The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on many industries and brought about major changes in those that have survived and e-commerce businesses are no different except that the change has been mostly positive with record online spending this year, accelerating the uptake of online shopping.
Most of you reading this will already be familiar with the advantages of shopping online but for many people this is still not the case – or only in specific categories – as the majority of retail spend is still in the offline world. However, with brick and mortar store closures and lockdowns this year, people had no choice and April 2020 saw 200,000 Australians make their first ever online purchase. In fact, there was more online shopping activity in April than in December 2019; a month that includes both Christmas and Black Friday. Australia Post were predicting online to account for 16 – 18% of total retail by 2025 but that benchmark is now set to arrive a lot sooner.
What does this all mean for you? Whether you’re an established online business looking to grow or a brick and mortar store looking to get started with e-commerce, you need to establish marketing channels that will allow you to capitalise on the growth of online spending and survive and thrive as competitors hungrily enter your market. At SLAM Strategy we believe that should ideally be a mix of both online advertising and organic strategies, the pinnacle of these being Google Ads (Google Shopping) and E-Commerce SEO. In the rest of this article we’re going to dive into the basics of E-Commerce SEO and how to start generating more visitors from organic search.
SEO is a relatively young industry but it’s old enough to have fractured into several sub disciplines that work with different types of businesses and websites and one of those is e-commerce SEO. While the SEO basics of keywords, content and links still hold true, there’s some unique challenges in e-commerce that need to be overcome, including;
- Heavy reliance on e-commerce platforms which often weren’t developed with SEO front of mind
- Many competitors selling the same products which introduces duplicate content issues
- Image and feature heavy pages lead to site speed issues
- Frequent product and page changes that introduce broken page issues
- A large number of pages with usually limited resources to spend on each page
Many of the issues listed above are technical in nature as this is an area which is particularly problematic for e-commerce stores but there’s plenty of other considerations. Here’s a high level summary of what you need to focus on in your SEO strategy;
- Keyword research & targeting strategy
- Technical foundations and ongoing maintenance
- Content quality and page enhancements
- Link building
Keyword Research and Targeting
Most people know that you’ll want to target keywords that are relevant to what you sell and have a good search volume but two other, often overlooked, considerations that I want to highlight are;
- Keyword competition
- Keyword intent matching
Assessing keyword competition means selecting keywords that you can rank for with just a few extra links – ideally less than 5 or up to 10 at a stretch. A sophisticated analysis of keyword competition utilises special software and we’d also consider the relative strength of your domain but you can get a rough idea of competition levels by looking at the search results for the keyword and seeing if there’s any other websites of a similar size and level to you or is it dominated by big budget competitors.
If you don’t select keywords that are within easy reach then you’ll be waiting longer to get results. That’s fine if you have the budget and time to spare though.
Keyword intent matching means making sure that the content (whether its an article, case study or product page) is appropriate to the intent of the searcher. The buying process can be broken down into four stages with people at each stage having different intents with their searches;
1. Awareness – why, what, definitions
2. Interest – brand/company names, tutorials, how tos, guides
3. Evaluation – comparison, price, review, best, cheap
4. Purchase – promotion, discount, free shipping, buy
The bread and butter will be people already at the purchase stage but there’s a huge opportunity to get in front of the people at the other stages and make them aware of your brand and products and educate them about why you are the best place to buy what they want.
This brings us to the end of Part 1 of this article. We’ll continue to cover the other key focus areas of your e-commerce SEO strategy in part 2.