When it comes to creating and developing an eCommerce website, especially for SEO, it is crucial to prioritize the technical aspects as they directly associate with your website’s search engine crawlability, indexability, and user experience.
Even if you use website builders and robust CMS platforms with full eCommerce features and facilities like Shopify or Wix to build your website, and develop your website, you will still have to closely monitor the technical aspects.
Whether you code a website from scratch or use popular website builders and CMS platforms like WordPress (WooCommerce), Shopify, or Wix, you will need to be technically proficient to maintain these websites.
Although you get built-in drag-and-drop editors with several templates, themes, and plugins to develop a full-fledged eCommerce website, you will still have to use custom coding and other technical optimizations to make sure your website is absolutely SEO-friendly.
Google has over 200 ranking factors, but out of all these ranking factors, the technical factors play a vital role in your eCommerce website’s organic rankings and search visibility.
If you look into the ranking factors of other search engines like Bing, it has more than 100 ranking factors, and it also prioritizes websites that meet certain technical requirements.
Unless you fulfill the technical requirements according to the search engine guidelines, your website won’t get enlisted in the search engine database, so that would eliminate the possibility of even ranking on the search results.
In more severe cases, search engines like Google and Bing might even penalize your website for not maintaining the technical aspects, and for jeopardizing your website’s user experience, security, crawlability, indexability, and more.
To establish and grow your eCommerce business’s online presence, it is crucial to optimize your website in every possible way to improve its search rankings and position it among the top search results.
According to Hubspot research, it was found that 75% of online customers don’t even scroll beyond the first page of search results.
According to recent statistics, 81% of eCommerce customers refer to search engines before making a purchase decision. Moreover, 44% of online shoppers start their online search shopping by searching for specific information, products, or services on search engines.
Almost 50% of all eCommerce website traffic comes from search engines, so you need to meet all technical search engine requirements to optimize your website to rank on the top search results.
This article provides a comprehensive step-by-step technical SEO guide to help you effectively optimize your eCommerce website, which includes deep SEO audit, user experience optimizations, developing website design, creating XML sitemaps, tweaking robot.txt, effectively internal linking, using proper redirects, optimizing canonical tags, boosting website security and more.
Step-by-Step Guide to Conduct Effective Technical SEO for eCommerce
Identification of Technical SEO Issues
1. Conduct a Deep SEO Audit to Identify Issues
Websites are a lot more technical than they appear to be, on your web browser they may just look like plain pages with text and visual elements.
But within all that lies several codes that have constructed your website’s structure, visual appearance, and functionality.
There are some technical issues that you can identify and evaluate by just browsing it, like website loading speed, and how responsive your site is.
But there’s no way to determine complex technical issues that affect your website’s overall performance, security, and crawlability.
So, to effectively identify these issues it is crucial to run a Deep SEO audit to identify every issue hindering your eCommerce website’s search rankings and visibility.
To conduct an effective Deep SEO audit, you will have to,
Check for Indexing and Crawlability
By integrating your website with tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster’s Tool you will be able to get overall insights about all the pages on your website.
These tools will illustrate and show the pages that were successfully indexed and those that weren’t or could not be indexed yet.
You can also check the issues that are affecting your website’s crawlability and indexability with a few clicks.
Plus, if you want you can conduct URL inspection for specific web pages simply by copy-pasting the web page link, it will outline the page’s indexability status, and highlight any issues affecting the page’s crawlability and indexability.
You can click the option Test Live URL to get a more detailed evaluation, and you can also look into the validations to identify the core issues.
Alternatively, you can even use advanced SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush to conduct a site audit, and check the indexing and crawlability status of your website.
Disclaimer: Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tool are very effective in identifying issues, but they are not perfect either. So, it’s better to check your website’s coding for a more precise and comprehensive evaluation.
Scan for Duplicate Website Content
It is natural for eCommerce websites to have multiple web pages, and you might have to create more product pages and other important web pages frequently to feature new products or services or for running your marketing campaigns.
While creating these new pages, you might generate duplicate pages with similar URL structures.
Your duplicate website content might include URLs like:
Here, there are 4 different versions of the same web page, which can confuse search engines to determine which one is the original version.
Search engines will see all of these 4 versions as different web pages, so that can cause serious indexing and ranking problems.
It is crucial to identify duplicate pages and take effective steps to guide search engines to index and rank the most relevant, appropriate, and import pages.
You can use tools like Siteliner by Copyscape and Screaming Frog Spider to scan your website for duplicate content, and effectively identify them. To learn more about identifying duplicate content, you can follow this guideline here.
Identify Broken Links
Having broken links is a critical website issue, it’s a direct indicator to search engines that you don’t properly manage and maintain your website.
It will kill your website’s authority to search engines, and it will also tremendously impact your website’s health score, which is a key metric to determine how well-optimized your website is.
More importantly broken links lead to poor user experience, and as it is mandatory to ensure quality user experience, it can significantly hamper your website’s search engine rankings.
That’s why you must frequently monitor your website to identify broken links.
One of the most important aspects of running a Deep SEO audit is to identify all internal and external broken links to take effective measures to redirect or delete them.
You can review broken links on Google Search Console and Bing Webmasters, but to track them down more comprehensively it is better to use advanced SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
Check for Mobile-Friendliness
In the year 2015, both Google and Bing launched major updates to identify whether the website is mobile-friendly. So, if you want your eCommerce website to rank on the top search results, it is mandatory to ensure that it’s mobile-friendly.
To do so, you have to make sure that the texts and other visual elements on your website are well-optimized so that your website visitors can easily interact with your content from mobile devices.
So, while you are auditing your website, it is very important to check whether it’s mobile-friendly.
You can use Google Search Console, Bing Webmasters, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and some other SEO tools to evaluate whether your website is mobile-friendly.
Alternatively, you can also use Google’s Mobile Friendly checker to determine whether your website is mobile-friendly or not.
Check the Website Loading Speed
Ensuring a fast website loading speed is among the most important search engine ranking factors. Search engines can identify how long will it take for each of your web pages to load by analyzing codes and by evaluating the overall file size of your web pages.
According to Pingdom, your website load time should not exceed 3 seconds, ideally, it’s best if your website can load within 2 seconds.
As per recent studies, it was found that the optimal website loading speed is less than 1 second, and the ideal website loading speed ranges between 1 to 3 seconds.
It is crucial for you to regularly check your website’s loading speed to evaluate whether all your web pages are loading in the ideal time frame of 1 to 3 seconds.
If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, then it can increase the average bounce rate by 32%, and more due to each additional second of delay.
An increased bounce rate is another solid indicator for search engines that your website provides a poor user experience.
So, a vital part of auditing your website is to analyze and evaluate its loading speed. You can use the following tools listed below to check your website loading speed:
Simply copy-paste the page URL to check the loading speed of your web pages.
Sitemaps are used to guide search engines to understand the most important pages on your website that should be crawled and indexed.
It is a complete set of instructions from your end to help search engines prioritize essential web pages on your eCommerce site.
If you’re using an eCommerce website builder and CMS platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, etc., you will automatically generate sitemaps.
Or, you can even manually create your own sitemap to specifically guide search engines.
Disclaimer: Although sitemaps help search engines prioritize web pages, it does not guarantee that the page will be crawled and indexed. It entirely depends on various factors for the search engine to determine whether the web pages are crawlable or not.
Regardless of whether it’s manually created or automatically generated, it is very essential for you to properly evaluate it to ensure that there are no critical errors or issues that can hinder your SEO efforts.
To check whether you have site map issues follow the steps below,
- Use Ahrefs or SEMRush Site Audit tool
- Copy and paste your domain link (for example monsterclaw.com)
- Click the All Issues or Issues tab
If you’ve site mapping issues then they’ll appear like the one in the screenshot below,
Usually, the issues are related to:
- Broken links
- Misleading redirects
- No-indexed pages
- Non-canonical pages
Google Search Console will also notify you of site map issues, but there are times you may miss out on these crucial notifications. So, it’s always best to check using specialized SEO tools.
Check Core Web Vitals
The core web vitals will show you all active and underlying issues hindering your website’s user experience, loading speed, interactability, and stability.
It will illustrate your website’s overall performance so that you can easily analyze and find technical issues that need to be fixed.
Typically, Google evaluates your website’s performance and user experience on both desktop and mobile devices to determine whether your website is technically sound for being indexed in the search results.
If you want to check your eCommerce website’s web vitals then you will have to open Google Search Console and click Core Web Vitals under the Experience tab.
Upon doing so, a page like this should appear on your screen, which shows a graphical illustration of your website’s user experience on both desktop and mobile devices.
Screenshot of Core Web Vitals on Google Search Console
If you click Open Report for either desktop or mobile, it will highlight specific technical aspects of your website that need improvements.
These are the 7 Main Technical SEO audits to identify issues affecting your eCommerce website’s SEO but to find overall SEO issues, you can use the site audit option to find overall technical issues that need to be addressed.
It’s better to conduct a site audit after specifically going through each of the 7 technical SEO audits mentioned above.
Deep SEO audits are conducted to find all issues affecting your website’s SEO and its organic visibility, so it is necessary to ensure not to skip any step here.
Once you’ve identified the issues, now you will have to apply the right technical SEO techniques and strategies to get them fixed.
Till now, you’ve learned how to identify technical issues affecting your website’s SEO, moving forward you will learn optimization strategies and techniques to fix these issues and effectively maintain your website.
Effective Solution to Technical SEO Issues
Run User Experience Optimizations:
Search engine crawlers can identify whether your website is secured against cyber attacks, malware, and potential online security threats.
An unsecured eCommerce website is an online goldmine and a prime target for hackers to steal user information, and bank credentials, along with gaining unauthorized access to payment gateways, debit/credit cards, and more.
Search engines like Google and Bing are very strict when it comes to vetting secured websites, so if your website isn’t secure enough there is a high chance that it won’t even get indexed in the search results.
Ultimately, that will eliminate all possibilities of your website even appearing on the search results, and that will entirely kill your website’s organic presence.
There’s a high possibility that your website may even get banned on Google, Bing, and other conventional search engines.
The only way to prevent all these mishaps is to ensure effective website security. Or else your eCommerce website’s SEO might be at a standstill, and you may not even be aware that none of your SEO strategies are working for having an unsecured website.
Here are some effective ways to ensure a highly secured eCommerce website:
- Install a certified web application firewall (WAP)
- Integrate an end-to-end server security system
- Choose a high-quality website hosting service
- Acquire an SSL certificate
- Use top-ranking plugins and extensions
- Secure all computers and servers using a comprehensive award-winning security software
- Regularly monitor your website to identify suspicious activities
- Track both inbound and outbound links, and only allow links between high-authority secured sites
- Backup all your website files, and other essential data
Maintaining an ideal website loading speed is one of the most crucial website ranking factors.
If you can’t do that, your website won’t qualify to rank among the top search results.
Earlier in this article, it was mentioned that the optimal website loading speed is less than 1 second, whereas the ideal website loading speed ranges between 1 to 3 seconds.
If you can maintain the optimal loading speed, that’s fantastic but if you can’t do that, you must ensure the ideal website load time of 1 to 3 seconds.
If your website takes beyond 3 seconds to load, it will increase its bounce rate, which will be a negative indicator to search engines that your website is not providing a quality user experience.
So, search engines will penalize your website by either deranking or deindexing it.
Hence, it is essential to ensure that your eCommerce website has a fast loading speed of at least 1 to 3 seconds.
You can consider following the tips below to improve your website’s loading speed:
- Choose a High-Quality Website Hosting Provider
- Remove unnecessary plugins
- Compress and optimize images
- Maintain JPEG format instead of PNG and other image formats
- Limit the number of visual elements on your website, especially animations, GIFs, and videos
- Upload videos on third-party websites like YouTube, and attach the source link to your website
- Reduce the number of redirects to a minimal level
- Enable browser caching, and cache your web pages
Most online customers these days use smartphones to browse eCommerce websites. In recent years the use of mobile devices has become very prominent in the eCommerce sector.
According to the statistics, it was found that at least 79% of eCommerce customers have used smartphones to browse and shop on eCommerce websites.
Moreover, 87.2% of all eCommerce sales were done using mobile devices. With each passing year, more online customers are using smartphones to explore and interact with eCommerce websites.
Ever since 2009, the use of mobile devices to browse eCommerce websites has been rapidly increasing. In 2015, ensuring a mobile-friendly website officially became a core website ranking factor for both Google and Bing.
So, unless your website is mobile-friendly, it won’t rank on the top search results. To optimize your eCommerce website to make it mobile-friendly, you may consider the following tips:
- Use a large font size that’s easy to read on mobile devices
- Integrate buttons or links that are easy to touch and click
- Maintain adequate white space between website elements for smooth navigation
- Ensure a highly responsive website design
- Try to avoid pop-ups as much as possible
Usability and Navigation
It is highly necessary to ensure that your website visitors can seamlessly use and easily navigate through your website.
It’s already established that user experience is the most important factor when it comes to technical SEO.
If you look into popular opinions, 94% of online customers agree that they prefer a website that’s easy to use and navigate.
So, that’s why you need to focus on developing an eCommerce website that provides a smooth user experience.
To improve your website’s usability and navigation, you can consider following the steps below,
- Make sure all your CTAs and actionable buttons are seamlessly noticeable and easy to click
- Re-adjust the size of key website elements to improve navigation and user experience
- Extensively internal link all relevant web pages to provide a smooth browsing experience
- Integrate a powerful inventory management system to effectively manage out-of-stock items
- Effectively redirect links broken links to active pages to improve the browsing experience
- Delete dead pages to avoid poor user experience
- Integrate AI-powered chatbots to improve user experience
Develop Your Website’s Design
In aspects of technical SEO, it is crucial to ensure an impressive visually appealing, and highly functional eCommerce website. Search engines can’t entirely read the visual aspects but they can scan and identify the distribution of all your website elements and their usability.
So, you will have to extensively focus on creating a robust website design that’s user-friendly, easy to use, and navigate.
You will also need to make sure that your website’s design is neat with sufficient spacing so that the search engine crawlers can effectively scan your website and identify each piece of content.
If your website’s design is cluttered, and somehow it obstructs search engine crawlability then it will lead to serious problems that will hinder your SEO efforts.
So, that’s why it is crucial to ensure that your website’s design is smooth, easy to read, and navigate for both end users and search engines.
Your website’s design needs to be crawlable, and it also has to be user-friendly to maintain and increase the average time visitors spend on your website.
Remember, the higher the average time your target audience spends on your website, the more likely it is to rank on the top search results, it is imperative to focus on improving user experience and reducing the bounce rate to a minimal level.
To improve your website’s design, you can consider following these effective tips:
- Maintain sufficient gaps and white spaces between all website elements
- Ensure that all actionable buttons and CTAs are easily clickable
- Place all website elements in a structured and organized manner
- Use appropriate text content, specifically appropriate headings, sub-headings, descriptions, and meta tags
- Make sure that all images and videos on your website contain appropriate alt texts, and specific file names so that the search engine can properly validate the content
- Optimize your website’s design template by using drag and drop editor, and custom coding to enhance website design significantly
- Effectively format your web pages so that it’s universally compatible across all digital devices; computers, smartphones, and tablets
Maintain and Optimize XML Site Map
XML sitemaps are used to effectively guide search engines to prioritize crawling and indexing your most important web pages.
So, it is crucial to routinely check your website’s XML sitemap to ensure that it’s properly constructed, and contains all your important web pages accordingly.
Sitemaps can include dead links or broken pages, which typically lead to 4xx errors in site maps, this means that the sitemap will prompt the search engine to index broken links on your website.
It can also include misleading redirects to pages that are not important or have certain issues, this can also misguide search engines, and that can lead to critical sitemap issues.
You might have specifically added no index tag for particular pages in the robot.txt file to block search engines from indexing certain pages on your website. So, if your sitemap contains web pages with no index tags, then it can confuse search engines and lead to conflicting situations.
It is crucial to closely examine these issues on your website’s site map, and edit it accordingly to have it fixed.
After fixing these issues, it is best to remove the faulty sitemap and upload the revised sitemap.
To add and remove sitemaps on Google Search Console follow the steps below,
- Sign into Google Search Console
- Select your website from the sidebar on the left side
- On the same panel, you will find Indexing, click that
- Click Sitemaps
- Add the URL of the sitemap by copy-pasting it
- Click Submit
After adding the updated site map, you will see the list of sitemaps below. On the right side of each sitemap on the list, you will find three vertical dots, click that and you will find the option Remove Sitemap.
Once you click that, the site map will automatically be removed, and it won’t appear on the list of sitemaps.
Alternatively, you can also remove the sitemaps from the Removal section in the left-sided panel. Click that, and enter the URL of the sitemaps that you want to remove.
The steps to add or remove your sitemap are similar for other search engines as well. So, follow similar steps to add and replace sitemaps on Bing, and other search engines.
Tweak Robot.Txt File
You don’t need search engines to crawl and index all your web pages. You just need it to specifically index the important pages. For eCommerce websites, it’s mostly the home page, about us page, career page, and most importantly your product and service pages.
So, it is essential to effectively optimize your robot.txt file, and guide search engines to refrain from indexing pages by adding them to the robot.txt. By doing so, it will add a no-index tag on those pages which will specifically instruct search engines not to crawl and index those pages.
It’s also effective to add the no-index tag on broken pages or the ones that require maintenance and optimizations. You should also add the no index tag for pages that are in development, this will prevent search engines from wrongfully flagging your web pages.
Before submitting the updated robot.txt file on your website, it is wise to have it tested, just to stay on the safe side. You can use Google’s Robot.txt file tester to check your robot.txt file one last time before updating it on your website. After having the robot.txt file verified, you can submit it on your website.
Remember to periodically check your robot.txt file, and optimize it accordingly to maintain effective technical SEO.
Disclaimer: Tweaking, editing, and optimizing robot.txt is a very technical process. Do not try experimenting with the robot.txt file unless you’re an experienced Technical SEO expert. It is advised to seek the advice and help of a Professional SEO expert to effectively optimize your robot.txt file.
Internal Link Relevant Web Pages
Extensively internal linking relevant web pages on your eCommerce website is one of the most effective technical on-page SEO strategies to rapidly improve your website’s crawlability, indexability, and search rankings.
It is vital for search engines to understand your website and its content, especially to evaluate and determine how much value your website can add based on specific search queries.
It is also an essential strategy to guide search engines to better understand the relationship among all the pages on your website to effectively determine its search relevance based on your target audience’s search intent.
So, that’s why it is highly recommended that you list down all the relevant web pages, blogs, and case studies and create as many internal links as possible.
While you’re at it, actively track and monitor all web pages on your site to add new internal links, especially after creating new pages on your eCommerce website.
Sometimes it is necessary to update web pages which can change the URL structure, so in that case, make sure to replace, and update the internal links across your website.
Setup 301 and 302 Redirects
There are two types of redirects; 301 and 302 redirects. The 301 redirect is permanent, this is commonly done to divert traffic to new pages or domains, especially due to extensive changes on the website, along with the migration to another domain.
On the hand 302 redirects are temporary, these are mainly done to divert traffic to alternative pages created for certain campaigns or to lead visitors to another web page for a specific purpose.
Depending on your eCommerce website’s requirements, determine whether to apply 301 or 302 redirects. Regularly check your eCommerce website to identify substantial pages that require these redirects.
It is vital to redirect web pages that have been moved or deleted. Broken links or pages with significant issues should be tactfully redirected to avoid search engine penalties.
Optimize Canonical Tags to Prevent Duplicate Pages
If you’re using a website builder and CMS platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, or Squarespace, you might be vulnerable to a common technical issue and that is the creation of duplicate pages.
Earlier, in this article, we’ve discussed the consequences of duplicate pages, but here’s a recap. Duplicate pages can confuse the search engine, and it will struggle to determine the original page and content.
It may objectively choose and index the wrong version of the page, and that page will appear on the search results page instead of the original page.
This will tremendously affect your website’s organic visibility and ranking, and it will have a dreadful impact on your website’s traffic. In the long run, it can cause severe indexing issues.
To prevent and fix the issue of duplicate content you will have to create and optimize canonical tags effectively. Canonical tags are specific HTML codes that provide precise instructions to the search engine to help it identify the main version of the web page among all the identical versions.
So, it is crucial to consistently track and monitor your website by effectively adding and optimizing the canonical tags.
Monitor Real-Time SEO Metrics and Optimize
Technical SEO is a consistent process, and you will have to actively monitor your SEO metrics to determine the areas of your website that need further maintenance and optimizations.
There are so many technical processes in running an eCommerce website, and even the slightest bit of change may lead to technical issues.
Not to mention, search engine algorithms are consistently updating, and certain updates come with significant changes, and most of the time it is necessary to make various technical changes to adjust with the latest search engine algorithm updates.
According to experts, Google makes about 500-600 changes in the search engine algorithm every year. Here’s the documentation of the all major changes Google made in its search engine algorithm over the last couple of years.
So, if you want to conduct effective Technical SEO, you need to monitor your SEO metrics on a real-time basis and run significant technical optimization to enhance the crawlability, indexability, and rankability of your eCommerce website.
You can use tools like Google Search Console, and Bing Webmasters, along with specialized SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest to monitor your SEO metrics, and effectively optimize your eCommerce website accordingly.
Let’s face one fact here, technical SEO isn’t a walk in the park, you need to have extensive knowledge in experience in SEO and website development to conduct effective technical SEO.
We’ve provided a step by step guidelines in this article, and if they are applied properly then you can achieve outstanding results, and rapidly improve your eCommerce website’s search visibility, and its position in the search rankings.
However, if these strategies are somehow misused, you can even break your website and it can lead to serious technical SEO issues that can be difficult, time-consuming, and very expensive to identify and fix.
It is highly recommended that you hire technical SEO experts or a professional SEO agency that specializes in technical SEO.
We have been providing specialized eCommerce SEO solutions for the last 10 years, and we have acquired a high level of technical expertise to heavily optimize eCommerce websites.
So, if you need our help you can book a Free SEO consultation, and one of our technical SEO experts will get in touch with you very soon.