SEO and Beyond: Clicking With Your Human Audience

seoWe are all swept up in the SEO frenzy because we hear it all the time. Recent search engine algorithm updates have made people remember that SEO is not just about random use of keywords.

However, there is still an unholy preoccupation with ranking high with SEO. In a recent article, I told you about purchasing department being the backbone of your ecommerce store.

Today I want to talk about the fact that product pages are the lifeblood of your storefront. And these product pages are all about that human connection. Remember this when planning everything from description to layout.

You’re starting point as you think of your product pages should be:

  • Rank well to drive organic traffic
  • Convert visitors into buyers

Rank High:

This is the SEO component of the strategy in that having the right kind of content will make sure that your page will show up in relevant searches. Getting the eyeballs is the first step!

  1. Write a SEO-friendly description for your products. Note that sprinkling the description with some keywords does not make it SEO optimized. You have to consider the number of words and the position of keywords. Uniqueness is vital. The algorithms these days look for relevance of content and so you need descriptions that are meaningful.
  2. Images are an important factor in how pages are assessed. Upload great quality images but remember to keep it at 72 dpi. Otherwise, your site will take too much time to load properly. Be sure to upload multiple images for a single product taken from different angles and colors. This will allow a customer to virtually ‘handle’ the product. Don’t forget to use “alt text” for every photograph.
  3. Get help from an expert web developer. While there are comprehensive DIY websites, product pages should be fail proof to avoid customer frustration. So, have your site tested for possible bugs and errors. Make sure that coding is correct or W3C compliant. Ask also to have your storefront tested from the user point of view. This will help you understand what particular sections to improve.

Convert to Sales:

Now that you’ve paved the path and brought the customers to the store, it is time to focus on the ways to make the sale happen.

  1. Know thy customer. The Marketing 101 edict holds true in ecommerce stores as much, or even more than, anywhere else. While you may not meet your customer in real time, you should anticipate every need of the customer in how your website is set up for browsing and sales.
  2. Hire a product description writer who understands the demographics of your target market. This writer should come up with emotional-trigger content and helps your store have its own personality.
  3. Include best-seller icon to products that sell frequently.
  4. Cross-selling is really good and can boost your sales. However, don’t overcrowd your product page. Linking two to three related products should suffice. Moderation is key, overdoing it will only cause confusion and higher abandonment rate especially on the mobile device.
  5. Plan what type of promotions you can offer, and what products you can cross-sell and up-sell. Don’t confuse the customer by showing too similar items, many etailers confuse cross sells with up-sells, they are not the same thing.
    The best way to use cross sells is when you are selling a cake & knife set, to show the matching toasting flutes, versus more cake & knife sets of similar pricing this will get more items added to the cart, which increase your average order value. An example of up-sell, is selling the cake & knife set, and showing higher pricing design to get the customer to increase the transaction value. A easy way to think about the difference is Up-sell is like upgrading and cross sells is buying more than 1 item.
  6. People like knowing other people’s opinion. Help buyers decide what items to order by including reviews and ratings on every item. Include a header that says “See what other customers are saying!”
  7. “Add to cart” buttons should be visible and should have multiple locations all over the site.
  8. Increase order value by adding the “Frequently purchased together”, “Add it all” and “Related items” features. Include icons when applicable like “New!” “Sale!” “50% off” “Free shipping!” It can capture attention and engage the browsing customer.
  9. Click-to-enlarge-image feature must be enabled to help visitors view the items clearly. Rotate the image to have a different perception of the product. Also, display items in all available colors. Recreate the real-life shopping experience as much as possible.
  10. Delete products that are no longer for sale or out-of-stock. This eliminates potential frustration and dissatisfaction with the website shopping experience. At the very least, hide these so that it can’t be found by customers. Also, a “only 2 left” messages that has inventory count down is very effective to create urgency.
  11. Ask your vendors if they can provide exclusive photos of the products. If this is not available, hire a professional photographer for product photo shoot. Unique images, not found in competitor websites, can be a trigger for some customers to hit the ‘Buy’ button.
  12. Watermark your images or insert a copyright symbol so competitors can’t use them. When you do invest in unique images, make sure to protect your ownership.
  13. Reflect discounts in the shopping cart so buyers don’t have to manually compute or enter the coupon. Use the minus symbol instead of the plus symbol to avoid confusion.
  14. Look for word of mouth promotion. Integrate social buttons for easy sharing like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and e-mail to friend.
  15. Shipping information must be included in the shopping cart. Expected time for shipping and cost should not be hidden information but easy to find. This helps buyers decide. My recommendation is actually have the shipping date calculated as well as delivery price calculated on the product page, this will also reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate.

The way your product pages are structured is critical to how visitors are persuaded to place an order. Unfortunately, writing content and adding images is not the whole story. You have to present it in such a way that humans will find it easy to understand.

If placing an order is difficult or involves too many steps, you can expect your visitors to abandon the cart all the time. Walk your way through the process and think like a customer is likely to approach your products.

Much like the stock market advice of “buy low, sell high,” “rank high, convert to sales” is common sense advice. The devil is in the details. The more attention you pay to the market and your customer, the more successful you’ll be in optimizing both parts of your strategy.

If I have to offer it as a formula, I’d say, SEO+human connection=win-win all around!

By: Shirley Tan

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