Shopping Cart Optimization: 16 Tips on Ideal E-Commerce Websites
Every now and then, Google releases algorithm update (Panda, Penguin,
Pigeon, Puppet, Parrot). That could mean high rankings we enjoy today could be just be history tomorrow. SEO should be much more than just optimizing websites for search engine visibility; it should go further and ensure user experience is also taken into consideration.
After all, who wants to get lots of traffic for a shopping website but end up getting no sales from these visitors at all?
After working with clients who are involved in selling online, I’ve learned a bit on how businesses work, how to reach customers and how these customers behave when they land on the page that features products they wish to purchase.
So how should we describe an ideal shopping site? They lead customers to desired pages with relative ease. They offer convenience and options. And of course, they are likely to convert visitors into customers.
That’s the easy part. But how do we make our e-commerce sites appeal more to customers? Here are some ideas.
1. Customize Meta Tags So They Include Promotions and/or Calls to Action
This idea remains a classic SEO tip. As our websites appear on search results, would-be visitors may be attracted to offers we present to them. And the only way they will see it before they land on our site is through Meta tags (title and description) we apply.
One of the main reasons why people abandon shopping online is because of a) shipping charges and b) the price at the checkout counter is higher than the original display price of the product. And this is going to get worse. So online sellers, you get the hint.
2. Prominent, Large Product Names and Product Identifiers
Large label of product affirms to the customer that he or she is looking at the page of a product he is keen on looking. If someone recommends a laptop model and I am keen on buying it because of the specifications, I’m less interested in other offers.
By clearly stating the model number alongside the brand and other specs such as weight, color and dimensions, I am assured I am getting the same product as my friend had recommended.
3. Breadcrumbs Navigation
For larger e-commerce sites, it is easy to get lost while navigating through products — especially true for impulsive buyers. With the presence of properly positioned and well-labeled navigation, life becomes easier for an excited buyer.
But in addition to the navigation feature that is a permanent fixture among websites, shoping cart or no shopping cart, adding a breadcrumbs menu helps customers figure out where they are and enable them to easily jump from one product, or category, to another. In SEO, this feature also helps search engines to crawl pages more easily.
4. Product Photos
Needless to say a photo says a lot. No wonder companies invest on high-quality photographs to portray the best possible image projected by the product. But it’s not only the quality of the images that is crucial. How they are presented to visitors are of equal importance.
5. Product Description / Video
Product videos are likely going to boost customer confidence in making purchases online and increase retail video views. So if the product you are selling requires a bit more explanation that may be harder to illustrate through words, video presentation is an excellent alternative. To justify how easy is it to, for example, install a water filter, it can’t be presented better than in a demonstration video.
6. Customer Testimonies and Reviews
As much as friends seek advise and recommendations from close social circles, they also need more information from customers of the same product as through product reviews. Although this may not be very effective — shops can easily hide negative and highlight positive comments — presence of product reviews and customer testimonies on e-commerce sites are still influential factors in buyer’s decisions.
7. Product FAQs
When product descriptions fail to answer some of the most simple questions, having an FAQ page (or small section in the product page) that describes the common questions asked by customers.This data can be extracted from CRM database and comprehensibly presented through a dedicated block within a website.
This saves time and effort for customers who may have to look for answers at a competitor’s website!
8. Socal Media Integration
9. Prominent Contact Phone Numbers
In cases when email purchase confirmation isn’t received sooner or a warranty FAQ doesn’t include a relevant question or any concern for customers, a telephone number is the fastest tool to resolve an issue. Placing numbers prominently makes it easier for visitors to see (no need to hide them at Contact Us pages).
Some call centers do not handle calls 24 hours a day so it’s best to be honest (see image below on how long they serve calls) than make customers assume your shop answers the phone 24 hours a day.
10. Large ‘Buy Now’ Button
Apparently the most important button for an online shopping website, the “Add to Cart”, “Buy Now” or “Order Now” button needs to be big enough to be noticeable. It is typically close to the product image and beside the product description. In case visitor isn’t ready to buy, be prepared to give options (“Add to Wishlist”, “Add to Favorites”, etc).
11. Related Products
Related products help provide more ideas for customers in relation to the featured product especially if he or she is still in the discovery phase of his / her online shopping experience. It also helps search engine crawl and index pages faster.
12. Product Resources
Size charts, product collection addresses, store pickup locations, delivery schedule and other supplementary information helps visitors stay on the site. Otherwise, they’ll go out of the page to find answers to questions or refer to resource materials outside of the site — a temptation they might abandon their online shopping plans.
13. Secured Transaction Feature
Given the news of stolen credit card data, identity theft and other forms of cyber crime, it is understandable that online buyers — newcomers or veterans — need to be reassured that the website implements secure transactions. This can be manifested by showing security certificates. The example below puts it at the very bottom of the page, but my suggestion is to put it above the fold so it becomes one of the encouraging signs of a safe purchase online.
14. Short Keyword-Rich URLs
Sounds pretty basic SEO, but beyond the association of keywords in URL and search engine algorithm as relevance factor, a short and keyword-rich URL helps visitors easily bookmark, verify, remember or share the page to friends.
15. Search Function
If all else fails, try the search function. Most websites I reviewed have placed search function at the less important real estate property of the page. The example above isn’t. If visitors find it difficult to identify which category a product belongs, the search function becomes a handy tool. Without it, they are usually clueless and might lose enthusiasm to navigate through the site.
16. Company Address
The presence of a company address may have similar importance with the phone number example above. With its presence, even at the least prominent section of the website, is a positive signal a company is visible even without the Internet and not virtual which may raise suspicions especially if it’s not yet well-known.
Another benefit of putting company address is that search engines (notably Google) will be able to relate the page with local search pertaining to the location address. It may also help in rankings at Google Maps or as part of Google universal search results.
I have seen multiple websites that say “Thank you and Goodbye”, meaning their e-commerce operations no longer exist for one reason or another. It may be because of lack of sales, disappointing revenues or any key performance indicator that is unsuccessfully met. I hope the above ideas help maintain a healthy and prosperous online marketing operation.