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Shopify and Magento are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms around. And when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, choosing the right platform is critical for success.

Below we look at the difference betweeen the two platforms when it comes to SEO so you can make the right choice.

Shopify and Magento: What’s the Backstory?

Shopify was created in 2004 by Canadians Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake. Dissatisfied with existing ecommerce platforms, they focused on simplifying the creation and management of online retail stores.

The result – complete beginners can build online shops with thousands of products that are ready to scale, fast.

There’s no wonder Shopify has a 20% share of the total ecommerce market and is trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands.

Magento led the ecommerce market for years, until the arrival of Shopify. This Adobe owned platform offers users thousands of unique features that let you customise the functionality and look of your store.

Magento 2 is the latest update, creating a better and faster platform for ecommerce.

So which is the best choice for your ecommerce store from an SEO perspective? We’ve taken a closer look at the key differences between Shopify and Magento.

The Key Differences in Shopify vs. Magento

We’ll consider the most important factors for SEO when comparing Shopify and Magento to help evaluate on the most important criteria:

1. Open vs Closed Source Code Base

The biggest difference between the two platforms is that Magento is open source, while Shopify is a closed source system. This has a number of impacts:

Magento offers developers more flexibility to edit templates and core files. For example, you can edit the robots.txt file that tells Google which pages you want to prioritise. This gives Magento the edge when it comes to SEO. However, if you don’t have the resources to start editing code, this might not be so important and Magento’s open source nature leaves your site security vulnerable to hackers.

Shopify, on the other hand, is a closed system. You won’t be able to edit source code, which can be an advantage if you’re looking for plug and play usability, site stability and security. However, you won’t be able to edit the robots.txt file so you’ll have less granular control over indexing, although the same results can be used by setting pages you don’t want to show as noindex.

Winner: Draw: The open source nature of Magento means it has greater flexibility, and with extensive development more advanced SEO techniques can be utilised. However, for most SMEs these are not required, meaning Shopify is a much simpler option.

 2. Ease of SEO Setup

When you’re comparing ecoomerce platforms you also need to look at ease of setup. And both Magento and Shopify score well on out of the box ease of use.

Shopify has plenty of SEO features built in, so it’s fast and easy to build a search engine friendly ecommerce store. These SEO options are easy to generate and auto-populate using the built-in apps. For example, the editor tool makes editing essential SEO elements like meta descriptions and page titles a breeze.

Magento also offers users great SEO functionality, with over 250 apps to choose from. However, achieving the out of the box functionality of Shopify can take a while to master.

Winner: Both platforms have great core features like automatic sitemap generation and 301 redirects, but Shopify can do more SEO tasks out of the box. It’s also easier to use and navigate than Magento, but both platforms offer great SEO functionality.

3. SEO Apps and Setup

Any developer can create plugins and add-ons for Magento. However, the closed source nature of Shopify means its plugins are more secure and scalable. That’s great for beginners who need a platform that works out of the box. But it’s frustrating for advanced users who can’t find the functionality and customisation they’re looking for.

As Shopify has grown, so has its collection of apps that offer valuable workarounds for power users who want to improve SEO visibility.

However, over-reliance on apps can result in slow loading speeds, code conflicts and higher subscription costs. It’s often a better solution to work with a Shopify developer to customise a theme to meet your needs.

Magento offers around 4,000 extensions to improve functionality. However, they lack the intuitive one touch installation of Shopify apps.

Winner: Both sites use apps to make short work of key SEO tasks like image compression, image alt tags and page indexing. However, Shopify Apps one touch installation and ease of maintenance makes them the winner.

4. Design

Design and user experience are becoming just as important as technical SEO. After all, if your website doesn’t look good or offer an awesome UX, you won’t achieve the ranking you want.

Magento offers users 12 themes, several of them free to use. 10 themes are fully mobile responsive so you can capture the all-important mobile market.

You can also create your own fully customised them, although this requires either substantial coding knowledge or a development budget.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Magento offers a platform for your ecommerce solution, rather than focusing on aesthetics.

Shopify already has a solid reputation for beautiful and professional themes. There are currently over 60 available, all of which are fully customisable. Of course for a more bespoke looking site, you’ll need a Shopify web designer.

It’s easy to integrate rich design with must-have features to create a high-quality site that can be fully branded. If you prefer a bespoke look, you can also create a fully customised design for your Shopify store.

Winner: Shopify lets you create a professional, eye-catching ecommerce store straight out of the box.

5. Site Speed

Site speed is one of the biggest factors when it comes to creating a successful ecommerce website. How fast your site loads depends on two factors – server response times, and how long it takes a page to load in a browser.

Shopify wins hands down on server response times. Its cloud-based infrastructure has an average response time of 609 milliseconds versus 967 milliseconds for Magento.

However, when it comes to page content loading times, the two sites are evenly matched with 2.6 seconds for Shopify and 2.8 seconds for Magento. However, the page load times on larger stores running a number of apps increases to 6.8 seconds for Shopify and 6.0 seconds for Magento.

Winner: If you have the developer resources to optimise site speeds, Magento is the better choice.

6. Blogging

Blogs have a number of crucial SEO benefits including link building and driving organic traffic.

Magento doesn’t include a blog feature as standard. If you want to add a blog to your store you’ll need to add an extension, and a good blogging extension can be expensive.

Shopify includes blogging as a built-in feature making it effortless to set up and start your blog. Functionality includes an RSS feed, comments and blog-specific SEO and can be edited using the Liquid code. However, you won’t find features like blog-specific

search, archiving, social bookmarking or analytics.

Winner: Shopify for including basic blogging features as standard.

Summary: Which is better for SEO: Shopify or Magento?

Both Shopify and Magento are solid choices for ecommerce SEO.

Shopify is a great fit for your business if:

  • You’re looking to get your new website up and running fast
  • You want out of the box functionality that makes it easy to build a professional fully-featured ecommerce store
  • You want 24/7 support
  • You want a wide choice of apps with one-touch installation

Magento is a good choice for your ecommerce platform if:

  • You have the necessary coding skills or developer support
  • You sell a wide range of products across multiple markets worldwide
  • You’re ready to invest the time and money to create a complete customised solution
  • You want full control over technical SEO

We’ll leave you to make the final decision!

As professional SEO consultants we work on both Shopify and Magento sites, although must say we have a preference for working on Shopify due to the greater ease of editing the sites themselves. Get in touch today to see how we can help grow your site’s online visibility!

Matthew Pavli

Matthew Pavli is the founder of Search Hog and resident SEO expert. When he's not geeking out on Google algorithm changes, he can be found surfing at one of his local beaches in Cornwall.

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