On a daily basis, I am looking over many e-commerce sites and even though I don’t say it out loud I’m sometimes amazed how already standardized techniques get completely disregarded.
I was checking Vancouver Craigslist the other day and found this ad for computer equipment online store looking for a redesign of their website: http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/web/1347519804.html. Nothing wrong with this, it is always good to go with the times.
When I was reading the ad I came across this section:
We are particularly looking for a person with direct ecommerce experience in selling computers, electronics and related products to business clients. Related experience in SEO, natural search, and website usability is preferred. The majority of our clients are from businesses and governments in Canada who locate us via search engines, directories and shopping sites. Our main landing page is our product detail page.
Our website is www.frontierpc.com and our most important pages are the product details pages such as: http://www.frontierpc.com/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=20170537J
The overall project would involve redesign of: home page, search results page, product details pages and our cart and checkout. There would be a few additional pages as well such as contact us etc.
So I went ahead and checked out their website. Having a product URL like this http://www.frontierpc.com/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=20170537J made me think “Maybe SEO would be the first thing to do”. I was actually very pleasantly surprised coming on to the site. The design was clean and for a computer equipment ecommerce site, it was easy to use overall. Not really anything that would justify a complete redesign but there are things to improve from an SEO and conversion optimization point of view. A quick look at their urls tells me there are no rewrite rules in place, when checking the non-www I can already imagine the amount of duplicate content that drags this site down.
The on-page SEO for this store is also not very impressive, sure it is better to have some kind of page title and meta description but c’mon try to make it easy to read or at make it more to-the-point.
Looking at the Category urls http://www.frontierpc.com/SearchView.aspx?c=001011079127&cn=Mobile%20Computers I could see how Frontier PC used their search pages to generate category pages. Little geek tip: read Latent Semantic Indexing from Aaron Wall to understand why it is a very bad idea to give any search engine the capability of indexing your search results.
Nevertheless, I think the biggest disadvantage of this site is that it is so slow. When a page takes almost 30 seconds to load it is a real turn off for most visitors. Also, search engines care a lot about how quickly you can deliver the requested page back. Look at it this way: would you recommend a website to your friend that is always slow? So why should Google do it?
Looking at the page the first positive note is that they are displaying telephone numbers, always very useful to give people more trust into the online business. What I am missing on this site are other trust symbols like Better Business Online or Hacker Safe as example.
This company is a perfect example on how most e-Commerce sites are wasting 40% or more of their potential traffic and even much more revenue. Your goal should be more returning visitors then new visitors as an e-commerce business since they convert much better than new visitors.
As an example, a few months ago I started a contract with a car performance part company, creating an SEO plan for the development of their website. This is necessary since the system is just out of date. Before I started the project I delivered one of my SEO site reviews for their site. Within a week their traffic went up by almost 50% and stayed steadily ever since.
I would recommend consulting with a dedicated Internet Marketer first to help to identify your challenge and show you better or easier ways of using your budget to drive traffic to your online business instead of completely redesign your site if you feel stuck with the traffic you are getting. This e-Commerce site is a great example where spending money on a complete redesign would be a wasted of investment since the site seems to have already good content and a clean design. If some SEO and other Internet Marketing techniques in place they could easily double their current internet revenue.
What do you think? Leave a comment.