Pop quiz: what separates a top-tier online storefront from an “average” one?

In reality, there is no one “right’ answer.

But there are a number of elements that many of the top ecommerce sites have in common when it comes to SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization)

If you’re looking into launching your very first ecommerce store, setting yourself apart from the crowd means understanding what these elements look like in action.

To get you started, we’ve put together a list of eight elements of SEO and CRO to keep in mind. Whether you’re starting from scratch or are looking to optimize your existing site, each and every one of these pointers deserves your undivided attention.

Production Descriptions

Product descriptions are seriously valuable real estate that many merchants manage to squander.

For starters, they’re a prime place to include keywords and benefit-driven language to compel buyers to click-through. You can likewise tack on positive comments from previous buyers and star-ratings to serve as social proof. Including multiple product images (think: user-generated content) can also serve to give your conversion rate a much-needed boost.

URL Structure

Depending on what platform you’re using to build out your store, URL optimization might be taken care of for you. That said, just make sure you’re sticking to the best practices of URL SEO by keeping slugs relatively short while also including keywords where possible (for example: a page or category about women’s snow boots with the URL “womens-snow-boots/.”

 Site Speed

If your site doesn’t load up in a matter of seconds, you have a big problem on your hands.

Remember that high loading times translate into lower conversion rates as consumers are rightfully turned off when they don’t get what they want ASAP. This is especially important for mobile users.

This might mean removing clunky plugins or hero images that are causing your site to lag. That said, don’t sacrifice features such as capture forms which are essential to building your ecommerce empire.

Crystal Clear Pricing

Tacking on hidden fees (including shipping) is perhaps one of the fastest ways to lose the trust of your customers. Surprise costs are one of the biggest reasons that people abandon their shopping carts these days.

As such, try to keep your pricing structure as simple as possible and include shipping costs or fees as part of your cart. If you’re working in the SaaS space, offer clear distinctions between your pricing structures so that customers know that they’re getting exactly what they’re looking for.

Opt-in Placement

As noted, lead capture forms offering deals and discounts are the bread and butter of ecommerce sites. Growing your email list via opt-ins means providing ample opportunities to opt-in.

For example, consider how you can create multiple avenues to encourage opt-ins through the following on-site real-estate:

  • Your header
  • Your footer
  • Your sidebar
  • Your blog posts (think: content upgrades)
  • Exit and entry pops

There is no magic number for how many opt-in forms you should have, so experiment with positioning accordingly to figure out what’s attracting the most attention.

Storefront Layout

On a related note, there are plenty of pre-optimized ecommerce templates that make the process of laying out your storefront easier.

Even so, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to what you get “out-of-the-box.”

For example, make sure that you pick out a theme that allows for customization such as product carousels, lookbooks and other third-party plug-ins. Any template that doesn’t allow for new integrations is a major red flag.

Social Media Links

Social media is an underrated channel for getting more eyeballs on your ecommerce store.

Think about the ecommerce brands killing it on Instagram right now. Customer photos and contests are a prime way to drive traffic to your storefront, as are product demos and videos on Facebook. While there might be some debate on the SEO value of social links, there’s no debating the power that a strong social presence can increase your conversion rate.

Long-Tail Keywords

Although this may seem glaringly obvious, do not neglect the need to create content surrounding long-tail, niche keywords. Longer terms (think: phrases of five words or more) have less competition and speak to the needs of shoppers looking for something specific. If you can earn the top spot in Google for long-tail keywords in your niche, you’re golden.

With so many moving pieces to any given ecommerce business, it’s only natural to overlook some key aspects of your store if you aren’t careful. With the help of this checklist, you can stick to the best practices of ecommerce at large while driving more traffic to your store at the same time.