Best Shopify Themes for SEO

Goals

To identify 3-5 top Shopify themes that optimize SEO for large eCommerce businesses. This information will be used to evaluate alternatives to a current client's Shopify theme, which is presenting issues with indexing, crawling, and filtering.

Early Findings

Top Shopify Themes

  • In September 2020, Genius eCommerce, a digital marketing agency with specific expertise in SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click), highlighted the top 8 best Shopify themes for SEO: Star, Negan, Everest, Zeexo, Micra, Amanto, Calfia, and Vodoma.
  • Top themes were selected based on their prioritization of SEO (with the company noting that "Google has been refining its algorithms over the past few years, and it has become clear that speed and sleek interfaces weigh heavily into how a website gets ranked"). Benefits of the top-ranked themes include faster page load times, responsiveness and visual appeal on mobile devices, readability by search engines (cleanly coded), "better compatibility with plugins and apps," professional and visually appealing storefronts, and adaptability for multiple industries.
  • Digital marketing agency, Studio, identified the top free and paid Shopify sites offering "optimized, fast-loading themes." Studio's ranking methodology was based largely on home page site speed performance, with the company noting that "Site speed plays a huge role in the way users interact with/convert on your site and the perceived value it has to Google or other search engines." For the rankings, themes were tested in "Google’s Page Speed Insights and a third party page speed analyzer, GTmetrix."
  • Top free themes as ranked by Studio include Boundless (good for sites with many photos), Simple, Minimal (for sites with "emphasis on product and lifestyle photography"), Debut (most useful for stores with products that require limited explanation), and Narrative ("most responsive theme for SEO"). Top paid Shopify themes include Kingdom, Cascade (for targeting a younger audience), and Plak (which claims to be the "fastest theme in 2020"). Prices for paid themes in this list range from $180 to $595.
  • Notably, of the recommended top Shopify themes for optimizing SEO, Studio highlights Kingdom (due to its leading mobile results), Narrative ("optimized site-speed, lots of indexable content, a great user experience on desktop or mobile, and plenty of room for categorization/personalization"), and Debut "due to its incredible page speed stats and abundance of on-page content").
  • Web design, development, and marketing agency, Alioned, a consultancy specializing in eCommerce websites on Shopify, further segments its recommend Shopify themes for optimizing SEO for large stores. Leading recommended themes include Impulse, Retina, Warehouse, Artisan, and Testament. Turbo, Superstore, and Flex are highlighted as premium themes with additional features.
  • Alioned recommends themes be purchased directly from the Shopify store, which includes only those that meet its quality tests. Key theme elements evaluated by Shopify include SEO-friendliness, page load speed, visual appeal, user-friendliness, features (such as filtering and sorting), high-quality, durable code, support for alternative devices and browsers, and language support features.
  • Shopify offers several theme recommendations for large inventories, including Fashionopolism, Warehouse, Avenue, and Empire. Given that Shopify conducts quality testing for SEO, these recommendations would be considered to meet a high benchmark for SEO.

Theme Overview

Warehouse

  • Warehouse is a Shopify theme designed to "display and promote a large catalogue of products."
  • Its features include predictive search ("live search results and quick links for products and store pages"), a dedicated card to showcase security and payment badges, an exit popup to facilitate customer email/newsletter signup, custom promotion tile, and stock level indicator.
  • A sample user review highlights its SEO optimization, mobile, and browser compatibility features: "We tested ALL of the top-rated themes on Shopify for speed, SEO, browser compatibility, and mobile. The Warehouse theme is the most solid-coded and fastest theme on Shopify in my opinion. It's extremely well documented and performs flawlessly on any computer, tablet, or mobile device."
  • In addition to its SEO-friendliness, this independent reviewer notes additional features including the ability to customize the theme, its mobile-friendly design, and free theme updates.
  • The Warehouse theme is priced at $180.

Empire

  • Empire is "an Amazon-inspired theme optimized for large catalogues."
  • Features include predictive search, custom promotion tiles, product filtering, suitability for stores with many products, home page menu lists, and pickup availability.
  • One reviewer says of the theme, "This theme is exactly what we were looking for. It is super versatile, great blog function, cool mega menu, nice filtering, you can customize it in many ways, it's fast and it comes with great support."
  • In an October 2020 review of Empire, one reviewer noted the site offered fast page loading speed, ranking #29 among Shopify's themes.

Summary of Early Findings

  • In this initial hour of research, we focused on assessing the information available to identify top Shopify themes offering SEO optimization and features such as filtering, for larger eCommerce sites.
  • We were able to identify several alternative Shopify "top theme" lists focused on optimizing SEO. These include recommendations by independent digital marketing agencies that ranked according to specific SEO-related metrics, such as page load speed, as well as Shopify, which conducts ongoing quality tests to ensure themes offered meet high standards (with SEO optimization and page load speed being two key criteria).
  • We found a range of information indicating page load speed as a key element of SEO and should be a key metric in understanding whether a site is optimized for SEO. ReferralCandy notes that "search engines prefer pages that load quickly and will rank faster websites higher than slower websites (made with clunky themes)" and a "one-second delay in loading can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversion rates."
  • Several of the rankings did not segment by the potential size of the eCommerce site/business (though Shopify and one other ranking did break out themes appropriate for larger eCommerce sites). Many of the rankings noted the usefulness of certain themes for specific industries and content, however (e.g. apparel, furniture, photography).
  • In the allotted time, we were able to provide some additional detail, including features, pricing, reviews, and any relevant detail on SEO optimization-related information, on two of the recommended sites for larger eCommerce businesses. We are unable to provide visuals for eCommerce shops leveraging these themes in early research, but this is a feature that can be included in further detailed research.
  • Our recommendations for additional research build on what we were able to find in the initial stage of information-gathering.



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