Neil Patel

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

Graphic saying E-commerce SEO Audits: Simple Step By Step Guide

Is your e-commerce store failing to set the online world alight? Or could it just use a boost?

Here’s the thing.

You can build your store on one of the best e-commerce platforms around, make it look like a million dollars, and create enticing descriptions. However, if you want your store to reach peak performance, your SEO needs to be ship-shape too. That’s where an audit can prove invaluable.

Although an e-commerce SEO audit is sometimes a huge undertaking, it’s worth it in the long term. An audit enables you to identify areas that need improvement and gives you a roadmap for enhancing your store’s rankings.

Then, once you’ve ensured your SEO is optimal, it’s highly likely you’ll start reaping the rewards in the form of added visibility.

You know why that’s important? Because the higher up your site is in the search engines, the more likely you are to get click-throughs.

According to research from Sistrix, the click-through rate for the first result on Google is 28.5 percent, with rates falling significantly after that. The second position earns a 15.7 percent click-through, and the third position gets 11 percent.

Go even further down, and the tenth position barely gets a look in with a mere 2.5 percent of clicks.

Now that you know what an audit could do for your website, it’s time to learn more about what it involves.

What Is An E-commerce SEO Audit?

An e-commerce SEO audit is a process where you analyze your website’s health and implement the recommended improvements. Hopefully, your efforts result in higher page rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs), more traffic, and improved conversions.

A full audit covers multiple aspects of your e-commerce site, but let’s begin with two main areas: product pages and category pages.

Product Pages

Don’t get so focused on your home pages and category pages ranking that you forget about optimizing your product pages.

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

Here are a few tips on optimizing your product pages for e-commerce SEO:

1. Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions: The title and description of your product page should include relevant keywords that describe your product, helping search engines understand what your page and organic searchers to get started. For keywords, use a tool like Ubersuggest.

2. Optimize your images: Include alt text for easier indexing, and to improve accessibility.

3. Keep your product page structure simple and logical: For instance, group items in categories and then in subcategories, like in this example:

Graphic of good vs. bad website structure for ecommerce seo audits.

4. Write detailed meta descriptions and include keywords: This is the first thing your leads see, so ensure each meta is descriptive and enticing.

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.

Category Page

By analyzing your category pages during an e-commerce SEO audit, you can identify areas where your site may be lacking and make changes.

Some of these steps are similar to product page optimization, but here are a few tips:

  1. Check your page title tags and meta descriptions to ensure they are optimized for your target keywords.
  2. Next, take a look at the overall structure of your pages and check they are easy for search engines to crawl. (more about this later).
  3. Keep your categories well-organized and easy to navigate. Shoppers should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and without any hassle.
  4. 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.

That’s product and category pages covered. Now let’s discuss why audits are so crucial.

Why Is An E-commerce SEO Audit Important?

An e-commerce SEO audit is important for many reasons. It can help 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: By optimizing your site for search engines, you can rank higher in search results and attract more visitors.
  • 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.

Let’s move on to the checklist.

What To Check For When Auditing For E-commerce

An e-commerce SEO audit s many areas. Here I detail some of the core areas that every audit should contain. However, don’t forget to cater an audit to your website’s specific needs. For instance, if you have problems converting, then you need to focus on on-page SEO, keywords, and optimizing category pages. Whatever the issue is, always have an end goal in mind while putting your audit plan together.

On-Page SEO

This means optimizing your website for the search engines by including the right keywords, titles, and descriptions. There are plenty of tools available to do this. I’ve already mentioned Ubersuggest, but Semrush and Ahrefs are great options, too.

When you’ve found your target keywords, add them to:

  • Titles
  • Images
  • Descriptions
  • URLs
  • Meta and Title tag descriptions
  • Product pages, tags, and categories
  • Content
  • Headings (H1,H2, etc.)
  • FAQ pages

Also, give your customers the chance to leave reviews for additional optimization.

Technical SEO is every bit as vital as on-page SEO. Let’s discuss that next.

Technical SEO

A technical SEO audit is a comprehensive analysis of your website’s technical aspects that could negatively impact your website’s search engine position.

Technical SEO includes your website’s architecture, coding, and structure. It checks for:

  • Indexation and crawlability issues
  • Page titles and title tags
  • Canonical and hreflang tags
  • Schema mark up
  • Image issues (like broken images)
  • Internal and external links

An e-commerce SEO technical audit also checks mobile friendliness. In the following sections, I’ll cover many of these areas. However, you can use tools like HubSpot’s WebGrader, Screaming Frog, or Moz for a detailed analysis.

One essential area of technical SEO is crawlability, which I’ll talk about next.

Crawlability

Do you want a simple way to get indexed more quickly? Then check your crawlability. If the search engines send out their crawlers, it assesses these main factors:

  • Content: Is the content easy to understand? Is it properly organized?
  • Design: Is it easy for searchers to find what they’re looking for? Are all links working?
  • Code: Is the code clean and well-written? Does it adhere to best practices for accessibility?

That means you want to be sure all of these core areas are working as they should, but where do you begin?

If you’re a Google user, do a scan with its Search Console:

Screenshot of Google Search Console for ecommerce seo audits.

You can also find crawling problems with Screaming Frog.

Once you have a full analysis, you can address any issues one-by-one.

Another crucial area is indexation analysis. I’ll talk about this next.

Indexation Analysis

During e-commerce SEO audits, an index analysis helps you find which of your website pages the search engines are indexing. You can track indexing using a tool like Google Search Console and view the ‘Index Coverage Report’.

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.
  • Ability to rank for certain keywords suffers.

According to Google’s John Mueller, indexing issues occur when there are too many autogenerated URLs or when webpages have bad internal linking. Mueller also points out that Google doesn’t index every page.

Is there a solution to indexing issues? You bet there is! Mueller suggests limiting the number of web pages, as detailed in this YouTube clip.

To find indexing issues, use a tool like Google Search Console.

You’ve got indexing covered. Now it’s time to consider HTTPS and whether you want to upgrade your URL.

HTTPS (Site Security)

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.

Now you know why you should upgrade, here’s how to fix it.

To upgrade:

  • Get an SSL certificate from a free or paid provider.
  • Some providers, like GoDaddy, require you to generate a CSR (certificate signing request) prior to requesting the certificate.
  • Once you have your certificate, install it 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.

For those installing HTTPS, Google has these tips:

  • Break your move into smaller steps to test the impact on your site and possible indexing issues.
  • Move your site during low-traffic times.
  • If you’re changing your web address, do an A/B test so you can monitor traffic, indexing, and crawling.

With HTTPS covered, let’s move on to the next section.

Title Tags And Meta Descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions are fundamental to any e-commerce SEO audit.

They are important in convincing users to click through to your site. Therefore, you must make your meta descriptions clear, concise, and relevant to what users are searching for. Title tags should be accurate and descriptive of the page content.

You can find title tags and meta descriptions by clicking ‘view source’ This brings up the HTML source code:

Screenshot of an HTML source code for ecommerce seo audits.

(Source)

Once you’ve found the meta or title tags in the HTML, you can edit them accordingly.

You should be a good way through your e-commerce SEO audit by now. Next, I discuss the age-old issue of duplicate content and what to do about it.

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. For example, item descriptions or user guides.

In this case, the search engines don’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
Screenshot of ScreamingFrog, a tool for ecommerce seo audits.
  • 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.

You’ve fixed duplicates. Next, it’s time to search for possible gaps.

Determine Content Gaps

A content gap analysis is an audit of a website’s existing content to identify where there are opportunities for 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.

You can find content gaps with tools like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs. Ubersuggest also includes competitor analysis and SEO features.

Finally, for a better understanding of what e-commerce customers want and the kind of questions they’re asking, the AnswerThePublic search listening site is a useful resource.

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

Not too long to go now, and your e-commerce SEO audit will soon be over. Next, I’ll move on to broken links and how to fix them.

Broken Links

Broken links can happen for a number of reasons, but most often, it’s 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 and everyone knows what that means: dissatisfied customers, higher bounce rates, and lower conversions.

Never mind, 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.

You’ve fixed broken links. Alt text is up next.

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:

Perfect Alt for SEO: Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris surrounded by clouds

Decent Alt for SEO: Notre Dame de Paris

Bad alt for SEO: Cathedral

Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris surrounded by clouds

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

We’re almost done, internal linking is up next.

Internal Linking

An internal link is a hyperlink connecting to another page 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 ‘How To Do an E-commerce SEO Audit.’ In that post, you could internally link to another post about ‘The Benefits of Internal Linking.’

By doing this, you’re not only helping search engines better understand your site, you’re also giving the second blog post a little boost in terms of ranking.

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

1. All links are working correctly. Sitechecker offers a free seven-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 hurt your ranking as well.

3. Use keyword-rich anchor text for your internal links.

Now you know how to fix internal link issues, keyword usage is up next.

Keyword Usage

Keywords are one of the most important elements of SEO, so it’s essential you’re using them effectively. An e-commerce SEO audit can help you identify opportunities and make adjustments to ensure your website is optimized for search engines.

You can break this part down into steps:

  • Complete competitor research. Ubersuggest is ideal for this.
  • Spot keyword gaps that your competitors aren’t covering,
  • Write content around those keywords, update meta descriptions, and refresh old content.

You should have your keyword strategy sorted by now. Let’s move on to backlinks.

Quality Backlinks

Every website needs quality backlinks or links from relevant websites. The search engines consider them an endorsement, and enough backlinks can improve your visibility on search engines.

Try my Backlinks tool to find out how many backlinks you’ve got; just enter your domain or URL and click submit.

If you spot any low-quality links while doing an e-commerce SEO audit, or you could use some more, it’s time to start rethinking your strategy. Here’s how:

  • Start with your target audience: If you want to get links from high-traffic websites, start by targeting sites that are relevant to your niche. For example, if you sell e-commerce products, you might want to target sites that focus on shopping or specific types of shopping, such as online auctions or classified ads.
  • 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.
  • Ensure your website is well-designed and easy to navigate: This makes it easier for people to find what they’re looking for and encourage them to leave a link in their comments or on social media.
  • Participate in online forums and discussion groups relevant to your niche: Before sharing, check if it’s OK to add links.
  • 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 pay.

UX

Do you want your visitors to feel good when they visit your website? Or do you want them to get frustrated because they can’t find what they’re looking for? Or maybe the aesthetics of your website aren’t great, and it’s off-putting to visitors.

According to figures from Statista, cart abandonment is huge. 50.3 percent of grocery shoppers abandon their carts. There are numerous reasons shoppers abandon their carts, like poor navigation and overall poor UX.

Below are some areas you can work on:

1. Navigation: Improve navigation by using a simple structure, using topic clusters and category pages, and including a site map.

2. Content: You should aim for authoritative, informative content that gives value to your readers. However, to keep users on the page, make content relevant and engaging.

3. Design: Is your site visually appealing and easy to read? To enhance your website’s look, include ample white space, limit your color palette to 2-3 colors, and check you can navigate it on mobile devices.

4. Functionality: Do all of your links work? Are your forms easy to fill out? What about the checkout process? Check these elements regularly, or get someone to do a ‘mystery shop’ or usability test to spot any potential issues.

By keeping an eye on these four elements of UX, you can be sure that your website is ready to take on the world or at least rank well in search engines!

Google has a great breakdown of what makes strong UX in this diagram below:

Diagram of what makes strong UX according to Google.

Page speed is critical to the UX. I’ll discuss that next.

Page Speed

A slow page can drag down the rest of your website and impact your ranking in search engines. If you’re unsure where you stand, try a couple of speed checkers like GTmetrix or Pingdom.

Ideally, your website should load within 2-5 seconds. If it doesn’t, here are a few tips on improving your page speed during an e-commerce SEO audit.

1. Evaluate your hosting situation: If you’re on a shared host, you may be at the mercy of your neighbors regarding page speed. Consider upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server if you can afford it.

2. Use a caching plugin: Caching can dramatically improve your page speed by storing static copies of your pages and serving them up to visitors without generating them fresh each time.

3. Optimize your images: Images are often the heaviest elements on a page, so reducing their file size can greatly impact load time. Ensure images are compressed and placed in the correct folders on your server, so they don’t take up too much bandwidth.

Website loading times and mobile-friendliness kind of go hand-in-hand. Guess what I’m talking about next?

Mobile-Friendliness

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

With 6.64 billion people using smartphones and 7.26 billion using mobiles, you must cater to these vast numbers.

It’s simple to check how mobile-friendly your site is during your e-commerce SEO audit.

There’s Google’s mobile-friendly test, or you could try MobiReady, for a free check. However, if you sign up, you get a full results analysis, and you can store and compare test results.

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

  • Use responsive design. This technique allows your website to automatically resize to fit any device screen size, including phones and tablets. If you’re using WordPress, choose responsive themes.
  • Make images resizable: If an image is large, try reducing its resolution before uploading it. If it still doesn’t fit within the screen size, try cropping it or using a placeholder image instead.
  • Use small fonts and simple designs that are easy to read on a small screen.
  • Ensure you size all images for low-resolution screens and that they load quickly.
  • 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.

You’ve made it through your e-commerce SEO audit! Let’s just finish with some frequently asked questions.

FAQ’s

Are SEO Audits Worth It?

When it comes to your e-commerce SEO, an audit can be immensely helpful. By taking a close look at your site, you can identify any areas that need improvement and make the changes necessary to boost your rankings and visibility.

How Do You Conduct SEO Audits?

Using an e-commerce SEO checklist makes the whole process much easier. Just ensure you audit the critical areas of your site, like keyword targeting and user experience. Also, check for quality backlinks and content, mobile-friendliness, and duplicate content.

Use a tool like Screaming Frog to highlight any errors and Ubersuggest for keywords, competitor analysis, and more.

What Tools Can I Use To Conduct SEO Audits?

There are several you can try. Ubersuggest gives you keywords, competitive analysis, article ideas, and a set of other tools. Then there is Semrush, Moz, or Link Assistant.

Conclusion

E-commerce SEO audits are a necessary part of any digital marketing strategy. They help you to identify areas of improvement and make sure your website is optimized for search engines.

A well-optimized website improves your visibility online, attracts more visitors, and converts more leads into customers.

Although it can sometimes be easy to get overwhelmed, an SEO audit needn’t be too daunting, provided you’ve got a solid e-commerce SEO checklist to follow.

Ensure your SEO audit covers all the above points, focus on the areas that need the most work, and audit regularly to get the best results.

Do you carry out regular e-commerce SEO audits? How do they boost your rankings?

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