Ecommerce SEO Audit: Best Practice and Tips for Success
While search engine optimisation (SEO) is an iterative process, you have to have a good base to start from. And that’s where an SEO audit comes in. For all of our SEO clients, we complete an ecommerce seo audit to start a project as this allows us to identify our starting point and alert us to any major issues that need to be addressed.
If you’re looking to complete an ecommerce SEO audit on your online store, this guide will walk you through the steps you need to take for success. We’ll share best practice, the tools we recommend using and some hidden points that you may be missing.
We’ve broken this SEO audit process down into four sections. You can click the links below to jump to one of those sections.
- On-Page SEO
- Technical SEO
Before we start, here’s a breakdown of some tools we’ll be using during this audit. For the paid tools, there are usually free alternatives or you can get free trials of these tools.
- Google Search Console (free)
- Screaming Frog (paid, but free version available)
- Ahrefs (paid, but trial available or free alternatives)
- Sitemap Test (free)
To put it simply, if your website isn’t being indexed by search engines, then it’s not going to appear on Google. There are two really quick ways to check whether your website is being indexed.
Complete a site: search on Google
The first step to take is to carry out a site: search in Google. Simply type “site:” followed by the URL. For example, for our Ecommerce SEO Services page our site: search would look like the following:
Inspect the URL via Google Search Console
You’ll want to load up your Google Search Console property (if you haven’t got one, we’d recommend setting one up asap!) and access the URL inspection tool.
Enter the url you want to inspect in the search bar and check the results to see if your page is indexed.
Check you have a sitemap
Listing your URLs in your site map may not be a direct ranking factor, but it can make your URL discoverability a lot easier, so it is worth doing as part of your ecommerce SEO audit.
You’ll want to first check that you have a sitemap via this Sitemap testing tool.
If you don’t, you’ll need to create one. It’s worth asking your web developer to do this for you, but failing that the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO can create a sitemap for you.
Is Google reading your sitemap?
Once you have your sitemap, you’ll want to check that it is submitted to Google and Google is reading it correctly.
Head back over to Search Console and go to the ‘Sitemaps’ tool. Check your submitted sitemaps and check it’s status. It should look like this:
If Google is not reading your sitemap – or there isn’t one submitted – this is something you’ll want to address to help your site’s discoverability.
Are all of your pages returning a 200 status code?
All live pages should return a 200 status code – which indicates that the request has succeeded.
You should run a site crawl via an SEO spider such as Screaming Frog.
Open up Screaming Frog and configure the spider how you’d like (I like to remove image crawling for bigger sites so that I can focus on pages).
Enter your website URL in the search bar and hit start. Once the crawl is complete, navigate to ‘Response Codes’ and check to see if there are any pages listed under ‘Client Error 4xx’ or ‘Server Error 5xx’.
Depending on how you have configured your crawl, the spider may also show broken links. For our site, we found four broken links via this crawl. We’ll cover this under our ‘Links’ section.
Other Indexing Things To Consider
The list of indexing issues could go on forever, so we want to keep this succinct and look at the main issues when it comes to indexing. However, here are some other issues you should check for:
- Correct use of canonicalisation
- Friendly URL structure
- URL not blocked by robots.txt file
In terms of ecommerce SEO difficulty, the on-page SEO is the easiest to get right and there’s no excuse for any errors here. It may take a bit of time to implement all necessary changes if you’ve identified a lot of on-page SEO, but it’s important to educate yourself and your team about on-page SEO best practices so that you can optimise every time a new page is created.
Does every page contain a title element?
This may sound super simple, but it’s worth double checking that a title element is being pulled through for every page. We’ve had some clients in the past who have a page title set, but the code is not pulling it through as a H1 tag (the primary header).
You can check this by going to your Screaming Frog crawl and looking at the ‘H1’ section.
Your crawl should look like this – you want to be hitting 0 results in an ideal world!
Have you used your target keyword throughout the page?
An essential part of your ecommerce SEO audit is to identify whether your website pages use their target keywords consistently throughout the content.
For this, we’ll use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress and analyse the on-page results it gives us.
The first step is to define the page’s focus keyword:
Then you’ll want to check the scoring points Yoast uses to analyse your page’s SEO. You’re looking for ‘green lights’ next to any keyphrase related scoring.
Does your page have metadata set?
Your metadata (title tag and meta description) is not a direct ranking factor, but good metadata can help increase your organic click through rate.
To check this, head back to your Screaming Frog crawl and navigate to ‘page titles’ and ‘meta description’. You’ll want to make sure there are no page noted under the missing tabs.
Note: Just because you have a title tag and meta description set, it doesn’t mean they are fully optimised. Spend some time analysing your page’s metadata to spot any opportunities for optimisation.
Technical SEO can be a minefield and there’s a lot of really technical, deep work that can be done. You often need a developer or advanced coding knowledge to complete that level of technical SEO audit. In this section, though, we’re going to focus on some of the easy technical SEO aspects you can do yourself for your ecommerce seo audit.
Is your website secure?
This one is really important for two reasons. First, the use of HTTPS is an official Google ranking signal. Secondly, a secure site boosts a users’ trust in the website.
Checking this is really easy. Head to your web browser (we recommend Google Chrome) and check whether the URL bar displays a padlock symbol. It should look like this:
If it doesn’t, and instead looks like the below, your website is not secure and needs to be addressed immediately.
Check non-HTTPS redirects are in-place
Even if your site is secure, it is worth checking that redirects are in-place for non-https pages. The easiest way to test this is to access the site at HTTP (without the s) and check that it redirects to https.
For example, we would enter ‘https://factorypattern.co.uk’ and check that it redirects to ‘https://factorypattern.co.uk/ (spoiler: it does! Phew!)
Does your page meet Google’s Web Core Vitals?
Page speed is paramount in 2021. With the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals update, page speed is a top ranking factor.
To check your page speed, run your website through Google’s Page Speed Insight tool. It will return an overall grade for mobile and desktop, as well as specific results for their core web vitals.
Is your website mobile friendly?
Another key ranking factor in 2021 is mobile usability. Thankfully, Google has another tool for this. Access their Mobile-Friendly Test tool, and enter your website URL.
If you’re site passes the mobile-friendly test, you’re good to go. If your website does not meet Google’s mobile-friendly criteria, it is likely to not rank as well in mobile search results.
When it comes to links, there’s two areas we want to focus on – your internal links and backlinks to your website.
Are you linking to a 404 page?
Do you remember earlier on in the article, our Screaming Frog report pointed to links to 404 pages?
Now links to 404 pages don’t necessarily have a negative impact on your SEO, but, according to Moz, they can be bad in that:
- They can create a frustrating user experience
- Stop the flow of link equity, e.g. PageRank
- Linking to lots of 404s can be a sign that the page is outdated and unmaintained
You should change any broken links and point them to pages that return a 200 status code.
Is your website gaining adequate backlinks?
We’ve included backlinks in our ecommerce SEO audit as they are important ranking factors to show Google that your website has authority.
You can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer’s Backlink report to access a report for your backlink profile. It is worth analysing your backlink profile to find any valuable links, but also any links you may want to disavow.
Ecommerce SEO Audit – To Summarise
We hope you found this ecommerce SEO Audit useful. You should complete an SEO audit at regular intervals to keep on top of your site’s SEO.
We’ve broken this audit down into easy, actionable steps, but there are of course a number of action points that we have missed. The actions included will give you a good base for your website’s SEO.
If you would like to speak to us about your website’s SEO, email us at [email protected] for your free ecommerce SEO review.