The Evergreen Guide To Optimizing Your NopCommerce Store For Search Intent
Today, we’ll talk about search intent, why optimizing your nopCommerce store for search intent is important, and how to do it.
What is search intent?
Let’s say I type “best running shoes” in Google. What does this query say about me? Why dо I search for “best running shoes”, i.e. what is my intent? Most likely, I want to buy a pair of running shoes and I want to research the best options. In other words, I need information.
But what if I type “Nike vs Adidas running shoes”? This query suggests that I probably want to buy a pair of running shoes but I still haven’t decided which brand is the best fit for me, i.e. I need more specific information.
If I type just “Adidas”, this would suggest that I want to visit the official adidas website (not necessarily to buy a pair of shoes; I may still need information).
And what about “Nike Air Max 2070 buy online”? Without a doubt, this would suggest that I want to buy a pair of Nike Air Max 2070.
Each of the four examples represents a different type of search intent:
- Best running shoes → informational search intent (the customer needs information)
- Nike vs Adidas running shoes → commercial search intent (the customer is considering buying a specific product, or a product made by a specific brand, but still needs information before making a buying decision)
- Adidas → navigational search intent (the customer wants to visit a specific website, or a page of a specific website)
- Nike Air Max 2070 buy online → transactional search intent (the customer wants to buy a specific product)
To sum up, search intent is the answer to the question: Why does person X type query Y in Google? Or, to elaborate: What do they want to achieve? Do they need information? Do they want to compare brands? Do they want to visit a specific website? Do they want to buy a specific product?
Each of the four types of search intent (informational, commercial, navigational, and transactional) is an essential part of the customer journey. Which brings us to the next question at hand: Why is optimizing your store for search intent important?
Why is optimizing your nopCommerce store for search intent important?
Search intent is redefining the marketing funnel (Think with Google). Each customer is unique and, therefore, each customer has individual expectations, needs, wants, etc. This means that each customer has a completely unique journey, driven by different types of search intent.
The customer journey is not necessarily linear. There are various touchpoints and a number of factors that can affect the way a customer makes a buying decision. This means that a customer no longer starts from point A (need), goes through point B (awareness) and point C (consideration), to finally reach point D (purchase). Instead, they interact with a business in unpredictable ways. They can go through the research phase several times before making a final decision; they may need to compare a number of products, or features; they may need to learn more about your brand and what it stands for before they decide to buy from you, and much more.
Gone are the days when publishing a product page is enough to make a sale. You must also educate, inspire, build a trustworthy brand, deliver outstanding shopping experiences, make your website easy to navigate, optimize it for conversions, and much more. This means that you have to optimize your nopCommerce store for all four types of search intent. This guide will show you how to do it.
What you'll learn
- How to optimize your nopCommerce store for informational search intent?
- How to optimize your nopCommerce store for commercial search intent?
- How to optimize your nopCommerce store for navigational search intent?
- How to optimize your nopCommerce store for transactional search intent?
Informational search intent queries contain question words (e.g. what is/are, how to, where, when, who, can, etc.), as well as phrases like “best way to”, “tips”, “advice”, and more. If a query shows informational search intent, there are several scenarios:
- The customer is in the awareness stage of their journey, i.e. they’re just getting started with their research. They know very little (if anything) about your brand and products.
- The customer is past the consideration stage, i.e. they already know who you are and what you offer, but they need more information. For example, what you stand for (brand values, mission, etc.), what is your supply chain, what your existing customers say about you, and more.
- The customer is in the post-purchase phase, i.e. they may need tips and advice on how to use your products, maximize the benefits, etc.
Whatever the case, they need information. In other words, to optimize your nopCommerce store for informational search intent, you just need to provide information - this way, you’ll provide a more informed shopping experience, as well as nurture customers into brand ambassadors with high LTV (life-time value).
But what type of information do you need to provide? To answer this question, aks yourself:
- What type of information do customers need when they’re in the awareness stage of their journey?
- What do customers need to know when they’re past the consideration stage of their journey, i.e. what do they need to know about you, your brand and products?
- What do customers need to know in the post-purchase phase of their journey, i.e. what would be valuable to your existing customers?
Let’s say John is in the awareness stage of his journey. He wants to buy a new dining table. You are a carpenter who handcrafts amazing tables and sells them online. However, John has never heard of you.
John will probably start his research with queries like “dining room table”, “wooden kitchen table”, “handmade table for my home”. First, you need to optimize your homepage (and other relevant pages) for these keyword phrases, as well as for other LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. LSI keywords are keywords and keyword phrases that are closely related to the keywords you target, i.e. in this case some examples of LSI keywords would be “handcrafted kitchen table”, “wooden dining table”, “oak dining table”, “dinner table”, “wooden dinner table”, and more.
Second, you need to write blog posts that will help John (and other potential customers) make a more informed buying decision. Possible topics you can write about include:
- How to choose the best dining table for your home?
- X things to consider before buying a new table for your dining room
- Wooden table top materials: What you need to know before you make a decision?
- 2020 Trends: Dining room table designs and materials
You can also create and publish helpful checklists and infographics, as well as make engaging videos that help customers learn more about your brand and products.
Let’s say John has already done some research - he knows about your brand and is now considering buying a table from you. But, since you offer custom tables, John needs more information before making a final decision. For example, he needs to know what can be customized, what affects the price, and more. Possible topics you can write about include:
- The benefits of buying a dining room table made especially for you
- X things you need to know before ordering a custom-made table
- Buying a table from us: What can be customized and how it affects the price?
You can also publish case studies and add UGC photos of your products in the blog posts - this will provide context and help customers get a better idea of how the product would fit into their homes and benefit their lives.
Now, imagine John has already bought a beautiful custom-made oak table from you. However, this doesn’t mean that his customer journey is over. On the contrary - now, he’s in the post-purchase phase where he needs more specific information on how to take care of your products (or use them, upgrade them, etc.). Possible topics you can write about include:
- How to take care of your oak table? Note: You can write guides to taking care of tables made of walnut, ash, beech, teak, etc.
- Choosing the best dining room chair: design tips, materials, and more. This is a great way to gently nudge existing customers towards making another purchase. You can also write guides to choosing other pieces of dining room furniture such as console tables, sideboards, and more. If you sell home decor as well, such as wooden fruit bowls, candles, and more, you can write articles on topics like “X beautiful fruit bowls that would look amazing on your oak table”, “X candle care maintenance tips”, and more.
As you can see, optimizing your nopCommerce store for informational search intent means optimizing your homepage and other important pages of your website for relevant keywords and producing high-quality content that is helpful, adds value, and, ultimately, makes the lives of your customers (both potential and existing) easier and better. Your blog posts should be focused on solving your customers problems, answering their most burning questions, giving helpful suggestions and tips, and more. They should be inspiring, educational, unique, and engaging.
Producing high-quality content is a broad topic we can discuss in another article. For now, let’s stay on topic and take a closer look at the content features nopCommerce offers out-of-the-box.
Built-in content features in nopCommerce
NopCommerce offers a number of powerful content features out-of-the-box - news, blogs, forums, polls, and custom pages (topics).
But if you want to level up your blogging game, you can use a powerful plugin like Rich Blog. Rich Blog enables you to feature blog posts on your homepage, organize your blog posts into categories, add a blog search, show related blog posts, and much more. Take a 14-day free trial and see for yourself what the plugin offers.
Some typical examples of commercial search queries include “brand A vs brand B”, “product C vs product D”, “product X price”, “product X reviews”, “brand Y what customers say/testimonials”, “brand Z about”, and more.
When a query shows commercial search intent, it usually means that the customer is closer to making a buying decision, but is still not 100% sure about the brand, or product they chose. Therefore, they may need to compare features, specifications, pricing, reviews, and more.
In other words, even though the customer has moved further along the conversion funnel, they still need information. However, they need more specific information and, as a result, their queries are focused on specific brands and products.
So, think of customers whose queries show commercial search intent as of hesitant buyers. They are likely to convert if you manage to persuade them that your brand and products are worth their trust and money.
In other words, optimizing your nopCommerce store for commercial search intent means optimizing your website in a way that builds you up and boosts your credibility. To do this, you can:
- Write comparison articles for your blog, i.e. articles in which you objectively compare your brand to other brands in the industry, or your products to competitor brands’ products. Note that the goal of these posts is not to make a sale, but to educate, add value, and help hesitant customers make a more informed buying decision. Therefore, it is essential that you don’t sound promotional as this will undermine your credibility.
- You can also publish blog posts dedicated to your products - articles in which you talk about your products, their features and specifications, how they can be used, how they can make your customers’ lives better, etc. The main purpose of the articles is still educational, but it is also commercial. So, you can add promotional elements - as long as you don’t overdo it, this can only benefit your bottom line. But if you go overboard, customers may get annoyed or overwhelmed. So, finding the balance is paramount.
- Publish case studies. For example, you can create a separate blog category called “Case studies” or “Success stories” and publish your case studies as blog posts.
- Optimize your “About” page - tell your story (who you are, what you do, how did you decide to start your business, etc.), talk about your brand (mission, values, goals, etc.), say a little bit about your products and what gives you an edge, talk about your supply chain, social and environmental impact, and more. Organize all this information into relevant sections and optimize the headings for relevant keywords and keywords phrases (e.g. “Who we are?”, “Our mission”, “Our goals”, “Our products”, “Social impact”, “Environmental impact”, “Supply chain”, and more). This will not only help customers easily find the information they need, but will also help you rank higher for relevant commercial queries like “<your brand name> about”, “<your brand name> mission”, “<your brand name> products”, “<your brand name> sustainability”, “<your brand name> supply chain”, and more.
- Add reviews to your product pages and feature customer testimonials on your homepage.
- Leverage the forum feature that nopCommerce offers out-of-the box and build an active community. Aside from helping you optimize your nopCommerce store for commercial search intent, having an active forum will also boost your organic ranking.
When it comes to navigational search queries, the probability of conversion is high, i.e. the customer is almost 100% sure that they want to buy a specific product, or a product by a specific brand. To make the most of that opportunity, you need to optimize your nopCommerce store for navigational search intent.
To optimize your nopCommerce store for navigational search intent, you need to:
- Optimize your homepage and create an intuitive navigation structure
- Optimize your category pages in a way that is easy to navigate
- Optimize your “Sign up / Log in” page
- Optimize your “Contact” page
- Optimize your FAQs page
How to optimize your homepage (for navigational search intent) and create an intuitive navigation structure?
First, you need to include the name of your brand or store in the title (i.e. the H1 tag) of your homepage. This way, you’ll be able to rank for navigational search queries like “<your brand name>”, “<your brand name> official website”, “<your brand name> store”, and more.
Your homepage must also be informative and designed in a way that matches your brand identity. But, most importantly, it should be well organized and feature intuitive menus.
The purpose of the menu (whether it is a header menu, a drop-down menu, a hamburger menu, a sidebar menu, or a footer menu) is to help customers navigate your website and easily find the category or product page they’re interested in.
The homepage of an optimized for navigational search intent online store should have a header menu (preferably complemented by drop-down menus), a footer menu, and an SEO-friendly solution for mobile, such as a hamburger menu.
Our Nop Mega Menu plugin helps you create custom menus that can be placed in different widget zones (e.g., header menus, drop-down menus, and footer menus). The plugin sports an intuitive admin panel and a “Live Preview” feature (so that you can make and save changes with confidence).
You can add different menu items to your custom menus: category pages, manufacturers, vendors (if you’re running a multi-vendor nopCommerce installation), topics, custom text-based links (such as an “On Sale,” or a “New In” link) and more. You can quickly rearrange these items with the easy-to-use drag-and-drop feature. See how to build a custom menu with our Nop Mega Menu Plugin
Pro tip: It is a good practice to create a low-depth page hierarchy (i.e. all important pages of your nopCommerce store should be no more than three clicks away from your homepage). You must also create a logical URL structure that follows your page hierarchy. This will help you maximize your Crawl Budget and get sitelinks. Learn more → Structural SEO For NopCommerce: The 3-Step Strategy To Follow
How to optimize your category pages for navigational search intent?
Your category pages should be organized and designed in a way that helps customers easily find the product they’re interested in. This means that you must provide filtering and sorting options. You can add sidebar menus (to your category pages) to achieve this. Let me illustrate the importance of a sidebar menu with an example.
Let’s say you sell furniture and you have a large catalog store. I visit your website with a particular purpose - to buy a new dining room table. I go straight to the “Dining Room” category and click on “Tables”. So far so good. But you offer different types of tables - different styles, materials, shapes, sizes, etc. I, on the other hand, have already made a decision to buy a minimalistic rectangular oak table. And I want to be able to find a table that meets these criteria within a few clicks. If I have to browse through your entire “Tables” subcategory to find the product I need, I might (and most likely will) get tired or irritated and turn to one of your competitors.
So, the question is - how can you make it easy for your customers to find the products they’re interested in? The answer is through filtering options, conveniently placed in the sidebar menu on every category page of your website.
Our Nop Ajax Filters plugin for nopCommerce adds extremely fast and powerful filtering capabilities to your store. By installing Nop Ajax Filters, you allow your customers to filter your products by price, manufacturer, vendors, product specifications, and product attributes.
You can display the filtering options using checkboxes or drop-down menus. You can display product filters on category pages, search pages, manufacturer pages, and vendor pages.
And if you want to take product filtering to the next level, you can install our Nop Ajax Filters Pro Pack plugin - a pack that contains our Nop Ajax Filters plugin, and also adds a preliminary search on your homepage.
How to optimize your “Sign up / Log in” page for navigational search intent?
Keep your “Sign up / Log in” page simple. Get straight to the point. In other words, keep your signup and login forms sweet and short. For example, take a look at Vinebox’s “Sign up / Log in” page.
The signup form requires customers to fill in just four fields: first and last name, and their email and password. It also requires them to confirm that they’re of legal drinking age (note that this is something specific to Vinebox because they offer wine subscription boxes).
The login form is even simpler - it only requires registered customers to fill in their email and password.
Both forms are designed to save time, both are extremely well organized, both are beautiful. What more could a customer ask for?
How to optimize your “Contact” page for navigational search intent?
If you only have an online store, you should include the following information on your “Contact” page:
- An email address, or a phone number where customers can reach you if they need online assistance.
- Information about your working hours (if you don’t offer 24/7 support).
- A contact form - if you decide to take this approach, make sure that the contact form is detailed, i.e. that you require customers to provide all essential information about their problem.
- To go the extra mile, you can add a link to your FAQs page, or include download links for your product manuals (if applicable).
If you have a physical store as well, make sure to include the following information:
- Location - you can also include a map and directions.
- Working hours.
- An email address and a phone number where customers can reach an employee at your store.
How to optimize your FAQs page for navigational search intent?
In order to optimize your FAQs page for navigational search intent you need to include the name of your brand or store in your FAQs page title tag (i.e. H1 tag) and answer your customers’ most common questions.
For example, you need to provide answers to burning questions like:
- Who we are / What we do / Why we do it / What is our mission and goals, etc. Basically, you need to summarize your “About” page. It is also a good practice to add a link to it.
- How do I choose the right product? Providing an answer to this question is essential if your products come in different sizes, if you sell electronics with different specifications, and more. It is a good practice to include a link to your “Size Guide” or “Product Manuals” page.
- I want to exchange/return an item. How can I do it?
- In what condition do you ship your products? Are they assembled or will customers have to assemble them on their own? Do you send product manuals, or are there instruction videos?
- What are the delivery options?
- What is your warranty policy?
- Do you offer order tracking?
- Do you offer insurance?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
When a customer’s query shows transactional search intent, the customer has a very clear idea to buy something, book a flight, make a reservation at a restaurant, and more. In e-commerce, transactional search queries contain keywords and keyword phrases like “order”, “buy”, “purchase”, “sale”, “on sale”, “discount”, “coupon”, “price”, “request a quote”, and more.
Optimizing your nopCommerce store for transactional search intent is important, because, when a query shows transactional search intent, the customer is at the very end of the conversion funnel. They’re now ready to make a purchase. In fact, they might have already chosen a specific product to buy. In order to make the most of this opportunity, you must optimize your nopCommerce store for conversions. This means:
- Optimize all your product pages for transactional search intent
- Provide a personalized shopping experience
- Streamline the checkout process and make transactions transparent and easy
- Optimize the post-purchase experience
How to optimize your product pages for transactional search intent?
To optimize your product pages for transactional search intent, you need to:
- Include the product name in the product page title. Title tags are an important on-page relevancy signal. This means that it is essential that you optimize them for search (and search intent). In addition, when a customer is determined to buy a specific product, their queries may or may not contain transactional keywords. However, they will definitely contain the name of the product, which means that it is essential that you include the name of the product in the product page title. Note that it is important you don’t include any transactional keywords in the titles of your product pages - this will undermine your credibility and make your product pages look spammy.
- Organize your product pages in a way that entices customers to buy. Make sure that the structure of the page is clear. Include a ton of design elements that facilitate your customers’ buying decisions, including “Add to cart” buttons that are placed in strategic places across the page. Consider adding more than one “Add to cart” button to your product pages. For example, you can add an “Add to cart” button after the product description; then, you can highlight some of the product benefits, or its social impact in separate sections and add subtle “Add to cart” buttons after each section, and more. Simply put, your goal is to include a ton of valuable information and organize it in a way that makes customers want to buy the product - you can highlight its benefits to create a need for the product; you can highlight its features and explain how it stands out; you can talk about your mission and supply chain, so that you create a sense of community and make customers feel like they are a part of something bigger - an initiative, a common goal, and more.
- Create high-quality content, i.e. add impeccable product photos that showcase the different product features, write informative and keyword-rich product descriptions, and more.
- Add product reviews - product reviews are a powerful form of social proof that maximizes conversions.
- Add a carousel of UGC photos, as well as a carousel of photos from photo shoots - this will provide context and help customers get a better idea of how the product would fit into their lives.
How to provide a personalized shopping experience?
Е-commerce success has always been closely related to seamless shopping experiences tailored to each customer. Giving personalized product recommendations is one of the most effective ways to optimize your nopCommerce store for conversions and create seamless and personalized online shopping experiences.
Personalized product recommendations are usually based on user behavior and browsing history. Typically, they include products that the customer is likely to express high interest in.
Let’s say you own a fashion brand and sell everything from apparel to accessories online. Imagine that a customer wants to buy a dress - the product page features beautiful product images, an informative product description, conveniently placed “Add to cart” buttons, even a size chart table.
But can you make this product page even more optimized for transactional search intent? The answer is yes. You can leverage the related products feature nopCommerce offers out-of-the-box. The feature allows merchants to set related products for each product page. For example, you can add relevant products to the product page of the dress in question and create a whole outfit - you can add shoes, a bag, accessories (jewellery, sunglasses, etc.), a hat, a coat or jacket, and more. This is a great way to maximize conversions through upsell.
How to streamline the checkout process and make transactions transparent and easy?
A fast and easy checkout is one of the key components of a store that is optimized for conversions. After all, the checkout is the virtual trip your customers make from point A (adding the desired products to their shopping carts) to point B (completing the transaction), and they want this trip to be smooth and nice without any detours or obstacles.
The default nopCommerce checkout is a six-step checkout - you’re allowed to progress to the next step once you fill in all information in the current step.
Don’t take this the wrong way, this is a good checkout experience. But if you want to stand out and streamline the checkout process even more, you can consider using a plugin like One Page Checkout - the plugin enables customers to check out fast and easy because the whole process happens on a single page. Customers can also easily remove or edit the product quantity directly on the checkout page, select a billing and shipping address, take advantage of discount codes and gift cards, and more. Take a 14-day free trial and see for yourself what the plugin offers.
How to optimize the post-purchase experience?
If you want to nurture one-time buyers into loyal customers and loyal customers into brand ambassadors, you must not underestimate the importance of providing an impeccable post-purchase experience.
After all, a customer’s journey doesn’t end when they make a purchase. On the contrary, in the post-purchase phase customers need a ton of information on how to use your products and make the most of them, they are hungry for relevant product recommendations, tips, advice, and more. If you manage to provide this information, you’ll be able to increase customer satisfaction, reduce returns, and, most importantly, maximize customer LTV (life-time value).
Simply put, to optimize the post-purchase experience, you must provide a ton of helpful information (i.e. write extensive how-to guides and articles focused on the benefits and features of your products) and build brand loyalty.
When it comes to creating content that adds value and improves your customers’ lives, there is not a single right approach. Each store owner is different, each business is unique, and, respectively, each customer base has different needs and expectations. This means that you must find what works for you and your customers. The best practice is to examine their buying habits and customer journeys - this will give you a better understanding of their needs. Respectively, you’ll have a much clearer idea of topics you need to write about. And as for your voice, there’s just one rule of thumb - make sure it matches your brand identity; keep it professional but don’t be afraid to “break the rules” every now and then if it will make your customers feel closer to your brand. All in all, make sure that your blog and the content you post has a personality and creates a sense of community.
But when it comes to building brand loyalty, there are some tactics and best practices that have proven to be effective. Such practices include:
- Build a strong brand presence online and a recognizable brand voice. Participate in discussions, leverage relevant social media channels and be consistent. To go the extra mile, build a community and become an active participant in your customers’ discussions. Here’s a great opportunity to take full advantage of the forum feature nopCommerce offers out-of-the-box.
- Consider influencer marketing as a way to increase brand awareness and boost your credibility.
- Provide impeccable customer support. Whether you offer email, or phone support, or both, make sure to respond to customers’ queries in a timely manner, be polite and helpful, and, most importantly, be honest and professional. If you don’t offer 24/7 support, make sure to include information about your working hours - this way, if it takes you a bit longer to respond to a customer’s query, the customer will know why.
- Gather customer feedback and act accordingly. In other words, listen to what your customers have to say and pay close attention to negative feedback - learn from your mistakes, understand what you can do better in the future and adjust your approach.
- Start a loyalty program - offering benefits, rewards, exclusive deals, or additional discounts to your existing customers will facilitate their future buying decisions and maximize conversions.
- Make returns easy. Returns are inevitable - they are an integral part of the post-purchase experience. Even if your products are perfect, they will not be the best fit for every customer who buys them. So, to optimize the post-purchase experience, increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty, you must provide a seamless and positive returns experience. The same goes for exchanges as well.
Google has always and will always curate the SERPs in a way that best meets the searcher’s needs and expectations. Therefore, even though many ranking factors change constantly, Google will always take into account search intent. This means that, if you want to rank high on the SERPs, optimizing your nopCommerce store for search intent is essential.
There are four types of search intent - informational, commercial, navigational, and transactional. And, since customers have complex needs and expectations, each of these four types of search intent is an integral part of the customer journey. Therefore, you must optimize your nopCommerce store for each type of search intent.
We hope this guide gave you the expertise and tools to do it. If you have further questions, just leave a comment below!