In part 1 of this article, I covered paid search and comparison shopping engines. Now that we’ve conquered the pay-per-click universe, let’s move on to the owned or earned forms of marketing an eCommerce site: SEO and social media!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The most important thing I can tell you about SEO for an eCommerce site is it’s not only about keyword volume, its about economic value. People are often so prone to think that more visitors inherently means more sales. But, not all traffic to your site is created equal. Sometimes the more targeted, but lower volume keyword provides more economic value to you, than the big volume, less targeted keyword. I strongly suggest testing keywords in paid search to discover what the real economic value is for a keyword before giving it a major SEO push.
Now that we’ve established the mindset that SEO should be done to drive revenue, not just visits, let’s take a look at how to do that. I’m going to break the keywords down into 3 specific categories and address each of them.
- Home Page Keywords: One mistake I see over and over again is the the long wishlist title tag on the home page. Your title tag should only ever target 2 to 3 keywords, maximum. Now, for the home page, you want this to be something that describes everything you sell. A lot of sites mistake this to mean their best selling products or their best category. You don’t want to create confusion about which page you want ranking for a specific keyword. Let’s say I’m a women’s apparel eCommerce site, but I’m also a Vera Bradley retailer. My home page might be targeted at “Designer Women’s Clothes” rather than “Vera Bradley Handbags.” Leave the Vera Bradley to that category, use a keyword that won’t be optimized by another page and that makes sense to enter via the home page.
- Category Level Keywords: These keywords often wind up being where you sink the most effort. The landing page is very relevant to what the searcher is looking for, the competition is typically a little lighter, and there’s still typically significant search volume. Make sure you custom write these title tags and ensure the on-page optimization is spot on for these pages.
- Product Level keywords: This is the long tail for your site. Optimizing for these keywords usually relies on having good templated practices for SEO. Make sure the product title uses the H1 tag, have an auto-generated title tag that follows a good format (ex: Product Title | Category | Site), ensure that you have static URLs with the keywords in the URL, and make sure you’re using the canonical URL tag on the page.
Now, that we’ve established the strategic approach to how to SEO an eCommerce site, we’ve still got to make sure that the execution of that strategy is sound. Here’s an on-page SEO checklist for making sure your on-page SEO is on target. On the other side of the coin, I wrote an article about the 4 most common SEO mistakes I see time and again. In combination with a good strategic approach to your keywords, these on-page guides will help you get some real results out of your SEO.
The most common mistake I see in social media is when marketers use it as a direct response channel. You customer (or potential customer) decided to like or follow you on a social media platform, don’t abuse that privilege. Interactions on social media occur on your customer’s free time, not their shopping time. Does that mean you shouldn’t promote your product at all? No, it means you need to have some tact.
Use social media to build rapport & trust in your brand – while this does not provide an immediate economic return, providing customers with value and trust goes a long way. Customers expect to be able to speak directly to a brand easily. In supporting this, 71% customers are more likely to buy because of comments/referrals seen on social media:
- Humanize the brand: Post pictures around the office, things the humans of the company do, not just what the faceless corporation does.
- Talk what they’re talking about: Take a look at your following; what content do they like to share, what concerns do they have?
- Ask them: Ask them about your company, ask them about what they like, what they don’t like. You’d be surprised, you get both valuable feedback and good engagement.
- Quickly solve problems: Good customer service on social media happens quickly and has the power to act. The people responding to customer complaints need to have the power to solve their problems.
- Get the SEO bump: Engaging in social media has ways of increasing your visibility on search engines.
Make no mistake about it though, social media will expose bad policies in your company if they exist. Good customer support though social channels will result in your company creating brand strength that’s irreplaceable. Let me give an example. I recently saw an Amazon employee on a video game subreddit directly attending to any customer confusion created by pre-ordering a popular game. You can see the outpour of support for Amazon because of this employee’s attentiveness to the details.
I don’t want to leave the lasting impression that social media is all posting funny gifs or customer service. There are useful ways to engage your audience and provide economic value as well. Here are some more immediate ROI focused suggestions:
- Create a like-gated app: A like-gated app requires the user to like the page prior to participating in the app. This is great for contests, giveaways, and promotions. The other benefit of this method is you collect an email address as well. Here’s a free tool to help you create like-gated Facebook Apps.
- Social retargeting: Facebook recently released their FBX ad platform. This means you can retarget visitors to your website on Facebook. Adroll is a popular ad platform for Facebook retargeting, but you can find many more by Googling “FBX retargeting.”
- Use exclusive offers: Incentivize your fans/followers by providing them with exclusive discounts from time to time. It helps give them reason to pay attention to your social media efforts as well as makes them feel rewarded for being a “good customer.”
- Add social like & share buttons to your site: Like, tweet, pin it buttons are all good to be added to an eCommerce product page. You’d be surprised how many people will share really compelling products even if they don’t buy. Remember, the web is visual, so good photography goes a really long way here.
Ok, folks. I’d love to hear from you: what challenges have you come across in marketing your site? Anything confusing that I covered? Do you think I’m missing anything big, what’s driving the big bucks for your site? Let me know in the comments.