If it isn't already, a regular SEO eCommerce site audit should be a component of your online marketing plan.
Your website is a crucial touchpoint in the consumer journey. According to the best eCommerce SEO Companies, websites serve as the main source of conversions, which in turn generates money. It is because, in the absence of a physical location, your internet shop becomes crucial to building a brand image.
Of course, a smart place to start would be to optimize it in accordance with industry best practices and growing client expectations. But in addition to market trends and consumer insights, there seems to be one more factor—search engines. It will guide how you develop and continue to optimize your website.
Search engines utilize algorithms made up of several ranking parameters to return the most pertinent search results to users' queries. These algorithms are often modified and updated. However, the majority of those changes are not substantial enough to necessitate a total redesign of your website.
So to keep your eCommerce site relevant in the ever-changing algorithms, you will still need to improve it frequently. This is where an SEO website audit comes up as a smart place to start.
Are you Happy with your eCommerce SEO Strategy?
An SEO eCommerce audit looks at the overall health and performance of your eCommerce website and does the following:
- Recognizes SEO problems that are presently affecting the functionality of your website
- Offers suggestions for performance enhancements.
- Directly enhances the overall performance, visibility, and organic traffic of the website.
An SEO eCommerce audit ultimately directs your complete SEO strategy by highlighting areas that require improvement and how to make those improvements.
A website audit may also help you compare the outcomes of your current optimization effort to earlier ones if SEO is already a component of your online marketing plan. This helps you to assess whether and to what extent your SEO efforts are successful.
The audit will provide you with a comparison standard when you review results, especially if SEO wasn't a focus up until this point.
These are four basic topics that a typical eCommerce SEO audit checklist covers:
Technical SEO –
Your website's technical features make sure search engines can crawl and index it. Crawl ability is the cornerstone of every SEO plan, according to Moz's "Hierarchy of SEO Needs". Thus, technical SEO should be the beginning point of any SEO assessment.
On- and off-page analysis –
On-page SEO is concentrated on the text and HTML components of the web page (they aid search engines in determining the relevance of the web page for the search query). On the other end of the spectrum, off-page SEO describes external links and other signals (such as brand mentions, reviews, and branded searches) that increase the authority and credibility of your website.
Content opportunities and gaps –
Although content is a component of on-page SEO, your audit has to include a distinct section on it. Content also affects off-page SEO, as indicated by the "Hierarchy of SEO Needs". It is because it can gain your site credible links, citations, and more. So, content has two goals: to boost authority and attract organic traffic;
User experience –
In addition to offering consumers high-quality, pertinent material, search engines also work to give them the greatest possible user experience. They will always give preference to websites that follow the most recent UX best practices for this reason.
What is not included in an eCommerce SEO audit?
An eCommerce SEO audit covers a lot of ground, but it doesn't cover everything. For instance, it sometimes only concentrates on your e-commerce website. Therefore, activities like general keyword research or a more thorough focus on the keyword's organic competition are not covered by the SEO audit. Its major objective is to ensure that your website is free of any glaring SEO problems or stumbling blocks.
However, a web content accessibility guidelines audit and other significant on-site difficulties like digital accessibility are not examined in an eCommerce SEO audit service (WCAG). To obtain those insights, you need to conduct independent accessibility audits.
eCommerce Website SEO Audit: Why to Conduct it Regularly?
Search engines are often referred to as the ‘gatekeepers of organic traffic.’ Although there are many other sources of traffic, your approach should include organic traffic regardless of your budget, business size, or level of expertise.
The following facts demonstrate how organic traffic creates huge prospects for eCommerce businesses:
- Given that online shopping is one of the most popular pastimes, it should come as no surprise that by 2023, the industry will earn 54 trillion US dollars in sales. But the market has also become more cutthroat.
- Online searches for goods and services are done by 81% of people. In actuality, people use search engines daily.
- Organic traffic delivers the best conversion rates after sponsored and referral traffic;
- Organic traffic accounts for 33% of website income, representing a 21% YoY gain;
- Organic traffic is steady over time. Organic traffic takes slower to establish momentum but lasts far longer than sponsored traffic, which only lasts as long as you pay it (and is less hard on the budget).
If you look at the total statistics, you'll notice that organic traffic is still one of the top drivers of eCommerce conversions and profits, almost surpassing sponsored traffic. Thus, your eCommerce site's position on search engine result pages is crucial in the fiercely competitive eCommerce sector (SERPs).
Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of SEO for eCommerce, it is time to know about the fundamental phases of your website audit!
How to perform an SEO audit of your eCommerce store?
Since there are so many factors to consider and an SEO audit for eCommerce sites is so important, it's simple to become overwhelmed by the job.
The detailed checklist that follows should make it easier for you to complete this audit successfully by identifying the key areas.
-----Ecommerce Technical SEO Checklist-----
1. Navigation and crawl depth
For e-commerce websites, navigational components are crucial. They assist visitors in finding the appropriate product categories fast.
Make sure your navigation menu includes all of the most crucial pages and categories when you conduct your SEO audit. Only indexable and crawlable pages should be included, allowing search engines to proactively use your layout to find them.
The crawl depth of your essential pages is another thing to take into account. Generally speaking, it shouldn't take more than four clicks to get to these from the home page of your website. If they are buried further than that, try adding a hyperlink to them from higher-level category pages or include them in your navigation.
2. XML sitemaps
Search engines will have an excellent reference map for your whole site thanks to your XML sitemap, which lets them know which of your subdirectories and pages to scan.
Consequently, check to see if your e-commerce website has a proper XML sitemap and that it:
- Consists only of your URLs' primary canonical versions, and they are "clean" and devoid of URL parameters.
- Lists just the URLs you really want to be crawled, ensuring sure they are not blacklisted by robots.txt or have "noindex" meta tags
- Configured to update automatically as pages are added to or removed from your website.
3. Robots.txt file
The "robots.txt" file instructs search engines on which areas of your website are appropriate for crawling. A robots.txt file should be present under "yoursite.com/robots.txt."
If you have a robots.txt file that is currently active, check to be sure it is not unintentionally preventing the crawlers from reaching any areas of your site that you really want to be indexed. To make your sitemap easier for spiders to find, provide its location in the robots.txt file. You may achieve this by including the following line at the file's bottom: Sitemap: "Sitemap.xml" at https://www.yoursite.com
The number of pages, subdirectories, and subdomains on e-commerce websites is often high. Controlling your crawl budget, or the number of pages Google will crawl on your site during a certain period becomes crucial as a result.
Examine the "Crawl metrics" in your Google Search Console as part of your SEO assessment. If there is a significant difference between the number of pages found and crawled, your crawl budget may have been reached. Block unnecessary website content with the robots.txt file to make sure your crawl budget is going to the crucial sites.
4. Response codes
The technical eCommerce SEO audit's next step is to evaluate the response codes that your pages are returning. The majority of your sites should ideally receive a 200 response code, indicating that they are online and accessible to search engines.
Any broken pages should be addressed with a 4xx response code. If you have links to these sites that are misspelt, you should correct the links so that they refer to the correct URLs. Remove any links leading to the sites if they are no longer relevant to prevent 4xx problems.
Increases in response codes 5xx typically signify issues with your server. Make that your website is not inaccessible due to any ongoing server-side difficulties. Next, temporary and permanent redirection is marked by the 3xx response codes. Make sure the right URLs are pointed at by your persistent (301) redirects. Additionally, you should prevent any redirection loops (URLs that send crawlers back and forth) and lengthy redirect chains.
The same goods frequently appear at many URLs on e-commerce websites because they are featured in various locations across the site, fall under more than one product category, etc. Additionally, e-commerce websites offer sorting options that create several versions of the same URL with various attributes. Duplicate material may result from this, and search engines may find it challenging to recognize the "master" page.
Canonical tags come into play at this point. For e-commerce websites, getting the canonical configuration correct is essential. Verify the following on your product pages:
- A self-referencing canonical tag on original versions of a page designates them as the URL you want to be crawled.
- There is a canonical tag on each copy of a page linking to the original version of that page.
- Only indexable URLs are referenced by your canonical tags.
- No page should include more than one canonical tag since this makes it impossible for Google to determine which one is correct.
6. Parameter handling in Google Search Console
Ecommerce websites frequently employ a lot of URL parameters to regulate how products are shown. The URL's clean version now includes parameters that may be used for things like:
- Include monitoring information in Google Analytics
- Control product filtering and sorting
- Show just little product variants like colors when the remainder of the product material is consistent between sites.
A powerful URL parameter crawl tool provided by Google Search Console enables you to configure intricate rules for how to handle these parameters. For instance, if you only want users to be able to discover the primary product page directly, you may instruct Google to forgo indexing any URLs containing the "_white" variety of a product.
Examine your utilization of this parameter crawl tool carefully while conducting your e-commerce SEO audit. A seemingly insignificant error here might cause Google to de-index the entire part of your website. Verify that none of the important pages is being blocked by the parameter rules you've set up by going through them.
To break up lengthy category pages into digestible pieces of, say, 100 goods at a time, pagination is crucial for e-commerce websites. A category page may look like "your site/category," which shows the first 100 goods, then "your site/category?page=2," which shows the following 100 products, and so on.
In actuality, this aids in the discovery and crawling of the primary category's paginated pages by search engine bots. In your e-commerce SEO audit, be on the lookout for any pagination difficulties. For instance, "no index" and "canonical" tags leading to the primary category page should not be included on paginated pages. This may result in search engines disregarding certain pages that are buried farther inside your site's design, which would have an impact on how visible a significant portion of your site is.
8. Site search
Nearly all eCommerce sites take advantage of site search. Visitors to the website can enter their chosen keywords to identify pertinent items. Verify that your internal search engine operates as expected and delivers the correct URLs during your audit. This results in a positive user experience, which is an indirect SEO indication in and of itself.
Site search is excellent for the user experience, but if it's not properly controlled, it may hurt your SEO. Users that do searches on your website generate individual URLs using the search terms they submit (see point 5). If these URLs can be indexed, you'll use up more of your crawl budget because there will be a lot of irrelevant sites for search engines to crawl.
Internationalization is yet another SEO factor to consider for e-commerce businesses that operate in numerous nations or languages. The same items may have several languages and regional variations at various URLs, subdomains, or subdirectories.
The "hreflang" tag is the most effective way to handle this complication. This element informs Google which audiences have localized versions of a URL. Pay close attention to the following during your site audit:
- Are the URLs that your hreflang tags refer to correct?
- Do all local copies of the page that already exist have hreflang tags referring to them?
- Is each URL that hreflang mentions indexable?
- Use the correct language and region codes in your hreflang tags, please.
- Do you use a hreflang tag that references itself and specifies the page it is on?
10. Site Speed
Pages with a slow load time will gradually lose their organic ranking position. They are also a conversion killer for e-commerce websites. Therefore, one of your top concerns should be to speed up page loading.
The speed at which your pages load should consequently be checked as part of your eCommerce SEO audit. You may test a few typical URLs for the homepage, product page, category page; and so on for each of the many themes your site utilizes to streamline the process.
Image optimization is frequently a major component of enhancing page performance on eCommerce sites since they frequently display many photographs of each product. Think about lazily loading your photos, or loading them just when the user moves down to see them.
Despite hundreds of signals and ever-changing algorithms, SEO boils down to one major factor: Keywords Research. When it comes to on-page SEO, this is the most important thing to remember. One of the most important boxes to check when conducting an SEO audit is finding relevant queries for your website. Here are important things to think about when conducting keyword research:
1. Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
These will show up in the SERP snippet and frequently provide users with their first impression of your website. Therefore, they have to be special for each product page and encourage users to visit your website.
Make doubly sure your meta-titles and descriptions don't exceed the character limit throughout your audit to ensure that search engines can show them completely. The suggested character restrictions are:
- 50–60 character limit for meta title
- 160 characters for the meta description
2. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content problems are particularly common on e-commerce websites. Numerous copies of the same product pages are to blame for a large portion of it. Additionally, retail websites frequently copy the product descriptions provided by the manufacturer in their listings, resulting in additional information duplication.
Through the use of canonicals, "no-index" tags, robots.txt rules, and other techniques, the initial technical SEO services should address many concerns with duplicate content. By incorporating rich, distinctive aspects like FAQ sections, product evaluations, shopping recommendations, and the like, your content itself, however, may further set itself apart from your canonical sites.
3. Broken links
Inaccessible pages are reached via broken links, which leads to a poor user experience and hurts your SEO. Verify that your internal and external links take the visitors to legitimate pages during your e-commerce content audit.
4. Content quality and brand compliance
Making ensuring your website offers users original and helpful on-page material is the goal of this phase. Utilize your audit to highlight any "thin" information that doesn't bring any actual value, pages that are difficult to read, or anything that has errors in it that makes it appear unprofessional.
Ensure that your material uses acceptable language and a tone of voice while also reflecting your brand. On every page of your website, you expect clients to explore your brand consistently.
5. Keyword cannibalization
On e-commerce sites, keyword targeting can be challenging because several goods frequently fall under the same general category and rank for related phrases. Try to diversify your product pages as much as you can to prevent them from competing with one another for the same queries. For each product page, use specific, long-tail descriptors to do this.
6. Structured data
For e-commerce websites, using structured data may be quite beneficial. It specifically notifies crawlers which items on your website adhere to a given taxonomy. By doing this, you may improve how well Google and other search engines comprehend the content of your website and provide rich SERP snippets for your items.
The easiest method to do this is by using schema markup. The most essential schema markups for e-commerce websites are:
- Breadcrumb, helps put specific product pages in the larger context of your site's structure
- Product, which aids in pulling pertinent facts into a rich Google snippet.
1. Evaluate backlinks
Your site's authority and rating are likely to grow if many reliable external websites are referring to it.
Evaluate all of your backlinks to index faster and the sites they are pointing to as part of your e-commerce SEO audit. Add a 301 redirect to a comparable page on your website that is still pertinent if they are connecting to an outdated or broken URL.
Finally, you may disperse some of the strengths of your backlinks to improve the ranking of the remaining pages on your site. To do this, build internal connections from pages with plenty of backlinks to other important pages you'd like to enhance.
2. Negative SEO
Rarely, backlinks can go wrong. Your site's organic score may suffer if it acquires a lot of so-called "poison" connections from dangerous or dubious websites.
If your SEO audit reveals any such harmful connections, you can proactively notify Google that you do not want your website to be linked to these outside websites by using the Disavow tool.
1. Product Pages
All links on your website should point to the product pages you are selling, regardless of the product. Here are some SEO for eCommerce category pages practices to consider:
- Each product should have a distinct meta-title and description that are optimized for keywords.
- Products should have unique URLs and shouldn't be mentioned more than once.
- The URLs shouldn't contain categories since you want the products to be accessible through a variety of filters and aspects. The product page URLs should be simple and concise.
- There should be at least one indexable route for each item.
- Make sure each product is listed in an indexable way, though.
- Product pages that are out of stock can be temporarily kept indexable, but until the stock is returned, be sure to suggest relevant goods.
To preserve the hyperlink equity built up on the original out-of-stock product page, employ a 301 redirect if the item is always out of stock to take them to the next relevant page that is the closest match. Also, improve product pages with reviews
2. Category Pages
One should keep in mind the following key points relating to the category pages:
- Every category page ought to have its own Meta description and title.
- As previously said, you shouldn't index filter pages to avoid duplicate content and crawling budget issues. However, you must index the primary category pages that are a part of the primary navigation on your website.
- A keyword should be targeted on each category page. You want to rank with these sites since they are indexable.
- Don't delay your eCommerce site audit
Get Started with your eCommerce SEO Audit Today!!
An audit of an eCommerce site could appear like a difficult undertaking. With all those products and dynamic pages we've discussed, eCommerce websites add their own layer of complexity to the work in addition to the usual problems seen in any SEO audit.
But don't worry you'll understand why this work is not that difficult once you begin methodically auditing your website. It simply requires time, and because there are so many effective SEO tools at your disposal, even that time is kept to a minimum. Make sure to concentrate on the several components you will audit. Keep it organized.
As you've previously seen, a lot of SEO improvements revolve around building your website's credibility with visitors rather than with search engines. And last, just remember to be patient. Results from SEO will eventually acquire traction which you can attain with the assistance of a full-service digital marketing agency.
Hope your SEO audit goes well!