In order to have a really popular and profitable eCommerce site, you have to constantly monitor the market and be willing to adapt how your site is put together and runs.
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This is essential for pleasing the folks at Google, MSN, Yahoo and the like.
It’s also necessary to ensure you’re providing the best user experience possible, to accommodate a global visitor base and the zillions of different devices in use out there for performing product research and making purchases.
Here are 6 solid tips for keeping the search engines and their end users happy.
Perform a Cohort Analysis on your customer base.
The Cohort Analysis is designed to tell you a bunch of buying data about the demographics you service onsite: who they are; where they tend to spend most of their money; what expectations they tend to have; and ultimately how best to retain them once they’ve made an initial purchase. This option can be accessed from your Google Analytics account by navigating to Admin/View/Reporting/Audience and then finally selecting the Cohort Analysis.
Hey, data literally makes the world go round. The poor become rich, and the rich become richer based on how well they read and employ the data given to them. Getting your hands on this information means you can better target your Adwords and other forms of advertising to the right people, leading to happier search engine users and more sales onsite.
A full analysis of your customer base will help you sell more efficiently.
Continuously optimise navigation: ie., searches, filters, and product descriptions.
Onsite navigation should be focused on two major goals:
- Helping the customer find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible (ie., information and product pages).
- Making the checkout process seamless.
Your online storefront is your “store”. Ask yourself this: If you walk into a restaurant today and have to repeat your order to the waitress 5 times, are you really going to come back? When it comes to navigating your site, customers want it to be seamless. Easy navigation means they’re not going to bounce after 30 seconds; leading to better SEO markers and more online sales.
They want to plug their search queries in and immediately find relevant results. They want to have practical filters in place when searching so they can make it even faster to get the results they want. Finally, they want in-depth product descriptions on the sales page, both written summaries and bullet-style lists for the product features and specifications.
Last, but certainly not least, you need to have a flawless inventory system that displays real-time expectations to the customer. Don’t say you have it just to get the sale, unless you know you’re capable of delivering in the promised time. This goes double for ensuring out-dated products are removed from your lineup so customers aren’t brought to your site via search engines with the promise of something you no longer sell.
Quality navigation will help keep your customers happy and your page listed higher in search results.
Ensure high-traffic global sites are using CDN servers.
Content Display Networks are nothing more than a carefully constructed network of fast servers lumped together to provide your visitors with the fastest load speeds possible. CDNs are offered by all the big names out there including Rackspace, CloudFlare and the like. Amazon even provides a great CDN service called Amazon CloudFront. Virtually all are easy to set up.
Most providers will offer rates based using either on-demand pricing (for smaller sites that don’t have much international traffic), per gigabyte (for larger sites), and per-request pricing (obviously for even larger sites).
This might seem like an unworthy expense if you’re already paying mega bucks for a dedicated server. However, considering the pricing flexibility you get from a CDN, it quickly becomes an investment when the site gets overloaded (think “holidays” and special sales) and your server starts haemorrhaging) – which is not good for SEO either.
Include VIDEO on all product pages.
We all know the importance of product images, offered at multiple angles for the user to select and view from. Videos are equally important to the buying experience. Not autoplay videos mind you, leave those to your competitors!
With complete product descriptions and multiple high-res images to support your products, the only thing left is to give the customer a chance to see the product in action, or at the very least, allow them to see a video slideshow of various live images of the product.
For best results include:
- 360-degree views of the product.
- Ensure all images are high-res, not grainy or pixelated.
- Narrative about the product features (optional).
- Call-to-action (ie., “Order today and save 10% on your next purchase”).
Video creation so easy, so include a video of the product on its product page
Make sure you have AMP versions of all your pages.
The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project is an open source initiative toward providing mobile users with most seamless onsite web experience possible. Not all mobile customers have the luxury of lightning fast hardware and multi-gigabyte browsing speeds when they’re on the move. AMP helps to solve this problem by simplifying your site code and scripts – then Google gets involved and caches the mobile working version of your site to allow pages to load even faster on mobile devices.
AMP webpages include:
- AMP HTML: Mobile optimised HTML code to make pages display lightning fast on mobile devices.
- AMP JS: Manages resource-heavy scripts on your site such as scripts, iframes, CSS and so on so that mobile users don’t wait as long.
- Google AMP Cache: Caches the mobile-friendly version on proxies, similar to how a browser caches images and other data, to make sites load as quick as possible.
Check out the AMP project here.
Over 50% of sales are made on a mobile. Make your store mobile-friendly.
Never stop TESTING.
Split testing has been around in sales and advertising since before modern language existed. If you’re not getting the sale, something’s wrong with either the pitch or the product – or both. For most webmasters, effective A/B testing is far easier with a paid platform that makes changes and rotating your content a point-and-click affair. Of course, there are free services available in this category too.
Until you’re sure of what’s working most effectively, always have at least two versions of each of your sales pages in place to find that sweet spot. It should go without saying that navigation, possible THE most important factor in SEO and profits, should also be split tested to start in order to find what’s working.
Check out this Mashable list of recommended A/B testing platforms you can use to improve conversions.
The eCommerce landscape is constantly changing. You need to constantly read, research and adapt to those changes if you hope to make a dent in any online market in the coming years.
About the Author: Ivan Widjaya is the owner of the award-winning entrepreneurship blog Noobpreneur, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.