I’d like to start by saying thanks to people who led the SES Conference in September 2011 in Hong Kong (http://twitter.com/sesconf). Lots of tips, hints and sometimes robust technical advises (http://twitter.com/B2Bento) on how to increase sales, traffic, reputation and other factors that are key to your successful presence in the Internet. This article is an attempt to put together a stack of 10 best tips from the SES conference on how to increase conversions on an eCommerce store.

Here goes:

I. Use Facebook Like and other Social buttons In a Smart Way

Don’t overcrowd your site with social buttons

There has been a lot of talk on how to use social buttons to drive traffic to your web-site and improve brand recognition. When it comes to eCommerce it’s very important not to overcrowd your site with social buttons:

You don’t want to have something like this on your page:

Don't use social buttons like this

Many people at SES mentioned that Social Buttons have to have a strategy behind them especially now, when you can track them with Google Analytics

A more consistent layout would look like this:

Give Sense to your Social Buttons

It’s easy to understand that people will click “like” next to a product that they’ve purchased and used. But what if they have not? Good eCommerce practice assumes you to have User Reviews on your site for users who have not yet bought your products. UGC (User Generated Content) becomes more and more valuable as the every person’s social presence grows day after day, so if you have User Reviews section on your site, ad a Like button under the review.

NOTE: You may want to check http://www.addthis.com/ site for nice social button layouts.

II. Use Microformats / rich snippets

Ok, this one is a real pickle but it is worth of looking into. Microformats or rich snippets make your SEO presence boost and make your link more valuable and visible in Google’s search results page.

Check this out:

The search inquiry was simple “pizza new york”. Now imagine if you’re coming from abroad and you want to have a pizza in New York and you just don’t like to brows review sites because there are tons of them. You love Google and simple search because you’re lazy like the rest of us. So you put this simple query in Google. Where will you click after that? I’m sure that Lombardi’s and John’s will be visited by you.

So, how do we implement it? It’s coding, no doubt, BUT! No sighing here. 
Check these pages for code examples:

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets – Google Rich Snippets Tool to check your markup. You can also see examples by clicking on the rich snippet type you want to implement.

http://knol.google.com/k/google-rich-snippets-tips-and-tricks#Frequently_Asked_Questions

http://microformats.org/wiki/google-rich-snippets-examples

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=99170

To get straight into action and see how to markup using rich snippets, microdata or microformats proceed here:

Google has mentioned shema.org back in 2009 and they highly recommend web-developers to use rich snippets. This will boost your SEO results and also looks great in search results.

III. Sequence Of Work For Successful SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

Customer behavior –> SEO+PPC –> Blogs –> Social Media

Customer Behavior: According to Aaron Kahlow (@AaronKahlow) Customer Behavior is the key for further development of your brand network. It’s important to know your potential audience, what are they like and what they want. This analysis starts by checking Top 10-15 industry blogs, forums and other brand social pages. With the new Facebook Lists option it’s wise to create “Brands” list and read brand status updates and check what people reply.

SEO+PPC: This step is key to gain initial audience.

RESEARCH KEY WORDS PROPERLY: don’t run after the best key word out there. If, let’s say, you sell viral t-shirts online don’t try to compete with http://www.tshirthell.com/

Localize your keywords and give your t-shirts names, location, flavor and even fragrance. 4-keyword search in Google is good for starters.

Aaron mentioned at SES HK 11 that “if you want to rank high in Google, use Google tools to identify keywords”

So here is the Google Keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

You can look into payed solutions like SEOMoz for example – seomoz.com. These guys will give you a free month to try their service, which includes much more than keyword search.

BLOGS: Apart from a company web-site blogs are great to generate content about your brand using the keywords you’ve researched. For an eCommerce site it’s not common to have a blog on the web-page, but it’s not prohibited. [More to come on this one]

SOCIAL MEDIA: 

Now there is a term in place called SMO (Social Media Optimization).
There are many approaches on how to use Social Media for an eCommerce site after your web-site is up and running and bringing you visits. After you put Facebook, Twitter and G+ widgets on your site – what’s next? SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY.

There is no dogma on what social network to use for what: Some brands sell well on twitter, some brands sell well on Facebook, but one thing for sure: if you distribute technical goods it’s great to have a customer support presence on both of these social networks. Start asking questions from your customers, answer their questions, use hash tags related to your industry on twitter and you’ll see followers coming.

To get more info on Facebook brand strategies I recommend to follow Social Media Examiner on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/smexaminer

A tool that can really help with streamlining your social media messages and key wording: http://socialmention.com

IV. Social Media Tools in eCommerce: To Use Or Not To Use

I’ve heard many words on what Social Media tools to use and honestly I cannot name any that are actually better than the original sites (twitter, facebook etc).

HOW TO GET FOLLOWERS:

Here’s for instance a list of Twitter tools:

http://www.tweep.com/http://www.twellow.com/http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/http://followerwonk.com/

You can check them one by one and you’ll see that if you use Twitter functions on the site, you’ll get the same result. If you stick to the goal – to get more fans and followers on Twitter, you’ll understand soon enough that it’s NOT about how many people you follow but how many people you engage with. YOU DON’T NEED PEOPLE TO FOLLOW YOU ON TWITTER TO TALK TO THEM. YOUR MESSAGES HAVE TO MAKE PEOPLE COMMUNICATE WITH YOU. If you fail to do so, it means, that your content is not so engaging, or you post in the wrong time, or you don’t use the right HASHTAGS.

One Friend Finder tool I would recommend though. If you use Google+ then this is something you’d want to check:

http://findpeopleonplus.com/

SERVICES TO PUBLISH IN MULTIPLE SOCIAL NETWORKS:

Ping.fm and similar.

This could be a solution for someone who does not have time to update socials, BUT, if you are developing a serious Social Media strategy, then it’s best to plan different approach to every social channel you are planning to use. For example, it’s totally needless to post auto-updates to Twitter if you don’t have hashtags, or your not a huge news resource like Mashable.com who will get followers directly from their web-site.

V. Localization of Your eCommerce Web-Site – Beneficial for SEO

This part needs further research from my side so will be updated in the future.

In general, everything depends on what location to you target when selling online. Do you sell in Texas or World Wide? If World Wide – have you thought about creating pages on your web-site to target specific audience in certain regions of the world? When we try this, I’ll update this part with some results and tips!