5 Things to Optimize on Your E-Commerce Site to Gain More Sales

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5 Things to Optimize on Your E-Commerce Site to Gain More Sales

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.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

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).

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

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:

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

It’s exactly the same as the product description on Apple’s site.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

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:

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They tested the above control against the variation below. They expanded the images to fill the entire grid space.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

As a result, conversion rates rose by 9.46%. Product images made the difference.

The Sumall blog provides this piece of advice:

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.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

The conversion-killing trend cuts into your contact form fields, too. Longer forms invariably get fewer conversions.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

Even multi-field drop down menus can ruin conversions!

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

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.

Optimize on Your E-commerce Site for More Sales | SEJ

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?


Image Credits

Featured Image: Rawpixel/Shutterstock
Screenshots by Neil Patel. Taken July 2015.
“Reduce Options” Illustrations by Neil Patel.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at... Read Full Bio
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  • R.Rogerson

    Oh … a non-SEO piece 😀
    Focusing primarily on Sales … which is Conversion based… ok.
    Those are good – but I wouldn’t have thought them as the main influences?

    1) Quality Images.
    One of the first things our eyes hit on is the product image.
    If it’s naff, if it’s low-quality, unclear, poorly lit, not-informative (not an angled shot, doesn’t display the product in full, doesn’t display key features) – then it’s a turn off and can negatively impact conversions.
    Ideally, you need multiple shots.
    You need the Glamour shot – the pretty one that shows the full item at a slight angle that looks “good”.
    You then need the side/top/back shots. If applicable, you need the “key feature” shots too (such as if the product has buttons, or special fasteners, or pretty indicator lights etc.).

    2) Clear Pricing.
    Another big sin many sites commit is poor pricing practices.
    This ranges from prices being hard to locate, through to being confusing (listed price doesn’t state if it has Tax, Shipping, per item, per multiple item etc.).
    If people cannot easily identify the price, and the true cost – they will feel like you are trying to hide it, or cheat them.
    Big, Bold, Obvious and Clear pricing is important.

    3) Sort out your Search!
    One of the first thing many e-commerce users will do is hit your sites search.
    Unfortunately, most in-built search functions on most e-commerce platforms are really bad.
    Not only may you find you have limited Search functionality, but you may find it is overly-accurate, or highly inaccurate.
    You may find that you are limited to Titles, or a specific Search field.
    In some cases, you may be lucky, and able to tell the search system to use multiple fields (such as title, description, features etc.) and a custom search field.
    But you will still have issues – such as spelling variations (gray/grey), and mis-spellings (you’d be amazed at how often people misspell something).
    So you need to look at your Search function and probably make some alterations.
    a) Make sure it’s fast! People don’t want to hit “search” and wait 14 seconds whilst it churns through 14K+ products.
    b) Make it friendly! Include an auto-complete/auto-suggest function (ajax).
    c) Make it “fuzzy”! This is complicated – but basically you convert your search values to phonetic values, and do the same for your search data column. Most mispellings are phonetic (hih heeels vs high heels – phonetically are the same).
    d) Make it helpful! If you have no matches, don’t show an empty page! Instead, provide some suggestions. If at all possible, harvest data from other users that did the same search, and what products/pages they hit after.
    e) Make the results “stronger”! You should be able to provide the results in a ranked order, based on Relevance. For FullText search, this is easy. For “like” searches, this will require some extra work.
    Get your Search right, and you will improve conversions simply because people can find what they want.

    4) Use your Search Data.
    As many people will sue Search – you can gain key insights into what people are looking for. Make it easier for them – automatically display highly searched products on your home page. If you can manage it, have a “top products” section heading your categories too (if 10% of visitors to Category-12 are looking for Product-N, then you might as well put Product-N at the top!).

    5) Trust is still a key factor.
    Many people are still shy of online transacctions – and who can blame them?
    So, provide various trust-factors to put their mind at ease;
    a) Contact details at the top and bottom of each page – inc. Telephone
    b) Recognisable Payment gateways and accepted methods (PP/MC/V/AP/GP etc.).
    c) Clear link to Refunds and Returns
    d) Privacy link should be provided clearly next to any personal details form (load in tab/modal)
    e) Data gathering should be simple and strict (as Neil covered above).

    d) Simple and Transparent.
    You’d be amazed at the number of sites out there that Still don’t show prices!
    That’s an automatic abandonment for many visitors. They won’t even take time to signup to see the prices.
    Another key problem is that many sites don’t have clear process flow. That means the visitor cannot easily locate/use the View Cart and Checkout links/options. You won’t make money if people can’t give it to you!
    PRovide details of cart contents and cart total. If shipping is separate, make that clear!
    A lot of people will abandon a cart when they realise their $40 order will cost $20 shipping!

    6) Free Shipping Converts!
    It’s silly. It really is! We all know that the shipping is added into the product price.
    We all know that no business is going to lose on shipping. Many of us know that businesses tend to make a little on the shipping.
    Yet when we see the words “free shipping” – we still think “cool”.
    (Yes, even me!)
    So make use of it!
    I know, it may mean you have to rework your product pricing … you may have to calculate adjustments based on product weight (and/or size)… but it’s worth it.
    (Push conversion value up a bit – introduce a qualifier (free shipping for orders over $N), and if you get the balance right (based on your previous order values and shipping costs) you should see people spend that extra $4 to save on shipping (which you’ve already added into the product cost 😀 (yes, you make a little more money – twice :D)).

    Throw those in with the solid 5 above, and you’re on to a winner 😀

  • Adam Safar

    I think I may have most of this down. This article helped me realize the importance of keyword usage in the title tags of my pages. I’ve created a top 10 list for each artist. I placed 10 music videos on each page and provided content to each of those videos underneath.

    Most importantly, I have my keywords in the title tags. At first I was putting my keywords within the content in each music video description but realized that I don’t need to over due that in order for the reader to understand what my page is about. Since my target market requires a competitive audience I realize how much they need to see new content. I am able to update those pages often because there are many different situations that are examples to what those songs mean.

    I see them being in many perspectives of others opinions. For this reason, I can update my pages daily. I believe I am headed in the right direction but I know that it is always a learning process. I enjoy the steps I need to take though and appreciate this article. Thanks Neil

  • Neo Ni

    Along with these factors we can try adding “Related Products” section on product page that can help to increase sales if customer is not ready to buy particular product he/she can browse related products from the same page. Very useful article.

  • Dewald Swart

    I agree that the title for each product should be descriptive and unique. However the title for each product should be used in their description as well. Another thing I can point out is product categories. Their titles should also be optimized.

  • Mauri Miller

    For #4, what are your thoughts on giving products unique names? For instance, if you have products in the clothing industry, should you name each product or just stick to names that incorporate the keywords?

    • R.Rogerson

      Unique is helpful – but being Informative is the key to a good title.
      What would be more useful;
      1) Skirt
      2) Skirt – 456
      3) A-Line Skirt
      4) A-Line Skirt with perma-pleats
      5) A-Line Skirt – rose pattern – perma-pleats
      6) A-Line Skirt with perma-pleats, rose pattern
      7) Rose patterned A-Line Skirt with perma-pleats
      8) Perma-pleated A-Line Skirt with perma-pleats
      etc. etc. etc.
      (Usually you will find Primary term (skirt/a-line) appearing first, qualifiers/distinguishers follow (perma-pleat/rose-pattern/light cotton etc.)

      The idea is – that through the title alone – someone should have a very good idea of what they are going to find on the page.
      If you have multiple products that are so similar that the titles are identical;
      1) you should look for distinguishing features (brand, style, material, season etc.)
      2) you should consider merging the products (if applicable) using canonical link elements/redirects
      (I mention (2) as some e-commerce setups have basically the same product, but spread over numerous pages for different waist sizes, lengths, colours etc. – it is often more effective to have a single page in the SERPs representing the “variants”, if not a single page on the site that permits options (so long as clearly labeled and easy to use))

      To get a better idea – go look at other sites.
      Plenty of catalogue and fashion sites – look at the titles/headings/link text they use. Which ones do you find more useful, more informative, more appealing?
      Inversely, note the ones that annoy, confuse or fail you. The ones that make you click through several different pages to find what you want because the title wasn’t clear enough etc.. – then avoid those 😀

      • Mauri Miller

        Thanks for the quick response. I will try solenoid your recommendations and determine the best approach.

  • Stena Wilsom

    Thanks for sharing tips to optimize ecommerce site sales. Also some of the following steps can be helpful to increase ecommerce site sales:-
    1) Include Customer’s positive feedback – It will encourage other buyers.

    2) Email Marketing – It will help you to reach out to your customers.

    3) Build up trust