Page click depth and page visibility
It is generally considered best practice for the customer’s journey to be 3 clicks away from the homepage. This means that your site should be structured so that the key products can be reached within 3 steps.
Although this is best practice, in reality this is not always followed. Some websites have a very difficult navigation structure, making the whole journey a lot more difficult than it needs to be. The trade-off on these sites is always between the design and functionality.
Many web designers do not like a faceted or detailed navigation. They would rather have links within the pages, as they believe it is more representative of the customer’s journey. However, such a structure makes the journey a lot more difficult for Google bots.
We need to make sure that all important pages are within the website’s navigation and have internal links throughout the site (this can be achieved through contextual links within category pages, breadcrumbs or related product boxes).
Without a doubt, site crawlability is one of the most important areas of SEO. If Google cannot crawl your site efficiently, you will not rank as highly as you could, even if all your other areas of search marketing are in alignment.
In larger ecommerce sites, crawlability can be an issue. Very often, these sizable websites have multiple categories, filter pages, advanced search parameters, pagination and many other factors that Google needs to be able to crawl in a concise manner.
Google allocates a “crawl budget” to your website, which means that every time the bot visits the site, it will spend a portion of that budget over a 24 hour period. If Google spends time crawling pages that have little value compared to you, you have failed; if it spends time crawling pages that are 301 redirect chains, you have failed; and if it encounters broken pages ending in a dead-end for the crawl, you have failed yet again.
Crawl efficiency and optimization is not something that can be easily achieved. It involves a specialist technical SEO project to analyze all areas of your website and locate these inefficiencies. At the most basic level, you need to make sure you have a detailed navigation with all top- and sub-level categories, and ensure you have internal links throughout your site’s pages that link to other pages. One of the most important areas is an accurate sitemap that only contains the key pages.
Mobile First Index
As a growing part of mobile optimization within Google, Mobile First Indexing is something in the upcoming key SEO areas to keep an eye on.
The Mobile First Indexing is an evolution of the so-called “mobilegeddon” from April 2015. As part of an ongoing evolution for mobile customers, the update was a way to ensure websites are all up-to-date in relation to the mobile requirements Google has placed on sites over the past few years.
MFI has been muted since 2016 and has now started to roll-out. The mobile search interface has changed over the years, so the lean towards responsive sites is now a lot more embraced by brands, however some mobile sites could be affected by the MFI in relation to SEO.
How does MFI affect SEO?
Does the above fold section of your mobile site load quicker than 1 second?
Do your desktop site and mobile site have different link structures, information or buttons?
Is your mobile site lacking content that is visible on your desktop version?
If you answer yes to any of the above, you may be devoured in the mobile index by Google.
Learn how to run a site audit as part of your SEO strategy.
Penguin 4.0 changed the link landscape. With the real-time update placed within the algorithm backlink, profiles are now on constant monitoring every month. Whitehat SEO practices with reputable companies are now industry standard, however brands can be attacked by negative SEO attacks (high spam and toxic links) that can see a website penalized through no fault of their own.
Google’s Gary Illyes has confirmed that there are even more algorithm updates on the way, mainly under the label of Fred. Fred has been around since April 2017, and isn’t just one algorithm on its own, it’s actually multiple algorithms which are designed to penalize sites with dodgy links and content.
Therefore, constant evaluation of your profile is key and also older websites that tend to have dubious link profiles should keep on cleaning them as a lot of old sites (3-5 years ago) have started to be deindexed. Such sites need to be disavowed to ensure a stable link profile with no penalties.
There are many tools out there to check your backlink profiles; the free ones have a smaller index so paid versions should always be used. A professional should review your profile as you may end up removing links that could affect your rankings and traffic, so care needs to be taken when evaluating and altering your own link profile if you have less experience in this.
If you keep the above tips in mind when updating your ecommerce site, then you should find that your SEO efforts will help improve your site’s rankings.
If you’d like to have a more in-depth conversation about what changes you can make to improve your organic search sessions, then why not get in touch with us?
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