Small but Mighty: Optimizing a Small Business E-commerce Website

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

You want to make sure that your e-commerce site stands out from the crowd, keeps visitors on your page, and keeps your customers returning.

You created your e-commerce site, and it looks fantastic. 

You sit back and wonder what you could do better – what could give you more conversions, more sales.

Well, you're in luck!

I'm here to share with you some of the essentials for optimizing your e-commerce website.

My goal is to help you gain more sales and to ensure that your e-commerce site meets the highest standards so that you get the most out of your online business.

Without further ado, here are 6 top ways to optimize your e-commerce website.

Related Article: Sell With a Click: Easy Tips for Building Your First Ecommerce Website

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is important – yes even for an e-commerce site. After all, your e-commerce site is still just another website that lies tangled in a web alongside billions of other websites. You need to make sure that your site is found easily. The best way to do this, is through search engine optimization. SEO is quite complex, so we won't go into too many details here at this point in time - the goal is to help you, not overwhelm you. However, I will touch upon all the basic SEO tactics.

  • Make sure that your website contains only original content - Anything that is copied or plagiarized, will not look good in the eyes of the Big G (Google). If you are unsure if your content has been copied or not, you can always use a software such as Copyscape to ensure that all content on your website is 100 percent original. If content on your website is copied or unoriginal, you can pretty much guarantee that Google will make sure that your site is buried amongst your competition when people are searching for what you provide.
  • Research your keyword(s) - You need to research and study what element of your website, or what do you offer that people are searching for? What is the most in-demand product that you are offering on your e-commerce website? You can use a tool such as the Google keywords tool, to discover the number of searches each month for each of the keywords you would like to utilize.
  • On-site SEO - after you figure out what your keyword is that you would like to use, make sure that you plug that keyword in creatively in numerous places across your site. This will help google to realize that this keyword is pertinent to your website. But you must make sure that the keywords naturally flow with your content, don't look out of place, and are relevant. Google can tell the difference, and more importantly, so can your users.
  • Optimize Images - researchers have found that up to 74 percent of younger Internet users prefer to search for images rather than text. Because of this, you should make sure that all the images on your website contain your keyword in some form, to ensure that they are found during image searches.
  • Off-site SEO - this SEO tactic is a little more complex, and if you're inexperienced you might want to consider hiring an SEO consulting firm. However, the main idea here is to try to get your link anchored together with your keyword(s) on as many places across the Internet as possible. More importantly, on sites that rank higher and are trusted more in the eyes of Google such as education sites, government sites, and other large, trustworthy company's sites.

Again, The goal of SEO is to help you get found when people do searches on the Internet. This will increase your traffic, therefore increasing your sales and return on investment. But, hold on -- there are even more ways that you can optimize your e-commerce website and make more money.

2. Gain Trust

The visitors you gain need to be able to trust you if they are going to part with their hard earned cash. Here are a few ways that you can help them gain your trust.

  • Provide your visitors with real testimonials, and reviews of the products that you have to offer. You can have a testimonial/review page that customers can browse through. When people see other customers who have ordered and were satisfied, they will be more likely to try your products.
  • You should list any security software used to prove to your visitors that their checkout is secure. Using a simple message such as "secure checkout" can be very beneficial, and put your customers' minds at ease. Save shopping trust marks listed on your e-commerce site can boost your sales. Research has found that these safety marks were important for 76 percent of Internet users – and many people chose not to purchase items when they did not see security features they recognized (such as the ones provided when checking out with PayPal on sites like Amazon or eBay). 

3. Web Design and User Experience

It's quite obvious to say that people are less likely to trust a site or have the patience to wait for a website to load, many research studies have shown that you have about two seconds to engage people and get them interested in your website, and for every second after the initial two seconds, you can lose about 10 percent of your visitors. Make sure that your website is fast loading, and easy to navigate. If your website is confusing, or if it is hard to find something such as your best-selling items, you can bet that most people will not have the patience to browse around and look for something. They will simply X out of your website and search for something new. After all, there is much competition out there.

When you plan your navigation and user-friendly experience, make sure that you look at your website how a visitor would look for your products. Many e-commerce site owners will opt to hire people or ask friends and family to look at their website and critique it based on how user-friendly it is.

Is your website cross–browser compatible? If not, you should make sure that your website will be accessible to people using all different types of browsers. Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and even mobile devices such as the iPad or an android device. Many people use mobile devices nowadays instead of a traditional computer.

Related Article: The Mind of an Online Shopper: A Peek Inside Ecommerce Buying Behavior

4. Hire a Content Writer

Unless you are exceptional at writing, you might want to consider hiring a professional writer who is experienced with the sales industry. A writer of this nature can create beautifully worded content that helps your website close deals, and freeing your time to focus on what you do best.

Content creation is essential for your website, just as promoting your products is. A professional sales writer can take any product and make it look like a million bucks simply by describing it with beautiful words - enticing people to buy it. A great writer will be able to make a $400 pair of shoes seem like a bargain. You should make sure that all the products you have listed have exceptional descriptions so that people believe that they are truly getting the deal of a lifetime. The way your present your products is a surefire way to make-it-or-break-it when it comes to sales.

Where to hire a copywriter? Try freelance writers before going ahead and hiring a firm. These writers are typically just as great (if not better - as they rely on pay for their value rather than an hourly wage). Freelance writers can also fit your budget better. Some places you can find high-quality freelance writers include Elance.com, Freelancer.com, Scripted.com, Outsource.com or Textbroker.com - to name a few.

5. How Does Your Shopping Cart Function?

There's a lot of research involves an e-commerce websites and how people sometimes abandon their shopping carts. There are many reasons they do this.

  • They run out of time.
  • They don't feel like creating an account.
  • The shopping process is too confusing.
  • They don't see the total price until after they begin checking out.

Make sure that you streamline the shopping cart experience so that you can gain more conversions.

  • You could try showing people in a step-by-step manner, what the process is going to look like so that they don't get worried it's going to take all day and leave.
  • You can reduce the number of pages, or fields that it takes to complete the transaction.
  • Ensure that your checkout page is simple, so that people don't get overwhelmed.
  • Use larger images so customers can inspect the product they want to buy, and see it clearly.
  • Let your visitors know if a product is available or not, and also about any shipping charges or extra charges instead of surprising them at checkout.
  • Provide a feature that remembers what a customer put into their cart so that if a shopper comes back later, they can resume shopping instantly. 

6. Return on Investment (ROI)

This is perhaps one of the most important elements of your e-commerce site; making money! Making sure your homepage is optimized for sales is essential. In fact, these sorts of changes have been shown to increase the ROI e-commerce websites can see by 800 percent, here are a few tips on how to do this.

We already discussed advertising across multiple platforms like social media, Google Adwords, using SEO techniques to gain organic traffic, and so on. All of this is great, but when customers are reaching your landing page, (the first page they see when clicking on your link), what are they looking at? Is your site showcasing what was advertised? Is it easy for people to purchase or learn more about? Do you have annoying pop-ups bombarding your user?

Some site owners do not realize the importance of keeping a site simple and to-the-point. I have come across sites that contain video ads for other products/services - which is understandable; the site owner wants to make additional income with ad revenue - but on the contrary, bear in mind the negative impact this has on your visitors. Would you be happy if you were trying to find a specific product, only to be bombarded with loud video noise and pop-ups coming at you every-which-way?

Related Article: A Match Made in Internet Heaven: Content Marketing Meets eCommerce

Your web visitor clicked your website for a reason; most likely because of an ad that seemed appealing to them. Now, to gain maximum ROI, be sure that your visitor finds your landing page:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Easy to navigate

You want to make sure that your e-commerce site stands out from the crowd, keeps visitors on your page, and keeps your customers returning. With that in mind, be sure that you make your e-commerce site as optimized as possible to ensure that you look professional online and to make the shopping experience nice and simple, clear, concise and fun for your users.

The more people enjoy your site, the more willing they will likely be to share their experience with their friends and family - providing you with even more conversions.

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