24 May 2012

Identifying Conversion Problems from the Product Page

by Pamela Hazelton
When vying to increase conversion rates, many storeowners mistakenly put primary focus on the checkout process. While a simplified checkout with ideal options — i.e. various payment and non-inflated shipping charges — will definitely help increase the percentage of visitors who complete a purchase, the shopper first needs to add items to his cart.
The bridge that connects the product or category page to the checkout process is often overlooked. Directing visitors to a particular item — whether via search engines, social media or site navigation or search — is actually a simple process compared to enticing them to take further action.

First, Identify the Conversion Problem

Analytics will explain where shoppers are dropping out, whether it's on a particular page or during a specific process. For example, a simple, visual funnel will tell us how many shoppers take action on the product page.
 With Google Analytics we can see that only 1.86 percent of this store’s shoppers actually added an item to the cart, indicating that the problem initially lies with something on the product page.
With Google Analytics we can see that only 1.86 percent of this store’s shoppers actually added an item to the cart, indicating that the problem initially lies with something on the product page.
For this store, customers are taken to an editable shopping cart that resides on the checkout page itself. This is why we see 100 percent of those who added items to the cart continue to checkout.
A low percentage of action tells us that visitors aren’t enticed to purchase products from the pages being tracked — in our case, from the product page. While the excuses could be plentiful, there are four primary reasons shoppers leave action pages without buying:
  1. Lack of trust. The shopper doesn’t feel comfortable purchasing from you. This is usually due to lack of contact information, security & privacy seals/info, or policies that raise red flags.
  2.  Poorly described products. The product description must be detailed and simple to understand. Text, supported by stellar images is a must. Supporting content, like video, audio and customer reviews, is a plus.
  3.  Prices are too high. New shoppers who are not recommended by others are less forgiving about higher price points.
  4.  Unexpected results. Shoppers should never have to guess what to do after clicking the “add to cart” button. The most common complaint about "add to cart" functionality? No apparent message that the action was successful.
  5. Availability/delivery time 
User testing will explain shoppers’ lack of action in more detail, as will visitor comments. We addressed inexpensive user testing previously, at "Using Real People to Test a Website."
Keep in mind that the majority of visitors will never take the time to contact you. This means a single visitor asking a question about an item might actually represent scores of others who wound up shopping elsewhere.

Adjust in Stages, Track Progress

Save for urgent fixes, making changes in stages allows you to better track what works and what doesn’t. Bi-weekly analysis tends to work best because shoppers’ habits vary depending on the days of the week and times of each day.
While there are no canned layouts and functions that work for every online store, the most common changes that garner results in a short amount of time are the following.
  • "Add to Cart" button placement. A prominently placed, hard-to-miss (but not too “in your face”) action button usually yields better results.
  • "Add to Cart" button functionality. An apparent message on the screen, or loading of the actual cart page, lets the shopper know his click was successful. Less frustration increases the chance of conversion.
  • Placement of special offers. Placing messages of discounts or free shipping thresholds within the actionable area tend to yield better results. For example, a volume discount chart immediately before or next to the quantity box will make more shoppers think about buying more than one .i.e buy x for y offer messages as offered by Easitill.
  • Placement of guarantees. If you have a liberal return policy, noting this at the product level rather than just in the navigation can help close more sales.
  • Stock status. A simple “IN STOCK” message makes shoppers more apt to buy right then because the risk of a delayed shipment is greatly reduced.
 Real data from an online store one week after placing a “Free Shipping when you spend $59 or more” banner within the product details area. There was an increase of more than 2.5 percent on product adds, and an increase of nearly 2 percent to the overall conversion rate.
Real data from an online store one week after placing a “Free Shipping when you spend £59 or more” banner within the product details area. There was an increase of more than 2.5 percent on product adds, and an increase of nearly 2 percent to the overall conversion rate.

It is important not to attribute an increase solely to a particular change. Many other factors can affect overall conversion rates, including indirect events.

For example, a nightly news story about a product can trigger increased searches and, ultimately, purchases. This is why it’s important to regularly review site data and make adjustments based on your store’s particular needs.

And, finally, many types of events can trigger increased traffic and increased sales, yet still result in a lower conversion rate. While most businesses measure success by the percentage of sales versus actual visitors, putting focus on increased numbers of orders and total dollars helps guide us to more logical, long-serving changes.

Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Understanding how can you get a substantial increase in "free" website traffic through basic search engine optimization begins with the fundamentals. These recommendations assume a site does not possess any technical issues that may cause a search engine to avoid indexing it or to not index it properly. That's a topic for another article. First, what is search engine optimization? Also known as "SEO", search engine optimization can be defined as a set of methodologies aimed at improving the visibility of a website in search engine listings. If you have a website, no one will find it unless you promote it. Promotional opportunities for a website vary and should include both offline and online tactics. On the Internet, the most common way for users to find websites is through search engines. In fact, a recent study shows more people are using search engines than the Yellow Pages to find vendors. Search engines work by "crawling" the Internet, following known links to find updated pages and new websites, saving copies along the way. The information from the saved web page text is analyzed by sophisticated algorithms that assign values for categorization and ranking. Additionally, the linking relationship of the indexed site is compared to similar sites and communities of sites. Even though there are many variations in types of websites and search engines are constantly refining their ranking methodologies, for these types, there are a common set of rules to follow for better search engine placement.

Do Your Keyword Homework.

You can gain important insight into what types of phrases are being used to find your type of website with keyword research tools. Wordtracker.com and Overture.com offer free tools for this purpose. As you categorize and create content, keep keywords in mind.

Use Keywords in Title Tags.

The title tag is critical for a search engine to understand and rank a page. Make sure each page of your website includes a unique, keyword-rich, descriptive and readable title tag of 8 – 10 words. Example: “XYZ Company Widgets – Blue, Green & Black widgets in all sizes”. 

On Page Text.

Use a version of your title tag on the visible page of your site - the higher up on the page, the better. A keyword-rich tagline will also do. This is important for both search engines and your site visitors.

Content is Good, Fresh Content is Better.

Plan to add new pages of content on a regular basis. New pages should follow a theme and be placed into categories. If you sell "widgets" then add product reviews, press releases, customer comments, how-to information, etc. on a regular basis. Incorporate "widget" related keywords in the title tags, on-page titles and descriptive text on the new content being created. Search engines will give a preference to sites that
offer new content over time.

Link in, Link out.

All major search engines use incoming and outgoing links as a way to measure a site's popularity with a preference to incoming links from authoritative and information rich websites. Ask distributors, marketing partners and clients to link to your site using keyword rich link text and descriptions. For example, if you sell red widgets, the link text might be: "Company XYZ Red Widgets" and link to the page on your website that offers the best information on "red widgets". Avoid exchanging links with other sites that have nothing to do with your industry. In fact, you might consider avoiding link exchanges altogether. Link out to other websites related to your content such as industry associations, organizations, manufacturers, publications, articles, etc.

Link Smart

Linking the pages within your site is important especially if you can link keywords in a sentence to another page that provides more detail. Example: "Company XYZ offers a complete range of widgets for every type of occasion or event." where "widgets" is linked to your widgets product page. This applies to links within the pages of your site as well as links from other websites.

Make a Map

Make it easier for a search engine to find all the pages of your website by including a site map. A site map page is a collection of plain text links to all the major web pages of your website. Do not place more than 100 links on one page. It works best to link to the site map from the home page.

 

To Submit or Not to Submit

While Google, Yahoo! and MSN offer free submission forms, the fastest way for your site to be included in a search engine is to be linked by sites that are already in. Rather than pay a service to submit your site, pay for a press release and have it submitted through an online newswire service. Include links to your company website in the release and each website that publishes the release becomes a link to your company. Take the time to research and submit to important directories such as DMOZ.org and Yahoo! directory.

Monitor Your Progress and Have Patience

For competitive phrases and new websites it can take 2-6 months to see an improvement in rankings. Mature sites in niche categories may only take weeks to see initial progress. Measure your site rankings, unique visitors and conversions and watch for trends. Fluctuations are common but sudden, persistent drops or spikes are cause for further investigation.
Companies that have implemented even the most basic site-wide tactics often experience increases in traffic of 100 percent to 500 percent in six months, depending on the situation.
Overall, ensure your site is easy for search engines to find and crawl. Make sure you use keywords in titles, on the page and in links but don’t overdo it. Never stop finding other websites that will provide a one-way link to your site and add new content on a regular basis. Follow these steps and in time you may see much better rankings and sales online.

19 May 2012

8 SEO Pointers for Ecommerce Product Pages

Search engine optimization can be the difference between ecommerce businesses that thrive, and those that don't. Optimizing product pages for search engines is especially important.
Below are eight pointers to make sure your product pages are properly optimized.

1. Place Keywords in Title Tags

One of the most important elements is the title tag of your page. If you type a keyword in Google, you’ll notice that most results will have the keyword in the title tag. Make sure the keyword is as prominent as possible in the title.

To have the best title tag possible, make sure that you do your keyword research for the products that you want to rank best for. Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool can help with this research.

2. Use Description in the Meta Tag

If you search Google for any keyword, you’ll notice the search results usually displays descriptions that have the keyword. While this isn’t always the case, for best SEO results, you should use your product keywords in your description tag.

An important aspect of this tag is to make sure to have a unique description tag for every product page. Do not duplicate these tags.

3. Use Alt Meta Tags in Product Images

Your product photos display the actual image to the user. But the alt tag for the image tells the search engines what it is. Use this alt tag as an opportunity to insert a keyword you are optimizing that specific product page for.

4. Insert Keywords in the URL Strings

A key element for search engine optimization is the actual URL — i.e., www.yourwebsite.com/insert-keyword-here — for that page. You should insert your most important keywords in the product pages' URLs. If you search on Google for a keyword for a product, look at the URL for a page in the search results. You likely will find that keyword, or the keyword that is most relevant within the URL string.

5. Use Robust Product Descriptions

As much as we hear that content is king for SEO, many ecommerce websites do not use adequate descriptions of their product, such as what it is, how it works and key points consumers need to know. If you create good content for the consumer, it will also benefit search engine optimization.

Importantly, do not write product descriptions only for search engines. Write them for the sole purpose of helping consumers. Use keywords where necessary.

6. Make Your Product Page Link Worthy

Content and link building are important for SEO. It’s important, therefore, that your product pages have links pointing to them. We call these “deep links.” They not only help that specific page, but the overall SEO of your website.

There are many websites or bloggers that link to other sites. For example, if your website sells NBA jerseys, approach bloggers that write about basketball. They may link to your product since they are writing about it.

To make your product page link worthy, use effective images and content. This includes terrific photos, videos, illustrations, and descriptions.

7. Display Social Media Buttons

Social media activity affects search engine algorithms. 
 
Make sure you have share buttons on every product page to allow users to share and distribute the product. Pinterest, for example, allows users to post a picture while linking back to the source of that image. Make sure every product page has social media sharing buttons.

8. Utilize User Generated Reviews

Another way of helping your product page rank in search engines is to use content that is created by the users, such as product reviews. The best example of effective reviews is at Amazon.com, which uses them not only to help consumers, but also for SEO purposes.

Summary

Use these eight SEO pointers in all your product pages. It will help search engines identify them and highly rank them.

17 May 2012

6 Product Page Factors that Drive Sales

6 Product Page Factors to Drive Sales

 

1. Price. Studies show that most online shoppers decide to purchase a product online based on the price. Consumers frequently shop for the best price. Always try to stay in line with your competitors' prices.

 2. Product authenticity. If you're a merchant that sells established brands, you know that product authenticity has been a concern since the beginning of ecommerce. This is mostly due to counterfeit goods sold through eBay and throughout the web. Your product page should have a seal of authenticity — i.e., a graphic — that assures consumers the product they are looking at is authentic. While some of the major sites like Zappos don't have this issue, mostly because they sell at full manufacturer suggested retail prices, many small-to-medium size retailers may lose sales due to shoppers' concerns about
product authenticity.

 ShadesDaddy.com, a retailer of eyewear, emphasizes being an authorized Ray-Ban dealer. This helps with authenticity.

ShadesDaddy.com, a retailer of eyewear, emphasizes being an authorized Ray-Ban dealer. This helps with authenticity.

3. Reviews on product page. While many consumers know what they want and are looking at it on your website, they may still search on Google for product reviews. They will look for reviews not only about your website but also for reviews about the product itself. This has contributed to the success of review websites. Even Google decided to display reviews in pay-per-click ads.
Instead of having consumers exit your website to read reviews, have the reviews on the product page itself. Services like Power Reviews can provide the platform for this. However, most shopping cart platforms offer a built-in reviews feature.
Amazon has great success because, in part, the amount of content on any product page is enough for consumers to make a decision about a purchase. Even if consumers decide not to purchase that product, they will always go back to Amazon because they know the amount of content there will always suffice to make a purchase decision. They trust Amazon because of the helpful descriptions of most of the products, and also because of the many consumer reviews on each product.


Amazon provides many helpful reviews for each product, reducing the need for shoppers to search elsewhere for them.

Amazon provides many helpful reviews for each product, reducing the need for shoppers to search elsewhere for them.

4. Offers on product page. Many consumers search on Google for coupon codes, discounts and offers for websites. Sites like Groupon.com are thriving due to consumers seeking out coupons and offers. Coupons, discounts & offers help close the sale. While the consumer is on your website looking at a product, he or she might leave to search for coupon codes etc. Try, instead, to keep the consumer on your site.
If you have discounts or special prices to offer, make sure they are visible on your product pages. Text or a simple graphic will do the job.

5. Product availability. Displaying a product's availability on a product page is underrated. When consumers consider a product, the first questions they often ask are, "Is it available? Is it in stock?" If you don't make this clear, you may delay the sale or lose it altogether.
If you have the product in stock, let shoppers know. Moreover, as a conversion tip, try to create a sense of urgency with consumers if that product is hot or running low. If you have a platform that allows you to show the quantity of stock, display that fact. The fewer the quantity, the more urgency it will create.


  To create a sense of urgency, ShadesDaddy.com informs shoppers when a product is running low on stock.
To create a sense of urgency, ShadesDaddy.com informs shoppers when a product is running low on stock.

6. "Add to Cart" and "Buy Now" buttons. Another underrated element on product pages is the "Add to Cart" button. Different wording will have different results and a different reaction to consumers. For example, the buttons can say either "Buy Now" or "Purchase Now." Conduct tests to determine which is best. Track conversion rates as you change and test different variations of the word and colors used.