There are a lot of good e-commerce platforms available now, making it relatively easy to create an online shop which is easy to navigate and most importantly, easy to buy from. That’s all good news, but there’s still the problem of attracting the website traffic you need to create sales. How well does your website perform?
Here is our checklist of the most important things to get right on your website.
1. Using keywords
You products may have brand names or codes that you use, but don’t forget to give them descriptive names as well. So for example, if you’re selling a Karcher SC1020, bear in mind that people might search for the model number, and they might also search for a Karcher Steam cleaner (or steam cleaning station as it’s also known – see the image below).
Here’s an example of 3 leading UK retailers offering the same product, the Karcher SC1020. This is how they appear in the search results:
2. Unique product descriptions
Use the opportunity to describe your products – even if you think everyone knows what they are – that’s never the case. By saying something about the specific details of each product, you’re increasing your chances of being “found” when someone is searching for a particular feature. When you’re selling something that is available on other websites, don’t just use the manufacturer’s standard description – write your own, otherwise your content is the same as on many other websites and Google won’t rank it as well. Product descriptions are also your opportunity to personalise and show your expertise – what do you really like about this product? Why would you buy it?
3. Additional content
Search engines recognise useful content and your site visitors will too. Include reviews and recommendations from previous customers, and have a blog on your website where you can include additional information, case studies or tips on how to get the best out of a specific product or group of products.
4. Make the best of your images
When people are buying on line, they will try to visualise what the product is like, and the better your images are, the better they will be able to do that. For search engine optimisation, you should use descriptive words in your file names, use alt tags which describe the image and whilst using high-quality images, make sure they are optimised for fast loading times, as Google in particular doesn’t like pages which load too slowly.
Videos can be a great way to show a product from all angles, or to demonstrate how something works. This just might be the thing that encourages someone to buy from you! People search for videos, so post them your own YouTube channel and embed them into your site pages.
6. On-page optimisation
If you’ve created your unique product content and have set up great images, there are a few technical details to attend to, to make sure that search engines can index your products effectively. Here’s a quick checklist of the key points:
- Product name should include the most popular descriptive wording
- Product description should include any relevant descriptive phrases
- Make your page names (URLs) simple and descriptive (www.yoursite.co.uk/purple-widget)
- Include a breadcrumb trail to help users to navigate your website
- Use Heading tags: H1, H2, etc. and these help to draw the user’s eye to key points and also help search engines to understand your most important content
- Link to your most important product categories from the homepage, so that people landing on the homepage can quickly find what they’re looking for
- Use “rich snippets” – this is code you can add, which can help you to stand out in the search results. Examples include product codes, prices and reviews. The example we used earlier demonstrates the display of ratings and reviews.
7. Using meta descriptions to attract visitors
Each of your site pages and products should have its own unique meta description. These don’t appear on your pages, but show up in the search results. Here’s the screenshot we used earlier and I’ve highlighted the meta descriptions.
When you’re searching for something, how do you decide which listing to click on? The meta description is key here – it’s a bit like an advert – to encourage people to visit your site. It is worthwhile writing original and captivating meta descriptions for all of your products.
8. Be responsive and get the mobile friendly label
A good proportion of your site visitors will be using mobile devices, and this in increasing all the time, so you need to make sure that they can navigate to the products they need, can view them and buy them easily when using a mobile phone. You could have a separate mobile website, but we recommend making your e-commerce site responsive, so that the display will adapt to suit the device being used. See more information about responsive websites.
Even if your website is responsive, there might be some areas where it doesn’t meet Google’s guidelines and therefore doesn’t qualify for Google’s “mobile friendly label. This is displayed in the mobile search results, to let users know which sites are likely to be easy to use on a mobile device. If you don’t have the label, searchers may not click on your link and you’re also less likely to be well ranked in the mobile search results. (See more info here).
You can check whether your pages meet Google’s mobile friendly quidelines using this tool.
9. Optimise your page loading speed
Page speed is an important ranking factor for Google and other search engines, so your product pages need to load quickly on all devices. You can check this by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for example. The processing of images is a major factor in page loading times and there are other technical issue which could make your pages slow to load.
10. Social sharing buttons
Products which get social shares are likely to appeal to searchers, so make it easy for site visitors to share on social media and include “pin it” buttons for Pinterest.
To summarise, get these 10 things right and you’re well on the way to increasing sales on your e-commerce website. This article focuses on things to do on your website. There are other aspects to search engine optimisation and utilising social media, however we recommend getting the on-site basics right first and if you need any help, just give us a call.
Do you have any e-commerce optimisation tips to share?