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How to Handle SEO Migration: Going Headless With Your Shopify Store

Becca Anderson • 30 March 2023

As a Shopify merchant, you’ve probably wanted to test out headless commerce. But maybe you’re worried about the impact of headless on your SEO rankings post-migration. Don’t worry; in this blog, we’ll explain how to handle an SEO migration so you can get the benefits of headless and keep your Page 1 ranking.

Shopify SEO Migration with Headless Commerce

Why Migrate to a Headless CMS?

Global eCommerce sales are forecasted to grow 56% from where they were in 2021, up to $8.1 trillion from $5.2 trillion by 2026. For Shopify merchants, this number sounds exciting, but given that you might already be getting a slice of that pie, why should migrating to a headless CMS and embracing headless commerce be on your agenda?

A bigger market means more growth opportunities but also more competition, and going headless can help your store stand out from the rest. 

Customers Want Omnichannel Experiences

Ecommerce sales are fueled by convenience and customer demands. As selling online has become the norm, customers now want their favorite brands to go even further, allowing them to shop on different devices and toggle between them seamlessly based on their preferences.

Improve Personalization and Internationalization

Headless commerce allows merchants to serve content to their customers wherever they want it, pulling data about shopping habits from previous purchases and then using that data to create a more tailored experience the next time. Headless also makes internationalization easier, as you can manage multiple storefronts from one interface.

Increase Site Speed and Performance

A headless CMS allows developers to build eCommerce websites using modern technologies that enhance site speed. Headless also increases scalability, allowing stores to handle traffic influxes without downtime. 

Read More: Top 5 benefits of headless commerce

Factors That Can Impact Your SEO

So, now that you’re aware of the benefits of migrating to a headless CMS, what are the things you need to consider regarding your SEO?

Missing URLs

If all of your URLs weren’t transferred the same way during migration, you could end up with key content and product pages not appropriately indexed. No indexing means they can’t be crawled and won’t count toward your SEO ranking. 

New URL Structure

Moving your eCommerce store to a new CMS might mean changes in your URL structure. With a new URL structure, your pages might not be indexed properly, which can lead to issues ranking on search engines

Incorrect or Missing Redirects

301 redirects help search engines know that the old URL they were pointing to has changed, and they need to direct traffic to another location. Having incorrect or missing redirects can cause your SEO rankings to dip, and any high rankings you built up on your previous store might be lost. 

Incorrect Implementation of Best Practices

Some standard best practices for improving SEO include proper meta and header tags for image optimization. You might see a downward slide in search rankings if you don’t implement these same best practices when migrating. 

Missing Sitemap.xml

Even if you do everything else right, sometimes search engines can’t find your URLs. However, a sitemap provides a centralized list that can be crawled and used for reference. If your sitemap is missing, search engines will once again have difficulty finding and indexing your content appropriately. 

Read More: Shopify Store SEO: 12 Things to Fix Today

How to Maintain SEO Performance During a Website Migration

You’ll need to follow a few best practices to maintain your SEO rankings when migrating your eCommerce website. Here are some tips to help you maintain and improve your Shopify store SEO post-migration.

1. Create Pre-, and Post-Migration Checklists

One way migration can go awry is if you don’t have a plan to ensure everything goes smoothly. The best way to create that plan is with a checklist for pre-migration and another for post-migration. The pre-migration checklist should include:

  • Analyzing your current SEO performance.

  • Creating a backup of the website.

  • Making a record of all of your content assets (blogs, images, product pages, etc.).

  • Identifying any potential issues that may arise during the migration process.

The post-migration checklist should include verifying that the website is fully functional, checking that all the URLs are redirecting correctly, updating the XML sitemap, and testing speed and performance. These checklists will help you keep track of the migration process and stay ahead of issues.

2. Use the Same URLs or Redirects

When migrating your eCommerce store to a headless platform, using the same URLs or implementing redirects is essential to maintain SEO performance. Changing the URLs or URL structure of your pages without setting up redirects can lead to broken links, 404 errors, and a significant drop in your website’s search engine rankings. Redirects will help you preserve the link equity and authority that your website has built over time.

3. XML Sitemap Uploaded to Google Search Console

An XML sitemap lists all the pages on your website that you want search engines to crawl and index. Uploading one to Google Search Console helps search engines understand your website’s structure and find all your web pages, including new pages created during the migration.

Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console can also help you monitor your website’s crawling and indexing process. You can use the Search Console to track the number of pages indexed, crawl errors, and any other issues that may affect your website’s search engine rankings.

4. Use Structured Data

Structured data is a way to organize the content on your website, making it easier for search engines to understand the context and meaning of your web pages and another key factor in rankings and visibility. Use schema markup to add structured data to your web pages, making it easier for search engines to understand the content on your website. Schema markup can also help you add rich snippets, such as reviews, ratings, and prices, to your search engine results, making your store more attractive to potential visitors.

5. Focus on Core Web Vitals and Page Experience

Search engines like Google are focusing more on the user experience when browsing a page. Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure key user experience metrics such as loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console to monitor your website’s Core Web Vitals and identify any issues or improvement opportunities.

6. Track and Measure Performance

After migration, you must track and measure the website’s performance to ensure its SEO performance remains intact. Tools like Google Analytics can track organic search traffic, bounce, and conversion rates.

Tracking and measuring performance can help you identify any issues affecting your website’s search engine rankings and make necessary changes to improve its performance. It’s important to monitor your website’s performance regularly to ensure that your SEO efforts are paying off and your website delivers the desired results.

7. Leverage SEO-Focused Tools

Several SEO-focused tools, such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and more, can help you monitor your website’s SEO performance and identify any issues affecting your search engine rankings. These tools can provide valuable insights into your website’s organic search traffic, keyword rankings, backlinks, and more. They can also help you identify new opportunities to improve your store long after the migration. 

Read More: eCommerce SEO: The 10-point Checklist for Growth

Elevate Your Shopify Store With Headless Commerce and Instant Commerce

Moving to a headless CMS offers improved speed and performance and increased flexibility for Shopify store owners. Despite the benefits of headless commerce, many eCommerce store owners still fear SPAs not being indexed and other problems that might affect SEO. 

They might also worry about headless CMSs not matching up to traditional CMS SEO features their marketers might have been accustomed to or relying on developers to accomplish even simple tasks. 

However, it’s possible to solve these problems with Instant Commerce. With our headless storefront builder, Shopify merchants can keep their Shopify backend to handle all eCommerce requirements, such as product and inventory management. Meanwhile, they can increase conversions and performance and improve usability for non-technical team members while reducing developer dependency. Essentially, the benefits of going headless without the potential drawbacks. 

For Brightly, hosting their website and content on a WordPress site and selling their products through a Shopify store felt like a good approach at the time. Unfortunately, their marketing team needed to rely on developers for even simple changes, and their conversion rates could have been much higher. However, once they migrated their content to the Storyblok headless CMS and incorporated Instant Commerce as a storefront builder, they could not only keep the 180k in monthly organic traffic from Google but increase it a further 5% in just a few weeks.

Learn how Brightly improved its SEO performance by embracing headless commerce in our customer story.


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Author / Writer
Becca Anderson
Content Marketing Manager

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