E-commerce sites can get stuck in a rut — a sales-killing, conversion-squashing, revenue-ruining rut.
The problem starts simply and innocently. You create a nice Shopify or Bigcommerce site. You add your products, track your data, and start selling stuff.
Then comes the rut. Sales don’t rise like you want them to. You hit a plateau. You have no way of knowing what you don’t know.
This article addresses that problem. There are plenty of e-commerce website “best practices,” and things you could tweak or change. But what should you be focusing on? What changes will impact your bottom line?
1. Write More Copy in Your Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are at the heart of an e-commerce site. Nearly every customer who converts on a product will do so only after reading the product description.
If your product description is bland, undescriptive, unemotional, boring, or otherwise uninspiring, it is less likely that a customer will buy your product.
What should you do? Write more copy. Don’t just list the article; describe it. Write about it. Explain how to use it. Discuss its advantages.
Powerful product descriptions will make people want to buy.
There’s another major advantage in producing longer product descriptions: SEO. More copy is better for search engines. The more copy you write, the higher your likelihood of appearing and ranking in search engines.
We know that Google doesn’t like thin content. Thin content pages are those that don’t have enough copy. What is “enough” copy? There’s no single definition. After all, this isn’t a word count issue. This is a user experience issue. Write enough content so that users can understand and engage with the product.
The product page below is shockingly thin. There is information, but very little description.
Let’s look at positive example — a page with sufficient copy. The page below is selling earbuds. Most likely, the retailers could have described it in a single 50-word paragraph. Instead, they created a long-form landing page. (The entire page is not visible in the screenshot).
The page has five major sections, four videos, six images, six infographic elements, and more than 250 words.
In this case, more is better. Not more choices, more fields, more menus, or more options, but more content.
More content helps the customer understand the product and want it. Write in such a way that you help to draw the customer in and make them eager to convert.
2. Write Unique Product Descriptions
You should also make your product descriptions unique. Every product needs its own copy, distinct from anything else on the web.
I see retailers make this mistake happen all the time. Product descriptions are exactly the same on two different sites. Look at this product description:
It’s exactly the same as the product description on Apple’s site.
Why is this a problem? After all, if great content is great content, then why not grab some from another site on the web, and pop it on your own product?
Problem #1: That’s stealing. Stealing is wrong.
Problem #2: Google doesn’t like it. It’s called duplicate content, and Google has been known to penalize sites that use it.
What is duplicate content exactly? Here’s how Moz illustrates it.
Some of the worst culprits of duplicate content are e-commerce sites. Why? Because when you have so many products, it’s a lot of work to write a product description for every single one! Besides, a product is a product. Why go to all the work of writing something original and creative? Many retailers just copy/paste, and done.
Even though it’s tough, annoying, and time-consuming, you should make all your product descriptions unique. The work you put into will be rewarded with higher traffic and more conversions.
3. Make Your Images Bigger
Generally speaking, larger product images improve your conversion rates.
When you make images larger, it helps shoppers gain a closer look and better experience of the product. Pictures are more effective than words at engaging attention and capturing users’ interest. When you make your images nice and big, it forces the user to pay attention and encourages them to convert.
In one multivariate test, a Czech e-commerce site tested two different image sizes. Here is the control:
They tested the above control against the variation below. They expanded the images to fill the entire grid space.
As a result, conversion rates rose by 9.46%. Product images made the difference.
Having the right images of your offerings could be the difference between someone becoming a customer and deciding to move on to another website.
In many cases, the “right images” are bigger images.
4. Focus on the Primary Keyword for the Page Title
Pop quiz: What’s the one thing on a product page that is most important for SEO?
It’s your title tag.
The title tag is a short line of meta copy. Every single page should have a title. Every title should be different. And every title matters for SEO.
The title tag is the first thing a web crawler looks at when it indexes your page. In order to provide the most relevant and meaningful content, search engines prefer pages with optimized titles.
Here’s the question for e-commerce sites: How should you title your product page?
Here is my advice:
- Use your primary keyword in the page title. In other words, if you are trying to gain search traffic for “men’s leather louis vuitton bifold wallet” then use that exact phrase as your page title.
- Do not front load your business name in the page title. Your business name may be important to you, but unless you’re eBay or Amazon, people aren’t as concerned about it. You should create a page title that focuses on your keyword, not your business name. Adding a business name can consume precious page title real estate. Save your character count for your longtail keyword, not your business name.
- Focus on a longtail keyword in the page title. Most shoppers are looking for specific items. By the time they are ready to make a purchase, their queries will be focused and specific. In other words, instead of using a keyword such as “men’s wallet,” you should use the longer and more descriptive keyword like men’s leather louis vuitton bifold wallet.
Page titles matter for SEO and for conversions. Take your time to make them unique, longtail, and accurate.
5. Reduce Options
It’s common to think that more products mean more sales, that wider choices mean a broader array of customers, and to assume that more is generally better.
That’s not necessarily true.
As proven in multiple studies, more choice actually reduces conversions.
When I say options, I’m referring to the options for just about everything. Let’s take something common as an example — form options.
The more fields you have in a form, the less conversions you’ll get. Ask for a telephone number, and you lose 5% of conversions. Ask for an address, and you lop off another 4%. Want their age? There goes another 3% of your conversions.
The conversion-killing trend cuts into your contact form fields, too. Longer forms invariably get fewer conversions.
Even multi-field drop down menus can ruin conversions!
Conversion optimizer Jeremy Smith discusses this issue, explaining it like this:
This phenomenon is also called option overload, or “the paradox of choice”– when a user is faced with too many choices, they end up making no choice at all.
Option overload impacts product choices as well. If you have too many products, it becomes hard for the customer to decide among them. Instead of choosing one of many, they become paralyzed by all the choices, and decide to leave your website.
The product page below displays a page that returned for my “coffee mug” query. I can see at a glance that there are 832 choices.
If that weren’t hard enough, I am presented with even more choices for drinking glasses (733), pitchers and beverage dispensers (277), insulated drinkware (3,273), and drinkware collections (190).
I’m impressed with the retailer’s wide selection, but that doesn’t help me to make a choice on a coffee mug. Even if I were to look at each coffee mug for one second, I would spend over 13 minutes just looking at different mugs. Most online shoppers don’t have that kind of patience.
Thankfully, it’s rather easy to fix this problem. Keep in your mind the central idea: Too many choices kills conversions. Here is my advice:
- Limit your product options to 4-6.
- Limit your contact field options to 3-5.
- Limit your drop down menus to 2-3.
- Limit your product selection to one page (no scrolling), and create filtering options for customers to view more.
It’s counterintuitive, I know, but this is a principle of less is more. By cutting down your options, menus, products, and choices to the bare minimum, you’ll make it easier for people to make a choice.
Your e-commerce site matters too much to neglect these features.
The great thing about each of these points are that they cost next to nothing, take very little time, and can make an enormous impact.
Never underestimate the power of simple yet sweeping changes. Give it a try. Make these five changes, and watch your search potential explode and your conversions rise.
What simple changes have you made on your e-commerce site that have improved sales?