I think it's best we firstly address the elephant in the room: eCommerce SEO is a fiercely competitive and saturated market.
It's a jungle out there!
Large retailers and brands are committing big marketing money to their respective sites even during COVID-19 to further distance themselves from small to medium enterprises, making it an uphill battle for many.
This situation leaves some in an almost impossible position to make in-roads on high-volume queries.
However, an uphill battle is one thing; it being impossible is not.
Deploying careful strategic SEO can still deliver excellent visibility, momentum and return on Investment (ROI). If time is not on your side then the help of an experienced SEO company could be a game changer.
This article will cover some creative ways of thinking and some uncommon tips to help you see SEO and eCommerce possibly from a different angle than you have before.
So here, we will look at the benefits of using an SEO agency and go beyond the basics to see how it can work for you and your business.
Table of Contents
· Starting the Organic Conversation
· Cross-Channel Symbiosis
· User-Generated Content USG - What a Review can do
· Optimised User Experience (UX)
· Lower Customer Acquisition Costings
· Cultivating Brand Awareness
· Boost Trust and Confidence
· Turning Product Photos and Images to Rank as Assets
· Embracing Holiday Trends
OK, let's get started.
Starting the Organic Conversation
So let's get down to the bare bones for a moment to get started.
If you have not studied or used SEO before, it is essential to be aware that SEO is now the most potent long-term form of marketing available to business owners. (And that’s not a biased view if you were wondering).
SEO is the hardest working cog in the wheel, it is the marketing engine house that acts as a game changer for online businesses. It isn't easy to understand, requiring both patience and continuous dedication.
Search engine users can now be experts at searching for specific products, services, guidance and answers. Doing this organically and getting your message across to these users is paramount.
Trying to rank for single-word keywords with massive search traffic will take long-term effort and approach.
However, SEO is morphing, and the dynamics are shifting to include other ways of generating traction allowing SME's to enter the market and become successful.
- Answer Boxes
- Featured Snippets (as shown below)
- Popular Product Discounts and Loyalty Incentives
By using multiple cross-marketing efforts, you can reap the rewards fast and find yourself not butting heads against the more prominent players in your field.
Don't panic; you haven't just clicked on a link to book a holiday on a cruise ship!
One of the stand-out benefits of SEO in your eCommerce marketing mix is when cross-channel symbiosis occurs. In beginner's terms, the work conducted for one marketing channel relates to others, effectively halving your workload.
If you consider content that does well on social media and email with click-throughs, helped by SEO to gain traction, it's a natural collaboration that can power multiple channels.
So if you stack your brands using email, social media and SEO in tandem, you will reap the rewards referred to as cross channel marketing.
Symbiosis's foundation is basing strategies that mould together through avenues such as:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Paid Media
With solid research into plausible keywords, search trends and subsequent SEO, these four areas can morph and cross-reference.
These can come in multiple forms:
- Long-form Write-ups
Or all of the above. The goal is to mould all these aspects into one powerhouse campaign that harness all the channels into one.
User-Generated Content UGC - What a Review can do
Google now values UGC highly. It adds another string to your bow if the reviews are positive, of course!
Everything counts, from customers leaving positive reviews to posting photos of your products or just talking about service, delivery, and usage.
It also adds depth to your pages, gives you an authority in your field, and engages new viewers who get an in-depth look into people who have bought from you.
It comes with its challenges, sure, but if you identify your objectives and employ the suitable systems, then it can be gratifying.
Using Your Tech Stack
A Tech Stack is the combination between:
- Languages and more...
These can provide unlimited upside to an eCommerce store or sometimes clearly expose the limitations of your site for SEO.
However, working with the right SEO company will establish prioritising what is sustainable and help clean up your decision-making process and narrow the field for your tech stack for the future.
An SEO team will analyse and consider the following:
- Your server ecosystem, its storage capabilities and how it relates to your sites speed and performance ratings
- Programming language - Java, Ruby, Scala, Python or PHP, what makes the most sense and why?
- CMS platform - Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce.
- CMS platforms, like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce. consideration as to the best platform for your business is paramount.
- Integration of third-party services. Tools such as CRM's software, delivery systems and payment gateways, plus more...
Tech Stack selection is a vital part of the bigger picture. SEO helps narrow the decision-making process. If you decided to opt for a platform without SEO it could result in you missing the boat.
For many eCommerce businesses, it's just not feasible to start again from zero. So to improve scalability adopting new technologies compatible with existing systems, resources, and support is essential to wrestle back the initiative.
Optimised User Experience (UX)
SEO and UX now go hand-in-hand in marriage.
Much of what drives successful SEO planning translates directly into better UX such as:
- What blog posts to create, topics and questions to users
- Organising content
- Page linking for navigation through your site
- Page layout and content structure
- Page speed and engagement optimisation helping conversion rates
- Inspirational copy that grabs readers and followers
Providing information and engaging experiences equate to more actual conversions.
However, there is plenty of groundwork to be done.
It would be best to start investigating search trends and keywords - so your competition is never a bad place to start.
Some eCommerce business owners have found that product pages don't necessarily drive their SEO.
Some have a competitive advantage due to in-depth re-engaging and informative review posts, with stunning imagery getting their followers.
Some find their users like video rather than text and utilise the ever-increasing power of YouTube.
Suppose you can separate yourself from one-dimensional thinking and become a drone with a zoom out feature. In that case, you'll see all the possibilities, and SEO specialists can help put all the pieces of the jigsaw together.
Lower Customer Acquisition Costings
Business owners and, in some cases, SEO companies can become overly fixated with performance indicators such as basic Conversion rates or Cost Per Acquisition; however, one of the most potent metrics is Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Usually, this metric is calculated and reported annually, quarterly or monthly.
CAC can give a business owner a different perspective on what is and isn't working.
CAC helps business owners know where to make cuts or invest their marketing money. Using SEO, eCommerce companies can make hay by driving organic sales, reducing CAC and helping balance out the finances being used on Google and digital marketing ads and more.
The foundation of today's SEO is a deeper organic connection with your users, not just getting them to make a click.
Suppose you look to expand your business and seek investment from a third party in the future. In that case, I can assure you it will assist if the prospective investor(s) sees you get new business from organic SEO at reduced marketing margins.
Clear, concise, informative content and perfect UX and structured SEO will give you an edge in reducing CAC.
Cultivating Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is the holy grail for eCommerce businesses but generally comes from better online visibility off the back of well-structured SEO. But SEO alone can't make you exciting, vibrant and relevant to today's online shoppers; that will take a lot of work from you first.
Today 'keeping up' is not going to cut it. A Brand needs to keep pushing the envelope with content, visual impacts, punny and funny ads, competitions, giveaway's and blogs.
As discussed above, SEO is effective when combined with other marketing initiatives and your Tech Stack.
The marketing funnel that leads directly in sales and conversions starts with brand awareness. The value add-on with organic SEO is they found you; you weren't required to shove your brand continuously in someone's face until they eventually yield and click.
Organic rankings endorse credibility, trust and confidence in your brand. More people are becoming aware of what it takes for a company to rank on Google's first page as the internet becomes part of everyone's everyday lives. So it gives you automatic credibility to many people who are becoming more aware of how Google operates.
Turning Product Photos and Images to Rank as Assets
An eCommerce store that has invested in providing explicit, vibrant imagery can leverage these as assets on their product pages or social media and blog posts.
Imagery plays a significant role in how Google and their crawlers perceive your brand. As part of an SEO agency's overall strategy for eCommerce, image file optimisation can play a considerable role in climbing the ranking ladder. These can appear now in Google Image Search or in searches for 'Images for' results (which are stronger).
Captivating imagery can help with cross and multiple-channel marketing. Not just serving as rankable assets, image-centric platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest can tell a story of your business and bring blog posts to life.
Concentration spans are lower today, with the younger population now moving heavily toward visual engagement than previous generations. So, just like the old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words' can also translate into the realm of SEO as it can also be worth plenty of ranking places too!
Embracing Holiday Trends
OK, let's get another elephant in the room out of the way.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday, in all honesty, a lot of this can be hype and overstated.
Offering crazy discounts doesn't always make sense and always attract or keep customers post-sale.
However, they bring an enthusiastic and enormous number of people searching across most eCommerce industries in a small window of time.
At first glance, many would see this as an opportunity to increase marketing spend on paid media and paid ads, but these events with solid SEO can get you ahead of the curve.
Here are some examples:
- Get your existing content refreshed ready in advance. Such as adding to your best-performing pages
- New product feeds that appear in Google's shopping listings
- Enforce structured data to inform users and indicate relevance
- Devise a plan to ensure products out-of-stock do not end up losing you potential customers
- Get your holiday product pages indexed early doors, with landing pages, and even better, get them structured to be effective year after year where only minor updates are required
- Guide your eCommerce content by leveraging holiday-specific search terms
- Run an error check to ensure everything is fully functional before the upturn in user enquiries
There is a limited amount of ways to drive new traffic to your online store away from traditional marketing channels. Of course, the staple of email marketing, social media or paid ads will always be there to round out your marketing streams. Investing in SEO doesn't yield immediate returns and can seem slow; however, it is your most sustainable form of long-term growth. In 2022, control what is within your means, such as content and keyword selection and make informative, engaging blogs and invest within your comfort zone. Organic SEO does not yield overnight results if you are a brand new site, so keep your expectations realistic. Keep motivated in the knowledge that your investment today will reap dividends for years to come. Treat it like the process of buying a new car; you are looking for longevity and ROI. Good luck out there.
About the Author
Lancey Clemons is an experienced tech writer, digital marketer and content curation specialist. He has extensive knowledge of SEO having been a Director in an SEO Agency. In his free time, he likes to study new digital innovations, with a keen interest in crypto tech and blockchain.