A 5-Step Plan to Updating and Optimizing Your Online Store

A 5-Step Plan to Updating and Optimizing Your Online Store

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Many times with the day-to-day hustle of running your online business, you end up cutting corners. Compounded over months (or years), things like outdated information, unoptimized product pages, missing SEO meta data and old (still active) coupon codes becomes serious problems causing lost traffic, revenue and sales opportunities.

Much like an annual physical checkup with your doctor, an online store checkup is meant to address these deficiencies as well as identify other potential issues before they become a problem. 

In this post, you’re going to learn an easy 5-step plan to get your store updated and in tip-top shape. 

Let’s dive into it.

What Is an Online Store Checkup?

An online store checkup is simply a moment to step back from the day-to-day grind and review the most critical elements of your online business in a strategic way to help expose problems and identify gaps so that they can be corrected.

What to Look At

There are several things you’ll want to look at when reviewing your store which we will cover in more detail below. At a high level they are:

  • Store policies
  • Store pages (About, Contact, FAQ etc.)
  • Product listing pages
  • Product images
  • Coupon codes

What Are You Looking For?

When doing a store checkup, you’re ultimately looking to review and improve several things.

  • Your search engine visibility - SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be a huge contributing factor to the success of your store, however, in the haste of just trying to get your store set up and your products listed, it’s often neglected.

  • Content gaps - Content gaps are key pieces of information missing from your site that's important and contributes towards conversion goals like a missing about page or international shipping rates.

  • Outdated information - Over time, things change. Shipping prices change, answers to frequently ask questions change and your store policies change. A online store checkup will help highlight these changes so you can get everything updated.

Additional Reading: A website checkup heavily involves reviewing and improving your search engine visibility through proper research and implementation of keywords. For additional reading and further understanding of keyword research please read The Beginner’s Guide To Keyword Research.

Step #1 - Store Health Overview

A great place to start for your store checkup is by using the Shopify Ecommerce Store Grader. This tool can be used even if your store isn’t on Shopify. At a high level, this tool will give you some direction as to elements of your business that may need your attention.

The Store Grader tool will inspect four critical elements including SEO, usability, content & social and technical (code), providing helpful feedback on what can be improved.

Step #2 - Review Store Policies

Before you jump into all your pages and products, it's a good idea to review your various store policies. If you’re like most ecommerce business owners, your policies were a ‘set it and forget it’ affair when you first launched your shop. Right now is prime time to review your policies and make sure they are friendly to your customers and in-line with conversion goals.

Take some time to review each of the following and make sure they are current:

  • Shipping policy
  • Refund policy
  • Return policy
  • Exchange policy
  • Privacy policy

    Bonus: Check out the Shopify Privacy Policy Generator and the Refund Policy Generator to quickly create updated policies that you can use for your online store. 

    Step #3 - Optimize Pages

    The core pages of your site are a logical place to begin reviewing your content. Pages like your 'About', 'FAQ' and 'Contact' page are especially important since they tend to be popular pages for ecommerce businesses and can assist in conversions heavily.

    On these pages you'll want to look for several things:

    Clarity & Copy

    Each page should have a clear and specific focus. Ask yourself, is the message clear and concise? Does the title match the content? Will the visitor find the answer they are looking for here? 

    SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

    If you're like most people, your store likely has many missing titles and meta tag information. Page titles, meta descriptions and URL play a significant role in your search engine visibility. Completing these field can significantly help Google better understand what your store is all about as well as increase the chances of people clicking on your links from the search results page.

    Take a look at each page and optimize these three elements and make sure it meets the following parameters:

    • Title: Up to 70 characters (Google cut’s off long titles in search results. Cutoff is based on pixel length of the title not the number of characters. To be safe, keep your titles between 50-60 characters.)
    • Meta Description: Up to 160 characters containing one of your keywords. 
    • URL: The URL should be short ideally contain relevant keywords to the specific page. 

    Example:

      Caution: Be careful changing the URL to pages. This will result in a broken link to anyone that has bookmarked or linked to the URL that you’re changing. If you insist on changing the URL for SEO purposes, read more about how to redirect visitors (and Google) to the new URL.

      Missing Information

      Double check to make sure all information is accounted for. Is your FAQ as complete as it can be? You may want to consider reviewing your customer emails from the last year, looking for the most common questions you were asked and updating your FAQ. This can help with conversions and decrease the time you spend replying to customers. 

      You'll also want to consider if any of your shipping information or rates have changed over the last year and if your shipping information page needs updating. 

      Step 4 - Optimize Product Pages

      With you main site pages optimized, it's now time to look at the the most important content on your site, your product listings (pages). These pages are extremely important for not only the SEO value of generating traffic but also converting that traffic. Your product pages need to be reviewed and optimized for not only your visitors, but Google as well. 

      Let's take a look at the most important elements you need to consider to get your product listing pages in peak condition:

      Images

      When running an online store, your images are a vital element in search visibility as well as conversions. Now is the time to review all of your product images and update any that need updating. 

      You'll also want to consider the following for every product and image used: 

      Image rights - The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you own the rights to all of your product images. It's all too common to utilize product photos from vendors or other sources online, however using photos without explicit permission can be problematic down the road.

      Image ALT tags - Make sure that every image is sufficiently tagged. ALT tags help search engines understand what the image is about and helps your site and product listings show up higher in search results, especially image searches.

      Product Descriptions

      Along with your product photos, your product descriptions are one of the most important assets to your store. 

      As you go through each product listing, ask yourself:

      • Are all your product descriptions original or have they been copied from your supplier/manufacturer? 
      • Do they contain all the important information and technical details a visitor would need to make a purchase decision? 
      • Does the product description sound compelling and make someone want to purchase it? 

      If you answered no to any of the questions above you're going to want to spend some time cleaning that up and making sure your product descriptions are stellar. For more information on how to write product descriptions to help you increase sales, check out the post 9 Simple Ways to Write Product Descriptions that Sell

      SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

      Just like for your pages, you're going to want to optimize each of your product pages as well. Page titles, meta descriptions and URL play a significant role in your SEO so you'll want to take a careful look at each product page and optimize these three elements.

      • Title: Up to 70 characters (Google cut’s off long titles in search results. Cutoff is based on pixel length of the title not the number of characters. To be safe, keep your titles between 50-60 characters.)
      • Meta Description: Up to 160 characters containing your products name, brand and model number. 
      • URL: You product listing URL should be text, not numbers and ideally contain your keywords. For product descriptions, it's a good idea to include the product name, brand and a possibly model number for maximum search visibility. 

      Caution: Again, be careful changing the URL to products. This will result in a broken link to anyone that has bookmarked or linked to the URL that you’re changing. If you insist on changing the URL for SEO purposes, read more about how to redirect visitors (and Google) to the new URL.

      Missing Information

      Make sure all of your product descriptions contain all the appropriate information a customer would need to make an informed decision. This may include details, instructions and technical information. 

      Additional Resource: For more quick SEO tips to optimizing your pages, products and collections, check out this post from Neil Patel at Quick Sprout.

      Step 5 - Review Coupon/Discount Codes

      Part of your store checkup should also include reviewing all of your discount codes that you never set an expiry date on. These codes can sometimes end up on deal sites like RetailMeNot allowing anyone to use them, long after the promotion has taken place. Take a look at each code and delete the ones that are no longer valid.

      Step 5 - Review Coupon/Discount Codes

      Conclusion

      After you've completed all the steps above, you'll want to mark your calendar and repeat it on a regular basis. This keeps your content and focused keywords for SEO fresh and relevant, giving you free traffic boosts over time and increased conversions. 


      Conclusion

      About The Author

      Richard Lazazzera is a an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist at Shopify. Get more from Richard on Twitter.


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