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Is Ecommerce Like a Mannequin?

My job responsibility is online marketing and increasing the visibility of our web site in the search engines. After making a substantial investment in an ecommerce storefront, twice, I came to understand that ecommerce is like a mannequin.

A mannequin, like any of the store fixtures and retail displays that we sell, is intended to both augment the visibility of product and the conversion rate. A mannequin doesn't actually make the sale for you it only assists in the presentation of the wares which are offered for sale. A well designed ecommerce module should do the same.

As our search engine performance continued to be mediocre at best, I began to investigate the situation. After speaking with a number of SEO professionals, I came to understand that a well designed ecommerce system will not only present the goods to the consumer, but also assist in making the sale both through increased search engine visibility and increased conversions.

The two visibility and conversions are often understood to be the same thing. This misconception leads many businesses to make fundamental errors in the selection of an ecommerce system. Let's briefly examine the two so as to better understand that which each term encompasses.

A Mannequin Increases the Visibility of Your Product

Just like a mannequin torso, or any other retail displays for that matter, a properly designed ecommerce module will increase your catalog's visibility in the search engines. Factors affecting visibility include:

1. Use of session id's (these should be avoided)

2. Perpetual, durable URL's
3. Customizable metadata
4. Customizable image ALT attributes
5. Customizable H1 tags
6. Search engine readable product titles and descriptions

A Mannequin Increases Conversions

Mannequins and other store displays increase conversions in that they allow the consumer to better visualize how the product will look when put into use. Similarly, a well designed ecommerce system should take into account human factors, such as:

1. Ease of navigation
2. Clean, intuitive presentation of product
3. Easy modification of shopping cart contents
4. Smooth, seamless checkout with integration to online payment gateway

What I came to realize is that most ecommerce systems are designed with only one of the above aspects in mind conversion rate and almost completely ignore search engine visibility. After replacing our ecommerce system twice, we were able to implement a system that would present our retail store displays to consumers in way that would both maximize search engine visibility and increase the rate of conversion.

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