As discussed in our previous post, Shopify is a fantastic user-friendly platform that enables small and medium-sized business to set up an ecommerce store without the need for huge web development costs.

For those in the SEO community, it can be a little more restrictive than other platforms, with the robots.txt file, sitemap and some inbuilt meta data fields inaccessible to change easily.

This means that whilst easy to set up, many Shopify sites will run into some common SEO errors – with duplicate content being one of the major issues.

Should I Noindex or use Rel=canonical to Solve Duplicate Content Issues?

When dealing with duplicate content issues, the two main options are:

  • Noindexing the URL using the meta robots on the page header, this option indicates to search engines that you do not want it to be indexed..
  • The Rel=canonical tag, which is basically a way of letting Google know which is the ‘master copy’ of each page. In the case of duplicate content pages – of which there are quite a few on Shopify – it gives you control over which version of each URL to prioritise in the search engines

The use of the noindex tag is slightly more extreme than the canonical tag as search engines will ignore useful metrics for your site such as links pointing to it as well as some interactivity data, plus over time the links on that page may be interpreted nofollow by Google – potentially harming the ranking of other URLs.

The use of the canonical tag is therefore a better option for duplicate content issues on Shopify as we are just informing search engines which URL is favoured without the need to ignore one URL.

How to Fix Collection ‘Tag’ Pages

Many Shopify themes with set a basic canonical rule in the theme file, seen below, meaning that any URL generated by the site will have a self-referential canonical tag.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”{{ canonical_url }}” />

This sort of implementation means that some less relevant pages will also have the canonical tag and could lead to duplicate content issues as each URL has it’s own canonical tag.

Some less useful pages you may want not to appear as the ‘master copy’ include ‘Tag’ pages:

The standard Shopify URL structure for a collection tag is:

www.[siteurl]/collections/[collection-name]/[tag-name]”

eg. www.bestshoeshop.com/collections/shoes/red,

This tag page as standard will include a self-referential canonical tag, which can give a false ranking signal.

The problem is that the tag page (in this example the red shoes page), will have the same content as the main collection page and may be prioritised in search engines, even for non ‘red shoe’ related searches.

To combat this, it’s a good idea to replace the default canonical tag implementation in your theme file, prioritising the main collection URL over the tag page:

To insert in the theme.liquid file, between the <head></head> tags.

{% if template contains ‘collection’ and current_tags %}
<link rel=”canonical” href=”{{ shop.url }} {{ collection.url }}” />
{% else %}
<link rel=”canonical” href=”{{ canonical_url }}” />
{% endif %}

Adding this code will mean the collection tag pages will have a canonical tag that points to the main collection URL, indicating that the main collection page is to be favoured when choosing what to show for a related search term. In the earlier example, the URL www.bestshoeshop.com/collections/shoes/red would have a canonical tag of <link rel=”canonical” href=”www.bestshoeshop.com/collections/shoes/” />.

NB. For certain sites you may want to optimise the tag landing pages instead of the main collection URL. It may be that your tags are keyword-rich and likely to attract search traffic on their own.

If this is the case, we would recommend optimising the tag page using unique content, meta titles and descriptions. In this instance, you will also want to keep the canonical tag on each individual tag collection page as well.

If you need any help setting up or optimising your Shopify website, please get in touch with Content Drive today. We are proud to be Shopify Partners.

Matthew

Author Matthew

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