15 Ecommerce Resolutions for 2015: Part 1



To kick off the new year, we’ve got a 3-part series covering the fifteen ecommerce resolutions for 2015 you need to make. Today’s post covers 1-5.

  1. Tune your performance

It’s no secret that as websites add more cool features, pages get bigger and, thus, get slower. Radware observes top ecommerce sites are 21% slower than a year ago (50% taking longer than ten seconds to load!), with leaders slower than the rest of the pack.

Slow web pages certainly affect conversion rates and are devastating on mobile platforms. More than half of retail traffic comes via mobile and the average online shopper uses 2.6 devices before they check out.

Tammy Everts from Radware shares a step-by-step method on how to calculate both the short and long term losses from slow page loads and downtime. This may serve as a wake up call for the importance of performance!

If you’ve adopted RWD (responsive web design), ensure you’re optimizing your CSS and taking steps to speed up your responsive site.

In general, ensure you’re taking advantage of these 10 tips for speeding up your website.

  1. Shore up your SEO

With SEO, the only constant is change. 2014 brought several changes, some huge and others less huge, that ecommerce marketers should be aware of and roll into their search marketing strategies.

Make sure you’re aware that:

  • Google now highlights mobile friendly sitesin search. Make sure you’re not committing any of these six mobile SEO sins that may affect your mobile rankings.
  • Google disclosed, after much testing, it now uses https as a ranking signal. Though it’s not a silver bullet, it can have a negative impact on SEO if not implemented correctly. Search Engine Land has the disavow file to tell Google you don’t endorse these backlinks. If you’re not involved directly with your site’s SEO, ensure your internal team, contractors or agencies understand the update, have an action plan, and do not use these tactics in link building going forward, even though they may have been safe and effective before. Matt Cutts himself says of guest blogging: “Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.
  • Local searchesare important for omnichannel businesses and 2014’s Pigeon update was all about local search. Traditional web search ranking signal in local search, meaning factors like page relevance, authority, links, social signals, etc. affect local search more than ever. Google also tweaked local signals like distance and location. Ecommerce sites may be impacted by the ranking boost given to directory/community sites like Yelp for generic terms. Practical Ecommerce has a great article on how to detect if Pigeon pecked your position and how to recover, including optimizing your store locator and Google+ location pages.
  • Google Authorship markup has been discontinued, thus does nothing for you (of less impact to ecommerce marketers but may affect your content marketing programs). It won’t hurt you to keep the markup (other than a bit of code bloat), but no need to use it going forward. In addition to these, leverage the gift Google gives to Internet marketers: Webmaster Tools. Susan Kelly’s “Search Engine Land” article highlights tips on how Webmaster Tools can improve your SEO strategy, including:
  1. Identify issues with your site’s meta descriptions and title tags and pinpoint any content that’s not indexed with Search Appearance > HTML Improvements.
  2. Use Content Keywordsto understand what Googlethinks your site’s about based on keyword usage. Make sure it lines up with your marketing objectives!
  3. If you’re using structured data markup like rich snippets, check out Search Appearance > Structured Data to validate that Google’s reading it properly.
  4. If you need help with your structured data markup, use the Structured Data Markup Helperto tag data fields for products and more.
  5. Use the Sitemaps toolto identify problems with indexing. Beyond the basics, use GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) to view keyword referral data. Now that this data is no longer passed to your analytics tools, the GWT reports are essential. A detailed post on how to analyze and apply this insight is at Search Engine Watch.
  6. Audit your analytics

If you are not confident in your in-house team’s judo chops to perform an audit, you can use a consulting firm to audit your analytics. An analytics audit checks your general implementation to ensure all pages and events are properly tracked with the appropriate tags, dashboards are collecting the right data, account filters are doing what they promise to report (pulling the right data), micro and macro conversions are properly tracked, campaigns are properly tracked, search-not-provided workarounds are in place and perhaps most importantly, mobile tracking is properly implemented.

Even if you’ve had an audit done before, it’s worth a check up, especially if any changes were made during the year and if other services consume your analytics data, such as personalization tools or CRM.

If campaign strategies and investment changed in 2014, or you’ve learned more about the effectiveness of various touches, it may also be time to revisit your attribution model (the credit you give to various touches like email, affiliate, PPC, social and remarketing for conversions).

  1. Audit your SEM

One of the biggest changes to Google Adwords this year was the removal of the exact match type. While this change was applied several months ago, it’s critical to continue to add negative keywords to prevent ads from appearing for broader keyword searches that either are irrelevant or convert poorly on an ongoing basis.

As usual, ensure your sold-out and permanently discontinued products are removed from your campaigns, along with their relevant keywords unless you have a strategy for bidding and offering a comparable substitute, which, as George Michie from RKG Group shares, can be a profitable tactic.

RKG Group has a tool for its clients that also removes unprofitable products from a campaign when “inventory becomes thin in ways that impact conversion rates, e.g.: ‘we still have men’s swimsuits but only for waist sizes less than 24’ and greater than 52″.”

If your internal or outsourced search management team isn’t communicating regularly with the merchandising and sales teams, resolve to ensure communication around new and discontinued products exist.

You may also want to look into sharing your local inventory with local inventory ads to capture local product searches (a potential way to capitalize on show rooming and reverse show rooming).

And don’t forget these other search marketing details to be aware of this year: callout ad extensions, dynamic site links, call extensions, app promotions and “conversions for optimization.”

  1. Refine your site search

In 2010, we posted 22 features for site search Nirvana. Use this as your table-stakes audit guide to usable and effective site search.

If have the basics covered, try these advanced moves with 4 ways to make site search more contextual: contextual snippets, intelligently serve grid/list view based on query, personalize default search scope and dynamically match product attributes to query.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by mt 23

About the author: Linda Bustos

As Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, Linda Bustos works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. In addition to writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007, Linda’s articles have appeared in Mobile Marketer, CMO Magazine, E-Marketing + Commerce, and Search Marketing Standard. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, including XCommerce, Conversion Conference, and Affiliate Management Days.

In 2010, Linda earned a spot on the DMNews Top 30 Direct Marketers Under 30 list. She has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program and Marketing Profs University, and has appeared as one of the Top 100 Influential Marketers of the year in 2008 and 2009. Prior to joining Elastic Path, Linda worked agency-side, specializing in usability and SEO.

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