Designing a user-friendly, and search engine-friendly Ecommerce architecture is a cumbersome task, one that requires careful planning, research, and execution in order to deliver a seamless and fully-optimized experience to your customers. It’s also important to note that an Ecommerce website structure is a very unique entity, one that is vastly different from simple business pages that do not boast any online retail components. When it comes to Ecommerce and its tens, hundreds, or thousands of products, there can be no room for error.
One broken link, one confusing side menu, and the user experience on your site can diminish greatly, not to mention that Google will have no problem knocking you down the ladder to the abyss that is the second or the third results page. With all of this in mind, here are the best practices you can implement today in order to design a winning Ecommerce architecture your customers, and search engines, will love.
Build a straightforward hierarchical structure
Hierarchy and order, these are the pillars of a winning Ecommerce architecture, and they will serve as the foundation for every other solution you implement down the line. In an Ecommerce hierarchy, there can be no room for disorder or clutter. Everything needs to be meticulously and clearly laid out to minimize idle time, reduce bounce rate, and make it dead simple for your visitors to navigate your website, and actually find what they’re looking for. Let’s take a look at what a winning structure looks like.
Naturally, the top of the structure is crowned by your home page – a page boasting striking visuals and engaging messages to grab the shopper’s attention. Moving to tier no.2, you will find the main categories. These are followed by their complementary subcategories (tier 3), which are then followed by the actual product pages. You will need to add or subtract categories to make your structure more responsive and easier to navigate depending on the size of your store, and the number of products you have.
Create a user-friendly menu system
The next step is to allow for seamless navigation and intuitive maneuverability across your website. Provided that you have nailed your structure, you can easily implement an efficient menu system that will make it that much easier for the customer to navigate your website, and the search engines to index your pages properly. To achieve this, you will need to keep your navigation structure simple.
Remember, simplicity is one of the pillars of customer satisfaction, especially on an Ecommerce website. Be sure that every page can be accessed from your homepage with no more than three clicks, or you risk elevating customer effort too high. To make navigation even more intuitive and seamless, you can add handy side menus that will allow your visitors to filter products easily and narrow down their search.
Optimize URL structure and your hosting package
One of the most important aspects of a winning Ecommerce architecture that tends to slip by unnoticed, is your site’s URL structure. Without a doubt, your URL needs to be SEO-friendly in order to make it easier for search engines and customers to navigate your website efficiently and intuitively. Your URL structure needs to accurately represent your website’s structure, and it needs to be localized if you are operating in a specific market. Optimizing URLs for local Ecommerce is something that Australian stores have mastered over the years, so take note.
In the Land of Oz, Ecommerce is on a perennial upward trajectory. With the saturated market becoming more competitive every year, every experienced Australian web hosting provider has started to emphasize the importance of national domains for businesses catering to a local demographic. This offers SEO clarity to search engines and makes the brand that much more visible to local shoppers. Whether you’re operating within your country’s borders or internationally, be sure to optimize your URL structure by keeping it as short as possible, avoiding extra characters, and adding a domain extension that will feed valuable information to the search engines.
Don’t forget to add a user sitemap
To further improve your rating in the SERPs and make navigating your website a seamless and enjoyable experience, be sure to add a user sitemap at the bottom of every page. Aside from your XML sitemap that tells the search engine crawlers how to properly index your pages, you need to have a user sitemap that will cater to your human visitors as well, so the first step is to, again, make it as simple as possible.
The sitemap should display every category and page on your store to make navigation a breeze for your visitors, and in doing so, it will also give you a comprehensive overview of your architecture. Use this information to make any final tweaks to your structure by weeding out extraneous pages, or even adding some features that didn’t previously exist.
Cater to the smartphone demographic
Mobile Ecommerce, popularly known as Mcommerce, is becoming an inextricable part of the industry. In the near future, it might even overtake traditional Ecommerce, as people are increasingly consuming online content on the go. If you are to remain relevant in the years to come, you need to start implementing mobile-friendly features into your architecture right now.
Don’t mistake mobile optimization with creating an app for your store; no, mobile optimization means optimizing your website for handheld devices. After all, why spend time and money building an app few are going to download if you can optimize your pages for mobile browsing and deliver a seamless experience at half the cost? Plus, you will have retained your loyal customers and improved your site’s rating in the SERPs in the process. Mobil pages, make sure they become a part of your store as soon as possible.
When it comes to Ecommerce website architectures, there can really be no room for mistake. These are cumbersome websites with plenty of pages and products that need to be properly displayed and indexed, so you need to make the whole thing as straightforward as possible for your customers as well as the search engines. Implement these practices and you will have no problem optimizing your store for maximum results.