4 simple tips to boost traffic and sales
Imagine walking into a grocery store, list in hand, and all of the store’s products were randomly strewn on tables displayed throughout.
Odds are good that you would U-turn and make the drive to a store where things were better organized. You wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your life sorting through all the products to find the things on your list.
The same is true for your ecommerce website. Organization is critical for a good user experience and good SEO.
Also, imagine having “toilet paper” on your list, but the signs on the various rows say no such thing.
And according to this imaginary grocery store, “toilet paper” is called “tissue for your bottom.”
Does anyone have “tissue for your bottom” on your list?
No. We simply call it “toilet paper.”
Ecommerce mirrors in-store browsing and buying
From studying traffic patterns, grocery stores learned long ago that aligning “like” products makes the shopping experience easier.
As we all know, everyone seems to be there for milk so stores keep them in the back. (“Let’s make sure that folks have to walk past all the other items before getting to the milk!”)
What you call “Products” and where you have them on your ecommerce site (i.e., information architecture and taxonomy) matter quite a bit in SEO.
This hypothetical grocery store is akin to the ecommerce website with “Shop” in the navigation.
- Once you’ve clicked through, you get a list of every product available on the website.
- Things need to be organized (categorized). And again, the categories need to make sense.
For many years, my agency handled SEO for a leading HVAC manufacturer.
Back in 2005, when we first engaged, they called their air conditioners “cooling products.” Unsurprisingly, they did not rank in Google for “air conditioners.”
User experience needs to consider the customer journey
It’s often been said that SEO and UX are linked, and it’s never been truer than when we think about how you organize an ecommerce website.
That one product you have may have several categories that fit within. Easy enough – make sure that the product is associated with those other categories.
Just like you might find the hot sauce in the Mexican aisle, you’ll also find that there’s a display near the chips.
Make it good for the user, and you’re most likely also making it good for Google and the searcher.
So, where do you start?
The following tips for organizing your ecommerce site and promoting your products will help you get more traffic and sales.
1. Build a solid site taxonomy
Start by creating your main categories. If you’re unsure where to start, learn from your competitors.
Verify that they are successful in their SEO efforts through a Semrush audit and see the breadth and value of their organic keyword presence.
Your main navigation should present your main categories. A great example of solid architecture is Wayfair:
You can see here that although Wayfair offers products across a wide spectrum, they have intuitively broken these out into what they consider to be their main categories.
And, if you were to click into any one of these, you would then see their sub-categories:
2. Explore use cases for product searches
Once you have a foundation of main and sub-navigation (the basics), you can explore the various use cases that users might have for these products and how they search.
Do people search by price? Perhaps categories for pricing?
For example, “Beds under $1,000,” where you list your beds that fall into this range.
Perhaps people search by style?
Let’s say you offer adjustable beds. You’d be inclined to build a category page for this, as there are approximately 47,000 searches per month in the U.S. for these products.
Perhaps people search by brand?
If you offer Craftmatic, you’d be inclined to build a category page for Craftmatic adjustable beds, with an estimated 1,900 searches per month.
Here’s another way to look at this. Say, for instance, you only have one category page for “Furniture.”
In this case, you are targeting a keyword with a large monthly search volume (~588,000 searches per month).
But it is also a highly competitive keyword that is less likely to get you a top-ranking position.
Even if you went to the next level and built one sub-category page for “Beds” (with ~112,000 searches), you’d still be attempting to rank for something that would be very difficult to achieve.
However, if you keep drilling down, you’ll begin to uncover relevant opportunities.
Consider “targeted” keywords that may not have a sizable search volume but have a manageable competition level.
(People searching “Craftmatic adjustable beds” know what they’re looking for and are probably closer to conversion.)
The kicker is that by building this into your site structure and content plans, you reward your website visitors with a better user experience (matching content to the searcher’s intent).
And – almost by default – you will have improved your organic rankings.
That one product can now be represented in several categories/areas of your website (Furniture/Beds/Beds Under Price Point/Style/Brand).
You are merchandising your products much better than simply listing them on one page.
Now that you have this built out, consider how you might cross-promote (through internal linking) within your website.
These category and subcategory pages can also be used for paid search, like Google Ads or Shopping Ads, where landing page relevance determines the Quality Score, which in turn impacts the cost per click.
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3. Merchandise your products
Merchandising in brick-and-mortar typically refers to things like the endcaps, the small hanging display of pot holders next to the cookware display and signage.
In ecommerce, merchandising represents many more opportunities for product promotion.
On your product page, you might have:
- Other products from the same brand.
- Other products people also bought.
- Products commonly purchased together.
- Similar products from competing brands.
You might highlight “Top brands” on your home page so visitors can quickly associate your site with reputable brands.
Building brand pages is a natural way to optimize for many “brand + product name” keywords. Your manufacturing/vendor partners can also use these pages to link from their websites.
Many of these manufacturers have site sections devoted to “Distributors”, “Partners,” or “Where to buy” call-outs.
Perhaps the person who’s buying a bed would also be interested in a mattress pad? Do you sell these?
If so, let’s be sure that we have opportunities to cross-sell these things and make sure that it’s intuitive with the product they’re looking to buy.
Once again, Wayfair shows how this can add value to the user experience.
When you merchandise your products better to improve the user experience, you grow the number of ways searchers will find you.
It’s a win-win! Users find what they’re looking for, and you are gaining relevant visitors who are more likely to convert.
You are expanding your keyword breadth, which is always good for SEO as you’ll have several other opportunities to maintain your organic traffic. (You never know when you might lose that top 3 ranking for “Beds.”)
Take it from Wayfair, which has 1.7 million non-brand keywords ranking in Google’s top 10 results, according to Semrush.
- #2 for “Furniture” and #1 for “Beds.”
- 253 keyword variations of “Adjustable beds” ranking in the top 10.
- Rank #8 for “Craftmatic adjustable beds.”
4. Leverage shopping deals and seasonal promotions
Merchandising also takes into account the way the product is promoted.
In brick-and-mortar retail, this would be the shelving, shelving signage, aisle signage, floor signage, packaging, price labels and promotional pricing labels.
In ecommerce, you can also take advantage of shopping deals and seasonal promotions.
Walmart has the yellow tag sales, which they use as a sub-brand.
Leading up to Thanksgiving, they promoted their Black Friday “Deals for Days,” which was included in the main navigation, a promo banner and main header elements above the fold.
Then further down the page, they had another content section to highlight more Black Friday offers.
All of these content sections must be planned out and coordinated, so you also need a flexible CMS to support these temporary content sections and dynamically pull in the right products with all the correct pricing.
You also need to have a Deals/Discounts section on the site to capture search demand for those types of search queries.
For price-sensitive shoppers, many different keywords signal that they may not need to spend full retail. These include:
There are also sometimes seasonal variations of some of these:
I recommend setting these up with an evergreen URL since they are annual events that will consolidate page and link signals. Doing so also helps reduce internal linking errors.
Get more sales with better site organization and product merchandising
These are just a few of the items you need to consider when building an ecommerce site and figuring out how to merchandise or promote specific products.
Many of your decisions will depend on relationships with your vendors, seasonal promotions, and other factors.
An SEO team with ecommerce experience can help you navigate through these items – maximizing your organic exposure based on what customers are searching for and which information they need to help them buy from you.
The work that you put in here can contribute to:
- Many long-tail keyword rankings.
- Improved user experience.
- Higher conversion rates.
Additionally, a particular product category or a seasonal promotion can provide the type of content that could earn links.
Remember – the higher you rank in Google, the more likely someone searching for related content will find your website.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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