For e-commerce merchants the equation is simple:  traffic  X  conversion rate  = revenue.  However, what’s not so simple is how to increase both traffic and conversion rate.  One of the more effective ways to improve both of these variables is through the use of on-site product categories.

In e-commerce more products (if properly optimized) usually equals more traffic.  This also holds true for product categories.  Category pages which have all the elements of proper SEO in place can do a very nice job of capturing long-tail search traffic.  Many retailers miss out on prime opportunities to capitalize on this by getting lazy with product categorization.   Take for example a furniture retailer who sells coffee tables.  Instead of providing a single on-site category for all of the coffee tables offered,  that retailer could offer a master (parent) category with all of their coffee tables, and then provide sub-categories break those coffee tables down by material, color, manufacturer,  style, etc.   By doing this a retailer has created 3, 4, or even 5 or more categories from what used to be a single category.  With more categories they would now have more landing pages, more keywords, more pages indexed in search results, and subsequently the opportunity to generate more long-tail traffic.

Perhaps just as valuable as the benefit of increased traffic from an increased number of product categories is a higher conversion rate.  Shoppers often times have a pretty good idea as to the type of product they are looking for when they initiate their search as well as the attributes they are looking for in that product.  The longer it takes them to search for that on your site the less likely they are to stay.  More specific categories make a shopper’s job of sifting through hundreds if not thousands of products far easier.  This creates a scenario where people will find what they are looking for in a shorter period of time which will have a positive impact on conversion rates.    Furthermore, specific product categories will allow you to run highly targeted PPC campaigns directed at those category landing pages, thus further enhancing the positive effects these category pages can have on conversion rates.

With an increased number of product categories on site comes an increased level of responsibility to properly organize and structure these categories in a fashion that makes practical sense to even the most novice shoppers.  Before adding categories it is wise to create a blueprint as to how master categories and sub categories will be structured on site.  Filtered navigation is a feature that can have a huge impact on front-end usability and for retailers with dozens of product categories is an almost indispensable on-site feature. No doubt the addition of deeper, more specific product categories will give you the opportunity to increase traffic and conversion rates.  But implementing these changes is certainly no small undertaking and will take a continuous effort in order to properly maintain your new site structure.

About Us:  ClaraStream is a cloud based application which helps retailers more efficiently upload and manage their e-commerce product data. It offers a faster, more cost effective alternative to standard methods by minimizing and automating many of the processes commonly associated with uploading and managing product data. ClaraStream also gives retailers the ability to consolidate their product data into a single location, allowing for easy updates and synchronization across multiple customer facing platforms.

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