You’ve just acquired a new business, what do you do?
The thing is after the excitement of your new venture wears off, you suddenly realize you have a lot of things to think about.
Sure, the owner of the site told you everything was in working order, but what if, on closer inspection, you find it’s not?
What’s more, what if you don’t even know what to look for?
Well, you’re in luck.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through the exact steps you should take when you first acquire a new store as well as the things you should look out for.
What is a Shopify audit and what benefit does it bring?
In short, auditing your Shopify store involves looking at how it currently performs to identify areas where you could improve.
You might decide to do separate audits for specific parts of the store. For example, you could:
- Do a site-wide audit. A site-wide overview of how your site performs overall.
- Do an SEO audit. Does the site rank well on search engines? Are there any glaringly obvious mistake hindering your ranking abilities?
- Do a product audit. What products does the site currently sell, how does this compare to their competitors? Are their prices aligned with their competition?
- Do a content audit. What blog posts does the site currently have, how do they perform, how could they be improved?
Shopify Audit Steps
1. Are your business details correct (NAP)?
The first thing to consider is your NAP details. NAP stands for:
- Phone Number
Your NAP details are what helps potential buyers trust you’re a real business and get in touch with you if they need to.
Looking at the site we just “bought”, Lazy Sunday Robes, the first thing to note is that no contact details exist, not even an e-mail address.
Many e-commerce owners tend to put their details at the bottom of their site (in the footer).
One of the SEO benefits of adding these details is to help search engines like Google understand where your e-commerce store is located.
For example, if I was looking for a local place to buy a new robe, I might search for “bathrobe in Illinois”.
If this store had their main hub in Illinois, you’d want it to show up. However, with none of these details present on the website, that just can’t happen.
If you find your store does have their NAP details on their website, the next step is to look at NAP consistency across various online directories.
The way you list your details on your website should be the same as the way your details are listed on other sites.
So, the first thing to do is check whether the store you’ve just bought is present on directory listing such as Yelp or Google My Business.
If they’re there, check the details match the ones on your website (exactly). If they’re not there, update these profiles to include this important information.
Google My Business is free to use as well, so it’s really a no-brainer when it comes to setting up your profile.
2. Have you considered Google Search Console?
Google Search Console can be used to generate some really important insights as to how people interact with your site and how it performs on Google.
You’ll get to see whether or not the site has any issues harming it, and also what people enter in Google in order to find the site.
The site we’ve just bought is relatively new and so it stands to reason there probably won’t be a lot of data to go off.
However, if you’re buying a store with a load of products and a lot of traffic, Google Search Console will be crucial in analyzing the overall performance of the site.
Errors could be anything from a wrong redirect to an issue with malware on the site.
Finding these issues is the first step to fixing them.
For example, instead of manually checking which sites are linking to you, or what keywords you rank for, use Google Search Console to see that information automatically in one place.
You’ll want to find out whether the site you’ve just bought already has Google Search Console set up.
If that’s the case, you simply need to log in and test out the waters to see any potential errors.
However, if the site owner didn’t set up their Google Search Console, you’ll need to make an account. (You don’t have to have a Gmail account to do this).
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be prompted to verify your ownership of the site. For this, the easiest way (if you have a Shopify account) is to add a small line of code to your site.
Click the tab that says “HTML tag”.
- Go to your Shopify admin panel
- Copy the code from the screenshot above (note: your code will be different depending on the exact store you’re trying to verify.
- From your admin panel
- Click online store
- Edit code
You should see a file with your theme name. You’ll want to click this file and paste the code from Search console right after the <head> tag, click save.
Submitting your sitemap with Google Search Console
We’ve already mentioned updating your NAP details is a great way to help Google better understand your business and where it sits in the world.
Your sitemap is a great way to help Google better understand what content you have on your site and how it’s organized.
The best thing about using Shopify as your e-commerce tool is that they auto-generate a sitemap for you.
All you need to do is add “sitemap.xml” to the end of your URL. It’ll show up in your browser like so:
To add your sitemap to Google Search Console, do the following:
Click sitemaps and enter your sitemap URL and press Submit.
3. Using Site Checker as a free report generator
Do you know the benefit of page titles?
You might, but did the previous owner?
When you first acquire your e-commerce store, you need to check the titles of each of the pages. Page titles not only help Google understand what’s on the page in order to rank content, but helps potential customers understand whether or not the content is right for them.
Using a tool like Sitechecker (free), you can safely check the titles of each of the pages on your website.
You’ll not only be able to see what the current title is but whether it’s too long or too short.
We can see that this title is too long by about 5 signs, but the greatest thing about this tool is it gives you the intel you need in order to correct the changes.
Not only this but Site Checker actually can tell you a lot about your new site.
From the screenshot above, if you click “show more” you’ll have access to a whole wealth of knowledge.
First, you can quickly see the critical errors and warnings your site has. Each item can be clicked and you’ll find out exactly how to fix the error.
We can also see no Favicon has been set for a range of different devices.
As you’re conducting your audit, you might decide to make a note of all the changes you need to do or change things as you go along and follow these steps.
When it comes to e-commerce, so much of the selling is done through the types of images you have on the site.
What’s more, correctly tagging those images is important to enable them to be indexed by Google.
In this new store, we can see one of the images is missing an alt attribute and all of the images are missing a title attribute.
4. Do you have duplicate content on the site?
If you’re buying an existing site, it’s good to check whether there are any duplicate blog posts that could be harming your SEO efforts.
The site we’ve just bought doesn’t have any content in terms of blog posts or social media. One way to increase organic reach to the site would be to create content.
If you’re struggling to think about the types of content you could create, there are two tools to give you some inspiration.
The first is “Answer the public”. With this tool, you enter a keyword and the tool will generate a number of questions people ask about that keyword topic.
This can give you an initial collection of great content ideas.
However, what you don’t want to do is create endless pieces of content just for the sake of it.
When you’re narrowing down the list of content you’d like to create, you’re informed enough to know that it’s been shared in the past.
If we look at the example ‘caftan’ we can see the types of articles that get heavily shared, as well as what social channels they get shared on.
This is a great way to know where to put your social focus in order to get the greatest return on your efforts.
5. Are your URLs in working order?
When it comes to SEO, one thing to make sure is that your URLs follow some sort of consistency.
For an e-commerce store, you might want to follow a structure like:
If we look at our new Lazy Sunday Robes store:
If we look at the URLs of each of the pages above, we can see that they all have /collections, however, after that, they’re all largely different.
This is probably something we should sort out so they all have the same level of consistency, especially as there are currently only four different categories.
In the future when we expand the store and add more categories they can all follow the same system.
6. Examine the store’s online reputation
You might be dazzled by excellent sales numbers, but what you don’t want to do is buy into a store where there are a number of existing problems.
Use a tool like Social Mention(which is free) allows you to search for any instances where your store has been mentioned online.
You’ll notice, as our store is quite new, there are no social mentions, but you might have just bought a store that has lots to read through.
What you’re really looking out for here are where there are frequent mentions of the store having bad customer service, poor products or just bad business.
If you’ve already bought the store and notice there are lots of bad press, the first thing you need to do is figure out how to address it.
Perhaps there are a number of complaints about a specific product. Stop selling that product, or try to improve it.
Perhaps there are a number of complaints about bad customer service. Reach out to these people, let them know you’re the new owners and ask for feedback about how you can ensure the customer service improves.
7. What backlinks do you currently have?
One of the best ways to increase your visibility on search engines and get new potential customers for your store is to generate new backlinks for your site.
When you acquire a new store, you want to look at how many backlinks the site currently has.
This is important for two reasons:
- You can assess whether or not the site has any backlinks that should be disavowed.
- You can see what sort of businesses are already linking to your site in order to reach out to the same or similar sites.
The best tool for this is Moz. It’s a paid platform, but on their free plan, you get a number of searches each month.
If you, like our new store above, have no backlinks, that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. All it means is you have a fresh plate to start collecting backlinks.
One way to do this is to find a competitor and see what sort of backlinks they already have.
It’s best to use one of your biggest competitors as these are likely to have lots of backlinks.
Scan through that list and note down any that interest you. If they’ve linked to your competitors, there’s a chance they could also link to you too.
8. How does the website look?
You’ve probably seen the website before you’ve bought it, but again, it’s hard to take everything in when you’re also presented with impressive sales stats. So make sure you analyze the following and put yourself in the best position to make the most profit.
9. Are the images clear?
We’ve already spoken about images when it comes to SEO, but more important than that is how the images actually appear on your site.
The good things about the new site we’ve just bought is that they not only show a clear photo of the item, but they show a model wearing it.
This helps other potential customers imagine what they would look like wearing it.
If we wanted to go even further with this, we might think about adding a video of the product or even adding information as to what size the model is wearing to help for comparison.
- Use clear pictures
- Include close-ups
- Show the item from different angles
- Include videos
- Add what size the model is wearing to allow for comparison
10. Are the product descriptions good?
Product descriptions help sell your product in ways that pictures can’t. Good product descriptions can make or break an e-commerce store.
A little disclaimer: Alaura (the actual site owner) is a copywriter by day, and so it goes without saying her product descriptions are alluring and captivating.
She doesn’t just describe the product but makes you feel like you need to own it. The inclusion of product details is also important for those people who might be looking for a specific type of material.
11. Does the site have reviews/testimonials?
Reviews and testimonials help other shoppers decide if they want to make a purchase or not. In fact, 42% of online shoppers want more testimonials from ecommerce sites.
The site we’ve just bought doesn’t currently have any testimonials. If you’ll remember, this is a fairly new site and that is common.
However, when the site does make a sale, the first thing we will try to do is encourage our customers to leave a review explaining their views.
If we take Casper mattresses as an example, although a large majority of the reviews are 5 stars, they do have a range of lower reviews.
Also remember, although 100% 5* reviews sounds like a target, it often appears to come across as suspicious.
Most people expect that a company might not have 100% happy customers, so one thing to keep in mind is to never manipulate or delete bad reviews.
12. What’s the customer journey like? Is it simple?
The best way to look at the customer journey is to try and take it yourself. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and try and make a purchase. You want to try and identify any roadblocks your customers might go through so you can fix them right away.
Suppose we’ve just landed on this site, the first thing we might do is click the call to action on the front page.
We’re now brought to a collections page. Now suppose we wanted to look further at the featured everyday robes.
We’re brought to this page. It’s worth noting at this point, that we can also access this page by using the main navigation menu.
However, here the menu item is labeled ‘bathrobes’ rather than featured everyday robes. It could be a good idea to change the copy of this menu so keep a level of consistency with the rest of the site.
On the actual product pages, it’s really simple to choose the style, size and where you would like the item to be shipped on.
The same thing goes for the checkout page, and there are even three different payment options.
It might seem like overkill, but you want to test out a number of different potential customer journeys.
This way you can iron out any potential problems a customer might face when they want to make a purchase.
To recap - you’ve just bought an online store (or are thinking about one), and you’re challenged with what to do once the initial excitement wears off.
You want this store to be as profitable as possible, but that can only happen if you’re armed with the knowledge you need to make the store a roaring success.
Follow the steps outlined in this article to better understand the process of auditing a Shopify store.
If this has piqued your interest in any way, why not check out the stores listed on our site to see if any take your fancy.