So you’re ready to launch your online store. After all the dedication and hard work it took to create your unique product, it’s finally time to send it out into the world. But it turns out there’s still one tough decision left to make: which e-commerce platform should you use?
When you’re starting an e-commerce business, finding a suitable platform can be quite a challenge. There are a variety of different options out there, which can make it hard to know which one is right for you. It is crucial that you choose the perfect fit for your business needs, to set yourself up for success.
WooCommerce and Shopify are two popular, easy-to-use, e-commerce platforms. Both are designed to help you sell your products seamlessly. However, each platform comes with certain strengths and weaknesses. So how can you decide which is better for you and your business?
There are many elements to examine when it comes to this decision, but in this article, we will focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We’ll put WooCommerce and Shopify head-to-head and examine which one comes out on top when it comes to SEO. Firstly, though, it’s important to get a quick overview of both platforms and their differences, and a glimpse into SEO and why it’s so important for your online business.
Introduction to WooCommerce and Shopify
WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin. It can be used to convert a WordPress site into a functioning online store. It is an open-source plugin, meaning that it is both free and easily customizable. There are available add-ons and extensions, which are constantly being expanded upon. Thanks to this flexibility, WooCommerce can be modified for use by a wide range of companies. Whether your business is small or large, WooCommerce can be customized to be a great fit.
The greatest upside of WooCommerce lies in the fact that it is an open-source platform. This gives it two key advantages. Firstly, it means that WooCommerce is free to install. Secondly, it means that WooCommerce is easily customizable. However, these benefits come with a catch: WooCommerce does require knowledge of coding. In addition, some of the add-ons and extensions that WooCommerce has to offer to require paying a premium. Although you are not paying for WooCommerce itself, these add-ons can end up costing you.
WooCommerce is an extremely popular choice for businesses selling online. In fact, as of 2020, it claims to be the world’s most popular e-commerce platform. Launched in 2011, it has the experience and longevity to back up its popularity. That’s why it has become such a trusted name.
Like WooCommerce, Shopify helps businesses run their online stores. However, Shopify is a product you purchase, and not an open-source plug-in. Once you’ve decided to pay for Shopify’s services, you receive more of a turnkey experience. The product you receive is already integrated and loaded with all the features you need. The great advantage of Shopify is that it doesn’t require knowledge of coding. It features slick pre-created designs, reputable and responsive customer support, and is easy to use. These services, however, do come at a cost. Unlike the free WooCommerce, you will be paying a premium each month for Shopify.
Shopify does allow users full access to their code as well. As with WooCommerce, this means that their product is more customizable if you happen to have the knowledge and skillset to use this to your advantage. For advanced users who have no problem working behind-the-scenes, Shopify is also customizable to them.
Shopify is also an e-commerce giant. As of 2020, it is being used by a whopping more than 800,000 businesses to power their online shops. Founded in 2004, Shopify also has an extensive history and background in e-commerce, making it a giant in the field.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You probably already know that search engine optimization (SEO) is key to attracting new customers online. However, as with most things, utilizing SEO to your advantage is easier said than done.
SEO is essentially the practice of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic searches. When a customer types in keywords related to your product, you want your website to be easily found by them. The higher your website ranks in a search engine’s results, the more likely it is that a customer will click. Having a strong SEO strategy ensures that your site is always at the top of the page of search results, and therefore receives more clicks. It also ensures that customers are able to find what they’re looking for, which is your product, and not the competitors’.
There are many elements that play into how highly your website ranks in search results. A few of these elements include:
- Organic links leading from other websites to your store.
- Structuring a website that is optimized for search engines.
- Optimizing the content of your website for search engines
- The age of your domain name
- The perceived legitimacy of the website, based on factors such as engagement
When you are just starting out, some of these elements may be difficult to execute at first. For example, the age of your domain name is largely out of your control. Getting links from other websites to your store is also something that will take time to achieve, and won’t happen immediately. Many of these goals will ultimately require long-term planning and strategizing. Building a reputation for your brand demands commitment over a lengthy period of time. However, there are ways you can structure and optimize your website from the very beginning to be friendly for search engines. WooCommerce and Shopify both can be used to your advantage to do exactly this.
Understanding WooCommerce and Shopify’s advantages and weaknesses with SEO can help you make the right choice for your business. Taking the time to learn about which platform is right for you will help you lay that solid foundation.
WooCommerce vs Shopify SEO
Both WooCommerce and Shopify were designed with Search Engine Optimization in mind. These platforms understand the importance of ranking highly and getting results for their users. However, as discussed above, these platforms were built very differently. The general advantages and disadvantages of each, which have been outlined previously, also resurface when it comes to SEO.
The key differences that have already been described between WooCommerce and Shopify are reflected in their approaches to SEO. Namely, WooCommerce also emphasizes the ability to customize their product and tailor it to your business. Shopify, however, is best noted for the convenience it offers.
If you are trying to decide between these two platforms, and SEO is a big factor in your choice, this article will help describe the two platforms’ advantages as well as potential downsides. Although there are many other factors that could play into your choice of platform, SEO is one that should be at the top of your list. So how do you make your decision?
Firstly, let’s discuss how WooCommerce integrates SEO into their platform. As you’ve read above, WooCommerce works directly with WordPress. This gives users the automatic advantage of access to all of WordPress’ existing SEO capabilities. Whether or not you’re selling a product, WordPress already has the built-in ability for you to experiment with optimizing content and metadata. Using WordPress, savvy WooCommerce users can use elements such as meta descriptions and titles to tell search engines what their page is all about.
WordPress also has a very large existing range of SEO plug-ins. All of these options are available to you when using WooCommerce. Many of these plug-ins are notably easy to navigate, and you have dozens of options to choose from. Some examples of plug-ins within WordPress which can work with WooCommerce to boost your SEO results include:
- Asset Cleanup
- Yoast SEO
- Automatic Alt Attributes
- Schema Pro
- Customer Reviews for WooCommerce
- WP Rocket
- Yoast WooCommerce SEO
- Rank Math
- Google Site Kit
- Really Simple SSL
Each of these has its own specific use. They tackle different elements of SEO. Examples include: optimizing the content of your page, helping keep your content fresh by republishing old articles, or compressing images. So many customizable plug-ins mean that WooCommerce gives you an edge in terms of the variety of capabilities it offers. However, there is a downside to having so many plug-ins, which is that things can become very complicated if you are a first-time user. You might need multiple plug-ins to accomplish the SEO strategy which you’re going for. You may also need to pay for some of these plug-ins. All of these great options can become confusing or overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re doing.
So how does Shopify compare? Its main advantage is that the majority of its features are automatic. They do the work for you, and they come built-in with the product. You won’t need to spend time deciding which plug-ins are right for you, and doing your research in setting them up. Shopify has already taken care of this, and once you start using the platform, you have access to all its SEO features without doing a thing. They give your site a boost without requiring any manual input from you.
This could seem to limit if you already have an intimate knowledge of SEO. But Shopify also allows you to go a step further. You can also manually optimize content by editing meta descriptions, title tags, and alt text for images. In addition, Shopify does offer plug-ins that are focused on SEO. You can find these on the Shopify App Store, which is a store dedicated just to these plug-ins. If you use Shopify, you are still able to take advantage of plug-ins (or as they call them, “apps”) and their specific, targeted goals. However, Shopify has fewer plug-in options than WooCommerce.
In keeping with Shopify’s reputation of providing great customer support and options for customers, they also allow you to easily hire a Shopify expert who can help you navigate SEO. Of course, this comes with an additional cost, which may not be ideal for all users. However, the option to work directly with one of their approved experts could be exactly what your business needs for an extra boost.
The differences between WooCommerce and Shopify’s capabilities are clear when it comes to SEO. Since WooCommerce is open-source and works with WordPress, it carries these advantages into the platform. Users who want more options and more capability might gravitate toward WooCommerce for these reasons. In contrast, Shopify was designed for users to be able to easily administer. The trade-off is that it is less customizable, but may be simpler to navigate if you are a beginner.
WooCommerce and Shopify both have their own advantages when it comes to SEO. Both are great options. They are well-established e-commerce platforms that have been extremely successful at what they do. Each platform has taken SEO into account in developing its product. With their range of experience in the e-commerce world, they both clearly understand the importance of a solid SEO strategy.
There are many differences to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform. However, if SEO is your main concern when it comes down to deciding which e-commerce site to utilize, it depends on what features you are looking for.
Essentially, the decision returns to one specific difference. The key is ease of use. WooCommerce does have more options and capabilities for SEO. However, Shopify is easier for newcomers to navigate.
If you are experienced in working with coding, or are planning to hire someone who is, WooCommerce might be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simpler platform that doesn’t require prior coding experience, Shopify may be the better option.
When it comes to SEO, a strong strategy can make or break your ability to successfully conduct e-commerce. Understanding which platform is best for you will ultimately enable you to guide your company through its next steps.