The eCommerce business is booming, as research suggests that 95% of purchases will happen online by 2040. With such a promising market awaiting your business and so many websites competing for clicks on the same search terms, making your site visible in search engines is critical.
Regularly reviewing and optimizing your eCommerce website through an SEO audit can help you create targeted, intent-based marketing that utilizes search algorithms and ranking factors to increase visibility in search results. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to the eCommerce SEO audit, its key elements, and its overall importance.
What Is an eCommerce SEO Audit?
An eCommerce SEO audit is a way to check the health of your website and implement the suggested actions to improve your SEO strategies. It includes steps to finding out answers to questions such as:
- What are the strengths and successes of your site?
- What general issues need to be fixed?
- What are some opportunities you could seize?
- What part of your SEO strategy is not working?
In general, eCommerce SEO refers to the process of optimizing your eCommerce site to increase visibility for search engines and aim for a top spot on the search engine results page. In such a way, it is similar to the SEO of other types of sites.
However, eCommerce sites generally have more content than other websites. They present products, describe them, and provide product reviews, pricing, shipping details, etc. Due to this abundance of content, eCommerce sites also face difficulties ensuring the content is optimized for search engines. This is where the eCommerce SEO audit comes in.
Conducting such an audit is the first step in analyzing your SEO efforts, determining their effectiveness, and then taking immediate action to optimize your strategies. You can conduct a full eCommerce SEO audit, one limited to product pages, category pages, etc.
A typical eCommerce SEO audit checklist includes the following tasks:
- Scan for errors
- Site architecture
- Upgrade thin pages
- Identify link-building opportunities
- Keyword optimization
- Metadata optimization
- Updating content
- Analyzing and improving page speed
By tackling these areas and completing these tasks, you can improve user experience, increase traffic, and consequently improve your site’s authority and credibility.
Why Is It Important To Regularly Audit Your eCommerce Website?
It is crucial to regularly audit your eCommerce website in order to keep up with the customer’s expectations as well as the frequent Google algorithm updates. Such changes can impact your site’s search engine ranking, organic traffic, and consequently, profitability too.
With a regular audit, you can get constant feedback on your site’s overall health to ensure the usability of internal and external elements. A big reason why it is important to do so and stay on top of all the changes and errors is to ensure that you are not getting penalized for following an SEO strategy that might have worked before but is damaging your ranking now. Furthermore, it helps you spot and prevent potential issues from becoming more damaging with time.
eCommerce SEO audit steps
Follow our checklist below to perform such an SEO audit effectively. We have highlighted the areas you must focus on by grouping tasks into these three large steps:
- Technical SEO audit
- Content audit / On-page
- Off-page SEO audit
Technical SEO audit
Through a technical SEO audit, you conduct a comprehensive analysis of your site’s technical side. This includes analyzing your site’s architecture, structure, and coding. Through a technical SEO audit, you determine how your site works and how search engines find your webpage.
Generally, a technical SEO audit helps ensure that search engines can crawl and index your site. Therefore, technicality should be the starting point of your eCommerce SEO audit checklist. Below we go through some of the most important steps when completing such an SEO audit:
Your robots.txt file helps Google decide which sites to crawl and which to ignore. Instead of focusing on areas of your site that do not need crawling, such as the wish lists or shopping carts, it highlights parts of your blog or product pages.
XML sitemaps help the engines to interpret the site’s structure. They also indicate when pages were last updated and help guide the engines to index only the most important areas.
Next is conducting an indexation analysis that helps you identify the pages within your site that search engines are indexing. The sites not being indexed will not show up in search results, damaging your overall page and keyword rank.
Although, in most cases, duplicate content can emerge naturally, you can use canonicals to avoid confusion in indexation and guide the engine toward the master copy of a page. Through canonical tags, you help specify which URLs the search engine should index and rank from your site.
Through pagination, you split a category of your site into several chunks. Thus, you make content more digestible for search engines, especially for eCommerce sites that have long lists of products incorporated in them.
As part of your SEO audit, you must also analyze your site’s speed and identify the elements slowing it down. Then, optimize them and improve your site’s loading speed, that way you’ll improve user experience.
Next, you should minimize your site’s 404s. This refers to the error that appears when a link within your site leads to a non-existing page.
Lastly, if you intend to expand your eCommerce business across nations, it is best to create multiple websites. In these sites, you should present the content in various languages and optimize your site to fit your target audience best.
Content audit / On-page
One of the most important parts of the on-page SEO audit is identifying the content gaps and opportunities. The content incorporated within your site contributes to both on-page SEO and off-page SEO as it helps you improve your site’s credibility, linking, citations, and more.
Some of the key steps to analyze as you perform a content audit are:
In order to understand your target audience, you must conduct keyword research. By discovering the most searched keywords, you can modify your on-page content to cater to the audience’s needs. Begin by making a list of relevant keywords for your products or services and then find similar keywords with high search volumes.
Meta titles and meta descriptions
To maximize click-through rates, ensure that all products have distinctive and keyword-optimized meta titles and descriptions. Though they’re not direct factors in determining your site’s ranking, they influence its organic traffic.
Headings also help search engines navigate your site’s content. The more they understand your content, the easier it is for them to rank your site higher for relevant keywords and queries. In addition to ranking, headings also help make your content more readable for visitors skimming through your site.
The next element incorporated in your site’s SEO audit is duplicate content. As mentioned before, it is common for eCommerce sites to have pages that create duplicate content. For example, to help visitors navigate through the site, they can have the option to filter through products based on color, size, material, etc. Though understandably, such duplications are not malicious, it is best to identify and eliminate unnecessary ones, as they can damage your site’s rankings.
Structured data checks should be a regular part of your eCommerce SEO audit routine. Typically, the most common types of data errors are:
- Missing field errors
- Missing rating errors
- Incorrect page markups
- Hidden marked-up content
Perform frequent structured data checks and ensure that all pages include updated and correct URLs.
As you conduct your content audit, ensure that your site is not competing with itself. Be careful when using keywords, as in some cases, you can have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, thus harming your site’s organic performance.
Off-page SEO audit
After the on-page SEO audit, the next step of your eCommerce SEO audit is the off-page audit. It covers the external elements that help build your site’s credibility and authority. Keep in mind that you can influence these factors but not directly change them.
Backlinks are one of the key ranking signals used by search engines. Evaluate your current backlinks and identify which ones come from authoritative sites, as they can help increase your credibility. On the other hand, try to eliminate backlinks from low-authority or spam sites by reaching out and requiring them to remove the links.
Social media engagement
The next step on your off-page SEO audit is checking all your social media and determining whether you regularly post content from your site there. Make sure not to neglect such platforms when promoting new content or promotions. Furthermore, analyze the shared links to determine what content your audience most interacts with and then post more of that.
Finally, ensure that your eCommerce website is not a victim of negative SEO. Stay updated on cases of link farming, especially from spam sites, intentional duplicate content to damage your ranking, fake social media profiles of your business, and other malware attacks.
Conducting a thorough eCommerce site audit is not simple, especially considering the frequent changes made to search engine ranking factors. However, such a checkup is necessary to ensure everything is working as intended, including your SEO strategies.