Marc Swann, Search Director at SEO and digital marketing agency Glass Digital, explains the essential steps that any online business should follow to succeed in the competitive world of ecommerce and increase traffic.
The online retail revolution is well underway. With shoppers lured in by the convenience of making purchases at home, it’s easy to see why the front page of the search engine results page has rapidly become the new high street for so many businesses.
But, while ecommerce sites may not face the same difficult trading conditions as physical stores, the online search landscape is getting more competitive by the day. Clearly, ecommerce is the future — and businesses must start ploughing more of their resources into their websites if they want to succeed. In this article, I’ll explain how retail businesses can use search engine optimisation (SEO) to rank well on the SERPs, driving organic traffic to their site and turning it into sales.
Optimise your onsite content
Sites that rank at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) get the most organic traffic, which in turn drives the most sales. But, as a result, the top spots are tricky to secure, and for very competitive search terms, even landing on the front page of the results can be a tough endeavour.
The solution lies in optimising your on-site content to show Google that your website really does provide the best result for that page. To do this, you need to make sure that all of your key pages feature well-written, highly relevant content, with excellent spelling and grammar, as search engine algorithms are now sophisticated enough to identify mistakes. You can always get an agency or copywriter to do this for you — they should also be able to use industry tools to ensure you’re targeting the right keywords. For an ecommerce site, plenty of clear, high-resolution photographs are also going to be especially important when it comes to securing conversions.
Focus on user experience
To attract organic traffic, you need to be prepared to spend some money designing a slick, reactive site that is designed around the needs of the user. Search engines place great emphasis on user experience (or UX), and a site that loads quickly (see MangoMatter Media for some great research on how web hosting can impact site speed), is easy to navigate, and looks great can make all the difference — it can potentially even boost your rankings across the entire site.
But a great website offers more benefits than just SEO: it will also help you to stand out from the other competitors on the SERP and helps your business to look more trustworthy and professional, which in turn can help to drive sales. For most consumers, it’s a no-brainer — just think, would you rather give your hard-earned cash to a company that had a slow, confusing, and out-of-date looking website, or one that is fast and looks professional? Optimising your content can drive organic traffic, but the quality of your website will actually turn that traffic into sales.
Make sure your site is mobile friendly
It’s all very well creating a great website for desktop, but it won’t mean a thing if it doesn’t work on mobile devices. A staggering 80% of all internet usage now happens via mobile devices (Quartz), so you want to make sure your site is as mobile-friendly as possible.
Not only is this likely to help you score sales with mobile searchers, but Google also favours sites that are mobile-friendly, so it can boost your rankings across your site as a whole. So, you really need to make sure yours is adaptive and optimised for this traffic. Not sure how your site is performing on mobile? Google offers a mobile-friendly site test that you can use to see how you compare to other businesses, as well as learning what you can do to improve even further.
Take advantage of Google profiles and tools
Search engines offer a number of tools for ecommerce businesses that can provide your site with a quick and relatively easy SEO boost, so be sure to take advantage of these. If you have a physical store or base, be sure to fill out your Google MyBusiness profile: this includes the sort of information that typical searchers might look for about your company, like where you’re located, what your opening hours are, and other basic details. This will ensure you get featured on Google Maps — helping you secure local searches — and generally makes your website appear more trustworthy and reputable, which boosts overall rankings.
I’d also strongly recommend taking a look at Google’s business guidelines to make sure you’re on track. Remember, for the most part, search engines just want to help their users find the best results or products to suit their needs. So, as long as you play by their rules and do your best to follow their guidance, you can expect your website to start performing much better.
As more and more ecommerce websites vie for that coveted top position on the SERP, it’s becoming more essential for business to focus their efforts on SEO. By making sure your website is mobile-friendly and populated by quality content, and following Google’s quality guidelines as closely as possible, your ecommerce site should stand every chance of attracting organic traffic.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.