Ecommerce Marketing / Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

Product Options: The Most Commonly Overlooked Ecommerce Element Likely Affecting Your SEO and Conversions

Katey Ferenzi / 5 min read

Your product pages are one of the most important elements of your ecommerce website. Every successful online store owner knows the essential elements of a highly converting product page –– but to give you a quick refresher, here they are:

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Write compelling title tags and meta descriptions[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Have a great layout, color scheme and easy to see CTAs[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Implement a keyword strategy and use it naturally on product pages[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Write engaging product descriptions designed to sell[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Answer common questions on the page, i.e. estimated delivery, return policy, warranty information, sizing, etc.[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Communicate product details with multiple, high-quality product photos[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Provide product videos that bring your product to life[/inlinetweet]
  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Include product reviews on product pages[/inlinetweet]

Currently absent from this list, however, is one critical element even the ecommerce pros often miss –– the proper use and implementation of product options. Online store owners either have too many, too few or neglect to include options on their product pages altogether, which can have rather large implications when it comes to SEO and your search engine rankings. So, let’s dive in to fix the problem.

What are Product Options?

Product options allow you to add variations to individual products. Popular examples include different colors, sizes, yes/no checkboxes or custom text fields indicating a specific size, fabric or what have you. Here are a few examples:

US Paint Supply

This online store has a simple, yet robust set of options. Not only do they include the basic options needed to purchase paint online –– i.e. color, size and sheen –– but they have scaled their customer base enough to also include a customized “Color Picker” on certain products, like their C2 LUXE Paint.

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Tiny Pies

Tiny Pies not only allows for you to select your flavor, but you can also specify what day you would like to pick up your item or have it delivered.

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Son of a Sailor

Meanwhile Son of a Sailor keeps their product options a little more traditional, using three different kinds of options including; color swatches, radio button and a drop down menu on their  Goomsman Gift | Shave Kit.

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The Benefits of Product Options

Many online store owners feel product options are complicated or not worth their time. However, by ignoring product options, these merchants are missing a huge opportunity to set themselves up for success. The return on investment is significant when you consider how product options help you streamline order fulfillment and order management, boost your store’s conversion rate and even help your search engine ranking.

Per usual, though, don’t just take my word for it. Here are some examples of exactly why product options are worth the time and effort.

Easier Order Fulfillment and Inventory Management

In setting up product options for your product or service, you also gain the ability to set up inventory tracking per product SKU. Not only can this help you stay organized when fulfilling orders, this can also streamline your ability to work with a third-party order fulfillment service.

In addition, you’ll gain an understanding of your product catalog’s performance on a granular level. For instance, your small, red dog bed may be selling like hot cakes while your large, blue dog bed might just be taking up space in your storage facility. By tracking this, you can then know to discontinue your large, blue dog bed to possibly make room for inventory that is actually moving, increasing your potential revenue rather than decreasing it by taking up storage space.

As you can imagine, understanding your business on this level is instrumental in growing and scaling. Gaining insight into the high-selling and static products in your store is key to developing a profitable business strategy. It is also one of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers want.

Increase Your Conversion Rate

By implementing product options, you’ll be working to improve the shopping experience for your customers and a better user experience leads to increased conversion rates. However, this is not to say that you should overwhelm shoppers with too many options as this could actually lower your conversions.

Too many options can be overwhelming, while not enough can make your customers feel as though they are being pigeonholed. So, where’s the goldilocks zone? A study conducted by the New York Times, run on two different Saturdays, found that when they offered 24 different flavor options for jam, there was a conversion rate of 3%. In contrast, when they offered six flavor options, the conversion rate jumped to 30%. The median option variations, then, seems to lay somewhere between more than three and less than 10.

Impact Your Search Engine Ranking

Quite often, ecommerce store owners do not leverage product options and instead create a single product page for each option. By having a dedicated product page for their item that’s available in orange and having another separate product pages for the same product that’s available in blue, store owners are actually running the risk of harming their search engine ranking.

Take a look at the following two product page examples. Each of these pages are nearly identical product pages. The product name is nearly identical along with the product description and imagery. The only difference is the color.

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Search engines will view this as duplicate content, potentially dinging your site and lowering your rankings. In addition, shoppers will need to flip back and forth between pages to figure out which option they like best –– which creates a less than optimal customer experience. All of this can be avoided with proper use of product options. Here, you’ll find a single page allowing for shoppers to easily select the size and color of the product, generating better SEO as well as an improved customer experience.

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Worried You Have Duplicate Content Issues?

Arguably, the most important aspect of your ecommerce store are your product pages. Also, it’s likely your product pages make up the bulk of your website. As a quick, easy and free spotcheck tip, you can simply export your products and use conditional formatting to find out if you have duplicate product titles, descriptions, image descriptions, etc. Once you edit them, go ahead and import them back into your store and –– voila –– you’ve rid yourself of duplicate content issues!

Be warned, you will also find a great deal of free tools out there –– like Siteliner.com –– that can help you identify duplicate content. These resources will not only identify duplicate content issues, but they can also identify broken links, which can impact your customer experience, as well. We recommend using these free tools sparingly, as many of them want you to sign up for accounts or loop you into paying for some sort of service that may or may not provide you with accurate, actionable results. So, use these with caution.

Are you looking for a sure thing? Feel free to reach out to our expert marketing partners. They can help to make sure you’re on the right track. Many of them also offer a free consultation to ensure you feel comfortable working with them and will take the time to understand the dual expectations required for working together.

How to Implement Product Options on Your Bigcommerce Store

If you’re interested in getting started with product options right now or simply want to spruce up those options you already provide to your shoppers, check out our Product Options: Getting Started video on Bigcommerce University. We’ll walk you through the essentials and make sure you get going on the right foot. Bigcommerce provides a great deal of built-in options for you to leverage, including:

You can also learn about fancy tools that come in addition to product options and can allow you to even further enhance the customer experience. Once such addition is the ability to have an automatic image or price change when a new option is selected, much like the below.

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If you’re looking to streamline your business on the back-end and make your life easier, check out the Product Options: Tracking Inventory video. Here, you’ll learn about the advantages of SKUs, how to generate SKUs automatically and how to begin tracking inventory by options so you can grow and scale your business –– quickly and successfully.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our next #SellMore post! If you’re a Bigcommerce client and want to ask specific questions about your business and gain insight from our experts, click on the link below. We’d love to help you sell more!

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