Learn by example as our panel of SEO and conversion experts explore best practices in the first installment of this month's Ecommerce Marketing Checkup.
Each month the Volusion Services Team assembles a cross-functional team of internet marketing gurus to take examine a Volusion store. In this Ecommerce Marketing Checkup, our team explored Shop the Wag, a merchant specializing in dog products and accessories.
Our all-star team sat down to determine how Shop the Wag could improve their ecommerce presence in order to increase traffic, conversions and revenue. In part one, our team investigated the multi-faceted marketing strategies relating to Conversion Optimization and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while providing observations, analysis, and recommendations for improvement.
Let’s take a look at our experts’ detailed recommendations below.
“Adopt the mantra, 'less is more' when designing your site. The more organized and user-friendly your site is, the more people will want to use it. “– Nicku Sheladia, SEO Specialist
In order to help draw the consumer’s eye effectively throughout a site, it must be laid out in an organized fashion. Pictures, content and categories must have strategic placement, size and shape and contain items that the user will intuitively look for there. Shop the Wag, however, looks cluttered from the outset.
From the top down, the navigation bar is the primary way consumers explore the website. Currently, the navigation bar is jumbled with deals, coupons, gift certificates and contact details, none of which help to a consumer looking to find a specific category of dog products. Deals and coupons are extraneous to the core offering of the site which the navigation bar helps to promote.
Adding simple categories such as Dog Collars, Dog Toys, Dog Beds, Treats and Dog Carriers at the top will allow the customer to more easily find the products they came to the store to buy. Putting deals, coupons and gift cards on the left hand navigation instead of the top “Shop by Category” navigation is preferable because it opens up space on the home page for feature products and content.
De-clutter Featured Image Above the Fold
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A clean and simple home page banner image is important because it’s the first thing consumers see when landing on a website. The image should produce a “love at first sight” feeling. Words layered on top of images often look like the website is trying too hard to gain attention and therefore, appears untrustworthy and unsightly to the consumer.
The main homepage image here includes too much text, which is distracting for consumers who want to see one dog product for a clear idea of what this site can do for them. This image should be an aspirational image with a high resolution and without text.
Below a great high resolution top image, content about what Shop the Wag sells and its core product categories is imperative. This is not only necessary for consumers, who are looking to get additional information about what they can expect to find, but it’s also valuable for SEO purposes because it helps search engines categorize the site as engines cannot read images. The content should include information about core offerings, the unique selling point of this company and provide a few reasons why they should shop there. Here you want to establish the company as trustworthy and authoritative on the industry and products it sells. We would recommend that Shop the Wag remove the “About Us” section at the bottom of the home page and write optimized content instead.
People say “Never judge a book by its cover,” buts that’s exactly what consumers do. Branding and logo design are the first things that one sees when visiting a website. If the site and logo design are not cohesive with complementary colors and a professional appearance, the company is likely to be less trusted because people attribute the lack of attention to detail to trustworthiness of the company.
Because trustworthiness and authority can be partly established right off the bat by a browsing consumer, the design element shouldn’t be the piece that’s missing. For Shop the Wag, the logo in the top left corner appears pixelated. This can be easily fixed by uploading the logo in a different format (PNG, JPEG, GIF), resizing the logo or using a higher image resolution.
Additionally, there are too many different font styles and font colors used on Shop the Wag, which makes it appear cluttered and unfocused. There are over 5 different font styles and 7 font colors on the homepage alone. We would recommend selecting 1 or 2 different fonts for the home page and italicizing these fonts to highlight contrasting content (i.e. top nav. vs on page content).
The background color of the homepage does not match the side navigation or the main content area. Moreover, there are 3 different hues of blue that don’t match or have a consistent feel. We suggest picking 2 contrasting colors, such as blue and brown, for the entire site to give it that upscale and exclusive appearance that boutiques have.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
“Shop the Wag prides itself on being a unique boutique for pets that brings fun, fashion and function to pets’ lives. Along with being a good mantra for the store, this is also a great attitude to have for search engine marketing. Shop the Wag should strive to make each piece of their site engaging and unique in order to look great in the eyes of customers and search engines.”
For SEO purposes, there are a few areas throughout a website that we look to deliver this unique content in order to signal to search engines that a website is indeed authoritative and useful for search engine users. Let’s take a look at a few ways that Shop the Wag can begin to send these signals.
Create Fun On-Page Content
When search engines crawl a website like Shop the Wag, they love to see relevant content on every page of the website. The content helps them decipher what’s contained on the page and how one page differs from the other.
Using Shop the Wag as an example, we would recommend adding at least 150 words of content to the category and products pages to better explain them. Included within this text, we would also add three to five pertinent keywords to help search engines match search terms with the page. Shop the Wag’s content should be written in a voice that is fun and engaging to match the tone of the site. Shop the Wag could even go as far as writing in the voice of their favorite dog-- Fenway, the inspiration for the site. Overall, the writing will establish Shop the Wag as an authority in the pet products industry and entice the customer to purchase a product from them.
Craft Keyword-Rich Meta Tags
Beyond the on-site content, meta tags are another SEO element that Shop the Wag can utilize to rank for relevant searches as well as to convince the search engine user to shop at their store.
Using their “Auto & Travel” Category as an example, we will examine how Shop the Wag can improve their meta tags.
As currently constructed, you will notice the title tag (text in blue) uses broad keywords that do not match up with terms potential customers would be using in Google to find these types of products. We would recommend adding more specific key terms that users are more likely to type into the search bar.
Moving on from title tags, the next item in the image we would alter is the URL for the category page. Search engines utilize URLs to help them populate search results so this is also a great place to insert applicable keywords. In this example, we would remove “category” and insert “dog car travel accessories” instead.
The last item Shop the Wag can update to improve their site visits would be to craft a unique meta description for the auto and travel category. Presently, the meta description is the default description for the site and is too broad for this category. While search engines do not use the meta description as a factor when determining rankings, this a useful piece of advertising copy that can be very powerful in enticing the customer to visit your site. As such, it’s worth taking the time to create a unique description for each page.
Using these three SEO practices as a rule of thumb, we’ve crafted below an example of proper meta tags and URL for the auto and travel category.
Blog About the Dog Life
Beyond current on-site pages, Shop the Wag can create a distinctive voice in the dog product industry by reinvigorating their blog with articles relating to dogs and their pet products. Blogs are a great way to reach more customers via search engines. You open yourself up to more keywords by including blog articles on your site. It would be great to see Fenway featured in articles using a variety of products from Shop the Wag.
Keep an eye out for next week's articles, where we will delve into our suggestions for improving Shop the Wag's paid ad and social media campaigns. Are you interested in having your site reviewed by our panel of experts? Let us know in the comments below to qualify for next month's Ecommerce Marketing Checkup.