As a result, it’s not uncommon for a website’s content to be well optimised only for more technical issues to be holding a website's performance back.
Technical SEO is especially important for ecommerce retailers
Technical SEO issues are problems with the site setup that prevent search engines from crawling, indexing and ranking content effectively. If you consider that even a moderately sized retail website can have thousands of product pages, then an indexing problem can prevent hundreds if not thousands of pages from appearing in search results and achieving traffic and sales.
Unsurprisingly, fixing such issues can deliver a considerable uptick in monthly revenue. In this post, I discuss how we worked with an online retailer to identify and fix indexing problems and deliver impressive gains.
Example client and their search landscape
The website in question was that of a B2C retailer in the visual arts sector. They have over 5,000 products. Products are not exclusive to their website and are sold by other retailers. Each product has a standard naming convention that customers use as their search queries when they’ve identified what they want to buy e.g “Acme DX1234”
Symptoms - not all pages indexed by Google
Our Technical SEO Audit uncovered that despite having 5,186 pages on their website only 4,135 were being indexed by Google. This was an immediate red flag and we needed to dig deeper to understand which pages these were. There are legitimate reasons why a website might be configured so that certain pages are not indexed.
Typically this is when a website has large amounts of low-quality pages that they need to keep out of Google’s search index to avoid ranking penalties. However, on inspection, the client's website had no such ‘low quality’ pages and no pages blocked from being indexed. This then could only mean one thing - pages were not being indexed because search engines were not crawling them. So why might this be?
The importance of using crawl budget efficiently
Search engines assign what SEOs refer to as ‘crawl budget’ to every website. In simple terms Crawl budget is how long Google will spend crawling your content on each visit. It is determined by things such as how many external links your website has, how ‘healthy’ your site is and how much content you have.
On large sites, it’s essential that nothing slows down Google’s crawl or content can be left un-crawled and will not be indexed and returned in search results. Crawl budget issues are typical of ecommerce sites and the pages that most often suffer from not being indexed are the pages ‘deepest’ in a site’s architecture i.e product pages.
Our diagnosis - crawl budget issues preventing 1,051 product pages being indexed
We immediately suspected that a crawl budget issue was causing the indexation problem we’d identified. What’s more, we suspected that the 1,051 pages that weren’t being indexed were product pages - the very pages that needed to be in the search results when customers were looking to buy!
We got to work analysing all of the areas that typically cause a site’s crawl budget to be used inefficiently. As a result, we identified the following issues:
- Thousands of duplicate page URLs blocked from being indexed but not blocked from being crawled - hence using up crawl budget.
- Rogue and duplicate product categories with hundreds of pages of products being crawled unnecessarily and using up crawl budget.
- Product category pages with only a relatively small number of products per page meaning that hundreds of pages of products needed to be crawled unnecessarily - using up crawl budget.
A 30% uplift in monthly revenue - ongoing!
On fixing these issues we achieved full indexation for our client within 30 days. The number of their product pages achieving traffic from organic search queries doubled. Most importantly this improvement was responsible for an average 30% uplift in monthly revenue!
The ROI delivered from our Technical Audit was massive for the client. Furthermore, it is ongoing - the uplift in revenue continues to be achieved every month.
Technical SEO Audits for quick wins and reassurance
Clearly not all technical audits that we carry out deliver such impressive results. However, it is worth highlighting how they can - particularly if you’re running an ecommerce site. Most audits do uncover issues that when fixed deliver quick wins and improved results. If you’re looking for reassurance that there’s no money being left on the table or suspect that something is holding back your SEO efforts then consider an audit.
If you liked this post you may also be interested in our Faster SEO Success white paper where we discuss areas of focus for delivering SEO ‘quick wins’.