you said, have effectively very little differences between them. So I would still say that a skill of a good SEO is also in being able to come up with original content even if you’re describing 15 different types of chimneys. And I still think it can be done although it obviously requires a lot more effort.

Dixon Jones

But is a case I’ve thrown out there, which maybe I should move on from because it’s a bit of an edge case, but it possibly not an edge case. So Kevin or Dominika, is that a good time when you start using categories. And I’m trying to get all your optimization at the category level. Kevin, do you want to come in at all?

Kevin Indig

Yeah, sure. I think it’s a problem that I’ve seen a couple of times. And I think the… To take a step back, I want to be very careful calling out specific merchants because we want to be and stay objective as Shopify. But one example that I keep coming back to is carmats.co.uk which is a merchant who sells car mats for cars. It’s a very “dry product.” They’re making over a million ARR now. And their store is really well optimized. They are dealing with a very similar, or probably the same case that you described Dixon which is that you have a lot of products that are very similar and how in the hell, how in the world do you create interesting, sexy content for each of those car mats. It’s really difficult. I think the key is in bringing it back to the problem case that people deal with.

Obviously there’s very little differentiation between car mats and all the different models. But cars are somewhat different and there are different problem cases that different cars might bring with them. I’m not a car mat expert but I would wonder, are some of them harder to clean than others? Are they all the same? Do some of them have specific size requirements and so on and so on. So I would go back to kind of the problem and think about, okay, what are people caring about when they buy a car mat? Is it all just price? Is it durability? Is it something else? And then see if you can tie that back to the specific product categories that you have on your site. I do agree that a lot happens on the category level when you deal with such a set of products. And creating content is a challenge. But I think you can be a bit creative in finding the angle of content creation and the problems that you want to cover in all these product pages.

Dixon Jones

Okay, great. So I want to jump in next to something that’s a little bit topical which probably if you’re on the podcast sort of two years later, I do apologize for this. But just this week, Google decided to change the way it displays all its results and all its title tags. Well I’m not quite sure what’s happened. Maybe someone can tell me and clarify what’s happened. Well Aaron looks like he’s happy to clarify what’s happened on Google. Go on.

Aaron Orendorff

No, no, I’m not. I know just enough to know what to monitor. So that’s the kind of thing of like my understanding. And I think the place, what got me excited about this was my understanding is that Google is essentially testing different variations on mobile versus desktop and different search result pages for searches.

Dixon Jones

So the basic thing that’s happening is they’re changing the title tags.

Aaron Orendorff

They’re changing the title type that appears in the search result pages. But my understanding is they’re only changing that based on the words that already exist on the page. That they’re not inventing or they’re not creating new words out of it. And what they’re doing is like for example, you need to do a blog posts. You’ve got your okay, what’s your H1, the title that’s on the page? What’s the proper title, the SEO title, the meta title information? And if those two don’t match, because often you’ll have a longer headline or a longer product description or something, versus compared to like the SEO version of it. Inside Shopify, that’s what you get you a little SEO box when you hit enter.

And okay, so what makes me so excited about this is it highlights another one of those like if I had a second thing to do right now, it would actually go and look at the code on your product pages because so many product pages, the way themes are built and the way e-commerce operators, somebody that owns e-commerce isn’t going into the code to see are there multiple H1s? Is the body copy is where the links are appearing and not something like in navigation? Are there proper alt tags?

And this is just highlighting the fact that the hierarchy of information, if you’re using your H1, H2, H3, H4, your body copy, your alt description tags for images or descriptions, All of these things just got a lot more important because now Google is saying, I’m just going to mix and match. It’s not quite that bad, but it’s not doing anything that isn’t already on the page. And it’s taking its signals from the way that’s coded. And you can get huge lifts just by going into your pages and realizing like, oh, junk, we got this theme and the person we paid to build it coded everything just to look pretty and paid zero attention to what the actual that the H’s are inside of the heirrchy.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. And they put all the H tags are actually bold tags or something like that.

Aaron Orendorff

All the time. It’s brutal. But it’s also a really easy win to just start cleaning that up. It really is.

Dixon Jones

Well it is if you do coding of course it’s. It’s not easy if you’re not a coder. So life becomes really, really, really hard there. Is this affecting Shopify sites as much as it seems to be affecting everyone else? Kevin, have you got any feedback as to whether Shopify is just as prone to all of this as everyone else seems to be on the web?

Kevin Indig

I think so. It is very early to tell. We’re still looking at the data and it will still take us a little while to look at all the data and get a good understanding. The tricky thing is that there’s no great way right now to get a good idea of how Google changes all the title in aggregate. You basically have to look at the SERP yourself or find a way to scrape the SERPs or take SERP screenshots but it’s not something that you can see in search console. So that makes it a bit fuzzy and tricky.

Dixon Jones

And impossible to see at scale, yeah.

Kevin Indig

I think we’ll probably develop, somebody will come up with a tool if Google keeps it up. Which is another question, will that stay live or will Google roll it back? A lot of factors still up in the air. I think someone will probably find a way to tell you if Google has changed your title. So far it’s tricky to tell. The thing is that in e-commerce, I think one of the benefits that eCommerce sites in general have is that they’re very templatized. You have product pages, category pages, homepage, maybe some blog pages and especially product and category pages. It tends to be a lot of same titles with the H tags. Internal linking is a bit more streamlined. I think SAS sites might have a harder time where other publishers will probably have a much harder time with all of this going on. So I think that’s a benefit that any e-commerce site has to a degree.

Kevin Indig

But it’s tough to tell. It’s very early and I think we’re going to need to better understand what moves the needle Htags or H1 seem to have a big impact. But then we’re also very curious about backlinks. What if the New York Times links with just the brands as an anchor to one of your product pages? What will the impact of that be? So it’s still very fuzzy.

Dixon Jones

I was on a call last on Friday and it was the pharmaceutical industry have some real problems in the UK at least because you can’t just change words. Every single word of a pharmaceutical website in the UK has to go through legal and to have a machine then twist it and change it is really panicking them a little bit. So it’s clear that got a way to go before it goes out there. Dominika, I want to talk now about optimization, conversion optimization. How you get somebody from that initial onto the site. What kind of words do you use to try and get people down that funnel? What techniques do you use at Shopify and your content creation to get people from browse mode to buy mode?

Dominika Tracy

That is a big one isn’t it.

Dixon Jones

I’ll just throw the big questions right in!

Dominika Tracy

So I normally try to sell starting from kind of what’s the closest to the checkout experience I will start with on the product page.

Dixon Jones

So you work backwards. So you’re basically, you will start optimizing your commercial funnel by going backwards from the funnel. So somebody is at the conversion page.

Dominika Tracy

I start at the product page and kind of treat it on its own merits, forgetting about the rest of the website. And we kind of start working from that, doing ID testing and seeing what works. And mostly it’s from my experiments, it seems like copy is basically key here. So I tried to rewrite copy until I find that it acts as a shopping assistant would in a store answering all the questions and acting like this virtual in-person store assistant.

Dixon Jones

Cool. Okay, okay. And then moving back from that. So before somebody’s clicked on the product page, or you assume that they then click on the category page to get to there and you then will look at the category page sort of after you’ve looked at all the individual product pages?

Dominika Tracy

Category and the traditional kind of content pages. So blogs I fix, I design the blog section is I find extremely important. I kind of try to probably focus on that blog content and then drive links straight from the blog content onto the product pages that I want to are kind of key for the particular shop. That’s my strategy.

Dixon Jones

Aaron, got any adds on that?

Aaron Orendorff

That’s just a really good, I mean, number one, that principle of optimized closest to the money. I think that’s how Dominika puts it. And I love that that’s what you lead with. I mean it just makes all the sense in the world. And it’s counterintuitive to when you go inside and you’re looking at something like where’s all the traffic going? Okay, let’s start there. That’s what the most people are seeing. And so it’s counterintuitive but it’s just so incredibly helpful to optimize closest to the money. And I love anybody that talks about the importance of blogging for e-commerce because it’s so overlooked. It’s so under-utilized compared to let’s run paid traffic directly to product or collection pages or landing pages. But that little hat tip there to linking directly to the pages through the blog posts, there’s something that Google just loves about body copy anchor text.

That’s when you’ve got a really disciplined inter linking strategy with your heaviest hitter, most linked to from external sources pages and then it’s in the body copy, I’ll literally on our homepage, don’t come and threaten collective homepage. I’ve hidden links to make them look just like regular body copy. And the only reason they exist there is just because I know we have the most links going to our homepage and I want to put it in body copy. I don’t actually want anybody to click it. I want Google to read that and just pass that link juice along.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Can I just pick you up on that? So let me check, check what you’re saying. Are you saying right. Check the anchor text of the link that’s coming in and make sure that’s in the body copy going off to a product page. Was that the black hat trick I’ve just learned? The cool trick I’ve just learned. Sorry, that’s not a tall black hat. So that was it specifically. Would you say that’s it or?

Dominika Tracy

Is it a trick?

Dixon Jones

Trick I mean as in tip. That’s a nugget of something really that I think if anybody goes away from the podcast that was even quite knew quite a lot about SEO that as a methodology. Sounds to me if you find it effective Aaron is something that people could really use.

Aaron Orendorff

Yeah, it’s so dumb. Kevin, I was on Kevin’s podcast a while ago and we did this little experiment with this article I was trying to get to rank on e-commerce trends. Super competitive. I’m fighting it out with Shopify. I’m fighting it out, I’m not winning. But anyway, Kevin actually helped me before he went to Shopify on this idea. And one of the tips I got from a guy named Jacob McMillan after Kevin and I kind of chopped it up was he was like, “You’re linking to this page from a bunch of other pages, but you’re linking to the exact title of the article. And you’re doing it at the bottom of the article in a list. Get rid of that. Simply use the phrase e-commerce trends and put it into these 10 articles. Just the literal phrase e-commerce trends, make it incredibly clear to Google that this is the page on our site that’s about X.” And it was goofy how well that worked. Just straight up goofy.

So it’s like if I’m selling vintage baseball club wallets. I want to have a product page that’s probably a collection page that’s just for that. And then every link I send to that collections page use that phrase and then I’m going to use my products for like this is the trifle. And if I’m going to link to that trifle to get trifle to rank, I’m going to use the word trifled in body copy anchor text, specific.

Dixon Jones

Kevin, any thoughts on that? Anything to add or?

Kevin Indig

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with both of you Dominika and Aaron. I think internal linking is, interlinks is one of the things that over the last couple of years I noticed have just gained a lot more power. Whether it was back at Alaskan, at G2 where I worked we’re now at Shopify. It’s just an incredible powerful tool to send signals to Google. Investing in streamlining your internal linking and optimizing it I think goes a very long way. In the same hand, I think even John Mueller recently confirmed that confirmed, but agreed that creating content say on a blog and then helping people though, to get faster to product pages by placing interlinks can be very helpful for SEO. We always have to be careful with that because we SEOs tend to go to extremes. But it’s definitely, I agree with you very much Aaron here, I think it’s very worth to create editorial content and create a bridge between your product pages and carrier pages. And that it’s real content.

I do agree that homepage links still matter greatly, especially in the body content. I think it matters even if they are in the footer, on the homepage versus in the body content. I tested that multiple times and it’s a noticeable difference. But then you also have to ask yourself, what is the internal link for? It’s on one hand to be a strong signal to Google, to understand the relevance better. Maybe the authority, but also help with crawling. And so if you deal with a very, very large shop then I think it goes… Recently actually I had a session with a huge Shopify store, huge. And one of the biggest levers that we found for them was to just like link more to products that are further down in paginations. And that in itself made a huge difference for the traffic to these product pages.

Dixon Jones

Can I just clarify there? Are you saying that the stronger links are the ones in the body text or the footer through your test?

Kevin Indig

Yes. I think I would sign that statement any day.

Dixon Jones

So yeah. So they’re stronger in the body text is what you’re saying yeah.

Kevin Indig

They’re stronger in the body text, they’re weaker in the footer, but the footer is very valuable.

Dixon Jones

Right. One of the things that we’re here with Majestic and they’re putting us on. So one of the things that’s really powerful about Majestic is that although it doesn’t map the internal links clearly for you because you’ve got other tools that can do that, you’ve got Screaming Frog and things like that. They can do that. But what it does do is it passes its flow metrics through internal links. So it gives you a really good idea to look at the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of the individual pages to see how much power you’ve passed through with your internal links which is a really useful thing.

And also it’s got the Topical Trust Flow as well. So if you’ve got things in the health category and things in the science category then they’ve broken each page down into sort of 800 topics or something like that. So using Flow Metrics at a page level can be really, really powerful for seeing the overall effect of generically all of that internal linking that you’ve been doing. If you’ve been getting it wrong, your Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Which approximates for PageRank. Again, to be going to the wrong location. So it’s beautiful thing to see without having to look at every individual link.

But since we’re talking about links, let’s talk about backlinks because when I’ve been at conferences and not being a Shopify person on a stage, and it’s probably asking me about, I’ve got an e-commerce site, how do I get people to deep link to my product from other websites? I’m not talking about internal linking but it’s a challenge, isn’t it? Have you got any thoughts or ideas or strategies that you would recommend to a customer if you don’t do it yourself. Or how do you get people to deep link directly to a product? Anyone want to jump in with an idea.

Dominika Tracy

Yeah, create a product that is so unique that people are going to want to talk about it.

Dixon Jones

Not a bad idea. And I think that’s a really good suggestion. I think a unique product always wins, absolutely. If you’re the only one that’s selling it.

Dominika Tracy

I do find that that wouldn’t be my strategy trying to get the links directly to the products. It’s very unusual. I think Amazon, if you check Amazon back links structure, most of their products obviously won’t have any links coming into them. I think it would be a tricky strategy to try to get links directly to the product which is why I think content marketing within e-commerce sites is that important because it’s much easier, it’s basically a link magnet isn’t it.

Dixon Jones

Yeah okay. I agree, of course it is. But if you do get that link directly into the page or a few links direct into it, I would imagine that page is going to rank pretty well in organic search because it’s so hard to do. And I wonder if a good image can do it. So you can sit there and put out or you’ve got a really cool image and people effectively are linking through to the page because of the image on the page rather than perhaps because of the product. Not so much because of the drink that’s in the hand but the clothes that the person is wearing behind the image. Is that a bad strategy? Is that a good strategy? Is that too off the wall for the show?

Dominika Tracy

Does anybody have good experience on doing this?

Aaron Orendorff

I’ve got an answer. I don’t know if it’s the one no one’s scared to. You go buy them. That is the only way I yeah, I’m just going to say it out loud. That’s the only way I know to do link building at scale is find two to three agencies that do link building, not PR. Craft a contract where they get paid by link, by Domain Authority and follow. Plus they’re going to have a mix of no follow links that they’ll include there. And you just like this is what people do. They get links placed. I don’t know how.

Dixon Jones

My domain authority on page level. Trust Flow, Citation Flow. If you’ve got to use Moz use Page Authority.

Aaron Orendorff

The bill is so that you’re paying for you deliver X, we pay you Y. It’s to these, we’re aligned on what the main pages are and we just monitor for results. I have to see any other way to do it.

Dixon Jones

So, okay. So you’re directly contravening Nick Garnett’s quote of John Mueller’s of build good sites build good content and links will come.

Aaron Orendorff

Some will, they will not come at scale.

Dixon Jones

Okay, Kevin, want to add anything in there?

Kevin Indig

But good content, it’s tough. I think to add a bit more color to the conversation. There are areas or maybe industries in which it is easier to drive things with great content. There are others where it’s really hard. There’s also products that are just very sexy to link to and other products are not easy to link to at all. So I think some hit sites have become very creative in the past of creating fun products, gimmicky products that drive some links. And some have created infographics, images and all that kind of stuff. I think one way to drive good links is to just have “influencers” talk about the product and promote the product. Even if it’s on social media or somewhere else. But I think that kind of word of mouth or that organic buzz can motivate a lot of bloggers, journalists or other people to write about the product.

It all comes back to again, some products just being easier to link to or more appealing. And others are just not that appealing. And I want to point out also that this makes a difference in how Google looks at the importance of links. So if you, for example, if a product is a… yeah, now I got to think about something. Maybe car mats is a good example. It’s just not something that most people would link to. And all of a sudden you drive a hundred links from some marketing blocks. I’m not sure if that really moves the needle. But on the other hand, if you’re competing in say maybe the marketing space but also in the e-commerce maybe the candle space or something that products that are sold very often that might have a strong appeal, a stronger or larger audience. Maybe that’s easier to build links to and maybe that’s where links matter more. So I think we have to differentiate between the product.

Dixon Jones

Okay. So David, I saw a big question coming in there. So let’s have a quick look and talk it through and make this a something we can all pour over. So Rebecca Tidey, many of our pages have been discovered, so she’s got a Christmas tree site, Shopify. Many of the pages have been discovered by Google but not indexed. So that in itself is something to question. She’s saying it’s because there’s no referring URLs. Our SEO expert has put internal links to the product pages, including our navigation menu and sidebars are a last resort. But they’re still not being indexed and still saying no referring page on Google search console. Okay, I’m going to guess at a canonical issue here. It’s going to be very difficult without looking individually Rebecca, but I’m going to put out there something to check would be make sure that there isn’t a canonicalized version of your page which is index, which is exactly the same content. And maybe you’re adding a DubDubDub on the front end or you’ve got a different variation of it.

And actually the pages may well be indexed, but not the URL structure you think. And maybe it’s a canonicalized version, I don’t know. Has anyone got any other tips that might be the cause of Rebecca’s problem? Basically she’s got a lot of pages in the index, supposedly indexed in Google but not crawled it would seem. No, no. They’re seen in Google but not crawled. So any other thoughts that might be causing that?

Aaron Orendorff

Yeah. I mean, I’d be curious to find out inside Google search console, what is the result when you do an inspect page? Is it saying URL unknown to Google or is it actually index which means, okay, it’s spotted it and it’s just a matter of… Because that’s a different issue. And if it’s like a low Trust Flow score and I’m not a hundred percent familiar with Trust Flow score versus Page Authority or Domain Authority kind of thing.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, call it Page Authority, it’s sort of safer.

Aaron Orendorff

As long as it’s not a technical issue and Google is actually crawling it, because it’ll give you that search console notification and insights of like page unknown to Google. You can request it to be indexed. I do that with like 10 to 15 patches at a time just to double-check. And then my last attempt, this is even further down than that. What was that thing about putting it into our last resort sidebar? When I started Common Thread Collective, we have like a crap ton of pages on our site for like blogs and the YouTube and all these things that were super duper thin. And I wanted to redirect a bunch of them, but I wanted to make sure they were called first before I started redirecting them. So I literally built a fake site map where I exported the entire list of URLs into a page and I just published it onto Shopify and it was just literally links to every single page I could discover.

I put a link to what I call the site map. It wasn’t, I just called it that, site map. And even wrote something cheeky at the top of it like site map. But actually this is just so Google crawls every page on our website so I can redirect them. And then it was just this list. But that worked. And we had about a month where that was up, everything eventually got crawled. And then when we did the redirects, it identified it and then also done the redirect juice to make sure it saved whatever bit of energy it had in it. That would be my last resort one is it’s ugly but it didn’t matter. We’re just trying to get it to grab every single one of them.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, I would guess that. Nick made some point of what is discovered by Google mean? I guess it means that you’ve told Google somehow that this URL exists but Google can’t find any evidence for it. They can’t see a link to it. And my suspicion is, is well check that it really does exist. Is it the actual URL? Is it a different version of the URL than the original one that you think. And it could be HTTPS plus HTTP, that’s quite a common one. So at some point you’ve gone overtake GTPS, you’re putting up HTTP versions into Google search console on site maps or on things. And Google notes that you don’t really care about those. So it’s not going to crawl them. Even if you did crawl them, you can immediately get redirected anyway. So it can’t crawl the non HTTPS version, the HTTP version. So my suspicion is that even if Google did crawl that page, it would get redirected before it indexed the content. So therefore that’s why it doesn’t do it.

Aaron Orendorff

Yeah, redirect is a good place to check for no index if you do right click inspect or view source code. You can see right at the top, is it getting a no index. Is it 301 is a canonical to another page or is it no index? And I worked for a, I will not mention the name, very large organization that accidentally deployed an entire do not index for a giant blog. And we didn’t notice it until all of a sudden like a day or two later, it was just that something got deployed. And literally every page on the blog had been unindexed and it was just a matter of roll that back and take it off, it has to change. But just by inspecting, you can look for those three things.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, okay. Well hopefully there’s a few ideas there Rebecca. I just want to finish up, we’re nearly already at time. So I wanted to jump in and ask about themes, Shopify themes. Not something I’m particularly… but if it’s the same as WordPress themes, there’s good ones and bad ones. So what do you like in a Shopify theme to make your job easier? I mean Dominika, anything that you like? It can be colors, speed, the ability to edit the category page. What sort of things are important for you in a Shopify theme?

Dominika Tracy

See, that’s the thing. When I first started working with Shopify, the thing that I found most frustrating in how limiting it was. And then only then I discovered that it’s not that Shopify is limiting, it’s a theme that you’re working with. So since then, I’ve selected a couple that I work with which I find that I can make it to customization that I want. And then once I hand the site over to the client, they can easily make the same customizations without having to call me. So they’re two teams that I mainly work with and I’m in no way affiliated with them but they both are from out of the sandbox. One is Turbo and the other one is Flex.

Dixon Jones

Turbo was it?

Dominika Tracy

Turbo yeah. Turbo, Turbo.

Dixon Jones

Oh Turbo. Yeah, okay sorry. Turbo, and what was the other one?

Dominika Tracy

Flex.

Dixon Jones

Flex, okay. These are the kinds of things people take out and they need to get them right. Isn’t it. Okay. Okay, that’s really useful. Kevin, any thoughts on themes?

Kevin Indig

Yeah, sure. It plays a role what theme you pick. In Shopify that is very clear to us and very known. And that’s why we actually just released a new theme called dawn. It’s super fast, actually branders five times faster than most other themes.

Dixon Jones

How do you spell Dawn?

Kevin Indig

Dawn, D-A-W-N, that’s the German accent in me, Dawn. And the coolest thing is that we fixed some canonical issues that we were noticing before with some collection pages and so on. So a lot of good stuff in that. Generally, there are many good themes, don’t get me wrong. And we opened our theme store again for theme submission. So I think we’ll see a lot more themes again in the future. A lot of creative developers who create amazing themes. Generally, you want it to be fast. The way that it looks doesn’t matter as much as that it’s not too stuff, too bloated from a core perspective and that the functionality is kept relatively minimal.

It also matters how many apps do you install and what kind of apps. So that can also add to a slower speed or slower running times. But when it comes to just the theme itself, I think Dawn is a good recommendation and there are many other great ones out there. Again, it’s similar to the merchants themselves who want to be as objective as possible also when it comes to themes. But there’s some great ones like, Minimal, Narrative Brooklyn and I’m probably forgetting hundreds of others.

Dixon Jones

I’m sure you are yeah. And I didn’t mean to jump people in there. But it’s great for people to hear the themes that you like because it gives people a good, something that they can grab on and look at. Aaron, what do you think about the good and the bad of themes?

Aaron Orendorff

No theme preferences. I will take both of their much more well-educated words on this point. I did like what Kevin was mentioning about the apps that you use because that’s typically where bloat and speed and Google gets mad. And especially as core vitals become more and more important, cumulative layout shift, like these tactical side of things. Where you’ve just got to really be careful and always be weighing that trade-off of adding another app for page speed as well as how Google renders the page and looks at the page. I mean even little things like interactive header bars. Google got super duper mad at us and it failed every single page on our site. That common thread collective failed every single page because we had a cookie bar that was popping up at the bottom by a two second delay. And it was being like oh, this ruins everything. All the cumulative layout shift is completely garbage. And we just had to, it was a little tiny thing. And we had to figure out what’s the trade off and how do we find something that doesn’t do that.

Dixon Jones

Okay. So apps are more of a problem than the theme from your perspective, experience anyway then Aaron.

Aaron Orendorff

Yeah.

Dixon Jones

All right. Guys, we’ve already hit the time and I learned a lot. So that’s great. If anybody wants to avail themselves of your services Dominika, how do they find you? What’s the company and what’s your Twitter profile?

Dominika Tracy

The company, my web design agency is called Speedbird Media. But I’m mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m @dominikatracy on Instagram so I’m always available there.

Dixon Jones

Thanks so much. Aaron, how would people get hold of you?

Aaron Orendorff

@AaronOrendorff on Twitter. Google, I’m not kidding, this is my flaunt.

Dixon Jones

Some of them can’t see on the screen here so Orendorff. I’ll spell it out loud.

Aaron Orendorff

No, no, just Google who is the most handsome man in Oregon? I kid you not, Oregon. Go Google that you’ll find me, follow me on Twitter.

Dixon Jones

I was going to make comments about all men in Oregon then haha. Excellent. Kevin, how do they find you? I suspect they just go to Shopify. Now they can get you on Kevin Indig at Twitter as well.

Kevin Indig

Yes, sir yep. @KevinIndig or Kevin-Indig.com. I write a weekly blog and newsletter. But yeah, you should find me on the internet otherwise I’m doing a bad job.

Dixon Jones

I would agree. You’re quite easy to find as long as you can spell Indig correctly, which is I-N-D-I-G guys. Orendorff by the way is O-R-E-N-D-O-R-F-F. So maybe a better off with the most handsome guy in Oregon that’s probably the way to go. Guys, thank you ever so much. David, what’s coming up in the next episode.

David Bain

Sure. The next episode is going to be on October the sixth at 5PM UK time. That episode is going to be on SEO on the edge. So if you operate a big enterprise site and you’re struggling to do things like make mass changes of titles meta descriptions, maybe adding schema to your site, you absolutely need to be tuning in into that one. We’re going to have Nick Wilsdon and Chris Green, and Bastian Grimm on for that one. And if you want to say out for that one, go to majestic.com/webinars.

Dixon Jones

Brilliant. Guys thank you ever so much for coming again. I really do appreciate your time you take up and the value you give and so do our audience. So it just leaves me to say thank you very much. See you soon.

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