Monday, 3 September 2012

Don't forget about the website

In the last few weeks we have looked at all of the various aspects that make up your online store such as social and mobile commerce. However, while these are all important parts in making your store a success, you shouldn't forget about the importance in ensuring your ecommerce website is always to the highest possible standard.

A recent survey carried out by Econsultancy found that out of the 100 senior decision makers of global retail brands questioned, 59% intend to invest the greatest amount on improving their websites in the next 12 months.

While small businesses cannot afford to spend the same budget on keeping their website up to date as some major brands, there are a number of things you can look to do to help ensure that your website never falls behind your rivals.

Website Redesign

Although the store front or template style of your online store could look really good at first, with the constant improvements in design, you may soon find that your competitors have moved ahead of you in creating an appealing site. If you haven't made any changes to your online store for a long time, you should look at possibly retouching your site to give it a new feel or if you wish you could look to give it a complete overhaul.

As well as creating a new design for your store, you may also look to create a new logo. Creating a new logo not only allows you to give your store a new lease of life, but it can also help you create a new and improved brand identity that will bring a whole new customer base. However, what you need to bear in mind is that your logo plays a large part in the current brand identity of your business. Changing the logo may alienate some customers, resulting in them feeling less comfortable purchasing from your store. 

Keyword Analysis

Now I know that to some people, search engine optimisation can be a rather dull task, but the benefits it brings to your ecommerce store means that it is something you should look at. As keywords play a primary role in your website's search engine ranking, leaving the same keywords over a prolonged period of time can result in your website falling sharply down the rankings.

While leaving the look of your store front can result in it becoming outdated, the same applies to your keywords. Over a period of time, keywords can go up or down in popularity with people's interests constantly changing. When placing keywords on your website, you need to regularly check how popular specific keywords are to ensure you don't have words linked to your site that generates very little traffic. 

Product Layout

If after a period of time you find that you have good traffic but your sales are slowly declining, you may look to try and freshen up your site by changing the layout of your products. This could mean introducing new categories to break up some of your products or simply spacing them out with less products per page. A clearer layout makes it easier for customers to navigate their way through your site and find a product they would like to purchase.

Changing the Domain

When you originally set up your online store, you may have chosen a domain address purely because some of the others you wanted weren't available. Every now and then you should check if any of the alternative domains you wanted have become available. This will allow you to transfer your store across to a domain that you would rather have as it's name may be better or it could be much more effective from an SEO standpoint. However, when changing your domain, you do not want to get rid of your old address, but simply use it as a redirect to your new address. This means that when a customer visits your old website they will still be able to follow you to your new store in order to make a purchase. 

Even if you decide that you want to keep your original domain, you can still look to purchase other domains as landing pages for your store. The more direct links you have to your online store, the more traffic you are going to generate.

However, while the website is of crucial importance, out of those asked in the survey, 74% stated that they were intending to increase their online presence through social media, with 35% focussing to look more closely at Pinterest. If you have recently set up a business or are looking to expand your social commerce, read: The Basic Guide to Social Commerce, for information and assistance on what social media sites you should be looking at to improve your business. 

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