In recent years, Google has released more and more simple website auditing tools.
Lighthouse, Pagespeed Insights (complete with APIs), the redesigned search console, and more.
We also know that internally they use “guidelines”, ie approximate heuristics to help website owners judge the quality of their sites.
They have now launched ” Grow My Store “, a simple tool specifically targeted at e-commerce sites, to help website owners understand if their site meets some of the requirements that Google considers important for e-commerce customers:
The tool is available to everyone at https://growmystore.thinkwithgoogle.com , part of the ” Think with Google ” package, where they tried to collect tools like this:
- Google Trends
- Consumer Barometer
When using the tool, you must provide an email address, the URL of the store you want to audit (note: there is no confirmation that you have any relationship with the store, so it seems that you can also carry them out with the competition) . After a few minutes, you will receive an email with a link to your results.
How the results are broken down
The results are divided into 6 areas at this time:
- Product Information
- Product details (are products clearly listed and described?)
- Product ratings/reviews (does it include ratings/reviews?)
- Product search (do you have a search/filtering tool in place?)
- Product prices (are prices clearly displayed?)
- Custom accounts (users can sign up for accounts)
- Wish List (do you have a wish list/favorites option?)
- flexible compliance
- Basket (users can add/delete/modify a basket)
- Overnight delivery (do you offer that as an option? Even with an additional charge, Google seems to prioritize this as a positive)
- free returns
- Multiple payment methods
- Customer service
- Contact phone (is a phone number clearly visible?)
- Live chat (do you offer a live chat feature?)
- Return Policy (is it clearly visible?)
- Social Media (list at least 2 social media channels?)
- HTTPS (do you have it installed?)
- Mobile speed (how fast is your site when rendered on a mobile device? This essentially links to testmysite.withgoogle.com)
- Mobile friendly (is your site mobile friendly? What links to masterfulmobile.withgoogle.com)?
As you can see from the above, some of these are quite arbitrary (if you’re making bespoke products, maybe ‘next day delivery’ isn’t in the interest of your customers, for example), and some are indicators of other audits/ information tools that Google already has implemented.
The tool also gives you an overall score (strangely, this doesn’t quite add up. The following site scored 12/17, which is closer to 70% than 74, implying there is a weighting).
In a couple of places we tested, Google seemed to get the wrong answer (e.g. a site with a live chat feature, Google couldn’t respond; a site with a fairly prominent phone number, Google lost the phone number) . Even this is perhaps useful, as it lets you know that even though you have the functionality on your site, Google itself couldn’t recognize it. There’s no suggestion that these elements are specifically used in Google’s core search algorithm, but as a retailer, why take the chance if you have the feature and Google says it’s important?
Investigating this, Google explains that the tool is essentially based on keyword scraping, which would explain some of the false negatives:
Overall, the Grow My Store tool is pretty basic, but it’s still useful: a nice, easy way to categorize some changes you might make to an eCommerce site that Google can perceive as very positive.
Take a look if you haven’t already: