Shopify SEO: Best Practices for International Expansion - Shopify Plus Partner Agency | We Help Brands Grow

Shopify SEO: Best Practices for International Expansion

Digital Marketing, Shopify Plus, Technology

20/07/2021

If you want to go global, then Shopify SEO is essential. 


It’s expected that the global ecommerce market will total $4.89 trillion this year. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years, showing that borderless ecommerce is becoming a more profitable option for online retailers. With this in mind, it’s important that your international SEO strategy is fit for your ecommerce business’s needs.

First, let’s discuss exactly what international SEO is, and then look at the best Shopify SEO techniques to ensure you reach a global audience and expand your business with confidence.

What is international SEO?

International SEO is the process of optimising your Shopify store so that search engines like Google can easily identify which countries and languages you want to target. SEO efforts include but are not limited to targeting preferences, content localisation, and multilingual link building.

Shopify SEO best practices

1. Think like a local

When you’re entering new territories, there’s lots to consider. That’s why you should always start with initial market research. This is where Google Analytics comes in handy. Use this to review your current international organic search visibility and calculate which international regions you should prioritise, making sure you note down the different languages and currencies you’ll need. 

Also, you’ll need to do some keyword research and competitor analysis in the relevant languages and locations. This is because key search terms are not universal, so what might be your main target keywords in the UK aren’t necessarily the same in the US or a country that doesn’t speak English. 


And, keep in mind that although Google is the go-to search engine in most countries there are exceptions to this rule. For example, in Russia it’s Yandex and in China it’s Baidu.

Share of desktop search traffic originating from Google in selected countries as of April 2021

So, now you’ve done your SEO research it’s time to technically structure your Shopify store. 

2. Set up URL structures for international markets

Your URL structure sends a signal to search engines that helps determine the location and relevance of your site. There are three main URL structures: 

ccTLDs use two-letter codes to indicate to search engines which country a website is registered. They target specific countries and regions, but not languages.

For example, Adidas automatically targets users in Germany with the following ccTLD: https://www.adidas.de 

A subdomain is a domain that is part of a primary domain address. Subdomains include the country code at the beginning of the root domain name. They are created to organise and navigate to different sections of a Shopify store that may be extensive in content or different thematically. Subdomains can be used to create specific pages targeting particular countries and regions, which is useful if you’re operating in international markets and the language of your site needs to be adapted for each country. 

For example, Gymshark use this subdomain to target France: https://fr.gymshark.com/

A subdirectory, otherwise known as a subfolder, houses a subset of your content. The subdirectory is located to the right of your root domain. For example, here’s Apple’s UK subdirectory: https://www.apple.com/uk

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for URL structures. The most important factor is that whichever structure you choose, you must stick with throughout your internationalisation efforts. Consistency is key when it comes to Shopify SEO.

3. Implement Hreflang tags

International Shopify stores have a lot of duplicated content. For example, your products may exist on yourshop.com, fr.yourshop.com and es.yourshop.com, which can significantly dilute your search engine rankings. This is where Hreflang tags come in handy. They are a HTML attribute that tell search engines when there are alternate versions of a page intended for different regions and languages. 

4. Craft unique content

When it comes to your Shopify store’s content, remember the differences in languages and terminology. 

Avoid using Google translate as this often generates incorrect translations and you could end up making some very embarrassing mistakes. Instead, consider employing a native speaker from the country you’re targeting to write highly relevant and unique content.

5. Link building and outreach campaigns

Finally, you need to build links in the countries you want to reach. 


From guest blogs and online magazines, to social media collaborations and podcast appearances, it’s time to get your brand’s name out there. Get creative, the possibilities are endless!

Your Shopify SEO agency

If you have global domination in your sights and are looking to scale your Shopify business internationally, you’ll need to make sure you implement these Shopify SEO best practices discussed in this article. Not only will they boost your search performance in the regions you want to target the most, but they will also provide your customers with a better user experience, which will ultimately lead to more conversions. 


As a leading Shopify agency, our team of SEO experts have helped hundreds of brands conquer internationalisation, and we can do the same for your business. Get in touch today!