E-commerce websites can seem overwhelming to manage, but effective information architecture, SEO and content marketing strategies can make a huge difference. Nothing about the advice I offer below is complicated, difficult or expensive. After learning these simple strategies, please share them with anyone else who might benefit from them. It may even be someone inside your own company or organization!
The powerful impact of SEO harnessed to content marketing
SEO can be a powerful tool. I’ve seen clients double — or even triple — revenue by attracting more organic search traffic. This is often followed by a sales boost offline at local stores as more customers find their e-commerce website on a Google search.
Through a decade of consulting on SEO for leading e-commerce web shops in Norway and international Fortune 500 corporations, I’ve picked up some precious insights to share with you. Let’s take a closer look at winning strategies of successful web shops and e-commerce companies.
1. Successful e-commerce companies use search & analytics data to inform their strategy.
Obviously, a business should serve its customers’ needs. But many e-commerce sites are built without even looking at search data. That’s a shame!
Successful e-commerce websites, including those with multiple retail outlets across the country, gain an advantage by doing their research before formulating a customer-centric SEO and content strategy. They uncover what people are searching for on Google by carefully studying search terms, phrases and keywords.
Just by looking at search volumes, you can get a sense of which products have the highest (and lowest) demand. Knowing this, everybody should be eager to get their hands on professional keyword research and analysis. By combining search data with sales figures and conversion rate data from their web analytics, it’s easier to predict financial outcomes… even before an SEO strategy is implemented.
SEO situational analysis on search phrases used by customers helps to estimate total market share on Google. Marketers can then benchmark it against competitors using tools like SEMrush that measure conversion percentages and market share by category and sub-category. When combined with historical sales figures and profit margins in popular categories, this gives a realistic picture of where the company stands, how well they’re doing, and where opportunities lie to increase market share.
This exercise helps prioritize their focus on the best performing segments and reap a rich bounty in increased sales.
In successful e-commerce companies, data is king. Strategists only go by facts and figures. Experts and consultants are hired to help, and their value is assessed not by time spent on research, but by the value they bring by way of added sales and revenues.
2. Their information architecture and website structure is customer-focused.
The website of a successful e-commerce company doesn’t mirror its organizational structure. Instead, the focus is on what customers want.
Using search data from Google to uncover user intent, smart marketers first identify frequently asked questions and solutions that customers are searching for. Addressing them promptly and clearly gives their visitors a great experience because they feel understood and cared for. You want your customers to be impressed by how well the website deals with their concerns and queries.
To deliver this rich online experience, successful e-commerce sites trawl available search data to find questions, needs, problems and important issues that prospective customers might have. From there, they can build a customer-oriented information architecture that is effective and easy to navigate.
3. Their content strategy is based on search data.
As search engines like Google become integrated earlier in the buying process, often at the decision-making stage, content has become more important for targeting and penetrating markets. Companies are buying more content. And agencies are selling more of it, hiring writers to create fresh content.
The best content marketing investments are, of course, based on consumer data like keyword research and analysis. Business leaders who grow revenue and profits rapidly create only content that matters to their customers — content that impacts sales or helps build long-term relationships.
Leaders of successful e-commerce entities know that it’s more effective when SEO consultants and content producers work together. They facilitate cross-team cooperation and get everyone involved right from the planning and implementation stage. They keep all key players informed about progress and future plans so that everybody is on the same page.
4. They solve critical problems early in the planning phase.
Top-performing e-commerce business leaders aren’t in firefighting mode during production or post-production. They don’t rush into website planning without input from all relevant stakeholders — including an SEO consultant.
Developing a customer-centric e-commerce website begins with comprehensive keyword research and analysis carried out by a professional. It’s a great opportunity to find out what millions of micro-moments reveal about their customers’ desires and fears.
This is more valuable than even phone call or email surveys. People may not tell you what’s really bothering them. But by observing their online behavior, you’ll get precious insights into how their minds work. Search data will provide a bird’s-eye view of customers’ unfiltered thoughts and track their behavior patterns.
5. They follow SEO best practices for e-commerce websites.
There’s nothing new about e-commerce SEO. It’s just a specialized service where SEO strategy and tactics are tailored specifically to the unique challenges of e-commerce websites.
Successful organizations draw up plans before they start coding. They rarely find themselves caught in a nightmare because they didn’t plan in advance. On the other hand, their less successful counterparts are frequently stuck in a position where sales underperform — sometimes for many years — because someone forgot to implement well-known SEO best practices.
Proper planning and preparation lets the high performers issue suitable instructions to developers, which results in better website coding that won’t have to be completely redone later if problems arise.
Search engines have never before been a more integral part of your customers’ lives. Ignoring SEO is like sending your customers to your competition. Knowing that content and SEO must be integrated, it’s time to shift your focus to whatever drives business results and achieves business goals.
Sticking your head in the sand and believing that e-commerce SEO is just a passing fad will only leave you struggling behind the pack. I hope this list of action steps, setting apart successful e-commerce companies from their less successful competitors, is helpful.
There’s more to it than just content production, strategy and marketing. As a business leader, if you get everything right and build productive teams that can bring about a winning synergy, you will have done a great job for the future success of your business.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.