Shopify SEO Guide to Perfect Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

I regularly see an increase of thirty percent in organic search visitors when this Shopify SEO guide is followed. That often means thirty percent more sales from basic on-page SEO.

A title tag is the blue text you see in Google while a meta description is the black text that describes the page:

Google search example of a title tag and meta description

You can control what gets displayed in search results with HTML code on the website that looks like:

<title>Your title is here</title>
<meta name="description" content="Your description is here" />

Get these right on the important pages of your Shopify store and you will profit. I make no mention of meta keywords because it has no positive affect on SEO. If you use a plugin like SEO Meta Manager, do not enter meta keywords as it could hurt your rankings. Plugins like these that allow you to edit meta information in Shopify are pointless if you follow this guide, unless you have a large number of SKUs that you will not write.

What if you fail to write great titles and descriptions or even ignore this guide?

Google picks the text to display and it often sucks to what you could write. Fifty percent of your visitors likely first encounter you in search. An altered search results display means you do not control your marketing message. Even worse, the store under-performs in SEO and your listing gets a low click-through rate by people.

Good title tags and meta descriptions are core to increase rankings and get more clicks from search results. This guide teaches you how to setup, write, and optimise title tags and meta descriptions for your Shopify store.

It all begins with search query analysis

You start with a search query analysis because it determines what you want to rank. It determines what you write, who are your competitors, and the SEO of everything else you do. It’s that vital to do well.

I say “do well”, not “get right” because there are many ways to write a perfect title or meta description for the page – provided you meet the criteria revealed in this guide.

The best place to begin search query analysis or what you might think of as “keyword research”, is not a keyword tool. Look at the page you are optimising then ask yourself:

“If someone was to discover only this page on the Internet then walk away happy, what would they look for?”

Write down all your answers. You should have multiple for one page. It’s easy to discover in ecommerce.

  • An online store called “Jill’s Fashion Store” answers the searches “jills fashion store”, “online fashion store”, or possibly “women’s fashion store”.
  • A collection page of leather jackets could answer the searches “leather jackets”, “motorcycle leather jackets”, or “leather jackets for men”. Every product in the collection should be motorcycle or men-focused if these searches were to apply.
  • A product page selling the Vintage Digital Gold Databank watch made by Casio could answer, “vintage digital gold databank”, “gold casio watch”, or “vintage digital watch”. The “casio watch” search is not answered by the product page because the page is too specific. Someone searching “casio watch” is unsure of what they want and should receive a page from another website with a list of casio watches and information about the brand.

You want to solve a searcher’s problem better than other websites. Fail to do this and SEO becomes more challenging as Google’s algorithms can (or will) detect that your competitor who better answers the search query should out-rank you. Often you will have to improve the page to help people out more.

Once you have a list of keywords to optimize the page for, type them in the Google Keyword Planner tool to check if people use these search terms:

Google Keyword Planner gold watches

There are thousands of searches around “gold Casio watches”. That’s a lot. I recommend you narrow to lessen competition by seeing other keyword suggestions. If I click-through the ad group ideas, I come across one that perfectly answers the product page:

Casio watch gold mens

The “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” under competition is just for advertising. You don’t need to pay much attention to it, but low competition is ideal because it means less advertisers competing for user attention and more distribution of clicks to organic search results.

Search your potential term in Google. Look at the organic results, not the ad results. The top three organic results for this example are:

Google search casio watch gold mens

Do you see “casio”, “watch”, “gold”, or “mens” in the titles and descriptions of these pages? Hardly. That’s one indication of low competition.

More advanced strategies to evaluate competition include backlink analysis using Moz’s Open Site Explorer. A high number of backlinks to the page or home page of these top ranking websites means higher competition. An even more advanced keyword method to discover what you should optimise for is to use Google AdWords because the platform lets you near-instantly see what search terms in organic search will bring you sales.

One simple judgement of competition is to look at websites ranking high. Asos is just an online store like us! Casio.co.uk is a little worrying because they are an official brand.

You want to balance search volume and competition. In a perfect world you optimize for high search volume (1000+ searches) and low competition, but there too many sites in today’s ecommerce for that to be true. Just go for keywords with some search volume and moderate to low competition.

Now you know what to go after, let’s optimize your store.

How to edit your title tags and meta descriptions in Shopify

First you need to check if your theme is compatible with the built-in SEO features of Shopify on the home page, collection pages, product pages, and general pages. You want all these pages to be SEO-optimized to maximize search visibility. Each present chances to capture organic traffic.

For the home page, go to:

  1. Online Store > Preferences
  2. Enter a homepage title and meta description
  3. View the source code of the page to see if each updated exactly how you want. If it didn’t, you need to edit the template

For general pages, go to:

  1. Online Store > Pages
  2. Select a page
  3. Enter a page title and meta description
  4. View the source code of the page to see if each updated exactly how you want. If it didn’t, you need to edit the template

For all products, go to

  1. Products
  2. Select a product
  3. Click on “Edit website SEO” seen at the bottom of the below screenshot:

Where to edit Shopify title tags for products

  1. Enter a page title and meta description
  2. View the source code of the product page to see if each updated exactly how you want. If it didn’t, you need to edit the template

For collections, go to:

  1. Products > Collections
  2. Select a collection
  3. Click on “Edit website SEO”
  4. Enter a page title and meta description
  5. View the source code of the collections page to see if each updated exactly how you want. If it didn’t, you need to edit the template

If your updates appear on the home page, collection pages, and product pages, you’re fortunate to have a Shopify theme built with the option to customize these SEO factors. Jump to the next section on how to write a SEO-friendly title.

How to edit the title tags in your Shopify template

If the SEO text is not displaying how you want as per the previous section, you need to edit the template. Warning: do not edit your store’s template unless you know HTML and can easily undo your changes.

  1. In the admin section, go to Online Store > Themes
  2. Click the ellipses at the top-right then select “Edit HTML/CSS”:

How to edit HTML CSS of a Shopify theme

  1. Click on the “theme.liquid” file on the left side. This is where you can edit the Shopify theme’s title tags and meta descriptions.
  2. Find the text between <title> and </title> then replace it with:

<title>{{ page_title }}{% if current_tags %} &ndash; tagged "{{ current_tags | join: ', ' }}"{% endif %}{% if current_page != 1 %} &ndash; Page {{ current_page }}{% endif %}{% unless page_title contains shop.name %} &ndash; {{ shop.name }}{% endunless %}</title>

I recommend all Shopify designers use this in their templates because it allows you to control exactly how the title tags display on all pages in the store and provides fall back. When no title tag is entered:

  • The home page uses the store’s name
  • A general page uses the name of the page then dash and store name
  • A product page uses the name of the product then dash and store name
  • A collections page uses the name of the collection then dash and store name

The configuration also:

  • Supports naming best practices for pagination
  • Works with tags if your template uses filters
  • Does not add a dash and store name at the end of the home page title tag if the store name is included somewhere

The store name is good to have for ecommerce in all pages when you have a strong brand presence. If you are a small store and do not have many people search your brand, begin with excluding the store name from your title tag. The store name takes up character space and dilutes keyword value. Use this instead:

<title>{{ page_title }}{% if current_tags %} &ndash; tagged "{{ current_tags | join: ', ' }}"{% endif %}{% if current_page != 1 %} &ndash; Page {{ current_page }}{% endif %}</title>

Google more and more is auto-inserting website names into the title. Test it for you store. It is one strategic reason to have a short name unlike “Independent Living Centres”.

How to edit the meta description tag in your Shopify template

This is a lot easier to get right in your template and is often already setup.

  1. Go to your theme.liquid template
  2. Find the line that begins with <meta name="description" then replace it with:

<meta name="description" content="{{ page_description | escape }}" />

  1. If your file does not have this, copy-and-paste the text after the closing title tag (</title>)

Congratulations. Your Shopify store’s title tags and meta descriptions are now ready to be optimized. Let’s continue to do your on-page SEO right to boost visitors and sales.

How to write an SEO-friendly title

Title tags are the second most important on-page factor to help SEO. The most important is great value delivered in content, images, user-experience – stuff that makes your store fantastic.

If you ignore this process, Google picks what it thinks is best:

Title tag change

This page had no meta description and a poorly written title tag of:

<title>SurfStitch - Clothing | Footwear | Surf | Street - Shop Online!</title>

Here’s the seven-step process for a perfect title. It should:

  1. Contain your keywords from the search query analysis and keyword research you did earlier
  2. Be between 50-55 characters (sometimes you can get away with 35-60 characters). Too few and you miss opportunities. Too many and the title gets cut.
  3. Be understandable
  4. Present the answer to the person’s search query
  5. Match the content on the page. This should happen when the title contains your keywords
  6. Be unique to other pages on your site
  7. Be attractive or interesting in some way to make people want to click. Interesting is often ticked off when other steps are done

Some perfect examples:

  • Yo-Yos – Duncan & Yomega | Toys”R”Us
  • Best Chef Knives – Six Recommendations | KitchenKnifeGuru
  • The Tissue Box Cover Store, Over 50 styles!

Go ahead and write a few title tags for your pages. Start with your keywords. Run through the other six steps once you have a title written down. It’s better to edit then to have nothing.

Also use Portent’s SERP preview tool to test the display of your SEO work.

How to write a SEO-friendly meta description

Google in 2009 said the meta description tag is not used in their ranking. What it does affect is user attention and click-through rate, which influences rankings.

A description is easier to write than a title. The process is the same but with more character space. Aim for 145-160 characters.

Shopify makes counting character length simple by telling you when you exceed 55 characters in the title and 160 characters in the description:

Shopify SEO character count

You include your keywords in the meta description so the text is bold in search results and stands out. Structure the description around your keywords. Put them down first then write around it by thinking of the intent behind the search query.

To fix a brain freeze, search your targeted keywords in Google to see what other sites do. Write something different. Amateur SEOers tell you to copy the top ranking website, but this is ineffective because me-too is poor marketing and most stores do not follow the seven-step writing process to produce the perfect search display.

Advanced on-page optimization strategies

If you stop your on-page SEO with a one-off setup of title tags and meta descriptions, you miss making a few simple changes that can boost rankings and CTR. Google may be displaying different text to what you wrote. Let’s check:

  1. Allow two weeks for Google to re-crawl your site. This is enough time for Google to pick up the changes for most stores.
  2. Discover what information Google changes in their search results. Use RankTank’s meta and rich snippet testing tool. Enter your website address in the spreadsheet. The tool will compare what you have in the HTML code of all pages against the snippet for each page when displayed in search results.
  3. Rewrite titles and meta descriptions for pages that get changed in ways you’re unhappy with. Work your way through the spreadsheet.

My second favorite SEO strategy for meta optimization is to use Google Webmaster Tools to spot easy wins in SEO. You want to identify pages that have a high ranking and low CTR or high impressions and low ranking.

  1. Allow two weeks for Google to re-crawl your site if you’ve made recent changes to the titles or meta description
  2. Log into Google Webmaster Tools then go to the “Search Analytics” section
  3. Click the “Clicks”, “Impressions”, “CTR”, and “Position” check boxes
  4. Select the “Pages” radio icon because what you are about to do needs to be evaluated on a page-by-page basis:

Google Webmaster Tools search analytics

  1. Sort the pages with the most impressions at the top by clicking the “Impressions” column. For pages with high impressions (relative to your other pages), an average position above 20, and a low CTR (<5%), see if the meta description misses any of the seven steps. Consider a rewrite of the meta description to improve the CTR. Phrase Research is a tool in which you can upload your Google Webmaster search analytics data to automate the identification of your best CTR opportunities. It looks at the average clicks for other search queries in the search position analyzed.
  2. Bonus tip: drill down to a specific page then click the “Queries” radio box to view queries for that page. Check if those keywords are included in your SEO on that page
  3. Second bonus tip: further optimize pages that have low rankings and high impressions. How could you make the page better answer the search queries it is ranking for?
  4. Super advanced bonus tip: split-test SERP results using SERP Turkey and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

About Joshua Uebergang

Joshua Uebergang is founder and Head of Strategy at Digital Darts. He helps Shopify stores get more of the right visitors and convert them into sales. At 6'9", yes, he plays basketball. Get extra tips and tricks from him to build your ecommerce store by entering your email below.

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17 Comments. Leave new

Hey Josua,
Do you know how to add metakeywords in products page?
I see I can put product tags but it isn’t what I’m looking for.

Hope you can help me.

Thanks in advance
@davidnathr

Reply

Re-read the guide David. Meta keywords are a waste of time and may even hurt your SEO.

Reply

Didn’t change anything…help?
My meta description on search results of my website didn’t change at all…

Reply

Google Bot needs to crawl the page first then index what is updated. Search results can only update this way.

Reply

Hi Joshua,

Can you help how can i submit the trending search pages of my website to google?
For example.
https://www.variation.in/search?q=designer+sarees

Reply

Don’t. Google have said they do not want to crawl pages with substantially duplicate content like internal search results. Most stores’ search results are essentially doorway pages.

Reply

{{ page_title }}{% if current_tags %} – tagged “{{ current_tags | join: ‘, ‘ }}”{% endif %}{% if current_page != 1 %} – Page {{ current_page }}{% endif %}{% unless page_title contains shop.name %} – {{ shop.name }}{% endunless %}

I like this code above, and I like how the shop name title is on the end of the page titles, but for the home page on google the {shop name} : {home page title} comes up in this sequence, and wanted to know how to just have the {home page title } appear without the shop name in front, I dont mind it being tagged after the home page, but I dont want it before the home page title.

Please help! thanks!

Reply

Hey Joshua, thanks for the article. I’m currently creating collections to match categories that existed on my old site. However, we also have filters in place on shopify. Any ideas on how to sync collection and filter URLs and meta tags?

Reply

Sorry, missed your comments Benjamin. Did you get this solved? If not, provide some example URLs and what you mean by “sync”.

Reply
Frank Underwood
May 19, 2016 3:15 pm

No mention of h1 tags… not much seo juice in this article!

Reply

Because the guide has nothing to do h1 tags, which is covered in the expert guide to Shopify SEO: https://www.digitaldarts.com.au/the-expert-guide-to-shopify-seo

Reply

Hi Josh nice article but how do you address a situation like this.. Shoe store with a structure that divides collections using gender, style, brand and this is done via tags. So for example you have a shoe with a tag with Womens, Birkenstock, Sandals.

Now we’re working with the powertools filter menu as we have hundreds of products so a typical URL would be = shopname/collections/mens/birkenstock/sandals. Now my challenge is the page name and description for this URL by default in shopify is from ‘mens’. This gives no reference to what the content / page is actually really displaying which are Mens Birkenstock Sandal products.

Is there a way you can create like dynamic page names in shopify so I’m not stuck with the title of the leading collection?

Hopefully that makes sense?

Reply

Hi Leigh, Brad from Power Tools here. We have a helper here that dynamically generates a block of text that you can use in your titles and headers. This may require professional installation, depending on how comfortable you are editing your theme.

https://www.shopifypowertools.com/asset_installers/_natural_language_collection_titles?path=filter_menu

Note that not all themes need this and it is not always worth replacing default text provided by your theme, so I don’t recommend it as a ‘one size fits all’ type of solution, but it does sound like an appropriate solution in your case. If you need further help, please contact our support.

Reply

Hi Josua;
How can I declare my website as a spanish website instead of an english website?
I´m looking at the Woorank diagnostics webpage, and my website appears as an English declared website, but it is detected in spanish. I´m afraid this will affect my searches as google will not show my website to spanish users. How can I fix this on a Shopify webpage? I have translated it, but I think it has to be done in the Meta Tags and URL.

Reply

See the section on my expert SEO guide that covers international targeting and the hreflang tag: https://www.digitaldarts.com.au/the-expert-guide-to-shopify-seo

Reply

Hi Joshua,

How can you help me to add products to my site. What do you think about my theme?
Thanks
Okito

Reply

Thanks Josh I am following your directions:)

Reply

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