If you have finished setting up your new eCommerce website and have been wondering how to get that edge over your competitors in the market with increased SEO rankings, this checklist is definitely for you. This checklist notes out all the things that I believe should be in the MVP of a site to help you improve your conversions and speed.
1. Don’t follow anyone’s advice unless you have tested it for yourself
I know I’m going to give a long list of advice among which there are some that are standard development practices that should be followed as they have no negatives, but when it comes to the marketing end, you should not assume that I, or anyone else for that matter, knows everything. No one knows your business and one cannot guarantee that a particular piece of advice is going to be 100% applicable to your business requirements. Two businesses are never the same, and it is only you who knows what’s right for your business and what needs to be prioritized. If you find something that you believe will be beneficial for your business, implement and test it, and act on your findings accordingly. If it seems that it is not for you, you can simply reverse it and continue your search. If it shows promise, you can find ways to expand the same. You must design your own Business Strategy to Ride the Ecommerce Wave!
2. GZIP the files on your web server
Enabling GZIP compression on your web server is a simple but effective way of saving at least 50% of your bandwidth and speeding up your site. Though this is not applicable for every platform/site, it should be done when there’s an option to do so. Contacting your web hosting company will get this sorted for you.
3. Use a Lead Capture System
It doesn’t have to be something fancy or expensive. Even a simple form does the trick. Without a Lead Capture System in place, you’ll never know when a customer comes to your site but doesn’t buy anything. With the proper use of a form, a customer might fill it out to get some offers and let you keep their information and build a list. It will also help you for quicker follow-ups in case they need more information before buying a product, while their interest in that product is still very high.
4. Enable Analytics
Always have some kind of Analytics (Google or any other) running even if you are not familiar with how to use the data it generates. Analytics provides you with the information about your site, customers, and where they are from. This historical data can be used by marketing firms or consultants to find new customers and increase conversion and the SEO ranking of your eCommerce website.
5. Choose and Optimize Images
The first thing about a product that a customer is going to see is its image, which makes it important to use images that convey its value and functionality while inspiring them to buy it. The challenge is to produce visually appealing images while keeping their file size relatively small. Using images that have a large file size will increase the time the image and page takes to load, thus, increasing the chances of the customer losing interest in the product. Using the “Save for Web” option in Photoshop or using online image compressor tools like “Kraken Image Optimizer” and “TinyPNG” will shrink the images to surprisingly smaller file sizes while still preserving its quality to an extent.
6. Image Titles
Saving an image with a relevant title is a very useful SEO tip. It will result in the increase of the ranking potential for that image, and also bring an additional context to the page on which it is. Adding your brand name at the end of the image title will help you remind someone of your brand whenever the image gets downloaded/saved somewhere else. The brand would also get mentioned if the image gets used on some other site and increases the ease at which it can be tracked if it is used improperly.
7. Home Page Title Tag
In no more than 6 to 7 words, tell your customer what your store is about. Having your Home Page title “Home” or your brand name doesn’t give any context to the customer. You can rename the title of the rest of the pages later on as you research about keywords, but, make sure to have the title of your home page ready from Day 1 itself.
8. Refrain from using a theme with a carousel
Using static category blocks instead will enable to fit two to eight times the information in the same space, and as an added bonus, it is stronger for SEO as well. These blocks can be arranged according to seasonality while keeping your core items in the same place, unlike a slideshow/carousel which keeps rotating and scattering all the information.
9. Social Media Pages
Claim them for your brand so that you have them, it is not necessary to attach all of them on your website. Maintain the ones that fit your demography and which build an organic reach that is not faked. Shuffle content to find what works for you and organize them accordingly. Here is how Social Media Networking can Boost your Ecommerce Sales!
10. Have a Fuzzy Search System enabled
Having this enabled prevents the customer from getting lost, especially when you sell a lot of products on your site. This comes really handy for customers using mobile platforms where navigation can sometimes be a pain. Fuzzy Search allows a customer to search for a product without having to type the exact name; Fuzzy Search returns results that contain relevant keywords, instead of returning a “no results found” message.
11. Enable Google and Bing Webmasters
Having Webmasters pre-established makes it easier for consultants/firms to troubleshoot if something goes wrong with your site by providing historical data and notifications. Google Webmaster Tools is free and helps you identify if there are any issues with your site and can even inform if your site has been infected by a malware or not.
12. Retargeting Tracking
Retargeting is kind of an online advertising cookie-based tool which is focused towards people who leave and abandon cart after visiting your site. Normally, only 2% of traffic is converted on the first visit to your site. This tool will help you target and convert the rest 98% in time.
13. Plan your initial marketing channels
You need to plan in advance where your initial traffic is going to come from. You can’t just expect people to magically visit your site during its initial launch.
14. Manage your plugins
Having a lot of unnecessary plugins (especially for platforms like WordPress) will make your site bulky and increase the page-loading time. Furthermore, it’ll also increase your costs for server fees. Try to keep only those plugins that show promise and cannot be replaced.
15. Optimize and not Extremize
You don’t need to stress about every small thing (analytics, SEO, blah blah!) during your initial launch. Simply be sure that you have everything in place. Once you have your site operational, you can optimize every detail accordingly. Perfection comes with time.
16. Unique text on each page
Another SEO tip- For example, product categories are the number one information that people forget to put on their page. Though it is very hectic for some platforms, when possible, it is wise to put a little bit of information on these pages. Some other pages that don’t get unique texts are product pages, contact us page, homepage, blog main page.
17. Check all your forms on the site
Once all your forms are in place (contact us, email, etc.), don’t forget to test them out with some test data. You can miss out on a lot of opportunities if these don’t work as intended. So, it’s better to go for a test run.
18. Secure your site
People won’t use your site if they don’t feel secure enough to share their information on it. Modern browsers notify users if they visit a site that has insecure content and it is unsafe to visit them or not. HTTPS your logins and checkouts and have some kind of security features in place that prevent your site from being vulnerable. Even things like images coming from the HTTP version of your site can make your site publicly vulnerable.
Breadcrumbs are generally ignored but it should be established as it adds value from both usability and SEO point of view. Breadcrumbs help your customers to navigate to the page/product category they came from, and give them an option in case something goes wrong (non-existent pages, broken links/features, etc.). It also makes it easier for the analytics to track and follow their path.
20. FAQ Page
Have a good and informative FAQ Page set up related to your brand, your products, shipping and return policies, taxes, etc. This will help you circulate varied information of your business by cumulating it to one single page.
21. Affiliation and Partnerships
Since it is very difficult to scale something from scratch, it is always helpful to develop a strategic partnership early on. I know many people follow the “I want to do things on my own and keep the profits to myself” principle, whereas it should be “I’ll sell my product wherever it sells to grow my business”. Remember, sustainability comes before profitability. Use affiliates to redirect traffic to your site. Once your business grows, you’ll have enough opportunities to start making profits.
22. Be willing to make zero profits on some sales
Sometimes, you’d have to compromise on your profits to keep your customers happy. You must calculate the bare minimum required for your survival while considering your investments. Maximizing your growth is more important than maximizing your wallet in the initial phase.
23. Comparing Conversion Rates
Be sure you have enough data to start off the comparison with. All the analytics tools I mentioned in the previous points come in play here. Compare A/B test points that are valid. Comparing trivial things like using a different color for the “add to cart” button is of no use. Instead, focus on things like comparing different checkout methods. This adds value on the customer’s end. If you’re not sure with how to compare all the data that you have, you can always take the help of a consultant/firm.
24. SSL Setup
Make sure that your SSL (HTTPS) is set up correctly. Improper setup can decrease the speed of your site drastically. This also depends on your SSL provider so make sure that you’re opting for a provider with a good reputation.
25. More speed
Like I mentioned in #15, this is not completely necessary when you’re just starting out. Spending money on experts to make a difference of, say, a second or two is just not worth it at that initial point. You don’t have to worry about these unless your site takes comparatively huge time to load.
You can start with having the following things looked at first:
- Enable caching to make sure your files get cached on the user’s computer.
- Minify CSS, HTML and JS files.
- Have a properly set up CDN.
- Make fewer HTTP requests.
You can also make use of tools like Yslow, Google Page Speed, Pingdom, etc. to find what is causing your site to slow down.
26. Manage your redirects
Make sure that your site redirection works correctly after any major changes to your site. You also need to look out to eliminate any errors regarding redirecting pages. A very common example is given below:
Let’s say, for example, your site is “MyTestSite.com”. Then, you should check and make sure that “http://MyTestSite.com”, “http://www.MyTestSite.com”, “https://MyTestSite.com” and “https://www.MyTestSite.com” redirect to the same place. This will make you have potential customers to your website more even if they are not very accurate with your web address and will help you create a better base with increased SEO rankings for your store.
That is pretty much it for my eCommerce Checklist. Let me know if you have any more additions/suggestions or questions in the comment section below.
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