We often hear about system-wide Drupal updates and WordPress theme changes, but what about Shopify? Can you successfully update your Shopify website to a new theme without losing any content or positive SEO rankings? In short: yes you totally can. In most cases, updating or upgrading your Shopify theme can improve many aspects of your website and SEO, including UX improvements leading to higher conversion rates, improving page load speed, and reducing the bounce rate (engagement rate).
We’ll dive into more detail about the many benefits of updating your Shopify theme, the warnings to heed while doing so, and when the time is right to make it happen.
When is it Time to Update Your Shopify Theme?
To assess whether it’s time to upgrade your Shopify website theme, it’s important to have analytics in place. Doing a comprehensive technical and SEO audit would be the best way to gauge the health of your current Shopify website. Being able to do this with deeper insight requires the use of Google tools. Installing Google analytics, search console, and tag manager can provide very clear information about what’s working and what’s not on your website.
What Analytics Are The Most Important to Examine?
Gathering crucial metrics about your Shopify website’s health will inform what is needed to improve its performance. Below is a list of just some of the imperative analytics you can get from Google Analytics.
According to Google’s support documentation, “bounce rate (engagement rate) is single-page sessions divided by all sessions or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.” In other words, this means a user entered a page of your website, didn’t click through to anywhere, and left pretty quickly. For obvious reasons, this isn’t great for business. Not only does this mean your conversion rate for sales is likely low, but a high bounce rate (engagement rate) is not good for SEO. Search engines deem a high bounce rate (engagement rate) to mean the page did not match the keywords from the search query. Whether this is a matter of content issues or design and layout flaws in the UX, lowering your bounce rate (engagement rate) is crucial.
Search Query Data:
Do you know which search queries and keywords are getting the highest engagement on your website? Here’s hoping it’s the shop and check out pages of your Shopify website, because that’s the goal, right? Digging into the search terms that landed people on your website will tell a bigger story. Were they the right keywords to guide people into action? Did these queries help obtain engaged users that filled out a newsletter form or purchased something? All in all, this will help you determine if the keywords in your content are calling in the right customers.
Checking on the Pageviews of your Shopify site can be really telling. Are there pages that get viewed exponentially more than others? Do you have crucial pages that have nearly zero views? Does it appear that you are getting a lot of Pageviews to the right pages, but no conversions from them? Are your Pageviews good, but is your bounce rate (engagement rate) on those pages high? By determining what your Pageviews look like, you’ll uncover data on what content and UX improvements need to be made.
Tracking conversions is pivotal to increasing your conversion rates. While that sounds a bit like defining a word by using the word, it’s still true. In conjunction with all of the metrics listed above, following the patterns of users that engage with your Shopify site as desired will unveil a lot. Equally important, what sequence of events leads to site users that do not lead to a conversion? In short, what do you need to start doing, and what do you need to stop doing for stronger conversions?
There are exponentially more details you can glean from Google analytics. Utilizing an SEO specialist with in-depth knowledge of how to pull essential information from it can go a long way. Digging into these details will help provide incredibly helpful data for picking a new theme and upgrading your Shopify website.
Using Google Tag Manager To Inform a Shopify Theme Upgrade
With Google Tag Manager, you can dig deeper into the analytics listed above that provide critical details about site activity. If you have a high bounce rate (engagement rate), in particular, if this often includes frequently abandoned carts and/or abandoned forms, you can dig into “the why” behind it. Properly installing Google Tag Manager events and triggers within the actionable features of your website can be pretty telling.
For example, if you have a high abandoned cart rate you can add events and triggers to each step of the shopping and checkout process that can point to a common drop-off point. Should you find a common point in this process where user after user is bouncing, this should be inspected. This can be down to forgetting an asterisk on a required field to discovering a completely broken form. Sometimes, a simple change in layout or content can do the trick as well. By digging in with Tag Manager, it will become apparent what needs to be addressed.
Google Seach Console Is an Informative Tool
Google Search Console helps with so much such as informing you of security issues, bugs, and improvements that could help with engagement. This is also where you will request new indexing for your website once you’ve done a Shopify theme upgrade.
Benefits and Reasons to Upgrade Your Shopify Theme
What do Google Tools have to do with upgrading your Shopify website and theme? Depending on the outcome of your findings using Google Analytics, Search Console, and Tag Manager, there could be updates needed that your current theme can’t support. From upgraded forms to user experience (UX) improvements and security updates, your Shopify theme might need a total redo. This isn’t to say Shopify websites crumble after a certain time, but this is similar to just about anything digital. You have to update your cell phone, computer, and even things like your Firestick or Roku. The same applies to Shopify, Drupal, WordPress, or Squarespace websites literally all web platforms offer updates and upgrades over time.
Considerations When Upgrading Your Shopify Theme
When approaching a Shopify development agency about updating your Shopify theme, there should be discussion around time spent on discovery. For instance, determining how much content is on your current Shopify website to be migrated over is important. This will advise the process for moving this content over without losing any pages or any page ranking progress. Are there years worth of blogs and a massive shopping catalog with in-depth product pages? You won’t want to lose any of that. All of this is more than possible, it just takes planning with a solid and tested approach.
How To Pick a New Shopify Theme
When considering a Shopify theme upgrade, apart from the outlined SEO goals, you should reassess business objectives, do a content audit and take a fresh look at company branding. If you’re taking the time and money to upgrade, ensure you’re picking a theme that will truly enhance your business. It would be unfortunate to make a lateral move with a price tag, let alone a step backward. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the steps above to ensure there is solid research and development in this process.
When the time comes to upgrade your Shopify theme, give our team a shout! If you contact us for Shopify services and we don’t have the current availability, we have wonderful folks we’d be happy to refer you to.