E-commerce Sites: 6-Step SEO Health Check

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for e-commerce sites looking to drive qualified traffic and sales online. However, with Google’s algorithms changing more rapidly than ever and new best practices constantly emerging, it can be challenging for e-commerce sites to stay on top of everything impacting organic rankings and performance.

 

We will cover technical elements like site architecture, speed, and mobile optimization, optimizing on-page SEO through product page content, titles, alt text, and more, building high-quality backlinks via content, outreach, and influencers using rich snippets to enhance listings, tracking keyword rankings to prioritize efforts, and driving conversion rate optimization.

 

This article will guide you through a comprehensive 6-step SEO health check built specifically for the e-commerce space.

 

By following this methodology, you can audit the core elements of your e-commerce site’s SEO foundation and take the necessary actions to control what you can optimize.

 

Top 6 Important SEO Health Check Steps

Step 1: Conduct An Audit of Technical SEO Elements

An e-commerce SEO health check starts with auditing the technical foundations that largely influence search visibility and rankings. Before diving into content and links, it’s vital to ensure your site’s infrastructure, speed, and accessibility are up to par.

 

Review these key technical elements:

Site Architecture

A logical site architecture with sensible URL structures and pages helps users and bots navigate your e-commerce site. Ensure your product categories and filtering make sense, with layers that move visitors closer to making a purchase.

 

Avoid overly complex navigation. Test site architecture using a site crawler tool for broken links or pages returning 404 errors.

Page Speed

Page speed has grown as an important ranking factor, as Google wants to surface sites that offer the best user experience. Test your site through online tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Think With Google’s Test My Site. Measure both desktop and mobile page load times across your homepage and key product pages.

 

Target under 3 seconds of load time by optimizing images, enabling browser caching, minimizing redirects, compressing files, and replacing inefficient plugins. Faster pages equal more happy customers.

Mobile Friendliness

Over 65% of e-commerce traffic comes from smartphones. Your site must be mobile-friendly and responsive across devices. Run manual spot checks on varying pages and products. Confirm images, text, and CTA buttons resize appropriately without horizontal scrolling using different mobile-friendliness tests.

 

If not mobile-friendly, prioritize either implementing a responsive design or creating a dedicated m.dot mobile site with equivalent content.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate

An SSL certificate enables data encryption and secure checkout transactions via “https”. It also conveys trust and security to customers while providing a positive signal to search engines.

 

SSL should cover site-wide pages, not just carts and checkouts. Use Qualys SSL Labs to analyze the strength of your current SSL implementation, if you have one, or immediately install a certificate.

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps serve as a guide for search engines to more easily crawl your dynamic product inventory. Submit basic product category XML sitemaps along with daily product inventory feeds within the Google Search Console. This ensures the timely indexing of new items.

Robots.txt

Your robots.txt file instructs search bots on what they can and cannot access. As an e-commerce site, you typically want everything indexed unless it contains confidential assets.

 

Audit your robots.txt file using Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl to ensure you are not unintentionally blocking categories that should be crawled. Tackling these technical issues upfront lays the groundwork for optimizing pages and building links, moving forward the fundamentals that directly tie to rankings and revenue.

Step 2: Optimize On-Page SEO Elements

With the technical SEO foundations audited, next, assess the on-page elements that comprise each product listing and site content page. Optimizing these critical components better targets relevant searches and improves click-through rates when ranked.

 

Carefully optimize the following:

Title Tags

Title tags appear as clickable link text in search listings. Keep product titles under 60 characters, with important keywords up front and e-commerce brand names added to the end. Craft compelling, customer-focused titles that entice clicks.

 

For example, Sweet Box – Decadent Gourmet Sweets from Margie’s Sweets

Meta Descriptions

The meta description summarizes page content in search results. Accurately describe the product in 155 or fewer characters to improve click-through rates. Include intriguing adjectives and sales messaging without overstating claims.

 

For example: “Gift decadent gourmet dark chocolate truffles in keepsake packaging, perfect for birthdays, holidays, celebrations, and chocolate lovers!”

Headings Tags

Proper heading tags like H1, H2, and H3 help structure content for SEO and site visitors. Ensure one primary product name (H1) on each page.

 

Break up lengthy descriptions into scannable sections marked by descriptive heading callouts highlighting aspects like features, shipping details, care instructions, and more.

Image File Names and Alt Text

Rename product image filenames to include the target product keywords for that image. Fill out the alt text attribute with a description of the image rather than generic phrases. This helps search engines understand image context.

Content-Length and Density

Each product description should contain at least 250 words with sufficient information for customers, written in a compelling, benefit-driven style.

 

Work in target keywords where relevant, but avoid over-optimization. Shoot for under 5% keyword density. Optimizing these elements significantly impacts on-page SEO strength and conversion rates.

Step 3: Build High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks remain one of the strongest signals for search engine rankings. E-commerce sites should actively build links from relevant sites to earn “votes” toward their authority and relevance.

 

But avoid low-quality links; the focus should instead be on securing editorial backlinks legitimately given because a site wants to reference your content.

 

Here are effective backlink-building strategies for e-commerce:

Blogger and Influencer Outreach

Identify popular bloggers and influencers in your product niche. Develop relationships by sharing their content and interacting on social media. Offer to provide complimentary product samples or discounts on items relevant to them in exchange for reviews. Published reviews that link back to your e-commerce store are a huge win.

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Affiliate programs reward external sites for driving new customers your way with a small revenue share commission.

 

Offer generous incentives for affiliates to register and promote your products via articles, videos, social shares, etc. The more sales they drive, the more you both earn.

Sponsored Guest Posts

Contribute guest posts with useful, engaging content around your product niche to targeted websites with high domain authority and traffic.

 

Ensure guest posts offer information that would genuinely help the site’s audience. In exchange, request a brief bio with a link back to your store as the author.

Skyscraper Technique

The “skyscraper technique” involves building on and then outranking existing high-performing content with something even more useful and compelling. Identify resources ranking well for sought-after product phrases and create superior content around the same topic.

 

Pitch your enhanced guide, comparison, or reviews to sites linking to the old resource in exchange for them swapping the link to point to your improved version instead. This uses sites that already link to high-quality resources in your space to build more powerful and relevant backlinks of your own.

 

Diversifying your backlink acquisition strategies through multiple trustworthy avenues prevents over-reliance on any one source. Mix branded anchor text links with some generic anchors as well. Monitor new links for changes with rank-tracking software.

Step 4: Using Rich Snippets

The first step is to add structured data markup to your product pages. This involves adding schema.org microdata, RDFa, or JSON-LD that describes the product. At a minimum, you need to specify the name, description, image, and price.

 

The next step is to add breadcrumb markup to the site using the BreadcrumbList schema. This helps search engines understand the category structure and where a page sits in that hierarchy:

 

You can also mark up product reviews using the review schema. This allows the review rating, author, and text to be displayed prominently in search results.

 

The final step is to validate your structured data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This will check for errors and show you a preview of how your markup will appear as rich snippets. Fix any errors before submitting your site to Google Search Console to start indexing the pages.

 

Properly formatted rich snippets will enable you to display product images, ratings, pricing, and more directly in Google search results. This can boost click-through rates and convey key information to searchers without them needing to visit your site. Adding snippets is a great way to enhance an e-commerce site’s search presence.

Step 5: Track Keyword Rankings

The first step is to identify the important keywords and phrases that you want to rank for. These should be terms that your target customers are likely to search for when looking for products you sell. Analyze your site analytics to see top search queries and also use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner.

 

Once you have compiled your list, structure the keywords from highest to lowest priority. Focus first on ranking for the high-volume, high-conversion keywords that drive a lot of traffic and sales.

 

The next step is to set up tracking in the Google Search Console. Verify your site ownership, then submit your sitemap so all pages are indexed. Under the Performance section, add the high-priority keywords you want to monitor. This will display the current ranking data.

 

Additionally, set up rank tracking with third-party SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. These give you access to more ranking data, including your top 10 competitors for each keyword. Most have rank checkers and historical data.

 

When new blog posts and product pages are added, submit them to the Search Console. If you are creating new important landing pages, add the target terms to your rank tracker.

 

Analyze ranking reports regularly, such as weekly or monthly. Look for positive or negative movement for your most important e-commerce terms. If rankings decline, inspect for technical issues like site speed or crawling errors.

 

You can also evaluate if a ranking boost is needed for priority keywords. This might involve creating new content around those terms or building more quality backlinks.

Step 6: Conversion Rate Optimization

The first step is to set up tracking so you have the data needed to optimize. Install Google Analytics and add an e-commerce tracking code site-wide to track key metrics:

  • Traffic sources
  • Bounce rates
  • Pages per session
  • Product and category pages viewed per session
  • Add to carts and purchases
  • Conversion funnel drop-off

 

Additionally, install heat mapping software like Hotjar, Microsoft Clarity or Mouseflow to see on-page behavior.

 

Next, establish a conversion rate benchmark to improve against. Calculate your current site-wide rate as total orders divided by total site sessions. And break it down by marketing channel, device type, and other cuts.

 

Conduct A/B testing for landing page optimization opportunities. Test changes to copy, layouts, images, calls-to-action, form fields, etc. Ensure not to test too many changes at once.

 

Review heatmaps and session recordings to understand user struggles. Notice navigation difficulties, points of exit or confusion, checkout friction, etc.

 

Common e-commerce optimization tactics include:

  • Simplifying navigation and menus.
  • Improving product descriptions.
  • Adding reviews and trust symbols.
  • Showing security badges and guarantees.
  • Recommending complementary products.
  • Offering coupons or saving messages.
  • Allowing guest checkouts.
  • Pre-filling form fields.

Prioritize fixes that target multiple issues users face across session recordings and heatmaps. Measure the results of changes for 30-90 days before assessing performance. Allow time for the data to stabilize. Check that conversions have lifted against your benchmarks.

 

Conduct tests over time, focusing on primary category and product pages first before less-trafficked areas. Continuously review analytics and heatmaps to reveal new issues.

Conclusion

Following this comprehensive 6-step SEO health check offers an in-depth blueprint to identify problems, focus on quick wins, and pursue an effective long-term e-commerce SEO strategy.

 

As Google’s algorithms evolve, stay on top of new best practices. Additionally, tap into other key digital marketing channels like paid search and social media to diversify and scale growth.

 

With continual optimization using this methodology, your site will strengthen its organic presence and convert visitors into happy, repeat customers.

 

Mridula Singh

Mridula is a seasoned content writer whose passion for words is matched only by her talent for creating compelling narratives. With a proven track record of delivering impactful content across diverse platforms, she has firmly established herself as an expert in her field. She excels in crafting web content that not only informs but also inspires. Her digital content strategies are tailored to optimize online presence, engagement, and conversion rates. She has a portfolio that includes articles, blog posts, e-books, and more, all characterized by her distinctive style and commitment to excellence.