What Makes an Effective Ecommerce Strategy in 2022?

Dwelling on the horrors of the past couple of years is counterproductive. By contrast, learning lessons from how COVID-19 completely changed the world’s ecommerce landscape can be quite the opposite.

For millions of businesses, months spent on mandatory lockdown forced a major rethink. Some expanded their efforts to reach new customers online, while others set up new online businesses from scratch.

All of which resulted in an ecommerce sector that’s larger and more competitive than anyone could have predicted by this stage. If anything, the size and value of the ecommerce industry is today what it should have been several years from now.

Estimates vary, the research suggests that total global ecommerce sales last year reached just under $5 trillion. Incredibly, a further 50% growth is expected within the next few years alone, and the sector could be worth almost $7.5 trillion by the end of 2025.

That’s a lot of money to be made by online sellers who get it right, but launching and running a successful ecommerce business has become a huge challenge. Not due to the difficulties in setting up an online store, but because that’s exactly what thousands of people are doing every month.

Irrespective of what it is you sell and whom you sell it to, you’re looking at the kind of competition that’s never been seen in the digital space before.

What is Ecommerce SEO?

Increasingly, it’s how online retailers approach ecommerce SEO that’s making the biggest difference of all. In a nutshell, ecommerce SEO encompasses all efforts made to make a business appeal prominently in Google’s search results. 

Google continues to play the single most decisive role in who sinks and who swims in global ecommerce. Almost every online shopper instinctively heads to Google when looking to purchase a product or service of any kind online.

The results displayed most prominently by Google (typically those that appear at the top of the first page) are those that scoop up the lion’s share of all ecommerce traffic.

Ecommerce SEO differs from conventional SEO in that the focus is more on creating search-friendly product pages and category pages.  A variety of on-page elements must be taken into account to make an ecommerce SEO campaign work, including but not limited to the following:

  • Headlines
  • Product descriptions
  • Meta tags
  • Internal link structure
  • Image optimisation
  • Navigational structure

Some of these are requirements or simply enough for online retailers to handle themselves, while others may call for the help and support of an experienced SEO. 

What’s the Value of SEO to Ecommerce Websites?

Research from BrightEdge suggests that a huge 68% of all trackable website traffic comes from organic and paid search. In the ecommerce space, almost 38% of all online retail traffic is channelled by the major search engines.

Or to put it another way, at least one in every three online shoppers find what they need with the help of Google. 

We’ve long since passed the point where product quality and competitive prices are the most important differentiators between online sellers. What matters most is who appears prominently in the rankings – product quality and pricing having no bearing on Google’s allocation of results page rankings.

It’s often assumed that those who list popular products at the lowest prices appear more prominently, but this simply isn’t the case.

How to Create an Effective Ecommerce SEO Strategy?

SEO is, by its nature, a complex and ongoing process. It isn’t something that can devise and implement overnight, nor does it have a defined ‘completion’ date. The only way to succeed in any aspect of SEO is to strive for continuous improvement at all times.

In ecommerce, there will always be products and services that are more important for your business than others. If you are working on your SEO strategy for the first time, it makes sense to prioritise your key products and services.

These could be those that generate the biggest ROI for your business, those that are most popular with your customers, or those that help differentiate your business from those of your competitors.

Key elements that must be included within an ecommerce SEO strategy include keyword research, link building, content optimisation and technical SEO. 

But before getting into the technicalities of the whole thing, it’s a good idea to take the time to consider the following:

  • Which specific products and services do you want to prioritise with your SEO? Are there certain pages on your website you would like to channel traffic to over others?
  • What immediate search terms and phrases come to mind, which your customers may be using to find products and/or pages like these?
  • How are your competitors currently performing in the SERP rankings? What kinds of keywords are they using to appeal to customers via Google?
  • Do you have the time and knowledge needed to confidently handle all aspects of your SEO campaign yourself?

It’s worth noting at this point that the most obvious (and therefore competitive) keywords you come up with may not be the ideal search terms to pursue. The more competitive they are, the more difficult it will be to rank highly for them 

Extensive keyword research should be performed, in order to gain insights into the less competitive search terms your target audience is using. Ideally, the kinds of commonly-used search terms your competitors have not thought about pursuing with their own SEO strategies.

Product Page SEO Optimisation

Perhaps the biggest make-or-break factor where ecommerce SEO is concerned is product page SEO. This is where the bulk of your written content will be located, and in all instances must be optimised for SEO purposes.

Though it’s worth remembering that in Google’s eyes, the best product pages are those that fulfil the following requirements:

  • They provide genuine value to the customer
  • They reflect the unique voice and personality of the brand
  • They are unique (rather than copied and pasted)
  • They are well written and contain sufficient detail 

Your core focus should therefore be to satisfy the needs and expectations of the customer. Embedding SEO elements in product pages is essential, but not to such an extent as to compromise the quality or value of the text.

Google is increasingly focusing on the details, and rewarding more prominent positions to retailers who offer detailed, well-written and genuinely useful product descriptions.

It’s a similar story with category page SEO – particularly if you plan on prioritising them as the core of your strategy. 

Supporting Content

What often makes all the difference with ecommerce SEO is the presence of supporting content. This means the articles, videos, FAQs and generation informational/educational resources you include alongside your product and category pages.

For example, if you sell outdoor gear and adventure supplies, you could show videos of your products in action. You could write destination guides for wild camping trips, you could recommend specific products for certain types of excursions, and you could offer health and safety tips while out and about.

Better yet, you could load your site with user-generated content (UGC). Invite your customers to share videos of themselves using your gear, write reviews and recommendations, share their experiences with their fellow customers and so on. This is the kind of social proof that works wonders with Google, and can also be just the thing for motivating more purchases.

Other Essential SEO Elements 

With a rudimentary understanding of SEO, most of the above can be handled in-house.  Nobody knows your business or niche better than you, so you’re in the best possible position to create quality content for your website.

However, there are other essential SEO elements that may call for outside support.  Examples of which include:

  • Site architecture optimisation, in order to ensure the basic structure and layout of your website are SEO friendly. 
  • The visual design of your website and the quality of the user experience, with regard to how smooth, simple and enjoyable your site is to navigate.
  • Site speed and general performance, ensuring every page loads practically instantaneously and your site is 100% error-free.
  • Optimisation for mobile devices, guaranteeing those who visit your site via a smartphone the same high-quality experience.
  • Building and maintaining a strong social media presence, which these days goes hand in hand with an effective SEO strategy.
  • Internal linking, external linking and high-authority backlink building – all important ranking signals with Google.
  • Continuous analysis of analytics and site performance, in order to make ongoing improvements to your SEO campaign.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you are unable to confidently handle all of the above in-house, outsourcing comes highly recommended. Hiring an experienced SEO will help you get the best possible ROI from your marketing spend, irrespective of how limited your budget may be.

Be mindful of the fact that competition in every sector of the ecommerce space is only set to become more ferocious over the coming years. Now really is the time to get your ecommerce SEO campaign in order, while the opportunity to beat your competitors to the punch remains.

For more information on the benefits of professional SEO or to discuss any aspect of your digital strategy in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with Tait Pollack today. 

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