Undoubtedly, both Shopify and WooCommerce are excellent platforms equipped with a robust website builder and advanced content management system (CMS) to create, develop and manage a full-fledged eCommerce website.
But running an eCommerce business is more than just running a high-quality website, the main challenge is establishing and enhancing its online presence.
The more discoverable your eCommerce website is, the more traffic your website will get, and higher traffic increases the chance of conversions, and sales revenue.
If you look into the customer journey of eCommerce customers then you will find that most eCommerce customers use search engines to find products and services that they’re looking for.
In fact, 81% of online shoppers use search engines like Google and Bing to find products from eCommerce websites. Based on the results of the top search listings they click and visit eCommerce websites that seem most appealing to them.
Based on BrightEdge’s research, it was found that 68% of all online experience starts with a search engine, and 53.3% of all website traffic comes from search engines.
Plus, at least 43% of all eCommerce website traffic comes from organic search results. Search engines are the biggest source of global eCommerce traffic, according to Statistica, search engines have generated 65% of eCommerce traffic.
If you’re in a dilemma choosing between Shopify and WooCommerce for building and developing your eCommerce website then it is crucial for you to determine which platform is better for SEO.
Both of these platforms are great choices for managing an eCommerce website as they’ve built-in tools, along with a wide range of plugins, extensions, and other website add-ons to improve your SEO game rapidly.
However, due to significant differences in features, functionalities, and the overall ecosystem of both of these platforms, you will have to closely analyze multiple vital factors to determine which one is better for your eCommerce website’s SEO.
So, to help you effectively distinguish between Shopify and WooCommerce, this article discusses the differences between Shopify and Woocommerce, a comprehensive comparative analysis based on 10 key factors, a list of pros and cons, and finally our evaluation to help you determine which platform is a better fit for your business’s eCommerce SEO.
What is the Difference Between Shopify and WooCommerce?
Although Shopify and WooCommerce are two major eCommerce development platforms, they’re built differently, meaning their impact on SEO will also be significantly different.
Shopify is an all-inclusive eCommerce platform designed to build, develop, and maintain an eCommerce website. It has all the built-in features for creating and running a full-fledged eCommerce website.
Plus, Shopify is self-hosted and provides basic components like SSL certificates, and other security features required for running an eCommerce website.
Whereas for WooCommerce you will have to acquire all these basic components separately, you will need to find a third-party hosting provider and separately purchase SSL certificates, and integrate website security using plugins and extensions.
WooCommerce on the other hand is an open-source platform that makes it highly customizable, you can improve it and optimize your website by adding plugins, extensions, and of course custom codes for advanced website development.
You can also add custom HTML and CSS coding on Shopify but you can develop and modify your Shopify store to a certain extent, whereas for WooCommerce it depends solely on your coding capabilities.
So, that gives you more freedom to develop your own eCommerce website, and rapidly enhance its features to improve SEO impacts on WooCommerce.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a highly user-friendly interface, a vast collection of themes, plugins, and extensions along with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor to create, modify and develop your eCommerce website seamlessly.
In contrast, Shopify is much more beginner friendly, as you don’t necessarily need coding experience to run an eCommerce website and conduct effective SEO, you can seamlessly use its built-in tools to get everything done.
But as for WooCommerce, you do need some advanced website development skills, specializing coding experience, and other technical aspects to enhance your SEO efforts.
In a nutshell, Shopify has everything you need in one place for an effective eCommerce management system, whereas for WooCommerce you will have to take some extra initiatives to build a fully functional eCommerce management system.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Comparative Analysis for SEO
When it comes to eCommerce website customization both platforms offer comprehensive options to build and develop a highly SEO-friendly website.
Both platforms have a highly intuitive drag-and-drop editor, along with a diverse range of eCommerce themes, plugins, and website extensions to customize your website the way you want.
Shopify is open to a broad range of users, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced website developer, you’ll be able to figure out how to customize your Shopify website.
Especially because Shopify is an all-inclusive platform, it has all the features, functionalities, and resources required to develop a full-fledged eCommerce website.
However, you should only use custom codes on Shopify if you’ve profound knowledge and specialized skills in HTML, and CSS coding, and a basic understanding of Liquid.
WooCommerce on the other hand itself is a WordPress plugin to transform your WordPress website into a full-fledged eCommerce website. But unlike Shopify, you will have to integrate plugins, extensions and use custom codes to build, develop and optimize your website.
For instance, you will have to install Yoast SEO, the most popular and effective SEO plugin for WordPress-based websites. So, for conducting effective SEO, you will need Yoast SEO which will guide you to make all sorts of SEO enhancements.
It’s also very effective in detecting website issues that can hamper your SEO efforts, along with crucial suggestions to improve your website’s organic search visibility and improve its search rankings.
Comparatively, WooCommerce has a slight edge over Shopify when it comes to the extent of customization. As WooCommerce is a WordPress site itself, and an open platform, it has a broader variety of plugins and extensions for advanced customization compared to Shopify.
Anyone can create and publish WordPress plugins and WooCommerce extensions which makes it a much more accessible platform for developers.
There are currently more than 163 million WooCommerce stores, compared to 4.4 million Shopify stores. Not to mention, more than 810 million websites are built using WordPress which accounts for 43% of all websites globally, whereas it’s just 4.1% of Shopify websites.
In contrast, SEO requires frequent customization and changes, and in this aspect, it is more likely for WooCommerce to come up with more frequent plugins and extensions compared to Shopify, especially for being an open-source platform.
So, professional website developers can use advanced custom coding to rapidly optimize WooCommerce stores, which is limited on Shopify.
Given the limitations of Shopify, WooCommerce has the upper hand, but only for advanced web developers. As for most average eCommerce website owners, Shopify is the ultimate platform with high customization options to develop a highly SEO-friendly website.
If you want to make an SEO-friendly website, then it is necessary to ensure that your website is designed in a way that search engine bots can easily crawl throughout your website and understand its structure, layout, and every element on your website.
You need to ensure that your website’s design is neat, organized, and uncluttered with proportionate white spaces to help search engines identify the key aspects of your website and what it is about to determine its search relevance.
Plus, it is also necessary to ensure that your website’s design is easy to understand, navigate and use. According to the search engine guidelines of Google and Bing, it is a core ranking factor to ensure that your website’s design is useful to its visitors.
Search engine bots will essentially analyze your website and determine whether its design fits certain criteria, especially the placement and formatting of texts, and visual elements like images and videos.
If the search engine crawlers find that your website’s design does not fulfill the standard requirements it may not index your website. And if your web pages don’t get indexed, they won’t rank either, so that can significantly hinder your SEO efforts.
In aspects of eCommerce website design, both Shopify and WooCommerce provide a wide range of themes, you can use the drag-and-drop editor to create your customized website design.
Although, WooCommerce has two significant advantages here; there are more than 31,000 themes for WordPress sites, and there are roughly over 100 themes for Shopify with about 1600 available templates.
And, you can extensively customize your WooCommerce themes using custom codes, whereas it’s quite limited for Shopify.
You can even create your own design from scratch using custom codes on WooCommerce which isn’t possible on Shopify.
If you need to swiftly change certain aspects of your website’s design you can instantly do it for your WooCommerce site, but due to customization limitations on Shopify, it may be difficult for you to rapidly enhance your website for more effective SEO.
Overall, both platforms are excellent at creating visually appealing and crawl-friendly websites for effective SEO, but there are certain aspects where you require advanced website design optimization.
So, WooCommerce has some advantages over Shopify, but in general, both Shopify and WooCommerce are built to create SEO-friendly website designs. Ultimately, it depends on how you use either platform to create and optimize your website’s design.
User Experience Optimization
You must ensure a high-quality user experience on your eCommerce website if you want it to rank on the top search results.
If you neglect and compromise the quality of user experience, there’s a high chance that all your SEO efforts will go in vain, even if your website has the fanciest outlook or high-quality content.
On average, 60% of eCommerce customers abandon their purchases and sites that provide a poor user experience. If your website falls in the same category, many people are frequently ditching your website due to poor user experience.
This means that your eCommerce website will have a high rate, which is a strong indicator to search engines that your website provides a poor user experience. Search engine bots can also determine a website’s user experience based on your website design, elements, settings, and various other metrics.
Among them, two of the most important factors include website loading speed and mobile friendliness. According to Pingdom, it is necessary to have an ideal website loading speed of 2 seconds, any delay beyond 2 seconds can increase your website’s bounce rate by 32%.
To conduct effective eCommerce SEO, it is crucial for you to ensure that your website loads properly across all digital devices, which includes computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Recent statistics show that 73% of total eCommerce customers use mobile phones to browse eCommerce websites and purchase products and services. So, you must ensure that your eCommerce website is universally accessible and compatible across all digital devices, especially smartphones.
According to Google, you must ensure a mobile-friendly website for effective SEO.
Shopify has a heightened advantage here as its system is designed to produce websites that are highly compatible with all sorts of digital devices, whether it’s computers or smartphones.
WooCommerce on the other hand requires extensive manual optimizations with the use of plugins, extensions, and advanced coding to make your website highly mobile-friendly.
On the other hand, Shopify is an inclusive platform, it has multiple features that may not be necessary for some eCommerce websites. These added features and functionalities can cause code bloat, which may lead to producing relatively slower websites.
As for WooCommerce, it is up to you to source your plugins and extensions so apart from the necessary features it is not loaded with a bunch of unnecessary codes like Shopify.
But you must adequately optimize your WooCommerce website to ensure optimal loading speed and universal device compatibility.
Whether it’s Shopify or WooCommerce, ultimately it boils down to how effectively can use the platform for effective user experience optimization.
Your eCommerce website’s search visibility heavily depends on the quality of your content. Search engine crawlers identify your website’s search intent and relevance based on its content.
Whether it’s the title tag, meta tag, alt texts, headlines, website copies, or blogs, search engines use natural language processing (NPL) systems to identify significant keywords, and determine the value of your website’s content.
Typically, search engines rank web pages based on the level of value it provides to specific search queries. So, that’s why it’s crucial to produce high-value content to enhance your website’s credibility and authority to both search engines and end users.
According to Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, most websites don’t have technical issues, rather it’s the lack of content quality that causes the ranking issues.
It is crucial to ensure generating and optimizing high-quality content to enhance your eCommerce website’s search rankings.
Apart from the effective placement of website copies, it is also vital to create high-quality blogs to improve your website’s SEO. The main advantage of blogging is, you get to effectively communicate a certain topic in detail with your target audience.
And, as search engines prioritize ranking content in aspects of value, generating effective blogs on certain topics can increase your website’s credibility and authority. You can expect higher search visibility and increased website traffic from your target audience.
As WooCommerce is a direct extension of WordPress, it has a more robust blogging platform. Although Shopify has a built-in blogging system, yet in comparison WooCommerce is significantly better, especially due to having more integrations and add-ons.
Apart from the aspects of blogging, it is a tie between Shopify and WooCommmerce as both platforms have an advanced content management system (CMS).
So, it depends on how effectively you can use their CMS to produce and distribute content on your website.
Product Page Setup & Optimization
Setting up and optimizing your product page is crucial, especially as it is necessary to ensure that your product pages appear among the top search results for search queries specific to your products.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a comprehensive CMS, but Shopify is predominantly better as it has a full eCommerce setup to seamlessly create and optimize product pages.
All you have to do is, follow the step-by-step processes by filling out relevant information about your product, along with the right images and Shopify will automatically generate specific product pages, and optimize them to appear on the top search results.
Whereas, for WooCommerce you will have to install Yoast SEO and other eCommerce extensions to set up and optimize your product pages. Most importantly, Shopify does not require any custom coding but for WooCommerce you may have to use advanced coding techniques to set up your product pages.
When it comes to simplicity, Shopify is the winner, but for more advanced page setup and optimization WooCommerce might have some tactical advantage.
Overall, judging both platforms here, Shopify has an edge over WooCommerce here as it’s a full-fledged eCommerce platform with specialized page setup and optimization features.
You can also manually optimize your Shopify product pages using plugins, extensions, and custom coding.
Plugins and Extensions
Earlier in this article, it was mentioned that there are over 6000 plugins and 700 extensions available for WooCommerce, whereas there are roughly more than 8000 plugins available on the Shopify store.
Apart from the built-in themes, and applications if you want to improve your eCommerce website’s SEO then it is imperative to use essential plugins, applications, and extensions for conducting better SEO.
Although having access to more plugins and extensions is added advantage for WooCommerce SEO, you will have to know which plugins to install, and how to effectively use them.
Regardless of the number, both platforms have an extensive range of plugins necessary for SEO, but you will have to choose them wisely to get effective results.
Installing way too many plugins, and extensions will make your website slow, and that will hamper its user experience. Plus, it is essential to ensure that your plugins don’t conflict with one another.
Issues relating to plugin conflicts are common in website building and comprehensive CMS platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
So, that’s why it is essential to choose the right plugins, and extensions and manage them effectively for achieving the best SEO results.
WooCommerce indeed has some advantages of having a more extensive plugin library, but that also means that you have to be extra careful in choosing the right plugins, and extensions for SEO.
On the contrary, as WooCommerce is an open-source platform, even you can develop your own plugins and extensions for more effective SEO, that’s something Shopify lacks. However, it is also necessary to have a high level of technical expertise to come up with more highly effective plugins.
Overall, WooCommerce is significantly better than Shopify when it comes to the availability of useful website add-ons and plugins.
Every website on the internet is vulnerable to cyber security threats, especially eCommerce websites. Regardless of what you’re selling on your eCommerce store, as it processes financial transactions it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
According to recent research on cybersecurity, it was found that 78% of eCommerce websites are vulnerable to various online security threats.
Shopify being an all-inclusive eCommerce platform provides its own website hosting, and essential security features like an SSL certificate, dedicated WAF (web application firewall), and comprehensive server security with end-to-end encryption.
So, if you choose Shopify, you won’t have to worry much about your website’s security, Shopify has taken care of that for you.
On the other hand, for WooCommerce you will have to find a good server hosting and acquire an SSL certificate, WAF, and server security along with all other necessary security components on your own.
WooCommerce, powered by WordPress does provide some basic security features, and security updates, along with options to configure page roles and admin access but it is not enough to safeguard your site from cyber attacks.
So, it entirely depends on you how you set up and optimize your WooCommerce website security. Most hackers and cybercriminals are aware of the fact that WordPress does not provide any security features by default, and as most people aren’t so aware of cybersecurity, they tend to take maximum advantage of that.
And, that’s why a large number of WordPress sites are extremely vulnerable to malware infection, SQL injections, and many other website attacks.
If you have experience in website development and cybersecurity, then it may be possible to create a highly secure WooCommerce site, but if you’re an amateur then it is best to stick to Shopify for running a secured eCommerce website.
If you’re running an eCommerce website, it is quite common to generate duplicate content for the same line of products and services.
This can confuse search engine bots to determine which page is relevant for the intended search query of your products. In that case, the search engine may either rank the wrong page, or your web pages may not rank at all.
Before Shopify had this issue of creating duplicate pages, which resulted in a complete SEO bottleneck for Shopify owners.
However, since 2021, Shopify has updated its system and now it can automatically identify and create 301 redirects to active, and relevant web pages.
You can also manually instruct Shopify to redirect pages from the settings in the admin panel.
Here’s a disadvantage here, WooCommerce does not have automatic 301 redirects, you will have to use plugins, and extensions to automate it, which might be a hassle for a lot of eCommerce owners.
But automated redirects can also lead to critical issues like creating misleading redirects and generating duplicate content. This will kill your website’s user experience, and misguide search engines as well, which can lead to complex SEO issues.
Although it does not mean that automated 301 redirects will always backfire, in most cases, it does not lead to such issues, yet then again it’s best to be careful by manually inspecting your Shopify or WooCommerce website every once in a while by running a Deep SEO audit.
Whether you use Shopify or WooCommerce, it is necessary to keep a close eye on your redirects, you can also integrate SEO tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMRush for a more comprehensive evaluation of your website’s redirects.
XML Sitemap & Robot.txt
An XML sitemap is a list of important web pages on your website that the search engines should crawl, and index. It is created to guide search engines to understand the most important pages on your website so that it prioritizes ranking each page according to its search relevance.
Robot.txt is a special file that contains the list of web pages that search engines are not allowed to crawl and index, this is a specific set of instructions to search engines to avoid indexing unnecessary pages that you don’t want to see on search results.
Both XML sitemap and robot.txt play a crucial role in SEO, and to make things easier and more efficient Shopify has built-in features to automatically generate XML sitemaps and robot.txt.
You can also automate it on WooCommerce but for that, you need to install plugins. You can use Yoast SEO to automate the generation of XML sitemap and robot.txt on WooCommerce.
But you need to be extremely careful about automating XML sitemap and robot.txt on both platforms, especially because automated generation and changes in these files can lead to errors. And, that can misguide search engines and significantly hamper your eCommerce website’s SEO.
Of course, it is a very essential feature for eCommerce websites to automate the generation of XML sitemaps and robot.txt, but it is also essential to closely monitor it to prevent any underlying SEO issues.
On the contrary, as Shopify has a built-in feature that automatically generates and updates these two important files, it is highly beneficial for your eCommerce website’s SEO and consistent growth.
Adaptability to Search Engine Changes
Whether you choose to build your eCommerce website on Shopify or WooCommerce, you will have to ensure strictly abiding by the search engine guidelines and regulations to enhance your website’s search rankings.
One of the most challenging aspects of eCommerce SEO is, it requires consistent adaptation to changes.
Search engines like Google and Bing are consistently upgrading their system, so it comes with new features with certain changes and additions to their policies and guidelines.
As of 2023, Google has over 200 ranking factors, and among them, content quality, user experience, mobile friendliness, page speed, keyword placement, internal links, and external links are the top ranking factors.
If you look into the trendline of Google Search Engine updates, these ranking factors didn’t come at once, they were added gradually one after another with each major update.
For example, on 21st April 2015, mobile friendliness officially became a Google ranking factor. So, after that major update, it became mandatory for websites to ensure a satisfactory level of browsing experience on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Since late 2020, we’ve stumbled upon the rise and popularity of generative AI like ChatGPT, Bard, Jasper.ai, etc. which can create content within seconds just by using prompts.
It is against Google search engine guidelines to solely use generative AI to mass produce content attempting to rank on the top search results, this kind of practice violates Google’s spam policies.
The point here is if you don’t follow up with the search engine updates, and accordingly adjust your SEO strategies, then all your efforts will go in vain.
WooCommerce has a clear advantage here, as it’s highly customizable, and an open platform, you can swiftly make changes to your website using custom codes, and even create your own plugins.
Plus, many developers can quickly create and publish helpful plugins and extensions to help WooCommerce users adjust to major search engine updates.
On the other hand, Shopify is an inclusive platform, you cannot make changes that the platform does not allow you to. And their app store is strictly vetted, unlike WooCommerce. So, you will have to wait until Shopify launches updates to adjust to the search engine updates.
So, based on the overall comparison here, it’s a landslide victory for WooCommerce here.
Pros and Cons of Shopify vs WooCommerce for SEO
Although both Shopify and WooCommerce have some comprehensive features to build a high-quality eCommerce website, and effectively conduct SEO, there are certain benefits and drawbacks of both of these platforms for SEO.
Here are the pros and cons of both Shopify and WooCommerce to help you determine which platform is better for your website’s SEO.
- Coding experience and technical expertise are not required
- Easy and intuitive drag-and-drop editor to set up, tweak, and design your eCommerce website
- Contains an extensive library of themes, add-ons, plugins, and extensions
- Automatically produces websites that are universally compatible with all digital devices; computers, smartphones, and tablets
- Includes website hosting, security, and other technical components to run a highly functional eCommerce website
- Technical SEO functionalities like generation of XML site maps, robot.txt, and 301 redirects are automated by default (can be disabled from settings)
- Highly intuitive admin and user dashboard to monitor real-time SEO metrics and conversions
- Optimizable by using the custom code editor (only for advanced users)
- Limited customization options as the system allow custom coding only to a certain extent
- May contain unnecessary features for some eCommerce websites due to code bloats
- Automatic generation of XML site maps, robot.txt, and 301 redirects can lead to the generation of duplicate content and other complex SEO issues
- Due to an influx of many built-in features, Shopify websites are generally slower than WooCommerce sites
- May be difficult to adjust to search engine updates, as Shopify websites are bound by an inclusive system
- Highly customizable with a wide range of themes, plugins, and extensions, allowing for greater flexibility and control over SEO strategies
- WooCommerce is built on WordPress, which is one of the most SEO-friendly platforms available, with numerous built-in SEO features
- Offers extensive control over SEO factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, and URL structures, making it easier to optimize pages for search engines
- Provides greater control over site architecture and internal linking, which can have a significant impact on SEO
- WooCommerce sites are generally faster than Shopify sites, which can improve search engine rankings
- Requires more technical knowledge and expertise to set up and manage compared to Shopify
- There are more potential points of failure, such as plugin conflicts or outdated themes, which can negatively impact SEO
- Custom coding may be necessary to achieve certain SEO goals, which can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge
- As an open-source platform, WooCommerce may be more vulnerable to security issues and hacks if not properly maintained and secured
- Some plugins or extensions may not be updated to accommodate major search engine updates, which can require manual updates to maintain optimal SEO
Which is Better for SEO: Shopify or WooCommerce?
Well, if you want to quickly setup, and run a high-quality eCommerce website without much hassle, then Shopify is certainly an excellent choice. You don’t have to worry about website hosting, security, and many other technical aspects of setting up and running an eCommerce website.
Shopify even has many built-in automated features to make SEO easier for eCommerce businesses, and you also get an intuitive dashboard that you can use to monitor and optimize your website.
Both platforms have an intuitive drag-and-drop editor with an extensive collection of eCommerce themes, plugins, and extensions required for SEO.
Although Shopify has a code editor which allows you to enhance your website, and optimize themes using custom codes, you’re still limited to customizing your website to a limited extent.
Whereas WooCommerce which is powered by WordPress has a wide range of customization options, especially it’s highly essential to use extensive custom codes to optimize and enhance your website for better SEO.
The automated SEO features on Shopify can lead to severe SEO blunders, so ultimately you will have to invest a huge amount of budget to fix them.
So, regardless of Shopify’s benefits and convenience, WooCommerce is a better choice for SEO based on many crucial factors. Especially the fact that WooCommerce is much more customizable than Shopify gives it a clear edge for more comprehensive SEO.
Yet again it entirely depends on you, if you’re not able to effectively manage a WooCommerce website, especially if you don’t have extensive technical experience and knowledge, then Shopify may be a better choice for you.
Shopify has all the resources that you need to run a successful eCommerce website with many useful SEO features for all types and sizes of eCommerce businesses.
WooCommerce is indeed better for SEO as it’s an open-source platform with a wide range of customization options, but Shopify is also a great platform for eCommerce SEO.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which One Should You Choose?
If you’re open to advanced customizations, and comprehensive SEO enhancements then WooCommerce would be a better choice for you. But remember that you will require a high level of skills in coding and technical SEO.
Or, you will have to invest more in hiring technical experts for WooCommerce development, which can put a heavy burden on your budget. Apart from that, it will also require an ample amount of time and resources to conduct effective WooCommerce SEO.
Although, you will have to subscribe to Shopify to run your eCommerce business, and pay them on a monthly or annual basis, yet again in comparison you’re getting so many inclusive features, and facilities required for SEO.
Plus, Shopify customer support is available 24/7 to address any issue affecting your website. WooCommerce on the other hand does not have a highly responsive customer service like Shopify.
So, if you want to avoid the extra hassle that comes with WooCommerce website development then choose Shopify, but if you want to leverage the benefits of extensive website customization then choose WooCommerce.
Regardless of whether you choose Shopify or WooCommerce, both of them require a high level of specialization in SEO, web development, and other technical expertise.
Over the last 10 years, we have been providing Shopify and WordPress (WooCommerce) SEO services to clients across several eCommerce industries.