Do Images Help SEO for Shopify websites?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your rankings in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, by taking a range of different actions that will improve how search engines value your website in general, and for particular keyword phrases.
Most SEO campaigns look at dozens of on-site and off-site factors. These include everything from your content, to sitemaps, meta information, and high-quality backlinks from other websites to yours. We like to equate this to building up your website’s digital résumé. When a potential employer looks over a résumé, they look at education, work experience, length of average employment, references, and other factors. It’s an additive process, and includes some complex logic to compare and evaluate the unique differences between multiple candidates, or in our case, multiple websites.
While text content plays a major role in rankings - after all, if your website doesn’t talk about a subject, why would search engines send you traffic related to that subject - Images play a role too. Images can be given filenames and alternative (Alt) text that utilize keywords, helping search engines to see that you have more (and diverse types of) content about a particular subject. This helps SEO rankings for most websites. However, image file sizes can vary, slowing down the loading speed of websites, which if not addressed well, can have a negative impact on SEO rankings. No one wants to wait for a slow website to load, so search engines like Google take this into account when they rank websites.
With Shopify, the good news is that images are hosted and loaded through a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This means that they’re hosted separately from your main website on a server network that can help your images (and therefore your overall site) load more quickly for website visitors. This can give a website an edge in search engine rankings, and just as importantly, can help your overall conversion rate of traffic into sales. As logic would dictate, studies have shown the loading times directly affect conversion rates. There are also Shopify Apps that will help you to include Alt text and take other relevant steps.
The potentially not as good news, is that as we’ve observed, images are served up from “cdn.shopify.com”, and not your website’s URL. This means that your product photos, for instance, are not necessarily helping your SEO rankings as unique content in the same way that they would if the images were seen as hosted under your domain. We’re taking this with a grain of salt, because we are still finding these graphics in Google Images, leading back to pages in Shopify sites, but it’s tough to say that no potential SEO value is being lost in the process. It’s likely that as Shopify continues to grow and evolve, that they’ll find a way to keep the image URL using the eCommerce websites domain, instead of the cdn.shopify.com domain, as most CDN’s do.
Educated at NYU Poly, Robert has managed the development and marketing of hundreds of websites. He helps Rand Marketing clients take their businesses to the next level by employing best practices, while staying at the forefront of our industry. From technical issues to traditional marketing efforts, Robert takes pride in providing Rand's clients with services that will make a difference in their bottom lines.
Jenna Mollard has several years of experience helping businesses grow online. From award-winning website design and development to inbound marketing tactics of search-engine-optimization, content creation, pay-per-click, email marketing, to social media - she loves connecting her clients to the right customers online. In her current role as the Director of Business Development at Rand Internet Marketing, she helps startups, local businesses, to $100M+ a year companies find their customized digital marketing solution.