What’s the best ecommerce platform for SEO? Magento vs. Shopify Plus

While replatforming your ecommerce store sounds daunting and like a massive and costly undertaking, it can result in many benefits. It can bring your site back up to speed with new technology, remove ‘bloat’ from historical data, improve integrations and customer experience by allowing you to improve design and UX as part of the migration process.

With Magento 1 reaching its end-of-life period in June 2020 and no longer being supported as a platform, users are being forced to switch either to Magento 2 or replatform and migrate to another ecommerce platform. It’s the perfect time For Magento 1 users to compare and reconsider which platform is best suited for their business’ ongoing growth and development.

Shopify Plus is a strong contender for the switch from many perspectives, but there is one area in particular that often gets overlooked in comparisons: SEO. 

SEO is a crucial element in a site migration, as badly managed migrations can significantly affect search engine visibility, trust and organic traffic, which can take a long time to rebuild. 

Let’s compare the two platforms through this lens below. 

 

 

Site speed

Site speed is one of the few confirmed ranking factors on the Google algorithm for Google search and Ads. It’s also important to consider that site speed has a very visible effect on website conversions and user experience as well.

So, what does the platform have to do with your site’s speed?

  1.       Hosting – Hosted vs Self Hosted

Shopify has a powerful hosted solution with unlimited bandwidth. This means you don’t need to worry about organising your own hosting - saving both time and money.

If you aren’t tech-savvy or if you don’t have your own development team on hand, Shopify will probably save you a lot of hosting-related headaches.

Magento, on the other hand, is self-hosting. Magento can slow right down when your site’s database gets too large  - so you would need to do thorough research and choose your hosting wisely. 

Ideally, you’d need a dedicated hosting that provides the customer with a positive user experience, and an optimal bandwidth that ensures the server does not go down frequently. 

There are some SEO positives of a self-hosted site. You have easier access to server log information - so you can understand how search engines crawl your website. You can also customise your xml sitemap if need it without using an auto-generated sitemap. 

 

  1.     Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Having the site load from several servers and from several locations will not only improve your site’s health, but is a huge benefit for SEO by decreasing the load time of your website. 

Shopify was the first hosted ecommerce website solution to use a content delivery network, so you don't need to source your own third-party provider.

In the case of Magento, your site would require a CDN third-party solution. You’ll need to take particular care to ensure your setup is done correctly - as CDN incorrect implementations can cause duplicate content issues that will hurt your SEO and website usability.

 

  1.   Lazy load

Lazy loading images improves the user experience by prioritising content delivery. It  saves bandwidth for important content first and will make your web pages faster - improving the user experience. 

Most of the new paid Shopify themes include this kind of optimisation already setup - as well as automatically resized product images.

In the case of Magento themes, you will often need to install a paid extension to be able to use this feature.

 

 

Technical SEO implementations

If you’re a non-technical person, Magento can be a very daunting platform with a steep learning curve. It can be hard to achieve your site’s goals if you don’t have your own web developers on the books.

This is especially relevant when comparing it to Shopify – a platform that makes for a much more straightforward website building experience. While you still might need developers for more complex customisations to your themes, app integrations or functionalities, it’s generally more intuitive for the average person.

This technical complexity carries into the SEO sphere, and is an important time, effort and financial factor to consider. 

Some examples of SEO implementations that take more time to implement in Magento than in Shopify:

  •       Canonical link element customisation
  •       Creation of rules for meta descriptions to define the title tag and meta  description
  •       Setting up redirects
  •       Executing filter recommendations
  •       Optimising pagination settings
  •       Resolving multiple H1s issues

 

Compare rankings

In conclusion, in terms of technical SEO, both platforms have their pros and cons. 

Shopify Plus definitely emerges as a lower hassle, and thereby lower-cost, solution. You may still need additional development or SEO specialist work - but not to the same scale. Shopify is set up to be agile, fast, user friendly and assures your migration will be future proof.

On the other hand, whilst Magento as a platform may offer more customisations and flexibility, be sure that you have the team (and/or the resources) to be able to implement your changes correctly - or risk a negative impact to your SEO visibility.

 

Questions or considering a migration?

Want to learn more about what it takes to replatform your ecommerce business? Read Shopify’s response to questions around replatforming, or get in touch with us at 30acres. 

As a Shopify and Shopify Plus Partner we have supported many ecommerce brands through a migration. In this process we don’t just migrate everything across, but also improve your site from a UX, design and functionality perspective. Moreover, we also support this migration from an SEO perspective, making sure you retain the historical value you have built up, and help you improve your visibility using the tools Shopify offers their vendors to improve their SEO.

 

Posted on 26 February 2020

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