Growth Tactics

How To Make Sure Your Store Is Ready For The Holiday Season

Even though I am writing this for the upcoming holidays, this article can be used any time of the year. Holiday season is around the corner and as an ecommerce owner it is vital that your store is ready to handle the influx of visitors. You don't want to lose out on potential sales because of poor user experience or people not finding your site online.

According to CMS Connected, over 50% of people in America prefer to shop online. This years' holiday sales are projected to be around $123.4 billion.  Ecommerce sales are growing year after year and you want to make sure you get a piece of the pie. You want to give your store the best chance against your competitors.

In this article I will discuss changes you can make directly on your website to improve your chances at making a sale.

Make sure your on page SEO is on point

on page seo for ecommerce site

Who doesn't love free traffic? It's true that SEO is a long term game but you want to apply best SEO practices all the time so that once your website does start ranking, you are able to benefit from the right organic traffic coming into your store.

Depending on how many products you have and how well you have been keeping up with your SEO, it can be time consuming to set up. Therefore, start off with making sure your category pages are up to date and focus on your best sellers and work your way down.

Keywords

Aim for long tail keywords as they are easier to rank for and more specific. Long tailed keywords are combination of 3 or more keywords. You will be competing with major players if you go with more generic keywords and you will have a hard time ranking against them. 

Here is an example of a search of the term "women's short sleeve oxford shirt". Here you see that the top result is from a website that has a much lower domain authority compared to the others on the page. If I search just for women's oxford shirt, that website does not appear but just by making it a little bit more specific, you can dominate the rankings. Yes the traffic may not be as high but combined amount of traffic coming from many keywords will make up for it.

Example of a long tail keyword search

Product Titles,​ Product URLs and Product Descriptio​​​​ns

You want to sprinkle your keywords through out these 3 sections. Do not over do it, because Google looks down on keyword stuffing. You want to write for your audience but also let the search engine bots crawling your website know at the same time what your web page is about. 

Have your keyword in the product title, preferably closer to the front to show importance. Here is an article by Moz about title tags that I think is helpful.

I know we are going after long tail keywords but try not let your URLs get too long. Shorter URLs tending to do better in the search results. Watch this video of Neil Patel explaining how a shorter URL helps your ranking. Although I do feel that he has a high domain authority which helps him rank for competitive keywords.  

Image Optimization

Name your images properly, preferably with your keyword in it. Fill in the alt text with words that would help visually impaired people know exactly what the image is about. 

Compress them so that they don't slow your site down. You do lose some quality once the image is compressed but that can be handled by starting out with a high quality image. 

If you use Shopify, your images are automatically compressed. Check out this page to see how the quality changes in Shopify when your image is compressed.  

With WordPress there are multiple plugins available to compress your images. I will update this section once I do a review article on those. You can find reviews by other websites on Google if you like. 

Reduce URL errors

You want to make sure that your URLs are directing to where they are suppose to and not giving any errors.  Having these errors can affect your search engine rankings. This is a good article on 404 errors and when to do to fix them.

You can even check your URLs by running them through a free dead link checker. 

Optimize speed

Poor speed can increase your bounce rates and thus your search engine rankings. Image compression as discussed above will help increase speed. 

Although plugins can improve customer experience and functionality, too many can slow your website down. Be selective when choosing which to use on your site.

Enable caching can help browsers load up your page faster. For WordPress, there is a free plugin called WP Super Cache that does this for you. For Shopify, it seems they handle the caching for you. 

Your website is stored on your hosting providers' servers.  If the servers are located too far from someone accessing your website then it will take longer for a website to load for them. To combat this there are content delivery networks such as Cloudfare and MaxCDN that use servers located all around the world to quickly deliver your user depending on from where access it.

You can test the speed of your webpages here.

Have your inventory updated

Last thing you want is an interested buyer to come on your website and you are out of stock. Keep your products adequately stocked.

If you do end up being out of stock, here are a few things you to handle the situation.

  • If you know when you will have the product back, mention the date and ask  for the customers' email to let them know when you have it back.
  • Have a similar product linked so that the customer can explore options that are available.
  • Do not delete it, customer may get a 404 error when they come through a search engine. Just be as helpful as possible on the page.

Be Mobile Ready

Not only will this help your search engine rankings, it will also increase your sales since more and more people are shopping using their mobile phones.

According to Salesforce over 40% of ecommerce orders in Q2 this year came from mobile devices and they expect that value to go up to 50% during the holidays.

You can check if your website is mobile ready here.

These small improvements should help increase visits to your store and customer experience. Have you guys implemented any of these in your stores and noticed any changes? Share your experience below. 

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