Make incremental changes to your store and keep a log

There is nothing wrong with continuously trying to improve your store. Tweak this and that, try something now, do whatever to try to bring more traffic (improve search engine ranking) and to convert more visitors to buyers. However, making too many changes all at once and doing it frequently can actually be counterproductive. When you make changes to your store, follow these guidelines:

  1. First of all, keep a detailed log of your changes. This will help you identify if a change was beneficial or if it actually made things worse.
  2. Change only one thing at a time. There is always a great temptation to change a bunch of things and hope for the best, if you make many changes in your store, how will you find out what worked and what didn't?
  3. If you are completely redesigning your store, change the layout on a handful of pages first. You should pick a few pages whose ranking on the major search engines you know. After the design change, keep checking the ranking of that page for about a month to see how your new design may have affected it. (Here I'm not talking about the Google PageRank. What I mean is this: if you know how one of your store pages ranks on a particular search term, you'll be able to keep entering that same search term into the same search engine and see how the position of that page changes from week to week. Of course your competitors also affect your site's ranking, but if you have a solid page with a fairly stabile ranking, that is a good page to test with.)
  4. Keep an eye on your store statistics and keep comparing those to your change log. A few stats you should be looking at: a) page views, b) customers (unique visitors), c) orders/customer (conversion rate). When you see a change in your stats, check with your log to try to find out what caused the change. If you see a jump or a drop in your stats, compare them to your log like this:
    a) if your traffic changed ("number of customers" in the Store Manager's "Graphs" screen), make a note of the date when the change occurred. Then, look in your log about two weeks PRIOR to the date of the stats change. Why? It typically takes the major search engines about a week or two to reindex your store pages. So if you see that there is a jump in the number of visitors, you should look for the answer about two weeks before.
    b) if the number of page views or your conversion rate changed, check your log at around the time the number of page views/conversion rate changed.

If you look at your changes in isolation, you'll be able to figure out exactly what worked and what didn't. If something didn't work, undo it. If something did work, do it more!