Shopify offers computer software for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Shopify was founded in 2004, and was based on software written by its founders for an online snowboard store (Snowdevil). Dissatisfied with the existing e-commerce products on the market the founders decided to build his own. Over 377,500 merchants use the Shopify platform with total gross merchandise sold of over $15 billion.
They used the open source web application framework Ruby on Rails to build the online store. Shopify launched in June 2006. In June 2009, Shopify launched an API platform and App Store. The API lets developers create applications for Shopify online stores and then sell them. In April 2010 Shopify launched a free mobile app on the Apple App Store.
In 2010, Shopify started its Build-A-Business competition. The winners receive cash prizes and mentorship from entrepreneurs. The company got $7 million from an initial Series A funding round in December 2010. Its Series B funding round generated $15 million in October 2011.
In February 2012 Shopify bought the mobile software developer Select Start Studios Inc. In August 2013, Shopify bought the 25-person design studio Jet Cooper. In August 2013, Shopify announced the launch of Shopify Payments, allowing merchants to take payments without a third party payment gateway. Shopify took $100 million in Series C funding in December 2013.
Shopify earned $105 million in revenue in 2014 from 120,000 online stores or $875 in revenue per online store for the year. On April 14, 2015, Shopify filed for dual IPOs on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange. Shopify went public on May 21, 2015 trading at $28, raising over $131 million in the process.
In September 2015, Amazon announced it would be closing its Amazon Webstore for merchants, and had chose Shopify as the preferred migration provider; Shopify’s shares rose 20% upon this announcement. As of 1 April, 2017 Shopify shares trade for $68.09.
Shopify bought Boltmade on October 3, 2016 & entered into a partnership agreement with Paystack the following month. Also that month Shopify launched Frenzy – a mobile app that improves flash sales. In December Shopify continued there spending spree by acquiring mobile product development studio Tiny Hearts Ltd. They are using the purchase as a research and development office.
Shopify has been well received by the technology press and commended for its simplicity. Shopify hit the radar of the mainstream tech press in 2012. In my experience Shopify is a very user-friendly option for e-commerce products with a limited shelf-life – by this I mean if you have a product or (to a lesser degree) service offering where being first to market is the difference between generating millions of pounds in revenue & very little this platform allows even those with limited technical know-how to get up & running quickly & easily.
Advantages of Shopify
Ease of use: Perfect for those lacking technical knowledge – tailor made for those not that technically savvy.
Designs: 170 odd designs to chose from with most if not all offering mobile friendly responsive versions.
Flexibility: Solid core with extensive range of add-ons with their app store.
Scaling: Easy to scale for small and big online stores.
Future Proof: Shopify are here to stay…
Disadvantages of Shopify
URL structure: Not ideal for SEO. Shopify uses subdirectories such as /pages/ or /blog/news/. Others let you choose URLs.
Domain and email hosting: Not part of premium packages. Hosting is limited to Canada – not ideal for UK businesses – no matter what your account executive in Ottawa tells you…
Multi-language store: Not standard.
- Unlimited number of products
- Unlimited file storage
- Automatic fraud analysis
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- Blog module
- Free SSL certificate
- Mobile commerce optimization
- Editable HTML and CSS
- Credit card payments
- Multiple languages
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
- Customer profiles
- Drop shipping capabilities
- SEO-ready site structure
- Individual product reviews
- Facebook selling module
- Social media integration
- Physical and digital products in the store
- Unlimited traffic to your store
- Daily backups
- Site stats and product reports
- Fully featured mobile app
- Product importing via CSV files
- Different product variations
- Print orders
- Gift cards
- Abandoned cart recovery
Shopify vs Volusion
Shopify’s themes are much more polished and professional, and they have a lot more mobile responsive designs for you to choose from, at a much more reasonable price.
Also, they give you unlimited bandwidth to power your store, and so you won’t get billed an unknown amount if you exceed your bandwidth limit (such as with Volusion).
Shopify vs Bigcommerce
Bigcommerce offers 4 plans
- Bigcommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Pro: $249.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Enterprise: varies depending on requirements
Shopify offers 5 plans
- Lite: $9 per month
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
- Shopify Plus: pricing varies depending on requirements
Is Shopify SEO friendly?
Not especially – by the same token I don’t regard it as entirely SEO unfriendly either. I’d give it a 6/10 in terms of implicit SEO friendliness. Seen better, seen worse.
A few optimizations to your Shopify website can improve visibility, rankings for high value keywords, and increase sales revenue.
Launching Your Shopify Theme
Before you buy or install a theme, verify that it won’t hurt your speed and performance.
- Run the theme through GTMetrix.
- Run the theme through PageSpeed Insights.
The same SEO checklist that apply to a regular site apply to Shopify:
- Upload a robots.txt file.
- Have an XML sitemap.
- Install Google Analytics.
- Validate HTML and CSS.
- Purchase an SSL certificate and deploy HTTPS.
- Correct crawl errors.
- Check redirect issues.
- Include keywords for each page in the title tag and H1 tag.
- Optimize meta descriptions to improve click-through-rate.
- Optimize other headings.
- Optimize images (file name and alt text).
Optimize all pages as you add them. You’ll also need to re-optimize your content periodically to better target the keywords that convert the most.
On-page Optimizations in Shopify
Shopify automatically generates an XML sitemap of your store: yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. Shopify isn’t as SEO-friendly as WordPress.
Shopify Website Speed & SEO
Optimizing your Shopify store for load speed involves small improvements such as the ones below:
- Compress images
- Minimize redirects
- Enable browser caching
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
Speed helps user experience & is a Google ranking factor. The faster your site can be without hurting user experience the better.
Shopify User Experience
Does your Shopify store:
- homepage explain what your store is all about?
- site structured well?
- have a page layout that is clear, consistent, and visually strong?
- have consistent graphic elements?
- high-quality images on product pages?
- have intuitive navigation buttons?
- have clear calls-to-action (CTAs)?
Impress your users and you will almost certainly impress Google. The two are inextricably linked. You can get visitors from paid ads, organic search, or social media, but the page has to deliver a decent user experience otherwise its all for nought. User testing can be deployed for Shopify websites with projected traffic flows of over 10,000 unique visitors per month.
Optimizing Your Shopify Store for Conversions
Users who buy contribute a lower bounce rate, longer average time on site, more pages/session, etc. Start linking conversion optimization & rankings in your mind.
- Unique product description.
- Avoid duplicate content by adding variants to each product.
- Supply shipping, return, and sizing information on the page.
- Optimize images with a relevant file name and alt text.
- Enabling reviews.
Duplicate Product Pages
If duplicate products can’t be avoided, use the rel=canonical tag to the product you deem most important.
Delete Old Product Pages
Set up 404 redirects for deleted products.
Blogging on a Shopify Store
A blogging strategy is really important, especially for e-commerce.
- Blog entries should provide value to users.
- Blogging can target long-tail keywords.
- Posting videos.
- Do a Q&A.
- Post how-tos.
Blogs should be a part of your sales funnel.