Is SEO For E-Commerce A Useful Marketing Channel?
According to Statista, in 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars. Statista estimates that by 2022, e-retail revenues will grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars.
How are these companies generating so much money? Better yet, how can your e-commerce business achieve success and outshine the competition?
Two words, digital marketing!
Gone are the days of brick and mortar. Nowadays, companies need to have an online presence. With an online presence, businesses can take advantage of online sales to help increase their bottom line.
To generate an online presence, you will need website traffic - this is where digital marketing comes into play.
There are many forms of digital marketing. One of the more popular channels of digital marketing is search engine optimization (SEO).
What Is SEO?
SEO is the practice of making your website rank higher on an online search engine such as Google, Bing and YouTube. Most consumers only view the first page of a search engine results page (SERP), so creating a search engine-friendly website is crucial to outrank your competitors.
5 Benefits Of Using SEO
#1 Rank First On Organic Search
Organic search refers to the ranking of websites on search engines. Search engines rank websites according to their relevance to a search query (words typed into the search bar). Companies cannot pay to outrank their competitors on organic search.
Having your e-commerce rank as high as possible in an organic search is critical. Backlinko reports, less than 1% of Google users clicked on a URL from the second page.
It is evident that to get clicks to your website, you need to be visible on the first page of a search engine. Finding keywords that will allow your website to rank on the first page is imperative. Tailoring web pages to specific keywords will help improve your website's relevance.
When customers look up your desired keywords, they will be more likely to click on your page. Use organic search to increase quality traffic to your page and increase sales.
#2 Utilize Free Tools
SEO is a lot cheaper than other digital marketing channels. As mentioned earlier, you can’t pay to rank first in organic search. To rank first, you need to make your website search engine friendly. Many free resources can help you create and optimize content.
Some powerful free tools are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Moz, Ubersuggest and many more. Google analytics unlocks a massive amount of SEO traffic insights. In contrast, Google Search Console discovers keywords that land users on your website.
Many businesses see success by solely using free tools and resources. Since it is possible to use free tools and have success, this form of marketing is cost-effective. Leverage these tools to help build traffic, make decisions and increase authority.
#3 Measure Your SEO Success
Being able to measure the success of a marketing campaign is significant. If you can adequately measure success, you can better allocate your time and resources.
Using SEO allows you to measure and track results effectively. When you make changes online, you can accurately reference the success it is having on your website. Metrics such as site speed, keyword ranking, clicks, purchases and others can be very helpful.
Analyzing these metrics allows you to quickly see where your site needs improvements and which SEO elements you can use to fix them.
Measuring a campaign's success is a benefit because other channels don't track results easily. The simplicity of SEO tracking will allow you to save time, effort and money.
#4 Increase Your Customers Online Experience
A website's user experience can be the difference between a purchase and a lost customer. Implementing SEO best practices help design your website so that visitors can navigate with ease.
Discovering your customers' pain points will allow you to begin to alleviate the issues they are having. Fixing these issues will result in a better customer experience.
Optimizing your website content, simplifying webpages, and increasing site speed will improve customer experience. By increasing customer satisfaction, you can generate more purchases and long-term customers.
#5 Scalable For Your E-commerce
One unique aspect of SEO is that your success will continue to build over time. In contrast, when using alternative marketing channels, you can see traffic dips after a campaign ends.
SEO is a long-term process where you can control how much you want to invest. The more you invest in time, the faster you should see results. Having frequent traffic to your site is more optimal than a one-time spike.
Being able to generate a long-term, steady traffic flow to your site is critical for lasting success.
3 Cons Of Using SEO
#1 Google Algorithm Changes & Updates
Google uses algorithms that determine the rankings of your website. Over time these algorithms are changed and updated.
What you see for a search today might not be the same in a month. Google’s inconsistency in rankings means it can become difficult to reach the top of a search engine results page or keep a current position.
Adjusting to these changes can become overwhelming, time-consuming and a pain. To stay current, look into future trends and technological advancements that could impact the future of search engines.
#2 Long-Term Strategy
SEO is a long-term process. You can use best practices and not see results for months — particularly for a new website.
All new websites have little to no authority in search engines. Your website gains authority over time. The rule of thumb is the higher the website authority, the higher you should rank.
Alternatively, a site that has more website authority brings new challenges. At this point, most simple changes are complete. Now, the focus should be on creating and updating more content on your website. Creating content that brings attention to your website can take a lot of time.
If you continuously optimize your website content with SEO best practices, you can expect improvements in your site performance within a few months. You will notice gains in your SEO results from year to year through continuous optimization.
#3 Extremely Competitive
Borrell Associates proclaimed that in the United States, companies spent 65 billion dollars on SEO services. In 2018 that number was expected to rise to $72.02 billion and forecasted to grow to $79.27 billion by 2020.
As you can see, lots of companies are investing heavily in SEO services. By doing so, they gain a competitive advantage over those who are not. It can be the difference between your website generating millions of dollars over thousands.
Implementing SEO will help your website reach number one in search engine rankings. The more capital your competitors invest in SEO services, the harder it becomes for you to rank. There is a lot of competition; it is critical to adopt SEO before your competitors. This way, your competitors won't continually outrank your website.
Alternative Digital Marketing Channels
To better understand SEO as a marketing channel and its place for e-commerce, it is critical to look at the other channels to reach an informed conclusion. Here is a list of different marketing channels your e-commerce should consider.
Paid Social Media Marketing
The most well-known form of digital advertising is social media marketing. Social media ads leverage social platforms to engage customers and drive traffic to their site. The most used social media advertising platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp and Instagram.
Each social platform provides diverse audience targeting methods and ad formats (video, text, image, message) and optimization techniques.
Social media marketing is useful because, according to Statista, users spend on average 145 minutes a day on social platforms. That means for 2.4 hours a day, you can reach your target audience with your product or service.
One downfall with using social media advertising is that the learning curve is high. You can get overwhelmed with the technical aspects and become hyper-focused on ad spend.
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a method used by search engines that help drive traffic to websites. Search engines like Google and Bing have ads that appear above the organic search results.
E-commerce companies bid on keywords and phrases related to their product or service. They only pay when an ad gets clicked on.
One of the main benefits of using PPC is the relation between the ad and search keyword. Customers searching for your desired keyword or phrase will be instantly targeted. The process usually results in more potential customers visiting your website and completing a purchase.
E-commerce advertisers should be mindful that having ads that get lots of clicks does not imply more sales. The ad is only half of the process. Emphasis needs to also be on creating a high-performing landing page and website.
Content marketing is a strategic approach to drive traffic to your e-commerce site. It is the process of creating rich and valuable content.
Use content marketing at any point in the customer journey to attract and engage your target audience to inspire a sale. You can adapt your content to fit all platforms, leading to a higher reach for your brand.
Creating valuable content can be a time-consuming process. Researching, writing, reviewing, and publishing require several hours to complete.
Email marketing is an effective digital strategy that helps leverage customers with personalized messages. This form of digital marketing is an inexpensive way to connect with your target audience.
Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment (ROI). The high ROI is because prospects have consented to receive your emails.
E-commerce businesses can use email marketing to:
Update customers about promotional events
Inform users of forgotten products in their cart
Send thank you messages after making a sale
E-commerce businesses should not rely on email marketing as their only marketing channel as shoppers can mark emails as spam or can unsubscribe at any time.
When it comes to deciding on the right marketing channel for your e-commerce, you need to consider your industry, audience, goals and strategies.
To recap, SEO allows your website to be found on search engines even when your target audience isn't looking for you. SEO is a sustainable marketing channel that will help increase traffic and improve the user experience. Better customer experience means an increase in customer satisfaction resulting in more purchases and loyal customers.
SEO is a long-term process where you control how much you want to invest. When done right and efficiently, SEO can cost you nothing. As mentioned, there are a lot of free resources at your disposal. It comes down to the amount of time you have to allocate the resources to conduct SEO best practices. We know that generating a long-term traffic flow to your site is critical for lasting success.
That is not to say that you should focus solely on one digital marketing channel. Email marketing, pay-per-click, social media ads and content marketing all have their place. A tailored combination of digital marketing channels will allow for a complete and sustainable strategy.