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Shopify is convenient—but could it prevent your e-commerce site from succeeding?

By The Branding Agency

Shopify is a web hosting environment that prides itself on making websites easy to build. It can be a great tool to leverage for online businesses. Shopify allows just about anyone to easily set up a store on their website and sell products. It is attractive to a variety of online businesses because it is so convenient and easy to implement and use. But that convenience could also make it very difficult to deliver a top-performing website.

Within the next few months, Google will require top-ranking websites to constantly perform at peak levels, in order to maintain those prized top-tier search positions.

The challenge will be to figure out how to continue leveraging Shopify and deliver the elements that Google will require websites to maintain.

There may be problems ahead. But, all is not lost.

Most websites fail to cover important basics, but even with a web host like Shopify, page structures can still be optimized for better search performance. In a few instances, this is easy to accomplish. But sometimes, what is required to fix the site is not offered as an option through Shopify.

For example: Many of a website’s elements must be pre-loaded in order to function and perform at optimal levels for the end-user. But, Shopify doesn’t allow for these elements to be pre-loaded.

So, how do you deliver a top-performing website, despite Spotify limitations?
The bad news is what needs to be done can take a lot of time. But, there’s good news, too: With some patience and expert guidance, working through the following steps can help you establish a significantly better Google site rank.

Step one: Get back to the basics.

You’ll need to rediscover the importance of key essential elements for any successful website. For example, your overall page size and header tags, image optimization, HTML structure, and more

Finessing the right web page elements, in the right way, can take hours of work before achieving that perfect page structure. But, once you’re able to get those puzzle pieces perfectly locked into place, you won’t need additional updates—there’s no maintenance required. And, you’ll be better positioned for long-term success and better profitability for your business.

Step two: Run a performance test.

Reviewing site load times is a simple way to identify immediate issues. If server response times are slow, caching could be disabled, and the amount of content required to build the page is likely causing slow load times. 

With a high-performance website, the DOM content load is less than 1 second. (DOM content load is the time it takes to load any necessary items to build a web page.) This slowdown can be caused by loading files that are unnecessary for any elements "above the fold"—or, the area on a web page visible, before you must scroll down to see more of the page.

Here's where it can be difficult to work with Shopify: Some of these elements can be removed using special PHP code to block the loading of certain content, but Shopify may not allow it to be removed. (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, is a common server language embedded within HTML. It is often used to manage dynamic content—including databases and building e-commerce sites.)

Like many website frameworks, when a feature is loaded to a website, it brings along java scripting, CSS, and any other HTML elements to all pages on the site—whether those pages need the files or not. This is something I often see with my clients, while working to correct issues.

High DOM content load times are a big reason that many websites fail to pass the most crucial element of any website performance or the "largest contentful paint" (LCP). When it comes to the highest quality, top-ranking sites, most have LCPs of 2.5 seconds, which is what you should be aiming for. To reach this speed, you may need to move around or remove elements that are unnecessary. Recognizing what needs to be changed can dramatically improve your site’s SEO scores.

Step three:

Review the HTML page source of the site. Digging into the site structure can help reveal if there are accurate title tags and keywords relating to the site goals.

Ensuring your site’s title tags and keywords are accurate will help your site rise to the top of potential clients’ web searches. For example, a tag found on the home page should state something about what this site’s content is all about. Without the implementation of careful keywords and title tags, your site may be buried below better-constructed sites—and invisible to clients.

Step four:

Look at page load elements. The home page of any website is a landing page, and therefore, it must be fast. To help speed things up, your home page should have a minimal amount of java scripting loaded, and all images must be optimized for the best performance possible. (The ideal page load size is less than 1 megabyte in total.)

A note on image elements: It can be convenient to size images to fit larger screen sizes—but this can come at a heavy cost. Without images that are fit properly, page structure can get clunky and slow down your overall user experience.

For example, if an image is 1440 pixels X 1440 pixels, but only 200 X 200 pixels is needed for the element on the page, then the large image gets loaded and is shrunk down to fit the element on the page. While this is a common practice, it will only serve to penalize the site by the search engines in multiple ways.

Step five:

Identify and understand your biggest priorities. There’s much that goes into a website’s creation, even before you add the complexities of managing Shopify. Understanding what areas outlined above need attention—and how best to update, remove or add key elements can be a game-changer.

To help you unpack and understand what steps need to be taken for your specific site to be as successful as possible, consider working with a ecommerce digital marketing pro. If you have questions—or need support—please give The Branding Agency, Charlotte, NC a call at 704-800-7413 or reach out for a consultation and for more info on our SEO site audit options. 

Help your business stand out on google, work with one of the highest rated Charlotte Web Design and Digital Agency North Carolina.