Has your ecommerce website's conversion rate hovered at the same low number for weeks or months? Have you tried to increase that rate with no success? While there are dozens of different strategies you could implement--or any number of factors holding you back--the following tips and tricks have helped plenty of ecommerce sites move from under-performing to highly converting.
Understanding Where Your Conversion Rate Ranks
The problem for a lot of ecommerce business owners is that they don't understand the difference between a low and high conversion rate. This is usually the result of a lack of context and can be potentially dangerous.
After all, if you have a one percent conversion rate and are still meeting your monthly sales quota, it's natural to assume everything is okay. But what if your competition is converting at a five percent rate? You're unknowingly leaving thousands of dollars on the table. You can't afford to look at your conversion rates without context, so here are some things to know:
Understanding that device and channel matter, let's look at average conversion rates for large ecommerce brands over the last few quarters. In quarter four of 2013, the average global conversion rate was 2.72 percent. In quarter four of 2014, that number jumped to 2.84 percent. If you're looking at the average conversion rate for U.S. ecommerce sites, that number was 2.97 percent in quarter four of 2013 and 3.15 percent in quarter four of 2014.
As for conversion rates by device, the global conversion rates for traditional, tablet, and smartphone in quarter four of 2014 were 3.41 percent, 2.86 percent, and 0.92 percent respectively. For U.S. ecommerce sites, those numbers were slightly higher. They came in at 3.78 percent, 3.11 percent, and 1.00 percent, respectively.
Increase Your Conversion Rate with These 6 Tips
With all of those numbers and facts as context, you can now look at your conversion rate and see where you stack up. If your conversion rate is below one percent, there's obviously room for improvement. However, if you're consistently hovering around five percent, you're doing something right.
Chances are, if you're reading this article you fall into the former category--meaning your conversion rate is struggling and you need help increasing it. Thankfully, a few SEO tips can get most ecommerce sites back where they need to be. Let's take a look:
One of the biggest SEO killers is duplicate content. While most websites don't have to worry about this (unless they knowingly copy and paste), ecommerce sites are particularly at risk because product descriptions have a tendency to be similar. That means you need to be quite vigilant of any redundancy on your site.
When developing product descriptions, it's best to spend extra time and effort crafting unique copy. Not only does this ensure you don't fall prey to possible duplicate penalties, but it also makes an impression the customer. It adds a flare to your products that many websites don't have. If you need more help with fixing duplicate content, Ken Lyons of Search Engine Watch posted a pretty decent tutorial.
Do you know about rich snippets? Don't worry--you're not alone. Most online retailers don't implement them, either. They are simply small descriptions that sit beneath your URLs when they appear on Google. They allow you to give the user a little bit more information about what they're clicking on and help you stand out against the myriad of other results. Some even claim adding content-rich information to search listings can increase click-through rates by as much as 30 percent, regardless of whether or not you're in the number one position.
You absolutely must pay attention to your site's URL structure if you're interested in climbing the search rankings, attracting more site traffic, and increasing conversions. A proper URL structure can pay major dividends by making it exponentially easier for the search engines to crawl your site and identify what it's offering and why it's of value.
Additionally, from a human point of view, a proper URL structure is much more satisfying to the end user. It allows customers to find what they're looking for much faster, keeps them on your site much longer, and increases the likelihood of converting them from a browser to a customer.
The problem most ecommerce sites have when it comes to product images is that they wrongly assume picture quality is the only significant factor. While the quality of your images is ultimately what will convert users, it's the optimization that attracts those users in the first place. In other words, you need to help the search engine robots find your images by giving them something to search for.
You can do this by adding keywords to your image ALT tags. Remember, search engines aren't currently sophisticated enough to read pixels and identify what those pixels represent, so focus on making these keywords as relevant and unique as possible. Think about it like describing a picture to someone who has lost their eyesight. What terms would you use?
As search engines become increasingly complex, they are beginning to place more emphasis on semantic search. This has increased the importance of long tail keywords--especially for smaller ecommerce sites that have difficultly ranking for basic search terms.
Take the example of an ecommerce site that sells kitchen appliances. Instead of targeting the keyword "new kitchen appliances," they would likely have more success going after a search term like "new stainless steel 64 oz. blender." How does that affect conversion rates, you may ask? Well, it has the added benefit of pre-filtering site visitors. If someone clicks on the URL after typing in this search term, the odds are pretty good they're looking for a new stainless steel 64 oz. blender and not a coffee maker.
Out of stock product pages are the bane of many ecommerce site's existence. By leaving them up, you risk frustrating customers when they can't purchase an item they want. By taking it down, you're going through a lot of extra steps that will have to be reversed as soon as the product comes back in stock. Depending on the product and what you choose to do, this can kill your conversion rate for that item.
You have a few options. First, you could incorporate some sort of announcement or countdown clock feature that indicates when the product will be available for purchase. Second, you could ask for the user's email address in order to notify them when the product is back in stock. Third, you could allow the user to actually make the purchase and offer to ship it as soon as it comes back in stock. All of these options are better than not doing anything, or taking the page down altogether.
Time to Get to Work
By keeping your conversion metrics in context and using these six tips, you should be able to gain better access to quality traffic and increase your conversion rate.