“Optimize your website” is a familiar phrase for ecommerce merchants, but what does it really mean for WooCommerce or Magento users? Optimize for what? And where do you start?
You can optimize a WooCommerce or Magento website to do many different things—increase page loading speed, boost your ranking on Google, showcase your branding, accommodate the mobile user, and streamline the payments process. The list is long. So, how does an commerce merchant know what needs to be done and how?
Here are some tips for ecommerce merchants who want to know what steps to take to optimize their ecommerce websites and stores.
The First Step: Test Your Ecommerce Site
The first step in optimizing your ecommerce site is to determine how well your site is functioning and to identify pain points both for you and your customers. For that, you need to audit your website and analyze it from the customer journey standpoint. The goal is to pinpoint what could be preventing potential customers from finding your site, staying on your site, and ultimately, closing a transaction.
Pleasing your customers is how to keep them coming back to your site. But you won’t understand how well your customers are being served unless you audit your website’s usability regularly. By asking friends and family to test out your site and even make a purchase and complete a return, you can identify pain points for your customers and fix them.
For example, let’s say you list a sweater on your product page, but don’t clearly state what it is made of. The fact that it is 40% wool rather than 100% cotton will explain why it costs $50 and not $35, but because customers don’t know this, the higher price is putting them off. Or, perhaps navigating the site and filling the cart is odious and slow for visitors, which would explain why your cart abandonment rate is high.
An audit of your website will save you money in the end. Once you know where improvements are needed, you can focus your resources there rather than spending time and energy in less critical areas.
Now, you’ve identified trouble spots in your customer journey or in your tech infrastructure, what are some optimization strategies you can use. Below, we’ve listed five goals for ecommerce merchants along with tips on how to achieve them.
Goal 1: Move Up in Google Rankings
It doesn’t matter how good your products are or how fast your page loading speed is if potential customers can’t find your site. A basic keyword search can show how you rank in Google. For example, an ecommerce site that sells niche cooking sauces can find out how they stack up against competitor sites.
Creating SEO (Search Engine Optimization) content will lift you up in Google rankings. However, this is an evolving science because Google keeps moving the goalposts. Basically, merchants select target keywords based on target market searches and use those keywords in their content.
To identify keywords for your site, think about what a potential customer’s intentions are when conducting a search for a product like yours. For example, if your product is a cooking sauce, a customer looking for your product might type in, “what’s the best cooking sauce for chicken?” If products similar to yours show up when that query is Googled, you might want to use “best cooking sauce for chicken” as a keyword.
Backlinks are another way to boost your search engine rankings. If you submit high-ranking, quality content to other high-ranking knowledge sites and include a link to your site on that content, it will organically improve your standing.
At a minimum, Screaming Frog is an SEO tool that will crawl your website just like a search engine to find and repair damaged links, find duplicate content, and analyze page titles.
Goal 2: Optimize Your Site for Mobile Users
Mobile accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide, so it’s critical your site works for mobile devices and desktops. Moreover, your site doesn’t need to just function on mobile, it needs to be “optimized for mobile,” which means it provides the best possible experience for mobile users visiting your site.
Some things to consider when optimizing your ecommerce store for mobile users are condensing menus, removing pop-ups, making the search box easy to find, and strategically placing CTAs (Calls to Action).
Goal 3: Increase Your Load Speed
If your page loading speed is slow, your abandonment rates will be high because visitors to your site become frustrated. There are few ways to increase loading speed.
You can compress images so that the file size is reduced. You can also attribute images so that they rank along with written content. Give your images file names that accurately describe them and do the same for your alt tags and alt descriptions. This text appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load, and ensures that search engines can effectively crawl and rank your website.
You can also use a CDM (content delivery network) to increase load time. A CDN is a network of servers linked together to deliver content quickly and securely, particularly when traffic volume spikes.
A tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help you to identify loading and usability issues on both mobile and desktop devices. It’s also free. You just plug in the URL of the page you want to check, click “Analyze,” and a report shows you what your users experience when they click on your site. The tool also gives suggestions on ways to improve page-loading speed.
GTmetrix is another tool that will generate a report on your page performance, track your performance over time, and alert you when a page underperforms.
EWWW Image Optimizer is a tool to compress images automatically. It uses a CDN and compresses and converts PNG, GIF, and WebP files without compromising quality.
Goal 4: Improve Your Payment Gateway
Optimizing your payment gateway means making the payment experience frictionless for your customers. But it’s more than that. Alternative and embedded payment options like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) or the option to pay with cryptocurrency are expanding payment choices for customers.
If your customer dissatisfaction rates are high, the chances are that your chargeback costs are high too. Chargebacks are a huge concern for ecommerce merchants, so do some research to uncover the cause of your chargebacks. Is it that customers have insufficient funds? If so, BNPL might help. Are your delivery options too slow or too expensive? Look into ways to improve your distribution. Are your products falling short quality wise? That’s a whole other problem.
If your chargeback ratio is too high, you could end up on the Match list, which means payment processors will not work with you at all. The Match list was created by Mastercard and is a way for payment processors to identify risky merchants who have high chargeback ratios.
For more on the Match list, read, “The Match List: Are You On It And What Can You Do About It”
Consider using a third-party payments partner who can ensure your gateways use advanced fraud detection and chargeback protection tools. There are tools that will protect you from chargebacks and fraud, such as Verify by Visa and Ethoca by Mastercard. These tools alert you when a customer lodges a dispute so that you can resolve an issue before it becomes a chargeback.
Goal 5: Increase Conversions
Visitors to your WooCommerce or Magento site may well leave if they become frustrated with endless scrolling, slow page-loading speed, or too many clicks, but you can make your website more “sticky” through marketing strategies.
For example, free trial signups, email subscriptions, and encouraging visitors to create an account on your site can help you to bring customers back and build a longer-term relationship.
Google Analytics and Search Console monitor visitor activity and can help you create a strategy to increase your conversion rate. You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions for a set period by the number of website visitors.
WooCommerce and Magento Optimization Never Ends
Building your WooCommerce or Magento store is just the beginning because technological advances ensure that optimization is a never-ending journey towards the ultimate customer experience. As your business grows, use tools to monitor the activity of visitors to your site and perform regular audits on your site to identify areas that need work or updating.
Whether you decide to offer BNPL, crypto services, or consolidate payment processors, there are WooCommerce and Magento plugins and extensions to take your site where you want it to go. If you feel you lack the expertise to manage your site, find an SaaS or payments solutions provider to help. It will save you money and free up your time so you can concentrate on scaling your store.
Contact Cartis Payments to find out how you can integrate the payment solutions that will increase sales and protect you from chargebacks and fraud.