22 Oct

3 Ways to Make Your User Reviews Work for You

You’ve seen them on practically every well-known online store, and you’ve probably written some yourself: reviews.

Many online shops have successfully implemented a review system for their products and services. Allowing customers to leave feedback makes them feel that their input is valuable to you. Letting customers leave comments about the products they purchase is a great way to show that your company is setting its sights on customer satisfaction.

Magento is compatible with several review system applications that you can install and implement in your own e-commerce site. A lot of Magento users have already begun enjoying this service, and are probably reaping the benefits in terms of client happiness.

If you are skeptical as to the lasting effects of this kind of service on your own shop, here are three ways that can use user reviews to your advantage:

Connect with your customers

The first immediate advantage of allowing user reviews is connection to clients. Welcoming their comments – and saying a simple “thank you” or acknowledging their feedback – will definitely tell them that you value what they have to say. When the customer sees that you have a review and feedback system in place, they will feel that you’re not just robbing them of their money. As a result, they build trust and loyalty to your brand.

Get new ideas (and possible improvements) from your customers

Many online shop owners who have installed a user review system discovered that customer feedback yields a lot of suggestions. These may come in the form of modifications to existing products or totally new concepts. These bits of information can be very useful for a company that wants to be on top. You may feed this input to your R&D team, so that they can come up with changes and new products that you can sell later.

Use reviews as new content for SEO

Are you hard-pressed to generate new content on your online store website? Let your own customers feed the content to you through their reviews. Google puts a premium on reviews, especially if you have configured rich snippets in your site.

So, give your customers their virtual soapbox and let their words work for you.

[Photo courtesy of Sascha Grant on Flickr]

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01 Oct

22 Tips to Boost E-Commerce SEO and Conversion Rates

E-commerce SEO and conversion rate optimization can double your traffic and sales. And, best of all, it’s not even that difficult to do. Follow these 22 tips and watch as your e-commerce numbers climb.

Out of stock items

  • Leave the pages up. Some people like to hide the pages of out of stock items, but if they are going to be restocked later, just leave the pages as is. You may want to put a note saying the product is currently out of stock and will be restocked later, but don’t hide them or redirect people away from the page.
  • Offer alternative items. Offer similar alternatives through widgets on the site. Not only will you be providing your customers a great service they’ll appreciate, but you’ll also help search engines find relevant pages and understand your site structure.
  • Inform users when it will return. Provide the anticipated date when the product will be in stock again so visitors will know when to check again.
  • Offer to backorder the product. Let customers order the product and send it out as soon as you’re restocked.
  • Offer an incentive to come back and buy. Provide some kind of incentive to them to wait and order from you rather than looking elsewhere for the product. This is usually best done as a discount.

Obsolete &/or Expired Products

Regardless of what you sell, you’re going to have some products that just don’t get restocked. You first instinct may be to delete these pages and leave it at that, but that’s not a good practice to get into because you lose SEO value and anyone who may have that page bookmarked is going to find an error message waiting for them next time they try to visit the page.

You can try one of the following options to deal with items that will not be restocked.

  • Permanently 301 redirect expired product URLs. If you are replacing an older model of a product with a newer one, use a 301 permanent redirect from the old page to the page with the newer model’s URL. This redirect tells Google you want this page ranked instead and you get to retain your SEO value.
  • Redirect to the parent category. If you have similar products as the expired one, you can direct visitors to the parent category.
  • Permanently delete everything to do with the expired product. If you do not have any closely related products, it may be a good idea to delete the page completely. You can do this with a 410 status code, which tells Google that the page has been permanently deleted and will not return.
  • Reuse URLs. If you are selling products where technical specifications and model numbers are not relevant, you can reuse the URLs of expired products. This will preserve the page’s authority in Google rankings.
  • Leave the pages for informational purposes. Sometimes it’s best just to leave the pages up with a note saying they’re permanently unavailable now. They can help people researching the product, or help previous buyers with information, help and service.

Product Pages with Little or No Unique Content

Running an e-commerce site is time-consuming, so many people don’t think about the importance of having unique content on their product pages. Many people pull information from databases or just post the manufacturer’s content on their site. This, obviously, can lead to duplicate content issues.

  • Add unique content for your most popular products. Use web analytics tools to identify your best-selling and most popular products and then update them manually with original content.
  • Focus on product categories. Some e-commerce sites have tens of thousands of products. Manually entering original content for all of them would be nearly impossible. So, focus your efforts on your parent categories. Improve your internal link architecture, improve your site’s breadcrumbs and add relevant products. This will help the search bots and teach them how to best crawl your site.
  • Add user generated content. Have your customers help out by allowing them to leave reviews for the products. This will help differentiate your product pages from other duplicates on the Web. Reviews from happy customers will enhance your SEO campaign and boost sales conversions.

Category Pages

Next to the home page, your category pages are the most important ones on your site.

  • Treat category pages like mini home pages. Think of  your categories as hubs that contain closely related product pages.
  • Add unique content to your category pages. This is much less work than adding it to the individual product pages.
  • Build deep-links to product categories. You can use guest blogging, content marketing, paid ads and social media to build these link networks.
  • Tag socially shared content. Share links on Google Plus, Twitter and other networks and be specific with your tags.
  • Be conscious of design. Design category pages to provide search engines and users the best possible service.
  • Use search-friendly URLs. The most effective URL structure for category pages (and product pages) is:
    • Category Page: Website.com/category/
    • Sub-category page: Website.com/category/sub-category/
    • Product page: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name/

Internal Link Building & Architecture

Internal link building helps with SEO and rankings, but to achieve the best results, you need link architecture, not just “link building.” Internal linking should focus more on user friendliness and not on making things easier for the search engine spiders. They’ll find their way. It’s your customers’ experience you need to keep in mind.

  • Offer category level navigation. This will make it easier for your users to get an overview of what they will find in the subcategories and pages.
  • Link to category-level relevant products. Take intent and needs into consideration, but also optimize for the right keywords.
  • Use breadcrumbs on all pages and category pages. This ensures that users and Google can navigate up one level to a parent category.

Following these tips can help boost your e-commerce site’s SEO power. Use them to help with site optimization and to boost traffic and, more importantly, sales.

[Photo courtesy of Paloma Gomez on Flickr.]
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