5 Free SEO Tools to Improve Your eCommerce Website
Search Engine Optimization is an ever-evolving practice, doing its best to keep pace with changing search engine algorithms. Search engines like Google update their algorithms to provide the best experience to their users, and in many instances, these updates render once dependable SEO strategies useless.
Some SEO practices withstand (so far) any algorithmic changes, and are fundamental to providing your website users with the best on-site experience. Google rewards websites who follow these practices with better rankings in search results. Creating and implementing an SEO campaign for an ECommerce website, which could have hundreds of thousands of page, can be incredibly time-consuming.
Luckily, there are hundreds of SEO tools out there meant to save you time, especially in the early stages of a campaign. There are also free tools that save you time and money. Here are five essential, and free, SEO tools that can help you assess and begin SEO for an eCommerce site.
Siteliner conducts a scan of a fraction of your website, up to 250 pages for the free version. Even though most eCommerce websites have thousands of pages, you can learn a lot from this scan. The scan takes a few minutes, but returns information about on-page duplicate content, broken links and 404’s, and pages that Google can’t crawl (intentionally or not). It also offers insights about page size, load time, potential for content optimization, your current backlinks, and more. Considering the cost of some of the paid tools out there, Siteliner grants an affordable option for those who know how to dig deeper. For example, a duplicate content flag on one product page could mean that hundreds of your other product pages are bogged down in rankings due to the same issue.
H-Cards are especially good for highlighting location information for storefronts. This doesn’t exactly pertain specifically to eCommerce websites, but is a great tool for companies with several brick and mortar locations looking to improve in rankings for geo-modified search. H-Card formatting highlights location information similar to an online business card, making it easier for search engine bots to crawl, and giving a boost to your local signals. Microformats.org offers an incredibly easy-to-use H-Card generator that creates the html you need to paste onto your pages and highlights these local signals when the bots come crawling.
- Schema Creator
Like the H-Card, Schema is structured data on a webpage that helps search engines more easily navigate your site. The concept can seem a little dense at first, even for intermediate level SEO’s. Implementing proper schema onto pages for products, categories, testimonials, and more can help these pages stand out in search engine results with prices, ratings, and more. While it’s customizable, it’s a little complicated. Enter Schema-creator.org. This website walks you through the process of marking up your data by providing a simple form for you to fill out, which yields the HTML you need to put on the page to help your products stand out.
- XML Sitemap Generator
XML sitemaps help you help search engines. Sitemaps show your entire website in one list, and is often a featured page on eCommerce websites to help site users navigate easily from category to category. More importantly, you can (and will!) submit the sitemap to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to directly inform them about which pages are most important to your users and should be indexed. There are a lot of free tools out there that help you generate an XML sitemap, but many cap scanned pages around 500. FreeSitemapGenerator.com, while not the prettiest site, allows you to scan and generate a sitemap with ten times as many pages. Like I said, many eCommerce sites could have substantially more pages, but if your site’s pages are under 5,000, then this free and easy tool is for you.
Pingdom is a free SEO tool that tests your websites speed. Search engines want you to provide the best possible user experience, and we live in a time where waiting for anything is akin to being slapped in the face, so it’s important to make sure your site loads as quickly as possible. Just enter your domain into the “Test Now” field, and Pingdom will show you a live countdown of how long it takes, on average, for users to bring up your website. Keep in mind, one of the main reasons your website could have a high bounce rate is a dragging page load time. Pingdom will show you how long it takes to load and possible reasons your website could be operating at a snail’s pace.
One of my favorite (free) things to do at the start of any website audit is site commands in Google. There are a ton of unique commands that tell you all kinds of things about the current state of your website in the eyes of Google and its bots.
In the Google search bar (or in the URL field in Chrome), type the following combinations:
Site:yourwebsite.com – This will show you every single page that Google is indexing. Did you think you only had 500 pages, and Google is indexing 5,000? Then you know you could have a problem with your Robots.txt file, or duplicate content, and more.
Site:yourwebsite.com/examplefolder – This command will show you how many pages exist in a particular folder.
Site:yourwebsite.com inurl:example – Will only return results from your domain with “example” in the url. If you think you have duplicate content issues or pages that shouldn’t be indexed, try this command with the keyword to see how many of those pages, and which pages, are indexed.
Site:yourwebsite –inurl:example – This one shows the opposite, and the “-“ in front of “inurl” means that the only results coming back are pages without the keyword in the url.
There is a more in-depth list over at Moz.com that I reference all of the time.
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- 3 SEO Myths That All Marketers Should Know – Whenever Google updates its algorithm, a flood of blog posts about SEO practices that are no longer relevant occurs. Find out why quality content, link building and keyword data are still useful tactics.
- 7 SEO Tips For Your eCommerce Business – SEO is about matching relevant results to specific needs using search engines. Read these seven points and you’ll be on your way to developing a successful SEO strategy.
Taylor Brennan is an SEO Analyst for the LYONSCG Digital Services team. Taylor has over six years of digital marketing experience, specializing in search and local optimization.