With total e-commerce sales approaching $5 trillion yearly, it’s no surprise that many businesses seek to establish or expand their digital storefronts. And if you’ve looked into setting up an e-commerce store, you’ve probably seen two names pop up repeatedly: Shopify and WordPress. But is WordPress or Shopify better for SEO?
The short answer is that it depends on the specific needs of your business. Both options offer a reliable, secure, and intuitive shopping experience that millions of customers use daily, with overlapping features. But there are also some key differences, especially in how each platform approaches search engine optimization.
That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide on the pros, cons, and unique features of both Shopify and WordPress to help you decide which option is right for you.
Advantages of WordPress for SEO
WordPress uses a free plugin called WooCommerce that provides businesses with all the tools needed to create an online storefront and checkout process. Unlike Shopify, it’s a self-hosted platform, which makes it a highly flexible option with some distinct SEO advantages.
Customizability with Plugins
One of the biggest reasons to consider WordPress for your e-commerce needs is the sheer amount of customization you can achieve with simple plugins. In addition to the WooCommerce plugin, there are options to streamline or even automate everything from invoicing and product tabs to email templates and product reviews.
Regarding search engine optimization, plugin options allow you to integrate your storefront with Google Analytics to track, measure, and improve SEO performance. And no discussion of WordPress plugins would be complete without mentioning Yoast, which can help you optimize keywords, improve your internal linking structure, and automatically add structured data for better organic search visibility and faster indexing.
Designed for SEO
WooCommerce was built from the ground up with search engine optimization in mind, a fact that is evident in almost every aspect of the platform. It uses SEO-friendly code and allows you to customize everything from permalink URL structure to meta descriptions, page titles, and alt text, giving businesses unrivaled options for fine-tuning every element of their SEO strategy.
WordPress began as a blogging platform, so it should be no surprise that its fully-featured blogging capabilities offer another significant SEO advantage to businesses that choose to use it.
Increasing organic and targeted traffic, establishing your business as an authority, and providing visitors with apparent value and a reason to convert are just a few of the benefits that solid blog content can provide. If you foresee your business relying on blogging to generate the bulk of its leads, WordPress has a clear advantage over Shopify.
Disadvantages of WordPress for SEO
WordPress has plenty to offer as an e-commerce platform, but that doesn’t mean it is without shortcomings. Ironically, the same complexity and customization that makes it such a powerful tool for SEO can make it more complicated and unwieldy as your site grows and becomes more intricate.
Limited Support Options
If you’re looking for a platform with access to live phone support when things go wrong, you might fight yourself disappointed with WordPress. The good news is that because the platform is so popular, there’s plenty of user support in the form of guides and forums dedicated to troubleshooting issues and navigating the more complex parts of building a digital storefront.
On the other hand, many of those guides are technical or may not address your exact issue. If you have limited coding experience or can’t find a direct answer to your problem, getting the support you need can quickly become a hassle.
WordPress may offer more advanced SEO features, but it does come at the cost of a higher learning curve and slower performance benchmarks. While Shopify’s goal is to make setting up an online store as quick and easy as possible, taking full advantage of what WordPress’ WooCommerce platform offers requires more technical knowledge and a more hands-on approach.
WordPress can become overwhelming if you aren’t used to working on self-hosted sites or handling some of the optimization processes manually.
There are also performance considerations that can indirectly impact SEO. For instance, many WordPress themes are not natively optimized for mobile use. They may be slightly slower than Shopify’s leaner interface, which can lead to higher bounce rates if you cannot tackle mobile device optimization on your own.
Advantages of Shopify for SEO
Is WordPress or Shopify better for SEO? You might already think you know the answer. Especially when you consider how much WordPress has to offer, you might wonder, does Shopify hurt SEO? But rest assured — because Shopify was purpose-built for e-commerce, it is full-featured, simple, and intuitive to implement, and it’s more than capable of competing with WordPress for the needs of most businesses.
Shopify may not have as many customization options as the WooCommerce platform, but it makes up for it with its comprehensive suite of useful apps. Not only are these apps typically more straightforward to implement than WordPress plugins, but Shopify also comes ready out of the box with quite a few features that have to be added separately on WordPress.
Apps like Avada SEO Suite can significantly aid with search engine optimization, and finding the apps you need through Shopify is quick and easy. Just be aware that some apps will have limited functionality unless you spring for the paid versions, so check to ensure you get all the features you need.
Ease of Use
Shopify is a much more user-friendly platform for setting up an e-commerce business, mainly if you are an inexperienced site builder, lack coding skills, or haven’t brushed up on current SEO best practices. Shopify’s philosophy emphasizes this ease of use, and while this does mean that customization is limited, it also means there are fewer technical aspects to worry about.
Shopify automatically handles tasks like 301 redirects, title tags, and the creation of sitemaps. They even ensure that your site is optimized for mobile and has access to top-level SSL encryption, helping you avoid a potential SEO penalty. If you want an SEO-ready platform with minimal fuss, Shopify is hard to beat.
When it comes to solving technical issues quickly, Shopify has a clear edge. Shopify’s support team is available via chat or 24/7 phone support, in stark contrast to WordPress. It’s also easy to iron out bugs or find quick and accurate answers to questions about search engine optimization.
The icing on the cake is that Shopify requires less maintenance on average than a site using WooCommerce due to its lower degree of complexity, which means fewer calls that you’ll need to make to tech support in the first place.
Shopify’s lightweight architecture, proprietary CSS editor, and compact applications give its online stores faster page load speeds than WordPress on average. This also translates to a smoother user experience, which is especially important when you realize that the bounce rate increases dramatically when a site takes more than three seconds to load.
Another critical factor to consider is uptime. Shopify boasts an impressive 99.99% uptime, whereas WordPress depends entirely on how fast and reliable your hosting service is. If your WordPress site goes down because you chose the wrong hosting, you risk losing conversions and sales.
Disadvantages of Shopify for SEO
Like WordPress, Shopify’s advantages don’t come without their own downsides. As with many tools that are designed to be as simple as possible, you might find yourself butting up against the technical limitations of the platform as your business grows in size and complexity, and the comparative lack of customizability can be frustrating if you aren’t able to make certain optimization decisions. When looking at SEO for Shopify vs. WordPress, here are a few things to be wary of.
The excellent news for Shopify’s choice of themes is that they are optimized for mobile use by default. Considering how much online shopping is done on phones and how much you can be penalized in search engine rankings if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, this is a huge benefit.
The downside is that there are significantly fewer optimized themes to choose from compared to WordPress, which can limit design flexibility. You can opt for premium themes instead, but these can be pricey and will still require some coding knowledge.
Both Shopify and WordPress will cost money if you want to make the most of them, but Shopify has more recurring costs thanks to subscription-based models for the platform and many of its most helpful plug-and-play tools.
Even when factoring in the cost of a domain and hosting for a WooCommerce store, you’re still likely to pay a bit more for Shopify. While there are cheaper subscription options like Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify, these models lack many of the most valuable features the platform has to offer growing businesses.
While Shopify technically functions as a content management system (CMS), it leaves something to be desired against WordPress. Shopify’s most significant limitation is its lack of blogging capabilities and missing valuable features like archiving and content versioning.
Hosting is managed by Shopify itself, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, it means one less thing for you to worry about if you aren’t technically minded since Shopify’s page speeds and uptime are more than adequate. On the other hand, it’s another aspect of your site that you won’t have any control over, and good hosting services can match or exceed Shopify’s performance.
Choosing Shopify or WordPress for SEO
So at the end of the day, is WordPress or Shopify better for SEO? As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. The decision to choose Shopify or WordPress for SEO will largely depend on the design you have in mind for your e-commerce store and what kind of marketing strategy you plan to pursue.
For businesses that want to get their online store up and running right away and don’t want to deal with any coding, Shopify has plenty to offer without the risk of getting bogged down in technical details.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to put in enough elbow grease to take advantage of the full range of features and customization that WordPress provides, or if you plan on using blog posts as a primary lead generation tool, the WooCommerce platform might be a better choice.
Setting up your site correctly from the start is crucial for effective SEO, so remember that if the process of building an e-commerce store or handling optimization starts to feel unmanageable, the team at Oyova can provide the guidance, strategy, and technical expertise required to accomplish your goals and create a scalable, low-maintenance site.