Inadequate customer traffic and lack of sales conversions are the key issues that trouble most e-commerce websites.
In spite of increasing global competition, it is very much possible for e-commerce websites to overcome these issues. All you have to do is formulate and deploy the right marketing strategy. This will help you to pull more customers, and also ensure that these customers stay with you until they make a buying decision.
The most important aspect of a well-laid out marketing strategy for an e-commerce business is an effective search engine optimization strategy. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to experiment with all kinds of SEO and SMO ideas.
Here are 20 tricks and tactics I've found to be most effective.
1) A Well-thought-out Keyword Strategy
Keywords determine how frequently your e-commerce website is going to appear in search results when a potential customer is looking for a product that is available on your portal. Using the right keyword is the crucial for the success of your e-commerce website.
You can use the Google's Keyword Planner or the Bing Keyword Research Tools to know the most popular keywords for your business. After knowing the competition for a given keyword and its popularity, you can work on the choice of keywords for your portal.
For highly competitive products and services, it is a good idea to use broad match keywords. If you are targeting local languages, it is important to ensure that the translations and spelling are spot on – so use native-speaking translators and don’t blindly rely on Google translation!
2) Write Trustworthy Content
You communicate to your potential customers through the content on your website. To communicate effectively, your content needs to be original, effective and strong. While trying to impress the customer, do not get carried away. Strictly avoid making any overstatement which misleads the customers or creates expectations that the products or services cannot fulfill. Make sure the content adds to the customer trust in the longer run.
3) Think Globally, Act Locally
When you sell your products in a global marketplace, it is essential for you to customize your portal to suit local traditions and taste. You need to finely balance your website so people recognize you as the global brand, and at the same time feel comfortable and at home while navigating through your portal.
4) Social Media Integration
Integrating your website with social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is important. People who visit your website can ‘Like’ your page, thus helping you with publicity. Being active on social media will help you build a relationship with potential customers. Every share that you get on a social media website is free advertising. So why lose out on this opportunity?
5) Explore Business Globally
If you are a small business and dream to expand globally, you may need to put large investments in marketing and promotion to be successful. If you do not want to risk too much of money initially and want to test the waters before you take a dive, there is a smart way to go about it.
Portals like eBay and Amazon offer small businesses a platform to sell internationally. By having your products or services listed on such a portal you can know whether or not your products have international acceptance. Besides, you learn which markets you target initially while launching an independent venture.
6) Make Product Descriptions Unique and Valuable
Search engines prefer unique pages and so it is best to have unique and relevant content. Many e-commerce businesses, in order to avoid the hassles of creating their own unique product descriptions, copy-paste the descriptions provided by the manufacturer.
Since manufacturers also provide the same description to many other portals, the content you have on your website is not unique. Hence, you run the risk of your web page being filtered out by search engines for reasons of plagiarism. To lend uniqueness to your pages you can:
- Create your own unique product description, which provides user a more balanced view and covers details on all important product attributes that matter to customer; and
- Encourage customers to post product reviews in case they have purchased it from you.
7) Optimize Product Pages Based on User Search Criteria
Understand how users would try to get to a certain page you are looking to optimize. Research and find out the key terms people would use and be sure to include these in your page, headline, page titles and product description.
For example, if you are selling an all-in-one desktop computer, understand how people query search engines while they are looking to buy such a product. You might also find regional variations in the search terms – by using the words that your potential customers are most likely to use, you can get more relevant hits.
8) Use Sensible URLs
Speaking URLs also known as "keyword-friendly URLs" communicate to the reader the content or the message he should expect to see in the webpage in case he chooses to click the same. So essentially, the URL you create for your page should contain the right keywords.
This will make it easier for the readers to know what the product is about, simply by looking at the URL. It will also increases the chances of your page getting up in search results for the specific keywords.
9) Optimize All Product Images on Your Website
For an e-commerce retail store, one of the most critical aspects that shape a customer shopping experience is the quality of the product images. It would be a turn off for a customer if he is not able to visualize the important attributes of the products.
So, you need to have product photos that have high resolution. Users should be able to zoom in to get the details and get the feel of the real product. Besides, you need to use ALT tag strategically. Incorporate all relevant keywords in the ALT tag of the images.
10) Include Reviews, and Display Related Products
Customers tend to jump off of an e-commerce site when they either do not get to see what they are searching for, or when they are not able to make a decision. Having product reviews on your webpage will help the customer gain the much needed comfort for making a decision. Besides, the portal should also display related products which the customer could be interested in. This will lead to a more engaging experience and the customer would tend to stick to your e-commerce portal for making a purchase.
11) Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
Getting more visitors to your site is not dependent on your own SEO efforts alone. You need to keep a tab on your competitors, too.
Keep an eye on your direct competitors and their SEO strategy. See what's working or not working for them through the tools on SEMrush. Be prepared to take action.
12) Interact and Connect with Customers on Social Media
Just as maintaining a social media presence is important, it is also necessary to leverage all social tools to actively to engage with your customers. This helps you strengthen your brand and customer relationships. A simple way to engage with the audience is to post content that customers would be interested in. You may also organize contests and offer some interesting discounts to the winner.
13) Reduce Site Load-time
If your site is taking too long to load, you need to fix it right away. Customers are in no mood to wait, especially when they know they have a dozen other options. The longer the loading time, the more customer abandonment you are likely to face. Most customers expect to wait no longer than 3 seconds before the site loads.
14) Don’t Forget 301 Redirects
Using 301 redirects will help you conserve the power of inbound links imbedded in pages that you would have deleted by now from your website. So while you delete a page from your website, make sure that you provide a 301 redirect to an alternate page that is most likely to interest the visitors.
15) Set Priorities in SiteMap.xml
It is the sitemap.xml that enables Google and other search engines to crawl and index a website easily without any problems. You can also use it to assign priority to different URLs or pages on your site. The priority that you assign will decide the order or sequence in which the pages will be crawled. If you think some of the pages on your website are more important than others you may assign a relative priority.
16) Robots.txt to Specify the URLs and Directories of Your Website
Making Google crawl unwanted pages can be a waste of its resources, as well as your site bandwidth. Using the "Robots.txt" file, you can instruct robots to not to crawl and index certain files and directories within your site. For instance, if you do not want Google to crawl the images directory of your site, you can instruct the search engines accordingly by appropriately updating the Robots.txt file.
17) Link Building – Quality Matters
Inbound and outbound links are not just about numbers: quality matters, too. Sites you link to and receive links from should have a strong reputation and web traffic. If you have your e-commerce site linked to a low-quality website or a site that is red listed by Google, you are likely to be penalized for the backlinks.
18) Use Personalized Product Videos
Add value to your portal by providing customers with all that they would expect from you. For instance, having a video that guides the customer on how to take care of the product so that they can look to extend its life would add immense value to your website. Likewise, a video that is a testimonial from an existing client would also be appreciated.
19) Add FAQ Pages
Customers need to stay on your website – they won’t stay if they have to go elsewhere to research the product. To ensure that they do not leave, you should make all the information they might seek available.
It is best to have an FAQ section that will help customers resolve all the typical queries they have while making a purchase. It is also a good idea to have an FAQ section for each of the products or services listed on your portal.
20) W3C Validation
This is a free service which verifies if the code for your website is in accordance with the formatting standards laid out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). If pages of your website are not based on W3C standards, it is likely that your website is not well-formatted and lacks readability. This will severely impact customer trust/confidence, and lead to a poor traffic flow. So get a W3C validation, which will ensure your website is free from such errors and the traffic is not impacted.
Deploying search engine optimization techniques effectively and consistently over time remains the cornerstone of a successful e-commerce business. It ensures that your portal gets the right visibility in a competitive business environment. It also means you are doing all things required to win over customer trust and happiness with your services.
Photo credit: Wiki Commons
Kinjal Adeshara has been helping e-commerce website owners improve the efficiency of their websites and boost sales for five years. Currently, she is working with Cygnet Infotech, an ISO Certified company providing end-to-end e-commerce solutions to business worldwide.