22 Nov 2012

If You Build It They Will Come – Not Unless You Work On It

So what makes a successful website, and how do you ensure that yours can be successful?


In simple terms a successful website sells things that customers want, are not too expensive, look trustworthy to the customer so they are assured that their money is safe and you will deliver, and come up on Google when the customer searches for what they want to buy.

Inventory

If you are creating a website to add an extra revenue stream for your shop, the temptation is to list everything in your shop. This can be many thousands of products and might be a waste of time. Clearly it is better to sell what you know. What you have an interest in. It depends on what your niche is and who you are targeting, but sometimes it is better to restrict your inventory to the items most likely to sell online. It is much cheaper to list and maintain 1,000 products rather than100,000. That said in some markets it is better to list absolutely everything to give the impression that you are the place to go for anything in that niche. Although your designer can advise (and should) you are the expert as it is your chosen marketplace.

By having an over-large inventory you create several problems. First the category structure needs considerable thought so that visitors can easily find what they want rather than having to trawl through dozens of pages. Second the cart's search needs to be very very good to ensure that the right items come up and not hundreds or thousands of close but unwanted matches. Third the site will cost more to host.
There is nothing wrong in having a site with a few products. If they are the right ones it can be more profitable. One of my favourite examples is http://www.thebrowncorporation.com/ which has a massive inventory of 6 items.

If however you have the wrong inventory, no amount of great design will save your site.

Prices

With your competitors only a Google search away, the prices on your site have to be correct. They do not have to be cheapest, but they have to be within reach of what your visitors expect to pay on the internet for the goods. If your site looks the part, then visitors will buy from you rather than keep on searching to shave off a few pence.

Look and Feel

An Ecommerce site exists to make money. Its main purpose is to encourage visitors to buy the products. It is much easier to get visitors to convert to customers and part with their money if they believe that this is a genuine store, which looks professional, will keep their information safe, and will deliver their order promptly. Whilst all design is subjective there are some fundamentals that should be present on any Ecommerce site. Again I will use the Brown Corporation as an example (I have no connection with them)



Brown Company


In this design, it is very clear what is being sold, how much it is, and how to buy it. The postage costs are clearly displayed on every page, and a sense of humour is used throughout the site.
Moving down the page

 Brown Company


Under the professional looking diagrams there is a customer service section that includes
  • Delivery information
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Returns Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Contact us
These are essential sections and you should have a link to such sections on every page. Many savvy shoppers will look at these before deciding to risk their money with you. You should never forget to have these information pages.

Search Engine Optimisation

There are thousands of sites and resources dedicated to this subject. We have also covered this in our blog here over and over and conitnue to do so to try and assist you as much as possible.


Basically it is how you get your site to appear near the top of the search results when people search for things you sell. Again this is not an exact science and if you have two experts in the room you will get at least three opinions. There are some basics that a site should have.

Page titles should be relevant and different for each page. Do not be lazy and have the same page title site wide. For example product pages should have the product name in the page title. Pages should have proper structure with headings, and sub headings. Product descriptions should be well written, not copied from the standard manufacturers blurb, and include the key words and phrases that the customers may use to search.

Also see our earlier blog with a few key pointers for this area "8 SEO Pointers for Ecommerce Product Page".

Figures

Now any designer will tell you that it takes time to build up custom and sales. That you should not expect to break even straight away. This is undoubtably true, but you need to ensure that progress is being made. There are some essential metrics that you need to collect on a regular basis to ensure that your site performance is improving. For most sites this should be weekly.
  • Number of unique visitors – the number of people who have visited your site
  • Bounce Rate – the percentage who leave straight away
  • Conversion Rate – the percentage of unique visitors who place an order
  • Average order profit – the amount of profit you make from an order
This is the very minimum you collect. You should monitor these to ensure that they increase. (not the bounce rate!). Ignoring the bounce rate, these figures tell you on average how much money your site earns per thousand visitors. If you start a campaign you need to monitor the figures closely to see if the bounce rate goes up or the conversion rate goes down. These are indicators that you are targeting the wrong people.

Google Analytics provides you with free tools to monitor these. If things do not improve as mentioned above then you are doing something wrong with your website and need to review what you are doing - remember it's not necessarily the websites fault as illustrated earlier - you must take into consideration all factors to make your website a sucess for you.

Want to ask us more? Email web@easitill.co.uk

14 Nov 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 (the title of the page). Make sure the keyword is as prominent as possible in the title (ie. not weighted down by other words preceeding it).

In the case of an Easitill website we auto-populate the title for you based on the product description/name entered on the product record. Or in the case of Groups, Departments & Catergories this is the title displayed.

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 and think about your Easitill Product Descriptions. 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.

The Product Records on the Easitil system allow you to enter a meta keyword description about teh product into a field called "meta description" and a few keywords selected which relate to the product seperated by commas under the field "meta 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.

Again Easitill will populate this for you based on product description entered on the product record, however it is also in the same vein a good idea to also name your images something like product_descrption.jpg for example.

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.

Again Easitill do this for you by rewriting the url to reflect the prodcut description, group, department or catergory of the page you are on, so again as long as you research your keywords in point 1 above and choose keywords for your product description you should be ok. Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool can help with this research.

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 but dont overdo it so that the blurb about the product is overpopulated with keywords and doesnt make sense to a consumer.

Remember, in Easitill's Product Manager on the Product Records, this would be the "Internet Text" Tabs where you enter your Product blurb and make it descriptive.

I personally wouldnt buy from a site if had no clear definifition of what the product is about, good for etc would you? Unless i have already done my research on the product, and in which case if i've done my research i'll more than likely buy from the site that gives me all the information i need without me having to continue my search.

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. -

Again Easitill does this using the share this widget enabled on the website on everypage.

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.