Over the last few years Google have launched more & more simple website audit tools. Lighthouse, Pagespeed Insights (complete with API), the reworked Search Console, and more.
We also know that internally they use ‘playbooks’ – rough heuristics to help website owners judge the quality of their sites.
Now they’ve launched ‘Grow My Store’ – a simple tool specifically aimed at Ecommerce sites, to help website owners understand whether their site ticks some of the boxes Google judge as important to ecommerce customers:
The tool is available to all at
https://growmystore.thinkwithgoogle.com (part of the ‘Think with Google’ suite, where they’ve attempted to collate tools like this, Google Trends, Alerts, the Consumer Barometer, Google Surveys, etc).
On using the tool, you’re required to provide an email address, the URL of the store you want to audit (note: there’s no confirmation that you have any relationship with the store, so it seems you can carry these out on competitors too). After a few minutes you then receive an email linking to your results.
How the results break down
Results break down into 6 areas at the moment:
- Product information
- Product details (are products clearly listed & described?)
- Product ratings / reviews (do you include ratings/reviews?)
- Product search (do you have a search/filtering tool in place?)
- Product prices (are prices clearly listed?)
- Personalised accounts (can users sign up for accounts)
- Wishlist (do you have a wishlist/favourites option?)
- Flexible fulfilment
- Basket (can users add/remove/amend a basket)
- Next day delivery (do you offer it as an option? even with extra charge, it seems Google prioritise 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 function)
- Returns policy (is it clearly visible?)
- Social media (do you list at least 2 social media channels?)
- HTTPS (do you have it in place?)
- Mobile speed (how fast is your site when rendered on mobile? This essentially links off to testmysite.withgoogle.com)
- Mobile friendly (is your site easy to use on a mobile? Which links off to masterfulmobile.withgoogle.com)
As you can see from the above – some of these are quite arbitrary (if you’re making bespoke products, perhaps ‘next day delivery’ is of no interest to your customers, for example), and some are pointers off to other audit/information tools Google already have in place.
The tool also gives you an overall score (strangely this doesn’t quite add up. The site below scored 12/17, which is nearer 70% than 74, implying a weighting is involved)
In a couple of places where we tested, Google seemed to get the answer wrong (for example, one site with a live chat function, Google was unable to pick that up; one site with a fairly prominent phone number, Google missed the phone number). Even this is perhaps useful, as lets you know that even though you have the functionality on your site, Google itself was unable to recognise it. There’s no suggestion that these elements are specifically used in Google’s primary search algorithm, but – as a retailer – why chance it if you have the feature & Google indicate it’s important?
On investigating this, Google explain that the tool is essentially based on keyword scraping, which would explain some of the false negatives:
Overall, the ‘Grow My Store’ tool is fairly basic, but still useful: a nice, simple way for categorising some changes you could make to an ecommerce site that Google may perceive as being broadly positive.
Take a look if you have not already: