While there are improvement tweaks and must-have website features that most online shop owners are aware of, there are some less well-known ways to improve your store that can also be of considerable benefit, helping you improve trust, SEO, user experience and, ultimately, sales. Here, we offer seven secret tips to improve your online shop.
1. Always visible shopping cart
Your shopping cart is the most important feature on your website: its where you want all your visitors to go and without it, you wouldn’t be able to make a sale. However, if it is difficult to find, even those who have added products to it and want to make a purchase might not be able to. As a result, you could lose sale after sale. For this reason, use an easily recognisable shopping cart icon and make sure it is always visible, preferably where people expect to find it, at the top, right-hand side of the web page. Additionally, always display the number of products added to the cart; people can often forget if they have added something and if they leave without checking, it’s another lost sale.
2. Shopping cart cookie life
Consumers can find it difficult to make decisions and one common behaviour trait is for them to add a product to a shopping cart and then leave the site to look elsewhere. They may or may not come back to complete the purchase and if they do, it may take a while. If the cookie expiration time for your shopping cart is short, the chances are, that when the customer returns for a second look, they’ll have to search for the product again from scratch. If you have a longer cookie-life, the product they added might still be in the cart, enabling them to quickly find and buy it. This user-friendly approach can increase the likelihood of a returning visitor making a purchase.
3. Adding content to your category pages
Category pages on most eCommerce websites tend to be little more than a portfolio of products all linking to individual products pages. While this is fine for the shoppers who are already on the page, it does little for the page’s SEO and nothing to help searchers in the wild find your web page.
With the strategic naming of your category page and a little introductory content, with the main keywords embedded, search engines can better understand the subject matter of the category page and this can help it rank better in search results. Carefully worded, it can also help people on the page appreciate your products even better.
4. SSL certificate
Available from your web host, an SSL certificate encrypts data sent between the user’s browser and your website so that it cannot be stolen. Importantly, having one means that the browser will display the padlock icon in the address bar, showing visitors that your site is secure and that shopping with you is safe to do. This is vital for ensuring trust in your business and for giving customers the confidence to provide the personal and financial details needed to make a purchase. Some payment gateways may not let you use their services unless an SSL certificate is already installed.
5. Product page meta descriptions
All pages should have meta descriptions as they are used by search engines to help determine the subject of the page and to provide the snippet information that appears in the search results. Many eCommerce websites, however, don’t do this for their product pages – often because of the large number of products they would have to write them for.
However, while a search engine could use the content of a normal web page to come up with a suitable snippet of its own, the lack of content on most product pages means this would be more difficult to do. As a result, you may find that what appears in the snippet is non-product related information taken from the page, such as shipping or return policy details. This, obviously, does little to encourage searchers to click on the link to your website. By creating a meta description for each product, you can have more influence about what appears in the snippets and improve clickthrough rates.
Transparency is essential to creating trust with your customers and is a pivotal element of good customer experience. For this reason, make sure that pricing, including shipping costs, is clear, product availability is shown (don’t sell products when you know they aren’t in stock), shipping times are accurate and that terms and conditions, returns policies, etc. are written in plain English. The more open you are with your customers, the more they are likely to trust your company and buy from you.
7. Website speed
The speed of your website (how quickly it loads, how soon a user can interact with it and how quickly it responds to interactions) is critical to keeping visitors on the website and preventing user abandonment. A one-second delay can reduce conversion rates by as much as 7%. Additionally, the speed of the site is used as a ranking criterion by search engines, so slow sites will rank less well and have fewer visitors.
Website speed can be affected by a multitude of things, such as the number of plugins your site uses, the size (in Mb) of your images and the performance of your web server. Using caching, compression, image optimisation and content delivery networks can all help. So, too, can upgrading to a better hosting solution. Those who use shared hosting could see a huge improvement in performance by upgrading to VPS hosting where they will have far more RAM, CPU and storage at their disposal.
In today’s competitive market, online shops need to use every tactic at their disposal to improve their website and increase sales. Hopefully, this post will have shown you some of the less commonly known ways to improve sales, user engagement, trust and search engine optimisation.
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