In this article we will be looking into both platforms from a SEO point of view. Wether it is a blog or a store, SEO is crucial for making yourself known amongst the online world. For sure you have heard about Wordpress and Shopify and it is likely you did not start your website yet, hoping to gather more information and making the right decision.
First of all why choose Shopify or why Wordpress.
Wordpress is a piece of software that you download for free, but you need a hosting provider and a ssl certificate and a domain name just to begin with it. You need to know how to use FTP to connect to your hosting provider and you need to feel comfortable editing php files to add more functionality to your Wordpress site. Indeed it is not necessary as you may find a theme that needs no changes. You also need to install lots of plugins for security, customizing, functionality.
According to Wikipedia ( going safe here )
To function, WordPress has to be installed on a web server, either part of an Internet hosting service like WordPress.com or a computer running the software package WordPress.org in order to serve as a network host in its own right. A local computer may be used for single-user testing and learning purposes
The upside is that you effectively own your site. You can put it on a thumb drive and move it anywhere you want to, and it is highly customizable.
The downside is that you need to be a bit of a tech-savy to make it work, but with enough patience and will to learn, anyone can make it.
Shopify on the other hand is a self hosted platform. What this means, when creating a shop/website on Shopify, you do not actually own that website. You can not move it anywhere.
On behalf of Shopify, Wikipedia says that it is an e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Shopify offers online retailers a suite of services "including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store for small merchants."
But the advantage of Shopify is that it is so easy to use. I am sure that my grandma can set up a store without having to get lost along the way. When creating a store you get a .myshopify.com domain, ssl certificate and hosting, all included in the Shopify plan you chose. The best part is you do not even have to pay anything untill you reach 50 orders (for the free plan) so no tech knowledge are necessary.
You may now be asking yourselves why do people still use Wordpress? Well it is still number one platform for blogging and widely used for e-commerce simply because it is so customizable. Shopify works at its best as an e-commerce platform and not as widely used for blogging or presentation websites.
Shopify prices too high?
Do not think of it from this point of view. The basic plan, which is more than enough for any new entrepreneur out there, maybe a bit high for a new blogger, but think of what you get for that price.
You have hosting, a permanent .myshopify domain ( that may not be very useful when you launch but still you have it ) ssl certificate, and the ease of updating and modifying your site without having to spend your time stuck in some hosting company Cpanel making changes.
For a Wordpress website you have to pay for each of these separately. One domain provider, one hosting provider, one ssl provider, and on top of that you have to set them up yourself and make them work. Of course this may mean a cheaper price per month, but not so easy on newbies.
Let`s talk about SEO.
By using Shopify you get lots of things already set up for you. For most of the themes you will get out of the box all the meta tags and all title tags set up. Robots.txt and sitemap.xml are generated automatically, and adding the title and description of your site is as easy as placing them in a text form on the preferences page.
Being an E-commerce platform SEO is a key part of the online store so it should be obvious that Shopify is good at it.
For every blog post, product page or simple page you can manually edit the search engine listing preview.
Every image you upload has a field for editing the alt tag.
The only downside may be the blog articles url. It is still not ugly and search engines will index them, the article title is not right after the domain name, as you can see in the image above it is domain-name/blogs/news/article name. The right way should be domain-name/article name. I did not put to much attention into that, but Shopify offers url redirects so you can use any url to redirect to the article and look good if you want to.
So why do people talk about Shopify having bad SEO?
Like I said before, Shopify was not always this good. For example a few years ago you could not add alt tags for images or edit search engines preview only by diving in the code, so those who were not so tech-savy did not manage to get it done.
However this is not the case anymore. With a bit of time on your hands and without any coding skills you can actually get an almost perfect SEO score for your website.
You can find a good SEO guide here, that may help you with your Shopify store. There is also a snippet of code you can use on any theme to show breadcrumb navigation for your visitors and for SEO purposes.
Also for shopify users check out this app that may improve your SEO and is just too easy to use. It does not solve all issues, just adds breadcrumbs and schema markup - Schema & Breadcrumbs
Wordpress, on the other hand, has a ton of plugins that help you set up SEO, like Yoast, but as built-in performance may not be as good as Shopify for the E-commerce part. Wordpress e-commerce is actually another plugin, Woocommerce, so you do have to put some work into making it perform good in terms of SEO.
As a comparison think of these two platforms as two pieces of furniture ( I know, weird ).
Shopify, you go to your local furniture store, see the chair you like to buy, buy it, go home, put some screws to put it together and it is ready to use.
Wordpress, you see a nice looking chair in a magazine, then you start by cutting pieces of wood by following the specs, glue them together and start to make improvements untill it looks and feels like the one you saw in the magazine.
I know it was a pretty rough comparison, but is somehow sums up the difference between them.
There can not be a clear winner between these two platforms because both of them have benefits and drawbacks. However if you want an E-commerce website, Shopify is the go for it, and if you are into blogging then Wordpress is the best.
But who am I to tell you what to do? I have my website on Shopify and it is not an E-commerce one, so do whatever you like, I just made a comparison between them, mainly from a SEO point of view.