Everything you need to know about completing an eCommerce website audit for Black Friday
Dylan Keenas is the General Manager of Custom Solutions and has been with Bold Commerce for five years. Since then he has been leading site audits, specializing in digital analytics, conversion rate optimization (CRO), and search engine optimization (SEO), specifically for eCommerce stores.
Until November 23 (Black Friday), our Custom Solutions team here at Bold Commerce will be offering a free SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for Shopify Plus and Advanced Shopify plan users to ensure your store is optimized for the biggest shopping event in North America and the holiday season following closely behind.
After many years of doing SWOT analysis and audits on eCommerce sites and providing recommendations on how to change them, I have seen firsthand how optimizing your website can positively affect your conversions (and in some cases make them skyrocket!).
Even the best marketing strategy and traffic acquisition plan for the holiday season will not live up to its potential without a solid foundation of a high-performing website.
Get your store Black Friday ready
Black Friday 2017 brought in a total of $5 billion dollars in the U.S. alone, and that doesn’t even include Cyber Monday’s sales.
Between Statista and the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail companies report that revenue generated over the holiday season (November and December) accounts for approximately 20%, and even up to 30%, of their entire yearly sales.
This means that now is the time to make those last fixes, heavily increase the overall clarity of your site, and make the usability changes that could make all the difference to your bottom line for the upcoming Black Friday and holiday season.
During a SWOT analysis, we hone in on some key areas:
- The mobile user experience
- Site speed and load times
- Technical errors and structural flaws
- UI/UX (user interface, user experience)
We like to focus on these areas because there are usually quick, high-impact wins and gains to be had.
With such high amounts of web traffic coming from mobile users, the mobile user experience is more important than ever. We tend to ignore (or forget about) responsiveness and layout when it comes to devices that aren’t a desktop; when your website shrinks to fit a smaller screen, elements tend to get jumbled, and this needs to be fixed.
Site speed and load times also have a huge effect on consumers. If it takes more than a few seconds for a page to load, you’re likely to see a huge drop-off in users at that point in the customer journey; before it’s even begun.
Technical errors and structural flaws on your website are the last key areas we focus on. Technical errors include issues such as script errors or broken links that can leave the user with a negative experience. Structural flaws have to do with the architecture of your website and how things are laid out.
The UI/UX is how customers view and interact with your site. It needs to be intuitive so users are easily able to navigate, and there should be a focus on elements being in obvious places and being clearly marked.
According to Statista, mobile users now account for over 50% of total web traffic, a number that has been rising steadily over the past ten years (as shown below).
[amount of users accessing webpages from a mobile phone]
Because of this, mobile usability is, in my opinion, currently the number one most important factor on your website. With so many people around the world using their smartphones to browse the Internet, your website has to be optimized for mobile.
The issue is, we often tend to think ‘desktop’ first when constructing a page, so out of habit we build our website and implement features while only taking account a desktop user’s experience. Small things that create a fluid, intuitive user experience on a mobile device often get overlooked, such as:
- Images being scaled down properly.
- Text within images being legible.
- Products skipping a line on collection pages.
- Elements needing to become center aligned.
- Text spilling off the page.
- Links, calls-to-action (CTAs), etc. being easy to tap.
Most of these are small bugs in the code (CSS) of your website and can be taken care of if pointed out and given to a web developer to be worked on - that’s where the Custom Solutions team comes in.
If you want to get a baseline idea of how your website performs on a mobile device, input your home, collection, and product page URLs (one at a time) in the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool.
Site speed is a huge factor in conversion rates. Many studies have been done that focus on the relationship between page load times, bounce rates, and conversion rates. Being fast - especially on mobile devices - is incredibly important because 53% of mobile users will abandon a webpage if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
This is where we really start looking into things such as time to first paint; how long it takes for a user’s web browser to initially render your content on the page.A website SWOT will determine if your pages are loading too slowly and you’re missing out on potential revenue (don’t forget, we’re offering this for free until November 23). We’ll provide you with recommendations on how to optimize your site speed based on our findings.
Crawling the site can uncover a lot of different errors and technical issues that, when looking at the design of the site or data, you wouldn’t be able to find. This includes:
- Broken links
- Redirect chains (pages redirecting more than once).
- Duplicate pages and page titles.
- Meta descriptions
Broken links, such as 400 and 500 page errors, lead you to a webpage that doesn’t exist or has been redirected improperly. It gives your website an unfinished feel.
Duplicate page titles not only look unprofessional, but also affect your search engine ranking; it can cause you to compete with yourself. Low-quality page titles are also a problem; ensure you’re targeting one keyword per page in order to avoid cannibalizing your own results.
Meta descriptions should be on every page. If they’re not, or if they’re low-quality and don’t properly describe the contents of your page, then they aren’t helping customers find or make associations with your website.
A thorough crawl and technical review of a site also includes how your website is using structured data for rich snippets.
Rich snippets are what make review stars, prices, and stock availability show up in Google search results. The Google-preferred way of generating these rich snippets is using a markup language called Schema.org.
Here’s an example of a recipe search on Google: the websites that are using rich snippets show the finished product, and some information including time to cook, the star rating, caloric information, etc.
The information being provided in the Schema.org format give robots and search engines (such as Google) additional contextual information about the page, and helps recognize it as a product with ‘review’, ‘price,’ and ‘stock’ attributes.You can see the ‘stock’ attributes at work in the Google search results below.
While reviewing the rich snippets and structured data being used, we look for errors and opportunities to add contextual information using additional properties which are available using the Schema.org semantic markup language.
It may be difficult to understand if you’re not familiar with it, but having information such as price, reviews, and additional information display on search engines helps your website stand out (whether you’re posting a recipe or selling a product). These elements are more likely to generate a click through for your website over another link that doesn’t have reviews listed in the search results.
During this stage, we look at your website from a potential customer’s point of view. We look to see if you have:
- An easily approachable website with intuitive elements.
- A unique value proposition on your homepage.
- Informative and direct product descriptions.
A unique value proposition (UVP) is how you summarize your business to customers. It’s how you prescribe to customers who land on your page what you're about, what you sell, and what sets you apart from other companies who do/sell the same thing. Customers should understand what you’re selling in under five seconds.
Product descriptions are often over-complicated; I think everybody tends to make a big deal about having good product images - for good reason, don’t get me wrong. However, directly telling people what a product is and what it does in plain English (free of jargon, industry terms, etc.) often gets overlooked.
If you’re having trouble coming up with something descriptive, direct, and impactful, try using this formula and build from there:
In terms of your website’s architecture, we’re looking to see:
The unique value provided so that your target can problem you solve.
“Apps built by entrepreneurs so that merchants can make more money.”
“Shoes that relieve foot pain so that nurses can be on their feet all day.”
“Same-day delivered event supplies for event professionals in a pinch.”
- If your add-to-cart buttons are above the fold on mobile.
- If you've got elements in intuitive spots.
- If all links are written in blue text so they're easy to locate.
- If expected functionality is there.
Our SWOT analysis looks at different areas of your website to ensure it’s optimized in a few key areas: the mobile user experience, website speed & loading times, technical errors & structural flaws, and the UI/UX.
It’s integral that you make a good first impression with potential consumers, especially when up to 30% of your annual sales are involved. Creating an intuitive user experience, keeping your website loading quickly, and making your website easy to find on Google will help contribute to your sales this holiday season.
Get in touch with the Custom Solutions team today to book a SWOT analysis for your site to help you prepare for the busy season ahead.