It's official, businesses and consumers have adapted to shopping online and there's no going back. So how can you make yourself heard in the ever-increasing e-commerce clamour?
Intelligent use of SEO gives you a practical bag of tricks that can help get you noticed. Which is why we've put together a handy guide that unpicks some of the tech and looks at quick and easy techniques to help you attract more people, build your online presence, and grow your ecommerce business.
Even in pre-pandemic Britain, the Office of National Statistics' latest survey found e-commerce revenue in 2019 totalled a whopping £693bn. In the retail sector alone that year, almost 20% of sales were conducted online. In 2020, internet retail sales increased by 46%, while 87% of UK households bought online in the preceding 12 months. Figures for the coronavirus years will be substantially higher.
However, with some studies suggesting our online attention span can now sometimes be shorter than a goldfish, grabbing your customers' attention quickly and effectively is vital.
That's where SEO comes in.
In its simplest form, ‘search engine optimisation’ distributes a range of the most relevant search terms or phrases (called keywords) throughout your media. The aim is to drive more organic (free or not paid for) traffic to your website, boosting your search engine rankings and pushing your business further up their pages so more people find you.
However, keywords are just the beginning. There are several simple techniques and tools to help your SEO do more heavy lifting. Let's get into the detail.
An SEO strategy should look at your entire e-commerce picture with the ultimate aim of creating the most effective way to connect with your clients.
As a minimum:
Make sure your strategy sets realistic expectations. There's nothing more demoralising than an impossible task. Unless you have the clout of Amazon or are selling something unique, you're unlikely to break into the top 10 listings on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. – at least not immediately.
Instead, think your short-term and long-term goals – more web traffic, more click-throughs or more conversions into sales.
Regardless of what you decide, a robust SEO strategy will certainly help more people find you and what you have to offer. And that's only good news for your bottom line.
When creating your SEO strategy, you should always start with keyword research.
A keyword strategy is essential for an ecommerce website as it allows you to focus on what you want your website to rank for and how you want customers to find you.
Creating a keyword strategy is pretty straightforward. No one knows your business better than yourself. So as a starter for 10, put yourself in your clients' shoes. If you were trying to find your own business, what question would you ask or type into Google? And how would you rephrase that question?
For some simple alternatives, Google and sites like Amazon autofill potential search terms as you type, based on the most popular. But for a more robust assessment, its worth investing in tools designed for that purpose.
Ahrefs and SEMrush are just two examples of many paid-for keyword finding services. For limited budgets, Google's own SEO analytics tools - Google Keyword Planner and Google Search Console - both are free to anyone with a website. It provides tools and reports to help you measure your site's search traffic and performance and what search terms (keywords) people are using to find you.
When you have an idea about what keywords you'd like to target, write them down focusing on one keyword per web page.
What are long tail and short tail keywords?
Before we move on, let's quickly answer a common keyword question, "What are long tail and short tail keywords?"
Short tail keywords are usually one to three words you would use to describe yourself or your business or your product (think of these as decision making keywords). For example, 'copywriting and editorial' or 'denim dress' or 'employee benefits'.
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific. We always use these for blog posts and target readers in their awareness and consideration stages of their buying journey. For example, 'copywriting for small businesses' or 'best dress for pear shapes' or 'how to increase employee engagement'.
As short term keywords are more basic, they generate more traffic, though this is typically more generic. Long-term keywords are more targeted, so generate less traffic, but are more likely to attract the customers you want. For effective SEO use a mixture of
Backlinks are links to your website from another website, ideally from sites ranking higher than yours in searches. They are important as they show search engines that your site is credible and trustworthy. Which is why the more backlinks a website has, the more likely that website has a higher Domain Authority and higher rankings.
One good way of generating backlinks is to create compelling content that people want to read and share with their audiences.
Creating regular blog posts that appeal to your target audience is an excellent way of attracting regular visitors. And don't make it all about you. A good mix of content will have posts that relate to your products, highlight or solve your clients' problems, share news related to your sector, and fun pieces for light relief and interaction, like competitions. Over time you'll find other websites linking to your content, and therefore generating a backlink.
There are numerous of other ways to create backlinks, including using digital PR techniques, creating business directory listings and getting bloggers to write about your business and link back to your site.
How you write copy, and upload the videos and images on your site are vital for a good SEO score.
Using your keyword strategy make sure you include your keyword in your headers, body copy, meta title and meta description, and URL slugs. This is how Google will identify what you're trying to rank your page for.
Ensure your chosen pictures are relevant and add captions that include your keywords. Change any generic file names to match your image so searchers (and the search engine) can find it. The longer your website takes to load, the worse it ranks. Compress images or reduce image sizes wherever possible.
Videos hosted directly on your website (rather than a site like YouTube or Vimeo) can boost engagement, but keep it to one per webpage. Like images, make sure you choose a relevant title and description. And if you can, add a transcript. As well as providing a good user experience, search engines recognise copy in transcripts.
Clients now search for products, services and businesses on a wide variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Your social media should grab people's attention with great content, build trust and brand awareness, encourage sharing and aim to send them back to your website. After all, the more referral clicks your website gets, the better it will look and the higher it will rank.
Another tip for using social media to aid your SEO - make sure your keywords are used in hashtags so you appear in searches that relate back to your keyword strategy. This will not only help users on social media find what they're looking for, but search engines will also take note further strengthening your communication that you want to be ranking for those keywords.
We strongly believe that blog platforms are a underutilised marketing channel and tool. In 12 months we drove 57k web hits to our client's website through blog content alone! Blogging however does take time, which is why it gets put to the bottom of the pile in most marketing departments.
To see a monumental difference to your SEO score, a blog is essential. However, a blog with no SEO strategy is just a waste of time. So go back to your keyword strategy and identify all those things your target customers are searching for while in the awareness and consideration stages of their buying journey.
Using these keywords you can develop a blog strategy that will drive organic web traffic, raise brand awareness and position you as an authoritative figure in your field.
A website is never 'once and done', and certainly not in e-commerce. But when was the last time you gave your website an overhaul?
Over time, a company's website can become a sprawling leviathan, with multiple, superfluous pages, duplicated content, dead-ends and vanished links. Good search results rely on accessibility and continuity (which is also good customer experience).
Here are some housekeeping tips to work into your website maintenance:
Now that you've learnt all about SEO for ecommerce, you may be wondering if it's worth all the effort and whether you should take part in PPC instead.
Organic search and paid ads (PPC) both have benefits depending on your needs and your budget.
Devices like Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Apple's Siri already handle voice search requests – and this medium will continue to grow as voice-recognition tech gets more sophisticated. The good news is if your website keywords, content or headlines are answering your clients' frequently asked questions, you're pretty much voice search-ready. However, keeping your content conversational to mirror the way people speak will help you get noticed.
Are you looking for SEO or copywriting support for your business? Get in touch: email@example.com or 07477987943