Performing a comprehensive SEO audit for your ecommerce website is crucial for improving your site’s search visibility and organic traffic. By methodically going through various technical and on-page factors, you can uncover opportunities for optimizing your website and enhancing its overall performance.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the key elements to check in an ecommerce SEO audit, providing you with a handy ecommerce SEO audit checklist to diagnose and treat your website’s SEO health. With this information, you can take the necessary steps to ensure your ecommerce website is discoverable and competitive in the crowded online marketplace.
Crawlability and Indexing
Before search engines can rank your pages, they first need to be able to easily crawl and index them. Here are a few key technical elements to check:
- robots.txt file – This file gives instructions to search bots on what pages they can and cannot access. Verify that your robots.txt allows crawling rather than blocks it for critical pages. The last thing you want is to inadvertently shut out search engines!
- XML sitemap – A sitemap serves as a roadmap for search bots to more efficiently crawl your site. Make sure yours is updated to include all important pages, especially newer ones. Submitting your sitemap in Google Search Console can help expedite indexing.
- Crawl errors – Crawl errors like 404s and 500s indicate pages that search engines want to access but can’t. Fixing these improves crawl efficiency. You can identify errors in Google Search Console.
- Redirect chains – Lengthy chains of redirects waste crawl budget and create indexation issues. Consolidate these to direct pages using the fewest hops possible.
The goal is to make your site’s architecture visible and easily accessible to search bots. Troubleshoot any limitations to allow full indexing of all key pages.
With more than 50% of search traffic coming from mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly site is table stakes. Here are two quick checks:
- Mobile-Friendly Test – Run your homepage through Google’s free tool, which checks elements like viewport, tap targets, and text legibility. Address any failures.
- Responsive design – Use browser Developer Tools to verify your site adapts across phone, tablet, and desktop screens. Content should dynamically resize without horizontal scrolling or shrinkage.
Optimizing for mobile provides a better user experience while ensuring your site remains visible in mobile SERPs. It’s a win-win!
Slow page speeds are a drag on user experience and can negatively impact conversions. Here are tips for speeding things up:
- PageSpeed Insights – Google’s tool audits page load performance on mobile and desktop. Address high-priority recommendations like optimizing images, enabling compression, and removing render blocking resources.
- Browser caching – Set proper Cache-Control and Expires headers so browsers store files locally after the first visit, eliminating re-downloads.
- Lazy load – Only load visible content initially, deferring non-critical assets lower in the page until needed. Reduces initial resource load.
- CDN – Use a content delivery network to distribute static assets and media globally, providing faster load times for users everywhere.
With page speed increasingly a ranking factor, these optimizations provide an easy opportunity to leapfrog competitors.
Security is table stakes for any website, especially ecommerce stores handling sensitive user data. Be sure to:
- Implement HTTPS – Switch your site to HTTPS protocol and install an SSL certificate to encrypt connections. This also provides a slight rankings boost.
- Update software – Outdated CMS, plugins, and other software often have vulnerabilities. Stay current on the latest releases. Automated updates help.
- Strong passwords – Enforce strong password policies for all admin accounts. Use a password manager so you aren’t tempted to reuse passwords.
- User authentication – Use multi-factor authentication and other safeguards to securely identify users. Block suspicious IP addresses that show signs of malicious activity.
- Backups – Schedule regular automated backups so you can quickly restore your site in the event of issues caused by security breaches or unsafe plugin updates.
Prioritizing security protects your business and customers while showing search engines you are trustworthy. A win all around!
Thorough keyword research uncovers the terms and phrases your customers are using so you can tailor your site content accordingly. here are some tips:
- Seed keywords – Brainstorm a list of likely search terms around your products or services. Use these as a starting point for research.
- Competitor analysis – See which keywords competitors rank for by plugging their URLs into keyword tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. This reveals opportunities to outrank them.
- Long-tail keywords – Identify more specific long-tail variations that are easier to rank for due to lower competition and high relevancy for your brand. They add up!
- Search trends – Prioritize keywords with growing rather than declining search volume so you’re targeting terms users want now. Google Trends helps here.
Keyword research illuminates high-potential search terms to strategically target through optimizations across your site. It’s the foundation of effective SEO.
Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Page titles and meta descriptions offer two vital opportunities to catch the searcher’s eye in results pages. Check that yours are:
- Concise – Titles should be less than 60 characters to avoid truncation in SERPs. Descriptions can be up to 160. Get straight to the point!
- Keyword-rich – Incorporate your target keywords organically so searchers immediately see the relevance of your listing. Avoid over-stuffing though.
- Compelling – Pique searchers’ interest with snippets like questions, value propositions, and calls to action so they feel compelled to click.
- Scannable – Use sentence case titles and descriptive fragments for easy digestibility. Save the long sentences for page content.
- Accurate – Summarize the specific page content so searchers know what they’ll find before clicking. Don’t mislead with general marketing taglines.
Strong titles and meta descriptions help your listings stand out from the pack and nudge searchers to click through to your site.
Creating useful, engaging content optimized around your target keywords helps searchers easily find your pages organically. Tactics include:
- Informative copy – Answer common questions and provide value rather than solely promoting your products. Embed keywords in naturally flowing sentences.
- Proper headings – Break up text with relevant H2 and H3 tags incorporating target terms. Bold key terminology that searchers will skim for.
- Strong calls to action – Use CTAs to guide visitors to convert once they land on your page. Ecommerce sites should push product purchase.
- Media elements – Complement your copy with videos, infographics, photos, and illustrations. Describe these in ALT text with keywords where logical.
- Page length – For pillar pages, aim for long-form, comprehensive content well over 1,000 words. The more detail the better to satisfy search intent.
Creating content optimized for both search engines and users earns links while providing a superior experience visitors appreciate.
Linking between related pages helps search bots crawl your site while passing “link juice” to important pages you want ranked. Best practices:
- Logical connections – Link to related product category and subcategory pages, rich informational resources, or complementary services.
- Descriptive anchor text – Use keywords where appropriate so links reinforce semantic relevance, but vary wording to avoid over-optimization.
- Strategic prioritization – Link more frequently to pillar content and key landing pages you want search engines to favor.
- Citation links – Link to sources you reference or quote to establish authority and credibility for the claims in your content.
- Calls to action – Invite visitors to further explore your site through CTAs leading to logical next pages in the user journey.
An intentional internal link structure boosts relevance signals for ranking while guiding users to useful information. It’s powerful yet often overlooked!
With content growing increasingly visual, proper image SEO improves accessibility while adding context. Ensure you:
- Write ALT text – Succinctly summarize what each image depicts using keywords where relevant. This text also displays if the image fails to load.
- Optimize file size – Use image compression tools to reduce file sizes without compromising quality too much. This speeds up load times.
- Add captions – Expand on ALT text with descriptive captions elaborating on the image significance, especially for informational graphics.
- Use high-res images – Select photos with ample resolution to visually delight users without pixelation or distortion on larger screens.
- Feature visual variety – Mix high-quality photos, videos, illustrations, infographics, and more to create engaging visual content that aligns to your brand style.
With the rise of visual SERPs, thoughtful image optimization checks several boxes, improving SEO while showcasing your brand visually.
While search engines have cracked down on manipulative link building tactics, earning backlinks naturally from trusted sites remains crucial for stronger rankings. Some proven tactics:
- Guest blogging – Volunteer to write posts for popular industry blogs that accept contributor content. Include a link back to related content.
- Business directories – Claim and optimize your listing on directories like Yelp and industry-specific ones. The backlinks and citations help.
- PR outreach – Pitch reporters at major publications with relevant news stories related to your company. Securing coverage earns authoritative editorial links.
- Influencer marketing – Partner with relevant microinfluencers on sponsored content partnerships. Ensure their posts link back to your site.
- Social engagement – Be helpful and share great content in your industry communities on social media. This can lead to new backlink opportunities.
Securing earned backlinks remains one of the most powerful ways to build authority and rankings, especially if done consistently over time. So stay at it!
What are people saying about your brand online? Make sure you know by:
- Setting alerts – Use Google Alerts to receive notifications when your brand is mentioned on the web so you never miss it.
- Social listening – Monitor keywords and brand handles on social media using tools like Brand24 to identify discussions.
- Responding to reviews – Thank customers for positive reviews and address constructive feedback on sites like Yelp. This builds reputation.
- Engaging on social – Join relevant conversations on social media providing value. Don’t overly self-promote. Focus on building community.
- Encouraging UGC – Run user-generated content campaigns inviting customers to share their experiences. This creates fresh and authentic branded content.
Proactive brand monitoring allows you to boost your online presence while building relationships with customers. Don’t leave it to chance!
Tracking Your Progress
SEO is an ongoing process, so you need to regularly track how your efforts are moving the needle on key metrics:
- Overall traffic – Measure month-to-month changes in overall site traffic, especially growth driven by organic search. Slowdowns may indicate issues.
- Keyword rankings – Monitor your target keyword rankings in Google to see how you stack up against competitors and identify new opportunities.
- Crawl stats – Keep an eye on crawl stats in Google Search Console to ensure search bots can fully access your site with minimal errors.
- Backlinks – Use tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to keep tabs on both your overall backlink profile and new links earned each month.
- Site speed & security – Periodically re-run page speed and security audits to spot any areas regressing that need re-addressing.
Consistently analyzing your SEO KPIs illuminates progress while revealing areas needing more work to reach your traffic and rankings goals.
Alright, we’ve covered a ton of ground here on the key elements to audit for an ecommerce SEO checkup. Let’s wrap up with some common questions:
Q: How often should I perform an SEO audit?
A: Aim to do a full audit quarterly. Additionally, monitor key metrics like rankings and traffic monthly. Audit technical SEO elements after launching a new site or making major changes.
Q: What tools do I need for an SEO audit?
A: Helpful free tools include Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google PageSpeed Insights. For more robust analysis, invest in paid tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Screaming Frog.
Q: What’s most important for an ecommerce site – technical SEO or content?
A: They’re both crucial. Get technical factors like site speed and mobile optimization right first to provide a solid foundation. Then focus heavily on content and keywords to drive organic traffic.
Q: How long does an SEO audit take?
A: A thorough full audit often takes 15+ hours. Break it down into manageable chunks over several days. Also enlist help from an SEO specialist to expedite the process if needed.
Q: What should I do after finishing the audit?
Prioritize the high-impact areas for improvement uncovered, create an execution plan, and address fixes methodically over the subsequent weeks and months. View it as an ongoing process, not a one-off project.
After going through the comprehensive ecommerce SEO audit checklist, you now have all the information you need to optimize your website’s technical, on-page, and off-page factors. Though it may seem like a lot of work, taking the time to audit and optimize these elements can yield great results in terms of boosting your site’s organic search visibility and conversion rates.
So take this checklist as a reference and start assessing your ecommerce site’s current shape. With careful tuning of essential SEO factors, such as keyword optimization, site structure, and high-quality content, you’ll be on your way to SEO success, significantly enhancing the visibility of your e-commerce website. This strategic approach is crucial for driving more qualified traffic, ultimately boosting your online presence and maximizing sales potential. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further e-commerce SEO questions; we’re here to help you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of online visibility.