It was already growing incredibly quickly, but the popularity of eCommerce has gone through the roof during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It’s therefore never been as important as it is now to optimise your eCommerce website, with the goal of increasing searchability, standing out from the crowd, outperforming the competition and converting leads.
In this blog, we explore how you can get ahead by making the best use of eCommerce SEO.
But first, some context…
Why Has eCommerce Become So Popular?
Global and localised lockdowns have forced people to change the way they shop.
Habits formed during lockdown have, inevitably, set in – and people that were once reluctant to shop online are now fully embracing this way of acquiring goods.
Why Do People Like To Shop Online?
While ‘price’ may once have been the key reason that people shopped online rather than in-store, there are actually a number of equally important drivers these days, including:
Convenience – It’s a heck of a lot easier to find and buy what you want online than it is to traipse into a busy town or city centre, only to find that the product you want isn’t in stock
Shop anytime, anywhere – Should I rush out in the rain to shop in a store that’s closing for the day soon and is well out of my way? Or should I just get what I need with a click or two on my phone while sitting on the sofa watching TV with a nice cup of tea? Hmm, let me think…
Price – It’s still possible to get great deals online, but there’s actually a new trend called ROBO (research online, buy offline) whereby people identify the product they want online and then go and buy it for less money in a physical store. It’s like digital life’s gone full circle!
Choice and stock level predictability – As nice as it can be to visit a physical store, there’s always the worry that they won’t stock the exact product you’re looking for or that they’ve run out. Shopping online minimises both of those issues – the choice is virtually limitless (even if you have to opt for a different retailer or brand) and eRetailers tell you immediately whether a product is in stock or not
Great experiences! – You only have to look at the razzmatazz of the Chinese livestreaming shopping trend and the Hollywood sheen of some highly optimised eCommerce websites to understand that people now expect great experiences, excitement and even entertainment when shopping online. Physical shopping is far from dead, but it has a lot to learn from eCommerce players.
How Are Businesses Responding To The New Trend?
Big brands and small businesses alike have looked to take advantage of the exponentially growing eCommerce trend.
They’ve upped their performance on Amazon, Etsy and other gigantic 3rd party eCommerce platforms.
They’ve also invested in building their own eCommerce platforms and content, using highly valuable 1st party data to try to sell directly to customers.
All of this means that eCommerce is changing the retail and general business landscape, and that there are fantastic opportunities to sell products and other items online.
But it also means that there is more and more competition in what was already a crowded marketplace.
So, how can you make your eCommerce website stand out from the crowd?
What is eCommerce SEO?
How do people find the products they’re looking for when shopping online?
SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through unpaid organic search engine results. Great eCommerce website design, user experience (UX) and content based on strategic keywords are central to its success.
They will make your eCommerce website more attractive to Google (or equivalent) and reflect search engine user intent. The result is that your eCommerce website will appear at or near the top of search engine rankings.
A recent study has found that less than 5% of searchers are inclined to click through to the second page of search results. So, it’s critical that you appear on the first page for search terms relevant to the product or service you’re trying to sell.
Your position on that first page is vitally important as well, with research showing that the top result commands 32+% of traffic and the second 17.6+%.
Getting high up on the first page doesn’t just happen. Far, far from it. You need a dedicated and powerful search strategy to get you there.
1. The Importance of Keyword Research
You know the chorus to that classic (or laughably bad, depending on your point of view – we’ll let you make your own minds up) Starship song “We built this city / We built this city on rocccckk annnddd rollllll…”?
Well, think of SEO keyword research and websites that way.
Keyword research is the bedrock of any website and any content produced for it – or at least that’s the way it should be.
Your keyword strategy comes first. Then your content plans, content, on-page optimisation, link building and content evaluation.
Tell us more about Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first step in identifying high-value search terms that your potential customers will be using to find what they’re looking for online.
But there’s a difference between eCommerce SEO (or commercial SEO) research and typical, information-focused SEO.
You may have typed ‘What is eCommerce SEO’ or a similar search term into Google and found this blog. That’s an example of information-focused SEO. We build eCommerce websites and are experts in eCommerce and other SEO, but Chetaru.com isn’t an eCommerce website. This is a content-heavy website about our services and general awesomeness.
eCommerce SEO is different, though, because it’s a search that reflects ‘buying intent’ like ‘men’s jeans’.
Try typing ‘men’s jeans’ into Google now and see what happens.
That’s right, you’re immediately presented with ads from brands that want to take you directly to a product on their eCommerce website and an image gallery of jeans that are intended to do likewise.
The higher up or more visible a brand appears for the search ‘men’s jeans’, the far more likely it is that browsing shoppers and potential leads will click through to their eCommerce websites.
Now try a more specific search like ‘men’s bootcut jeans’ and see how different the results are. This is because the brands that appear high in these searches have specifically invested in eCommerce SEO for the term ‘men’s bootcut jeans’ in order to outperform their competitors for this specific product type.
The simple truth of the matter is that if you don’t invest in keyword research, you may as well give up now on the idea of appearing on the first page of a Google search. And that means missing out on a huge amount of potential customers.
2. Search Isn’t Just About Google
It would be easy to think that most online shoppers and browsers start their product searches on Google.
Not true these days.
Amazon is the world’s biggest marketplace, so it’s hardly surprising that more than half of the world’s online shoppers start and finish their product searches there.
And that’s why an increasing number of companies that want to sell products online are investing as much in Amazon search (and search on other online marketplaces) as they are in Google search.
If you can develop a strong search strategy on Amazon and the like, you will give your brand and products a real commercial edge over the competition.
The more visible you make your product is on Amazon, the more likely it is to sell.
eCommerce SEO on these platforms also drives immediate conversions by increasing a product’s visibility on the online shelf when shoppers are actively searching under a category related to your product.
Again, this is all easier said than done. A massive amount of work goes into making products appear high up on Amazon searches, and we won’t go into too much detail now, because it all gets very technical.
3. eCommerce Website Structure
OK, so we’ve covered the importance of Google and Amazon (and equivalent) search when it comes to successfully selling products online. So, what about your own eCommerce website?
How do you attract online shoppers to your eCommerce website and convert them into active customers?
Google wants your eCommerce website to offer great UX (User Experience). You will therefore appear higher in searches and make your eCommerce website – and the products you sell – more visible on Google (and therefore attractive to potential customers) if your website offers great UX.
The single most important aspect of UX is how easy your eCommerce website is to navigate. Can the user – the shopper, that is – find what they’re looking for quickly?
That may seem a simple enough challenge to overcome if you’re only selling a few products. But what if you grow your offering? How do you scale that?
eCommerce website structure can get complicated and out-of-hand very quickly as you add and remove products and categories. You need to get this right from the very beginning to avoid your online store becoming a frustrating maze that drives would-be customers away forever.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Keep your eCommerce website design and structure simple, but easy to scale – you don’t want to have to reconfigure your eCommerce website structure every time you add a new product category
- More people shop online using smartphones and mobile devices than desktop now, so keep this front-of-mind when designing and developing your eCommerce website
- Make sure every page of your website is just a few simple clicks away from your homepage as possible
- Develop exciting content that entices customers and drives brand loyalty
- Keep navigation as straightforward as possible!
An Essential Part of Online Sales Success
Today’s online shoppers want to be able to find what they’re looking for and buy it as quickly as possible.
eCommerce SEO is essential because it helps online retailers to satisfy that need.
We’ve outlined the basics here, but you will appreciate that getting it right takes a great deal of time, effort and technical skill. And it’s unlikely that you have the requisite resources or capabilities in-house.
Chetaru offers a cost-effective solution to that problem.