How to Complete an eCommerce SEO Audit

Sam Oakes
March 25, 2022
SEO

Completing an eCommerce SEO audit doesn’t have to be stressful. 

Whilst the terminology and the use of different tools can seem like a lot (and there definitely is a LOT of dive into with a full SEO audit), having a guide to follow can make the world of a difference. 

So before you start optimising your website to be SEO-friendly, a thorough SEO audit of your site should be the first course of action. 

For a full SEO audit and optimisation guide, you can download ‘The Reward Guide to SEO for eCommerce Brands’ here 👇

Download SEO for eCommerce brands guide banner.

3 areas that you need to know about to complete an eCommerce SEO audit:

  1. Technical SEO Audit
  2. On-Page SEO Audit
  3. Off-Page SEO Audit

Technical SEO Audit

Now you don’t need to be a tech-whiz to complete a technical SEO audit. There are plenty of online tools available to test the technical aspects of your website. 

Indexing One Version of your Website

First, you should check how many versions of your website are being indexed on search engines. For example: 

  • http://yourwebsite.co.uk
  • https://yourwebsite.co.uk
  • http://www.yourwebsite.co.uk
  • https://www.yourwebsite.co.uk

With any website, there should only be one version that is indexable on search engines, with the others redirected to the main version. Otherwise, search engines such as Google will index multiple versions of your website. This may not seem like an issue, however, it is bad as you will end up with your own site competing against itself. 

So, to make things less confusing and difficult, make sure that there is only one version of your site available for indexing. 

Mobile-Friendliness (Mobile is important too)!

Your website should be user friendly and accessible on all devices, including mobile. Especially since more than half of website traffic is generated from mobile devices

There is a very easy and simple way to test your mobile website. Google is kind enough to provide a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that is free, quick and easy to use. 

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Google Mobile-Friendly tester tool

Add in your site’s URL and Google will provide you with a score as to your web pages desktop and mobile-friendliness , along with recommendations on how to improve.

We have recently discussed ways to conduct mobile marketing in our latest newsletter of ‘The Conscious Marketer’. If you would like to receive a copy or sign up to our newsletter for fortnightly marketing advice and news, then you can get in touch with Reward’s marketing team here.

Site Speed

Don’t you hate waiting for things? 

Well, Google does too, and so do visitors to your website! A proper analysis of your site’s speed is important to understand whether your site is lagging behind the competition. 

Again, Google has a tool that can be used to test this - PageSpeed Insights.

https://pagespeed.web.dev/

Google PageSpeed Insights tool

This will analyse the speed and loadability of elements on your website, which refers to images, text, icons and sections of your website loading on the website promptly when crawled by search engines. This tool will give you an estimate as to the duration of your site’s loading time and areas that are slowing down your website. 

From this, you can gather a list of recommendations to integrate into your site to improve your overall speed and responsiveness. 

Robots.txt and XML Sitemap

Your robots.txt and XML sitemap play a vital role in helping search engines like Google to understand your website. 

If you haven’t heard of them before, here is a basic rundown:

  • Robots.txt tell search engines which pages they should and shouldn’t crawl, which ultimately affects which pages will be indexed/shown on search engine results pages (or SERPs for short)
  • XML Sitemap is a file on your website that works as a guide to search engines to navigate around your website when crawling.

Both of these elements should be featured on your website. If not, then you are making the job of crawling and indexing your website much more difficult for Google, and they don’t like that. 

You need to make sure that they are both set up correctly so that Google and other search engines can navigate their way through your site and only view essential pages that you want them to see. 

For example, on an eCommerce site, it is good to disallow Google from crawling your shopping cart and purchasing pages, such as ‘Disallow: /cart’,  ‘Disallow: /orders’ and ‘Disallow: /checkout/’. 

Google Search Console has created a guide on how to create a robots.txt file and how to build and submit a xml.sitemap

Unwanted Pages and Content

You may have heard of Brian Dean, the Founder of the SEO site Backlinko.com, referring to these as “zombie pages”. Basically, it means any pages on your website that do not generate traffic. 

These pages can be old blog posts or news articles, search results pages, archive pages or pages with thin content (content on a page that offers little to no value and is less than 300 words). 

Now there are two things you can do here. 

  1. If you have an old blog post that could still offer valuable content on your website, then you could “zhuzh it up” by adding more content that offers value to your visitors. 
  2. Remove the unwanted pages.

Google has actually said that more content on a site doesn’t make a website better. It is more focused on the value that your content has to offer. 

So bottom line, if the content doesn’t offer value to your audience and doesn’t bring any traffic to your website, give it the chop!

On-Page SEO Audit

Usually, the first thing that comes to mind when people think of SEO is on-page SEO, since the content, keywords and media on your website contribute massively to your rankings and traffic. 

Now, as an SEO executive, I will say that SEO involves a plethora of different components, not just on-page. That being said, we do want to break down some aspects you need to examine when conducting an on-page SEO audit. 

Organic Traffic and Keywords

A fundamental part of an on-page SEO audit is gathering research and benchmarking how your website is performing at the current point in time.

For SEO, this means analysing your organic traffic, individual web page performance and keyword rankings. 

An important tool in an SEO executive’s toolbox is Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides you with a breakdown of your web traffic from all sources (paid, social, email, organic etc.). What you want to focus on is ‘Organic Traffic’. 

This tool allows you to view users to your website, the amount of time they spend on your web pages, pages that are underperforming and a dive into the demographics of your audience. These are just a few of the things you can find with this handy tool.

For keyword research, another tool that is free to use is Google Search Console. This has other features which are handy for SEO as well, such as the ‘Index’ segment which finds any coverage issues on your website (useful for completing your technical SEO 😉). But you can see which keywords are generating clicks to your website. 

As an official SEMRush Certified Agency Partner, we would like to mention that SEMRush is also another analytics and research tool that can be used to track SEO performance and expand your keyword and content optimisation. 

It is great for finding new keywords and seeing different variations, as well as understanding the competitiveness for said keywords on search engines. 

However, to reap the full benefits of this, you do have to pay for a subscription. Whilst we recommend using, utilising free SEO resources when available is always a good start. 

From keyword research, you can create a keyword strategy and on-page optimisation plan. However, this can all be arranged after you have completed your full SEO audit. We do discuss this further in our eCommerce SEO guide which is available to download below 🤩

Download SEO for eCommerce brands guide from Reward banner

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

You know when you are on Google and you search for something, let’s say a certain Manchester marketing agency? 😉 You see all these search results for websites that feature title and a description. 

Reward Agency meta title and description Google SERPs example

If you focus on the sections just below the URL, you will see what is known at the title tag and meta description!

Every page on your website has one. They are used to provide context to users, as well as search engines, as to what the respective web page is about. 

With title tags and meta descriptions, you need to make sure that they are optimised for length, keywords and readability. They need to cater towards the ranking factors for search engines, but also to your target audience who will use this opportunity to better understand your business and products. 

Here is a rule of thumb for length optimisation for both title tags and meta descriptions:

  • Title Tags should be around 45-55 characters (60 characters at max)
  • Meta Descriptions should be around 145-155 characters (160 characters at max).

When gathering your title tags and meta descriptions for your website pages, you should look for ones that are much shorter or longer in length than the optimal length for search engines. Also, look for the ones that do not feature your target keywords or pages which have no title tag or meta description at all! 

Keep a record of all these pages and start to work through optimising these title tags and meta descriptions first. 

Website Content

Next, you want to analyse your website content. This is a major component of an on-page SEO audit and should be investigated thoroughly. It can help you to understand the current state of your content, inspire future campaign ideas and change the game for your content strategy plan.

Start by reviewing your homepage, then collection pages (landing pages for your product categories) and then move onto product pages. And let’s not forget, blogs and news articles!

Now, there is a lot to review with content, which should be broken down into two categories: SEO-friendly content and user-friendly content

For SEO-friendly content, you want to look at the components that will affect your rankings. So this will include content length, keyword density and optimisation, headings, alt text, image size and URLs. 

For example, you need to check for thin content (web pages with a word count of 300 characters or less). Are you optimising your content for a specific keyword or are you overusing a search term and it is spammy? Are you using headings (H1, H2, H3 tags etc.) appropriately with keywords? Check that your images are as low of a file size as possible and include alt text, to both reduce page speed loading times and add descriptive text to your images so that Google understands what the image is. 

For user-friendly content, you need to make sure that your content is engaging, relevant and easy to understand for your target audience. Along with the quality of your content, you need to ensure that the layout and structure are easy to follow and separate topics appropriately. Plus, you must consider the reading time and scannability qualities to your content - the easier it is to read, the better! 

We actually created a reel recently that offers 3 tips on how to optimise your content on your website.

Finally, review the types of content that your website has to offer. 

Sometimes, text can get boring and monotonous. Check your content for different media types, such as images, videos, infographics, GIFs, questionnaires etc. 

Off-Page SEO Audit

Last but not least, conducting an off-page SEO audit. These are factors that affect your website’s ranking that you can’t necessarily change directly, such as backlinks, guest blogging, forum posting and online reviews. 

It is important that you thoroughly review all aspects of your off-page SEO, but for now, we want to look at your backlinks and your local SEO profiles.

When analysing your backlink profile, you can use most SEO tools (just check beforehand), but we will be using SEMRush again. Take Patagonia for example! 

Patagonia SEMRush backlink analysis

From a backlink audit, you want to keep an eye on Domain Authority (shown as ‘Authority Score’ in SEMRush above) and Referring Domains.

  • Domain Authority = the authority score/rating of your website based on the quality and quantity of backlinks to your website
  • Referring Domains = the number of websites that are linking to your website from different web domains.

You should benchmark these details to keep track of your backlink profile as you progress to understand if the domain authority and referring domains increase or decrease. 

Don’t forget to also check for toxic backlinks!

Some SEO profiles will find these links for you automatically but you can also review your anchor text to see how websites are linking back to you. Take Patagonia for example 👇

Patagonia SEMRush backlink anchor text analysis

The majority of their backlinks are to their brand name which is good! If your anchor text is relating to your brand name, product names or target keywords that you are interested in appearing for, then this is good news for your business. However, for empty anchor backlinks, or anchor text that appears spammy (e.g. ‘click here’, ‘visit site’ or keywords that do not relate to your service at all ‘payday loans’), these should be considered toxic and reviewed. 

Finally, your local SEO. 

Local SEO is quite simple to understand. It is all to do with your visibility in local search results (which is important if your eCommerce business has a physical location or serves a certain geographical area). 

Checking where you rank on Google Map Packs is a great place to start. 

Google Map Pack example of vegan cafes Manchester

Depending on the keyword that users search for, you could appear in the top 3 of local map search results. If you are not appearing for your search term in local areas, let’s say ‘jewellers in West Yorkshire’, then this is an opportunity for your company to optimise your Google My Business profile. 

This is when you can review the set-up and settings of your Google My Business profile. Here is a checklist of things you should review:

  • Business Name: Are you using your actual business name in full? Does it correlate back to your website appropriately? 
  • Complete Information: Have you set up each section of your business to provide a full overview of your opening and closing times, location, categories, services areas, products etc.?
  • Incomplete/errors: Are you missing out on details on sections? If you have any incorrect information that does not align with your website, then this will need to be corrected. 
  • Photos/Videos: Make sure that you upload your company logo and pictures that are related to your business. These should be used to entice your target audience to turn into customers. 
  • Reviews: Having plentiful reviews that reflect your business and products in a positive light will massively benefit your business, as you are showing your target audience that they can trust and buy from your company. 

If you don’t have a Google My Business profile set up, it is enough to set up and can be integrated with Bing Businesses to be optimised for local SEO on both search engines. 

Completing an eCommerce SEO Audit with Confidence

At Reward, we always conduct an SEO audit on our eCommerce partner’s websites so that we know the ins and outs of your business, identify pesky faults and find urgent fixes. All of this can help in planning your future SEO improvements accordingly and inspire ideas for SEO campaigns to run on your eCommerce website. 

If you are interested in a deeper understanding and advice on completing an eCommerce SEO audit, along with advice on implementing an SEO strategy, then you can download our guide 👇

Complete an SEO eCommerce brand Reward banner.

Alternatively, you can arrange for a free consultation with the team to discuss a marketing implementation plan for your business. 

Book here: https://www.rewardagency.co.uk/contact

Email: hello@rewardagency.co.uk

Call: 0161 533 0760

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