Off-page & External SEO for Shopify: Dominate Search Results

June 27, 2024

A title reading "Shopify SEO Masterclass" with 6 wooden blocks stacked on top of eachother next to the title.

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SEO is a multi-faceted process that's all about delivering a great user experience and growing your online presence.

And having a well-optimized Shopify website is only the beginning. To earn higher search engine rankings, you need to commit to off-page SEO activities — from link building to social media marketing.

Read on to learn more about off-page SEO for Shopify, how to do it, and the tools you'll need. 

Off-Page SEO Strategies for Shopify

After on-page optimization, the real work begins. 

Below are the two backbones of off-page SEO that will raise your Shopify website's rankings:

Building High-Quality Backlinks 

Link building is the bread and butter of effective SEO. 

For search engines like Google, backlinks are seen as votes of confidence from other websites that refer to your page. It signals that you provide high-quality, valuable content pieces that are relevant to the searcher's query. 

The more backlinks you have from authoritative websites (sites that Google already trusts), the higher your rankings can climb. 

Unfortunately, there's a very slim chance that authoritative websites will link to you of their own accord. This leaves you with two options: build quality backlinks yourself or create linkable assets that other brands would love to share with their audience. 

Going the first route offers much higher chances of landing backlinks. 

One strategy is to perform outreach and build relationships with other authoritative websites — AKA your potential backlink sources. It can be a long and drawn-out process, but the rewards include unlocking collaborative opportunities and acquiring multiple backlinks in the future.

Identifying potential link sources

To search for potential backlink sources, use a tool like Ahrefs to reveal where your top competitors get their links from. 

More specifically, fire up the "Site Explorer" tool and enter your competitor's domain or page URL. 

Tip: Select "Exact URL" when analyzing individual web pages in the drop-down menu. When analyzing their homepage, select 'Domain' instead. 

Upon reaching the overview page, click 'Backlinks' from the left menu to analyze your competitor's backlink profile. Apart from their backlink sources, you'll also see valuable pieces of information, like:

  • Domain Rating- The SEO strength of the referring domain (measured on a scale of 1-100). 
  • Domain Traffic- The referring domain's average monthly organic traffic.
  • Anchor Text- The string of text used to embed the backlink. 
  • Target URL- The competitor page that's targeted by the backlink.

Build a list of potential backlink sources and prioritize them according to their domain rating. Just take note that other tools have different scoring systems for domains, like Domain Authority (DA) for Moz and Authority Score (AS) for Semrush. 

Building relationships for links 

Next comes the delicate process of relationship-building with your potential backlink sources. 

Of course, you shouldn't expect website owners to just provide you with links — at least without offering something in return. But for now, try to "warm up" these website owners through an outreach campaign, which is usually done through email. 

Start with something like this:

Pay attention to these three things:

  • Referring to a specific post they've published. Show that your intention is purely to share your gratitude. 
  • Asking for more. Don't mention backlinks just yet — double down on the sincerity of your email by asking for additional resources. 
  • Keeping it natural and authentic. Website owners get hundreds of outreach emails, so they'll know if you're using a template or being disingenuous if you're too formal.

Expect that you won't get a response from all of your prospects. So, be sure to send personalized emails to as many websites as you can. 

When you do get a response, you can start planning your next move. 

Your options are finding broken links, links that point to outdated content, or low-quality target URLs.

These are opportunities for you to show that you're actually interested in their content and have the initiative to offer solutions. Just be sure you have a post that's noticeably better than the original target page. 

If all is in order, hit them with another email like:

Then again, there's no guarantee that this strategy will work. However, you can increase your chances by spending more time and effort into improving your relationship before attempting to score a backlink. 

Some ideas you should try are:

  • Connecting with your prospect on social media
  • Responding and sharing their posts
  • Linking to their website first

Publishing guest posts

Guest posting may be the fastest way to get quality backlinks for your Shopify website, but that doesn't mean less work. 

The idea is to find authoritative websites that are relevant to your niche, submit a guest post, and add your own backlinks yourself. 

If you're lucky, some of the potential link sources you already found are open to guest post submissions. Otherwise, you'll need to search for new websites using "guest blogging footprints." 

These are phrases that simply indicate that a website publishes guest posts, like "write for us," "guest post by," and "submit guest post." 

To use guest blogging footprints, run a Google search using a relevant keyword and attach a footprint in quotations. 

The search results should be filled with relevant websites that accept guest posts. Better yet, they take you directly to the landing page with instructions on how to get started.


Moving forward, it's only a matter of following the guidelines, pitching a topic, and delivering a piece that the other website will be glad to publish. Some sites also create author bios for contributors, which can increase your exposure and link to your website (including your social media profiles). 

Keep in mind that most guest blogging sites don't allow contributors to promotional pages, including product pages and collections. To maintain your guest posting rights, only link to informative blog posts that offer value to readers — from "how-to" guides to statistics. 

Creating Linkable Assets

Another way to generate backlinks is to publish linkable assets, which should be leagues ahead of regular content in terms of unique value. 

We're talking about content with original information, like case studies, infographics, and ultimate guides.

So, what linkable assets work for Shopify websites?

Aside from the examples above, you can also consider the following:

  • Survey results
  • Statistics 
  • Tutorial videos
  • Industry/market reports
  • Definitions of advanced or original concepts ("What is" posts)

Just remember that linkable assets should represent the best of what you have to offer in terms of content. You need to do extensive research, analyze what works in your niche, and explore ways to enrich your content like creating infographics or even producing videos.

Leveraging Social Media

The SEO community always believed that social media signals play a part in determining a website's rankings. And, in a leak involving thousands of documents from Google's internal Content API Warehouse, it's revealed that social media's role is actually bigger than expected. 

In a nutshell, Google employs various ways to analyze "entities" tied to a website's online brand. One such entity is social media presence, which the search engine uses to gauge how authoritative and rank-worthy a website really is. 

To leverage social media for Shopify SEO, remember the following tips: 

  • Build and optimize professional business pages. Make sure that your business pages contain complete and accurate information, like your bio, website link, phone number, business category, address, and email. Use high-quality images that prove you're a legitimate eCommerce business, be it for your logo, cover photo, product images, or posts. 
  • Share useful content that appeals to your target audience. Rather than spamming product-related posts on your feed, regularly share informational content that fits the audience's preferences — from news articles to your own guides. Keep in mind that promoting your own content on social media will expose it to other content creators, influencers, and website owners who can spread the word about your business. 
  • Write engaging and actionable post captions. While it's important to create captions that describe what your post is about, you shouldn't forget to remind your social media audience to like or follow your page. Use direct Call-To-Action (CTA) lines like "follow our page for more tech-related stuff" or "click the link below to learn more." 
  • Engage your target audience. Actually take part in social aspects like the comments, groups, trends, and conversations on other relevant pages. Your goal is to be as helpful as possible and prove that you're a credible information source in your niche. 
  • Encourage reviews. Automate processes that make it convenient for customers to leave reviews on your social media pages. This not only makes your brand look good, but it will also supply you with valuable social proof and User-Generated Content (UGC) that you can use in future marketing campaigns. 

Whatever you do, don't forget to link back to your website wherever (and whenever) it makes sense. This will not only elevate your authority in Google's eyes, but also bring juicy referral traffic to your Shopify store. 

Measuring and Analyzing Your Shopify SEO Efforts

Shopify involves a lot of moving pieces, and it's impossible to get them all right without some adjustments. But first, you need to know how to identify weaknesses and improvement opportunities in your strategy. 

This is where SEO analytics come in. 

Setting Up Google Analytics and Google Search Console 

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two must-have components in your SEO toolkit. 

In simple terms, Google Analytics is a free website traffic analytics tool. Its job is to help you understand how many visitors you get, where they're coming from, who are they, and why they're drawn towards your site. 

Google Analytics unveils important metrics tied to user engagement, which is very important for SEO. This includes your traffic (or users), engagement time, bounce rate, and conversion rate.

You'll also be able to uncover insights into your target audience's demographics and content performance. This will help you evaluate which content strategies actually get profitable results and the kind of audience you're pulling in. 

Here are the steps in setting up Google Analytics: 

  1. Create a Google Analytics account.
  2. Go to 'Admin,' click 'Create,' and select 'Property.' 
  3. Fill in the required details (industry category, property name, etc.). 
  4. Install the Google app for Shopify. 
  5. On the app setup page, click 'Connect Google account' and log in.
  6. Click 'Get started' under "Looking only to set up Google Analytics 4?"
  7. Select your Google Analytics property and click 'Connect.' 

While Google Analytics measures your actual website performance, Google Search Console lets you work on the technical side of things. 

Google Search Console's main purpose is to help you diagnose and address technical SEO issues, including crawlability and Core Web Vitals. It's also useful for quickly revealing your top keywords, pages, and countries in terms of traffic and engagement. 

To set up Google Search Console, follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure you deactivate password protection on your Shopify online store.
  2. Copy your store's URL. 
  3. In Google Search Console, log in to your account and click 'Add property' in the top-left drop-down menu.
  4. Select the 'URL prefix' option, paste your store's URL, and click 'Continue.'
  5. Under "Other verification methods," click 'HTML tag' and copy the meta tag shown. 
  6. Go back to Shopify, click 'Online Store' under "Sales channels," and click 'Themes.' 
  7. For backup purposes, create a duplicate copy of your theme. 
  8. Click the three dots settings icon next to your theme and select 'Edit code.' 
  9. Under the "Layout" folder, select 'theme.liquid' and paste the HTML tag you copied directly below the "<head>" tag. 
  10. Go back to Google Search Console and click 'Verify.' 

Outside of free tools from Google, you can also use advanced SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs. These tools can audit your site and underline improvement opportunities that will prepare your Shopify store to take on competitors.

Remember, site audits not only reveal on-page SEO issues. They will also provide actionable recommendations that will help you address them. 

SEO tools also have other uses, including: 

  • Tracking keyword rankings
  • Conducting competitor research
  • Researching content ideas
  • Optimizing your backlink profile
  • Finding target keywords with commercial or transactional intent

Using Shopify SEO Apps and Tools

The more you learn about SEO, the more you'll realize that things will only get busier from here on out. 

Thankfully, the Shopify ecosystem is chock-full of third-party apps that streamline a wide range of SEO tasks. 

Check out these Shopify SEO apps you can use: 

  • SEO ManagerAn all-in-one SEO app for Shopify stores, SEO Manager can help you with nearly every aspect of on-page optimization. It can scan for technical SEO issues, generate meta data, optimize your theme, and more.
  • TinyIMGThis Shopify app comes with a handful of performance-boosting features. You can use it to automatically compress images, implement lazy loading, generate alt text tags, and optimize pages for rich snippets. 
  • Plug In SEO —  Equipped with similar tools and features, Plug In SEO is a good alternative to SEO Manager. Its highlights include its powerful site audit tool and optimization systems for URLs, themes, and page speed. 
  • Sitemap NoIndex Pro SEOSitemap NoIndex Pro generates Google-friendly XML sitemaps that can augment the crawling and indexation processes. It also includes extra tools for addressing duplicate content issues and preventing crawling on unfinished pages. 

Ongoing Optimization and Adaptation

Before we wrap up this guide, remember that SEO is an ongoing, dynamic process. 

The reason is simple: your competitors are doing SEO, too. Not to mention that Google continues to refine its search engine algorithm — who knows what the next update will bring. 

That's why you should continue monitoring your results and use data to make informed decisions. Build upon what works, figure out what can be improved, and leave out strategies that do more harm than good. 

Lastly, tune into the Google Search Status Dashboard to keep up with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes.


There's no denying that off-page SEO is a lot of work. After all, it is the final stretch that decides whether or not your business has what it takes to become a prominent player in your niche. 

Just use the tips above to develop your off-page SEO plan — from link building to performance tracking — and stick to it. Grab every opportunity to gain a competitive edge, like leveraging our advanced Edge Delivery Engine to outpace and outgrow the competition. Book a demo with us today and discover how we can boost your site's overall performance, ensuring a seamless user experience that turns visitors into loyal customers.

A title reading "Shopify SEO Masterclass" with 6 wooden blocks stacked on top of eachother next to the title.

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