Implementing SEO strategies for your eCommerce business has become a survival tactic. When companies execute good SEO practices, they benefit from better visibility and more traffic, which automatically translates to more sales. But journeying from the first step, where you build a strategy to monitor the results, takes time and effort.
Not to discourage you from taking the SEO way, we only want to highlight the importance of good SEO practices. What begins with an eCommerce SEO audit must transition into a set of measures that help your online store attract qualified leads. An SEO audit allows you to identify the gaps within the website.
Did you know that the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the first search result on Google is 28.5%? Even the best SEO expert cannot pinpoint the exact mix of factors that help with SEO ranking. The reason is Google is frequently changing its ranking algorithms, confusing SEO experts to have definitive information.
Today, we will understand the importance of SEO audits of eCommerce websites, which will help you build an efficient SEO strategy.
Understanding eCommerce SEO Audit
An SEO audit means checking the website against the best SEO practices and strategies. It includes analyzing the website’s health from a varied set of factors. As a result, the SEO executives aim to address the gaps in the website and improve results.
In SEO audit, we;
- Figure out all the SEO issues hindering the website from performing well.
- Create a list of all the performance improvement measures.
- Check every page and measure them from different angles, including keywords, crawling, indexation, pagination, etc.
When you implement these practices for an eCommerce business, that activity is called eCommerce SEO audit.
Conducting eCommerce Website SEO Audit
The eCommerce business space, like all the other industries, is evolving. Because the industry evolves, it becomes essential to make relevant changes so that the website does not underperform. Moreover, the structure of eCommerce websites is complex and interconnected. This structure is different from a simple informational website, so executing SEO strategies for eCommerce websites is challenging.
An audit is the first of many steps when working on a website’s SEO. Effective auditing will help your website obtain a higher rank and improve visibility. Let’s go through the steps of an eCommerce SEO audit while understanding the importance of every step.
Part 1/3 of the eCommerce website SEO Audit – Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the first step of audit, where you check all the dynamics of the website and are thoroughly checked and audited.
- XML Sitemaps: XML sitemaps help a search engine get a sense of your website and its structure. These sitemaps contain subdirectories and pages that the search engines can crawl and index. However, having the right XML sitemap is essential as other SEO factors are connected to it.
In an SEO audit, you need to check the following;
- Whether the XML sitemaps contain the main canonical versions of the URLs?
- Checking that the website URLs are allowed to be indexed and not blocked by robots.txt.
- That the XML sitemaps are automatically updated when new pages are added or deleted.
- Crawlability with Robots.txt: Robots.txt is the file that contains the website parts that must be crawled. For this, you have to check that the same file is not blocking any part of the website from being crawled. Because the pages that are not crawled won’t be indexed. Ultimately, these pages won’t be counted as a part of the website, which hurts SEO.
Every website must have a robot.txt file. Moreover, SEO experts say that you need to add the sitemap into the robots.txt file. Due to the wide expanse of eCommerce websites, they have a long list of pages, subdirectories, and subdomains.
As a result, the crawl budget can also exceed; hence its essential to control this activity. To control this, check the Crawl Stats in the dedicated Google Search Console. Here, if you find the difference between the number of pages Google Crawler has discovered and the ones it has crawled, this means your crawl budget is exceeded.
- Website Indexation: Website index analysis helps find out the pages search engines are indexing after crawling. The Index Coverage Report will help you view the index in its entirety.
When you cannot see the website pages in indexing, it can lead to several disadvantages. These include
- The website pages will not show up in the search results.
- The page rank can take a hit and go down.
- You will find it difficult to rank some keywords.
You need to ensure that your website does not have too many auto-generated URLs. Plus, the website should not have bad internal linking.
- Check for Duplicate Content: Having multiple pages for a single product or service is common for an eCommerce website. Multiple pages increase the crawl budget, which manifests in indexation issues. Google is strict about duplicate content and also penalizes the websites that have such content.
This is because duplicate content manipulates the search engine, which is not liked by Google at all. Hence, your prerogative must be to identify all forms of duplicate content on your website during eCommerce SEO audits.
To make sure everything is clear here, you need to implement canonical tags. Using the rel=canonical attribute on the page, you can instruct the search engines to index and rank a particular page.
- Check the Response Code: Your pages must return a 200 response code when called. Any response code other than this means there’s an issue with the page. The most common response code indicating a broken page begins with. The 400, 404, etc. response codes signify different types of issues like misspelled pages, irrelevant pages, etc.
Response codes beginning with the number 5 (5xx), etc., indicate problems with the servers. Your website’s server must allow visitors to access the website seamlessly.
Another segment of response code errors important in the eCommerce SEO audit checklist are codes beginning with 3 (3xx), etc. These codes represent temporary issues and permanent redirects. For 301 redirects, you need to ensure that they are directed to the correct URLs.
- Managing Pagination: Pagination means categorizing the category pages on your eCommerce websites into manageable groups. You can add a fixed number of products at one time in a group.
On your website, you can have categorical groups for displaying 100 items on page 1, the next 100 items on page 2, and so on. Doing this helps the search engines discover and identify the main product page and category.
As a part of the technical audit for SEO eCommerce, ensure that the paginated pages don’t have noindex and canonical tags.
- Domain Security: If your website’s URLs start with HTTP, you need to change it to HTTPS. The “S” stands for Secure. This implies that your website is protected with an SSL certificate and that the visitor’s interaction with your website is encrypted.
Since eCommerce websites store the personal and sensitive information of the customers, having the right security setup is essential.
- Page Load Speed: When website pages don’t load quickly, they won’t get the deserving attention. Slow-loading pages are a great bane for eCommerce websites as it hampers organic ranking.
They are a conversion killer as the users won’t stick and wait for the page to load. They will quickly bounce off to another page. Portent finds that the highest eCommerce conversion rates are seen when the page load speed is between 0 to 2 seconds.
Since an eCommerce site has images and sometimes even videos, getting the ideal page load is a big challenge. Google finds that by compressing the image size by just 25% leads to a considerable increase in the page load speed.
As a part of your technical eCommerce SEO audit, take care of these small but important aspects.
- Website Navigation: For a search engine and a customer, smooth and clear navigability of your website matters. You can follow the breadcrumb navigation system.
This is where on the top of every page, the visitors can access all the preceding pages of the same category. This breadcrumb navigation is extremely helpful for visitors. They can find access to the important pages or previous ones in the same category quickly.
For a website crawler, seeing the breadcrumb navigation is useful for indexing and understanding the website structure. More importantly, ensure that the key pages of your website are accessible within four clicks.
- Website Architecture: An eCommerce website’s architecture goes a long way in improving overall performance. It provides ample space for exploring opportunities while managing configurations according to the requirements.
Two important aspects of the website architecture are internal linking and website navigation. Internal linking is about how your website’s pages are linked to each other.
What you can do is create clusters. This implies creating a group of pages that are linked together through a single main topic. For instance, your website might have a main category, trunks. You can have different types of trunks and link them all to the main page creating a cluster.
For navigation, we have already mentioned above how it is important to reduce the number of clicks for users to access the page they want.
- Mobile Friendliness: Your eCommerce website must run seamlessly on every mobile device. Customers today shop online through mobile more than they shop through desktop or other devices.
Hence, it is only natural to have a mobile version of your eCommerce store. Users also want a smooth customer experience on their mobile. Any sort of discrepancy, like slow load speed, cluttered design, etc., will force them to bounce off.
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Test to check your website’s responsiveness. Make sure to have the design elements which can provide a good mobile experience to the customers.
Part 2/3 – eCommerce Website Content Audit
Content has a crucial role to play in ensuring good search engine optimization. Even though the saying “Content is King” seems too cliche, it’s important till date. You might think that content is not important for an eCommerce website.
In essence, content is a major organic ranking factor, and good content always generates the desired response from your customers. Auditing content means you need to check for several aspects that can make your content have a better outcome in terms of interaction, understanding, and ranking.
Two purposes of this content audit is to find the best-performing content and identify content gaps. Check for the following in content as part of the eCommerce SEO audit.
- Content Uniqueness: Plagiarized content is one of the easiest ways to lose your website’s credibility. Search engines are not fans of websites that have plagiarized content. At a time when eCommerce websites are more prone to be flagged with duplicate content, you need to take care of this aspect efficiently.
As your website might have products of the same type and category, it’s difficult to create unique content for each page. One way to not let the search engines consider your content duplicate is to use canonicals. This will help the crawlers access the right information about each page.
- Tags and Descriptions: Meta tiles, HTML tags, meta descriptions, and other types of content must be well-organized across the eCommerce store. The meta titles and meta descriptions must be unique and relevant to the product page.
Always ensure that the titles and descriptions are written within the character limit. For meta titles, the limit is between 50 to 60 characters, and for meta descriptions, the same is up to 160 characters.
Every page must also have at least one H1 tag. In addition to this, you must also add subheadings designated with H2 and H3 tags. The tags, titles, and descriptions are essential to notify the crawlers and search engines about the page and its content.
The meta descriptions are also displayed as a part of the information on the search results page. Visitors check the description to find out the contents of the page and then decide to visit it.
In the content gap analysis, you need to check for duplicate title tags, missing title tags, missing alt tags, and missing and duplicate meta descriptions.
- Keyword Usage and Targeting: For effective SEO, the usage of keywords is important. When it comes to eCommerce SEO audit, check whether the keywords you have chosen are easy to rank.
High-ranking keywords also have greater difficulty, which makes them difficult to rank for. So, choose keywords that can be ranked easily. To find the ideal set of keywords for your website, conduct a competitor analysis.
You also want to find out the keyword gaps. This means trying to rank for keywords your competitors are not focusing on. Wherever applicable, rewrite or rephrase the existing content with the new keywords. Update the meta descriptions and meta titles as well.
While conducting the audit, check the types of keywords you are employing for your eCommerce website. Out of all, the primary keyword, which will frequently come within the page, is essential. Then you have the long-tail keywords, which are an extension of the primary keyword.
Relevant to eCommerce stores, you must also integrate branded keywords. These are the keywords through which your potential customers will find you on the web with your brand’s name.
Part 3/3 – Off Page SEO Audit for eCommerce Stores
Going towards the end of the eCommerce SEO audit checklist, we are left with the off-page aspects. Off-Page SEO means the elements that are not directly workable on the page but have an external impact.
- Backlinking: While conducting the audit, make a list of all the backlinks pointing toward your website. For an eCommerce website, they cannot have many backlinks because of the nature of their service.
Backlinks from high authority websites give a higher ranking boost. When auditing, check the direction of the backlinks. They must not point to broken, old, and irrelevant pages. If these pages exist, add a 301 redirect to give your users a seamless experience.
The power of quality backlinks is highly desired in the SEO world. Valuable and trustworthy content gets more backlinks than content that is relatively less valuable. To get more backlinks, you can participate in online forums, join discussion groups, and write guest posts.
- Competitor Website Analysis: eCommerce is a highly competitive space. To build your unique identity, you must first understand your competition. Hence, competition analysis becomes a natural part of the SEO audit.
The reason we have mentioned this point towards the end is that we want you to conduct an audit of your website first. As a result, you will have a better understanding of where you stand vis-a-vis your competitors.
While conducting the analysis, compare your pages to the competitors and set thresholds. Check for things like customer footprint, visitor traffic, sales, transactions, active customers, etc.
An eCommerce SEO audit is a major step in your journey to get more sales and revenue. When you conduct the audit efficiently, you can make effective changes to your online eCommerce store and deliver a good user experience.
Yes, there are a lot of elements involved here, but they all are important. In this blog, we have shared a three-part process to conduct your eCommerce website’s SEO audit. Starting with technical SEO, move forward to content analysis and off-page SEO. In case you need any help, we provide ecommerce seo services where our team will take care of all the steps.
Gather all the results and implement customized actions to achieve better outcomes for your eCommerce business.