These days you can’t just build a website and expect people to find you. There are literally billions of webpages on the internet and competition is fierce. If you’re to stand any chance of attracting organic traffic you need to be constantly evaluating and improving your site.
If you own a site for the purpose of selling your products then you have the added stress of converting your audience. But did you know that an ecommerce SEO audit can help with both?
Today we’re going to show you how to audit your ecommerce site to improve not only organic traffic and rankings but also conversions. After all, that’s surely what you’re here for, right?
Why do I Need an Ecommerce SEO Audit?
Did you know that one in four of us shop online at least once a week? With worldwide online sales estimated to reach around $2489 trillion by 2018 online retailing is not only growing in popularity - it really is a big business, with big competition.
The difficulty for many ecommerce sites is that you’ll be competing with online giants like Amazon and eBay. If you’re going to stand any chance of appearing on page 1 on Google then you’ll need to develop a strong ecommerce SEO strategy and this can only be developed once you have a good understanding of what elements on your site need improving.
Google examines sites in order to make a decision about where they should appear in its result pages. The elements that it examines are called ranking signals and there are over 200 of them.
The best way of identifying and improving these ‘signals’ is by performing an ecommerce SEO audit. Comprehensive audits like WooRank will assess the most significant of these ranking signals to identify where your site can improve. Putting these things right will increase your chances of ranking highly in SERPs and will help increase organic traffic to your site.
How to do an SEO Audit on an ecommerce site.
Doing an SEO audit on an ecommerce site is no different to any other site audit and it’s important to understand that improving all SEO elements will help to achieve greater rank and conversions. However, there are elements that will have a greater impact on ecommerce sites so we’ll be going into more detail about these along the way.
The first step is to use a tool like WooRank to get a good understanding of how your site performs overall and aspects require improvement or urgent attention.
So let’s take a look at the results in bit more detail.
Meta tags, HTML header tags, and keyword consistency. If you’re using a Project you can add your competitors for a side-by-side comparison throughout. For ecommerce sites, you should be evaluating these to ensure that your pages’ keywords are included in these elements. Doing this gives both users and search engines a clearer idea as to what the content on your page is about.
Assess your meta descriptions to ensure that they are punchy enough to grab attention and entice users into clicking through to your page.
Use the tool to see if your site has a robots.txt and XML sitemap. This is vital to helping search bots find, crawl and index your site.
Check how many pages have been discovered. If the number here is much less than you’d expect, then your pages aren’t being indexed by Google and won’t be showing up in SERPs. Use the SEO crawler to crawl of your entire site and diagnose any problems that could be hindering your site from being crawled and indexed.
Links between pages and broken links are also identified here. Since broken links are bad for the user experience you’ll want to address these by using a tool like Check My Links (Chrome extension) throughout your site.
In this section, you can also check if your site is resolving to your preferred domain. If it doesn’t Google will see all instances of your site as duplicate data which will have a detrimental impact on your site’s ability to rank. (We’ll talk more about duplicate content later on).
Audit your site for blocking factors like flash or frames. Remember, Flash isn’t compatible with all smartphones so if your customers tend to make purchases from handheld devices you’ll want to get rid of any Flash components if you care about the experience being had.
WooRank provides an excellent overview of your mobile site.
Here you can check to see how your site renders across devices and more importantly, how quick and user-friendly it is.
Check to see if your content is compatible across touchscreens. More specifically are important buttons and call to actions (CTAs) large enough to be touched without the need to pinch and zoom.
It’s a well-known fact that web users are an impatient bunch. If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load almost half of your users will abandon your site. Mobile users are even more impatient so you need to concentrate on improving your site’s speed.
So it’s no mystery why speed will a massive impact on your SEO.
Your SEO audit will identify files that are slowing down your page’s speed:
- Compression: Compression reduces the size of a file and can help reduce load time by up to 90%, and all modern browsers are able to handle gzip compression. Learn how to enable gzip on your server here.
- Caching: Uncached files have to be downloaded every time a user visits a page, which is a major drag on speed. Use Cache-Control headers to define how long a browser should cache a particular asset.
- Image Optimization: Google recommends using lossy compression for images because you can get away with losing some data without having much of an impact on how we interpret the image. It’s also possible you used HTML to resize the image on your page, instead of changing the file size. This can cause reduced load time due to large file size.
An ecommerce site will only ever be as good as its ability to convert and slow pages don’t convert. If your business only exists online then conversion is everything.
One of the most crucial aspects of an ecommerce SEO audit is ensuring your site is fully secure. If you want people to buy from your site they need to be reassured that your site is trustworthy and safe.
For a while now Google has been calling out all non HTTPS (SSL secure) sites as being ‘Not secure’ in the browser bar, which will look something like this.
On top of this, Google gives a slight boost to URLs that use HTTPS.
Couple this with the fact that users will be deterred from buying anything from a non-secure site and you can see why we’re emphasizing this point. If you’re not sure if your domain is secure, check with a WooRank review and follow this guide on how to migrate your site.
However, migrating your pages to HTTPS isn’t enough. You must ensure that all of your images, scripts and video are also on HTTPS URLs. Use an SEO crawler to uncover any instances of less-than-secure pages.
It’s no secret that quality backlinks are integral to SEO. With as much focus on quality as you can get.
Therefore, your SEO audit must also focus on determining not only the number of backlinks but the quality of each of those backlinks.
WooRank’s free SEO audit will count the number backlinks pointing to your site and the overall quality of your link profile. With a Project, you can analyze quality data about each individual link:
- Referring URL
- Anchor text used
- Destination URL on your site
Perform a Site Crawl
Many ecommerce sites suffer from duplicate content issues caused by their ecommerce platform. If your site allows users to filter products by category, item types, color, etc. it’s likely your site will show duplicate content.
For every instance that a product appears Google will class this as duplicate content. To get around this you should be using canonical tags which tell search engines which bits of content are the original and which bits to ignore.
However, with an ecommerce site, you’ve likely got way too many pages to check this yourself.
Use an SEO crawler to check through all of your pages to make sure canonical tags have been implemented correctly.
Your crawl results will also help you find instances of broken links hidden deep in your internal pages as well as pages that return HTTP error codes. Too many of either of these errors can lead to Google booting your pages from its index.
Go Even Deeper
SEO audits are incredibly important for ecommerce sites, particularly when trying to avoid duplicate content issues and creating a mobile friendly site. Especially when you consider Google's shift to a mobile-first index.
Now no matter what type of website you have, uncover even the smallest details with the ultimate SEO audit for your site.