Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
3 (Simple) Reasons Why E-Commerce Websites Need SEO
Columnist Trond Lyngbø argues that a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is critical to the success of any e-commerce website. Here's why.
In the fairy tale, “Jack & the Beanstalk,” a magician gives the little boy three magic beans. His angry mother flings them out of the window. Overnight, a giant beanstalk springs up, helping Jack climb to a kingdom in the sky — from where he makes a fortune.
For your e-commerce website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is like the three magic beans. It will make you a fortune, too!
Why Do E-Commerce Websites Need SEO?
It doesn’t matter if your company is big or small, a bootstrapped startup or a Fortune 500 firm — you need SEO to maximize your e-commerce website’s profitability.
The tips I’ll share in this report are based on 10+ years of hands-on, real-world experience with SEO and e-commerce. Each recommendation is based on analysis of hard data, not intuition or gut instinct. These hard-earned lessons come from helping real clients with genuine situations.
Reason #1: SEO Is Critical For Helping Customers Find You
Having an e-commerce website without SEO is leaving cash on the table — and plenty of it.
But don’t take my word for it. Log on to your analytics tool. Look at where most of your traffic, conversions and sales come from. I’m positive that, in most cases, organic search will rank as one of your top sources of revenue. For many businesses, Google drives the lion’s share of profit-producing traffic. (And if it doesn’t for yours, then you’re making some big mistakes somewhere.)
The way technology has evolved over the years has transformed the way consumers purchase products. Search is now an integral part of the decision-making process, with 89 percent of consumers using search engines to inform their purchase decisions.
Thus, ignoring SEO means you’re taking the risk of not being visible during your customers’ buying journey. When you aren’t visible on search results, fewer customers know about you, you sell less, and your growth slows down. At the same time, your competitors will increase sales and profits — and you’re letting them grow stronger.
Look at it from another perspective. Your potential for growth is tremendous. Too often, I find clients satisfied with average rankings on Google’s organic search results. They don’t understand that they could expand sales and revenue massively by improving further.
If your revenue were to drop by 50 percent, alarm bells would go off instantly — yet that doesn’t happen when you miss a chance to grow by 50 percent. That opportunity is just waiting there for you to grab with a superior SEO strategy.
Reason #2: SEO Is A Cost-Effective Way To Grow Your Bottom Line
My more successful clients allocate most of their time and resources to activities that are essential for meeting their goals — and cut down on areas with lesser potential or impact. When the fundamentals of your sales and marketing strategy involve correct analysis of your situation, market and competition, and your plan is tailored to your resources and strengths, your efforts will be more cost-effective.
In highly competitive industries and niches, paying for website traffic can run to many dollars per click. Or maybe you’re forced to buy costly banner ads. With effective SEO, you are less dependent on this traffic. Of course, you can still buy ads. But if finances are tight, SEO can be a lifesaver that keeps sales and profit flowing.
Unlike paid search traffic, the traffic from organic search is “free” — no cost per click, no cost per conversion, no cost per impression. No wonder SEO has always been so popular. You can attract quality traffic in large volumes without paying for it directly. (Of course, there are costs associated with hiring and retaining an SEO professional, though this is true for any online marketing discipline.)
Successful e-commerce companies have prioritized SEO efforts to optimize their websites for Google (and other search engines). I’ve seen small Norwegian local e-commerce websites dominate niches with stiff competition from leading international brands. Remarkably, they do this even with relatively small budgets and limited resources. Some have done it just by following simple SEO best practices.
These successful companies have a unique mindset. Their approach, preparation and planning is different. They integrate SEO with an overall marketing strategy, tying it in with activities like content marketing and social media marketing, guided by an experienced SEO consultant.
Integrating SEO with other marketing activities has a twofold benefit: it increases the effectiveness of these marketing activities while also improving your organic search visibility. This saves you time and money and brings down your cost per conversion. You’ll achieve more by spending less.
Reason #3: SEO’s Effects Are Long-Lasting, Making It A Great Investment
Search engine optimization delivers results that are targeted, cost-effective and measurable — and long-lasting.
SEO doesn’t have a shelf life of weeks or months. No one “pulls the plug” on SEO. With paid advertising, the minute you stop paying, the traffic drops. SEO just keeps going and going, working night and day.
The long-term effects of a solid SEO program are clear. Unlike most forms of marketing, where you start with a clean slate every year, SEO builds upon itself to grow stronger over time. You can layer upon what you did last year and keep growing, until you own your niche and dominate your market.
In some cases, you can even take a break or focus on other things for a few weeks or months and return to find your SEO just as effective as before (or close to it). Unlike paid advertising, the stream of customers and sales won’t stop the moment you put the brakes on. If you run short of cash, you could pause your other ads and still be visible to your audience through organic search results.
SEO For Your E-Commerce Site Is No Longer Optional
My biggest challenge when working with clients is getting them to see just how deeply Google is embedded into the day-to-day life of consumers. As a result of this, SEO has become critical to e-commerce business’ financial results. Since clients don’t always see the “problem,” SEO doesn’t get the attention and budget it deserves.
This oversight means they are limiting their own growth. Instead of taking their business to the next level with professional SEO, they leave money on the table. They plan without correct analytics data, and then half-heartedly execute a few SEO activities without any plan or strategy guiding them.
You shouldn’t fall into the same trap and lose the throne to others. Search engine optimization has the potential to boost your e-commerce site’s sales and revenue and make you the market leader in your industry. And the good news is that your investment in SEO will even pay for itself in a very short time, while its effects will last for many years.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.