The algorithms that power search engines and social media sites may be in a constant state of flux, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some control over the decisions...
Generating traffic is only part of the story – conversions are what count
Over the last 20 years or so years, the internet has completely revolutionized shopping as we know it. With the high street seemingly in a never-ending spiral of downward decline, e-commerce appears poised and ready to steal the retail crown, and many industry experts predict online sales could soon start equaling or even outperforming those made offline.
With e-commerce having such an impact over the last few years, it’s now more important than ever for online retailers to have a clear and focused direction to their online sales approach – including working out how to convert leads into actual sales.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just the start
While high rankings in the search engines through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) have become the holy grail of many web ventures, good placement is only one very small part of the overall jigsaw of running a successful e-commerce site. In reality, high traffic stats are of little use if that footfall isn’t converting into sales.
Ways to drive higher e-commerce conversions
When you consider the first web page was activated just 30 years ago, the internet is still very much in its infancy and lessons continue to be learned, particularly when it comes to e-commerce. Nonetheless, there are still some tried and tested tactics you can employ to drive higher conversions on your website. Here are a few ways you can increase your visibility online, entice more users and convert passing trade into bona fide sales:
In internet terms, speed is everything: Page loading speed is one of the most important factors in keeping visitors on your site – whether that be for e-commerce or any other type of website. There is no greater turn-off for users than the agony of waiting for pages and content to load. While opinions vary, it’s generally accepted you only have around two seconds to grab the attention of a user before they’ll click back and be gone – in most cases forever. This is particularly important for e-commerce sites where the user typically already has a clear idea of what they’re looking for. The importance of a quick-loading site cannot be over-estimated and can result in the difference between a sale or a user going elsewhere. Indeed, industry giants, Amazon, found every 100 milliseconds saved on loading speed equated to a 1% jump in total revenue. To test the speed of your site, try using tools like Google’s PageSpeed service, which will give you a true evaluation of your pages.
While SEO is just part of the mix, ignore it at your peril: Sure, SEO is just one part of the overall picture, but high rankings will still likely prove the greatest driver of traffic to your site. As Google now accounts for around 92% of all search engine-generated visits, it is the platform you should concentrate on most. While you can attempt to do some SEO work yourself, partnering with a specialist online marketing agency is the best way to see the quickest and longest-lasting results.
Use website localization to break into overseas markets: In a recent study, it was found 78% of non-English speakers never or only rarely make a purchase from a site that isn’t in their native language. If you want to expand your market truly, you should consider engaging a website localization service to translate your entire website and underlying code into other target languages. Also, don’t forget the potential for using international SEO to achieve high rankings in overseas versions of Google as well as other search engines. To fully take advantage of the global potential of the internet, you need to take an equally global perspective.
Ensure your site is responsive: As the sophistication and number of connected devices have continued to increase in recent years, so has the trend for mobile internet access. These days internet access by mobile is over 50%, and all signs are it’s only going to keep growing – particularly with the advent of faster connection speeds and the impending mass roll-out of 5G. To cater to mobile users, you need to ensure your website performs equally well across all screen sizes using a technique called Responsive Design. Most mobile users have experienced the frustration of visiting an old-style website that can’t scale to the device they’re using. Non-responsive sites are instantly off-putting and will cost you dearly in terms of sales. Moreover, Google is now punishing sites that don’t scale responsively, which will result in an overall decrease in traffic to your site.
Ensure your website copy works for users and SEO alike: In 1996 Bill Gates wrote a prescient article entitled ‘Content is King’ and, despite the age of the essay, his words stand as true today as they did then. While the internet has developed into a far more visually-rich environment with greater use of video and other multimedia, it still remains driven by text first and foremost. Search engines rank sites mainly by the relevance of their text content - as do web visitors - so your site must feature well-written, succinct and punchy web copy. In the same way, a successful real-world salesman hones his delivery skills over many years, so you should look at monitoring the success of your web copy and be prepared to make changes where appropriate. Comparing the visitor stats of pages against their converted sales will give you a very good idea of what text is working best - allowing you to identify the need for any updates or alterations.
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