Conversion Optimization

eCommerce category pages: the complete guide to drive more conversions

Your category page is more important than you think. We've created the complete guide to help you optimize your ecommerce product category pages. Check it out.

eCommerce category pages: the complete guide to drive more conversions

Your category page is your product’s conversion springboard. It ranks for more keywords and attracts more traffic to your store than other pages.

A well-optimized category page could help send more visitors to the product page, complete the conversion funnel, and lift your conversion rate.

In fact, a survey of over 30 top U.S eCommerce websites concluded that category pages drive 413 percent more estimated traffic than product pages. 

Top eCommerce stores know this secret and take their category pages more seriously than low-performing stores.

Thankfully, this article guides you on how to make this optimization seamless.

But first, why do customers like category pages, and how does it help your product pages perform better?

How paying attention to your category pages pays off?

A well-structured category page will delight your customers with better experiences. Every ecommerce founder knows that delighted customers almost always translates to higher revenue for their business.

4 Reasons why you want to take category pages "very seriously"

Category pages delight customers in the following four ways.

1) Navigate to product pages: Buyers can see all the products within a category in one place and quickly navigate to the one they want to buy.

2) Browse products: Instead of having to browse multiple product pages for crucial product details and features before buying, buyers can see all that information in one place.

3) Compare products and prices: Seeing all the relevant products for a category on one page creates the feeling of having options. Buyers like having options and comparing products before committing to a purchase.

4) Add product to cart: Buyers can add multiple products to their cart at once—no need to open multiple pages. A product category page encourages buyers to want more than one product within a category.

3 eCommerce category page types based on your conversion goals

Your conversion goals should dictate how you’ll structure your category pages. Specifically, you’ll structure a category page based on any of these three broad goals:

  1. Product Listing Category Page: The purpose is to browse product selections and compare prices quickly—for example, Nordstrom’s category pages.
  2. Intermediary Category Page: The goal is to enhance product search—for example, eBay’s or Amazon’s category pages.
  3. Blended Category Page: Brings together the wins of product listing and intermediary category pages.

The type of category page you’ll use on your store depends on the type of store your run. If your store has products with multiple subcategories within a category, then an Amazon-style intermediary category page would work for you.

However, if you run a store with fairly straightforward product categories, then a product listing category might be the right option. For stores with sizable but not too many subcategories, a blended category page should work.

Let’s explore these category page types in a little more detail to understand them fully.

1) Product listing category page

This category page lists all the products in one place, enabling shoppers to browse product selections and compare prices quickly. 

Shoppers can easily filter and sort products to quickly match product searches to their intent.

Nordstrom’s eCommerce website uses the product listing category page.

Nordstrom’s eCommerce website uses the product listing category page.

The page helps shoppers browse products quickly, filter and sort product selection on the fly, and make a purchasing decision right on the category page.

2) Intermediary category page

An intermediary category page gives an overview of all the product category pages on the eCommerce store, enabling shoppers to navigate any specific category quickly.

eCommerce brands with extensive product offerings often use this category page type to help shoppers quickly dive into the right product category, enabling them to save time and check out faster.

eBay uses an intermediary category page to make product search more straightforward.

eBay uses an intermediary category page

3) Blended category page

A blended category page is a hybrid of product listing and intermediary category page. It lists the products in one place and also offers shoppers an overview of related categories or subcategories.

LuckyVitamins understands how to blend both worlds to make shoppers' product discovery experiences more meaningful.

LuckyVitamins example of blended category page

Shoppers can browse product selection, compare prices, narrow down products to their specific intent or quickly navigate another category without worrying about finding their way.

6 Lessons from high-converting ecommerce category pages

We studied what successful eCommerce businesses did behind the scenes to make their category pages high-converting, and we learned a lot. 

Let’s quickly examine some of these secrets.

1) Shoppers can compare products quickly

They made it effortless for shoppers to see the product names, images, prices, and customer ratings on the category pages at a glance.

Of course, this helps shoppers quickly compare products at the spot without unnecessarily navigating to the product pages to learn about the products, enabling them to streamline their product searches.

We love how Amazon does this.

A typical Amazon product information shows:

  • Product and brand names
  • Product specification
  • Clear and quality images
  • Customer rating and the number of raters
  • Customers review number
  • Price 
  • ‘Best Seller’ tag (if any) to help shoppers make a better decision
  • Stock availability
  • Shipping options

Pro tip: 

  • Add the product specification to the product headlines like Amazon
  • Make it less likely for shoppers to navigate out of the category page to learn about the products
  • Provide customer ratings and product prices to enable shoppers to compare products on category pages quickly.
  • Tag best-selling products and those with free shipping to make deciding easier for shoppers.

2) They make navigation seamless 

The eCommerce websites use navigation bars on all the pages to help shoppers find desired products with minimal effort.

They often place the top-level categories at the navigation bar to manage the space. Shoppers could see the subcategories by hovering the top-level categories or clicking the pull-down arrow.

lucky vitamin example of navigation bar

The approach keeps the navigation bar uncluttered and saves shoppers a lot of time digging through categories to find the appropriate one.

Brands like Amazon and Aliexpress use vertical or left-side navigation against the more traditional horizontal navigation bars to manage their large top-level categories.

aliexpress examples of horizontal navigation bars

Vertical categories sit in a column, making the number of categories it could contain endless—hence, it’s beneficial for eCommerce websites with lost category pages.

Use breadcrumbs to make navigation sweeter.

Shoppers often get lost while browsing products, and most times, they rely on the browser back button to retrace their path. You could make this easier for them by implementing breadcrumbs.

Aliexpress uses this feature to make product navigation more seamless.

aliexpress example of breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb is a secondary navigation scheme that reveals users’ location on a website and shows their trails.

Pro tips: 

  • Use a vertical navigation bar if you have many top-level categories. 
  • Implement breadcrumbs on eCommerce category pages to help shoppers navigate more easily.

3) They Promote Popular Categories With Featured Banners 

Some successful eCommerce brands promote popular categories with featured banners, which help shoppers to navigate quickly to the promoted category.

For example, Amazon features some of these banners on its homepage.

example of featured banners

Feature banners could channel lots of traffic to popular product categories, especially those promoting offers or sensitive coupons, leading to more conversions.

Other eCommerce brands use a featured categories section on the homepage instead of featured banners to promote their popular categories.

Aliexpress uses featured categories to promote its popular categories.

aliexpress example of featured categories

And here’s how it looks on LuckyVitamin. The brand uses “Featured Departments” to promote its popular categories.

Pro tip: 

  • Use featured banners to promote categories with offers.
  • The featured categories section works best for promoting popular categories.
  • Place the featured banners above the fold to grab shoppers’ attention instantly.

4) Their filter results are relevant

The high-converting eCommerce category pages make product filtering seamless, enabling shoppers to match product searches to their intent quickly.

They often use category-specific filters that allow shoppers to filter by product specifications to make filtering relevant for each category. 

Category-specific filters are relevant only for that category.

For instance, a RAM-size filter could help simplify laptop searches, but it’s not relevant for other categories like wears, cars, grocery, and toys.

Pro tip: use these 10 simple filter UX implementations to drive faster checkouts.

5) They make sorting products easy

Easy sorting helps refine product searches, leading to faster checkout.

Most successful eCommerce brands understand this principle, so they make shoppers’ sorting experiences painless.

Sorting re-ranks the product selection according to shoppers’ intent, for instance, ranking low-cost products above expensive ones to enable shoppers to drill quickly into their choices when shoppers sort by ‘Low to High’ prices.

example of sorting

Pro tip: 

  • Add Low to High sort attribute to help shoppers quickly find the best prices.
  • Implement category-specific sorting to streamline product findability.
  • Allow users to select the number of products they want on a page to address choice overload.

6) They personalized product discovery

Top eCommerce brands use behavioral data to provide personalized experiences to shoppers.

They leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to recommend products to shoppers based on their browsing history, helping tailor product discovery to their needs, leading to faster checkouts.

Amazon personalizes buyer’s shopping experience with custom product recommendations.

Amazon custom product recommendations.

Quick facts:

  • Personalized product recommendation improves AOV by 11 percent.
  • Amazon’s product recommendation drives 35 percent of its revenue.
  • Andy & Evans increased engagement by 50 percent using product recommendations.
  • Product recommendation users spend on average 344 percent more time on a website than those non-users.
  • Personalized product recommendations drive a 56 percent customer return rate.

Pro tip: 

  • Set up product recommendation pop-up to reduce drop-off and drive more conversions.
  • Use Shopify Product Recommendation API to implement product personalization on Shopify stores.
  • Suggest products to customers on a WooCommerce store with the Recommendation Engine.

21 eCommerce category page best practices

Implement these eCommerce category page best practices to drive more organic traffic, improve user experience and convert more shoppers.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practices

Action these 13 tips to supercharge your product category pages for more conversion.

  1. Conversion rate increases by 380 percent when high-ticket products display reviews—add product reviews to guide customers to make quick and informed decisions.
  2. Leave the product prices in the full glare of shoppers. Hiding prices make brands look shady.
  3. Tag best-selling products or “deals of the day” to help shoppers make guided decisions.
  4. Browse abandonment is a huge issue—about 97 percent of shoppers will likely abandon your site without adding to the cart—use browse abandonment techniques to convert window shoppers. This quick guide makes it intuitive.
  5. Add category-specific filters to the category pages to enable shoppers to narrow down quickly to their specific intents.
  6. Promote best-selling products on top of the categories and not forget to tag the products as “best sellers.”
  7. Arrange the product listing in three columns—at most, four—to make the category pages less overwhelming.
  8. Make it intuitive for shoppers to filter the category by offers, free shipping, or discounts—shoppers should be able to filter categories to see products with free shipping or discounts.
  9. Use high-quality images and uniform image sizes to make deciding easier for shoppers.
  10.  Dive into your Google Analytics reports for categories with massive traffic and sales volume. Promote those pages on the homepage as ‘Featured Categories’ to drive even more shoppers to those pages.
  11. Use your customers’ everyday language to describe product information.
  12. Recommend products to shoppers based on their browsing histories.
  13. What works for others might not work for you. Use this free audit tool to learn how your eCommerce website measures up and follow the actionable insights to drive more conversions.

Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices

Optimizing the category pages for the search engines helps brands dominate the organic competition, drive quality traffic and convert more. 

Action these little changes on your category pages to win the SEO game; most brands often ignore them.

14) Use the right keywords

Add the primary keywords in the category title and in:

  • Product headlines
  • URL
  • Image titles and alt description 
  • Category and products meta descriptions
  • Products descriptions 

Use the Google Keywords Planner or your Google Analytics search terms report to identify profitable keywords for the category pages.

15) Implement structured data markup

Take charge of your organic search results with structured data.

Structured data or schema markup helps search engines understand what your data is all about, making it easier for them to organize and display your data.

An SEJ experiment found implementing schema markup for one of their clients increased their clicks by 43 percent, boosted impression by close to a percent, and improved average ranking positions by 12 percent.

Schema markup of the product pages adds additional information to the organic search result, like prices, star rating, and availability. 

schema markup of the product pages

The ‘stylish’ star rating adds aesthetics to the listing, making it easily noticeable. Check out how it helps Amazon stand out and dominates the organic competition.

Implement these five eCommerce schema markups to stay ahead in the SEO war:

  • Product schema
  • Rating and reviews schema
  • Local business schema
  • Price schema
  • Product availability schema

Pro tip: use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to quickly markup your category and product pages.

16) Set the canonical tag

Without canonical tags, there’s no way you could compete organically with top brands—it tells Google the page to index.

It might surprise you to know that every page you create on your websites has at least ten duplicates. 

For instance, these five different Amazon URLs will return the same content, creating a big duplicate issue that confuses the search engines on the correct URL to index.

Amazon resolves the issue by redirecting the URLs to https://www.amazon.com/ and setting the URL as the canonical.

amazon example of canonical url

Canonical tags indicate to search engines the URL to index, providing a straightforward way to deal with URL variations’ duplicate content.

Pro tip: set the canonical tags on the https URLs. 

17) Build quality links

Backlinks are probably Google’s third most important ranking signal.

When people link to your website, it signals the search engines that they vouch for the quality of the content, making the search engine rank the content higher. It’s also a good source of referral traffic.

backlinks

Image Credit: Moz

Building quality links to your website and listing it on popular business directories is the surest way to dominate the organic competition. But sadly, building backlinks is not as easy as it sounds.

And getting it wrong could jeopardize your entire SEO efforts.

  • Publish as much helpful content as possible, targeting shoppers at each buying stage.  
  • Distribute the content on social media and other channels.
  • Consider using affiliates to promote your products. The referral links from the affiliate websites could be a good source of inbound links.
  • Encourage shoppers to share category pages with their friends on social media.

Other ways to make your category pages SEO-complaint includes:

  • Use SEO-optimized URLs for the category pages. Avoid untidy URLs—use www.yourdomain.com/male-shoes instead of www.yourdomain.com/p_1252.
  •  Make the pages fast-loading.
  • Add keywords in the meta description and make it actionable—it’s not a ranking factor but helps boost CTR.
  • Publish valuable content and link to the category pages.
  • Make it easy for shoppers to share category pages on social media to help boost the page’s social signal.
  • Add video below the product listing to boost organic ranking and increase dwell-time—web pages with video perform better than non-video pages.

User experience (UX) best practices

Action these simple category page changes to make the user experience seamless.

18) Implement breadcrumbs 

Enable shoppers to take complete charge of their navigation experiences.

Breadcrumbs make navigation convenient, enabling shoppers to find their way around the website easily. Follow these implementation best practices to make breadcrumbs work for you.

  • Breadcrumb is a secondary navigation option; avoid using it as the primary navigation.
  • Use arrows (>) to indicate the navigation trail.
  • Implement breadcrumbs on categories with more than two subcategories.
  • Display the breadcrumb as a horizontal stripe at the top of the page but below the primary navigation.
  • Use links in the breadcrumb levels to reduce bounce rate. For instance, each level in this breadcrumb Shoes > Males > Children should have a link that leads to the appropriate pages.
  • Use keywords in breadcrumbs to enable shoppers to navigate quickly based on their intent.

19) Optimize for mobile to cater to mobile shoppers

Most shoppers are likely to visit your website via their mobiles, so making your online store mobile-friendly is a no-brainer.

Action these mobile optimization best practices to get started.

  • Allow shoppers to toggle between grid and list views to control how they see the products.
  • Make it easier for them to select the number of products that display on a page.
  • Use collapsible toggles to make product filters manageable.
  • Make category layouts responsive on different mobile screen sizes.
  • Avoid infinite scrolling; use pagination to make product selection less overwhelming.

20) Use pagination to avoid infinite scrolling

Just like in mobile optimization, also avoid implementing infinite scrolling on the desktop version. It could overwhelm shoppers and might lead them to abandon the page, or at worst, the website.

Use pagination to make product choices easily manageable to encourage faster checkout.

Of course, infinite scrolling supports seamless browsing, but here are why we don’t like it:

  • It quickly leads to a paradox of choice—giving shoppers many options, rather than making them happy, could cause them stress and problematic decision-making. 
  • Infinite scrolling delays product decision-making, slowing the checkout rate.
  • Autoloading products makes it challenging for shoppers to access the footer content until all products load, and it could be frustrating if the category has an overwhelming number of products.

21) Address shoppers concerns with FAQs and live chat

Add a FAQs section below the product listing to enable shoppers to get answers on the go.

Research the possible questions customers are likely to ask about the products, provide satisfactory answers, and update the section regularly. 

FAQs section helps them get quick answers without overwhelming your customer service. You could mark it up with structured data to improve the page’s organic ranking.

Consider implementing a live chat feature in the category pages to add a human touch to the product discovery experience. It also helps customer service to provide real-time help to shoppers and quickly guide them to conversion.

live chat

A study found that live chat users are 2.8 times more likely to convert than non-users.

Wrapping it up

Action the insights on this guide to level up with the successful eCommerce brands, and don’t forget to cater to your mobile shoppers—about 51 percent of your shoppers might be coming from mobile.

Don’t assume things; use A/B tests to implement changes your shoppers love. Run product discovery on competitors’ websites to learn their shiny secrets. Audit your website to gain quick, professional help.

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