eCommerce stores should always be optimizing (ABO). An eCommerce SEO audit and strategy will help you optimize your website and increase organic traffic and conversions.
The purpose of an SEO site audit is to ensure that your website is optimized to your customers’ expectations and search engine best practices.
Search engines use complex algorithms with multiple ranking factors to deliver the most relevant search results for user queries. These algorithms are constantly being updated so as to only display search results from relevant and updated websites. This is why it’s so important to periodically conduct SEO audits of your website to ensure that it remains relevant regardless of the changes to Google’s algorithm.
What Is an eCommerce SEO Audit?
An eCommerce SEO Audit is an extensive review of your eCommerce website’s SEO efforts accompanied by recommendations on how to supercharge your eCommerce growth. It helps you figure out which SEO issues your website has, which issues to prioritize, and how to increase your organic reach, traffic, and conversions.
Essentially, an eCommerce SEO audit points out the problems, if any, and how to fix them. It helps you figure out how to optimize your website better and increase organic traffic.
Why Is An eCommerce SEO Audit Important?
An eCommerce SEO audit takes stock of your current SEO efforts and incoming organic traffic. Just like any other channel, maintaining and growing your traffic source is crucial to surviving and thriving in business.
But unlike paid channels, organic traffic is long-term. The effort that you put in today will likely benefit your business years down the road, which makes it that much more important.
Organic traffic is typically one of the highest converting channels, if you’ve done your keyword research correctly when building your content strategy.
How To Audit an eCommerce Website
We typically use SEMrush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and an extensive manual review to conduct eCommerce SEO audits. These tools will help with technical SEO issues and traffic data but there’s nothing like manually reviewing your most important web pages.
What To Look For In An SEO eCommerce Audit/ SEO Audit Checklist
There are very important things that you must access while you’re running your eCommerce website audit and they are:
- Technical SEO
- Website architecture
- User experience
- Off-page SEO
- On-page SEO & CRO
- Competitive analysis
- SEO Content
The technical SEO of your website requires analyzing the structure of your website and its relevance, indexing, and ranking of the website by search engine crawlers. It examines and recommends fixes for indexing, duplicate content, 404 errors, broken internal links, your XML sitemap, and more.
For eCommerce specifically, you’ll want to make sure that you have product structured data schema in place for your product pages.
The discoverability of a website is hinged on the internal and external links and this is how search engine crawlers are able to discover your website’s content. These crawlers, through the links, analyze the structure of your website and deduce its relevance and ranking in SERPs.
The homepage is your most important page. The crawler crawls all links from your homepage and determines how important they are based on the crawl depth and the number of internal and external links pointing to it.
Indexing comes before everything when ranking. If it’s not indexed then it can’t rank in SERPs. So, if your webpage isn’t optimized and relevant for a specific search term, search engines won’t send their users to it.
Your XML sitemap should contain all the indexed pages on your website. It’s important to make sure that your sitemap is auto-populating when pages are added or removed from your website.
Having pages in your XML sitemap that no longer exist and vice versa will cause technical SEO issues and will make it tougher for you to rank in SERPs. The XML sitemap is what is submitted to Google Search Console and is the first place that Google’s crawler will crawl so it’s important to make sure that it’s up-to-date and optimized.
For eCommerce websites, we’ll also want to make sure that we have an XML sitemap index and separate sitemaps for blog posts and product pages. That way if there’s ever an issue with a product page it’s easier to identify and fix.
No Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content refers to content that appears on several pages either on the same domain or across many domains. Most eCommerce websites have filter pages that create the risk of having duplicate content.
Duplicate content arises from filtering products based on some specifications, and copying and pasting product descriptions from manufacturers. An SEO audit helps to detect and prevent the presence of duplicate content by the introduction of canonical tags. These tags specify to search engines which URL they should index and rank.
No Broken Internal Links, 404 Errors, and Redirect Loops
A technical SEO audit will detect if there are any broken links or 404 errors. Broken links typically occur if a page has been (un)intentionally deleted from a website or two pages are accidentally linked together with the same URL. Broken links distort the user experience and also make it difficult for search engine crawlers to crawl your website.
404 errors really hinder the user experience when a user lands on one, no matter how great your 404 page is. If dozens of broken links or 404 pages are discovered it will severely impact your chances of ranking high in SERPs. The technical SEO portion of the SEO audit helps you find these issues and fix them before your users find them.
A redirect loop is another version of a 404 error and it is essentially a redirect that redirects too many times. This happens when you redirect an old page to a new one and then later on you redirect that new page to a newer page. We want to avoid redirect loops because they’re essentially 404 pages that take even longer to get to.
This ensures a safe connection to your website. The SSL certificate used by HTTPS encrypts the data that is transferred from the website to the server. You must ensure that all your website data is hosted on a secure URL using the HTTPS protocol. Enforcing HTTPS on all your pages is a best practice because Google has confirmed that it is a ranking signal.
An on-page analysis is focused on a webpage’s content strategy as well as the HTML elements that allow search engines to recognize the relevance of the webpage during a search query. Every on-page optimization done on the webpage should be based on keyword research. Keyword research determines your title tag, meta description, heading, and interlinking.
eCommerce Customer Service Content
eCommerce Customer Service Content is one of the most important on-page SEO optimizations that an eCommerce website can make. This refers to the SEO-optimized content that is below your product listings on your product listing page.
Take a closer look next time you’re ordering from a larger retailer such as Amazon, Best Buy, and others. You’ll notice that they all this customer service content.
The purpose of this content is to answer frequently asked questions while also giving your page a better chance of ranking in SERPs. When selecting which questions to answer, you want to make sure you’re using target keywords and semantically related keywords in your answers.
Crawl Depth and Orphan Pages
The crawl depth refers to the number of clicks it takes, from the homepage, to reach a page on your website. Crawl depth is important because search engine crawlers consider your homepage your most valuable page and then they value each other page based on the crawl depth, among other factors.
An orphan page is a page that doesn’t have any links pointing to it. A crawl depth is taken during an SEO audit and it is used to find orphan pages and important pages with a crawl depth of more than 3.
You can improve your crawl depth by improving your internal linking. Adding links to the header and/or footer is a quick way to lower your crawl depth.
Title Tags and Meta Description
Title tags appear when the webpage is displayed in SERP, browser tab title and when you share the link on social media. Since it appears in these places, the primary keyword of the page should always be in the title tag.
Meta descriptions are very important in boosting click-through rates. Although it doesn’t determine the ranking of your webpage, it increases traffic to your website.
Keyword research and competitive analysis are always essential when doing SEO. It’s too much to get into for this article so I’ve linked out to some useful blog posts throughout this article that will help with keyword research.
Through keyword research and keyword mapping, you want to make sure that every single product page is SEO-optimized for a unique target keyword.
Here’s how to quickly conduct keyword mapping for your individual product pages:
- Export a list of all of your URLs along with their SEO title and meta description to a spreadsheet. ScreamingFrog is a great tool for getting this information. If you’re using WordPress with the Pro feature of Yoast then you can also export the target keyword from the Yoast field as well.
- Once you have a list of all of your product URLs, add a column for the target keyword and fill in the target keyword for each product URL. You can deduce the target keyword from the URL, SEO title, and meta description. If you can’t, then the page isn’t correctly optimized for a target keyword. Make note of it and come back to it.
- As you go through all links, make note of pages with no target keyword, irrelevant or incorrect target keywords, and keyword cannibalization issues.
- Once you’ve built your list of pages that need new keywords, conduct keyword research and optimize each individual page for the new target keyword.
linking all your web pages makes it easier for search engine crawlers to navigate your site and find all the important pages. More so, it makes it easier for users to find your products if they’re linked throughout blog posts and “Related Products” sections.
This refers to all external backlinks and signals that can influence your eCommerce website’s ranking in SERPs. You can conduct a backlink audit using SEMrush to see what percentage of your backlinks are higher quality or low quality.
You can also view backlinks that you’ve recently lost and reach out to the webmaster to regain that backlink if you choose to.
Content Gaps and Opportunities
By running a keyword gap analysis against your competitors, you’re able to not only find keyword and content gaps but also potentially content type gaps.
By analyzing your competitors’ top pages you’re able to see which types of content are driving the most organic traffic. Maybe they have an infographic that is outranking all of their product pages or maybe it’s a guide or landing page.
By finding and filling the gaps you’re creating comprehensive coverage on your website and giving yourself a much better chance of ranking in SERPs.
Your website should always meet the expectations of the user and search engines. For example, no user or search engine would like to be on a website that is extremely slow to load. For eCommerce websites specifically, this can lead to cart abandonment and that can decrease your conversion rate.
Although it takes time, with SEO tools at your disposal, and some experience, you can learn how to quickly conduct audits and spot these issues whenever you’re browsing your eCommerce store. You can also choose to hire an eCommerce growth agency to take care of all your eCommerce needs.
As already stated, different aspects of SEO optimization act together to make your website trustworthy, not for the search engines alone, but for your potential customers. As an eCommerce business, it is important to have a reliable website.
Derek is a digital marketer based in Boston, Massachusetts with almost a decade of hands-on SEO experience. He finds it meaningful, challenging, and exciting to develop, test, and implement new SEO strategies. When he’s not auditing websites and optimizing content he’s usually backpacking and exploring new cultures.