Maximizing eCommerce SEO / CRO

When embarking on building a new site for a client, I always ask about their plans for SEO and CRO. Often times, they’ve heard of SEO, know a little about it, but haven’t given it much thought. Some have significant investments in their SEO efforts. But the most surprising thing I’ve seen is that more than 90% have never even heard of, or know what CRO (Conversion rate optimization) is. I used to find it difficult to explain the difference to them, when they had little context, so I came up with this simple analogy: Imagine a few years back when Dallas built their famous $1.3 Billion football stadium. That’s a significant investment in a very big project that seats 80,000 and can hold up to 111,000 with standing room. Now imagine that your marketing efforts (great SEO) for the “big game” fill the stadium, but the team didn’t show or played terribly, and you ran out of concessions (poor CRO). Or imagine the reverse. You got the game, concessions, cameras, TV coverage, half-time show and everything all planned out and paid for (great CRO) and no one shows (poor SEO). Either way, both scenarios could be considered failures. SEO and CRO are both very important, integral parts of the same lead-to-conversion chain. For many, it’s pretty clear how to optimize a standard webpage, but for many with an eCommerce site, it’s a little more difficult to know what to do to “optimize” the site, the catalog or products and services. This article will walk you through a checklist of items to help plan out the SEO / CRO items that should be done to turn your eCommerce catalog into an SEO Goldmine and conversion machine.

  • Define Standards
    a. Inch, in. vs. “. All CAPS, Initcaps, or CamelBack? – It’s important to normalize the data (helps with CRO, looking more professional). But you can also be consistent in using natural variations that people would normally use in an Internet search (i.e. you can use “50–inch” in the SEO-friendly URL, and 50“ in the image alt tag to cover both use cases). Ever visited a site with typos, inconsistent data labels, different fonts, colors, sizes, missing data, partially filled out product comparisons and more? Visitor opinions of how professional a company and their products and services are goes down quickly when the appearance of the site is thought to be unprofessional, unkempt, or unclean.
  • Define Attributes
    a. Attributes are used for filtering (i.e. TV’s 40 to 50 inches, items from $500-750, product finish, size, weight, manufacturer or brand, etc.). You need to decide how you can help guide users to what they’re looking for more efficiently, to help improve how they navigate your catalog (filter out a sub-set of products that match something important to them – TVs between $500-600, only Stainless appliances). Attributes also make it easier to compare product features within your product comparison tool. It can clearly articulate differences in size and weight, things that the user may not focus on when reading a description.
  • Define Categories
    a. Categories are normally used for navigation, and need to be keyword driven, short and concise, as well as, normal. That means, don’t be cute, don’t go crazy, people are trying to find something, not navigate your riddle of cute terms and acronyms. Nothing is more frustrating that seeing a parent menu item called “Shorts” and not knowing if that means blog posts, case studies, articles, snippets, or clothing.
    b. Mega-menus allow for category and sub-categories (i.e. Clothing –> womens –> dresses, electronics –> computers, etc.) and are designed to help get your visitors almost anywhere they need to go in a single click. Well thought out and designed mega menus are invaluable and some can even contain marketing information, such as deals and promotions.
    c. Sa es reports can benefit from categorization (i.e. How many lighting fixtures did the company sell this month, how many were interior vs. exterior, what was our profit margin on lighting fixtures, etc.). This type of information can become extremely valuable in helping determine what and how much you stock of certain items.l
  • Images / Galleries
    a. Standardize on aspect, size, and quality (especially if your implementation will have product zoom capability). Remember, online you are replacing the user’s ability to hold the object, so they’ll most likely want a closer look. That picture(s) will become the 1,000 words of holding the item to them.
    b. Compress your images. Page load speed has a great affect on user’s satisfaction and bounce rate. Amazon once did a study that a page load slowdown of just 1 second for them, would cost them $1.6B in sales each year (http://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost-amazon-16-billion-sales). Another Amazon study (http://blog.gigaspaces.com/amazon-found-every-100ms-of-latency-cost-them-1-in-sales/) found that just 100ms of latency costs them 1% in decreased sales.
    c. Alt Tags – although Google doesn’t weight alt tags any more than normal content, it still sees it as text and standard SEO content. It applies to the keyword count within the content. It also allows TTY | TDD devices (Browser add-ons used by the blind or deaf) to benefit from what the images are by allowing the alt tags to be read or displayed for the user. Remember, all crawlers are blind too! They don’t “see” the pretty banners and pictures most visitors do. Remember that when you “design” your site and pages for your visitors, the search crawlers may be your most important visitors (at least for SEO).
  • Description, Short Description, Technical Specs, etc.
    a. Create consistent, SEO rich meta data for Product Page title, Meta description, Keywords and SEO-friendly URL. What would a user search for? Use that in every element, including your URLs (i.e. /tvs/toshiba-50-inch-LED-HDTV-1080P-50L1400U).
    b. Write for both SEO and CRO. For SEO, that means strategically including all the keyword elements and proper density (limited count with variations) within the product page to help make that page rank when a user searches for that product. CRO is about making it easy for a user AFTER they’ve hit the page to quickly and efficiently find the information that they’re looking for and convert. Don’t forget to treat them as two very different types of users that you need to write for.
  • Related | Up-sell Products Lists
    a. Create your related or upsell products listings ahead of time. These types of things are time consuming and tedious if you have to do them one at a time later, so often don’t get done, or done well later. These lists are often different for B2C and B2B sites. B2C are all about the related and other items purchased with this item list (i.e. extra RAM, extended warranty, etc.), closeouts, deals and featured item lists, while B2B sites more commonly have similar or comparative product lists, favorites lists, and product accessory or replacement part lists.
  • Ratings & Reviews
    a. Although ratings and reviews could have a light impact on SEO, it’s more for improving CRO. It’s very common these days for users, since they can’t hold or test an item, to not purchase an item online unless it has good reviews. If you don’t have reviews at all, your visitors will be likely to find another site that provides those reviews, and once there, it’s much more likely that they’ll capture the conversion.
  • Calls to Action
    a. Some consider this the most important of all. No matter where your visitors navigate on your site, do they know what to do next or where to go? They should. Are your “Add to Cart” or “Get a Free Quote” or “800-111-1111” highly visible and easy to find? We could spend weeks discussing the usability and conversion rates of red vs. green buttons, which, although important, is not really the point here. The point is that the definition of a goal or funnel is that it “guides” a user through a specified path, hopefully to a conversion, and one that you should define. If you don’t define and provide it, they’ll find their own way. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going, then all roads lead there.” If you don’t outline the path, then their path may be to window shop, or bounce, or get distracted by something else on your site, rather than follow the conversion path you want them to.
  • Completeness
    a. Many times, CRO is about providing the complete path of least resistance. That means that once to the site, it’s an easy-to-find path to what they’re looking for, then providing them with everything that they need to make a purchasing decision. That could include product reviews, shipping costs, images, warranty information, available accessories, technical specs, product video, downloadable brochure, and a simple way to purchase. Don’t make them leave your site to find something that’s missing. They may just find a better path to conversion there.

So SEO and CRO are closely linked and equally important elements to your page or product content on your new site. Give Clarity a call today and let us help you maximize both.

 

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