| This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 (  2 ) > > || |
|When Should You Remove Information Section From Ecommerce Site?|
A question for you:
I have an ecommerce site that has a large information section (articles, related business directory, etc).
The information sections get the majority of traffic, but the visitors don't buy anything. I have put closely related products with an add to cart button on the information pages, but still people almost never buy those items.
So I am thinking of moving all that information section off of my ecommerce domain, starting a new domain that would be monetized with adsense, and just having my ecommerce site focus on ecommerce.
Has anyone ever done this before? What were the results?
Since a large portion of inbound links point to the information sections of my site, and will thus have to be redirected to a different domain, how much will it hurt to lose those links?
Alternatively, would it be better to cut out the information section, and instead integrate it into the text of the ecommerce pages? For example: Would it be better to take the text from blue widgets information page and integrate it into the blue widgets category page (with an appropriate 301 redirect)?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
I like the idea of integration better than moving off a domain, I think this could work really well
Thank you, seoskunk.
Would you then 301 redirect the information page to the ecommerce page which now contains the text from the information page?
My concern is that they might be different enough in nature that google may think I am redirecting to an irrelevant page.
Thanks in advance.
I would 410 the pages, the pages the information is going on are already indexed and I have had problems with 301's (ongoing), design a nice 410 page
I think you should try to find a solution that keeps the informational pages as they are now, because they are such a big part of the site and most likely a major support for the ecommerce pages. Also, the possiblilities that have been mentioned would involve a big re-vamp, which in my opinion should always be avoided except in drastic situations.
So I think you should look at the possibility of creating some new unique content to add to the ecommerce pages, while leaving the informational pages unchanged. This would probably involve more work than the other approaches, but in my opinion would have the best chance for success. As an alternative, which would be less work, you could just move part of the content of the informational pages to the ecommerce pages, perhaps with some re-writing and mixing.
P.S. As an added note, I don't think Google puts as much trust in sites that have a lot of re-directs and/or deleted pages.
What would you hope to achieve by adding more content to ecommerce pages?
How would you decide what pages to add content to?
What would the nature of that content be?
Thanks for the input. You bring up some good points that I hadn't thought about.
Also, I have heard a few people mention that over use of redirects might cause problems, so I am a bit concerned about that as well. Thanks for bringing that up.
It depends on what the information is. If you're answering the question, "what sort of widget should I buy?" then you should integrate and redirect as much as possible. I would only cut the stuff that nobody's reading or linking to.
What do you mean by "information sections"? Are these pages part of the ecommerce code or there is some other application handling those pages? Like using physical folders
You should have everything at the root of the domain and use one application to handle the products and general content. Now if the information pages are extensive use a a sub-domain. If the information is on a separate application, don't mix them with your high value asset in the same physical space.
Why aren't they buying your stuff? What happens after they come read your information - does it cater to people who already have your products (like maintenance docs, for example) and so wouldn't buy again, or do they come and get all your information and then go buy elsewhere (and if so why?) These are the questions you probably should answer before what you decide to do with these pages.
|I would only cut the stuff that nobody's reading or linking to. |
That's the thing. People ARE reading and linking to the information stuff. They just AREN'T making a purchase from the links that are on there.
So if I were to remove that information, I would lose lots of links to my site.
I guess the theory I have is if I combine it on the ecommerce pages, I MIGHT get more people to link directly to the ecommerce pages, and hopefully that will help them rank better.
|What do you mean by "information sections"? Are these pages part of the ecommerce code or there is some other application handling those pages? |
The ecommerce pages are served up by my shopping cart software, while the information pages are done in html (php really, but they end in a .htm extension - the shopping cart pages end in a .html extension, if that matters).
|You should have everything at the root of the domain and use one application to handle the products and general content. |
Well, I DON'T do this for a reason - it may not be a GOOD reason, but here is my thinking;
The information pages are quite extensive and I need to keep the navigation SOMEWHAT segregated for the user. While their are links in the category tree BETWEEN the ecommerce and general info sections, I only include a few. If I were to use the ecommerce shopping cart for serving the information pages, the linking structure would not be user friendly at all - either for the ecommerce users or for the general information users. There would be far to many categories displayed for the user.
|If the information is on a separate application, don't mix them with your high value asset in the same physical space. |
Can I ask why not? I have my ideas, but would REALLY like to hear your reasons for not doing this.
|Now if the information pages are extensive use a a sub-domain. |
That is something I have been thinking about. However, I am concerned about losing page rank since more people link to the information pages than to the ecommerce pages, and I THOUGHT that by moving them to a subdomain, the page rank won't flow to the root domain (or that the root domain would lose authority / trust).
I know I am TRYING to get the best of both worlds; building trust / authority by having people link to my information pages and then leveraging it for my ecommerce pages.
|Why aren't they buying your stuff? |
I don't know. I think that the information pages are very general and people who are looking for that information AREN'T far enough along in the buying process.
I have made it VERY easy for them to buy. I put the best selling related products on the information pages, with an "add to cart" button on there.
One Thing: I should note that I have a HIGH cart abandonment rate. Lots of people DO add items to there cart, and then leave, never to return again.
The information pages are NOT like the type that would compare specifications of two different products. I think that my pages MIGHT be catered to visitors with a different intention. Maybe they just aren't far along enough in the buying process?
|What happens after they come read your information? |
A lot of them just leave.
If google analytics is to be trusted, then I have around a 70% bounce rate, and people only view about 1.4 pages on average.
When I check that the keywords google uses to send people to my site, they seem to be quite related to the information on the page. So I believe that people ARE finding what they are looking for.
|Does it cater to people who already have your products (like maintenance docs, for example) and so wouldn't buy again... |
No, not really. It is much more general than that. I can't really describe without using keywords that would violate the terms of service here, but it might be something along the lines of having information pages about styles of art, and then having an ecommerce section that sells particular pieces of art.
...or do they come and get all your information and then go buy elsewhere (and if so why?)
I really don't know if they do. The items I sell are somewhat unique and are competitive in pricing, but I am not sure how to determine if they are shopping somewhere else. Is there any way to figure out where they went when they left my site?
The items I sell are not really "branded" so I don't know if it is easy for them to just go directly to a competitor.
|more people link to the information pages than to the ecommerce pages |
That is a good reason for keeping the information pages, IMHO. You're getting link juice into the site, now think carefully about how you're spreading it around.
|MIGHT get more people to link directly to the ecommerce pages, and hopefully that will help them rank better |
That answers my question about what your goal would be for making changes.
|While their are links in the category tree BETWEEN the ecommerce and general info sections, I only include a few. |
"Only a few"? IMHO that would be the place to start. Don't move content around, but do look for ways to beef up your internal link structure.
|have a HIGH cart abandonment rate |
Solving that puzzle should be one of your highest priorities. Finding ways to improve your conversion percentages would multiply the value of everything else you do.
Thanks for the input.
|Solving that [the high cart abandonment rate] puzzle should be one of your highest priorities. Finding ways to improve your conversion percentages would multiply the value of everything else you do. |
That is one of the difficulties I have been having. I have double- and triple-checked technical problems, and there doesn't seem to be any problems. So what I think is that people are clicking the Add To Basket button more out of curiosity than an actual desire to purchase something.
My ecommerce conversion rate is only .29 percent, which for an ecommerce site is VERY low. I attribute that low rate being due primarily to the fact that the information pages are more popular than the ecommerce pages - and that visitors to the information pages just don't buy anything.
What is your conversion rate if you consider only the users who arrived via an ecommerce page rather than an info page?
Can you figure out if those folks convert better?
What is your shipping rates like? I know for myself and friends, that is one of our biggest reasons for abandonment once putting things in the cart. Are there other surprises they discover once they get to the check-out area? (e.g. delivery time)
Definitely don't get rid of (and if possible not move) content that anyone is coming in thru or linking to. There is no guarantee G will consider the new page as valuable as the old one. Just try harder to monetize it. There is nothing that says you can't put Adsense (or affiliates - which might be one way to determine if you are making sells for someone else, just not yourself) on it where it is, and STILL embed your own strong recommendations to buy your own.
If you're sure they are coming there looking to BUY, versus just, say, finding out "what the heck impressionist art IS", then put on your used-car-salesman's hat (no offense intended to used car salesmen, they are an effective, hard working... lot) and convince them right on the info page all the reasons WHY yours is a better value than all others. If yours AREN'T the best value, then consider linking to an affiliate you truly, personally believe is the best and do the same sales talk.
To answer your question, you keep them separate for good reasons.
1. To minimize security risks
If either the shop, blog, forum etc, whatever you have mixed is compromised expect every other application to be compromised. Typically the shop is the high value asset. You don't want it to be hacked because of some security hole in a blog application.
2. To give a clear signal to the spiders what the site is all about.
Is it about news, technical journals, blog, online shopping, forum etc. Do not expect spiders to put you in the same position for searched queries as other shops if they think your domain is an articles repository or in general if they cannot determine the site type. Not exposing a clear site type will generate a high bounce rate. SERPs may list your site for irrelevant keyword searches and visitors is unlikely to find what they searched for.
3. To increase CTR and site focus.
When people search for something they expect the site to be dedicated to what they search for. It's like you have toothache and need to see a doctor you also know it will be much faster to visit a dentist than go to a GP who eventually will refer you to a dentist. Similarly if someone searches for blue widgets on sale, he expects to find discounted blue widgets to buy not articles about blue widgets. So if you have references to the blue widgets on sale inside the articles even if the SERPs brings up your site because your meta-tags say heavily refer to it, expect the visitor to leave pretty fast. He doesn't find what he searches for, he expects either an exact product match or a list of relevant products to see, not some article. The product, category, manufacturer pages should display relevant navigation about what the customer sees. So if he's browsing the blue-widgets category he doesn't care about blue-accessories you may also sell. He would prefer to see more blue-widgets, or blue-widgets with free shipping or a complete listing of all blue-widgets you carry sorted by his preference.
4. To simplify management.
As time passes you integrate new features modify the database you create new folders and so forth. Having everything under the same domain/root makes code management very hard, easy to make mistakes.
How you will setup the layout of each site is a different matter. There is no technical restriction to what links you will expose or generate and if you need on a product info page to cross-reference with a link to an extensive article about it on a sub-domain, or even better pull-in the content without redirecting the user if he demands to see it (js popup etc) since you control everything. And you will not lose authority by using sub-domains. I believe is quite the opposite.
Finally you need to figure out if the high traffic you see from the information section, has any potential. You should be getting other signals. E-mails, comments, do you receive any valuable emails or do you see any useful comments posted about these articles? Do you see other sites linking to these pages creating some organic traffic? If you have adsense any conversions there? In terms of bounce rates, the GA also shows what pages have high bounce rate. And keep in mind someone who scans pages to spam or scrap also generates traffic.
@ buckworks and @ enigma1
Let me get back to both of your responses a little later in the day. It is still relatively early on the west coast here. They both deserve some time for me to look up the numbers and reflect upon. So please check back a little later in this thread.
What is your shipping rates like?
I am glad you asked.
My shipping rates are much more reasonable than our competitors. And shipping times are generally better, to. For instance, a competitor states right on their product page that they charge a significant "handling" fee on top of the shipping charge. (Their shipping charges are high, too, but they don't state the shipping charge on the product page. They just state the significant handling fee on the product page.)
Yes, some people will be surprised by shipping (no matter how much you subsidize it, like we do), but we have eliminated MOST of the surprises by putting the shipping costs on the Basket Contents page. (They are taken directly to the basket contents page once they add an item to their shopping cart, so in essence, they get to preview the shipping charges once they add the item to their cart.)
It's not as good as putting the shipping costs right on the product page (or on our information pages, which we are trying to monetize), but at this time I don't know how to do that.
|If you're sure they are coming there looking to BUY, versus just, say, finding out "what the heck impressionist art IS", |
Well, I am not sure. It would appear that people are coming to those pages JUST to find out what impressionist art is, as you suggested.
Using the art example above, it may be that people who come to those pages would be more interested in buying books on art, or museum tickets, or art supplies, rather than the art pieces that I actually sell (and promote on those information pages).
|...then put on your used-car-salesman's hat... |
I understand what you are saying about this. Unfortunately, I don't think I can because I do use those pages for getting inbound links to my site, and I won't be able to get a university professor or an art historical site to link to those pages if I turn them into squeeze pages. I have to walk the line between using them to get links, and using them to generate income.
You also mentioned using adsense in addition to promoting my own products, and that is a very real possibility. I might try this, but from what I understand, you can't really "try" adsense and make any money with it. You have to dedicate lots of time to figuring out what works and what doesn't, so I might have my work cut out for me.
|2. To give a clear signal to the spiders what the site is all about. |
Of the various points you mentioned, this is my biggest concern; I do worry that I am not giving clear signals to search engines.
(I have noted in other threads that my site is MOST popular in October and late January / early February. These are NOT prime shopping times of the year, but are more in line with a time frame for educational use.)
However, the search engines DO seem to refer people to my site using the correct keywords. If a site is about blue widgets information, then those are the keywords that google sends traffic. If it is about a particular product, then that is what google generally sends traffic to that page for.
When the search term is for a tangible item but vague, such as they just search for "blue widgets" and we don't know whether they are searching for the product or information about the history of blue widgets, in general google will send them to my products / category pages (as opposed to sending them to the information pages).
|Do not expect spiders to put you in the same position for searched queries as other shops if they think your domain is an articles repository or in general if they cannot determine the site type. |
How likely is this given a segregated linking structure?
The articles and information pages are rather "isolated" despite being on the same root domain. Yes, they do feature images of some of the products and an add to cart button, but the navigation structure is set up so that each article would link to the main article categories, and not the ecommerce sections.
|3. To increase CTR and site focus. |
When people search for something they expect the site to be dedicated to what they search for.
Despite my high bounce rate and low pages per visit number, I truly believe that they ARE getting what they want. Maybe I am in denial :)
When a visitor lands on an article page, they will see a category tree with links to other articles. There are also in-content links to other articles. Then there are the images / add to cart buttons for select related products.
If they land on an ecommerce page, then the navigation will have links to other products and the main categories of the ecommerce site.
|Finally you need to figure out if the high traffic you see from the information section, has any potential. You should be getting other signals. E-mails, comments, do you receive any valuable emails or do you see any useful comments posted about these articles? |
I don't get a lot of comments, but it wasn't until about 6 months ago that I actually set up disqus on their so that I could receive comments. Legitimate comments are minimal.
I do get a fair number of facebook likes for the information pages. Much higher than my product pages.
|Do you see other sites linking to these pages creating some organic traffic? |
Yes. They are the closest thing I have to link bait / link magnets on my site, which is why I am reluctant to remove them from my domain. I am afraid that removing / moving them to a new domain will deprive my site of most of its page rank.
Ideally, I WOULD like to move all the articles to a separate new domain that would focus more on creating a community. If I could do this WITHOUT having my ecommerce site drop like a rock (because the page rank would be lost), then I would. People just don't link enough to my ecommerce pages.
|If you have adsense any conversions there? |
I don't have adsense on it yet, but might try it out as an experiment, if only to help me understand the mindset of the visitors to those pages.
How well are your ecom pages ranking for their targeted terms? Is that traffic converting well enough?
You may have a reasonable balance between the two content areas - the articles encouraging inbound links and social shares and the ecom pages ranking as a result. Just because the window shopping traffic isn't converting doesn't mean it isn't contributing to rankings.
Do you have any data to track if users are buying after multiple visits?
To be honest, my gut instinct in your situation would be not to mess with the SEO side of things and work with the traffic you have already. If your audience is active on social media, then is your content being shared regularly? That can be a good indicator of how your market views the information.
Is there a more subtle route to sales? Perhaps rather than the direct shopping cart integration to article content, what about just a simple offer? Or a PDF download of your content in exchange for data capture or social share?
Moving to the content / community building concept can be a lot of work and you might find that the return from Adsense is pretty low. Depends on the industry though and how high your traffic levels are.
Personally, I wouldn't do a thing till I nailed down what my conversion problem was. And I would never ever ever put AdSense on an ecommerce site. But that's me. Target and Walmart, at least, disagree with me on the latter.
@ Marketing Guy:
|How well are your ecom pages ranking for their targeted terms? Is that traffic converting well enough? |
Well, they are kind of over the map.
Some terms rank #1, some rank #2 or #3, some pages rank way down (like #40 or below) for their keyword terms, but convert well. Oddly, I don't know why THOSE pages that don't rank so well convert well.
Conversely, some of the high ranking ecommerce pages don't convert very well. I will have to filter through to get the exact metrics for the most popular ecommerce pages, but once I get the conversion rates, I will post them here.
|Do you have any data to track if users are buying after multiple visits? |
I am looking at google analytics and predominately it is first-day / first time visitors who are buying. We have a tiny percentage who are buying after more than one day / more than one visit, but it is a fraction of 1% of sales.
|If your audience is active on social media, then is your content being shared regularly? That can be a good indicator of how your market views the information. |
Well, it does get some facebook likes. I am still quite small, but people do seem to give it a significant number of likes considering the traffic levels.
|Perhaps rather than the direct shopping cart integration to article content, what about just a simple offer? Or a PDF download of your content in exchange for data capture or social share? |
Could you explain a little more about that? If you have any examples, that would be great.
|Personally, I wouldn't do a thing till I nailed down what my conversion problem was. |
I am in strong agreement with this. I just am not sure I have the wits to figure out what is causing the conversion problem.
I've had different people look at it and used a couple of different services to do test runs of orders, and nothing stands out.
My fear is it is MAYBE just a general malaise that is leaving visitors uninspired; for example, maybe they feel the product photos are ok, but not great, and maybe they feel the graphics are ok, but not great, and maybe they think other site features are ok, but not great.
Maybe the site just leaves them saying, "Meh..."
|And I would never ever ever put AdSense on an ecommerce site. |
That is my strong feeling too, which is why I haven't done it so far.
If I were going to do it, I would probably do it as a diagnostic tool, meaning, I would like to know which ads got clicks just so that I could get a better handle on what the visitors want. I mean, they must want SOMETHING, right?
So I would only put adsense on there if there was some way to see what ads are generating clicks and then using that data to better determine what to put on there instead.
I'm in total agreement with Marketing Guy here - if you are getting the traffic to the informational pages, but not converting it, then optimising that is what you need to look at. Once you start moving content around to other pages, putting it all on sub domains, redirecting pages etc there is a real possibility of losing all that traffic, which will leave you in a worse off position.
The posts above have thrown up lots of ways in which you could try and convert the traffic better - from incentivising data capture, to social media sharing. Another thing you might want to do on the pages is look at what keywords you are targeting. If they are all informational phrases, would it be possible to add some buying terms? This could see you get more relevant traffic.
I think you're in a pretty positive place - Google seems to be ranking you well, even though the traffic isn't turning into money yet. So don't do anything drastic, because if you lose the traffic then you'll have much bigger problems!
Thanks so much for your input.
|The posts above have thrown up lots of ways in which you could try and convert the traffic better - from incentivising data capture... |
Could you explain to me a little more about what that means?
Thanks in advance.
Marketing Guy suggested the following:
|Is there a more subtle route to sales? Perhaps rather than the direct shopping cart integration to article content, what about just a simple offer? Or a PDF download of your content in exchange for data capture or social share? |
If you think about all the traffic you're getting - they are in the informational stage at the moment, but at some stage they may become buyers. You want to make sure you have information on as many of your visitors as possible, so that you follow them through the phases (info / sales etc)
- Try to get their email address (by offering something as suggested above - either something useful or a prize or similar)
- Get them to engage with the site (using social media). If the information is good you want as many people to like you as you can, or share your page etc
- Try to get people to input comments (another way of getting their information)
These people are all interested in your sector, so although you may not be able to sell to them right now with your website, if you have their data you can sell to them on an ongoing basis (by email or through ongoing updates on social media)
Hope this makes sense
|How likely is this given a segregated linking structure? |
The structure may help with content focus, not type of site. If you have 10 product pages and 1000 information pages on the same domain, I don't think the SEs will perceive your site as a shop. Because if they did you would have 1000 pages of thin content. Either way is not beneficial if you wanted to sell online.
Then again, I don't know the site setup so I can't tell more without seeing it.
|The information sections get the majority of traffic, but the visitors don't buy anything. I have put closely related products with an add to cart button on the information pages, but still people almost never buy those items. |
First, I would look into the content itself, mainly, does it give your website the "aura of trust". I.e., are the articles expertly written without any mistakes, for example, or are they just "search engine" articles? A disorganized article or one with grammar mistakes is a big turn off.
Also, I would focus on advertising my website on those informational pages, rather than the products. For instance, spend some money and have a few nice banners professionally created which would be linked either to your home page or to your main store page, instead of pushing the products with direct-buy links.
Thanks for the explanation and the examples. :)
Thanks for the clarification.
|If you have 10 product pages and 1000 information pages on the same domain, I don't think the SEs will perceive your site as a shop. |
Well, for me it is the other way around, but I was planning on expanding the articles / directory section, so that might change the balance.
But is there any way to test whether the SEs perceive my site as a shop or not? Is it as simple as searching for my generic keywords (let's say blue widgets for an example) with the word buy in front of it, like:
"buy blue widgets"
"blue widgets shop"
and seeing if I come up in the search results?
|First, I would look into the content itself, mainly, does it give your website the "aura of trust". I.e., are the articles expertly written without any mistakes... |
Well, I can always improve upon them. ;)
They are meant to be easy to read and understand. ehow and wikipedia both cite my articles as a reference, so they have some value.
And I am able to use the for link bait. I do get professors and other scholarly types to link to them (if I ask nicely).
|Also, I would focus on advertising my website on those informational pages, rather than the products. For instance, spend some money and have a few nice banners professionally created which would be linked either to your home page or to your main store page, instead of pushing the products with direct-buy links. |
Well, I could do that, but I am not sure exactly how much revenue that will help generate :(
If I were to do that, then maybe it would be better off putting it on a separate domain?
Thanks again, everyone.
you will have to enter keywords customers use when want to buy the products you sell. Sometimes the product name or brand and model are enough, depends what you carry. The SERPs may include some hints like including shopping results with the listing.
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