Get your Website Selling!
In our previous article on How to Create a Web Store, we looked at setting up a Web Store with a Shopping Cart for your website, allowing you to easily sell products from your website. So we’ve taken care of the foundations and by now you should have the infrastructure in place to accept money from your website (though a PayPal shopping cart or Shopping Cart script that you have installed on your site). The industrious amongst you may even added a few products to your Web Store’s catalog!
However, before customers can buy your products and services they must first find your web store. Then, once they’ve found it, you certainly do not want your customers leaving your web store! So, you must optimize your web store to make sure that everyone (or, at least, as many people as possible) that begins to buy something from your website completes the checkout process.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to make the most of your eCommerce website – to optimize it so that your customers find it and then don’t click away before they purchase (I think you’ll agree that both are of significant importance to your web store)!
There are, generally, two ways you must optimize your shopping cart: Firstly, you must optimize your web store for the search engines so that they can find and index the content and product descriptions within your web-store. Secondly it must be optimized for your human customers so that they follow your checkout procedure and do not click –away from your shopping cart.
OPTIMIZING FOR THE SEARCH ENGINES
We’ve discussed Search Engine Optimization many times in this blog, so the on-page optimizations you’ll be making should already be familiar to you. We’re pandering to all the usual things the Search Engines Like to see.
You optimize your web store very much like you optimize any website; it’s a combination of your titles, domain name, original keyword-rich content. Search Engine Optimization is a very big subject and I highly recommend that you read more about it in Secret 3: Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.) of our free report: The Secrets to Promoting your Website Online
- Domain name: Having a domain name that is descriptive of your company or the products that you sell is a massive bonus and will help your Search Engine Optimization no end! If you’re selling model helicopters, for instance, you would try your best to get a domain name like: model-helicopters.com. This gives you an instant advantage when people search Google for “model helicopters”. Pick your domain name wisely.
- Keyword Research: Using the Google Keyword Tool to decide on the very best keywords for your website is a great idea as it will give you a good idea of what your customer support people are doing? Continuing with our model helicopter example, you may find that many people are searching for “which model helicopter to buy?” – Use this to start generating your keywords: “model helicopters, buy model helicopters, which model helicopter to buy“etc.
- Keyword Content: Make sure that your product descriptions contain a helping of your keywords, as do the name of your store and the titles you use throughout your Web Store. Keep it consistent and relevant to the themes that you want your website to be listed for. Click the following link to learn more about how to select keywords for your website.
- Backlinks (using appropriate anchor text): You can link internally and you can use your social marketing campaign to create backlinks to your website. Make sure you include your Social Networking buttons on each of your pages so that your customers can share their content with their network on any one of the countless Social Bookmarking websites. Make sure you include the fairly new Google+1 Button too (the Google +1 button is very important to Google’s new “Social Search” mantra)!
- Use of a sitemap: Tell the Search Engines where to go looking for your original quality content by including a sitemap on your site. A sitemap for your human visitors may help them out too, especially if you have many product categories.
- Use of robots.txt: Stop co-operating web crawlers from indexing any pages that do not contain any content for S.E.O.! The Robots Exclusion Protocol (or robots.txt) is a simple way to control how the search engines see your website.
- Original exciting content for your products: Make your product descriptions interesting and exciting and contains action words – make sure that they’re keyword optimized too, not too much, but a keyword density of around 1-3% is just about right for any particular keyword on any particular web page.
Make sure you follow the rules of Search Engine Optimization and you will feel confident that your website is appearing in the Search Engine Results Pages. So your customers are finding your website.
Making sure they don’t bounce away (leave your website) is a whole other story…
OPTIMIZING FOR YOUR HUMAN VISITORS
The second set of optimizations you must take care of are to ensure that a visitor does not leave your web store either right away or once they have added an item to their shopping cart. These optimizations are called: Human Visitor Optimization and are designed to keep your visitors on your e-commerce website and shopping.
In a real world high-street store, generally, you wouldn’t put an item in your shopping cart and then change your mind. In the online arena, however, it is very easy to abandon a shopping cart.
This can usually be corrected by a little bit of streamlining either to your shopping cart or your web-store, tweaking the content and the route your customer takes from adding an item to the shopping cart through to them buying it.
Regardless of the shopping cart that you set up following the instructions in our previous article, there are a few simple steps to follow:
- Make your checkout process easy: Once your customer has added the items they wish to buy to their shopping cart, the route they take through to entering their payment details should be straight forward and easy. Don’t distract them with ads for your other products – you don’t want them clicking away. It should be this simple: Customer adds the product to your cart – they click on your Checkout button – they enter their payment information – they get a confirmation that their payment has been received along with delivery information. That simple. The above is the shopping procedure that your customers are expecting to follow – why make it more complicated? You should not ask for more information than you require completing the transaction either; your customers will be weary of you if you start asking for information that is not directly related to your content… You do not need their fax number, for example.
- Make sure your Product Descriptions are exciting, irrefusable and contain “UNSTOPPABLE” action words: You should always try and make your product pages keyword optimized because you want people to discover them and you want to increase the overall S.E.O. of your website. Your page titles should include your keywords as should your product descriptions and you. Adding a shopping cart to your website gives you a bunch of extra pages to your website. Equally .. don’t just describe your products … WRITE exciting sales text! Write about the benefits your customers will get from buying them … Write using a positive tone and add exciting action words. In addition you could add a “limited-time-offer” to sweeten the deal and a strong call to action: “Don’t delay; but now!“
- Promote other products and services only after you have taken your customers money: There is a psychological effect that happens when a customer buys something from you and the moment that they purchase a product from you they become instantly agreeable. It is at this point, just after they have purchased, that you would consider getting them to shop for more. You wouldn’t, for example, show a list of suggested products before they had finished what they were trying to buy in the first place!
- Try and get good product reviews: Testimonials from your customers is a great selling tool. Try and convince your customers to leave you some feedback – maybe for a bonus from you, then post your GOOD product reviews where they are relevant and can be found easily.
- Make sure you have a Contact Page: Most of your customers will look for some kind of Contact details before they purchase – because they want to know that they will be able to find you after they have parted with their money should anything go awry. A postal address for your business as well as a contact telephone number are both essential; you can be sure that your visitors will leave without purchasing if they cannot find them.
- Offer other languages beyond English in your web store: Now we know that Google Translate isn’t perfect just yet – but it’s presence on your website could mean the difference between a customer who bounces away and a customer who decides to use your Google Translate feature. Click the following link to learn more about adding Google Translate to your website.
- Make sure your web store displays properly on all major browsers: You should load your web store using all five of the major web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari. If there are serious issues in how your site loads in one of the browsers above, you should look into fixing it. You can never tell which browser your visitors will be using when they arrive at your site … well, actually that’s not strictly true … Statistically your visitors are most likely to be using Internet Explorer and least likely to be using Opera – though the market share of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome is very very close. Check your design on all the browsers above!!!
If you follow the instructions above, you should be able to increase the traffic to your web-store, decrease the bounce rate and they should also improve the conversion rate of your website. Conversion rate is the percentage of your total visitors who are turned into your customers by seeing your website.
As always, it is not enough knowing what changes to make – You must also put the work in and actually make the changes! Test variations on your design – give your visitors everything they need to become your customers without having to worry once.