How SEO Audit Can Grow the Ranking of eCommerce Websites in 2021

The eCommerce sector is growing extremely fast. More and more business representatives have switched to selling goods and promoting services online. The eCommerce website is the main source of conversions and guarantees your success. It brings online traffic and provides a smooth customer journey while increasing revenue.

The development of a sound eCommerce website is about long-term Internet performance that meets your customers’ expectations in full scope. To hit the market, you should have a well-thought marketing strategy that is based on industry insights and SEO-driven practices. Remember that eCommerce search engine optimization ensures your online traffic and helps you attract your target audience.  

Ranking factors and search engine algorithms are ever-changing. So as not to miss any critical changes and updates like optimization ins and outs, or tech weak points of your eCommerce site, you should undertake a website SEO audit regularly. This is the practice that performs the core parameters of your digital platform (online performance and website health).

A SEO website audit in the context of eCommerce projects includes a range of processes to monitor the showings, analyze characteristics, and suggest recommended optimizations to improve your online performance. Identification of SEO issues like organic traffic, site visibility, and link building takes place through a set of audit stages:

  • Technical;
  • On-page;
  • Off-page;
  • User experience.  

Only a comprehensive approach to the auditing process can guarantee a complete makeover of your eCommerce website.  Note that the SEO audit is essential for electronic commerce because it’s a pre-echo of organic traffic for your business. According to Smart Insights, the highest conversions are brought not by referral and paid traffic but rather by organic ones. With the help of efficient site auditing practices, you will be able to customize your marketing strategy and be free from inhibiting agents (content gaps, missing tech elements and other issues). 

👉 SEO Audit for Higher eCommerce ranking: Checklist for 2021

To undertake on-page, off-page, UX, and technical SEO audit, it is necessary to choose the relevant tools. This way, all required issues in the context of search engine optimization will be identified well. Note that the auditing process is also just about the most essential contribution to website performance and organic traffic. The final stage of the SEO audit is a list of precise guidelines for search engine optimization strategy for the most effective digital marketing campaign.

The checklist for 2021 concerning SEO audit of eCommerce websites includes the fundamental auditing stages:

  1. eCommerce technical SEO audit
  2. eCommerce on-page audit
  3. eCommerce off-page audit
  4. eCommerce user experience audit

To initiate any of these auditing phases, it is necessary to decide which tools to use to make the procedure faster and the results – more accurate.

👉 Tools for SEO Audit

SEO tools simplify a huge range of routines, like analytical research, and updates pertaining to online website performance. Check of on-page, off-page, and tech parameters become almost fully automated. It is possible to customize your search engine optimization strategy and digital marketing campaign with the help of analysis results provided by SEO tools.

To find the most suitable tool for your online store performance tracking (including website auditing routines), it is necessary to align with the key services you opt for (keyword analyzing, backlink monitoring, on-page checker, etc.). 

To perform the basic steps and in-depth auditing analysis, it is recommended to pay attention to the top 3 SEO audit tools of 2021:

  • Key SEO tool by Google, Google Search Console, is of great help for website search performance improvement. It provides insights on indexed pages, search queries, and other parameters that are important for understanding your ranking. There are Performance, Coverage, and Enhancements reports to monitor different metrics and solve crawl problems, tech errors, etc.
  • The all-in-one online SEO platform SE Ranking has numerous features to monitor, analyze, and compare you and your competitors’ SEO performance, and both on-page, and off-page parameters. The eCommerce website can be checked comprehensively because SE Ranking simultaneously covers all the factors  (keywords ranking, technical and content issues, website usability, backlinks, etc.). Among available features to take into account are rank checker, keywords analysis, website and on-page audit, and backlink checker. Due to the extended functionality of this tool and the detailed reporting option, it is among the top tools for the eCommerce audit. 
  • Screaming Frog is the online tool used for monitoring and analyzing technical issues of the website. This SEO audit service performs as a crawler and reports on tech weak spots like broken links or duplicated metadata on the pages. URL, site structure, and image details together with other auditing information can be exported. 
  • Additionally, there is another tool, Google’s Structured Testing Tool – the former SEO audit service provided by Google that was replaced with alternative tools Rich Results Test and Schema Markup Validator. The functionality is the same – the main idea is to analyze the structured data markup of the eCommerce site. The list of warnings and errors will be performed in the report after analysis.

👉 eCommerce Technical SEO Audit

For eCommerce sites, it is more than critical to be well crawled and indexed by search engine robots. Websites are ranked higher if all the Indexability and crawlability parameters are in good trim. That is why an SEO audit is impossible without checking the site and link structure, redirects, and availability of the server errors with the help of special-purpose tools (simulators). 

👉 Indexability & Crawlability

Make sure that your eCommerce is accessible for search bots so they can easily crawl and index it. For this purpose, you should diagnose the following tech issues:

  • Crawlability (Robots.txt and XML Sitemap);
  • Indexability (Page Duplication & Canonical Tags, Page Load Speed, Internal Links, poor redirects & server errors). 

The main aspects that matter when it comes to site accessibility are:

  • Site structure – for example, if your eCommerce website contains featured pages with no linking to/from, search engine crawlers can hardly access them. The technical SEO audit detects this and informs you about site structure warnings and errors.
  • Internal link structure – a poor link structure is dangerous for eCommerce sites because crawlers can miss some important content. The audit is used to improve the internal link structure and make it easier for robots to find any content elements (even when placed deep in the site structure).
  • Poor redirects and server errors – the auditing process helps you detect broken page redirects that harm your crawlability and indexability. Additionally, server-based errors are found. By solving these problems, you provide easier access to crawlers in the context of your eCommerce.

In summary, monitoring and analyzing tech issues that might affect crawlability and indexability of the eCommerce website is the starting point of your SEO audit. Note that website accessibility does not guarantee that your eCommerce will rank high on the SERP, but it makes your website easily crawled and indexed. Issues with crawling and indexability block the accurate ranking of the eCommerce website. Also, unsupported scripts and crawling restrictions are detected during the auditing procedure. It is important to make your eCommerce site index-friendly and high-ranked. 

Capacidad de Rastreo: Robots.txt y mapa XML del sitio

The technical SEO audit scrutinizes the Robots.txt file and its settings in the framework of an eCommerce website. For example, you can prevent search engine robots from crawling and indexing some of your pages. It can be a shopping cart, favorites, or some test pages with no essential content. The audit detects the pages with the “Disallow” attribute, which means crawlers have no access to these sections of the eCommerce and do not take them into consideration for ranking. Sometimes main pages can come under the Robots.txt blocking:

Disallow: */our-services/*

By solving this tech issue, you will be set free from a range of challenging technical characteristics and weak spots in the skeleton of your website that might ruin your marketing strategy, SEO performance, and be harmful to ranking. XML Sitemap also impacts your eCommerce website’s crawlability. The audit is used to check if you have the XML map and ensures it does not have errors.

Here is an example with the eCommerce project Rainstudio. We can see that the file includes 13 sitemaps. Robots find all necessary information faster because each sitemap consists of a separate-standing list of pages. This way, the risk of crawlers finding some important web pages is much lower.

Indexability: Page Duplication & Canonical Tags

Duplicated pages can harm your ranking because robots can mistake similar content for some kind of spam. The tech SEO audit is used to detect web-page duplication in eCommerce websites. Note that if you for some reason still need duplicates on your website, the canonical tag should be used. This way, you will inform crawlers that only one of the range of web pages should be taken into account for indexation and ranking.

Incidentally, canonical tags are also under focused attention during the technical SEO audit. They help solve different issues related to page duplication. You can also get suggestions where it is recommended to use canonical tags to improve your eCommerce website ranking. 

Indexability: Page Load Speed

One of the important tech SEO factors is page loading speed. Besides better UX, improved loading speed can bring higher rankings. Search engines prefer those sites that are loaded faster. The audit will be helpful to determine weak spots that affect your page load speed:

  • Issues that increase page weight
  • Issues that slow down page loading
  • Uncompressed images;
  • Unused scripts, etc

✅ Indexability: Internal Links

The tech SEO audit includes analyzing and fixing internal links. The process does not ignore broken links and orphaned pages. Moreover, if the eCommerce obtains too many broken links, it can harm the link juice flow and affect ranking. Additionally, the audit diagnoses and informs about:

  • Pages with too few links
  • Deep direct chains 

👉 eCommerce On-Page SEO Audit

An on-page SEO audit also requires a comprehensive approach to the analytical process. Based on the results of the keyword research, metadata checks, and other analysis, the range of optimizations is suggested to the owner of the eCommerce website.

Keyword Research

This is a core investigation you should undertake for successful SEO-driven campaigns. With relevant key phrases, you will not only hit your target audience but improve rankings as well. Use a research tool (alternatively, special-purpose WordPress eCommerce plugins for SEO are used) to find the best keywords for your eCommerce market niche. Analyze the search volume, competition, and other parameters to make up a qualitative keyword list. 

Take a look at the table available in the SE Ranking keyword research tool. By entering several target keywords, it is possible to analyze several parameters at the same time:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • CPC (cost per click)
  • Competition

With the help of keyword research, eCommerce players will be able to determine the catchiest long-tail keywords and user intent-driven target keys. Search engines will get the idea of your website faster. This way, the eCommerce site can be ranked higher and expect higher SERPs. Note that keyword research should take place regularly to provide fresh insights based on the search queries, competitors’ tendencies, and user intent. 

✅ Optimization of Title & Description

The key HTML elements of the eCommerce website are titles and descriptions. When it comes to search engine crawlers, they deeply analyze metadata like title tags and descriptions. That is why these HTML elements should be optimized. Optimization is always about adding target keywords to attract users and help robots to crawl the pages properly.

For example, the Karen Millen and New Look websites demonstrate well how easy it is to highlight the brand and meet the search query “dresses for autumn” with their catchy title tags.

When discussing optimization, it is important to point out that it requires a keyword-driven approach and brevity with a distinct accent on the strength (incentives like discounts or promotions) of the eCommerce project. The key phrases that are used in the meta description that are similar to the search query will be highlighted in bold. 

Take a closer look at the same examples of descriptions by Keren Millen and New Look. While the first eCommerce website attracts users with on-trend fashion 2021, the second one emphasizes free delivery options.

✅ Optimization of H1 and H2 Tags

Headings, especially H1, are as important as the title and description for eCommerce website ranking. Nevertheless, the on-page audit takes into account H1 and H2 to provide suggestions on the most effective optimizations. First of all, your headings should correspond with the contents and idea of your content. This way search engine robots will understand what your page is about. As a result, your website will be offered the most relevant search queries.

Additionally, an on-page SEO audit offers to make headings unique, relevant, and keyword-rich. It is also recommended to use different keywords in the title and H1 to provide more information about your website to search engine robots. Note that eCommerce sites should also pay attention to optimization of the product and category pages, where headings are catalog items and sections of goods that are sold online.

For example, the Boohoo brand offers the optimized H1 for the product page “Premium Satin Cropped Blazer”. This heading is caught well by crawlers, so the page is offered for several search queries at once:

  1. Premium blazer
  2. Satin blazer
  3. Cropped blazer
  4. Premium satin blazer
  5. Premium satin cropped blazer, etc

👉 Content Auditing

Content is the foundation of any SEO campaign. Poor, irrelevant, and low-quality texts and imagery not only ruin the user experience but also search engine rankings. Remember that almost all the HTML elements mentioned above aim to become a high-level frame and accompaniment to your content. The on-page SEO audit is focused on checking your content in the context of its uniqueness, search engine optimization, and E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness).

All these three characteristics are critical for SERPs. That is why keyword optimization should take place in conjunction with the high standards of the E-A-T approach. Furthermore, if we speak about a blog article on the eCommerce website, it should meet the following criteria:

  • Be devoted to the trendy/interesting/actual topic
  • Include relevant keywords (based on the keyword research)
  • Be unique (use anti-plagiarism tools together with free SEO audit services)
  • Be knowledge-based and helpful for readers

For example, the eCommerce website Elite World, whose specialty is online direct booking, offered an expert article about autumn wedding dresses. The site hit the top 10  in search results for the query “autumn outfit”. Despite the fact that the topic is not the area of their specialization, the content meets E-A-T criteria, is unique and optimized with keywords.

Alternative Text

Note that imagery on your website should also be optimized. The on-page audit includes checking the availability of alternative text for all the graphical content on the eCommerce site. If you do not put alt attributes for images on the pages (especially on the main ones), search engine bots can miss visuals. The best practice for alternative texts is to add the keyword to the alt attribute to help crawlers understand the content.

The audit shows images that do not contain alternative text. The report can include suggestions to add text descriptions to your pictures. Note that your online shop, numerous catalogs with high-grade imagery, cannot be recognized by search engines without ALTs. It will surely harm your ranking if almost 80% of the content on the eCommerce website consists of images.

Additionally, according to Pragm research, sometimes images perform in search results even better than product pages. This means that small brands can improve their SEO strategy and hit the top SERPs with the help of alternative texts and high-quality imagery.

👉 eCommerce Off-Page SEO Audit 

The soundest indicators of your eCommerce website credibility are still backlinks. Search engines take into consideration each time your site is linked by third-party agents (customers’ reviews, forums, blog articles). This is not only a sign of trustworthiness but also a powerful ranking signal. That is why an off-page SEO audit includes deep analytical research of dofollow, nofollow links. 

This way you get a detailed backlink profile of your website, and after you can develop a link-building strategy. For instance, many brands encounter spammy links in bad reviews and negative comments written by competitors intended to spoil the authority of the eCommerce business. They can harm your ranking. The backlink audit will be helpful in solving this problem – as you come up with the list of unnatural (spammy) links, you can add them to the disavow file in Google Search Console.

It is worth mentioning that Google Search Console offers the option of link disavowing. This tool is used to remove harmful links by creating a disavow file. It should contain a list of links and domains that affect your backlink profile.  

After it is created, the disavow file should be uploaded. It takes several weeks till Google approves the list of links and undertakes a re-indexation procedure. 

Note that dofollow links are more important for your website ranking. Nofollow can build up your authority but the main focus during the SEO audit should be on dofollow backlinks. The off-page outcomes based on the backlink insights will help you to create a well-thought link building strategy together with:

  • Guest posting
  • Social network campaigns
  • Roundups & interviewing

👉 eCommerce User Experience Audit

Some technical, on-page, and off-page parameters really matter when it comes to UX. Nevertheless, three important factors that are always analyzed during the website user experience audit are navigation, mobile friendliness, and user behavior. Search engines pay attention to UX when it comes to ranking. One such example is Google’s mobile-first indexing algorithm. It shows why it is necessary to perform a UX site audit.

Mobile Friendliness

The audit in the context of mobile-friendliness is about responsive design. The website is checked to understand if the content is displayed adequately on the screen or not. The eCommerce site should certainly be mobile-friendly. Every year more and more people purchase goods and order services through their pocket screens. That is why mobile-friendliness is not only about UX but about conversions and revenue as well.

Navigation

Everyone would like to navigate the website well from the first visit. If your potential customers do not face problems with navigation, it’s excellent. To check this UX parameter, pay attention to the Core Web Vitals and diagnose your digital platform yourself. Maybe you will find some issues that harm the general view or make navigation unclear.

For eCommerce, it is critically important to link all pages all together. You can improve your navigation by fixing all the uncategorized pages and those that are not linked to any website section. Use breadcrumbs to help your visitors to navigate. 

Look at Macy’s online shop with improved navigation. Purchasers can turn back to the previously visited category (Back to Results + breadcrumbs).

✅ User Behavior Factors

User experience depends on the interactions of visitors with the website and its pages. The UX audit usually analyzes 5 core parameters that are considered the main user behavior factors:

  1. Bounce rate – the smaller this showing is, the better. If the bounce rate is more than 70%, it means that website visitors leave your eCommerce very fast. You need to pay attention to user intentions as soon as possible. 
  2. Dwell time – the similar metric that analyses users’ behavior on your site (from search results when the website was chosen and up to clicking back). If this period is short, you need to fix problems with UX, user intent, and the quality of your content.
  3. Engaged time – in comparison with dwell time, the number of interactions is taken into account for this metric. The UX audit will help you to determine the level of your site visitors’ attention.
  4. Interactions – all the on-site activities are taken into account. Among them are clicks, downloads, and other actions. Search engines rank high on those eCommerce that have high interaction showings.  
  5. Scroll depth – this metric determines the interest of your audience in the site. With the help of a UX audit, it is possible to detect weak spots in content or design. Additionally, the report on scroll depth will be helpful to find the most optimal place for call-to-action buttons.

👉 Conclusion

SEO audit is very important for eCommerce websites. This is the most efficient and fastest way to optimize technical background, on-page, off-page, and UX parameters. The SEO audit results in more organic traffic and higher search engine ranking positions at the end of the auditing process.

To simplify the procedure of tech, on-page, off-page, and user experience characteristics like monitoring, checking, and reporting, use special-purpose tools and follow our checklist. The website SEO audit should take place regularly because both the eCommerce market sector and search engine ranking algorithms are ever-changing. Additionally, you should always keep track of the user intent so as not to harm your UX, search results, and ranking.

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