Shopify corners nearly 30% of the ecommerce market share in the US alone, and it’s only set to grow heading into 2024 and beyond. Few places can host a storefront better than Shopify if you’re running a business (or thinking about setting one up). With so many other businesses surging ahead, the question is: how do you stand out?
The right search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly Shopify theme can leave a lasting impression and create lifelong customers while helping your store rank like a leader. The possibilities are endless between Shopify’s pre-made options and expert custom theme designs. Here’s how you can make the right choice for your store.
Table of Contents
Choosing a Theme
- Performance: Ecommerce sites that load in one second convert 2.5x more visitors than a site that loads in 5 seconds. Every second is precious in ecommerce, and the best Shopify themes will take care of your store’s performance for you.
So, what makes one Shopify theme perform better than another? Ultimately, it all comes down to bloat, including less code and a lack of external libraries. External libraries are third-party solutions that add new features to a theme but can also slow down page speeds. Themes that use native Shopify libraries are clean, light, and load fast across all devices.
Keep in mind that Shopify’s 2.0 update improved store performance across the board by cutting down on code with movable app blocks and a new theme editor that reduced the need for APIs.
- Mobile support: The best Shopify themes don’t just look great; they reflect your brand’s excellence no matter what platform the user is on. Mobile-friendliness should be at the top of your list while looking for a Shopify SEO theme. Shoppers expect websites to load faster than ever with 5G adoption growing worldwide, and you could find yourself lagging behind without an optimized theme.
By optimized, we’re referring to the overall user experience. Menus and other navigation features should scale down to suit a range of screen sizes, media elements like product videos should load just as quickly, and transitions between different pages should be snappy.
Shopify offers demos for its native themes, but you can also use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to run a detailed assessment of your store.
- Translation: One essential best practice for Shopify themes is to support translations. As a Shopify merchant, you have access to a range of analytics tools that can help you find out where your customers are shopping from. If you have a significant percentage of multilingual shoppers, it’s worth using a theme to help them have a smoother experience.
Look for themes that have storefront locale files. There is one file per locale/language, and they have the translation for that string of hardcoded text from the theme.
Despite being such a helpful feature, tons of stores don’t support translation and localization, and the ones that do often have errors. This can be a solid opportunity to stand out with your Shopify SEO theme.
- User-Generated Content (UGC): UGC is one of the best Shopify features a theme can have. It elevates your website’s authority with search engines and users, showing them that your brand has been tested and approved. UGC can include:
- Authentic customer reviews on product pages featuring product videos and images.
- A gallery page that displays your products being used by customers.
- Unboxing videos showing off your products in action. These are easy to feature, as you can ask customers to use your brand name in a hashtag.
- A strip that features tweets discussing your products or brand.
A custom theme we created that automatically features fresh Instagram posts.
75% of marketers agree that UGC makes for a more authentic brand. With a theme that supports UGC, you can snowball one happy review into another.
- ADA: The best Shopify themes can balance ADA compliance with all the style your brand embodies. As a business, you should prioritize compliance to avoid being hit with an ADA lawsuit. Compliance could include:
- Having optimized images that include descriptive alt-text.
- Helpful headers for long-form content.
- Link anchor texts.
- Support for keyboard navigation.
A theme’s popularity doesn’t guarantee it will be ADA-compliant, so you’ll want to verify that your store meets those standards. The ongoing upkeep of ADA compliance—even after picking a theme that is compliant—will fall on you, the site owner, because selecting the right theme will only go so far. Some of that upkeep will include adding alt texts to your images, making sure all links have some descriptive text, etc.
Great SEO-oriented themes in 2024 consider both usability and technical features that make crawling easier. Keep these aspects in mind while you pick the best Shopify theme for your business:
- Schema Markup: Snippets look at the available information across indexed websites and zone in on the most relevant response for a given query. Since they are displayed right below the search bar, snippets are an excellent way to get your store noticed. The best Shopify themes will capitalize on this feature by highlighting your store.
There is no guaranteed way to get your page featured on a snippet, but you can make it easier with a theme that supports automatic schema markup. Markup is structured data that quickly helps search engines understand what your page is all about. Automating schema generation increases the chances of getting featured via FAQs, product descriptions, and more.
- Metadata: Metadata like title tags, descriptions, and alt-text help both search engines and users understand what your website is about. Shopify has added native support for automatic metadata generation with 2.0, but it will not be SEO-optimized, so you will still want a human to check it manually. If you want to maximize your store’s potential, you’ll want to look for a Shopify SEO-friendly theme that allows you to customize metadata easily. Many brands overlook this detail when searching for the best Shopify themes, and you can stand out with your attention to detail.
- HTML Markup: A ‘valid’ HTML markup follows the standardized set of rules established by the W3C. Having a valid HTML markup can improve your store’s crawl rate, browser compatibility, load times, and compatibility with other must-have Shopify apps. This isn’t a problem with most of the popular themes on the store, but you’ll want to check your markup validation if you decide to go with a custom theme.
Pre-Made vs. Custom Themes: The Right Choice
Premium themes can get the job done if you are working with a tight budget. Most of the popular choices offered by Shopify go through rigorous testing and debugging, so the chances of running into major errors are low. If you’re going premium, these are our recommendations for the best Shopify premium themes:
- Dawn: https://themes.shopify.com/themes/dawn/
- Impulse: https://themes.shopify.com/themes/impulse/
- Impact: https://themes.shopify.com/themes/impact/
- Vision: https://themes.shopify.com/themes/vision/
However, we recommend choosing a custom Shopify theme for SEO. Premium themes take a one-size-fits-all approach, offering a great set of features at the cost of customization and performance. By having expert designers work on your theme, you can build a storefront that accurately reflects your brand’s vision. Unnecessary features don’t bog down a custom theme. They load faster and create a unique customer experience that can drive brand loyalty. By investing in a custom theme, you are not restricted by the theme’s limitations or design choices imposed by pre-existing templates. You have the opportunity to collaborate with skilled designers and developers who can transform your ideas into a visually captivating and user-friendly website, resulting in a more cohesive and impactful website.
Here are a few examples of custom themes we designed that helped our clients rank with the best:
Partner With Coalition Technologies To Rank Highly
Zeroing in on the best Shopify theme isn’t easy with all the free and premium options on the market, and making the wrong choice can lead to months of missed revenue and troubleshooting.
Make the best choice for your business by working with an agency that has mastered the art of SEO. Contact Coalition Technologies for a free strategy review today and find out what our team of expert designers and SEO strategists can do for your store.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a premium Shopify theme worth it?
If you’re looking for a Shopify theme that can improve SEO and offer an overall better experience, a premium theme is definitely worth it. Premium themes might not offer the tailored experience guaranteed by custom themes, but they beat out Shopify’s free options in terms of features like theme app extensions and dynamic sources.
What is the best Shopify theme?
There is no single theme that works for every store. You’ll want to choose by considering the most important features for your brand. For example, age verifiers are very useful, but not every industry needs to verify a user’s age before permitting them on the site.