Mastering SEO and running your business perfectly is a lot to ask of yourself, but these three most overlooked SEO basics will make sure you don’t miss anything. If you’re more of a video person, take a look at our e-Commerce webinar for Making SEO Strides in the Time of COVID-19.
Creating effective content that’s been optimized with keyword research is a big part of best SEO practices. Before you start writing, your first step is to put together keyword research based on the pages you’ll be making content for.
Start on your bestselling category pages, and write descriptions for them that give Google’s algorithms an idea of what that page offers. This is where your keyword research really comes into play. The optimized content on your category pages should have keywords for products offered on that page while not being so broad a term as to end up on every category page with any overlap.
How do you balance this? When you write copy, make sure you have a strategy and your sitemap in mind. Let’s say you sell hats, for example, and you have these three categories: men’s, women’s and unisex hats. You don’t want to target the keywords “men’s hats” or “women’s hats” on the unisex hats category page, since you have two other categories that you want to rank for those terms. But “hats for men and women” would be just fine.
Without a doubt, the worst thing you could do is force keywords into your copy. No one wants to read the sentence, “Buy women’s red hats online at the Hat Store, where there’s a wide selection of red women’s hats and red hats for women.” It’s obvious to Google and the browser that this sentence was built around keywords when the goal should have been to include keywords organically to provide valuable information to a shopper.
You first have to attract people to your website in order for them to consume your content. That starts with having SEO-friendly metadata, which includes the meta title and meta description that show up for your webpages in the search engine results page (SERP). Continuing with our hypothetical online hat store, the category page for women’s red hats should clearly show its purpose prominently in the meta title. All details and motivating call-to-action (CTA) information should go in the meta description.
For example, if you have free shipping on all orders, that should go in your meta description — not your title. The title “Hats for Sale – Free Shipping!” is more likely to be glossed over by someone looking for red women’s hats than “Women’s Red Hats for Sale – Hat Store”. The first title gives the impression of a massive bin of mixed up hats that will need to be rifled through for what the browser is looking for, but the second title conveys a sense of order and structure for someone who knows what they want and is ready to purchase. And that’s what that women’s red hats category page is for! Having metadata that reflects what your webpages are about also signals to Google that this page is a good one for that query, boosting your SERP rank.
The step here that’s very easy to forget is to make sure the URL reflects what the page is for too. For the women’s red hats category page, the URL “hatstore.com/rwh” is a short acronym, but it’s not very straightforward. Simple URLs aren’t enough if they’re not relevant or compelling. In this example, “hatstore.com/women/red-hats” keeps your website’s organization clear to Google’s algorithm and to a person searching for a new hat.
Even when people are lounging at home, they’d generally rather be on their phone or tablet than on their laptop or desktop. So, if your website isn’t responsive or optimized for mobile viewing, you’re missing out. Especially if mobile-first indexing is news to you, because this launched in July 2019 and means that Google is mainly using the content on the mobile version of your website to determine SERP rank across the board. Check if your website is up to par with the mobile-friendly website test from Google. With that taken care of, there are other steps you can take for an optimized mobile website:
Keep in mind, these basic SEO basics are just the beginning of what you could see for your website’s performance. If you want to discover all the potential growth that’s out there for your business, a free eCommerce analysis will show you precisely what it will take to boost revenue and profit based on your goals and website data.
A/B Testing During Holiday and Peak Seasons: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Tips
As we all know, retail sales experience a significant boost during the holiday season. But according to Deloitte’s 2020 Holiday Retail Survey, this year is going to further skew toward online versus in-store shopping.
How will this significant increase in your website’s traffic affect CRO and A/B Testing?
You may be thinking: great! This is the highest traffic we’ll get all year, so we should test heavily to take advantage. Think of all that we can learn during this time!
But here’s the problem: Users are much more shopping-motivated during the holidays than at other times of the year. So they are unlikely to be as influenced by traditional A/B testing changes in user experience (UX). People will put up with — and work through — the worst UI imaginable in order to make a purchase during the holiday season (especially if there are discounts involved). That means the data we receive from these sorts of tests during holiday/peak periods isn’t representative of “normal” user behavior.
Pitfalls of Holiday A/B Testing
Thus, we can’t ascribe increases in conversion rates to anything we’ve done to the user experience. This is an illustration of sample pollution, which means the sample population was affected by external factors outside of our control. This causes us to question what results we may see from typical conversion tests.
Here is the bottom line: During your holiday or peak seasons, you should stay away from testing changes that are UX or usability-focused (e.g. site-wide navigation, product page hierarchy, etc.).
Best Conversion Tests for Holiday Sales
But are there any types of conversion tests we can run during this time that are likely to provide us with actionable results? You bet! The two biggest differentiators for websites during this time tend to be around their promotion strategy and conveying trustworthiness to potential customers.
With that in mind, here are the best things to test during your peak/holiday season:
Although users are strongly motivated to make a purchase and will work their way through even the clunkiest UI to purchase the products they want, you can still successfully execute A/B tests to improve your conversion rate during peak seasons. You can stand out from the pack by giving your users the right promotional offers and effectively communicating your trustworthiness, and you can accomplish this with well-planned CRO A/B testing.
Greg is a Senior Organic Search and Conversion Manager at EXCLUSIVE. He has found his calling as a digital marketer after previously wandering for years in the wilderness of corporate finance. Greg loves to spend time with his wife and his cat and can be found listening to classic rock on vinyl or optimizing his fantasy football lineups (to marginal success).