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5 Tips for Optimizing your Online Store

January 22, 2021
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
January 22, 2021 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

For many businesses, gone are the days of simply running a brick-and-mortar store. Sales—like customers—are moving online. 

Today, a user-friendly, optimized eCommerce platform isn’t just a driver of success; it’s a must-have. More and more businesses are investing in the perfect online shopping experience, asking themselves questions like: How easy is it for customers to buy products? How many clicks does it take them? Can they transition seamlessly from our social media to our website? 

In the dawn of online shopping, website optimization can be the difference between a sale or a customer clicking the “X” in the corner of the browser. This guide is going to show you how to encourage the former and optimize your online store. 

Why Online Optimization is Important

Online sales are predicted to reach $4.5 trillion dollars in 2021. If that figure isn’t startling enough, keep in mind that in 2014 that number was a mere $1.3 trillion—meaning online sales have more than tripled in the past six years. 

And the figures are only predicted to go up. 

Take a look at a few other key indicators that demonstrate the importance of eCommerce optimization: 

  • Six out of every ten shopping journeys start online
  • In any given 48-hour period, 84% of Americans are shopping for something, which means you need to be able to provide a pathway for purchases at any given time (yes, some people love shopping at 3:00 AM) 
  • Data shows that more and more people are shopping online each year, with the number hitting 2.05 billion in 2020 (you read that ‘B’ correctly)

Website Optimization 101: Drive Conversions. Make the Sale.

So what exactly does it mean to optimize your online store? 

Essentially, the goal of online optimization is simple—improve your website to provide a better shopping experience for your customers. 

One of the main benefits of online optimization is that it can lead to more conversions. In the case of eCommerce conversion optimization, this means more customers purchasing your goods or services.

What could be better for business?

#1 Become Search Engine Savvy

You probably know from personal experience that when you want to purchase anything from a haircut to a hairdryer, you start by researching your desired good or service online—usually with a few quick Google searches. Once you Google “best hairdresser is Phoenix” or “ionic blow dryer,” you’re likely to click on one of the first links Google shows you. 

Personal experience aside, data shows:

  • 33% of users click on the first listing when conducting an online search
  • 75% of people click on one of the top five search results 

This means you don’t want your online store to be on the 12th page of your customers’ Google searches. 

The difference between your online store getting lost in a sea of search results and optimizing your page to rank higher on the search engine often comes down to one practice—SEO. Let’s take a look at the meaning behind this important acronym. 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of making your website (and its content) easier to find on the internet. 

Although there’s certainly a science to creating a website that generates great search engine result pages (called SERPs in the acronym-heavy marketing world), you might be surprised at how incorporating a few simple strategies can yield big results, especially for small businesses. 

SEO Tips and Tricks

To help your online store attract more organic traffic, consider implementing these basic SEO strategies:

  • Conduct target keyword research 
  • Bulk-up your content with blogs, social media posts, and infographics
  • Hire an agency to expand your SEO reach
  • Boost your local results by creating optimized pages on Google Maps, Nextdoor, etc.
  • Optimize website with off-page listings by creating links back to your page

Related: Why Is Local SEO Important?

#2 Customers are on the Move, Make Your Store Mobile-Friendly

These days, customers have the power to shop for virtually any good or service on the planet, right at their fingertips. For the large demographic that has a smartphone, they probably use it (or have used it) for making online purchases. 

In fact, did you know  that two out of every three dollars spent online is done so on a mobile device? 

With this buying journey in mind, it’s extremely important to make your mobile experience sleek, intuitive, and user-friendly. In which case, you should consider these optimizations: 

  • Need for Speed – Creating pages that load quickly on mobile devices is an essential element of eCommerce optimization. Studies show that just a one-second delay can negatively impact conversions by 20%.
  • Put Your Mobile Site to the Test – It’s safe to assume that the last thing you want is for your customers to find their way to your online store (thanks to using tip #1), only to be disappointed by a clunky, buggy mobile site. Robust testing can help prevent glitching or poor rendering. This is where hiring a web developer can be worth the expense. 

#3 Make Your Customers Feel at Home

You already know how important it is to create a great atmosphere for in-person shoppers, but with many customers shopping from home, it’s important to find ways to create the same welcoming environment as they browse your store in cyberspace. 

Online is Still Local

One of the perks of creating and maintaining an online store is that you can reach customers from every corner of the globe. But optimizing your online store isn’t just about catering to everyone—it’s for your local audience, too. For instance, consider: 

  • Merging your online and in-store – Sometimes, purchasing something online is only half of the picture. Many customers want the option of in-store pickup for items they buy online. By providing curbside pickup and allowing them to peruse your current, physical inventory, your customers can order their product and receive it on the same day. 
  • Create a Business Page on Nextdoor – It’s easy to gain loyal, local customers with Nextdoor. By claiming your free Business Page page, you’ll be able to connect with real people who live in your immediate community. You can even offer exclusive online deals to your neighbors.  
  • Go behind the scenes – Make online shopping personal by showcasing the people responsible for your incredible business. Consider featuring employee bios or spotlighting local artisans. You can even offer virtual tours of your production facilities. 

Case Study: Silver Unicorn Bookstore

Located in Acton, Massachusetts, Silver Unicorn Bookstore is a prime example of a small business that incorporates all of the tips above to truly connect with their community. The store’s website features an option for curbside pickup and a creative spotlight on local authors. This bookstore is also a two-time recipient of Nextdoor’s “Neighborhood Favorite Award.” 

#4 Provide a Seamless Checkout Process

Now that you know how to increase your visibility on search engines and attract organic traffic, bring customers into your door, improve their mobile experience, and personalize your brand, it’s time for the most important step—getting them to click the “checkout” button. 

The most important question to ask is: How can you prevent customers from abandoning their carts full of goodies? It all boils down to understanding what causes this phenomenon in the first place. For instance, a few factors that contribute negatively to the end of the buying journey include but are not limited to: 

  • Extra, unforeseen costs represent the #1 reason shoppers jump ship, and include charges like:
  • Tax
  • Shipping
  • Fees
  • Forcing a website visitor to create an account is the second most common reason for not following through with a purchase
  • Too many forms can translate to fewer purchases since a website visitor is likely to walk away from the checkout process if there is “too much work to do” 

With these factors in mind, it’s important to create a checkout process that’s fast and efficient. You don’t want your business to fall victim of cart abandonment. 

#5 Use Your Store as a Marketing Opportunity

Another possible optimization is to use your website as a way to market your products and services—which can help increase future sales and boost website traffic. One of the best ways to do this is by incentivizing customers to sign up for an email list.

Offering coupons and discounts to customers who sign up for emails and newsletters is not only a great way to capture an (already interested) lead, but these savings may also be the deciding factor for their buying decision. 

With this in mind, you should consider: 

  • Linking to your social media pages and invite customers to “like” or “follow”
  • Communicating your brand’s ethos through captivating blog posts
  • Feature collaborations with other small businesses
  • Offer free gifts with purchases or provide trial periods for subscriptions services

In A Digital World, Optimization Leads to Sales 

Hopefully, this guide inspired you to consider a few simple optimizations you can get started on to increase your website traffic as a business owner. The entire point of this exercise is simple—create a better shopping experience and increase your conversions. 

As eCommerce continues to influence consumer behavior, staying in front of this upswing is important for small businesses. At the end of the day, optimization is an opportunity for you to improve your brand as a whole. You should take it in stride!  



Sleeknote. 15 Eye-Opening Online Shopping Statistics for 2020.

Sleeknote. 15 Cart Abandonment Statistics for 2020.

Google. How search enables people to create a unique path to purchase.

Google. Milliseconds earn millions: Why mobile speed can slow or grow your business.

Digital Marketing Institute. What is SEO & Why is it Important?

Oberlo. Mobile Commerce Sales in 2020.

Nextdoor. Time to Vote for Your 2020 Neighborhood Favorite Businesses!

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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