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E-commerce SEO Audits: Simple Step-by-Step Guide

A graphic that says "E-commerce SEO Audits: Simple Step-by-Step Guide."

Are you struggling to drive organic traffic to your e-commerce store?

Here’s the thing.

You can use one of the best e-commerce platforms, make your store look like a million bucks, and A/B test it to the nth degree. But your store will never reach its peak if you aren’t generating much organic traffic. 

That’s where an e-commerce SEO audit can prove invaluable.

An audit helps you identify areas to improve and gives you a roadmap to better rankings.

In this article, I’ll explain what an e-commerce SEO site audit is, why you need it, and how you can get started using my e-commerce SEO audit checklist.

Key Takeaways

  • An e-commerce SEO audit is a review of your online store’s SEO performance that analyzes a range of on-page, off-page, and technical aspects. 
  • An e-commerce SEO audit can increase traffic, improve your conversion rates, and lower your marketing costs.
  • Technical elements analyzed in an e-commerce SEO audit include Core Web Vitals, crawlability, and site indexation. 
  • An audit analyzes on-page elements such as mobile responsiveness, title tag and meta description optimization, and duplicate content. 
  • Off-page elements you can analyze during an audit include your site’s backlink profile and content gaps. 

What Is an E-commerce SEO Audit?

An e-commerce SEO audit (also known as an e-commerce site audit) is a detailed review of your online store’s health and performance from an SEO perspective. A comprehensive audit will assess multiple aspects of your store, including all of its pages (homepage, category pages, product pages, etc.), its technical performance, and off-page SEO elements like backlinks. 

By running an e-commerce SEO site audit, you can find your site’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities to improve your site’s rankings in Google and other search engines. 

SEO audits can be time-consuming, but you should complete one at least every year. The revenue you generate from higher rankings should more than pay for the time it takes to run an audit. 

Why Is an E-commerce SEO Audit Important?

Why do you need to run an e-commerce site audit, in particular? Part of it is because e-commerce has its own unique needs and considerations.

“There are a few main differences between an e-commerce site and other types of websites,” says William Kammer, VP of SEO at NP Accel. 

“These can be broken down into:

  1. Properly optimizing category and product pages
  2. Establishing different factors between your products and your competitors’
  3. Establishing experience and authority through showing trust and expertise of the team
  4. Ensuring a positive review trajectory of your products through their quality and your customer service, and capturing those reviews in the proper places.”

When you run an e-commerce site audit, you can identify technical issues that are preventing your website from ranking, improve its overall performance, and enhance the user experience.

You can gain other benefits, too, like:

  • Increased traffic: Optimizing your site for search engines can help you rank higher in search results and attract more visitors. After an e-commerce SEO audit, online retailer BOHO Pink increased organic traffic by 114 percent. Just take a look at the graph below. 
A graph from BOHO Pink showcasing their growth after an e-commerce SEO audit.
  • Improved conversion rates: By making your website more visible to potential customers, you’re more likely to convert them into paying customers.
  • Competitive advantage: E-commerce SEO can give you a major competitive edge over other businesses in your industry and keep you ahead of the curve.
  • Lower marketing costs: E-commerce SEO can also help you save money on marketing costs if you’re on a tight budget. By ranking higher in search results, you can get more exposure without having to pay for ads or other marketing campaigns. For more affordable promotion tips, read my article on how to market your e-commerce store on a budget.
  • Improved ROI: With a higher return on investment, e-commerce SEO can be a valuable investment for your business. Don’t believe us? Big Island Coffee Roasters, for example, increased revenue by more than 460 percent. That was after an SEO audit found several high-volume keywords were within striking distance, and rankings could be achieved with on-site optimizations, content refreshes, internal links, and off-site content marketing.  

15 Steps to Perform an E-Commerce SEO Audit

Do you want to make sure you complete the most comprehensive audit possible? Then, follow my in-depth e-commerce SEO audit checklist below. 

I’ll start by sharing my technical SEO auditing tips before moving on to analyzing your existing content and finishing with running a content gap analysis.

1. Check Your Crawlability

Your site’s crawlability determines how well search engine crawlers can browse your website. The easier it is to crawl, the quicker search engines will index your content and the more keywords you’ll rank for. 

You can check your site’s crawl stats using the Crawl Stats Report found on the “Settings” page in Google Search Console:

Google Search Console's Crawl Stats Report.

You’ll want to check for major spikes or drops in crawl requests, which could indicate an issue like a rogue robots.txt file. 

You can also use the grouped crawl data report to find issues like 404 and 500 errors.

Google Search Console's Group Crawl Data Report

2. Check Core Web Vitals

A slow page can drag down the rest of your website and impact your ranking in search engines. That’s why the first step in my e-commerce SEO audit is to check your site’s Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of performance metrics that Google uses to measure the speed and user experience of your website. 

The three Core Web Vitals are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): how quickly the main page content renders
  • Interaction to Next Paint (INP): how long it takes for a browser to respond to a user’s first input. 
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): the extent to which a page’s layout shifts during loading.

Checking your store’s Core Web Vitals is easy. Just head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and enter your domain. 

Core Web Vitals results.

You’ll receive a color-coded assessment and a pass or fail. You can also see how your performance compares between mobile and desktops. 

Scroll down further, and Google provides tips for improving your site’s performance. 

Suggestions from Google Pagespeed Insights to improve site performance.

There are always things you can do to improve your Core Web Vitals. Even Amazon can improve, as you can see in the image above!

Other tactics you can use to improve your store’s load time include:

1. Evaluate your hosting situation: Try using dedicated rather than shared hosting. 

2. Use a caching plugin: Caching can dramatically improve your page speed.

3. Optimize your images: Images are often the heaviest elements on a page, so reducing their file size can greatly impact load time. 

If you spot several issues, you may want to use a tool like Screaming Frog to analyze every page on your website and see which ones are returning an error code. 

3. Run an Indexation Analysis

An indexation analysis helps you find which of your website pages the search engines are indexing. If the search engines aren’t indexing your pages, it means:

  • Your pages won’t show up in search results.
  • PageRank (an algorithm that Google uses to rank websites in their search engine results) suffers.
  • Your ability to rank for certain keywords suffers.

Indexing issues can occur when there are too many auto-generated URLs or when web pages have poor internal linking. Google also doesn’t index every page.

You can track indexing using a tool like Google Search Console and view the ‘Index Coverage Report’.

Google Search Advocate Daniel Waisberg shows you how in the YouTube video below:

4. Check Your Sitemap

A sitemap is an XML file listing every page on your website. It helps search engine crawlers navigate your site and understand its structure and hierarchy. 

The good news is that most CMS and e-commerce platforms automatically generate an XML sitemap of your store. But you’ll still want to check it’s there and make sure it’s accurate.

If you can’t find it, you’ll need to upload your sitemap to Google Search Console. Just click Sitemap in the left-hand menu bar, add the URL of your store’s sitemap, and click SUBMIT

A sitemap added to Google Search Console.


You’ll also want to check your robots.txt file, which tells search engine crawlers which pages to crawl and which to avoid. This is particularly important for e-commerce sites due to the increased risk of duplicate content from category pages and product descriptions and the fact that e-commerce stores tend to have many more pages than your average website. 


Virtually every e-commerce platform or CMS, like WordPress, will have a way of altering your robots.txt file. I recommend adding the following parts of your store to your file:

  • Shopping cart
  • Checkout 
  • Account
  • Login and signup
  • On-site search pages

Finally, test whether your robots.txt file is working correctly using Google Search Console. 

Click on Crawl and choose robots.txt Tester, and the site will show you if there are any errors.

5. Verify You’re Using HTTPS

HTTPS is a security protocol that encrypts communication between a website and a user’s web browser, protecting sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers.

Do you want a reason to adopt HTTPS? I can do better than that. I’ll give you three:

  1. HTTPS gives your visitors confidence
  2. Google’s Chrome browser marks pages without SSL as ‘Not Secure’.
  3. Google started using HTTPS as a ranking signal back in 2014.

The long and short of it? HTTPS encryption should give you more organic traffic. 

Now you know why you should upgrade from HTTPS, here’s how to do it:

  • Get an SSL certificate from a free or premium provider.
  • Install your certificate on your server. The exact process varies depending on your server software, but most servers make it fairly straightforward.
  • That’s it! Once you install your SSL certificate, visitors to your website can see an ‘HTTPS’ in the URL, and their browser will show a lock icon.
The symbol that shows a SSL certificate on Neil Patel.com

You can double-check it’s working by ensuring your URL bar looks like the image above.

6. Ensure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly

If you want to rank well on search engines, you need a mobile-friendly website.

Why?

Because Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking. If your mobile website is slow, unresponsive, and unoptimized, then you’re not going to rank. 

The good news is that your site’s mobile-friendliness can be easily checked during your e-commerce SEO audit using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. 

If the test flags up room for improvement, here are some tips to make your site mobile-friendly:

  • Use responsive design so that your site automatically resizes to fit any device screen size.
  • Reduce image size.
  • Use fonts and designs that are easy to read on a small screen.
  • Disable JavaScript or minimalize it where possible.

Finally, keep your content, images, and coding lightweight to speed up loading times and test your site on different devices.

7. Fix Broken Links

Broken links can happen for a number of reasons, but it’s usually because the page that the link is pointing to gets moved or deleted.

These broken links can provide a poor user experience when visitors don’t find the content they’re looking for. That can lead to dissatisfied customers, higher bounce rates, and lower conversions.

But don’t worry, I’ve got a quick fix.

Ahrefs has a free broken links checker, but you’ll need to upgrade for a full report. Or try Screaming Frog; just download the SEO Spider to find them.

Then, either redirect or update the link.

8. Canonicalize or Remove Duplicate Content

There are plenty of misunderstandings around duplicate content, so let’s clear one thing up: Google doesn’t ‘punish’ duplicates. However, if you’ve got an e-commerce store, you probably have multiple listings that are the same, like item descriptions or user guides.

In this case, search engines won’t always know which page to index, and may index the wrong one.

That’s not ideal, but there’s a quick solution. Free content checkers like Siteliner and ScreamingFrog check for duplicate content.

If you’re using ScreamingFrog:

  • Crawl your website using the SEO spider
  • Check duplicates under the ‘content’ tab. You can choose from near or exact duplicates from the dropdown menu
Duplicate content results in ScreamingFrog
  • Complete a crawl analysis
  • View duplicates under the ‘Duplicate Details’ heading
  • Download your bulk duplicate reports

To fix duplicates, you can add canonical tags to indicate which page you want search engines to index.

9. Optimize Your Title Tags And Meta Descriptions

Analyzing and optimizing title tags and meta descriptions are fundamental to any e-commerce SEO audit.

To increase click-through rates, your meta descriptions must be clear, concise, and relevant to what users are searching for. Title tags should also be accurate and descriptive.

You can quickly find the page title and meta description of any of your store’s pages using the Detailed SEO Extension.

It instantly provides a snapshot of each page’s title, description, URL, and canonical URL. 

Results from the Detailed SEO Extension Chrome extension.

You can find the page titles and meta descriptions for every page on your site in one go by running a Screaming Frog site audit.

10. Optimize Existing Category Pages

Category pages don’t often get the same level of attention as product pages, but they are incredibly important for helping search engine crawlers understand your site’s hierarchy. 

That’s why I recommend evaluating the structure of your category pages as part of an e-commerce audit. 

Ideally, your site should have a structure similar to Apple, where every product fits neatly under a specific category or subcategory. 

The Apple website's category breakdowns.

Your URLs should also follow your category pages. 

So if you have a “dresses” category on your online clothes shop, then a product URL should look something like:

onlinestore.com/dresses/red-dress

You’ll also want to improve the on-page optimization of category pages using the following tips:

  • Check your page title tags and meta descriptions to ensure they are optimized for your target keywords.
  • Use breadcrumbs to help customers navigate between product pages and category pages.
  • Use high-quality, engaging product photos. Category pages are all about selling your products, so make sure the photos you use are enticing and give shoppers a good sense of what the product looks like.
The climbing gear page of REI.

REI’s category pages are a great example of what an optimized category page should look like, including links to different product sub-categories and brands, a list of the top climbing products, and links to other related categories. 

11. Optimize Existing Product Pages

If you want your store to rank higher and get more organic traffic, then you must optimize your product pages for search engines and users.

Start this part of the audit process by checking to see whether your product pages have lost or gained ranks. Ubersuggest’s rank tracking feature is a great way to see how your site’s rankings change over time.

If you find one or two pages where rankings have fallen, then use these tips to improve your product page’s on-page SEO: 

  1. Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions: Create accurate and descriptive page titles and meta descriptions that describe your product using relevant keywords. This will help search engines and consumers understand what each page is about.
  2. Optimize your images: Include alt text for easier indexing and to improve accessibility.
  3. Include keywords naturally: Incorporate each page’s target keywords into your product descriptions, but don’t overdo it. It should still make for an enticing read. 
  4. Add structured data: Schema has a number of product-related structured data tags you can use to help search engine crawlers understand and index your product pages. 
  5. Use pricing strategies to your advantage: Offer discounts, free shipping, etc., and promote these offers on social media. Use promotional tools like coupons and special offers to drive traffic to your listing.

Here’s an example of a well-optimized product page you should emulate:

A well-optimized product page from Momentous.

This page from supplement company Momentous has clear pricing, detailed product descriptions, usage directions, FAQs, customer reviews, and related products.

You should also take this opportunity to optimize your product pages for conversions. Adding FAQs, customer reviews, and other forms of social proof is a great way to ensure you convert as many organic visitors as possible. 

12. Add or Optimize Internal Links

An internal link is a hyperlink connecting two pages on the same website. Internal linking is important for two main reasons:

1. It helps search engines understand your website structure and crawl your site more effectively.

2. It can help increase the ranking of individual pages by spreading link equity (or ‘link juice’) around your site.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have a blog post about the different types of jeans. In that post, you could internally link to relevant product or category pages so users can quickly move from reading your article to purchasing a pair of jeans. 

As part of your e-commerce SEO audit, be sure to check:

  1. All links are working correctly. Sitechecker offers a free fourteen-day-trial. Or you could try SEOptimer, which also offers a free website audit.
  2. Your links are relevant to the page they’re on. Irrelevant links can confuse search engines and may also hurt your ranking.
  3. Use keyword-rich anchor text for your internal links.

13. Add or Optimize Alt Text

Search engines use alt text to understand what an image is about and if it’s relevant to the user’s query. If an image doesn’t have alt text, or if the alt text is not descriptive enough, it can hurt your website’s ranking and visibility.

Here’s an example of what good and bad alt text look like for this image from The North Face’s online store. 

A page from The North Face's website.

Great Alt description for SEO: Man in The North Face pants and shoes walking on a log.

Okay Alt description for SEO: Man wearing The North Face pants and shoes.

Poor Alt description for SEO: Man on a log.

You can check the alt text of an image in Chrome by right-clicking on an image and selecting “Inspect”. If it is not there, or if it is not descriptive, then edit the code to add or improve it.

14. Check Your Backlinks

Every website needs quality backlinks from relevant websites. They are one of the most important ranking factors, and getting more backlinks can send your rankings soaring.

Try my Free Backlink Checker to find out how many backlinks you’ve got. Just enter your domain or URL and click submit.

Neil Patel's Backlink Checker.

If you think you have a low-quality link profile (or barely any links at all) when running your e-commerce SEO audit, then use my tips below to build more:

  • Mine your competitors’ backlinks: One of the easiest ways to get more backlinks is to build links that your competitors already benefit from. Enter your competitors’ URLs into my free tool, sort the results by page authority, and start working through them one by one to see if you can get a link of your own. 
  • Create valuable content: While it’s not necessary to have a blog, producing high-quality articles gives you keyword opportunities, a chance to demonstrate your expertise, and to promote new products. Over time, this can attract higher-quality links.
  • Participate in online forums and discussion groups relevant to your niche: Online forums can be a great way to add high-quality links to your profile and acquire users with a high purchase intent.  
  • Write guest posts: Find other blogs in your niche and write guest posts. It’s one of the easiest ways to get a backlink, and some blogs will even pay you for it.

15. Determine Your Content Gaps

A content gap analysis is an audit of a website’s existing content to identify opportunities to create new content.

Conducting a content gap analysis lets you hone in on exactly which topics you need to write about and which pieces of existing content need to be updated or expanded upon. It’s the perfect way to find new topics for your blog. 

My SEO tool, Ubersuggest, is a great way to uncover content gaps on your site. In fact, I’ve written an entire blog article devoted to the topic of finding content gaps, which will teach you everything you need to know. 

Ubersuggest's Content Gap tools.

Finally, for a better understanding of what e-commerce customers want and the kind of questions they’re asking, use AnswerThePublic. This tool serves up hundreds of relevant questions when you enter a seed keyword. 

AnswerThePublic's homepage.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of this topic, read my article on how to find and fix content gaps.

FAQs

Are SEO Audits Worth It?

An audit can be immensely helpful for your e-commerce SEO. By taking a close look at your site, you can identify areas for improvement and make the changes necessary to boost your rankings.

How Do You Conduct SEO Audits?

Using my e-commerce SEO checklist makes the whole process much easier. Make sure you dedicate a day to running a comprehensive audit. Otherwise, you risk rushing the process. 

Use tools to make the process easier. Screaming Frog can highlight errors, for example, and Ubersuggest can provide relevant keywords, competitor analysis, and more.

What Tools Can I Use To Conduct SEO Audits?

There are several you can use to conduct an e-commerce SEO audit. Ubersuggest gives you keywords, competitive analysis, and article ideas, for example. You can also use Screaming Frog to run a technical audit of your website, and PageSpeed Insights to identify performance problems. 

Conclusion

E-commerce SEO audits are a necessary part of any digital marketing strategy. They help you identify areas for improvement and make sure your conversion rate optimization efforts aren’t let down by a lack of traffic.

Although an e-commerce SEO audit is sometimes a huge undertaking, it’s worth it in the long term. Hopefully, my e-commerce SEO audit checklist will help. Just make sure your audit covers all the above points and that you audit your store regularly to get the best results. 

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