Your choice of platform for your eCommerce store is important. There are plenty of plug and play platforms that deliver a very impressive CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to make the changes you need but are shocking when it comes to SEO and accessing the code of your website. We have encountered issues with Shopify, Wix and Actinic for ease of use when editing code and making the sites do what you need them to. Just because you can make them look pretty and attractive to new users doesn’t mean that they will be found by your audience and compete against more technically sound websites.

When you are in the market for a new website there are 6 key areas you need to factor into your choice of platform. If you are hoping to revamp your current platform then make sure you don’t settle for something that is not up for the task. It is a very very competitive world out there so you need your website to be technical, aesthetical and navigationally as accurate and perfect as you can possibly make it.

“Store windows are like landing pages on the website”

Angela Ahrendts

You would not stand for chipped paint, a squeaky or stiff door into your store, badly laid out aisles and hidden promotions or free services sections. So apply the same logic and thought the process to your website. Imagine transferring your eCommerce store to a bricks and mortar representation of itself. Just because you might not understand the importance of the correct foundations and how the building is structured certainly doesn’t mean you would ignore them. So do not ignore the technical issues and those buried in the code (HTML, Javascript, PHP) of your website either.

Top Tip Number 1 has to be – make sure you choose a platform & server that can handle SEO properly, serve your pages quickly, manage your data as your business expands and enable you to bolt onto it as you grow.

Follow these 6 essential ingredients for a modern website and you will be appealing to users and search engines alike.

1. Build your website on a platform that gives you access to the source code.

Why? It just means that as search engines progress and your business progresses you can do so much more with it. You can be sure you can put in redirects if you ever migrate the website to another domain. You can add more plugins and custom coding to enhance features and functionality. You can directly edit canonicals and chop and change a lot more without restrictions and you can also create a test environment of your site to practice changes on first.

With opportunities for eCommerce store builds on platforms like Shopify and Wix, you are relying on their developers to stay ahead of trends and anticipate your needs. While on Open Cart 2 and of course WordPress, for instance, you have the access required to get a developer in to stay ahead of your competition and Google updates.

2. Aesthetics come at a price.

You can get a plug and play eCommerce store template and website platform. But does it sing about your business? Will it stand out, encourage engagement and wow your audience. It is unlikely. If you stick to what you are capable of building yourself, and lack development or design capabilities, then your site will look amateur at best.

You wouldn’t build your own house, rewire your electrics or run a marathon without the appropriate skill set so don’t build your own eCommerce store website if you can’t! It will look slicker, convert more visitors and give you a strong hub at the centre of your business that you can be proud of.

3. Website Build Baggage

When we build websites and there is a tight deadline the finished product tends to have a lot of baggage with it. That means broken links and pages that 404. What happens is we create lots of new pages and play about with code or content on them. We clone come, leave template pages in place and worry about deleting pages out of the back end because we are not 100% sure which ones are where.

Making sure your site structure isn’t comprised is truly web development and SEO 101. Go through your site using Deep Crawl and check how many broken or orphan pages you have. Orphan pages and ones that are not linked to your website. So there are no links connecting them. These pages get crawled by Google and you may not even know they are there. Make sure you only put live and link the pages on your website that you want Google to crawl. Get rid of any broken or orphan pages. This will clean up the backend and could also increase site speed. It will certainly increase the chances of Google being happy with your logical, well laid out website when it visits.

4. Optimise those pages!

Once the aesthetically pleasing eCommerce store is launched – the hard work begins.

That means optimising those pages with keyword research and adequate meta titles/descriptions. It means working on site speed using G T Metrix until you have addressed all the points that are slowing your site down. It means advertising and promoting the heck out of it. Press Releases, articles and blogs on other websites, lots of social media and videos introducing people to your new website. You need to start earning backlinks and driving as much traffic as possible to your website as you can.

We mention here SEO & optimising your site, however organic is only one element of the optimising your site. We recommend you consider an organic campaign, paid campaign or marriage of the two. We have created a free downloadable eBook on Organic vs Paid Search, you can download it here.

Organic vs Paid Search eBook

5. Image size.

It seems an odd one to pull out but it causes more headaches than most and so deserves its own spot. You need to make sure that your image sizes match the spaces you are putting them into, especially when it comes to products on your eCommerce store. You do not want huge images being used as thumbnails so resize them as thumbnails. Each image needs to be fit for purpose. On top of that, you should definitely have some image compression software to optimise your images. This can run in the background and make sure those sizes are not creeping up and your platform serves scaled images rather than demanding the code compresses each image before serving. Those kinds of lags really slow a site down. It can also increase your bandwidth charges leading to greater hosting costs.

6. Make sure your website works on every browser and every device.

There are far too many developers and business owners that only test their stunning new website on desktop. For most industries, these days more searches and site visits actually take place on a tablet or mobile. There are tools that enable you to check your website on multiple browsers and devices so you can make sure everyone is getting the premier experience. For every bounce or disengaged user, Google will knock you points off on user experience. If your metrics are continually telling your audience that your website underperforms on mobile and internet explorer then it will dilute your rankings. Google wants to deliver great user experiences so you must master every channel.

Hopefully, that has given you plenty to think about when you build your new website or perfect your existing one. If you can we suggest that you avoid Wix and Shopify and be brave with your platform choice. The more you can afford and the more skills you can bring to the table in the form of knowledgeable developers the greater the future success of your website will be!

In the meantime, consider creating a seamless digital marketing campaign that can bring in the relevant traffic to your, now perfect, eCommerce store. To decide which inbound marketing method you should consider we have created a myth-busting eBook, on Organic vs Paid search. Download your free eBook here.

Organic vs Paid Search eBook