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Developing with Shopify


Having only been developing with Shopify since November 2021, I will never claim to know all there is about what you should or should not do when developing an eCommerce website for your Shopify storefront. What I can give insight into is my experience with it having helped in the development of a site in Next.js and deploying it to production by myself.

When I joined the team at Leisure Time Inc, I inherited work on all the web apps in both React and Next.js. One of those sites is a Shopify Storefront that I helped build. Then deployed it to production by myself and had some help with initial bug fixes. The new Next.js eCommerce site was amazing, new, and the architecture was such an improvement to the previous Gatsby site. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Shopify itself has developed its own framework for storefronts called Hydrogen. They also support hosting on their own Oxygen. All Shopify templates as of January 2023 are built on Hydrogen. Now like most developers, I prefer to develop using tools and frameworks that are popular and useful for my future, so I was pretty excited to use Next.js.

After deployment to production, our shop site puttered along and we continued to grow over 2022, yet there was this looming issue we noticed with Google Analytics. Pretty much all traffic to our site is reported as organic, even through paid ads. We figured this out because we discovered that despite following SEO practices to the tee, we only show up in paid ads unless the company is googled by name.

After an extensive search to find answers to our questions, we stumbled upon a Shopify Thread [Archived Article as of 1/2024] where one of the commenters was in the same situation as us. They had built a site in Next.js that ‘connected’ to Shopify and provided the crucial information: "Unless built on Hydrogen, your SEO is shot." The extensive amount of plugins and tools are unusable (at least the way our site was connected) because Shopify is only being used as a glorified database.

Luckily, about a week after our discovery, Shopify and Remix both posted joint blog posts about the former squiring the latter. With Hydrogen’s next release coming in February, they are releasing support for Remix for Shopify storefronts. Leisure Time Inc will begin delving into the update and I will write about my learnings along the journey to fix SEO and Analytics.