A Guide to eCommerce Website Optimization

Writer:
Ellie Diamond
Editor:
Kassidy Vavra
Published: Feb 22, 2024
Last Updated:
Table of Contents
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Every business wants its website to work smarter. No matter how many conversions you get or how low your bounce rate is, you can always drive more revenue.

E-commerce website optimization is how you reach your potential. It's the process of maximizing your website's customer appeal so you can make more sales and drive more revenue. Here are 19 tips to help you do just that — but first, let's talk about why it matters.

Why Is It Important to Optimize E-commerce Websites?

Your e-commerce website is your store's first impression. Optimization puts your best foot forward and shows online shoppers who you are, what you offer, and why they should choose you.

If you build your store right, your site is also how your potential customers find you. Optimized online stores get more visibility in search results, which means more traffic and a better chance of conversions.

Top 19 E-commerce Optimization Tips You Should Know

E-commerce website optimization is a top-to-bottom process. To do it right, you must polish your copywriting, design, and site structure. 

To make the process easier, we've collected these 19 tips and put them together into an e-commerce optimization checklist.

1. Find the Right Keywords

The first part of e-commerce website optimization is to reach your target audience. To do that, you need to do keyword research.

Your goal is to find the words and phrases your audience uses to search. Those terms must be:

  • Relevant to your business
  • Not too competitive
  • Popular enough for people to use them

Imagine yourself as your target customer. What would you enter into Google to find your products? Think about search intent — what the person hopes to see in the results. Consider their pain points and what questions they might have. Brainstorm a few ideas, then do sample searches for each one. 

Scroll the results page for related keyword ideas. The "people also ask" section is a valuable resource. You can also enter ideas into a keyword research tool, such as Google Keyword Planner. Remember to look for general keywords and keywords for different product categories. You'll optimize home, category, and product pages.

2. Make Your Home Page SEO-Friendly

Your home page is your digital storefront. Search engine optimization (SEO) builds that storefront, so Google sees it as a top-notch resource. According to Google developers, the search engine's algorithm looks for words and phrases that match a search. If those terms appear in headings and titles, it's a clue those are strong terms. 

Use keywords in headings to help you organize your home page into sections. Each section should have relevant images and a link to the appropriate product page.

Tools like Google's e-commerce developer guide are full of e-commerce SEO best practices that you can use to ensure your site is SEO-friendly.

3. Optimize Your Product Pages

Some customers will find you through product-specific searches. E-commerce product page optimization can help you attract those customers.

Optimizing your product page works similarly to optimizing your home page. This time, you focus on attracting customers who need a specific product. The goal is to offer all the information a buyer might need. 

Think of what you need when you buy something online. Your list probably includes:

  • A clear product image: This should include all angles and details so you know what to expect.
  • A detailed description: This should include exact measurements and specifications.
  • Multiple customer reviews: This shows you other people's experiences with the product.

Product descriptions are the most crucial element in terms of SEO. An optimized product description tells the story of what it's like to own the product and focuses on how the shopper's life will improve.

Instead of a list of specifications, paint a picture of life with the product. For example, don't focus on the mattress's 10 inches of memory foam. Focus on 10 inches of memory foam that provides the best sleep you've ever had.

4. Get Your Pricing Right

Eventually, every customer will ask: "How much does it cost?" Quote a price that's too high, and they'll look for a better deal. Price too low, and they'll wonder about the quality — or you'll lose money and put yourself out of business.

Your job is to find the sweet spot in the middle. The three most important considerations are:

  • Your costs: Include fixed costs, like manufacturing the product or ordering from a distributor. Don't forget variable costs, such as keeping the lights on in the office.
  • Your target profit margin: What percent of each sale do you need as pure profit? 
  • Industry pricing norms: A 40% profit margin might be nice, but you might need to reconsider if it raises your prices far above your competitors.

You might need to experiment before you settle on your ideal pricing system.

5. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

It's now a non-negotiable part of e-commerce website optimization to reach mobile users. As of 2023, mobile shopping makes up 60% of all e-commerce sales. That figure is likely to hit 62% in the next two years.

If your site works well on mobile, those users are likelier to buy from you. It needs a fast load time and a simple layout so it's easy for users to find what they want. If menus and buttons are too hard to find on a smaller screen, people will get frustrated and leave.

Visit your website on your mobile device and navigate it as a customer might. Is it simple to navigate? If it could be better, you may want to try some tips to create a mobile-friendly site.

6. Implement Strategies to Reduce Cart Abandonment

From site structuring to copywriting, everything you do for e-commerce content optimization only pays off when a customer clicks "buy." However, 70% of consumers abandon their shopping carts before checking out.

A smooth checkout process is your best defense against high cart abandonment rates. For example, almost 20% of customers leave their carts to find a better deal elsewhere. Another 15% abandon to wait for a sale.

Other strategies to reduce cart abandonment include:

  • Offer multiple ways to pay. Over half of consumers pay everyday bills with mobile wallets like Apple Pay.
  • Display security certificates. Nearly 70% of shoppers have concerns about data privacy online.
  • Allow guest checkouts. Shoppers may not be ready to create an account, especially for a first purchase.

Track the results of every improvement to find out what works for your audience.

7. Reduce Your Bounce Rate

Reducing cart abandonment rates helps you hang onto customers when they're close to buying. Lowering your bounce rate happens on the other side of the journey and prevents people from leaving your website after viewing a single page.

According to recent HubSpot data, the average website has a 37% bounce rate. That's a little more than a third of visitors lost before they view a second page.

The best way to reduce your bounce rate is to make your home page more user-friendly with:

  • Intuitive menus and a site search feature: Help visitors find what they want.
  • An attractive design: Make sure people enjoy browsing.
  • Readable formatting: Ensure there is plenty of white space so it's easy on the eyes.
  • Benefit-oriented language: Answer the question, "What's in it for me?"

Remember, your home page has one goal: Convince potential customers you can solve their problem.

8. Personalize E-commerce Content and Offers

E-commerce content writing is your most powerful tool for converting website visitors. Well-written content speaks to your potential customers' pain points and makes them picture you as the solution they need. 

Your website has content everywhere, from your home page to your blog.

Optimize the content on all your site pages, including your Home, About, and Category pages. (It's okay if you call them something different.) Remember to keep them readable, reader-oriented, and benefits-focused.

If you don't have a blog, consider starting one ASAP — it's a great way to reach people at the top of the sales funnel. It can also be a great tool to help bring potential buyers to your site as you work to optimize each page. Plan a few months' worth of posts and use your target keywords as a guide.

9. Create Urgency to Persuade Your Potential Customers

Conversion is always your content's primary goal. At earlier stages of the buying journey, that might mean convincing a shopper to join your email or SMS list. As you get closer to checkout, you can guide them to purchase.

Urgency is the most essential element. Whether you take a softer touch for early-stage customers or drive the sale at checkout, you want people to act now. The core of conversion optimization for e-commerce is to get those messages right. You need to figure out how to say the right thing at the right time so people feel encouraged but not pushed.

The question to ask yourself is: What establishes true urgency — not pressure — at this process stage? On your home page or blog, that might be clicking through for an answer they need. Product pages are the place for time-limited deals or supply-limited freebies.

10. Master the Art of Calls-to-Action

A high conversion rate is an accurate measure of e-commerce website optimization success. A conversion happens when a visitor takes a desired action, such as signing up for an email list or purchasing. According to recent data, the average e-commerce conversion rate is 1.64%. 

A strong conversion rate depends on a strong call-to-action (CTA), one of the most important elements in e-commerce copywriting. A compelling CTA draws the customer over the final hurdle like a dog trainer with a treat, showing the person why they need to move forward.

You can find successful call-to-action examples in all kinds of e-commerce content, including:

  • Marketing campaign landing pages
  • Home pages
  • Website banners
  • Product pages

A good CTA is concise and benefits-oriented. It expresses what the reader will get when they click and implies that not clicking would be a mistake. 

11. Improve the User Experience

E-commerce website optimization involves a lot of details, but it comes down to one thing: building great customer experiences. 

In an Adobe survey, 85% of executives named the customer experience a significant or top priority. These executives know customers don't buy because of a perfectly placed logo or a standout product description — they buy because the combination of those elements meets their needs.

Experts call that combination of elements the "user experience," or UX. UX is a customer's overall perception of and interaction with your website and all its details. To have a great UX, a website must be:

  • Functional
  • Attractive
  • Valuable
  • Accessible
  • Intuitive
  • Credible

Top-tier UX happens when great design, development, and writing come together. 

12. Build Trust by Providing Contact Information

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, 71% of consumers believe trust in a brand is more important than ever. Among Gen Z, the youngest adult buyers, that number rises to 79%.

One of the simplest ways to build trust is to include contact information on your website. Even a first-time visitor can see at a glance that you're a real business with an actual address, phone number, and email address.

13. Get Badges and Certificates for Site Security

According to TrustedSite, 92% of consumers are at least slightly concerned about shopping on unfamiliar websites. Some are concerned about buying from a fraudulent website, while others worry about their data or credit card information privacy.

Strategically placed trust badges and certificates can help ease customers' concerns. These badges show that your site meets the reviewing organization's data safety and privacy standards. They're available from well-known companies such as Norton, McAfee, and TRUSTe. These badges are now so common that for over 40% of TrustedSite respondents, a lack of them is a red flag for a fraudulent site. 

14. Leverage Social Proof

No matter how much consumers trust you, they want to hear someone else's opinions of your products and company. If you share those opinions willingly on your website, consumers are more likely to trust you.

For 98% of consumers, reviews are an "essential resource" when deciding whether to buy a product. Without available reviews, 45% avoid purchasing a product. 

Consider adding reviews to your website instead of waiting for customers to search elsewhere. Include them in product listings and add some of the best to your home page.

You can also add other elements of social proof, such as:

  • Industry awards
  • Product ratings
  • Case studies
  • Customer testimonials
  • Social media mentions
  • Influencer endorsements

Don't worry about packing them in — a few well-placed social proof elements go a long way. 

15. Consider Upsells

Upselling is the frosting on your e-commerce website optimization cake. It works on people who've chosen a product and are ready to buy. Upselling boosts the revenue of that transaction by suggesting a higher ticket or add-on product in exchange for more benefits.

There are multiple ways to upsell on e-commerce, including:

  • Side-by-side product model comparisons
  • Snapshots of upgraded products on product pages
  • Subtle suggestions of higher-rated products

The key is to sell to your customer's pain points. You aim to prove that this upgraded or additional product will solve the customer's problem better than their original choice.

16. Improve Site Speed

The faster your site loads, the more enjoyable it is to use — and the more you sell. The conversion rate for a site that loads in one second is more than double the rate of a site that loads in five.

17. Master E-commerce Sales Funnel Optimization

Shoppers enter your sales funnel the moment they land on your website. Your goal is to guide them from that first step to the next logical stage and onward until they click "buy."

Top-down is the best approach to e-commerce funnel optimization. Look at each stage of your sales funnel — awareness, discovery, evaluation, decision, and sale — and assess how well it converts.

For example, a blog usually has top-of-funnel content. If you have a blog on your website, check your website data and find out how many visitors click through from your posts to other pages. Tools like Google Analytics will get you started.

Product pages are at the bottom of the funnel, so sales matter there. Look at which pages get the most sales and what they have in common, and optimize other pages accordingly.

18. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Each landing page serves a specific role in the customer journey, whether it's a thank-you for joining a mailing list or a step in a marketing campaign. 

You need to add e-commerce landing page optimization to your site strategy to get the most from these pages. That means:

  • Consistent branding
  • Relevant keywords
  • Effective copywriting
  • Lively images
  • A specific CTA

Use this checklist to optimize your landing pages, including purchase confirmations, email signup confirmations, and any marketing landing pages.

19. Conduct A/B Tests

The final tip in our e-commerce optimization checklist is arguably the most important. Every business's target audience behaves in its own way, and what converts one set of customers won't necessarily convert another.

Consistent testing is the only way to learn what works for your customers. Run a test each time you make a significant adjustment, such as adding a trust icon or editing a CTA. Notice whether the change leads to any substantial improvements or backslides. You'll learn whether you should keep the new version, try a different approach, and make a similar change across your site.

Start Your E-commerce Website Optimization Process

Any of these 19 tips is a good starting point for optimizing your e-commerce website. Choose one or two to see how they work for you — and remember your A/B testing. If you get good results, expand the strategy if appropriate, or move on to the next tip.

The more you optimize, the better your site is for search engines — and the more customers you can reach!

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