How To Optimize Shopify Stores For Handmade Products
by Crystal Waddell on Apr 17, 2023
For years I felt intimidated by Shopify.
Even though I sold on Etsy and I started my own ecommerce website using GoDaddy online store (OMG YIKES), I felt like Shopify was a platform for bigger sellers.
Fast forward about ten years and here is the advice I'd give myself: run, don't walk, and do not pas go until you create a Shopify store.
Why a Shopify store is the best
You may have heard the (TRUE) rumor that when you sell on Etsy, you are actually selling to ETSY's customers and not your own.
It took me about five years before I realized this truth. Five years of selling handmade, of over-delivering in my customer service only to find out: I didn't even have permission to email a thank you to a customer after the sale.
Why is this? Because an Etsy shop is like having a kiosk in the mall. You don't own anything - you don't have your own space.
Having your own Shopify store means having control over your business
With Etsy, or even Amazon Handmade, you could show up one day and the layout and everything about your store could be different.
The rules can change - and the mall (Etsy or Amazon Handmade) can shut you down with zero warning.
With Shopify, you get your own domain, which is your www.whateveryournameis.com.
You get to choose the apps that you'd like to use to make your business run more smoothly.
And unless you are associated with Trump, they typically don't shut your store down without warning.
Having a Shopify website means in-house developers
Shopify is what is known in the online world as a "content management system" or maybe even a "content delivery network."
Shopify hires its own developers to create free themes that serve as templates for sellers to set up their stores.
I started out with Debut, an OG of Shopify themes, and when Shopify 2.0 came out, I upgraded to Dawn.
Now I use Studio, but the moral of my story is that Shopify's free themes more than meet my needs as a seller.
Of course, you can always purchase a paid theme or pay a theme developer to create custom Shopify store pages for you.
I just haven't found it necessary and I enjoy tinkering with my site.
My favorite benefit of using Shopify?
Hands down, aside from the themes that I can customize to make my own, is the customer service of Shopify.
24/7 you can chat with someone who works for Shopify. This means you can troubleshoot just about anything, any time.
This feels like having a team behind me. Shopify lends its developers and customer service to its store users in a way that keeps you from feeling isolated, lonely, and hopeless as a business owner.
Plus, Shopify has a youtube channel where you can binge tutorials and videos made by people who work for Shopify.
After listening to Shopify's podcast, I found out that many of Shopify's employees also have Shopify stores.
Which I think, is awesome and says a lot about the culture and the product.
Need Help To Migrate Your Store?
When I switched from my GoDaddy Online Store, I pretty much started from scratch. There wasn't a migration tool that I could use at the time to bring my website over from GoDaddy.
But that was kind of good because I needed a fresh start. I didn't love how my GoDaddy Online store was set up (by me!) so my Shopify store got a noticeable facelift.
Etsy has a migrate your site option but I caution you here.
Bear with me, I'll try to make this concise ....
On Etsy, they are constantly encouraging you to create new products
Every listing on Etsy means twenty cents for Etsy.
I thought that I SHOULD create new products and my favorite way to do that was by duplicating the old ones and updating with new pictures.
So I had a store full of duplicate products that was absolutely ridiculous.
I was killing it in Etsy search, but my Etsy shop looked ridiculous.
I didn't want to bring that ridiculousness over to my Shopify store.
So I built everything from the ground up on Shopify.
It took a long time. And when I learned about SEO, I went back and redid everything again.
But now I have an optimized site for speed, search engines, and user experience.
Shopify Speed Optimization: Tips to Speed Up Your Shopify Store
Shopify has an internal page speed indicator, which I encourage you to take with a grain of salt.
The best way to gauge your site performance is by using your phone and browsing your site (maybe incognito?).
All SEOs and UX Designers recommend designing for mobile devices first.
Chances are, if you can get your web pages loading quickly for mobile, the load speed for desktop will speed up, too.
The number one thing slowing down your store
I would almost bet my life on this one: if anything is making you feel embarrassed about your speed scores on Shopify, it's probably image-related.
One of the best tips someone gave me was to use a website called "tinypng.com" to compress my image files.
Compressing your image files for the internet is one example of image optimization. It's a great first step in a process to optimize your images for SEO purposes as well.
The second step? Naming conventions, i.e., naming your images something like this-picture-is-of-this.jpg instead of img033345.jpg.
Use the 2.0 Theme code for load speed optimization
If you are still using a 1.0 theme, like Debut, your slow site speed is on you, my friend.
The 2.0 themes, free and paid, will speed up your Shopify store instantly.
When I had 1.0 Debut, my site speed was about 27.
With 2.0 Studio, my site speed is 56. Of course, that's also after optimizing my images with Tinypng.com.
That's why I recommend both tactics to improve your speed score.
Why Should You Improve Shopify Page Speed?
A good Shopify speed score will have your store loading in under a second or two. This is important for two reasons.
First, the user. The user of your site doesn't want to hang out to wait and watch your site load. Not unless they also enjoy watching paint drying.
So, you're potentially losing customers the longer your site takes to load.
Second, search engines pay attention to your site speed and judge your trustworthiness by it. Your slow loading website makes Google look bad.
So if your Shopify site speed is slower than a competitor's website, your site will drop in the rankings while your competitor will climb to the top.
Optimize use of Shopify apps
The Shopify app store is another point on the board for Shopify versus other ecommerce web builders.
But, you'll want to pay attention to your store speed as you incorporate Shopify apps.
A good Shopify speed score is relative to the average of Shopify stores (around 40-56). Too many apps loading on your home page can slow your website speed significantly.
Consider Professional Help
I believe anyone can create a Shopify store that looks good.
However, you may not believe that about yourself or you may not have the time to do it yourself.
OR, you may have the time but you also have money burning a hole in your pocket and you just want it done.
I salute you, my friend!
However, do not pay anyone to build your Shopify store without first confirming they also understand SEO.
A few things you need them to assure you they understand:
How to fix broken links.
The importance of uploading images with file-names-like-this.jpg.
How to use image compression tools like tinypng.com.
The importance of creating for mobile devices before computer desktop web pages.
How to integrate Google Analytics, GA-4 (or Google tag manager), and Google Search Console with your site.
Where to update SEO titles and meta descriptions.
How to wireframe your site structure before creating the actual Shopify site.
If you feel comfortable with your person's level of comfort with the above, then great! If not, keep looking or reach out to me.
We can schedule a VIP day and knock it out together!
Check Your Store Speed Performance Through Google Pagespeed Insights
Above: When your Shopify store's speed is slower than other Shopify stores.
Google has so many tools to help you understand how fast your Shopify store loads.
To check your Shopify site speed, you can check your Google lighthouse performance metrics.
Google pagespeed insights will give you details on your website performance. It will give you a speed score and identify issues within your website URL.
Fix redirects and broken links
When you have redirects and broken links on your website, it can slow down the loading speed of your store.
A lot of times broken links are the result of moving your website from one website builder to another.
For instance, the format of my GoDaddy online store was something like collageandwood.com/online-store/products/actual-product.
Whereas that same product on Shopify is something like: collageandwood.com/products/actual-product.
You'll need to update the original link to redirect to the new link.
You can use free tools like BrokenLinkCheck.com to check for any broken or redirected links on your Shopify store.
Focus on All Important Factors for Conversion Rates
When it comes to improving conversion rates, you want to focus on all the important factors for an online store.
First, make sure your website is easy to navigate (site architecture) and contains all relevant information about your products.
Secondly, use eye-catching visuals, high quality product images and creative design elements to draw attention and keep visitors engaged.
Many Shopify stores have conversion rates of less than 1%.
However, if you can increase your conversion rate, you can sell more to your current customers without having to spend more on ads.
I wish you the best of luck as you optimize your Shopify store!
Opening a Shopify store is not just about website speed or paid ads. Your Shopify speed score is one of the least relevant indicators of your potential for success.
But combined with strong SEO, product titles, description and a great user experience - your Shopify page speed will boost your store performance.
Want to get your Shopify store done in a day?
I offer VIP services where I can create your shop for you, with your input, in just one day.
You can book a free call here if you'd like to discuss your Shopify store!
Frequently asked Questions About Optimizing Your Shopify Site
How do I optimize my product on Shopify?
To optimize your product on Shopify, you'll need to make sure you have strong SEO.
This includes optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, and image alt text.
You should also create unique product descriptions that include informative content about the product, as well as appealing visuals for customers. Additionally, it's important to keep your website up to date, as search engines prefer fresh content.
How many products should I launch on my Shopify store?
The number of products you launch on your Shopify store depends on your budget and goals.
If you're just getting started, start with a few products and add more as needed.
You'll also want to make sure that the products you select are SEO-friendly, so they can be easily found by potential customers online.
Get comfortable with the platform first and build out your Shopify website as you learn.
How do I get sales fast on Shopify?
Most Shopify influencers would suggest that you start by optimizing your product pages for SEO and driving traffic with content marketing, PPC ads, email campaigns, and social media posts.
I partly agree and partly disagree.
I definitely agree with starting with SEO and driving traffic with content marketing.
I don't agree with running PPC ads - unless you have a large budget.
Email is critical, and building a consistent brand using social media is a strategy that I teach.
It's important to give each marketing channel "a job" to do for your business.
Optimizing your website for search will get you in front of buyers looking for your solution, but it may not happen as quickly as PPC ads.
Why do many Shopify stores fail?
Many Shopify stores fail due to lack of planning, inadequate marketing strategies, or unrealistic expectations.
New entrepreneurs don't know what they don't know - and by the time they find out what's important (and profitable!) it may be too late to save their business.
The inability to stand out from the competition is also a major factor in why many Shopify stores fail.
Building a sustaining brand is hard work.
To maximize success, entrepreneurs should take the time to meticulously evaluate their business plan and target market before setting up a Shopify store.
Additionally, businesses should focus on creating a unique brand identity that can help them stand out in the crowded ecommerce space.