When you start an ecommerce site you realize that there are loads of items that need to be checked, cross-checked and tested to ensure that your customers have a nice experience. That’s why I put together expansive recommendations for ecommerce sites. Walk through the list and mark off when you complete each item to ensure that your ecommerce site is ready for selling.
Top eCommerce Recommendations
As I mentioned at the start, this is not a complete list and I’m sure we’ll add more tips over the next months, if not years. But with eCommerce, more so than with all other websites, meta descriptions serve a very important purpose. Where Google is probably able to come up with a proper and keyword-related invitation to your website for information pages, the chances are your product page doesn’t have enough product information or contains details about your customer service or warranty that Google might use instead. Be sure to add a product-focused meta description to your product pages, to prevent Google from using the wrong text in search results! This is the most important of the ecommerce recommendations.
The first thing you should be aware of is that you should always use consistent branding. Make sure your brand or logo is clearly visible on your homepage and in your page title. This will build up trust and will help to promote and build your business, helping to trigger recognition, both offline and in search engine result pages.
In most cases, product images say more than a thousand words. This is especially true for those pages that simply don’t have space for a thousand words about a single product, such as your category or internal search result pages. Adding a stunning thumbnail image of that dress or painting will encourage more clicks to that page. Good thumbnail images make it easier for visitors to choose from a wide variety of products in category or search result pages.
Your homepage needs a compelling call to action. It may change over time, for example, if you want to promote particular products or for seasonal promotions like a Black Friday sale, but you need to make sure it’s always easily visible and that it meets the needs and expectations of your visitors.
Creating trust is a good thing for all online shops. Genuine product reviews help a great deal with this. One thing I would recommend for websites that include user reviews from third parties is to copy a couple of those reviews to your own website. Including third-party reviews in, for example, a widget would be a great solution. Add these near your call to action for the best results.
When we say speed, we mean the speed of your desktop and your mobile site. People have short attention spans these days, and we’ve all got used to faster internet everywhere. However, there are loads of places around the world that have to make do with crappy mobile connections and a small data allowance. Don’t take your situation as gospel. Also, Google tends to rank faster websites higher, which is another reason to make sure your website is as fast as it can be.
You also need to reserve a prominent spot on your homepage for featured products or something similar: usually your core products or the items you currently have on sale. This will provide an immediate trigger for visitors while telling them whether or not they have come to the right online shop.
A System Of Search
Every online store with more than 20 products should have a search option. Make sure you put the search option in a visible spot, as this will probably be the navigation of choice for your visitors. Besides optimizing your search option, be sure to give the search result pages some TLC as well. More on that later.
I like to know about the company I’m buying from. Who is behind it? What’s their story? What motivates them? If we share the same values and beliefs, I am more likely to return to that shop and buy more products. Adding an about us page, and perhaps a team photo will help build a connection between your company and your customers. If you want some inspiration, Patagonia and Dopper are nice examples.
Regardless of how noble your intentions are (see #5), in most cases, your main goal is to make as much money as possible, and that money is made through your shopping cart. For this reason alone, your shopping cart should be available and visible at all times – don’t make people.
How you set up your categories and make these accessible for visitors matters – a lot. Categories help visitors get to different groups of products as quickly as possible, especially those who aren’t sure which specific products to buy. Amazon has a large list of categories (or departments) but makes the kind of products a category contains as clear as possible. That has a lot to do with naming these categories and using subcategories in a logical way. Put yourself in the place of your visitors and go over your shop’s categories. Do they make sense? Are these the terms a visitor would use? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track of the ecommerce recommendations.
Be sure to add great product images on your product pages. They should be zoomable and give multiple views of the product. Remember that even the filename and ALT text of the product image matter for SEO. There’s a lot more on this in our detailed article on product images. This is another key to the ecommerce recommendations.
Optimizing your category pages is oftentimes a lot easier than optimizing all of your product pages. If you’re selling bolts, screws, and nails, adding an awesome and unique product description to each page is a lot of work. If you need your product page itself to rank as well, be sure to invest some time and effort in optimizing your product descriptions for the product name and/or SKU. Our SEO plugin will come in handy if you have a WordPress site.
We recommend adding schema.org data to your product pages for technical SEO reasons. Add at least schema.org/Product and schema.org/Offer, and see if you can extend this to even more detailed schemas.
Adding schema.org markup is more technical than optimizing your product description, so if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing please ask your web developer for help. Schema.org markup will help search engines and, for example, Google Shopping understand the contents of your page better.
OpenGraph and Twitter Cards
Social media ecommerce recommendations, Besides schema.org data, be sure to add OpenGraph and Twitter Cards as well. These ensure that when people share your content or products, they will be displayed as attractively as possible. This and more is explained in our article about product page SEO.
When you’ve got their interest, leverage it. If someone buys an iPhone from your site, the chances are they’ll need a cover, and might even want a pair of those really expensive wireless ear pods (they are expensive, right?!). But they might feel a bit less expensive when a customer has just paid full price for a new iPhone! Adding a related products section, or an ‘other customers also bought’ section to your product page will trigger upsells, allow for bundles and much more. We highly recommend adding these.
Just like in number 16 of this eCommerce SEO checklist, this one is all about preventing surprises. It’s so frustrating to get to the end of the checkout process, only to find that your preferred payment option isn’t available. And again, if your eCommerce shop is in the EU, it is now a legal requirement to display your accepted payment methods to customers before they get to the checkout. By the way, we’re not pretending to be perfect in this, as we have only recently gone from just offering Paypal and credit card payment, to offering payment options like Giropay and iDeal as well. Much more convenient, right?!
Here’s one vital thing about creating trust: If your site has an SSL certificate, your site will have that nice green padlock in your visitors’ browser address bar, and you’ll let them know they are shopping in a safe environment. These things will help him or her to insert their home address, credit card details, or whatever other personal information you ask the customer to provide, with confidence. You could also add security seals.
Now you’re ready to get started and implement those ecommerce recommendations.