Recent years have seen the rise of many hosted website and ecommerce solutions such as Wix, Square Space and Shopify. These can be good solutions for many small businesses, but its important to know certain things about how SEO works within these platforms before making your decision about which platform is best for your website.
As an SEO Strategist and WordPress developer, one question I get often is, “Is SEO work as effective in a Shopify site as it is in a WordPress site?”
That’s a great question. The answer starts with a “Yes, but…”
We can do very good SEO work on Shopify, Wix and Square Space sites, however we’ve seen that results typically take longer to come to fruition, and indexing is not as fluid or comprehensive with these sites as it is with WordPress. WordPress will nearly always yield better results from SEO work, for a few reasons.
1. All hosted application sites are canned and therefore limit control of the website admin over the website environment.
When you sign up to host your site with Shopify, you are given a bit of website space under the Shopify.com domain, in what is called a subdomain. For example, your site’s URL would technically be “mysite.shopify.com”. Domain masking can be applied so that “mysite.com” gets forwarded to “mysite.shopify.com”, but really your site and its entire body of content is under the control of the parent domain. Sites like Shopify and Wix are actually applications, whereas WordPress is a script. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s actually a very important distinction. Running your site through an application means that your control over many elements are very much limited, including your control over the SEO meta in your site.
2. WordPress performs better because it is more customizeable.
One of the hallmarks of WordPress and certainly one of the reasons it is the most widely-used web platform is that it is so customizable, not only in terms of how you can build a website, but also how much SEO meta can be implemented. Shopify will only allow you to have 20 keyword phrases at any given time. You might be able to enter more than that into the site pages via the admin, however the system will filter those keywords so that only 20 are readable by engines at any given time. This limits you to 20 keyword phrases that can be indexed for you site. Compare that to an unlimited number of keywords that WordPress will allow, and that makes a huge difference, especially for larger sites with lots of pages and posts.
3. Shopify limits your control and access
Shopify, Wix and SQuare Space (and others like it) limit direct access to robots.txt, and deny XML control. Shopify will also limit the number of words allowed in each keyword phrase to 2. This is a big deal – its the difference between ranking for “Car Wash Denver” and just “Car Wash”, which can make all the difference if you are trying to attract customers locally in Denver. This specific example also means that instead of competing with only a small handful of other car wash sites in Denver, you are now competing with ALL care wash sites in the world.
While limiting control and access to parts of the site does prevent site owners from accidentally making a potentially wrong move in their own sites, it also means that an SEO expert cannot come in and customize settings in these areas to tailor how search engines view your site or how Google can index your content. One of the biggest benefits of working in WordPress is that you are afforded access to every file and feed in your site.
So – if your site is already built on Shopify, Wix, Square Space, or another application site with a monthly fee, we definitely can do effective SEO campaigns in conjunction with the limitations of these platforms. We just want you to be aware that results will most likely take longer to appear in your reporting. SEO is a long game anyways, so what’s a few more weeks?
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