Category pages are often overlooked for the benefit of homepages or product sheets. Yet, category pages require just as much attention and work. Indeed, they carry a double burden: to facilitate visitors’ access to the product they are looking for and secure the SEO of theses items. The following 8 tips uncover how to optimize category pages to increase both your conversion rate and ranking.
1- Use straight-forward category names
It may be tempting to use very inventive names, but keep in mind that the main purpose of categories is to be descriptive enough so that visitors can easily navigate and quickly identify the scope of your offer. Give names that are instinctive and that people use when browsing the Internet.
You should also use category names in your target audience’s native language, to lift any ambiguity that may ensue.
Having a descriptive name also makes it easier to optimize the SEO of your category pages. Remember to match category name at the URL level.
2- Design category pages like individual homepages
Category pages often take the form of a mere product listing. What a pity! By offering more qualitative content, these can help bring actual added value to your website, without hindering ongoing purchase cycles.
One of the most effective ways to properly design your category pages is to consider them as “miniature homepages” in their own right:
- A specific header with an image that matches the category (or sub-category);
- A specific title and description;
- An introduction and/or content that allows visitors to fully immerse into the category;
- Details of specific products if this is a sub-category;
- A reminder of the main benefits (delivery, etc.), logos and labels;
- Highlight flagship items, current offers, inspirations, and trends;
- Internal links to the sub-categories and/or products mentioned;
- Products that promote upselling and cross-selling.
You should combine it with a series of efficient search features: filters, faceted navigation or even a powerful internal search engine.
3- PPC campaigns: stay consistent
Category pages should be treated the same as landing pages, as these are points of entry into your website.
So, if several types of ads lead to category pages, it would be wise (and lucrative) to generate dynamic titles and descriptions related to the clicked campaign.
This tactic is part of a message match strategy, which ensures the consistency of the message with the search that led to it and the offer.
4- Add category-related customer reviews to improve your SEO
Customer reviews are not only used to generate conversions. User-generated content can also boost the SEO of your category pages.
For example, you can add custom notifications specific to the category right below products and subcategories.
5- SEO Pages Categories: Create engaging content for your visitors (before even thinking of search engines)
This may seem counterproductive but when working on the SEO of your category pages, it is better to design engaging content that informs, inspires and entertains your target audience.
Why? For 3 main reasons:
- Few people read overly-optimized text blocks at the beginning or the end of pages;
- You can use these spaces to lure a larger share of your traffic instead
- With engaging content, getting backlinks will be much easier (you may already know how difficult it is to get links to your category pages).
The idea here is to reduce your bounce rate, convert more visitors and facilitate getting backlinks – all in favor of your SEO strategy.
You can place this content before and/or after your product grid or updates, or add tabs that extend according to the design of your website.
6- Optimize navigation and access to your products with these two tactics
- Make “parent” categories in your menus clickable
Visitors shall easily find what they are looking for on your eCommerce website. Otherwise, your conversion rates may collapse…
Navigation is one of the key element to access your products as humanly possible! Make sure that “parent” categories are clickable to prevent visitors from having to delve into sub-categories that may not be of interest to them at this stage.
This is especially important as many users try to click on category titles that are preponderant in dropdown menus… but then quickly realise that these parent categories are just non-clickable labels!
When the hierarchy of categories forces users to consider more specific sections, you end up repelling part of your traffic.
You can get some inspiration by checking out the navigation system of Sephora.fr, as shown below. Here, all the elements are clickable and result in “parent” pages optimized to inspire and highlight certain products, as you can see here.
To sum up: Create parent categories and make sure that their presence in a navigation menu leads to a relevant category page.
- Put the same sub-category in multiple categories
It is common for a sub-category to be relevant in several categories. To streamline customer journey and maximize the number of conversions, make sure to add the same sub-categories to multiple categories when necessary.
7- Use category pages to get visitors’ email address
SIf it is more valuable and profitable to get visitor’s email address at an early stage, as asking for personal information right before starting the check-out process can adversely impact your conversion rate.
It is best is to maximize the space located at the end of your category pages and use it as a section fully part of your lead generation strategy.
For example, a visitor who has just visited a category page without clicking on any product, a sub-category or a special offer probably did not find what he was looking for or could not make up his mind.
The solution: help visitors by offering them personalized purchase guides sent directly to their inbox. You can then send these on a regular basis.
8- Focus on filters at subcategories page level
Where a parent category lends itself more to inspiring clients, subcategories require a more advanced degree of details.
For example, observe the difference between a Zalando page dedicated to fitness and a page for another subcategory. The first one is an “entrance gate” to brands and products in general… While the second offers precise filters right from the beginning, above the product grid.
And here’s what an optimized category page looks like with relevant filters (at this point, the visitor is clearly looking for Ballet Pumps):
Filters should allow visitors to access the products they are interested in as quickly as possible. That’s why you should put them at various stages, or even opt for a faceted navigation on one side of the page.
Have you ever used these approaches to improve the categories on your eCommerce website? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
And feel free to request a demo of the Mazeberry Merchandising solution!