E-commerce SEO and Why Online Retailers Need It

September 19, 2016

By Rob Gonzalez

Traditional SEO performed on search engines like Google and Bing is taking a turn due to a new type of growth that we have never seen before -- and it will require optimizing ecommerce sites, from keyword research to technical SEO to link building.

Every online shopper performs searches on retailer sites like Amazon, and these searches have a more powerful impact on ecommerce than the general queries made on Google because they result in quicker sales.

Ecommerce SEO is the next big thing in online shopping, yet it comes with its challenges, including complexity and market competition. Here are a few reasons why ecommerce SEO should be part of your marketing strategy now.

The Quantitative Proof

  • Recently, Amazon surpassed Google 38% to 35% in terms of where shoppers start their journey -- meaning that consumers now use Amazon as their product search engine.
  • The SEO industry is currently worth around $65 billion, per Borrell Associates, and the vast majority of that is focused on gaming Google. And it's growing fast.
  • Retail ecommerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion in 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending that year. The strategy that smart retailers are taking: tread water in-store, grow online.

It's important to recognize that obtaining -- and retaining -- the top search position matters a lot (33% of clicks). This is even more critical on mobile, where the dropoff after the fourth position is even more dramatic than on desktops. This will be just as important on retailer sites, if not more. Large companies are highly motivated to compete for the top search positions on key ecommerce sites, including Amazon and Walmart.

The Qualitative Proof

Just as with traditional search SEO, you can't win at ecommerce SEO without the analytics to drive the action. This means the right tools and talent ecosystem. A whole industry has blossomed around Google that provides analytic tools, A/B testing capabilities and strategic know-how for companies looking to win those top organic spots for key search terms. Notably, Google itself provides tons of analytic information on search in general, via their AdWords interface, which is key to playing the organic SEO game.

The same types of tools will begin to emerge for ecommerce SEO.

There are already some early players investing in both the product side of things (Clavis, One Click Retail) as well as consultancies focusing on overall optimization strategy for brands and retailers (Content26, Accenture).

The real significant wins in ecommerce SEO will be driven by sharing analytic product performance data from retailers themselves with vendors. This is already happening. For example, Amazon's analytics is critical for premium Vendor Central suppliers (and frankly should be released for all participating vendors of any scale, including on Vendor Express). Google Manufacturing Center does the same, and although there is no buy button, brands participate for the data alone. All this data brings the customer journey to life and informs strategies for performance improvements.

Other retailers will have to follow suit to remain competitive and encourage their suppliers to help with SEO-optimized ecommerce content.

The Amazon Product Detail Page is the New Brand Marketing

Brands are pivoting marketing strategies as a result of high traffic rates on retailer sites -- one customer reports that their product detail pages on Amazon & Home Depot garner 30 million views each month, a number exponentially higher than their corporate homepage (the most highly trafficked page on their site). And yet brands are still allocating lots of marketing budget to rebuilding home pages. Clearly this needs to change.

Fact: spending MORE on your Amazon product detail pages and other sites where your consumers interact with your brand most often rather than your own corporate website just makes sense.

The Future

The largest brands and retailers are already investing millions in ecommerce SEO (technology, consultancies, content development, etc.) while other top retailers are keeping pace by sharing analytic data to make gaming their sites possible. Other brands and retailers will follow suit to remain relevant.

Source

"E-commerce SEO And Why Online Retailers Need It." MediaPost, 9/19/16.

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