I get to see a lot of e-commerce websites, here is a video blog highlighting the most common mistakes I find when doing e-commerce audits, and my tips on making your e-commerce site far more search engine friendly to get you much better ranks and conversions!
Can’t see the video? Click here
We all know how important Google is in e-commerce.
Using a tracking tool like Google Analytics on your website can help you to understand everything about each person that has walked into your online shop: where they came from; what pages they liked; how they found you, and more importantly your website’s conversion rate (or how many visitors you converted to customers).
If you haven’t yet added an analytics tool to your site, it simply involves adding a small bit of html code into the back end of your website – your website developer can do this for you very easily.
Hopefully you have already identified the keywords that your customers are searching on and which bring in the most sales for your business?
If you haven’t, you are missing out. But again, identifying potential keywords and search terms for your site is also pretty simple with one of the free tools available.
So I would suggest you use Google Analytics to identify the keywords your website is currently scoring high on, and then something like Google Keyword Tool to find any missed opportunities and ensure these are then added to your site content.
So obviously keywords are important as a starting point, but there are three areas where e-commerce businesses are not maximising sales. These are general themes I have picked up from the audits I do for businesses:
(1) The Checkout Process
This should be as fluid and easy to understand as possible for customers.
The typical conversion rate for an e-commerce site is around 2%, but with good conversion optimisation you can typically increase that to 4-5%.
Did you know that the average checkout consists of 5 steps and about a quarter require account registration – both of these are typical reasons why online shops lose customers before they confirm payment.
Wherever possible, you should minimse the amount of steps your customer has to go through to make a purchase. For example: do they really need to type out their whole address, or could you set up “address search” so they only type in their house number and postcode?
(2) Image Quality and Product Copy
Customers want to see in detail what they are getting.
The more high quality photos of your product and the more you can show the product from different angles (and even better with a zoom option), the better.
Customers should also be offered concise, clear product information. They should also be offered an in depth description, where they can find a full technical specification.
Product information should be presented in a very easy to read format, with a short summary using bullet points, and the option to click through to more detailed information.
The product description or “product copy” should not just be a list of information about the product, but should be written with the customer’s needs in mind – it should solve a problem for them.
Product copy should be written with a focus on:
- and Benefits
- “What is the feature?” i.e. this knitted jumper is made of lambs wool
- “What does the feature do?” i.e. the knitted lambs wool traps the warm air from your body and holds it in a layer next to your skin (that’s the advantage)
- “What’s in it for me (the customer)?” i.e. this extra layer keeps you warm and dry in the cold winter weather
Always turn a feature into a benefit wherever possible, and give as many as possible to increase your conversion rate.
Finally, product content should not be a cut and paste of the manufacturers information, as (a) this can get you into trouble with Google, and
(b) you won’t stand out from every other retailer selling the same item
You should use your product information to engage with your audience: write it FOR them, TO them directly, and with personal recommendations and links to reviews if possible.
(3) URLs and Canonical Tags
E-commerce website product page URLs are not usually very SEO friendly, so here is somewhere you can really stand out if you do it well. On many websites, you will just see numbers and product codes instead of key words and search terms.
For example: mysite.com/product_xyz123
Instead of: mysite.com/redbeachtowel
Canonical Tags help search engines like Google to deal with products that have variations.
So typically on an ecommerce site, a beach towel will have a page for the red version, a page for the blue version, and a page for the green version. If the pages all have almost the same information, this can confuse Google and lead to all 3 pages not being ranked at all (or “listed” in Google search results).
In most circumstances, we would be much better using a canonical tag to tell Google that the page we want to show in the search results is the main beach towel page, OR if, for example, the red beach towel is the best seller, then you would use canonical tags to point to this page first.
Canonical tags therefore help with relevancy and reduce the dilution that often takes place with almost-duplicate pages.
So there are my top three mistakes commonly made in ecommerce on search engine optimisation (SEO), and details on how to avoid them.
As a final note, and a reminder on where we started:
Once you have done your keyword analysis, remember to revisit it on a regular basis. Don’t forget that the keywords that worked a year ago may not be the ones that are best today.
Keep checking your Google Analytics and revise keyword and content strategies continually.
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