A few years ago, our Scandinavian Google reps kindly shared a study with us which compared 429 eCommerce sites across all categories from multiple countries. The survey was benchmarked against 43 eCommerce best practices Google chose to use for this study.

It’s unclear whether or not Google actually uses these benchmarks to rank eCommerce sites better in organic search. That said, we still have to ask, why else use such a specific set of best practices? Let’s dive in.

Among many things, great eCommerce sites should contain clear conversion paths, simple checkout, clean and straight forward menu options, product search functionality, well-shot product photos and use of video.

Here are 43 things Google could be looking at when ranking your eCommerce site.

📷Visual Imagery

Images on product description pages need to have visuals that bring the customer as close as possible to the product.

French retailer Joules boosted paid purchases, but in-turn gained a 67% rise in revenue per purchase when they tested their product shots with human models.

Including video can also bring products to life. It allows a product’s intricate elements to be demonstrated in action. Simlypiste.com posted video demos on their product pages and increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as reducing the number of returns.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented visual imagery features which Google might use to rank your site:

1. Is it possible to zoom in on your product images to examine in detail? 78% of sites surveyed implemented this.

2. Does your image quality remain high when zoomed in? 89% of sites surveyed implemented this.

3. Are your images of the product available to look at from all angles?Only 57% of sites surveyed implemented this.

4. Is your product size easily identifiable from the images (i.e. would a 42” TV look larger than 37” TV)? Only 56% of sites surveyed implemented this.

5. Is there an accompanying video of your product in action? Only 18% of sites surveyed implemented this.

6. If your product is available in multiple colours, are there images available for each colour? 81% of sites surveyed implemented this.

✍️Product Description

Great product descriptions should be informative, have relevant product details, and be persuasive. It’s the opportunity to establish the ‘tone of voice’ for how you speak to your users. Detailed product descriptions also help you show up more in organic search.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some product description features Google might use to rank your site:

7. Is the product description text presented using short sentences? 78% of sites surveyed implemented this.

8. Is the product description text presented in bullet points? Only 58% of sites surveyed implemented this.

9. Are the product details (e.g. technical specifications) likely to be understood by your customer? 93% of sites surveyed implemented this.

📢CTA (call-to-action)

Call-to-actions grab your users’ attention and can help guide them to the next step in the customer journey.

The CTA should be above the fold and in a high contrast colour. A strong commanding verb- such as ‘Apply’, ‘Order’ or ‘Receive’- encourages users to take action. Ideally, product pages should have a single and clear CTA. Where multiple CTAs are present, buttons should use colour and size to prioritize importance for users.

Although it might sound minimal, SAP increased sales conversions by 14% and achieved a 90% customer confidence level when they changed their CTA button to a different colour.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some CTA features Google might use to rank your site:

10. Is the call-to-action clear (e.g. ‘add to basket‘)? 94% of sites surveyed implemented this.

11. Is the call-to-action above the fold? 90% of sites surveyed implemented this.

12. Is the call-to-action clearly distinguishable from the rest of the site page, colour and text? For example, is a high contrast colour used? 83% of sites surveyed implemented this.

👨‍💻Support Services

If you have a telesales team, your contact information and opening hours should be visible on every page throughout your site. Phone numbers, physical addresses, and e-mails that are prominently listed are reassuring for users.

Nowadays, live chat support is also paramount in supporting on-site sales and extremely useful for helping customers at the exact moment they need it.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some support services features Google might use to rank your site:

13. Is there a customer service/sales line users can call? 75% of sites surveyed implemented this.

14.  Is your number toll-free? Only 47% of sites surveyed implemented this.

15. Are phone line operating hours communicated? Only 54% of sites surveyed implemented this.

16. If live chat support is provided, is it present on every page and easy to find? Only 30% of sites surveyed implemented this.

17. Does live chat appear only after a user has had sufficient time to comfortably navigate the page themselves? Only 32% of sites surveyed implemented this.

💲Pricing

Pricing needs to be transparent and visible on the product page. The price advertised on the product page should reflect the final price at checkout. Any additional charges (e.g. shipping, postage, product extras etc.) should be clear to the user.

Where offers are available, it’s beneficial to highlight any and all discounted prices in a different colour. Adding the percentage saved on the offer can also be extremely compelling.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some pricing features Google might use to rank your site:

18. Is the price positioned beside the product? 93% of sites surveyed implemented this.

19. If the item is on sale, is the sale price communicated clearly? 93% of sites surveyed implemented this.

20. Is the saving on the price communicated as a percentage? Only 46% of sites surveyed implemented this.

21. Are additional charges clearly advertised? 63% of sites surveyed implemented this.

22. Is it possible to change the currency? Only 18% of sites surveyed implemented this.

23. If it is possible to change currencies, is currency selection and language decoupled? That is, if a user changes the currency, can they still read the page in their own language? Only 27% of sites surveyed implemented this.

👍Customer Reviews

Nielsen found that 70% of people trust online customer opinions. However, online shoppers have learned to exercise caution when reviews are suspiciously positive.

68% of customers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews. This means that product pages with enough credible product reviews help encourage conversion.

Overall, customer reviews demonstrate that your business is trustworthy and likeable. They also give your site a huge boost in organic search rankings. We often recommend our clients go out of their way to ask customers for reviews in their newsletters and auto-responders, even several weeks after orders have been fulfilled.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some customer review features Google might use to rank your site:

24. Do the product pages have a review or rating widget? Only 57% of sites surveyed implemented this.

25. Do reviews reflect both positive and negative feedback? 72% of sites surveyed implemented this.

26. Do spelling and grammar errors remain in customer reviews? 68% of sites surveyed implemented this.

27. Are social features included (Facebook, Twitter etc.)? 73% of sites surveyed implemented this.

28. Are reviews relevant and up to date? 79% of sites surveyed implemented this.

🚚Shipping & Return Policy

One of the biggest factors for not shopping online is a lack of confidence in return policy or delivery time.

By clearly communicating returns and delivery policies, eComm retailers convert more customers. Smiley Cookie achieved a massive 40% increase in sales and a 41% increase in revenue per visitor by improving delivery messaging to read “Order todayships next business day.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some shipping and return policy features Google might use to rank your site:

29. Is the returns policy visible on the product page? Only 52% of sites surveyed implemented this.

30. Are the conditions of the returns policy (e.g. ‘refund within 30 days’, ‘like for like replacement’) clearly stated? Only 52% of sites surveyed implemented this.

31. On the product page, is the customer informed how long delivery will take and its cost? Only 58% of sites surveyed implemented this.

🛍️Related Products

For centuries, retailers have perfected merchandising techniques carefully placing closely related, complementary products beside each other to increase store sales.

Online retailers have the opportunity to display related products by combining social graph signals and details of what previous customers also bought (gigaom.com). Displaying relevant or complementary products can help grow cart sizes.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some related products features Google might use to rank your site:

32. Is there a recommendation engine to show related products on the page? 70% of sites surveyed implemented this.

33. Are the recommendations relevant to this product or user? 83% of sites surveyed implemented this.

34. Does the headline for the recommendations suggest they are based on behaviours of similar buyers? For example, ‘Other customers bought…’ instead of ‘You might also like…’ Only 38% of sites surveyed implemented this.

🛒Shopping Cart

This might seem like a no-brainer, but Etailers need to clearly communicate where the shopping cart is on every page of the site. Further, your shopping cart should highlight how many items are in the basket.

Adding the total value of the shopping cart can help improve conversion rates and reduce abandonment rates. Our clients increased their completed purchases by making the shopping cart widget slightly larger with a more eye-catching icon and an underlined text link to ‘Checkout’. Their cart also displayed the total price for all items as opposed to the number of items in the cart.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some shopping cart features Google might use to rank your site:

35. Is the shopping cart easy to find? Have you proven this with user-testing? 87% of sites surveyed implemented this.

36. Is it easy to see the number of items in the shopping cart? 90% of sites surveyed implemented this.

37. Is it easy to see the total price of the items in the shopping cart? 80% of sites surveyed implemented this.

38. Is there a visual indicator when a user has added an item to the shopping cart? 78% of sites surveyed implemented this.

🤔Product Availability

When a customer really wants something, but it’s not available, it can be a frustrating experience for them.

Letting people know when an item is likely to be available again, or offering to notify them when the item is restocked, can keep a loyal customer rather than them looking to a competitor.

Out of all 429 eCommerce sites surveyed, here’s how many of them implemented some product availability features Google might use to rank your site:

39. Is it clearly visible how many of your products/items are in stock?Only 33% of sites surveyed implemented this.

40. Is it clearly visible when your product/items are out of stock? 74% of sites surveyed implemented this.

41. Is it clearly visible when individual sizes, colours etc. are out of stock? 69% of sites surveyed implemented this.

42. If your product/item is out of stock, is it possible to see when it is expected to be back in stock? Only 18% of sites surveyed implemented this.

43. If an item is out of stock, can a user provide their details (i.e. email address) so they can be contacted when the item is back in stock? Only 29% of sites surveyed implemented this.

😅Conclusion

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth! We hope this data provided by our Scandinavian friends, along with our added insights, has been helpful!

Do you know anyone that runs an eCommerce site (small or enterprise)? If you feel so inclined, do share this article with them. If there’s one thing that marketers, CMOs and Director’s can use to improve their eCommerce site then writing this article has been worth our time!

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