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Key Takeaways

Revenue Driver: Ecommerce websites drive revenue for retailers.

Early Detection: Audits detect performance issues before they worsen.

Improved Buying Experience: Audits improve buying journey by enhancing user experience.

Search Engine Visibility: Audits boost search engine ranking by fixing website issues.

In ecommerce, websites are the touchpoint between retailers and customers, performing key marketing, sales, and data management functions.

Your website is your revenue driver.

So you need regular ecommerce website audits to determine if your online store performs correctly or needs improvements. If it doesn't work right, customers won't buy.

Ecommerce website audits require a strong knowledge of core ecommerce business processes, site performance, user experience, and infrastructure.

Ecommerce merchants who aren’t sure how to proceed can rely on the expertise of ecommerce consulting companies to examine their online stores and generate practical improvement ideas.

In this article, I will highlight the key benefits of ecommerce site audits and provide a step-by-step checklist of what site areas ecommerce experts usually flag for possible improvement.

What is an Ecommerce Website Audit?

An ecommerce site audit is a detailed, comprehensive review of your online store by a third-party ecommerce expert.

Ecommerce site audits generally include performance assessment, technology analysis, user experience and SEO reviews, and security checks.

After collecting and analyzing necessary website data, the auditing company identifies the strengths and shortcomings of the store, pinpoints areas for improvement, and develops an actionable remedy plan.

Benefits of Ecommerce Website Audits

Here is a rundown of the payoffs online retailers can see by performing regular ecommerce website audits.

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1. Early detection of performance issues

Audits help root out and fix potentially critical technical problems before they become very detrimental to your business.

They also spot nascent performance issues with your online store that you aren’t even aware of, preventing the deterioration of customer experience and a decrease in conversions.

You don't want to wait until there's a problem to get checked, as your doctor might say.

2. Improved buying journey

conversion funnel infographic

Merchants can use audit findings to eliminate friction points in various customer journeys and provide highly convenient shopping experiences.

By taking a closer look at your site experience with fresh, unaffiliated eyes, auditors can flag the elements that are causing high bounce rates, the underlying issues causing slow page loads, and the inefficiencies in your checkout flow.

After all, getting customers from awareness to consideration and finally purchase via the shortest, smoothest route is what we all want.

3. Increased search engine visibility

With website problems detected and solved before they negatively impact search engine optimization, online stores can keep high positions in search engine rankings.

Ecommerce SEO audits are a key part of overall site audits, calling out duplicate content, overlong title tags, missing product schema, bad site architecture, and more.

Their insights can turn your organic traffic trends back upward and enlighten your future content marketing efforts.

Ecommerce Website Audit Checklist: 4 Key Areas To Analyze

Knowing how site audits can help your online store, we can now move on to the central pieces of an ecommerce site audit.

1. Technology and website performance

A technology audit helps identify website elements that function well, can be enhanced, or need replacement with something better.

Usually, experts review the effectiveness of the current tech stack, integrations, and backend and front-end features to compile a list of necessary upgrades and changes with recommendations on how to fit them into the ecommerce ecosystem.

A technology audit typically covers the following components:

  • Architecture: Experts can review a site’s architecture for still essential and obsolete structural elements, map and analyze existing workarounds, and suggest possible code improvements. 
  • Website speed: Page speed is a vital ecommerce metric affecting a website's search engine ranking, customer experience, and conversions. According to Deloitte’s study, a 0.1s improvement in site speed can lead to retail consumers spending almost 10% more. Therefore, speed tests are run to reveal what is slowing down a website to uncover load time improvements, such as optimizing images or upgrading cache plugins.
  • Load and stress testing: Audits allow you to see how your online store handles sudden traffic increases that can happen after successful marketing campaigns or during peak shopping seasons. Moreover, such testing will determine how much traffic your website can support without crashing and how it will behave under an extreme load caused by, for example, DDoS attacks. These assessments help detect and fix issues in the website’s code and prepare for unexpected circumstances.

2. Website design and user experience

This type of audit is aimed at detecting design flaws and user interface issues that can make customers leave your online store dissatisfied or even without making a purchase.

  • Mobile experience: With mobile commerce accounting for nearly two-thirds of global ecommerce sales, according to Statista, ensuring a great mobile experience is now a priority for brands. In addition to creating mobile-responsive storefronts, merchants should have their store’s mobile version reviewed periodically, especially after major changes.
  • Search: Since many users search for the products they need using on-site search, merchants should regularly check their performance. During a search audit, ecommerce experts can spot issues with search algorithms and filters and provide recommendations for making the site search function faster and more accurate.
  • Site navigation: Specialists can check how easy it is for users to navigate an ecommerce website and find products by analyzing the homepage, menus, breadcrumbs, categories, FAQs, and footers and assessing the navigation logic. Based on the results, they can compile an optimization plan to improve navigation and accessibility. 
  • Checkout: Audit experts review the entire checkout flow, from the shopping cart to the completed order. In particular, they focus on finding faults in cart design, account creation and sign-in, guest checkout options, payment enablement, privacy, order confirmation, and form field usability. In addition, they can spot errors and friction points during the checkout process leading to cart abandonment.

3. Technical SEO & on-page SEO

An ecommerce SEO audit enables merchants to detect the store’s aspects that lower its search engine rankings and affect organic traffic and new customer acquisition.

  • Broken links: Broken links impact SEO rankings, bounce rate, time on site, and, in the end, conversion rates. However, they are common for ecommerce sites because products are discontinued, or product descriptions and categories change, and respective product pages can’t be found. During the audit, experts find inactive external and internal links, analyze backlinks, fix 404 errors and faulty redirects, and resolve problems with search engine indexing.
  • Images: While merchants can upload high-quality images to showcase their products in the most appealing way, heavy images can slow down product page loading, leading to poor user experience and higher bounce rates. An audit will locate big-sized images for further page content optimization.
  • Tags: Search engines use meta description and image ALT tags to rank your site in the search engine results page, so missing or unoptimized tags can negatively affect your website’s SERPs positions and engagement rates. Through a content audit, store owners can find items that need tag optimization and plan minor tweaks to help search engine crawlers index their sites better.

4. Security

Cybersecurity analysts check the ecommerce platform’s compliance with the key ecommerce security standards, such as PCI, GDPR, and CCPA.

During the security audit process, specialists check security certificates’ validity, detect vulnerabilities in code, assess existing security risks, and advise how to protect the store and customers against cyber attacks and fraud.

Luckily, all the best ecommerce platforms ensure stores are PCI-compliant out of the box. But, things like GDPR and CCPA, require action by brands to stay in line with new legislation.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It—If It Is, An Audit Will Tell You Why

Various problems can occur with ecommerce websites as they grow, impairing site operation, customer experience, and sales.

However, business owners that have their websites audited regularly can get a detailed overview of their site’s flaws and timely and properly resolve them, putting their ecommerce stores in a better position to succeed.

For more essential tips and insights to improve your ecommerce business performance, subscribe to The Ecomm Manager newsletter today.

Ecommerce Website Audit FAQs

Let’s close out by answering some final questions to fully cover this topic.

How often should you audit your online store?

The optimal audit frequency depends on the store’s size.

For example, two audits per year are enough for a small store. In contrast, a large marketplace with frequently added products, multiple features, and complex integrations needs at least four audits per year.

How can an ecommerce website audit help in optimizing conversion rates?

Think of an ecommerce website audit as your conversion catalyst. By examining every node of your sales funnel—from product discovery to checkout—it identifies conversion barriers.

Maybe it’s a complicated checkout process or perhaps too many abandoned carts. An audit dissects these issues, providing you with a clear path to streamline processes, simplify navigation, and enhance content, all of which are geared towards converting browsing into buying.

What are common SEO issues found in ecommerce website audits, and how can they impact sales?

In ecommerce, SEO issues like duplicate content, poor keyword optimization, and suboptimal meta tags often creep up, going unnoticed until they dent your search rankings.

A regular audit can spot these pitfalls, revealing how they not only drop your site down the search engine results pages (SERPs) but also misguide potential customers, leading to missed sales opportunities. Rectifying these issues promptly ensures your products shine at the top of search results, directly boosting visibility and sales.

How can a website audit identify opportunities to enhance user experience on an ecommerce platform?

An ecommerce website audit serves as your eyes on the ground, helping you see what customers do. By scrutinizing aspects like page load times, navigation ease, and the intuitiveness of the user interface, an audit can highlight areas that may frustrate shoppers.

Addressing these issues can transform a cumbersome shopping journey into a delightful stroll through your digital aisles, significantly enhancing user satisfaction and, consequently, loyalty and conversion rates.

By Alena Kuptsova

Alena Kuptsova is a Technology Research Analyst at Itransition, a software development company based in Denver, CO. She analyzes current digital transformation trends and explores the opportunities the emerging technologies bring to businesses across industries.