Are you struggling with traffic to your Shopify site? Are you getting traffic, but not getting sales? Do you want to increase your sales?
While working on Shopify sites, we see the same mistakes again and again. These mistakes are killing your traffic and conversion!
Let’s make sure you aren’t making the same mistakes so your Shopify store has the best chance at success.
How Did Shopify Begin?
Shopify is the ultimate success story in entrepreneurship. The founders developed a website for their snowboard business when they couldn’t find any suitable solutions in the marketplace.
Soon after, Shopify was born and has gone through many changes to become the behemoth it is today with over 1,700,000 businesses hosted on its platform.
The Shopify Platform
One of the many things the Shopify founders got right when creating the platform was making it in a way that someone without any coding experience can successfully start a store.
There’s no need to worry about setting up a merchant account either. Shopify has an integrated payment system, Shopify payments. The rates are comparable to PayPal, which is also offered on the platform.
Shopify allows you to take advantage of their discounts on shipping through the major providers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc). These savings can make a big difference in your bottom line.
The theme, or look of your store, can also be free, though there are many paid options as well that offer more features.
Add your products, set your pricing, and you can be up and running. But if you want to be successful, you need to follow best practices and avoid the most common mistakes.
#1 Shopify Mistake: Ignoring SEO
Many Shopify store owners are not familiar with SEO. Or worse, believe it’s all about how many keywords can be stuffed on the page.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a practice that involves the optimization of on-page and off-page content with the purpose of showing up or ranking higher in the search engines.
There are over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine which sites rank in the SERPs (search engine results page).
At a minimum, your site should include the following for basic SEO:
- Meta title
- Meta descriptions
- Alt tags
- Product title including your keyword
- Keyword rich descriptions that satisfy the user intent
- URL structure
- Internal linking
- ALT tags
- Image optimization
- Schema fields
It would be unrealistic to expect someone who has never worked in digital marketing to understand the nuances of SEO when opening an online store.
However, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
One important thing to realize with SEO is it is a long-term game. To see results from SEO campaigns typically takes six months or more.
You cannot launch your store, even if it is optimized, and expect traffic to flood in immediately. But if it’s done correctly, it will happen over time.
The same will happen with the content on your website. When the content is relevant for the user and optimized for the search engines, you have a much higher chance of earning traffic.
SEO is a practice that can pay off in the long run and continue to pay dividends for many years to come. It’s an investment that when done well will show a return on investment.
Your product descriptions will make up the bulk of your content on an eCommerce website.
A product description is where you can let the personality of your brand shine through. The essence of your brand should be evident by reading the descriptions of your products.
Are you a serious brand where it’s facts only? Playful and inviting with welcoming language? Fashion-oriented and using copy that is on-trend? It’s up to you, but be sure it is genuine to who you are.
Describe the product, explain how to use it or style it, demonstrate the benefits of your product over another. Show how your product will solve a problem for the customer or make their life better.
See more information on product descriptions in Mistake #2 and Mistake #6.
Blogs & Articles
In addition to writing product descriptions, you will also need to add other optimized content to the site, such as a blog.
Within the blog, you can write about a wide variety of topics:
- History of your brand
- Where the name came from
- Why you decided to start this brand
- Product highlights and features
- New product releases
- How to use or style the products
- Testimonials and stories from customers
- Behind the scenes look into a typical day
- Employee spotlights
- Sales and promotions
- Product comparisons
- Charitable giving and support
The list goes on. Any topic is fair game as long as it is relevant and useful to the visitors of your site.
Your content should answer a question for your site visitor. What have they gained by reading your content?
Are they entertained? More educated on a certain topic? Did you teach them how to do something?
Bring value to your site visitors with your content.
All of the writing on your site should use keywords. If you are writing to truly help your customer, the keywords will happen naturally.
One quick statement about using keywords. When SEO first began, it was a common practice to “keyword stuff” or add as many keywords as possible into the content of the page.
The result of this was content that was good for ranking, but completely useless for the reader who was looking for information.
A lot has changed since then and while keywords are still important. It’s more important to be sure you are providing a relevant and useful answer to the user based on their search query in Google.
For example, if you are somehow able to get your page to rank for pumpkins, but the only items you offer in your store are dog clothes, that traffic is useless to you.
You are not satisfying the user intent and they will bounce right back to Google.
You want relevant traffic to come to your site as those people are most likely to convert. High traffic numbers without relevancy who don’t convert are useless.
Google wants to provide the best possible answer to the user’s query and that means sending the user to a website that provides high quality, accurate, and relevant information.
For more information on SEO, I’ve written an SEO 101 Guide that covers the basics.
#2 Shopify Mistake: Not Completing Full Product Setup Page
When you add a new product to your Shopify store, you should complete nearly every field on the page. Each field serves a purpose and is there to help you.
I’ve worked on sites where the owner only added the name of the product, a picture, and a price. They couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting any traffic to their store.
The answer is because you haven’t given Google (or any other search engine) anything to use to determine what your site is about.
And in only providing that little bit of information about that product, how are you providing any value to the customer?
When you add a new product on Shopify, at a minimum, you should be completing:
- Product title
- Product description (more on that later)
- Images (multiple are preferable)
- Price you will charge the customer
- Your cost of the product
- Quantity you have on hand
- Checkbox if it’s a physical product
- Country of origin
- Product type
- Google fields
- Meta title
- Meta description
- URL structure
- Sales channels
Yes, it’s a lot of information. And it’s not going to be a 30-second setup process. But you will have a much better chance at getting sales if the products are set up correctly.
Shopify Mistake #3: Not Adding Information for Schema
Schema can be thought of as hints on a page that help Google figure out what it is. This is especially helpful when words on the page could have different meanings depending on context.
A famous example is the word “apple”. You could be talking about the company or you could be talking about the fruit. If I’m looking for how many calories an apple has, taking me to the Apple company page is useless. And vice versa.
Schema allows you to add markup to the page to provide additional pieces of information to the search engine. While there are many types of schema, we are going to focus on what is related to eCommerce.
Shopify includes structured data or Schema.org automatically on all sites. However, you have to fill in the full product page for it to render correctly.
So head back up to #2 and be sure you’re including everything on each product page.
Benefits of adding Schema include the potential of having rich snippets show up in search and being prepared for your product feed to show up in Google shopping.
If you want to see if your site is rendering correctly and eligible for rich snippets, you can check that here. Simply paste the URL of one of your product pages and review the results.
Shopify Mistake #4: No Image Optimization
Beginning in the summer of 2021, Google placed huge importance on site speed. If your site does not load quickly (and many Shopify sites don’t), you can be “penalized” within the search rankings.
Note: This is not an official penalty or manual action, but it can affect your rankings.
I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve audited that have product images that are showing on the page as a 300x250px image. Yet, the image uploaded was 7,500 x 6,250px and several megabytes in size.
If you have a slow internet connection, your page will take forever to load. And most people will abandon it if it is taking too long.
Studies have shown your conversion rates decrease by 2% – 4.5% for every second it takes to load your site.
That is a lot of money headed down the drain as each second passes.
If you want a high converting site, it needs to load in 2 seconds or less.
So how do you do that?
In many cases, there isn’t a lot you can do for site speed on Shopify. Part of it is inherent to the code itself.
The new theme Shopify released called Dawn is the best of the free themes from a speed perspective. Others built on the same framework can provide a speedier experience as well.
While we all want high-quality product pictures, the pictures don’t have to be three times wider than the normal computer screen to do that.
A fantastic tool is TinyPNG. It compresses the image without a loss of quality. It’s highly unlikely you will be able to see the difference in the quality of the picture, but the compression just saved you 80% of the original size.
But before you use tinyPNG, resize your images to a reasonable size. At least get it down to 1,000px or less in either direction. Then compress it.
When naming your pictures, it’s easy to use the string of letters or numbers that is automatically assigned to the photo when it’s uploaded.
Not only does that create a nightmare for you when you need to search for an image, but it also doesn’t help with image search on the search engines.
Use the filename of your photo to describe what it is. If I’m selling blue high heel shoes by Abler Designs, then I may name the file “blue-high-heel-shoes-abler-designs”.
Just from looking at the filename, I have a fairly good idea of what the product is. And so will Google.
Alt Text for Images
After you upload the image to Shopify, if you click on the image, you will find a link that says “edit image alt text”.
Click that link and describe the picture exactly as if you are telling someone about it who can’t see the image.
For instance “a woman standing on the street wearing a pair of blue high heel shoes made by Abler designs”. Again, you’ve included your keywords in the alt text.
More importantly, you’ve made the alt text useful as this is what screen readers use to read out loud what a picture is to its user. It can also show your alt text if for some reason your picture failed to load.
Shopify Mistake #5: Not Customizing the Meta Title and Description
When you add a product title and description within Shopify, it automatically populates the meta title and description.
A lot of Shopify users will leave this auto-generated content and assume they have done what they need to.
Your meta title and description should always be customized.
I generally will take the approach of this format for an eCommerce meta title:
Product Name | Site Name
Be sure your product name includes your keywords. Note that you should not keyword stuff for the meta title. Simply describe the product with a name the general public can understand.
Let’s look at these two examples:
- Black Shoes | Georgia Shoe Company
- Men’s Black Loafers with No-Skid Bottom | Georgia Shoe Company
Technically, the first tells me what the product is, but it is way too generic. The second gives me a much better idea of what the product is.
The only other thing I would add here is the shoe brand if that is more likely to draw attention and entice people to click.
Technically, Google’s guideline for meta title length is 600 pixels wide. However, most of us aren’t going to go to the trouble to calculate the pixel width.
If you stick with a meta title that is around 60 characters long, you should be safe.
Also, note that recently Google began pulling its own meta title from either the H1 (which is typically the product name in eCommerce) or content on the page.
This is another reason why it’s imperative your product pages are optimized.
For the meta description, think of this as a marketing pitch. If you had only a few seconds to convince someone to buy your product, what would you say?
You would be sure to call out a benefit, tell them you offer free shipping, and mention your satisfaction guarantee, wouldn’t you?
That’s exactly what you should do in the meta description. Always end your meta description with a call to action such as shop now, call now, order now, etc.
Include your relevant keywords within the meta description. Again, be careful not to stuff keywords into the description.
Your meta description should read naturally to the user while also informing the search engine about the topic of the page.
Your meta description will ideally be 150 characters or less. But note, this is another guideline that changes quite often.
Shopify Mistake #6: Boring Product Descriptions
To be fair, a lot of people don’t read the product descriptions as they assume it will be all marketing fluff, and generally, they are right.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Your product descriptions should tell a story.
Yes, I need some specifics about the product such as size and material, but your product descriptions don’t have to be all specs and technical details.
– How it will solve an issue/problem for me?
– Why I should buy it from you versus the other guy?
– Why did you decide to carry this product in your store versus another?
– How do I use this product?
Think about it from the point of a customer’s product review.
When a customer writes a review, do they describe in detail exactly what it is? No.
They tell you how they’re using it, what problem it’s solving for them, and why they are happy (or not) they bought it from you.
To ensure your product descriptions are easy on the eyes, be sure to break up the copy.
- No more than one to two sentences per paragraph
- Use bullet points where possible
- Use headers within the copy to call out sections
- Add pictures, graphics, or specs if possible and it will be useful to the consumer
- Is it more interesting to have the product size spelled out (4” H x 5” W) or to see a rough drawing of the picture that calls out the size of each side?
Shopify Mistake #7: Inconsistent Product Photography
Your product photography is one of the most important elements of your website. It is quite literally what can make or break the sale for you.
First, choose a photography style. Many catalogs show products with the background removed so the product is standing out on a white background.
Other sites may show the product in a styled setting. Or if you sell clothing, for instance, you may show a model wearing the clothes.
Either is acceptable and truly depends on the overall feel you want to have for your site.
But whichever way you choose to go, stick with it. Your catalog category pages should not be a mix of white background photos and styled photos.
It looks messy and is harder for someone to browse through the catalog.
On the product pages, be sure to show multiple pictures for each product:
- Full product shot
- Styled or model product shot
- Close-up shot of any details
- All sides of the product
Not only is this best with merchandising, it allows the user to interact with your pages.
If you are taking your own photography, be sure to pay attention to the lighting within your space. Natural light looks best and will ensure a picture-perfect photo every time.
Shopify Mistake #8: Not Asking for Reviews
When shopping for a new product online, what is the first thing most people do on the product page?
They scroll down to the product reviews. They want to see what others think about the product.
- Did it arrive well packaged?
- Does it do what it says it will? Does it work?
- If it’s clothing, does it fit true to size?
- Is the quality what was expected based on the price?
- Did shipping take longer than expected?
While you can speak to all of these questions in the product description (and you should), it is more impactful when it is from another customer.
Shopify has many partners that offer reviews through an app. I have used both Judge.me and Groware and I was equally pleased with both.
Both of these platforms allow you to set up automatic emails that will go out to the customer a set number of days after shipment to ask for the review.
This makes it incredibly easy for the customer to provide feedback on their product.
Reply to Your Reviews
Once someone leaves a review, be sure to reply! If the customer is pleased, thank them for taking the time to leave a review and for their business.
If the customer is unhappy with their purchase, reply with a way for them to get in touch with you and state that you want to make them happy.
Not only will you be able to potentially save this customer (assuming you resolve it quickly), others who read the reviews will see you are trying to rectify the situation.
Bonus Tip: If your reviews are marked up correctly for the search engines (this is done automatically by several apps), your product ratings may show in search and can also show on your ads.
Shopify Mistake #9: Not Capturing Email
“The money is in the list.”
We’ve all heard that statement. But so many eCommerce sites are not capturing emails from their site visitors.
Or worse, they get the visitor to sign up and then do nothing with their email address other than let it age in their CRM system.
Email should be one of your most profitable channels, especially in the eCommerce world. These visitors have raised their hands and said they’re interested.
They are warm leads, it’s time to convert!
In addition to capturing emails during the order process, you can also capture them via:
- Welcome Pop-Up
- Offer Pop-Up
- Exit Intent Capture Pop-Up
- Static Form Entry Visible on Each Interior Page
- Static Form Entry Visible on the Homepage
- Social Campaigns
- In-Store or at Events
Once you have even one person on your email list, you should have two types of campaigns running at all times:
- Automated campaigns
- Set these campaigns up and they run based on a trigger (welcome email after sign-up, coupon delivery after a certain action has been taken, follow up for an abandoned cart, etc).
- Broadcast email campaigns
- These campaigns are individual campaigns you create to send your customers about new products, special offers, sales, and more
- Broadcast campaigns should stick to a certain cadence, such as emailing once a week on Wednesdays.
Shopify Mistake #10: Adopting a Build It & They Will Come Mentality
Day after day, I speak to website owners who aren’t getting much, if any, traffic to their websites.
When asked about how they are promoting it, there are blank stares in return.
Buying a domain and building a website doesn’t cut it anymore. The magical traffic fairy doesn’t come in and send thousands of visitors to your site each day.
You developed a strategy to get the website live, manage inventory, and develop back-end systems.
Now it’s time to promote the product or service itself with a multi-channel strategy.
SEO, content, social media, online advertising, influencer partnerships, email campaigns, the list goes on.
The one thing you should not be doing is sitting back and expecting the sales to roll in for a site no one knows exists.
It takes a lot of work for an unknown brand to become known. Once you are happy with the site itself, all of your efforts should be focused on promoting it.
Shopify Mistake #11: Giving Up Too Soon
Just last week, someone approached me to share their story about their site not doing well. It had been 45 days since launching with only a handful of sales.
They were thinking of closing up shop.
All of that work and effort to create systems, secure inventory, take product photography, build the website….and you’re giving up after 45 days?
First, 45 days for an online website is nothing! In fact, six months is nothing.
Google barely knows you exist at this point.
You need to put as much effort into promotion as you did into getting it set up.
I get it, it’s tough to know you have poured everything into a business and a website to get crickets in return.
But promotion is part of the deal. You must drive quality, relevant traffic to your site in order to win the numbers game.
I manage one Shopify store that averages 20 visits per sale (which is great!), and I manage one that averages 75 visits per sale (still within range, but could be better).
And there are stores between those two as well.
According to Shopify, the average eCommerce conversion rate is 2.86%, but they recommend new owners focus on 1% – 2%.
That means for every 100 visitors to your site, you should get 1-2 sales. If that’s not happening, put your focus and efforts into promotion.
To summarize, the top 11 Shopify mistakes are:
1 – Ignoring SEO
2 – Not completing the full product setup page
3 – Not adding information for schema
4 – No image optimization
5 – Not customizing meta title and description
6 – Boring product descriptions
7 – Inconsistent product photography
8 – Not asking for reviews
9 – Not capturing email (or sending email)
10 – Adopting a build it and they will come mentality
11 – Giving up too soon
If you need help with your Shopify website, reach out to us. Not only do we help other business owners with their Shopify sites, but we also run our own Shopify site too.