You’ve done it! You’ve set up a great ecommerce website, given your customers a clear path to your pages and your products, and now here they are: on your product page, ready to buy. But it’s not guaranteed, not until they click “checkout,” pay, and finalize. What steps can you take to make that happen? Here are five characteristics that we’ve noticed across great pages, both in ranking well for SEO and ranking highly in customer usability/preference:

1. Good Title Tag and Product Description

While far from being the be-all-end-all of search engine optimization, Title tags let search engines know what the page is about and they let readers know what they can expect when they get to the product page.

Your Title tag should contain the keywords (search terms) that you want the page to rank highest for in searches. An example of a good Title tag for a specific model of backpack might be “Outdoor Expert XR-11 Internal Frame Backpack.” This tells search engines which people to send to your page and also effectively conveys the content of the page to the human reader: “Hey, I’m about to read about the XR-11 Internal Frame Backpack.” This also helps customers avoid clicking on a product that they definitely don’t want: “Oh no, I thought that the XR-11 was an external frame backpack. I don’t want an internal frame backpack.”

The on-page text that you use to describe the product is also important when it comes to putting together a good product page. This is a great opportunity to educate the customer, convince them to buy (and make them very sure that this product is, in fact, the one that they want), and even sneak in an extra keyword or two. Keep this in mind, though: however much text you think you need to include, adding a little more (without getting spammy or repetitive) will help your page rank better and give the customer more data to help them make their buying choice - it’s win-win!

Lastly, avoid Flash, as it tends to adversely impact search optimization efforts.

2. Optimized Media

The only thing better than adding the right media to a product page is adding optimized media. Customers want lots of pretty pictures and vibrant videos of the products in action and in a variety of poses. If you are selling a tool, toy, or piece of equipment, make sure that you have videos of the product in action, being used in its intended manner, by people who look like they’re enjoying it. Pictures should give users plenty of detail: show them stitching, seams, bolts, connections. Many shopping carts give you the option to zoom and even change angles.

This is also another great place to get a little edge in your SEO efforts by making sure all media meta data is optimized for the keywords you want. If your page for the XR-11 backpack features a video of someone showing off its various features, then make sure that the video meta data conveys that. Something like: “Outdoor Expert XR-11 Internal Frame Backpack, features and benefits video” tells the search engine what the video is about, and could help your page get some hits from video searches, etc.

Make sure that all images have alt tags that are likewise optimized with the search terms that you want. For example: “Outdoor Expert XR-11 Internal Frame Backpack, Black, Front View.” Another thing to remember when setting up a good product page is to include images for every color and option for a specific product. If you are selling a backpack and it comes in three colors with two different frame configurations, then you need at least six images (probably many more).

3. Clearly List Pricing/Product Specifications

This one should really go without saying, but make sure that your customers always know how much they are paying for the product listed on the page. If there are multiple options for different versions of the same product, make sure that the pricing information changes along with these different options. Your customer should never be confused about how much a product is going to cost.

Speaking of different option packages, if your shopping cart has a “compare item” function, you might want to consider adding it to your product page, so that a customer with two similar options from your site can weigh them both side-by-side. This can also be a good place to put product specifications: height, weight, length, etc. You can also remind shoppers about their shipping options. If you offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount, be sure to mention that - your shoppers will be glad you did.

4. Easy Cart Functionality

The fewer clicks there are between landing on your site and getting to the checkout screen, the better chance you have to close the sale. The longer the process takes, the higher your chances of shopping cart abandonment and just plain loss of interest are. If there’s one central message to this whole post, it’s this: make it easy for your customers.

The “add to cart” button should be big, conspicuous, and “above the fold,” meaning that when the page loads initially, users should not have to scroll down at all to see it. Put it in a place where the reader’s eye naturally lies. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it. It also helps if the “checkout” button is right next to it (possibly “grayed out” or in subdued tones until the item has actually been added to the cart). Once you’ve convinced them to buy, customers want to add their items to their cart and checkout quickly.

5. Account Functionality

Want to make the checkout process even easier, encourage repeat business, and expand your audience through your existing customers? Make sure that your customers have the ability to create personal accounts in your store and place “wishlist” and “tell a friend” buttons on your product pages. At this stage in the game, most ecommerce software setups also include social media support, allowing customers to “like” a product and announce it to all the world over Facebook, or to “tweet” about the product on Twitter.

These types of elements allow customers to speed through checkout (using their stored info) and to do some advertising legwork for you with social media buttons.

Every person your customer reaches through their Facebook, Twitter account, and “tell a friend” button is one more person who knows about you that didn’t before, and one less person you have to spend time, energy (and ultimately money) trying to attract. The wishlist function works to keep bringing your existing customers back to your site to pick up new products that they didn’t have time or money for before.
Make it easy for your customers to buy from you and they just might!