I like shopping at the mall, browsing through the different departments at a leisurely pace. But when I’m in a rush, I want to head on over to the section of the store where I can find exactly what I’m looking for, make a purchase, and head on out. Thank God that the aisles and departments are marked. Not only does this save my time, but it also significantly improves my in-store shopping experience.
You’ll be surprised to learn that your ecommerce category pages can serve the same purpose.
Ecommerce category pages are an essential part of your ecommerce site
According to invisionapp.com, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return after a bad experience. That means you need to ensure that their online experience with your brand remains optimal. Just like the aisles in a brick-and-mortar store, the category pages make it easier for consumers to navigate your website and find the products they are looking for online. They significantly enhance the shopping experience.
In essence, a category page bridges the gap between the homepage and product pages. As options narrow down, the user eventually lands on a page containing that product which they are interested in buying.
However, you need to use this opportunity to guide potential customers deeper into the sales funnel and steer them towards a purchase. This is one of the reasons you should consider optimizing your category pages.
Now, if this task seems overwhelming to you, then this blog is for you. We’ll discuss several techniques you can apply and help you learn all about category page optimization.
Ready to get started?
How to optimize category pages
1. Utilize intuitive design
Your website needs to be intuitive. That means that users are naturally guided to the right product. As a consumer moves from the homepage deeper into the site, they are seeking further information or looking for a specific product.
An optimized site makes the journey smoother and directed towards resolving the consumer’s purpose of visiting your website. Therefore, ensure that each sub product category is relevant to the category page and offers additional information or appropriate products.
An intuitive website structure starts with selecting the right categories. Create unique category pages and make them easy to find. Avoid combining unrelated categories that force people to sift through products that are irrelevant to them, frustrating the user experience.
2. Select the right keywords for the category pages
You can’t get far in any optimization campaign on the digital landscape without keywords. Just like all other pages on your website, you need to start by finding the right keywords.
Though your keyword research needs to evaluate search volume and ranking difficulty, it is more important to ensure the words you choose align with search intent. After all, the potential customers already have a product in mind and are ready to make a purchase.
The keywords you select need to target the category pages that will direct them to the right product. It not only is an excellent way of how you can optimize your category pages, but it also increases the chances of a sale and improves SEO efforts.
3. Create a clear site structure
A well-structured website is one that facilitates the efforts of search crawlers, making it easier for Google to understand what you have to offer. This is especially important because it helps align search words that an individual enters in a search engine.
More importantly, you should ensure that internal linking to category pages is optimized. It helps introduce people to more subcategories, informing them about additional choices and where to visit next. For instance, ‘Read More’ and ‘Explore’ links to further details.
4. Optimize category URLs
Category URLs should be short and to the point. They should clearly describe what the page is about. Avoid long strings of characters, numbers, or unnecessary additional information. In short, your URL should be easy for humans to read and understand what the category page is all about.
For example, the brand below has a category page for men and women. The user is viewing the products available for women.
5. Optimize category meta description
The meta description of your category page needs to describe and summarize the contents of the page. This benefits users as well as search engines. But a good meta description that uses the right keywords can significantly improve ecommerce CTR. Creating quality descriptions for each category page will encourage consumers to click on it.
Notice how this brand clearly mentions how many products it has, popular brand names, free shipping, etc.
6. Arrange page layout properly
Information on your category page needs to be clear. When content is arranged appropriately, not only does the page look aesthetically appealing, but it intuitively guides the person deeper into the sales funnel.
So what should you be focusing on?
- For starters, use headings correctly. There should only be one H1, followed by H2s, H3s, and so on. Content and categories must be organized from a broader, more general level down to the granular level. Notice how this brand maintains the heading hierarchy.
- Use consistent page layout formats across all ecommerce category pages. Not only does this meet customer expectations, but it also enhances UX. More importantly, it improves the scalability of your site, especially if you are a large ecommerce brand with many categories.
- Include some text. Remember, the copy is not the main focus of this page. Keep it concise, preferably at the top of the page. However, use this opportunity to incorporate descriptive keywords tactfully.
7. Offer different shopping criteria
Sometimes, a shopper does not have a particular item in mind. They are searching for the best product. Your job is to help them make up their mind and convince them to purchase from your ecommerce store.
The best way to attract the attention of potential customers is to offer categories that showcase sale items, top-rated products, new releases, best sellers, or featured items. This is exactly what Amazon does, giving people the freedom to find and purchase a product on their own.
8. Offer search options
An easy way to optimize category pages is to offer a search function. This is particularly beneficial when someone lands on your page and can’t find what they are looking for. Instead of leaving, they can continue to explore your website for the desired product.
Moreover, this keeps a visitor longer on your website. The longer they stay there, the better the chances they will find a similar item and convert to a sale. However, Google also notes the time that a visitor stays on your site, again helping to boost your SEO efforts. So consider this another way on how to rank category pages.
Placing a search bar on your website is simple. Remember to make it large enough so that it is visible and put it in a position that users can see it at first glance.
9. Offer assistance
An optimized ecommerce page aims at fostering better relationships, enhancing communication with visitors, and improving UX. So besides offering a search bar, another simple way you can make your ecommerce category pages better is to implement a chatbot or offer live chat capabilities. This is particularly beneficial in case a person needs additional assistance or has a query. You can use this opportunity to subtly convince them to buy.
10. Optimize site speed
Category pages typically have a lot of images. From all the examples mentioned above, one thing is pretty clear. You need to use visuals in your ecommerce website, particularly on category pages. Images improve engagement and UX and reassure potential customers that they are headed in the right direction.
But incorporating visual elements can weigh down your site. You can limit the number of products that are displayed or hide products behind a “view all” button. However, letting fewer images to load can irritate customers too. They have to keep clicking in order to see all your products. Another option is to load images in the viewable screen area first. The remaining ones load when the person scrolls down the page. This significantly decreases the page load time.
Don’t forget that every category page on your ecommerce site is also a landing page for those coming from search engines or your PPC campaign. Therefore, use this opportunity to promote your business and include the following conversion optimization elements
- Menu options
- Contact information
- Links to Shopping cart and account login
- Newsletter signups
- Your offerings or promotions
Over to you
There are countless other ways you can optimize your Ecommerce website. And focusing on your category pages is simply one way to convince, encourage and keep users on your site. The longer they stay, the chances of them eventually converting improves. And with the increased online competition due to the pandemic, you want to grab as many customers as you can.
The techniques mentioned above are only a handful of the ones you can try. Tell us about your category page optimization endeavors in the comments section below.