Online Shop Optimization
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The term online store or online shop optimization summarizes various measures aimed at improving the rankings and revenue of online stores (or online shops).
Online store optimization basics
Online store optimization consists basically of two parts. SEO optimizes the website in such a way that the online store ranks better in the search engine result lists and thus receives more visitors. Conversion optimization on the other hand aims to convert the visitors which have been drawn to your website into customers and maximize revenues.
SEO for online stores
Similar to regular websites, search engine optimization for online stores is made up of a number of individual parts:
Online stores often fall short on content, since hardly any pages with contents exist. Search engine optimizers can start here. First, the homepage has to get optimized for the most important keywords of the online store. Even if the start page text should ideally be located directly in the user’s field of view, this is often not possible with online stores. That is why homepage texts and category descriptions are often to be found below the actual content or the product listing. The category descriptions are often neglected or even completely forgotten. But they are an especially great way to accommodate the keywords that match the respective category.
Unique product descriptions should be used on the individual product pages, which in turn include the product-related keywords. What the minimum length should be for these texts, is controversial in the industry. What’s recommended is that you should not be limiting them to a mere enumeration of functions and features of a product, but illustrate the product instead in detail and highlight the advantages to the buyer, without, however, generating pure filler content.
Naming of categories, products and images
When naming the categories and products, the main keywords that potential customers often search should be taken into account. It is important to establish whether they search “digital camera” or “camera digital,” for example. The keyword should also appear in the title and the alt attribute of all product images in the store.
Linking is as important as for content pages as for online store optimization. External link building should always be topic-relevant, so that the linked sites should ideally fit the assortment of the store. Your emphasis should be on a natural link structure that includes not only homepage links, but also deep links.
Using well-structured internal linking, store operators should show Google the way when it comes to identifying the key webpages of the store itself. Less attention should be on “administrative” information such as shipping or the imprint, but, for example, buying guides, bestsellers or other pages that need a lot of traffic. Simple ways in which the internal linking can be sensibly supported is the use of breadcrumb navigation and cross-selling modules. The latter should be linked on the product page to other products that are similar to the product being viewed or that complement the products.
Meta tags should not be ignored, especially in online stores, since they represent one of the best opportunities to accommodate keywords. Keywords should be located as close as possible at the beginning of meta titles. They should also occur in the meta description. Moreover, they should be formulated as a call-to-action to get the search engine users who are reading the description to go to the online stores.
Many online stores have to deal with duplicate content. This, however, is often found in places where it is often overlooked:
- Utilizing the manufacturer’s product description – solution: formulate your own unique product descriptions
- Accessibility of the domain with and without www – solution: Set up 301s
- Apart from several nuances, (such as colors) multiple identical products – solution: exclusion of individual product pages with canonical tags
Avoid error pages
The range of online stores is subject to constant change. Therefore, it often happens that an article is no longer accessible under its previous URL. If the users see an error page, they will quickly switch to another store that still carries the product they are looking for. To avoid this bouncing of customers, a 301 redirect should be established. The target page should be, for example, a specific landing page, where alternatives to the products are displayed from your range of products. If there is a direct successor of the product, a redirect to that item would be advisable.
Use search engine friendly technologies
Frames should be completely avoided in the design of online stores, since it prevents the search engines from fully indexing the store. Dynamic URLs and session IDs post the problem that one and the same page exists under multiple URLs or is no longer detectable shortly after the indexing. For the search engine, this means duplicate content and regularly occurring error messages because of no longer crawlable product pages. If such URLs cannot be avoided, canonical tags should at least be used selectively. However, web stores should completely forgo session IDs and dynamic URLs.
To optimize the conversion, the customer or more specifically his needs must be satisfied. They usually first want to be informed and buy only as their second step. Therefore, online store operators should take care to provide visitors with all the information they need for their decision to purchase, for example, in the form of buying guides, test reports, or customer reviews. Moreover, there are a number of further approaches in the field of conversion optimization:
- Easy navigation
- Simple ordering process with few steps
- High security for personal data
- Website able to be displayed in different browsers
- Analysis of the bounce rate and exit pages
- Avoid overloaded pages
- Representation of the USPs
- Improving internal search
- Integration of useful product filters
- Use of A / B split testing
- Improving the store designs
- Usability of forms
- Transparency of user guidance (keyword: breadcrumb navigation)
- Attractive product presentation
- Fast loading times