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How eCommerce Categories Affect Conversions

Every once in a while you’ll come across an eCommerce site with so many categories and subcategories it’s hard to find what you’re looking for, or there are too few products to justify having their own category, leaving the page looking like a wasteland of empty space.

The reverse is also true; some sites offer only a handful of categories, and you’re forced to wade through dozens of pages to find what you’re looking for.

Large retailers are the worst offenders in this space, but they have the luxury of large volumes of traffic to make up for it. The rest of us don’t – and if we want to sell products, consumers need to be able to find them quickly and easily.

Think like a Search Engine

Categories are an important part of your internal linking strategy for good SEO. Your category names are always the anchor text (the clickable part of a link), so they should be named after something a visitor might search for. If you’re looking for a solar panel, you’re going to go to Google and type “solar panels” – if the category is called “solar products”, this page won’t appear in search results.

Include a reasonable number of products

An optimal niche eCommerce site will have between 10 and 50 products in a category. If you have a lot more, use sub-categories to break it up. Remember, 45% of your site’s visitors will leave if they don’t find what they want on the first click, so having pages and pages of products in the same category only guarantees the majority of them won’t ever be seen.

Show products, not paragraphs

Category pages serve only one purpose: to get the visitor to look at a product. Don’t overload them with long descriptive text or graphics; a sentence or two and a header graphic is enough. Keep the height of the header to a minimum so visitors see the products above the fold.

Always show the price

Many websites still don’t show the price up front, forcing users to hover, click, or add to cart to see what they’re paying. If a visitor has to click something to see the price, and the first thing they click happens to be out of their price range, how many more products do you think they’ll click on? None. They’ll think you’re too expensive and move on, never realizing that the next product they looked at might have been within their budget. Let them see the price on the category page so they can shop within their price range without wasting time.

Keep the duplication to a minimum

Some store owners will put the same product in multiple categories to try to fill them out, but this isn’t as helpful as it seems. If a visitor is browsing your site and sees the same products in every category, it’s going to take their attention away from the other products in that category. Their takeaway will be that it isn’t much available on your site and move on.

Spend some time today analyzing your site and see where your categories could be improved, and reorganize your products so everything is in the most logical place based on what a visitor is going to search for. You’ll notice an increase in conversions almost immediately, and an increase in traffic once the search engines re-index your newly organized content.

How eCommerce Categories Affect Conversions
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