It’s here! Your comprehensive eCommerce SEO audit guide. We’ll tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about performing an SEO audit. And trust us, this is the good stuff.
By the end of this detailed guide, you’ll be able to conduct your own eCommerce SEO audits like a pro.
- What Is An eCommerce Audit?
- What Is The Difference Between an eCommerce SEO Audit & Regular SEO Audit?
- Planning for an in-depth audit
- Technical SEO Audit
- Onpage SEO Audit
- Offpage SEO Audit
- Tracking Performance
eCommerce SEO Audit: Your Comprehensive Commerce SEO Audit Checklist
First thing’s first…
What is an eCommerce SEO Audit?
Let’s kick off with the basics: what IS an eCommerce SEO audit? An eCommerce SEO audit is a comprehensive analysis of your online store to identify any potential areas of improvement in your SEO strategy.
An eCommerce SEO audit aims to increase traffic to your site and, ultimately, increase sales. So, what happens when you identify and address weak points in your current strategy? You make your store more visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), increase click-through rates, and boost conversion rates!
In short: an eCommerce SEO audit can help take your business to the next level.
What’s Different About an eCommerce SEO Audit & a Regular SEO Audit?
But not all SEO audits are created the same. There are some critical differences between an eCommerce SEO audit and a regular SEO audit. These differences largely depend on how your strategy for standard websites versus collection and product pages will vary.
Notably, placing a bigger focus on your eCommerce website’s sitemap matters even more because of how it affects Google’s bots and the user experience. For example, if a product page is not included in your sitemap, then it will be more difficult for search engine bots to find and index it.
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is an eCommerce SEO audit,” it’s time to move on to the details: how to conduct your very own eCommerce SEO audit.
Planning For an eCommerce SEO Audit
Beginning your eCommerce SEO audit with a comprehensive plan will be a key determinant of success. By having all of your ducks in a row before you start, you can make sure you hit every single item on your eCommerce SEO checklist.
Here’s what you need to do to get started:
1) Define your goals. What exactly do you hope to achieve with your eCommerce SEO audit? Do you want to increase traffic? Improve conversions? Increase organic search visibility?
2) Choose your tools. There are a ton of great options out there when it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform. But not all platforms are created equal! So be sure to do your research and choose the platform that is best suited for your needs.
3) Set a budget. This is a critical step in any eCommerce SEO audit. Be sure to set a realistic budget you are comfortable with, and that will allow you to achieve your goals.
4) Assemble your team. Conducting an eCommerce SEO audit can be a daunting task, so it’s important to have a team of experts on your side. Assemble a team of SEO specialists, web developers, and designers who can help you implement the changes necessary to improve your website’s performance.
SEO audits aren’t a one-and-done kind of thing. For example, you might repeat this process every year, and having a Standard Operation Process set up for SEO audits will help you save time.
Now, let’s get into the actual audit process!
Step 1 of Your eCommerce SEO audit: Technical SEO
The first phase of your eCommerce SEO audit is technical SEO. This is where you will focus on the behind-the-scenes aspects of your website that impact its ability to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Analyze your site for robots.txt and XML sitemap
To start, you’ll want to analyze your site for robots.txt and XML sitemap.
- robots.txt: This file tells search engine bots which pages on your site they are allowed to crawl and index.
- XML sitemap: This file helps search engine bots find and index all of the pages on your website.
What to do if you don’t have robots.txt or XML sitemap
Let’s say you discover your site doesn’t have robots.txt or an XML sitemap. What can you do next?
There are a few options:
1) You can create a robots.txt file and submit it to Google via the Search Console.
2) You can generate an XML sitemap and submit it to Google via the Search Console.
3) Plugins like Yoast SEO can automatically generate a robots.txt file and XML sitemap for you.
What to do if you already have robots.txt or XML sitemap
And suppose you DO already have these things. In that case, you can move on to the next step: analyzing your website’s indexability and crawlability.
Analyze your indexability and crawlability
Indexability and crawlability refer to a search engine’s ability to find and index your website’s pages.
There are a few things you’ll want to look for when analyzing your site’s indexability:
1) Make sure Google indexes all your website’s pages.
2) Make sure Google crawls all your website’s pages. You can check this in the Google Search Console under the “Crawl” tab.
3) Make sure all of your website’s pages are accessible to Google. This means they should not be blocked by robots.txt or have any other technical issues preventing them from being indexed. You can check for this in the Google Search Console under the “Coverage” tab.
4) Make sure all of your website’s pages are being indexed by Bing. You can check this in the Bing Webmaster Tools under the “Configure My Site” tab.
If you discover that some of your pages are not being indexed by Google, then you will need to take action to fix the issue. The usual reason for this is the pages are blocked by robots.txt or have other technical issues.
You can utilize the Google Search Console to find and fix these issues. Go to the “Coverage” tab and look for the “Excluded” section. This explains why your pages are not indexed and how to fix the issue.
Broken internal links
Now you’ll move on to fixing your broken internal links. These broken links can prevent search engines from crawling and indexing your website’s pages.
Tools like Screaming Frog can get the job done to find your broken internal links. This tool crawls your eCommerce site and identifies any broken links.
These are the number of pages that Google has crawled from your website in the last 90 days.
This number should increase over time as you add new content to your website. If it’s not, there may be an issue with your site preventing Google from crawling and indexing your pages.
To check your crawl stats, simply go to the Google Search Console and click on the “Crawl” tab. Then, click on “Crawl Stats” in the left-hand sidebar.
Here, you will see the number of pages crawled in the last 90 days. Ideally, this number should rise over time.
If you notice the number of pages being crawled has decreased, then you will need to take action to fix the issue. The most common reason for this is your website has technical issues that are preventing Google from crawling and indexing your pages.
Another essential metric to track is your website’s indexation rate. This is the percentage of your website’s pages Google is indexing.
To check your website’s indexation rate, simply go to the Google Search Console and click on the “Coverage” tab. Then, scroll down to the “Indexation” section.
Here, you will see the number of pages Google is currently indexing. Ideally, this number should be close to 100%.
Duplicate content and canonical tags
You’ll also want to look for duplicate content and canonicalization issues.
Duplicate content is when you have multiple pages on your website that contain the same or similar content. This can be an issue because it can confuse search engines and prevent them from indexing your pages properly.
Canonicalization is when you have multiple pages on your website that contain the same or similar content, but only one of those pages is being indexed by Google. This is problematic because it can prevent search engines from indexing your pages correctly.
Once you have a list of the duplicate content or canonicalization issues, you can either delete them or redirect them to another page.
Suppose you decide to redirect the duplicate content or canonicalized pages. In that case, you will need to add a “301 redirect” in your .htaccess file. This will tell search engines that the old page has been permanently redirected to the new page.
Evaluate your page load time
Your page load time also plays a big role in your overall SEO success, making this step another important part of the eCommerce SEO audit process.
Your page load time is the amount of time it takes for your web pages to load when someone visits your website.
You want your pages to load as quickly as possible. After all, the faster your pages load, the better your chances are of ranking high in the search results.
Page Speed Insights can check your page load time. You’ll enter your website’s URL, and it will test your page load time and give you a detailed report.
If your site load time is slow
To begin, you can optimize your images by reducing their file size. You can do this using a tool like Photoshop or an online service like TinyPNG.
Then you can enable compression on your website. This will compress the files on your website to take up less space and load faster.
Next, you can use a content delivery network (CDN). This is a group of servers that are located around the world. When someone lands on your website, they will be directed to the server that is closest to them. This can improve your page load time because the files will be closer to the user.
Finally, you can cache your pages. Caching is when a copy of your web page is saved on the user’s computer. This way, they will not have to download all of the files when they visit your website again.
It’s also a great time to check in on your internal linking.
Internal linking is when you link to other pages on your website from within your web pages. This matters because it helps search engines index your website, and it also helps improve your website’s overall usability.
If you notice your website doesn’t have many internal links, you will want to add more. Do this by adding links to your blog posts, pages, and other content.
You can determine how many internal links you have by using tools like SEOptimer and SEMRush. Just enter your website’s URL and let the tools crawl your site. They will give you a list of all your website’s internal links.
Check for mobile-friendliness
Mobile responsiveness is more vital than ever, considering that the majority of searches are now being conducted on mobile devices. As such, Google uses mobile-friendliness as a big ranking factor. That means if your website is not mobile-friendly, you could be losing out on a lot of traffic and potential customers.
Head to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if your website is mobile-friendly. Just enter your website’s URL, and Google will test your site to see if it is mobile-friendly.
(The good news is, every Shopify theme is, by default, mobile-responsive!)
But if your site doesn’t pass this test, there are still things you can do! For starters, you could switch to a mobile-friendly theme.
Otherwise, you can ensure that:
- Your pages are not too long
- Your font is large enough to read on a mobile device
- Your buttons and links are spaced out so they can be easily clicked on a smaller screen
Be sure your site is secure
Site security is another big factor that Google considers when ranking websites. That’s why it’s important to make sure your website is secure.
A key first step is to ensure your website is using HTTPS. This is the secure version of HTTP, and it encrypts the data that is being sent between your website and the user’s browser.
User experience also plays a role in your website’s ranking. Google wants to ensure users find what they’re looking for when they visit your website.
To help you determine the user experience quality on your site, you can start by taking a look at how visitors are using your function. For example, do they stay on your site and explore other pages? Or do they leave after only a few seconds?
If you notice people aren’t spending much time on your site, then you will want to improve your user experience.
There are all kinds of ways to do this, including:
- Make sure your pages load quickly
- Improving your navigation
- Make sure your content is highly readable (You can use a readability score tool to determine this)
- Adding images, videos, and other media to your pages
- Be sure your website is responsive on all devices
Step 2: eCommerce On-Page Audit
Now it’s time to talk about on-page SEO and the steps in an on-page eCommerce SEO audit.
Like most on-page SEO strategies, it begins with keyword research!
Before optimizing your products for specific keywords, you need to know what keywords to target. To do keyword research, try tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and SEMrush.
When you enter a seed keyword into the tool, it gives you a list of related keywords. These are the keywords you should be targeting on your eCommerce website.
A big part of this process is choosing keywords that have a high keyword value.
Keyword value is determined by a number of factors, including:
- Search volume: This is the number of searches conducted for a particular keyword. The higher the search volume, the higher the keyword’s value.
- Competition: The number of websites trying to rank for a particular keyword. The lower the competition, the more valuable the keyword is.
- Keyword difficulty: A measure of how tough it is to rank for a particular keyword.
- CPC (cost-per-click): This is the amount that you would pay for each click on an ad if you were to run a Google Ads campaign for that keyword.
Once you have a list of target keywords, you can start optimizing your products and pages for those keywords.
To optimize a page for a particular keyword, you need to:
- Add the keyword to your page title
- Add the keyword to your meta description
- Add the keyword to your H1 tag
- Add the keyword throughout your page content
- Add the keyword to your image alt tags
- Add the keyword to your product tags and categories
After you’ve optimized your pages for specific keywords, you need to ensure that your URLs are also optimized. This means making sure your URLs are short, descriptive, and keyword-rich.
For example, if you’re selling women’s shoes, a good URL would be: www.example.com/womens-shoes
But a bad URL would be: www.example.com/product/1234
Not only is this URL too long, but it’s also not descriptive or keyword-rich.
Just make sure that your URLs are short, descriptive, and include a target keyword.
Other keyword considerations
Understanding user intent is also important when it comes to choosing the right keywords.
Simply put, user intent is why someone searches for a particular keyword.
For example, let’s say someone enters the keyword “buy women’s shoes,” they have a commercial intent. This means they’re looking to buy women’s shoes and are not just doing research.
Alternatively, if someone searches for the keyword “women’s shoes,” they might have an informational intent instead. This means they are just looking for information about women’s shoes and not necessarily looking to buy anything.
When doing keyword research, it’s crucial to consider user intent. In addition, you should target keywords with a commercial intent because these are the keywords more likely to result in sales.
To find out the user intent of a particular keyword, you can use Google Search and look at the results that come up.
If the results are mostly product pages, then the keyword has a commercial intent. But if the results are mostly blog posts and articles, then the keyword likely has an informational intent.
Analyze your title tags and meta descriptions
Your title tags and meta descriptions are what show up in the search results, so you’ll want to make sure they’re optimized for your target keywords too.
Once you’ve analyzed your title tags and meta descriptions, it’s time to move on to the next step: optimizing your website content.
Evaluate your on-page content strategy
Do you have a content strategy for your eCommerce site? If not, now is the time to create one.
Your content strategy should account for the following:
- The products you sell
- Your target audience
- The keywords you want to rank for
- Filling in any content gaps
If you notice your content strategy has gaps, start creating new content to fill those gaps. Original, high-quality content is essential for ranking in the search engines.
Optimize your existing content
Once you have a solid foundation of content, it’s time to optimize your existing content for your target keywords.
- Updating your old blog posts with new, relevant information.
- Adding new blog posts on topics your customers are interested in.
- Creating new eCommerce-specific pages (AKA: product pages and category pages).
Remember to add alt text for all of your images. Alt text is the text that appears when an image can’t be displayed. Screen readers also use it, so it’s vital to include it for accessibility purposes.
Step 3 of Your eCommerce SEO Audit: The Off-Page SEO Side
Off-page SEO is critical to your eCommerce site’s success, but it’s often overlooked. It involves everything you do to promote your site from your actual website.
These are some of the steps you can take to increase your off-page SEO:
- Get listed in directories
- Submit your website to search engines
- Build backlinks (perform a backlink analysis first to see how many you have)
- Share your content on social media and make sure there are links to your social profiles on your eCommerce site
Traffic and competitors
Finally, be sure to keep track of your website’s traffic and your competitors’ websites. This will give you a good idea of how well your eCommerce SEO strategy works and where you need to improve.
Tracking eCommerce SEO Site Performance
Monitoring your eCommerce site’s performance will help you identify any areas that need improvement.
Here are a few indicators you should track:
- Website traffic (overall and from specific channels)
- Keyword rankings
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Pages per visit
These metrics offer you a nice overview of how your eCommerce site is performing and where you need to focus your efforts.
An eCommerce SEO audit is an essential part of any eCommerce marketing strategy. Regularly auditing your eCommerce site can identify areas that need improvement and make the necessary changes to increase your traffic and conversions. But this takes work and a lot of technical know-how you might not currently possess.
You might be feeling like you’re suffering from information overload right now. The good news? You don’t need to perform an eCommerce SEO audit alone! In fact, we recommend working with an experienced eCommerce SEO agency to help you get the most out of your audit.
At Blue Water Marketing, we have a team of experienced eCommerce SEO specialists who can help you take your eCommerce site and business to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you increase sales.