In our previous articles, we have talked about different aspects of SEO for eCommerce websites and online stores. This article focuses on technical elements that affect an online store’s SEO including, crawlability, indexability, and UX.
Web Crawling and eCommerce SEO
An important aspect of technical SEO for eCommerce websites is to ensure a website appears on Google and other search engines, we must decide if it’s ‘crawlable’. You might ask what is web crawling, and you should know that web crawling involves Google spiders reviewing all of your website’s pages and trying to index them. Basically, crawlability means that Google’s bots can read every page on the site when they come around.
If Google can’t crawl a website, then it can’t index it and consequently won’t list it in its search engine.
Some reasons a website might not be crawlable include robots.txt, NoFollow Links, broken links, gated content, and limited server capacity, among many others.
Misused robots.txt is the most common issue we see. Essentially, this is a snippet of metadata that tells Google which pages it should and should not crawl. If it’s incorrectly configured, you may prevent crawls of your site.
How to Check if a Page is Crawlable?Spider simulator is a free tool that checks your pages to see if they are crawlable or not. Google search console’s inspector is another option. Copy the url into the inspector tool on top of the search console page and wait for Google to tell you whether it is crawlable.
How to Check if a Page is Blocked by Robot.txt?To check if your website has been blocked, you can make use of Google’s robot.txt tester tool and enter your website’s URL at the bottom.
Submitting XML Sitemap for Ecommerce Website
XML sitemaps are web pages that link out to every other page on the website. They act as a roadmap to the website specifically for search engine spiders.
By submitting an XML sitemap to Google Search Console, you’re guaranteeing that Google can easily find and navigate your entire website. Because each CMS has its own way of creating sitemaps, it’s better to contact support people if you don’t know how to make an XML sitemap.
To ensure you’ve submitted an XML sitemap to Google, visit the page in the image below.
How to Check to See if Your Website Has a Sitemap?The Sitemap Test is a free tool that allows you to determine whether your website has a sitemap. Enter the URL of your website and wait for the results to appear.
Duplicate Content & Canonical Tags
All websites contain a certain degree of duplicate content. This is normal.However, it’s important to tell Google which page is the ‘canonical’ version. In other words, the duplicated page you actually want listed in Google.
When we audit websites, we check Google Search Console to see which duplicate pages are declared canonical. If there’s ever a discrepancy we use the ‘mark as canonical’ tag to help Google easily understand which page we want to rank.
Another common SEO issue are 4XX errors. Most notably ‘404s’.
A 404 occurs when a URL is taken down but links to the URL still exist. For an eCommerce store, this might occur when you want to remove a specific out-of-season product but external websites are linking to it.
Too many 404s results in a poor user experience. Google may derank your site if you have too many 404 errors.
To fix a 4XX error, simply create a 301 redirect. This type of redirect will automatically bounce a user or a bot to a similar page of your choice.
Broken Links: Internal & External
A broken link is any link on your site that leads to a webpage that doesn’t exist. Either the hyperlink was input incorrectly or the destination page has since been removed.
Broken links result in the aforementioned 404 errors. Too many broken links results in poor user behavior.
To resolve broken links, either remove the problematic external link altogether. For broken internal links, either change the link destination or create a 301 redirect.
HTTPS vs HTTP
All domains are either HTTP or HTTPS.
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol.HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
HTTPS websites encrypt a user’s data, providing an extra layer of cybersecurity.
Because eCommerce websites handle financial transactions, using a HTTPS URL is critical to protecting your customers. So much so, if you don’t use it, Google almost certainly will not rank your website.
Schema Markup for eCommerce Website
Schema or ‘structured data’ is a type of code that allows spiders and bots to quickly read the relevant information on a webpage.
Google has a large gallery of structured data sets that may be relevant to your website. Common structured data sets include Articles, Job Listings, Recipes, Reviews, etc.
View the full gallery of structured data Google recognizes here.
What Are the Most Important eCommerce Schemas?
At Pedestal, we always audit eCommerce websites for Breadcrumb and Product Schema.
Breadcrumb Schema helps users easily identify how a webpage fits into the site’s URL hierarchy. It improves site navigation and results in a better user experience.
Product Schema helps Google pull all relevant information to correctly list your products on Google Shopping and on the normal Google results page. Product structured data fields will include Product Name, Product Description, Price, etc.
To quickly check what structured data sets have been configured on your webpages, copy and paste the URL into Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool. It will scan the webpage’s code for structured data and identify any errors or warnings.
Importance of Website Loading Speed
Page Speed is one of the most important user behavior variables Google considers when deciding how high to rank your website.
In recent years, Google has begun greatly prioritizing page speed in its ranking to ensure users are being delivered high-quality experiences.
When we audit a website’s page speed, we use Page Speed Insights. Simply copy and paste a URL into the tool and it will generate a grade from 1-100 for the page’s mobile and desktop speed. It will also provide very specific suggestions to improve page speed.
The biggest culprit of slow page speed is large image files. Use websites like Image Compressor to shrink your images before uploading them to your website. Another important point is using next-gen image formats such as webp instead of jpeg.
The final element we always consider when auditing an eCommerce website’s organic performance is mobile friendliness.
First, we check the mobile site’s page speed using the aforementioned Page Speed Insights tool.
After reviewing mobile page speed, we also review Google Search Console’s Mobile Usability report.
The Mobile Usability report will identify any webpage that may contain mobile errors such as links that are too close together.
Check Out Our eCommerce Technical SEO Checklist
Contact Us: eCommerce Website SEO Audit
Auditing a website’s SEO performance is a critical first step to improving organic visibility, traffic and conversions.
While we’ve included a thorough checklist of how to conduct an SEO audit yourself, the process is tedious, time-consuming, and often difficult for the average business owner to execute to a high standard themselves.
At Pedestal Search, we’re offering to conduct a free SEO audit of your website to help you better understand the potential of ranking on Google.
Contact us today to receive your free SEO audit.
Ecommerce SEO, Link Building, SEO, Technical SEO
CEO & Founder
Aaron Levenstadt completed his degree in Statistical & Data Science at Stanford University. That focus has given him an unparalleled data-driven approach to search engine digital marketing. Prior to founding Pedestal Search, Aaron worked at Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View California. At Google he worked on the Organic Search, Paid Search and Google Analytics products, which equipped him with extensive knowledge of the mechanisms driving Google’s algorithm and other internet search engines.