Searching engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for ecommerce stores looking to drive qualified organic traffic, leads, and sales. However, with constant Google algorithm updates, keeping your ecommerce store up-to-date and optimized for search engines can be challenging.
That’s why regularly auditing your ecommerce SEO can help uncover opportunities and issues that may be holding your store back from ranking higher and converting better.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through a detailed ecommerce SEO audit checklist covering all the key elements you need to analyze to optimize your ecommerce SEO.
- Regularly auditing your ecommerce SEO helps identify issues hurting your rankings and can uncover optimization opportunities.
- Follow this comprehensive 10-section checklist covering all key elements of technical SEO, on-page factors, keywords, site architecture, content, and more.
- Prioritize auditing mobile optimization, site speed, technical SEO, on-page content, and top-priority product and category pages.
- Use SEO tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console to gather data and automate audits where possible.
- Compare your SEO performance against competitors to find their strengths to emulate and weaknesses to capitalize on.
- Create an audit schedule, such as quarterly, and stick to it consistently to align your SEO strategies with best practices.
- After auditing, establish specific SEO goals and KPIs, then execute high-priority fixes uncovered to boost organic traffic and revenue.
Why you need an ecommerce SEO audit
Auditing your ecommerce store’s SEO provides many benefits:
- Identifies issues hurting your rankings so you can fix them.
- Uncovers quick wins and optimization opportunities.
- Keeps your SEO strategies aligned with the latest best practices.
- Ensures the website is fully indexed and crawlable by Google.
- Provides insights for improving SEO ROI and driving more revenue.
Without regularly auditing your site, it’s easy for technical SEO issues, keyword cannibalization, low-quality content, and other problems to go unnoticed, silently sabotaging your rankings and conversion rates.
An audit gives you a 360-degree view of your entire SEO strategy, shining a light on what’s working, what needs improvement, and what’s under-optimized.
When to conduct an ecommerce SEO audit
Ideally, ecommerce businesses should audit their SEO 2-4 times per year.
You may also want to conduct an audit when:
- Launching a new website
- Introducing a major new product line
- Traffic or rankings drop noticeably
- After a website redesign or migration
- Competitor rankings improve
Auditing more frequently ensures you catch any issues as soon as they emerge before they have a lasting negative impact.
Now let’s get into the meat of this ecommerce SEO audit checklist.
Ecommerce SEO audit checklist
Follow this comprehensive checklist to perform a complete audit of your ecommerce SEO strategy.
1. Technical SEO audit
Technical SEO establishes the foundation upon which your entire SEO strategy is built. Unless dealt with, crawl errors and site speed issues will undermine your efforts in other areas like content and links.
- Mobile responsiveness: Ensure your site is mobile-friendly and pages load quickly on all devices. Test mobile optimization with Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
- Page speed: Pages should load in under 2 seconds. Test your site with Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Optimize images, enable compression, minimize HTTP requests and more, depending on the report you get from your tool of choice. See section 9. Site performance audit.
- XML sitemaps: Create and submit XML sitemaps to Google Search Console. Ensure your sitemaps contain all site pages and assets that you want indexed by search engines.
- robots.txt file: Check your robots.txt file for any disallow directives blocking important pages from indexing. Allow search engine bots access to all pages you want indexed.
- 404 errors: Identify any 404 not found errors in Search Console and 301 redirect the URLs or fix the broken links. Remove deleted pages from your XML sitemaps.
- Duplicate content: Fix any duplicate title tags, meta descriptions, or body content identified in Search Console. Use canonical tags to consolidate duplicate content.
- Structured data: Implement product schema, breadcrumbs schema, etc. Test your schema markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Pagination: Ensure pagination works properly and pages are being crawled properly.
- HTTPS security: Upgrade your site to HTTPS. Add an SSL certificate for security and SEO ranking boost.
- Hreflang tags: Properly implement hreflang tags for targeting visitors by country/language with geo-specific content.
2. On-page SEO audit
Optimizing your individual product and category pages is crucial for targeting informational and commercial searcher intent.
- Title tags: Title tags should be crystal clear and target a specific keyword. Keep titles under 55 characters and unique for each page.
- Meta descriptions: Accurately describe the page content in less than 155 characters. Include the page’s target keyword and make it unique across all pages.
- Headings hierarchy: Use a hierarchical heading structure (H1 to H6) to establish semantic meaning and improve scannability.
- Image optimization: Include alt text with keyword targeting. Use descriptive filenames and compress file sizes for faster loading.
- Content length: There is no set number for how long content should be. Generally, the more content, the better. Just ensure that the content is useful for your target audience and doesn’t contain much ‘fluff’ just to extend it.
- Keyword optimization: Primary and secondary keywords should be naturally incorporated into content without over-optimization.
- Outbound links: Cite external sources for additional info to enhance authority and relevance where appropriate.
- Internal links: Link internally between related content to distribute authority around your site.
- Media optimization: Properly optimize and embed videos and infographics using title, description and keywords.
- Local SEO: Include business name, address and phone number in structured data for local store pages.
3. Keyword research audit
Frequently audit your keywords to identify new opportunities and weed out unproductive targets.
- Existing rankings: Check rankings for your most important existing target keywords. Identify any drops.
- Search volume: Analyze Google Keyword Planner and other tools to identify high-volume commercial keywords to target.
- Competitor keywords: See which keywords competitors rank for but you don’t. Consider targeting these.
- Long-tail searches: Mine Google Autocomplete and Related Searches for fresh long-tail keyword opportunities. Update your target keyword list with these new queries.
- Keyword maps: Create keyword-to-page maps to identify opportunities to improve optimization and eliminate cannibalization.
- Keyword intent: Ensure you target primarily commercial and transactional keywords appropriate for ecommerce. It is fine to target informational searches for your top-of-funnel. Navigational queries can also be important, particularly if you are DTC and sell your products via retailers. You will likely be competing with these retailers for your navigational brand queries.
- Difficulty: Target attainable keywords. Ignore ultra-competitive keywords with unrealistic ranking potential. Use keyword difficulty scores from your keyword research tools to help you better understand how difficult a keyword will be to rank for.
4. Mobile SEO audit
With more than 60% of searches happening on mobile devices, mobile optimization is mandatory.
- Mobile page load speed: Test your site speed on multiple devices and connections using Google PageSpeed Insights.
- Mobile layout: Ensure your site has no horizontal scrolling or too-small tap targets on mobile. Menu and CTA buttons should be finger-friendly.
- Mobile redirects: If you have separate mobile and desktop sites, serve mobile users the correct device-specific content using Vary: User-Agent HTTP Headers.
- Structured data: Use markup to enable click-to-call, location markup, etc. for mobile actionability.
5. Site architecture audit
Clean information architecture and site navigation make it easier for search bots to crawl and for users to find relevant content.
- Breadcrumbs: Properly formatted breadcrumbs help with on-site navigation and semantic meaning for bots.
- Mega menus: If using mega menus, ensure they function on mobile and aren’t crammed with excessive options.
- Category pages: Product category pages optimized with useful, keyword-rich content, not just a list of products.
- Filtering: Ensure layered navigation filtering works properly to help users narrow product results and does not cause duplicate content.
- Internal link structure: Internal links should use keyword-rich anchor text and connect relevant pages together intelligently.
- URL structure: Clean, well-organized URL structure using keywords and categories. No overly long or complex dynamically generated URLs.
6. Content strategy audit
Providing robust, high-quality content that engages users and search bots is crucial for SEO success.
- Optimization: All pages are optimized for specific keywords while remaining user-focused.
- Engagement: Content provides value to users beyond just pushing products.
- Multimedia: Images, infographics, and videos improve engagement. Optimize with alt text and file names where appropriate.
- Updating: Regularly add fresh site content and blog posts to give search engines a reason to recrawl.
- Pillar pages: Develop strong site pillar pages that target commercial keywords and related long-tail variants.
- Thin content: Identify and flesh out any thin pages targeting high-value keywords that need additional content.
7. Local SEO Audit
Ranking in local search results can help drive foot traffic to physical store locations.
- Google My Business: Register and verify your Google My Business listings with complete, accurate info for each location.
- Local keywords: Optimize for keywords containing location names along with product or service terms.
- Location pages: Create unique, locally-optimized location pages with addresses, hours, contact information, and descriptions.
- Citations: Build citations on directories like Yelp to bolster local SEO rankings and visibility.
- Structured location data: Structured data markup provides key location info like business name, address, phone number.
- Reviews: Actively generate positive local reviews on Google and other sites like Facebook and industry forums. Monitor and respond professionally.
8. Voice search optimization audit
With the rise of voice assistants, voice search requires its own optimization strategy.
- Intent matching: Optimize content for long-tail natural language voice queries. Focus on intent over keywords.
- Speakable text: Content reads naturally when spoken out loud. Avoid rigid keyword stuffing.
- Schema markup: Use schema markup so that search engines can better understand your content for voice search. Consider using Speakable structured data, currently in beta, for content best suited for audio playback.
- Voice shopping: Optimize product titles and descriptions to sound natural when read aloud by a voice assistant.
9. Site performance audit
Page speed greatly impacts both SEO and conversion rates. Every millisecond delay hurts.
- Page speed tests: Test site speed using tools like Google Page Speed, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. Identify your store’s page speed bottlenecks.
- Page weight: Heavier pages hurt site speed. Optimize and compress images, scripts, stylesheets, etc. Load only critical code above the fold.
- Caching plugins: Install caching plugins to improve page load times. For example, WordPress sites can use caching plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache to improve load times dramatically.
- CDN usage: Use a content delivery network (CDN) to cache assets and serve them from servers closest to the user.
- Image compression: Compress and resize images to lower filesize. Use newer image formats like WebP.
- Mobile optimization: Ensure your store loads fast on mobile as well as desktop.
- Async loading: Load non-critical scripts like analytics asynchronously so they don’t block page rendering.
- Fewer redirects: Minimize HTTP redirects which increase load times. Avoid causing redirect chains.
10. Link audit
The quality and authority of sites linking to you boost rankings and referral traffic.
- Disavow tool: If you think toxic links are negatively affecting your rankings, disavow these bad links using the Disavow Links tool.
- Analyze your backlink profile: Run your domain through Ahrefs, SEMRush, Majestic or Moz to analyze the current makeup of your backlink profile.
- Competitor links: Identify sites linking to competitors but not you to inform outreach and link-building decisions.
- Link equity: Assess the authority and domain strength passing through each link to understand its value.
- Link reclamation: Reach out to sites you already have old links from but they have since gone dead or offline. Request updating or relinking.
- Link velocity: Measure the number of new links obtained monthly. Assess the growth or decline of your total link profile.
Final tips for your ecommerce SEO audit
- Use SEO tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console to gather data on crawl errors, search analytics, and more to inform your audit.
- Create a schedule for auditing your site SEO regularly, such as quarterly. Consistency is key.
- Look at both site-wide optimization opportunities as well as improvements for key pages, categories, and landing pages.
- Compare your performance to competitors to identify their strengths that you can emulate and weaknesses you can capitalize on.
- Act on issues uncovered during the audit in order of how much they affect your SEO performance.
- Share audit findings with stakeholders at your company and agree on the next steps for improving visibility and revenue from SEO.
- Use the audit as input for goal setting. Establish specific SEO KPIs to hit through implementing audit recommendations.
Regularly conducting comprehensive ecommerce SEO audits following this checklist will help keep your strategies aligned with current best practices and your store on the path to continued search visibility and traffic growth.
Frequently asked questions
What are the most important elements to audit?
The technical SEO audit, on-page optimization and content strategy are most critical, as issues here will undermine the rest of your efforts. Also, be sure to closely audit your main category pages and product pages – your most important assets.
How long does an ecommerce SEO audit take?
A full audit could take 15-30 hours for a medium-sized ecommerce site. Very large websites can take considerably longer. Use SEO tools to analyze larger data sets when possible to reduce manual analysis time.
When should I do an audit – monthly, quarterly, or annually?
Aim to audit your ecommerce SEO 2-4 times per year. Quarterly allows you to spot issues arising during key seasons. Annually is not frequent enough in the fast-moving SEO landscape.
What tools do you recommend for auditing SEO?
Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and SEMRush are very useful for site crawls, backlink analysis, keyword tracking, and technical SEO checks. Google PageSpeed Insights covers site speed.
What should I do after finishing the audit?
Review key findings with stakeholders, create an SEO task list, and prioritize fixes. Establish goals and KPIs to measure success in improving the areas uncovered. Then execute regularly to turn insights into increased organic traffic and revenue.
If conducting a comprehensive DIY ecommerce SEO audit seems overwhelming, we can can handle it for you. Contact us to learn more about our full ecommerce SEO audit service. We’ll crawl your site, analyze the data, and deliver a detailed audit report with prioritized recommendations to increase organic visibility and conversions.