Checklist for technical seo audit of an online store

Target audience analysis
The main task of an online store is to ensure sales (increase in orders, average check, repeat purchases, increase in customer loyalty). However, no matter how beautiful and convenient an online store is, the owners are constantly faced with low traffic and low conversion of the resource.
Why is this happening and what influences it? The answer to this question will be given by a full audit of the online store.
Search engine SEO audit - a professional analysis to identify errors in the code, in the structure, negatively affecting the promotion of the online store. In other words, it is the preparation of recommendations for improving the site and the ranking of its pages. Search engine SEO audit is one of the components of the service “Technical audit".
We divide audit work into 3 stages:
·       Technical optimization audit
·       Internal optimization audit
·       Usability audit
Further, we will consider in detail only the first two stages, how we carry it out in the "PROMOONE" company, without affecting the stage "Usability of site audit". This is a topic for a separate article. We recommend using this step-by-step seo audit instruction to check your online store.

How to correctly conduct a technical search engine audit of a website?
SEO audit of technical site optimization - identifying errors that negatively affect the indexing of a resource in search engines and its correct operation.

In the process of auditing an online store, we analyze the site according to a checklist consisting of a large number of items. But in this section, we will consider only the most important. What is worth paying attention to first.

SSL certificate installation
SSL is a unique digital signature that verifies the authenticity of the site and ensures the security and protection of data transmission.

Having an SSL certificate has a positive effect not only on site security, but also on search engine ranking and user loyalty, since in 2017 popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and Opera) began to mark sites with the HTTPS protocol as secure.

You can check the SSL certificate in the service SSL Checker. After entering the site address, the service generates a detailed report.

The installed certificate is not a guarantee that everything will work correctly. It is important to check the settings on the site side so that they comply with the seo requirements for SSL:
·       Content on https
- links to images and videos; - scripts; - canonical.
·       Link to sitemap.xml in robots.txt file on https.
·       Links in sitemap.xml to https. 301 redirects from all pages from http to https.
·       Https version of the site added to Google Webmaster, etc.
But if you do not have an SSL certificate installed yet, and you are just planning to move from the HTTP protocol, then it is also important to consider these requirements.

Setting up a 301 redirect
To remove duplicates, the 301 redirect setting is often used. One url address is redirected to another, as a result, the addresses are glued together, and only one address remains in the search.

We check duplicates and correct installation of 301 redirects on the site pages:

Redirect on the main page:
with ""
on "" (or vice versa)
with ",,,"
on ""

Automatic slash ("/") at the end of url:
with ""
to "" (or vice versa)

Without an extra slash at the end of the address:
with ""
to ""

Url in lowercase:
with ","
to ""

Customizing Pages
It is necessary to create easy-to-remember and easy-to-read page addresses. Search engines consider such pages as a ranking factor.

We check the links to meet the following requirements:
·       The URL is concise, informative, reflecting the essence of the page and the structure of the site;
·       Length no more than 110 characters (recommended length);
·       A dash "-" or an underscore "_" is used to separate words;
·       URL in transliteration, not in foreign translation.
Rel = canonical setting
Unlike 301 redirects, canonical links eliminate duplicate pages, not by redirecting from one URL to another, but simply by telling search engines which page to index. They are configured by adding a special rel = canonical tag to the pages with the address.

We check the rel = canonical setting on products that are located in several categories, and on pages with parameters in the url.

One product in several categories.
Such duplicates occur when one product is assigned to several categories and is available at several addresses at once. In this case, we check that these pages contain a canonical link to the preferred address.

Parameters are added to url.
For example, when filtering or sorting goods, the following parameters are added to the url of pages: /? SORT_FIELD =, /? VIEW =, etc. These addresses must also contain canonical links to url without a parameter.

Setting up pagination
If a lot of products are displayed in the product category of the site, then pagination appears (page - 2, page - 3, etc.). It is important to set them up correctly in order to exclude such duplicates.

We check that the pagination pages are marked with rel = prev and rel = next attributes, allowing them to be linked together for correct indexing.

Setting up a robots.txt file
Robots.txt - a text file with indexing parameters to restrict access by search robots to certain sections and pages of the site.

In the process of a search seo audit, we pay close attention to the analysis of robots.txt, since this file is responsible for the correct indexing of the entire site. We check for compliance with the following seo requirements:
·       Robots.txt at the root and available at a link of the form:
·       The file contains separate User-Agents for robots and one for all search robots.
·       Unnecessary and service pages are closed from indexing:
- site search; - registration and authorization; - filtering; - sorting, etc.
·       The link to the file sitemap.xml is specified
Setting up the sitemap.xml file
Sitemap.xml - a special xml file with links to the site pages required for indexing.

In popular CMS, the creation of a sitemap.xml file is automated and configured in a couple of clicks. Example sitemap.xml file:

We check that the sitemap.xml meets the requirements:
·       The file is available at a link of the form:;
·       Contains only links necessary for indexing;
·       There are no "broken" links;
·       There are no links to pages that are prohibited from indexing in robots.txt;
·       Sitemap.xml has been added to the Google webmaster panel.
Checking download speed
If the online store takes a long time to load, then not every user will wait until it is fully loaded. Low speed not only negatively affects user experience, but also conversions and search engine rankings. This is especially important for visitors who use mobile devices.

Checking the download speed through a free online service "PageSpeedInsights". The service analyzes the content of a web page on a 100-point scale and offers solutions that will speed up its loading.
·       A high download speed is considered to be 80 and above.
·       Medium - from 60 to 79.
·       Low from 0 to 59.
Checking errors by validation
Validation - checking HTML and CSS code for compliance with modern requirements: no syntax errors, nesting tags, etc. Valid code allows the site to display correctly in all browsers that users use.
·       Check HTML validation
·       CSS validation
All pages should be free of gross errors. micro-markup and OpenGraph
Micro-markup is a standard for semantic markup of a website. Helps search robots better understand the content of the page, improve search results, as well as the look of the page when reposting to social networks.

Responsible for improving the snippet of an online store in Google search results.

Checking the settings for the main types of micro-markup:
- Marking organization contacts. - Marking bread crumbs. - Marking goods. - Marking reviews on products.

Open Graph microdata
A standard specially designed for social buttons like "Share", "Like", "Share", etc., to improve the look of the preview of the page that the user is going to share on social networks.

How to conduct an internal optimization audit?
Validation - checking HTML and CSS code for compliance with modern requirements: no syntax errors, nesting tags, etc. Valid code allows the site to display correctly in all browsers that users use.
Internal optimization is a set of works aimed at ensuring the content of the site pages and the compliance of the code with the requirements of search engines, in order to achieve TOP positions for key queries and attract organic traffic.
Let's consider 7 main points on internal optimization, which we pay attention to during a seo audit:
·       Directory structure;
·       Filter;
·       Tagging;
·       Meta tags
·       Text;
·       Relinking;
·       Images.
Checking the directory structure
The directory structure is a system of mutually located pages and categories. It is equally important both for users for easy navigation through sections and for search engines, it is better to index and rank the site.

What do we look at first when checking the structure of an online store?

Breakdown into categories
It is a grave mistake to combine several or all categories into one section, for example "Products", "Catalog". With such a structure, it will be difficult for users to find a suitable product. Product categories are also important for search engines, as they are the main lead generators for organic traffic.

Category breakdown too detailed
The category tree should not contain a large number of main "branches". A structure that is too long does not fit vertically on the computer screen. This is especially noticeable on mobile devices.

Three-level nesting
The average nesting level for any online store is 3 clicks to the card. Example: "Skirts" (level 1) - "Office skirts" (level 2) - "Specific skirt model (product)" (level 3). We recommend implementing everything that does not fit into the third level through seo filters and / or tagging.

Forming the correct URLs
Page URLs reflect nesting.

Equal distribution of goods by category
If there are 300 products in one category and only five in the other, then the user who got to the page with fewer products may feel the store's emptiness. The distribution in all categories should be more or less equal.

Analyzing filters
Filter is a tool for selecting products. For example, in an online clothing store, in order to select only red T-shirts from all T-shirts, the user ticks the box and the products are filtered by this parameter.
And SEO filters allow not only filtering products, but also creating unique category pages filtered by the necessary parameters and properties, i.e. with its own meta data h1, title, description and description. Using SEO filters, you can promote filter pages for low-frequency queries from the semantic core.

SEO filter pages must meet the following requirements:
·       Unique meta data h1, title, description;
·       Ability to set a template for meta tags;
·       The ability to add articles;
·       Automatic addition of canonical links;
·       Automatic adding of pages to sitemap.xml;
·       Formation of correct bread crumbs;
·       Easy to remember and convenient url;
·       Relinking.
Tagging validation
Some of the search queries from the semantic core may not fit on category pages (articles, product cards, etc.). Such pages should be implemented through page tagging. This will significantly increase the number of visits to the site to attract search traffic, increase the convenience for visitors, conversion and the speed of achieving the goal.

Tags are created based on common characteristics, for example:
- color, size: clothes for a boy 5 years old; - product characteristics: black tea in a box; - brands, etc.

We check the presence of tags and compliance with seo requirements:
·       Unique title, description, h1;
·       The clear title of the pages on all pages;
·       Possibility of text placement;
·       Adding canonical links;
·       Adding pages to sitemap.xml;
·       Correct bread crumbs;
·       Re-linking of page tags.
Checking the optimization of seo tags: title, description, h1
Title tag
Search engines use this tag to form the title of the snippet (a snippet can also be formed from h1, h2, etc.).

SEO requirements for the Title tag:
- Unique Title both within the site and among all other sites. This can be achieved by adding the company name to the end of the description; - Length 77 characters. Title should be informative and short, reflecting the essence of the page; - Contains key queries for which the corresponding page is promoted; -Different descriptions in Title and h1.

Meta Description tag
The Description meta tag is used by search robots to form a description in a snippet. In some cases, this description can be formed from the content of the site.

SEO requirements for Meta Description tag:
- Reflects the essence of the page. It can be composed of several sentences. -Unique, not only within the pages of the site, but also among all other sites. This can be achieved by adding the name of the company to the description. -Contains key queries for which the corresponding pages are promoted. -The content of the Description does not duplicate Title and h1.- The optimal length is from 150 to 250 characters.

H1 tag
H1 is the most important first level heading used by search engines when ranking site pages.
SEO requirements for the h1 tag:
-Used on the page only once; -H1 must contain the main keyword; -Optimal length no more than 70 characters; -The title is unique within the entire site.

Checking the text
Let's highlight the main requirements that you should pay attention to when checking the text on the site:

Availability on all important pages
We check that the text is placed on all pages of the site that are promoted in search engines: on the main page, pages of categories and subcategories, product cards, etc.
All articles must be unique. This is one of the indicators that have a positive effect on website promotion in search engines.
None of the visitors to the online store will read a continuous and long text. It should be divided into paragraphs and headings of different levels and lists, informative, answer all the client's questions, remove doubts and handle objections.
SEO optimization
In order for the text to be understood not only by users, but also by search robots, it must be optimized for the keywords being promoted.
Checking the linking
Internal linking is the most important tool for site search engine optimization, as it allows you to:
·       Search robots to index all pages of the site
·       Correctly distribute link weight between pages
·       Assign more relevance to the pages important for promotion.
It will be very difficult for an ordinary owner to relink an online store without relevant experience. But everyone can check that the main functionality that is necessary for linking is implemented on the site.

Elements that are worth paying attention to when analyzing linking:
"Bread crumbs"
"Breadcrumbs" is a navigation chain that is located on all pages under the site header. The title of the current page should not be a link (in this example it is (T-shirts and polos ").

Catalog menu
The menu on the site should be convenient, containing links to the necessary sections and categories. You should not include in it all links on the site, for example, to seo filters or seo tags, as this is inconvenient, and the link weight will be distributed unevenly.

Filter links
Links to filter properties must be embedded on category pages in the block of seo filters. And on the pages of the filters themselves, there should be links to pages with the intersection of two filters. You also need to check that links to pages that are hidden from indexing are not displayed.

Links from product cards to other products
Due to the large number of product cards, not all of them can be indexed well. Therefore, links to other products should be added to the products. First of all, this should be implemented through additional blocks "Similar products", "Recommended products", "Buy with this product", etc.

Checking the linking
The first thing that users of an online store pay attention to are product photos. Everyone understands that they must be of high quality in order to attract the attention of users. However, many people search for products on a daily basis in image search. Thus, search engine optimization of images for an online store plays an important role in increasing website traffic and providing additional sales growth.
Image file names
The name of the images must match the content of the image. For example, if the site depicts "white dress with red flowers", then the link should also say - "/.../white-dress-with-red-flowers/".
Image size
The more the image weighs, the longer the page will load. Therefore, to increase the speed of the site, it is necessary to reduce the file size so that the quality of the images does not suffer.
Image format
Popular image formats are .jpg (jpeg), .png and .gif. We recommend using the .jpg (jpeg) format for product photos. This file type can be easily compressed without loss of quality.
Image alt attributes
The alt attribute is a textual description of the images. In the description of the tag, the keywords for which the corresponding page is promoted should be used. We check that the alt attribute is filled in all images of the site. and Open Graph micro-markup
It is enough that the markup contains the following: link to the image, image name, description, caption and image dimensions.
Sitemap.xml for images
To increase the site's presence in image search on Google, receiving an improvement in rankings and additional traffic as a reward, you must have a separate sitemap that contains links to image addresses.
And in conclusion
We examined in detail the important stages that we pay attention to when conducting a seo audit of an online store for technical and internal optimization. But we did not touch upon the issues related to "Usability", as this is a topic for a separate article. Stay tuned for new publications on the site.

Use this step-by-step guide to check your online store!