Though some of you might already be familiar with these tips, Christian Arno from Lingo24 would like to share 5 crucial points to keep in mind when building your next e-commerce site.
WordPress might be the most popular CMS for websites in general but, when you take out the millions of blogs and concentrate on e-commerce sites, Magento is the clear leader. According to a study of Alexa’s million top e-commerce sites, Magento’s Community Edition is the most popular platform, with over a quarter (25.6%) of the total market share.
There are many reasons for Magento’s success. It’s open source, meaning it’s free to use, fully customisable and has a huge community base. Many e-commerce businesses have found Magento to be the ideal platform but there are many factors to consider when building your site.
1. Optimize for SEO
There are many different ways to drive traffic to your site but SEO remains one of the most important. According to an Interconnected World survey, 44% of shoppers begin with a search engine, while 90% of usersclick on the top three natural search results on a Google SERP.
When Ecommerce Platforms ran an SEO test on the most widely-used ecommerce sites in the US and Europe, platforms were awarded an ‘SEO score’ that took a number of factors such as navigation links, page titles, URLs, headings and XML sitemaps into account.
Don’t overstuff keywords as this can actually be counter-productive but use a combination of short and long-tail keywords. As well as sprinkling keywords through the content body, titles and headings are useful places for keyword placements.
The URL you choose can also incorporate keywords. You should ideally use descriptive, logical URLs that reflect the structural hierarchy of the site and are not overly dynamic. An address like
www.example.com/index.php?12345 tells the viewer nothing of what the page is about and can be off-putting. If you used
www.example.com/shoes/womens_shoes/heels instead , your customers would have a pretty clear idea of what to expect.
2. Content is king
SEO is important but it should never be pursued at the expense of the flow and feel of your website. You engage with your customers through your content, at all levels of the transactional process.
Relationship-building content is designed to establish and strengthen the relationship you have with your customers. This is what most people think of as ‘content marketing’ and could involve blogs, articles and infographics. It does not have to give your products the hard sell and can in fact be more effective if dealing with topics relevant to your field in a more general way.
Instructional content such as ‘how to’ guides can be very useful and user generated content (UGC) such as customer reviews is also increasingly important. A recent study found that UGC is 50% more trusted than other types of content.
Transitional content guides your customers from awareness of your brand to actually making a purchase. AO.com has some good examples, such as a handy 30-second video guide to choosing the right fridge-freezer. Transactional content helps the customer complete the transaction. This is generally ‘micro-copy’ such as the forms required to complete the purchase.
3. Take care of translations
If you are targeting international markets, you will also need to ensure that you translate your content effectively. English can serve as a lingua franca to a certain extent but it remains a fact that the majority of the world’s population speaks no English at all and studies have shown that those who speak it as a secondary language prefer to shop on sites in their own native language.
Different types of content will often require different levels of translation. For important public content, like your home page, the best results will be achieved by working with native human translators. For bulk content such as user reviews that might also need to be translated as it appears, machine translation could be more appropriate. By plugging into a translation service provider’s API you can achieve reasonable translations as and when you require them.
4. Design for speed and performance
The speed at which your page loads can have a huge bearing on visitor satisfaction rates. 47% of consumersexpect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, while 40% abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds. 79% of shoppers who were dissatisfied with website performance said they would be less likely to buy from the same site again.
As Magento is an unhosted platform, it’s also important to select a server that is powerful enough for your needs and that will never go offline, as downtime can be disastrous for an e-commerce site.
5. Don’t forget mobile
Since Magento 1.9 CE and 1.14 EE, Magento offers a responsive design reference theme. There are various ways to optimize for mobile but responsive design – essentially setting up your site to detect the type of device it’s being viewed on and formatting itself accordingly – can often be the most versatile solution.
Building dedicated mobile sites can have the advantage of allowing you to do things with your desktop design that might not work on mobile but, whichever option you go for, it is essential to keep mobile in mind. A Capgemini study found that mobile accounted for 40% of all online retail sales in the UK alone and un-optimized sites can find themselves penalized in terms of SERPs on mobile searches.
Magento can be the ideal platform for e-commerce stores and websites of all shapes and sizes. The structures, tools and themes are all there but it still takes careful planning to design and build a successful e-commerce website.
Christian Arno is the founder and CEO of UK translation company Lingo24, and a regular contributor to industry publications such as Clickz.com, Business2Community and E-consultancy. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter for more tips on localisation and translation technology for e-commerce. Check his website here.
“5 tips to keep in mind when building an e-commerce site” by Christian Arno is licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0