I’m sick of SEO companies making a bad name for the industry. There’s a lot of good companies out there but there are also a bunch of companies that don’t know what they’re doing. So, I want to give you all the basics of SEO as a DIY guide.

I am going to take a random e-commerce site and show you how to target over $10,000 each month using ONLY SEO with a grand total cost of $0. Wait till the end to see how I get to the $10,000 number, more precisely: $10,252.

I wrote in my first post about the importance of keyword analysis, and in my last post about the 4 principles of SEO. Today, I want to show you step by step exactly what you can do to transform your site without spending a single penny.

Is SEO still important for Shopify sites?

There are roughly 50 Billion google searches happening every month, just in the USA. Out of that, 10% of searches are transactional. People searching to buy something.

That means each month you get 5 billion searches on someone wanting to buy something through Google. I do think this is declining in power. However, there is nothing better than a customer specifically looking to buy your product.

This guide will focus first on Keyword Analysis, to Technical SEO, to backlinks, and finally ending on content. Just these 4 sections and bam you’re an expert.

1st section: Keyword Analysis Like a Boss

I like to call my Keyword Analysis Process the ABC process. Associated, Broad, Competitor.

Broad: Capturing general keywords relevant to your product.

Competitor: Analyzing and leveraging the keywords your competitors are successfully using.

Associated: Identifying related keywords that resonate with your target audience's interests and searches.

Let’s start with how to find keywords, period. There are a few online tools that help with keyword analysis, like Ahrefs, MOZ, & SEMRush. I’m using SEMRush because it’s honestly what I’m used to (not sponsored or affiliated). It’s expensive but you can use a 7 day free trial.

So, our random shopify site sells drumrolls please … stainless steel straws (love the alliteration!). Go to the keyword magic tool in SEMRush and type in stainless steel straws. I like to select Broad Match.


Here focus on 2 things: Volume and KD% (KD means difficulty – the lower the easier). This is the Broad part of the Keyword strategy.

Assuming you are a pretty new site, I would find the keywords with high enough volume but low difficultly (no…duh!). “Stainless steel straws” gets 1,300 searches and has a difficulty of 27% (anything under 30 is considered easy). So, this keyword is great- Lots of searches directly related to our product and an easy rating. I’m going to save this.

Next one that catches my eye is “stainless steel metal drinking straws” 210 searches and 23% difficulty. Then there is “stainless steel straws made in usa” 70 searches and 18% difficulty.

Why would we even target such low volume terms? We want to cast a wide net. We don’t want to focus on only one keyword, but multiple that can work out. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the same applies to Google. Once a few of your keywords start ranking, other keywords go up as well (sometimes). 


Ok so we have a few keywords. Now lets move onto the Competitor part of the process. I checked out some of our competitors who are already ranking high for “Stainless steel straw”. To analyze the competitor further I got to Domain Overview and input their URL. One of these competitors gets 15K visits per month through SEO (let’s catch them!).

To see all the keywords that your competitor is ranking for- go to Organic Research and type in the domain. One of the keywords they are ranking for is “how to clean a straw” (1,900 searches and 34% difficulty). This is a straightforward blog post that we can write and try to compete.

Another competitor is ranking for “stainless steel drinking straws” (210 searches and 16% difficulty), and metal straw (1,300 searches at 29% difficulty).


The next way to find a keyword is to look for **Associated** keywords. These are keywords not DIRECTLY related to your product, but could be useful for your potential customer. For example, if someone is looking for stainless steel straws, maybe they are people who are trying to live plastic free lives.

So I would search plastic free on keyword magic tool. From here I see a few easy to rank keywords such as “plastic free deodorant” (880 searches and 11% difficulty). Creating a blog on this is a great option ranking different plastic free deodorant options could work.

To summarize the keyword strategy, it's as simple as ABC: Associated, Broad, & Competitor. There we have it; these three strategies should get you all the keywords you could need.

Ideally you do this each month, but since we only have the free trial for 7 days- let’s try to do a lot of these in bulk. Keep doing this until you either have 25 keywords or 20,000 in solid volume to rank for.

To add a bit more accuracy you need Google Keyword Planner and you need to actually Google some of these keywords. You get access to Google Keyword Planner if you are doing any $ amount in Google Ads. It gives a better estimate on Search Volume. Also to get a better estimate of difficulty, actually see the results in the first page and see the Domain Authority of all those websites using a tool like Mozbar. If the first ten organic results have any domains with a Domain Authority under 22, that might be a good one to win. Please note- domain authority is not a real score that Google looks at but rather something created by these companies based on their internal rankings.

Congratulations- You are officially a Keyword Connoisseur.

Total Cost so far: $0.

2nd section: Master Technical SEO for Shopify

I will go through this one quick. Technical SEO is making sure that your site is working well for Google to crawl, and is following the general rules that most websites should follow. Go to SEMRush and click on Site Audit. From there, Create Project. Then enter your URL. Feel free to max out the number of pages crawled. Then we wait for the audit to complete.

While we wait, let’s confirm that Google can crawl your site. Go to Google Search Console to see all your indexed pages. Some of these pages won’t be indexed as per our own instructions; but ideally your important pages should show up here. If not, which is becoming more and more common, see why Google hasn't indexed them and you might need to request Google to index the page.

Second, Speed: Make sure your pages load fast without messing up your store vision. Check the speed score on the Shopify admin page. You can use other tools like Page Speed Insights (From Google).

Ok by now our Site Audit on SEMRush should be complete. Most Shopify sites will have some errors and warnings. The ones to focus on for me are: Duplicate Content, broken links that point to pages that don’t exist anymore, any sort of error page, and there should be exactly 1 H1 per page.

There are many more that we can jump into- I would take a look at the why and how to fix it link that shows up on SEMRush. But don’t stress too much on this. Also look to run your site through another free site audit tool just to get a more well rounded view.

Congratulations – You now made sure that your site has passed the Technical SEO Test.

Total Cost so far: $0 + $0 = $0. 2/4 DONE.

3rd Section: Backlinks for Free for Shopify Stores

This is the most time consuming one to do for free. Firstly, what is a backlink? A backlink is like an endorsement from another website. It's a link that goes from their site to yours. This was Googles secret sauce in how to rank sites, that helped it beat its competitors in the 90s.

The best kind of backlink you can get is one which is from a high quality site which is specifically in your niche. This is the gold standard. Here are some techniques to try to get them:

Content: Create something which those sites will want to reference. For example, a research study or an amazing infographic. Do a research study by asking a few of your last buyers certain questions for a coupon.

Competitors: See what backlinks your competitors are getting by inputting their domain in SEMRush under Backlink analytics. Now we try to take these away muhahaha (mojo jojo voice). Use the skyscraper technique (google this) as one way to do it. Or look for broken links and have the backlinks come to yours instead.

Contact: Reach out to those sites in your niche and try to see if you can send them your product and have them review it/provide feedback. You can also ask them if its ok for you to guest post on their site on a topic which you are an expert on. In that guest post you can link to your site (by asking them of course). How to find their contact details: SEMRush's linkbuilding tool.

In reality though, the only C that matters in backlinks is Cash. Even if we do all the things, a large portion of site owners will require payment for any sort of backlink. It's a harsh reality in SEO. So here are some other things that can be done for free by you the business owner:

If you have a specific business location, get a Google Business Profile for your business. Many other sites scrape Google Business Profiles which can get you more links for free.

For Shopify Sites one easy backlink is to post on the Shopify Community. You can just post on Store Feedbacks and link your URL to get feedback on your site. This gives you a link from Shopify (though it is a nofollow link, but it "might" have some value). Make sure that in your post you very clearly post a URL to your site.

The next strategy is more basic. Find a list of social media sites and create a profile on those sites. Usually, most of them allow you to add a URL to your profile. Adding a Trustpilot page, BBB page, Yelp page and other directory pages might help (mostly low value though). Honestly, you can even ask Chat GPT for a list of 50 free sites to get backlinks.

This is the only thing in SEO I wouldn’t mind outsourcing. The way I would outsource this is find a "backlink outreach expert" on upwork and have them reach out to sites specifically in your niche and then keep a separate budget ($100 per link as an example) to entice those site owners to allow you to do a guest post.

There’s a lot more to backlinks that we can get into, but your site can rank high for most easy keywords even without the best backlink profile (in my opinion).

Total Cost so far: Still $0 (kinda).

4th section: Content for $0

We have our list of keywords. We have made sure our site hasn’t made any faux pas through technical SEO. Now how do we actually rank for these keywords. First step – SEO Optimized content.

We do this by creating pages, blogs, or updating product pages to target that specific keyword. In our arsenal we have:

Title, Meta descriptions, URLs, Headers, Alt tags, Image URLs, and paragraph content that we can update to specifically target that keyword.

So this is where a little more art comes into place. There’s no exact right answer, but what we need to understand is that each keyword you have selected should be targeted somewhere specifically.For example, “stainless steel straws made in USA” can be targeted in a new page. So from the title, to the header, to the image alt tags, and to the paragraphs we can try to incorporate this keyword. Make sure your content is human readable + high quality.

For the “plastic free deodorant” keyword, we can create a blog that lists out the 5 best plastic free deodorants (that actually make you smell like something other than coconuts). This can be a fully informational high quality content piece that anyone looking to buy a plastic free deodorant should know about. While creating content pieces go into semrush and see if there are any other smaller volume keywords which can be subsections. Under the keyword magic tool input “plastic free deodorant” and check on broad match. A couple that stand out are: “best plastic free deodorant” (110 volume & 13% KD), “tom’s plastic free deodorant” (70 volume and 7% KD), and “old spice plastic-free deodorant” (70 volume and 24% KD).Two more concepts to understand here:

1. Don't stuff the keyword like "Stainless steel straws made in USA" all over the page. Google looks at Semantic Relevancy, which is just a fancy way of saying use other words that make sense for this specific keyword. So, using related words (even if we are not targeting those specifically) can help Google understand EXACTLY what this page is about. The more clarity Google has, the better. Using words like "American made straws" or "local manufactured stainless steel straws" will help Google by giving it more context about what this page is really about.
2. Use Entity Salience in your content, which takes this one step further by providing relevant entities (like people, places, organizations, concepts) that can be incorporated in your content. So if our keyword is "stainless steel straws" a relevant concept is sustainability or plastic pollution. Basically, entity salience is a more specific entity (think "George Washington" or "freedom") which can be part of the content as well.

In writing the content: The best use case for ChatGPT is to find a full outline of the article when you’re stuck. I prompt ChatGPT with something like this: You are a world class content writer from here on. Your style is to be informative and journalistic while being entertaining as well. Help me create an outline for an article on plastic free deodorant. Some keywords we are targeting are best plastic free deodorant, toms plastic free deodorant, and old spice plastic-free deodorant.

I wouldn’t use ChatGPT output content because I’ve seen Google Not index certain pages if they have too much AI content. Also, honestly ChatGPT is the worst writer. It’s not easy to read and it’s obvious to anyone reading that this has come from ChatGPT (I see you all those Linkedin messages!).

Voila. You are an expert on all things SEO. The King of SEO.

Free SEO Shopify

Total Cost for all SEO: $0. wow

Why even go through all this effort?

Monthly potential value of doing all this for your Shopify Site?

Even for a small product like stainless steel straws with an average order size of $25, we can get to over $10,000 in monthly revenue JUST from Organic SEO. With just 27 keywords and some average conversion rates we are getting $10,252 in monthly value. 

Please cancel your SEMRush account btw.

January 23, 2024 — Vineet Baid

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