By Lee Goldberg,
Regional Vice President
Now that the holiday season is winding down, it’s time to
reflect on what worked and what didn’t for your online store so that next year
can be even better. As we head into 2010, make it your New Year’s resolution to
improve your conversion rate and user experience. Here’s 21 quick best practices that you should strive
to achieve in the New Year:
1. Make sure you have unique product descriptions – Each product should have a unique description – Not just a list of feeds, specs, etc., but actual benefit-driven copy that’s unique to your store
2. Have a tight keyword focus on every page – Every page (products, categories, etc.) should have a laser-tight keyword focus, and should have unique copy, title tags, meta tags, etc. Be sure to perform keyword research to see what people are actually typing!
3. Use static URLs – This is crucial for SEO, and semantically nicer for users who bookmark your pages. Try to include the product name in the URL (i.e. www.MyStore.com/nikon-digital-slr-camera.aspx)
4. Show multiple product images – A picture is worth a thousand words! Show us multiple images of the products, from different views, zoom angles, etc. For products that have attributes such as color, show us each color and variation!
5. Mine your internal search data – This is crucial! You need to look at what your customers are trying to find but can’t. Mine this data for each of your category pages – Your customers may be calling your products something different than you are.
6. Offer a variety of filtering options – Be sure to give your users the ability to search/sort thru long product lists by price, most popular (crucial – takes the risk out of the decision about which products are best), alphabet, etc.
7. Be sure to include a value proposition in the header – Tell us what makes you better than the 10,000 other retailers that sell the same thing. Low price guarantees, in business since 1950, free shipping, etc. all add credibility and a reason for the user to shop with you!
8. Include ONE primary CTA per page – If your goal is to sell products, the primary call to action on the product page should be the add to cart button – Not a webinar signup or a newsletter form. It’s OK to have multiple CTAs, but prioritize with color, size, shape, etc. to place emphasis where it belongs.
9. Have a functioning, updated XML feed – This is crucial for getting all of your pages into the engines. This should be sent to Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing Webmaster tools
10. Insure that your Google Base Feed is up to snuff –This is a great source of free traffic in Google’s product search and in universal search. The feed should be generated every 30 days, and automatically FTP’d to Google base.
11. Categorize your HTML sitemap – Crucial, not only for search engines, but for users that use this as well (yes, people do use these). Break out your sitemap by product category, with no more than 50 links per page
12. Make registering for an account optional – Why add friction to the conversion process?13. Offer multiple payment options – Don’t limit users to just credit cards – Offer PayPal, Google CheckOut, BillMeLater – Give me choices!
14. Try “Add to Cart” Instead of “Buy Now” – We’ve multivariate tested this extensively – Add to Cart works better because it implies that the user has an option to remove the product from the cart if they decide not to go thru with the checkout
15. Clarify your checkout, and don’t always assume that One Page is the answer – Despite what you may think, one page checkout isn’t always better. Regardless, be sure to tell me how many steps there are from the onset, and don’t ask users to repeat information that I just gave you.
16. Limit the options during checkout – Get rid of distractions including header navigation – Keep it zoned in on just getting people thru the process.
17. Make sure discount coupons actually exist – If there is an option during your checkout, make sure coupons actually exist; otherwise you’re just frustrating the user and basically telling them to leave to go find a coupon!
18. Use breadcrumb navigation – This is simple enough to set up and a major convenience to users and Search Engines
19. Use related products strategically – offer them on the product page, not during the checkout – Don’t distract me when I’m ready to give you my money!
20. Get your security seals in line – Place them on the checkout, right under the “proceed” button – Verisign, SSL verification, BBB, etc all add credibility.21. Test, Test, Test – And then test some more – This is the most important suggestion. Don’t be afraid to try new things. The great thing about the web is that you can learn to be wrong quickly. Just because your conversion rate has improved doesn’t mean it can’t be better still. Use free tools such as Google Website Optimizer to try new designs, page copy, and images to improve your conversion rate