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Blog items tagged with "navigation"

Sitemaps: Ecommerce Essentials for On-Page SEO

When it comes to SEO, particularly SEO for ecommerce sites, sitemaps are one of the most important elements of a website.

The sitemap is considered by many search marketing experts the second most important page of a website (next to the homepage as number one.) If you think of your website as a book, the sitemap serves as main reference point, or index.

In its very essence, a sitemap contains links to all primary pages of a website. Although not commonly used by typical users for navigation, the sitemap serve as a roadmap for search engine spiders, giving direction to all of the rich, rank-ready content that needs to be crawled and indexed.

Sitemaps for SEO

As a result, sitemaps are absolutely essential for SEO (specifically "on-page SEO"). Most websites only need one sitemap to fit the bill; however, larger ecommerce sites can be an exception.

Because ecommerce sites are deep and often contain thousands of pages, one sitemap can pose some limitations for SEO. In short, one sitemap with thousands of links is a bit much. That is, the value of each link is significantly reduced when spread amongst thousands of counterparts.

Using Segmented Sitemaps for Deep Ecommerce Sites

There are no rules as to how many sitemaps you can have. Deep ecommerce sites with thousands of pages should take full advantage of segmented sitemaps. These are more focal sitemaps that are broken-down based on specific product categories, brands, and other characteristics that make logical sense.

For example, an online electronics store that specializes in hi-def TV's may want to create dedicated sitemaps for each brand it offers. This retailer could create segmented sitemaps for Samsung TV's, Sony TV's, Toshiba TV's, and so on.

Perhaps the ecommerce retailer only offers a few select television products per brand, in addition to many other electronics. In this case, they might simply have one sitemap for TV's, and additional sitemaps dedicated to other product categories, such as PC's, MP3 players, smartphones, etc.

The main idea is be logical about the segmentation process with respect to your ecommerce SEO strategy. If "Samsung TVs" is the keyword you want to rank for (and you have a ton of Samsung televisions in-stock,) then it would make logical sense to build a dedicated sitemap for this brand.

Leveraging XML Sitemaps SEO Empowerment

XML sitemaps are a little bit different. Unlike "HTML sitemaps" (which are visible to website users,) XML sitemaps are a files that are uploaded to your website, but invisible to the common visitor.

These XML files also contain links to your primary pages (and can also be segmented,) however they carry a different purpose for SEO. XML sitemaps are submitted to Google (via your Google Webmaster Tools account) to notify Google spiders of all the pages that you want crawled and indexed.

Because some pages of your site may not be easily discoverable by Google's normal crawling process, regular XML sitemap submissions are good way to ensure that Google is well-aware of what needs to be crawled and indexed. This is particularly important when you add new pages to your website.

To learn more about sitemaps and Google's guidelines on this Google Support page about the topic.

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of Internet marketing, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content marketing. Keep in touch with Tyler by following him on Twitter or encircling him Google+.

Optimize Your eCommerce Website for Better Usability and Greater Sales Potential

No matter how much a fancy website you may own, in the end it always comes down to its usability.

In case you are not sure about the usability of your website, check the 2-3% rule. Do the 2-3% of the visits on your website get converted into sales?

If not than definitely you would have to rework on your website, to make it more user friendly and effective in selling.

Here is a complete potpourri of various steps and techniques that you can follow, in order to optimize the usability of your ecommerce website.

Steps That You Can Take to Improve the Usability of Your Website

If, as per the data, only 3 out of 10 orders on your ecommerce website are seen through completion, of course there is a room for a lot more that can be done. Here we shall be discussing various ways in which you can optimize your website, offer a better user experience and subsequently improve the sales of the same.

Optimize Your Website for Faster Loading Time

Your website has at most 3 quick seconds to load on the browser of the user, otherwise no one is going to sit around and wait for your ecommerce website, while it takes forever to load.

So, remove any unnecessary animation or flash designs, optimize the images on your website and ensure that your website is a quick loading one.

Reconsider the Layout

Follow the conventions – over the period of time, there has come to be an ecommerce website union of the sorts.

They follow similar practices, have a similar layout, so that the users do not get intimidated and find it rather easy to navigate through and use various different websites.

You may think of applying the widely followed practices on your website as well.

These include – Logo on the top left side, hyper linked to the main page, a contact us page, which offers contact information such as Name, email address, postal address etc., the right side as the link to check out page.

These conventions will make the users more comfortable and hence will enhance the user experience.

Wisely use the text – the right blend of text can further increase the experience a user has. Do not use morbid type of fonts and also do not get extra flashy with the same. By the very nature, it gets a bit difficult to read through the website, hence ensure that the size of the texts is optimum enough to be read. Also, avoid long paragraphs, try to follow the KISS principle [keep it simple, silly!]

Condemn unnecessary graphics – unnecessary graphics only adds up to the over all weight of the website hence increased the loading time and also distract the users from focusing on the main content and highlights of the website. Keep the brand logo of your website and the pictures of what you are selling, rest everything is simply unnecessary.

Rework on the Navigation

Effective organizations – you need to make it very easy for the users to find the products.

Do not leave them unguarded in a maze of product pages etc, rather be their torch bearer.

Organize the content of your website rather skillfully and the entire journey should appear to be as smooth as boating in still waters.

Work certain conventions out – there should be certain aspect of your page, which should not change and also should be easy to find. Like, the links of the previous page or the next should always exist on each and every page and that too at the same locations. Similarly the checkout button – it should be easiest to find and should exist at the same right hand corner, on all of the pages.

Offer users a menu bar – the menu bar will make it considerably easy for them to flip through various pages of your website, it should have the home page, Contact Us page and other critical pages.

Streamline the Order Process

Give them clear cut, specific information – nobody’s a fool when they are shopping online. We are all well aware of the online frauds and cyber crime and hence it definitely gets a bit difficult to trust the online medium, regardless of how easy and effortless it is.

In such a tight cryptic scenario, if you hit them up with hidden information, add hidden costs and inflate the prices at the point of checkout, the users will only simply abandon your shopping cart.

KISS, KISS and more KISS – well, there are people who can never get enough of it, but this time round we are talking about the principle we already discussed – Keep it simple, silly!

Though it is such a simple concept to follow, yet a lot of websites simply refuse to follow it; especially when it comes to the check out process. Usually, the checkout process takes at least 5 pages, simply because as an online merchant, we want to get as much information from the users, as we possibly can manage.

However, what we don’t realize that every page in the check out process gives an opportunity to the user to abandon the entire page and leave it right in the middle.

Thus, work on the checkout process. Do not ask repetitive questions, which would force the users to type the same information again and again. Also, match their shipping information with the billing data and there fore, fill in the shipping details automatically, so that the users do not have to type the same. Lastly, it will be good to show some sort of a progress bar, which will show how much far they have reached in the checkout process.

Do away with the registration – there are websites that require the customers to register first and then place their order. If you have one such website, you are only inviting much more steps and inconvenience for the users. Do away with any such formality and your may add a handful amount of loyal customers to your kitty.

Ask for Feedback

One of the basic lessons that one learns in the business school is that consumer demands have no end. No matter how far you go to please them, they would definitely come up with something or the other that went amiss.

Ask for their feedback anyway. Their feedback will give you a reality check on where you stand. Do not be swayed with the criticism or the acclaim, always try to read between the lines and test the waters on your own.

I hope these certain guidelines or tips (in whatever way you take it), would help you to boost up your sales. We are waiting for your reviews and views in comments section.

About the Author:
This post has been contributed by Mr. Praveen Sharma, an Sr. Associate – Internet Marketing at Daffodil Software Ltd., a company specializes in magento ecommerce website development and other cms development services. You can get in touch with Praveen on twitter @i_praveensharma.

 

Ecommerce SEO: Why Top Rankings Just Don't Cut it Anymore

It's no secret that search engine optimization is a highly competitive industry – especially when it comes to ecommerce. With thousands of SEO companies out there to choose from, it's important for businesses to keep in mind what's really important in measuring the success of your SEO campaign. It's not top rankings. It's the number of conversions that come from achieving those top rankings.

Some ecommerce SEO companies are narrowly focused on working to gain high organic search rankings for their clients, but they're overlooking another essential element that seasoned ecommerce Internet marketers know plays an equally significant role in the overall success of the campaign – optimizing the website for conversions and not just rankings.

So what goes into the conversion optimization element of ecommerce SEO? First, we must define what constitutes as a conversion for the ecommerce website. The most easy to determine conversion is for a user to make a purchase from the website itself.

However, there can be other conversions that come from the website including email list signups, filling out a contact form for more information, or just enticing users to make a simple phone call. Granted, each “conversion” from the website can actually be categorized in different stages of the overall “Conversion Funnel,” as you're guiding users who simply provide an email address or phone number or ask for more information into an eventual sale, which is the ultimate end “conversion.”

So what are some ways that you can optimize your ecommerce website for more conversions? Below I'll list out several ways your ecommerce Internet marketing company should be optimizing your website for better conversion rates.

Conversion-Focused Product Landing Pages

Having a conversion-oriented landing page for your products applies to both organic SEO and paid search for ecommerce websites. Ecommerce SEO companies can utilize a variety of on-site and off-site SEO techniques (such as deep linking SEO) to get your product landing pages ranking high in the organic search results, but once a user lands on that page, enticing the sale is a must.

A conversion-focused landing page can have several helpful and interactive elements for the user. In the example below, this home brewing supplies website has a variety of great features that help sell this brewing kit to the end user.

Along with the typical product descriptions, images and availability, they've added customer product reviews, Facebook likes and a video describing what to expect from the brew kit. These are great conversion optimization strategies for the product landing pages.

Simple Product Navigation

The amount of products and product categories varies from one ecommerce website to another. Some sites carry only a couple dozen niche products, while other ecommerce sites have thousands of products that fall under one of a hundred different categories.

From a conversion optimization standpoint, keeping your products and product categories as concise and easy to navigate as possible is crucially important. Your users have to be able to easily find the products their looking for in order to buy them!

Other than condensing your product categories to the minimum number of categories necessary, there are certain website design elements that come into play as well that can improve the overall usability of the website. The site below is a prime example of an ecommerce site that is extremely easy to navigate.

The top level categories are very simple (Men, Women, Hike & Camp, Shoes, etc.) and every product category under those top level pages are listed on the flydown menus. This makes finding exactly what they want incredibly easy for the end user. Alternatively, the user can search for a product that they're looking for in the search box just to the left of the top level navigation.

To further the user experience, this website has included easy to use sorting features where the user can sort products by price, color, discount or ratings.

Offer Discount Codes and Other Deals

Online shoppers love a good deal. Once you've driven the user to your website, offering them a discount or special offer is another incredibly effective way to get that user to convert into a sale.

Design a compelling call to action that offers your website visitors a special discount code that they can use on their order to get a certain percentage off their total order. You can also lure a site visitor to place an order by offering free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount or for orders that are placed during a specific time period.

Showing special pricing on your product landing pages is also a great way to capture a sale and increase your conversion rates.

No matter what type of products your ecommerce website sells, it's critically important that you select an ecommerce Internet marketing company that understands the ins and outs of not only getting your website positioned well in the search engines, but also knows how to optimize your website so it drives conversions and ultimately a solid ROI for your marketing dollar.

This guest post was written by Chris Everett, Principal of Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta, GA. You can connect with Chris via email at chris@captivateseo.com or on Google+.

 

 

 

 

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