Technical SEO audit guide for eCommerce

 

Introduction

Organic Search has been for many years and still is a vital traffic and consequently revenue source for eCommerce projects. Even though the topic has maybe decreased in popularity over last couple of years in the eCommerce world due to newer trends such as Social Marketing, Content Marketing and what not, Search Engine Optimisation is still bringing a solid return on investment across eCommerce projects worldwide and frequently outperforms other sources of traffic in terms of conversion rates and attracted revenues.

There are several ranking factors which are being gathered by search engine crawlers and interpreted by search engine algorithms that directly influence a website's search ranking.

Objective

A Technical SEO audit aims to analyse and evaluate the on-site technical search engine ranking factors and check that a given project in a given time period has a correct technical setup from the SEO perspective, focusing on:

  • Accessibility — search engines and users can access each allowed section of your website

  • Indexability — search engines can index needed content of the website

  • On-Page ranking factors — aspects of client’s website that influence the website’s search engine rankings

The result of Technical SEO audit:

  • Short summary of findings

  • Prioritised list of improvements and clear actions to be taken to make sure your project does not have any technical SEO issues

  • Technical observations and detailed issues log for each section

Scope

There are various factors that all contribute to the website’s search engine rankings. In our Technical SEO audit we check following areas:

  • Indexation

  • Content

  • Validation (links, performance, etc)

  • Mobile-Friendly Test

  • Search Console

  • HTTPS Configuration

  • Sitemaps & Analytics

Often these areas affect each other, so it is important to check all of them. In order to perform checks in all areas, accesses are needed for:

  1. Google Analytics account

  2. Google Search Console (and Bing Webmaster tool, if relevant)

  3. Magento store admin panel

 

Contents of Technical SEO audit:

Indexation

Search engines build an index that contains all pages which might be eligible for display in search engine results pages (SERPs). For a given page to get any traffic via search engines, it must be in the index, so it makes sense to make sure that the pages you want to get traffic to are indexed. Further, it makes sense to ensure that pages you don’t want to be indexed are not indexed. In order to evaluate whether search engines are having the correct archive of the website, we run tests on:

  • Indexable Pages

  • Non-Indexable Pages

  • Site Indexation

  • Non-200 Status Pages

  • Failed URLs

  • Robots.txt

  • Uncrawlable URLs

HTML Content

Search engines are limited in the way how they crawl websites and interpret content. HTML content gets read, interpreted and evaluated by search engines and then showed to people in the SERPs based on the interpretation and the predicted website usability for the user, hence it’s crucial to make sure that the HTML content, including page titles, meta descriptions, meta robots tags, canonical tags, micro-data and many more, are used in the appropriate way. In order to ensure that HTML content signals search engines the correct aspects of the website and the website’s content, we run test on:

  • Titles & Descriptions

  • Body Content

  • Images

  • Social Tagging

  • Pagination

  • Structured Markup

Validation

During site crawls, if search engines cannot access the content of the website due to broken internal and external links or server side errors, that means that also users will not be able to access this content. It’s crucial to evaluate and test all links that are present on the website as well as links that lead away from the website, and fix the links accordingly. Fixing broken links usually corresponds to redirect implementation, which also affects the internal link juice passed to the destination pages hence it’s important that redirects are implemented according to best redirection techniques. Also, website speed performance is a crucial ranking factor for search engines, because website and page rankings are based upon complicated multi-level algorithms, whose main purpose is to predict the user experience and user friendliness. To identify validation problems we perform various test on:

  • Link Validation

  • Performance

  • Other validation (Max URL Length, hreflang tags, cookies etc)

Mobile-Friendly tests

Mobile friendliness of the website is an important ranking factor for both desktop and mobile SERPs. We use Google Validator tool and Screaming Frog spiders, as well as code review to test the mobile-friendliness of the website from an SEO perspective. Also, we check crawler accessibility of the content, what kind of view solutions are applied to mobile and how these changes consequently influence the way both, search engines and visitors, see your website.

HTTPS Configuration

Since the primary goal of search engines, such as Google, is to serve the best possible content to individual users, security issues play a crucial role in the way search engines rank websites. Good encryption and a trusted third party are basic components for a good online experience. Since HTTPS protocol is considered to be a safer user experience and thus gives a ranking preference vis-a-vis to HTTP, it’s important to perform tests on the HTTPS resources, security certificates and also the redirects between HTTP and HTTPS protocols.

Sitemaps & Analytics

Sitemaps are one of the main tools of webmasters for assisting search engine crawlers on what, how often and in what order they should crawl and index, and eventually show to users the website content. It’s crucial to evaluate and fix any issues that are in sitemap files, like broken links, missing pages, redirected links and so on. Since sitemaps are one of the first places crawlers look for help, they need to be in good condition at all times, hence we perform various tests on:

  • XML Sitemaps

  • HTML Sitemap

  • Analytics

Search Console

Google’s Search Console is the primary tool for SEO, which evaluates website based on Google’s ranking requirements. Search Console also offers many reports and feedback for evaluating website’s search appearance, search traffic, Google’s index statuses, crawler issues and much more. Search Console tests and improvements is a crucial step towards acquiring a better rank in Google and thus increased CTR’s and consequently revenues, which is why we perform tests and evaluate Search Console’s:

  • General Setting & Messages

  • Search Appearance

  • Search Traffic

  • Google Index

  • Google Crawl

  • Security Issues