1) Shop Your Own Site
It seems so blatantly simple. But really, how often do you put on your customer hat and shop your own ecommerce website? You should do this at least quarterly, and yes, we mean actually check out on your site with a real credit card. You'll be amazed at the different things you'll notice along the way, many of which can potentially impact conversion in a negative way. Broken links and images, non-secure messages, mismatched shipping rates, unnecessary form fields, slow response pages, old copyright dates, and the like are not uncommon.
Keep these questions in mind as you go through this exercise: How was your post-sale experience through your site? How soon after your order did you receive your email confirmation? Did it include all the pertinent details? Was the email's branding consistent with the website? Did you receive an email when your order shipped? Did your order arrive in the specified time? How was the packaging? Did you receive a customer-service style email 2-3 weeks after purchase checking up and asking for a review the product(s) you purchased?
2) Review Bounce Rate on Your Top-25 Most Visited Pages
Go to your analytics tool and find the most popular pages viewed on your site over the last three months. Are they the pages you expected? Any surprises? Pay special attention to the bounce rate on these pages. Bounce rate is when a visitor comes into that page on your site directly and then leaves without clicking to a second page on your website. We also call them “one and outs.” You want to engage visitors on your top landing pages with a call-to-action and reduce the bounce rate as much as possible. Contextualizing these pages based on where a visitor comes from will up the ante. For those top-25 pages, are any bounce rates above 30%? Dig into those pages and learn why your visitors are not diving deeper and create and track changes to these pages to further diminish bounce rate.
3) Test Your Site’s Search Engine
An ecommerce site's search engine is its lifeblood. Customers expect a great search experience. Is your site’s search engine consistently delivering? A quick way to spin it through its paces is to simply do a search for some of your best-selling products. Type the product name into the search box as a customer would. Also test variants of the product name including synonyms and plurals. Now do this for your top-level categories and popular sub-categories. Are you getting good results? If not, consider getting with your IT team and putting redirects into place and/or optimizing your products' content pages within your product management system. If your search engine is not up to the task, your customers are probably bailing for your competitors.
4) Check Your Site Speed
If your site's taking more than 2-3 seconds to load, it's time to do some code analysis or figure out what's happening on the server side for the lag. Google seems to take everything into consideration these days when it comes to their ranking algorithm and that means you now have more things than ever to pay attention to as a site owner. A quick-loading site is one of the signals to Google that you have a site customers will like. Google itself offers two such tools to check your site speed. One is within Google Webmaster Tools, where you can check your site's response against the Internet at-large. The other is within the newer version of Google Analytics, where it shows a page-by-page load time. Is it time for that code analysis?
5) Is Your Business on Google+…And Is It Connected?
It’s popular to debate whether Google’s foray into social media will actually become the formidable contender to Facebook. At 250-million users, and backed by the power of the web’s leading brand, we wouldn’t bet against Google. A recent study showed that Google+ users have the highest satisfaction rate vis-à-vis all social-media sites. Its recent mobile apps – especially the more recently released iPad Google+ app – is incredibly slick and fun to play with, so it’s clear Google is headed very much in the right direction in mobile with Plus.
However, for the sake of your ecommerce site, it’s no matter – you simply need to have a presence on Google+. Google made waves months ago when it started integrating its social network’s content into organic search results with "Search Plus Your World" (Click here to read a past Adpearance blog post: “Google's New Search Plus Your World For Businesses”).
Start here to set up your company’s page: Create a Google+ Page. Once you set up your page, have Google validate you as the publisher in your meta data by linking your Google+ page to your website, as well as in AdWords. You’ll also want to integrate the Google+ badges into your site. We won't go into detail in this post about it, but once your page is up, all the social media practices apply: post interesting and unique content, engage your network, ask for reviews and recommendations, etc. Similar to site speed, Google will definitely be considering social shares and your audience's engagement with your brand in determining your site's value from a ranking perspective. So get out there and start Google+'ing!