Perfect What's Behind the Scenes
Many website marketing teams have some familiarity with optimising their online content; particularly through the use of keywords. However, effective SEO goes far further than this, and requires a good level of technical know-how. This is especially the case with ecommerce websites.
As part of an initial audit, I’ll assess the technical aspects of your eCommerce site, then make recommendations on how to optimise them to improve your online visibility on an ongoing basis through enterprise level tools, constant monitoring, and analysis.
The following actions make the biggest difference in terms of improving SEO:
Boosting site speed
Google is obsessed with site speed. It might seem trivial to focus on milliseconds, but they can add up, and for your users and Google, they make a considerable difference. Focus on users first, because their buying choices have a real effect on your bottom line. According to Google, 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load.
If that’s not convincing enough to motivate a focus on milliseconds, then know that Google will also suppress your site's visibility if it thinks a user might be turned off by the speed of your site. It doesn’t even need to be slow, just slower than other equally optimised sites in your niche. The mix of these two effects means you get less traffic and sales.
I use a range of tools to establish the speed issues of your site, and indicate where improvements could be made.
Good internal linking can boost SEO – it all helps!
Checking the URL structure
Do your ecommerce pages have URLs that look a bit like this?
If so, they could use some work. A URL structure should be as simple as possible, and indicate the nature of the contents on the page. When working on URL structures, I focus on establishing clear category, subcategory and sub-sub category page URLs, then product page URLs.
With the necessary improvements in place, the previous URL might look like this instead:
This is much better, in terms of SEO.
Checking your add-ons
Add-ons can really enhance your ecommerce site, and make it stand out from the competition. However, they can adversely affect your SEO.
There are four areas where add-ons can negatively affect your site:
Speed – unfortunately some add-ons put a lot of stress on the site during load. For example, Hotjar is a very useful tool but can slow load speeds considerably (compared to the same site without it).
Compatibility – some add-ons don’t play nicely with others. There can be situations where add-on functions collide at the most important times, and that can have seriously bad effects on how the site is indexed.
Support – some add-ons aren’t supported or updated well. This means they can age, break, or vulnerabilities can be found but not patched. The most important issue here is security – if it’s compromised, this will affect your site's SEO.
Complexity – some SEO issues are complicated, and some add-ons apply them incompletely. This can have unseen, unintended effects, especially with indexing. Hreflang tags are problematic, especially when they conflict with canonicalisation. If you don’t know why that’s an issue … I’ve made my point!
Optimising the images
Ecommerce sites are generally rich with visual media, photos and pictures. This can be an SEO asset, as visual search is important and hugely underrated. However, in order to be effective, these images must be properly optimised.
I focus on improving the following:
Scaling (which affects load speeds)
Responsiveness (the srcset attribute should be in place, so images can be seen on different devices)
Structured data (which creates a better listing on Google’s image search)
File name / alt tags / title text
Your ecommerce site has two forms of sitemap – HTML and XML. HTML sitemaps make your site easier to navigate, and XML sitemaps help the search engines to index your URLs.
They can both be adjusted to improve your online visibility. I’ll make sure your XML sitemap is optimised to highlight which pages you want indexed on the search engines, and that your HTML sitemap is as simple to navigate as possible.
As part of this strategic approach, I’ll also be examining the internal links on your site.
Checking robots.txt files
Robots.txt files tell the search engines not to crawl certain pages of your site. This can be useful in terms of:
Blocking pages that you’d prefer to remain private, such as login forms
Blocking less significant pages, and directing search engines to your important content instead
The configuration of these files can be essential for helping to craft the indexing of filter pages on ecommerce sites.
Incorporating hreflang tags
Hreflang tags are useful for ecommerce sites that operate in numerous countries. If, for example, you have a French version of your site, a hreflang tag ensures that French customers only see the site in their native language in the search results - not your English version. This results in them spending more time browsing your site, which is good for SEO.
Hreflang tagging can be tricky. If this is something that would benefit your ecommerce site, I’ll focus on implementing this attribute, to ensure better results in all the countries you sell to.
Checking the redirects
Where to start with redirects?
Firstly, this is one area where so many sites make the biggest errors or simply don't seize the opportunities.
These can quite simply make or break your site. The three most important areas are:
Site migration redirects - this is the black hole of redirects, and the riskiest time a site faces from an SEO point of view. However, with the right care and process, the risk can become an opportunity.
Http to Https changes - we've seen these managed well, and managed in a way that completely compromises SEO.
Sold out and old products - seems like a simple process to handle, but if you don't have redirect plan, Google will think you don't have a clue what you're doing.
If you’d like to learn more about how I can help with the technical side of optimising your site, get in touch today.