As we can see on practice, a lot of entrepreneurs, who start a business in the field of ecommerce, are ready to invest big money in creation of a unique e-commerce portal, although not all of them take into account the fact, that expenses will be mainly directed to the very ecommerce website promotion.
It is quite a widespread practice when the owner of a website decides to take care of the SEO by himself. He googles “website search engine optimization” or simply “how to promote a website”, finds more or less clear methods and schemes, tries to do a portion of work by himself, and assigns another portion to freelancers. He might even try to learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and go for an SEO training or subscribe for an SEO course. But by the time he understands, that online promotion and SEO itself require a deeply individual and at the same time complex and overall approach (which is over his head), and approaches an SEO specialist, he loses a significant amount of money, time, and efforts. And there is still a long period ahead for correcting his mistakes! By losing time you lose your advantages as a competitor and a load of opportunities for promoting your resource.
One more important thing, that a lot of businessmen do not take into account even when they decide to assign the store promotion to a qualified SEO firm, is personal participation in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not enough just to transfer money to the agency’s account and sit back, waiting for SEO results. The SEO plan for ecommerce website, its stages, channels, methods and tools are coordinated by a client and an executant together.
A majority of articles tell us about the technical side of ecommerce SEO (about search optimization and contextual advertising), and I will tell you about peculiarities from the owner’s side. These parts consist of:
The work of an SEO firm:
- an analysis of competitors from the technical side;
- SEO audit and the ecommerce website specifics;
- making a SEO;
- work with external links;
- optimizing the ecommerce website in the way search engines do not ban it;
- making a content plan;
- collection potential clients behaviour’s data;
- constant following the internet marketing strategy;
The ecommerce website owner’s work is essential:
- the right start of development after the SEO for an online store;
- handover of authority;
- personal control of all processes;
- control of sales and managers’ work;
- search of ideas and developing tasks regarding ecommerce website promotion from the side of order processing optimization and other business processes;
- following internet marketing strategies.
An ecommerce SEO and a whole complex of works are directed to the best result – success of your business. A store promotion is an accurate and often not cheap work (especially, if you are interested in a fast-going promotion).
Our observation regarding online stores development shows, that 70% of stores out of 100 new ones stop investing in the SEO on a certain stage of development, it can happen after the first month, after the sixth month, and reasons may vary:
- wrong choice of a contractor – promotion to the top failed, the store was banned or came close to it, the main SEO mistakes were not corrected, the work went with rented links;
- no time to take care of that part of the business personally, the employee assigned does not cope with the job, which is figured out too late;
- taking care of internet marketing just on your own;
admiration of perfectionism when watching shades and accurate pixels;
- overestimating yourself, looking for “cheaper” and “faster”.
The one, who opens an online store, who really is ambitious and ready to work more than 10 hours a day to make everything work, will get his results. In fact, as any other business, SEO for an online store and achieving a goal by sales require a lot of patience to get the desired results. If you do not like and practice what you do, nothing will work.
A website promotion has many targets, and achieving all its goals is kind of a quite monotonous work. Internet promotion is a powerful marketing tool, but competent SEO takes so much of time and efforts, that not everyone can stand it on a daily basis (and it’s literally daily, since any stop means falling back). Again, having no relevant education and experience or even starting to learn SEO, you will spend a lot more efforts on the online shop promotion, than a search engine optimization specialist would need.
Yet this is not the full list of reasons why online retailers stopped running their business.
The Evolution of Internet Market
Before starting to talk directly about how to promote an ecommerce website properly, it is necessary to analyze the current situation on the market. I have checked Google Trends on the word “ecommerce” in the category of purchases. Here is how the situation in the world changes in the last 5 years. The market actively evolves, which clearly indicates the demand for e-commerce. And this is still far below the peak, since the amount of internet users is growing.
The consumers’ transition to the web has become a global trend. The quote of this market in the structure of e-commerce is growing 23% year-over-year.
Such preconditions allow to make an absolutely obvious conclusion: a high-quality SEO for ecommerce websites is the first priority for an ambitious entrepreneur who intends to carve his piece of the pie in a certain market segment.
Opening an Online Store
If you have an offline store it will be easier to turn it into an online one, because you already have a range of problems solved, especially, if it’s about product availability and supply. It gives you an extra score at the start, since you will have more opportunities to take care of an online store promotion strategy more precisely. Otherwise, a choice of a niche is a difficult process that requires taking into account different factors:
- pay attention to a margin, because sooner or later the costs invested should make a profit, the sooner, the better;
- rely on what you like doing, so that you can provide your clients with an informative and expert advice and also know all the advantages of the products you sell.
General results of marketing researches show, that the number of online stores selling appliances is excessive these days.
In this case SEO for ecommerce is complicated by a high level of competition. If your goal is to promote an online store selling clothes or appliances you will face a lot of competitors on your way. SEO plan for e-commerce website will require either exorbitant financial investments (in fact, without reliable guarantees) or huge amounts of time (which is sometimes more valuable than money).
At the same time the market still has new niches, which will complete competitors and where online retail promotion will be a bit more effective. For example:
- selling handmade laptop bags, laptop bags brought from China;
- selling handmade socks with a unique design;
- selling cell phone cases and accessories.
It is not always possible to apply classic internet marketing methods of online store advertising for such niches.
To determine the most interesting for you niches, which you want to take care of and develop, it is reasonable to conduct extra marketing researches of the demand and also to analyze information about how to look for a supplier for a particular kind of products.
Seed Capital to Start a Business
Here I will show you what kind of expenses there can be for a start in terms of both ecommerce website creation and SEO. I should mention, that this is just an example and every separate niche and calculations may vary depending on needs.
A promotion of an online store selling clothes to the top 10 and a high quality promotion of an online store selling heating systems from the very basis require absolutely different strategies, methods and tools at their core.
Expenses are divided into one-time and permanent. For me The list looks this way:
- To create an ecommerce website – 5000$ one-time .
- Different business processes for the start – 1250-1850$ periodically (may be not on the start).
- Product purchases – 1250-2500$ periodically (depends on if there is an offline business and how you plan to start working with goods).
- Domain, hosting (monthly) – 60-100$.
- Extra works for the store – 250$ periodically.
- Internet marketing (promotion expenses); depends on a channel 250$ (you can start from 150$ monthly).
Based on these data, let’s calculate expenses and the estimated turnover for 6 months:
- expenses for 6 months: 5 + 1,25 + 3 * 2,5 + 6 * 0,25 + 0,25 + 6 * 0,25 = 15750$;
- the turnover on 6th month may be: 300 * 30 * 1% * 200 = 18000$;
- pure profit: 20% * 117 = 3600$, estimated shortage on 6th month may be 3000-4000$, including all the expenses for the last half a year
“300” is daily traffic, “30” is number of days in a month, “1%” is one person from a hundred, who entered and will buy an item, it is called “conversion”, “200” is an average cart check, “20%” is a profit made on a product.
Data may vary drastically, since there are products with 50-300% of margin, but it does not mean they are easy to sell. 300 people per day may be only 1-5% of the market. So, there is some room for an improvements.
Based on these calculations, we can make a conclusion, that in general it is profitable. Our case studies show the same: stores have profits and they increase. The task of a person owning a new business is to control his expenses. When you create an online store it is logical to continue with attracting more potential clients, thus, to advertise the online store.
Website search engine optimization is not a whim, it is the main constituent of your successful business evolution in general. An improvement of your website positions in a rating, an increase of attendance and the amount of deals, a growth of an average check, attracting and keeping new customers, all these and many other goals are achieved by means of a competent SEO.
It means it is important to spend money on internet marketing, otherwise there is no point in creating an ecommerce website. Make a map of expenses, think and get consulted about what you need to start, what is not that important, and what needs to be improved, when it is necessary. As it is said: “Don’t be afraid to give up good for the great”. The sooner you will start to develop your business in the internet, the sooner you will get a result.
7 Important Moments that May Slow Down an Ecommerce SEO
- All at once and a surfeit of unnecessary opportunities.
- Problems with a product assortment.
- No online store marketing plan.
- No positioning of an ecommerce website.
- Will-do-it-all-myself ecommerce website promotion.
- Neglecting details, or “I am a designer”.
- Sales by phone calls.
All at Once and a Surfeit of Unnecessary Opportunities
Your main goal is a fast launch of an ecommerce website and quickly step on the market and not to innovate, attempting to reinvent the wheel. So, it is important to avoid the following:
- to write a website content management system (CMS) from scratch;
- to request a unique design from a famous designer;
- to fill up stock completely;
- make fantasies with opportunities, which nobody can see, till you get some traffic on your website;
- hire the whole staff at once.
You can only imagine: you started to make an ecommerce website, made very cool options, etc. Be aware, that that will surely take a lot of time, 6 months at least.
First of all, you will fall behind your competitors’ progress. Either they will be new, or experienced ones. Their SEO will be full on. So, when planning and creating an ecommerce website, it is important to include the website promotion in the budget distribution from the very beginning. It won’t be very pleasant, if you invest as much as you can in the unique design and functionality and then find out, that there is not much of costs left for the website promotion. Your website will look like a luxurious car having no engine. The SEO is the engine, that very engine that will let you gain a high speed and confidently move in the desired direction.
Second of all, determine the necessary set of functions, get consulted regarding what you need for the launch. If you have some traffic on the website or started the website promotion already you can begin to conduct a precise analysis and optimize extra opportunities. This way you have around three free month to play with before appearing on the first positions of search engines.
And the last but not least, coordinate with experts, who will improve existing opportunities to increase your ecommerce sales.
Problems With a Product Assortment
Whatever the specifics of your online store is, product images should be good and clear. Otherwise conversion will be low. Especially, if it is about clothes. The example is very simple:
- You go to a supermarket, want to choose an item, but there is something dirty. If there is another box you will take it. If not – you will buy it somewhere else.
- You go to a shoe shop, but you can see, that shoes you want are dirty or they are behind a dirty glass. You won’t try it and walk away.
There should be a wide range of goods, so that a customer can have a wide choice. It’s the way human psychology is – when you choose something, but the options are quite few, you start to think, that something is wrong. The same happens in a real shop, where half of shelves are empty.
Information about a good’s quantity and availability of sizes should be up-to-date. Otherwise, it may happen that a potential customer will just get angry because of the time he wasted in an online store.
No Online Store Marketing Plan
The diagram shows how a user searches. First he enters organics – “Want to buy a chair”, “Want to buy a chair in New York”. If an online retailer has contextual advertising its banners will be shown on other websites after the potential customer leaves the store. Then he browses a forum to read about a certain chair’s advantages and sees the ads or links for the online store again. This chain works very well, and if you don’t launch all the advertising actions from the very beginning you might lose the client. That is why it is important to save some costs for an online shop promotion.
Further it is reasonable to test different marketing channels.
No Positioning of an Ecommerce Website
You chose what product to sell, created an ecommerce website, selected channels of a promotion and launched it. Having viewed a few main queries, like “online store + category name”, “product + buy”, you will see your competitors in top 10, so, your task is to be different and show that you are better than others.
So, your ecommerce website needs to have advantages. For example:
- emphasize the guarantee;
- mention how long you have been on the market;
- provide with free delivery;
- product return during 20 days;
- you have certificates for products or from dealers;
- managers professionally consult;
- other priorities, that will let your website stand out and clearly point why your online store is the best.
You need to know the advantages of your online store and products that you want to sell. Emphasizing these features will help you find a more suitable strategy for the ecommerce website SEO. Besides that, always monitor the results you get, analyze them, correct mistakes, and remember that it is hardly possible to get an effect from the promotion after the first week.
Will-Do-It-All-Myself E-commerce SEO
Taking care of everything personally seems to be a good thing from the first look. But will you be able to handle and properly analyze all the directions of internet marketing activity and steps of a website promotion alone? Well, whatever you think, a month has 200 working hours, unless you plan to work 24/7. So, it is better to assign this task to SEO experts who will give fine advice and professional recommendations for your ecommerce website.
Why should a high quality website promotion be assigned to highly qualified specialists? Why can’t you achieve the same results by doing SEO personally?
It’s very simple:
- your SEO specialist has the experience of an e-commerce website promotion, you don’t want to get your own project banned;
- the SEO specialist has a team of experts which can include 12 employees of different directions;
- the SEO specialist takes care of your ecommerce website, while you are busy with internal business processes, which is actually something that nobody can do instead of you (managers’ work control, sending products, products supply, a search of new suppliers, etc.).
Mind that you need to find a proper SEO specialist, otherwise, you will lose your time and money. Look for SEO case studies, portfolios, technical support, certificates of Google Analytics and contextual advertising.
Neglecting Details or “I am a Designer”
Personal taste is just a personal taste. Location or change of elements in an ecommerce website has simple rules. It’s enough to look at top leaders and designs of their websites. You can take into account the fact that they collect data from analytics and analyze them. So, there is no point in making up something outstandingly new as we said before. Besides that, do not make such a mistake as a wrong design of banners. This will affect a promotion in a negative way.
Sales by Phone Calls
When you have a limited flow of customers (around 100 per day, for example), you have the opportunity to be more attentive to them. And you should use it. For example:
- Greetings: “Hi, welcome to… How may I assist you?”
- Recommendations – substitute an unavailable product with an analogous one.
- Recommendations regarding a choice – professionally consult and give advice regarding a particular product.
- Be persevering – call a client back and check if he need any other assistance for a choice.
- Manners – please, thank you, etc.
Sometimes it happens that nobody pick up the phone and nobody calls back, which is a very sad fact. So, you may invest a lot of money in a website promotion but have no sales. It is very good, if the online store owner play a shop assistant part and can competently follow these steps. In this case, when sales increase, he will know how to hand over duties to a new manager or how to find a worker suitable for these tasks.
We did an experiment as “a secret customer” with 5 stores speaking to managers. Only one of them did a good recommendation and sold a product. So, you need to check your managers’ work regarding orders and consultations to be on top of it.
Ecommerce Website Promotion – Getting Ahead!
During the following evolution of an ecommerce website you should pay attention to:
- Content marketing.
- Customers’ trust to your site.
- Analysis of competitors.
- Control and evaluation of employees and a contractor.
- Encouraging to leave reviews.
- Testing internet marketing channels.
- Implement your ideas.
- Becoming an expert in your niche.
Content marketing is a direction of an investment in marketing, that covers the specifics of your ecommerce website. It has to show the web page of your store in top results of search engines, which eventually should attract customers. One way or another, all top ecommerce sites, selling appliances or clothes and having huge turnovers, invest money in a content. That’s why you need to work on a content immediately – write good articles, since depending on competitiveness, a type and a quantity of keywords you will get to top positions in search engines in 3-5 months. A store promotion by means of articles is very relevant nowadays. Hence, this is the first channel of internet marketing that you need to invest money in.
Customers’ Trust to Your Website
You can’t make all critics and customers satisfied. Sad but true. Nevertheless, if you provide a good quality logo, maximum fill up of the stock, and all the necessary information you can reach the right conversion rate (1-1.5%). Of course, it depends on the specifics and proper works with internet marketing. Add high quality images to the content and products to introduce your goods properly. A competent SEO for ecommerce websites evokes a high level of trust to your business.
Analysis of Competitors
To see competitors from the SEO and titles perspective is not the online store owner’s task. It is assigned to experts. He has to monitor:
- how products are showcased in the catalogue and other twists;
- what he shows as advantages and how;
- what new there is in functionality and is missing in his store;
- how he works with promotions;
- how competitors’ managers sell and consult.
Control and Evaluation of Employees and a Contractor
First and foremost, the ecommerce website owner should be interested in the highest quality processes in his business. It is necessary to control:
- how your managers sell and consult potential customers;
- a contractor: his reports about works and expenses.
Besides that, analyze the work of your ecommerce resource, since it can improve its activity significantly. You need to keep the open working process balanced to easily check on given tasks. For placing tasks you can use a simple and convenient online service of project and tasks management.
A high quality service surely brings success and positive results. They are difficult to achieve, if:
- online store managers don’t pick up the phone;
- customers don’t get a proper consultation about a product;
- no manager responsible for a particular product category;
- nobody calls back after being asked for that.
The market is clearly becoming competitive, so you need to learn how to sell properly. That’s why it’s necessary to look for schools, seminars or webinars. Emphasize your service, it’s a very important step to earn some trust to your online store. Do not undervalue its importance. Online store owners have been using this rule for a long time.
Encouraging to leave reviews
When you get to know what customers think about your service or a certain product you can make proper conclusions, fix what is necessary in the online store strategy, and get your store closer to top 10. You can do it by emailing a customer with a request to leave a review about the product he bought. It really does work as an extra step to advertise an online store, since this approach creates a unique content in the catalogue of products. Apart from that, this way some extra value to a product, because somebody shared his independent opinion. You shouldn’t delete negative reviews. Moreover, you should reply them and try to fix the issues.
Testing Internet Marketing Channels
You need to test and analyze internet marketing channels. Any of them can have negative ROI or a quite high conversion rate, which will tell you if you should stop a channel or increase the budget to get more sales. There are not that many channels of internet marketing:
- Organic is a traffic from search engines, which is the result of a high quality SEO.
- CPC (cost per click) one of the fastest ways of getting quality potential clients. Launch contextual advertising in Google AdWords. Direct to main categories with a high margins and products available.
- Display. This is a traffic from display advertising. Remarketing is a powerful tool that brings a customer back to an online store. Contextual and display networks are good for branding, but there is a risk of not getting investments back. So, it’s better not to work with this direction.
- Referral is following a link to an online store from another website. Such a result is achieved by working with crowd marketing and placing articles on quality resources linking to the category being promoted.
- Email marketing is a method bringing back a potential customer and a communication with him. The main effect is an increase of sales. Suggest your customers to leave their email addresses, so that can receive information about discounts, promotions, and you can send them informational articles and request to leave reviews.
- Price comparison tools are certain services, that help you find your competitors and their prices. Test this channel for certain product categories. Judging by sales you will be able to decide whether you should invest in this channel. It will let you spend your budget on a promotion more reasonably.
- Social (from social networks) is quite a tricky way of getting a customer. The reason is quite simple: it is not clear who target audience is, is it 25 year olds or 40 year olds, you don’t have such configurations in contextual advertising. It’s more necessary for branding. What you certainly should pay attention to is running groups and contextual advertising in social networks. As for groups it depends on the specifics of an ecommerce website and a content plan. But you can promote a group for a whole year and still have no sales. If it’s an online store of heating appliances, it will be a certain strategy of a promotion and posting, if it’s an online store selling clothes the strategy will be totally different.
- Teaser Advertising is an advertising message placed on partner websites in the form of “picture + text”. But the thing is it doesn’t have clear targets for a potential customer. The difference is that the ad is launched for everyone simultaneously, and you can’t figure out if a potential customer is interested in the product at that very moment. That’s why this channel of internet marketing suits branding of a mass product for an event or a season, that everyone can be interested in.
This is how Google Analytics groups channels.
Online store promotion strategy should consist of, first and foremost, SEO, launch of textual advertising, and remarketing configuration. Everything else is extra channels, that need tests, an analysis of data from analytics, conversion, and calculations from ROI. Of course, there are cases, when a promotion starts by means of SMM, but it depends on the specifics of an online store, for children and women products it’s easier, if an owner is competent at that.
Implement Your Ideas
Let’s optimize managers’ work by reducing the amount of clicks for processing orders. Let’s arrange a website promotion with a countdown to its finish. This is something that should help business processes, an increase of sales, and economy of expenses. Most importantly, it should be valuable for your online store, it shouldn’t be just for a tick. Implementation of your ideas will significantly improve a successful SEO for your online store. It is better to note your ideas, so that they don’t get lost. It’s enough to review and rearrange them monthly. You can find ideas:
- by exploring competitors’ and popular foreign online retailers;
- by reading article or books about business;
- by communicating with internet agencies that take care of development and support of your ecommerce website;
- by watching how managers work with orders;
- by trying to take a role of an employee and process an order;
- by making a plan of promotions for a year, for example, New Year, Valentine’s Day, etc.
There are stores that spend quite a lot of time on such analysis, and implementation of ideas increases sales and satisfies customers.
Becoming an Expert in Your Niche
Have you ever spoken to an online store consultant who couldn’t really answer your questions or explain anything clearly. And sometimes there are such customers who read a few articles about a product before buying it and can actually sell it to you. Figuratively speaking. Because they know it not worse than your employees. Your task is to teach your managers to be experts (and to be one as well) in products you sell. You have to know more than your customers. How to do it:
- write articles by yourself or assign it to managers or a contractor, but you need to control the writing;
- read articles from foreign online stores, find what’s written about products that you sell, and write better;
- use information from manufacturers of your products.
Expert consultations mean trust to your online store. Evolve yourself, improve yourself, extend your knowledge of the chosen direction in order to provide your with complete information.
Of course, it is difficult to avoid mistakes in the process of organization and promotion of an ecommerce website. But it is important to react on them properly and on time relying on modern market demands, your customers’ wishes and needs:
- Launch a ecommerce site in a matter of 1-2 weeks including a stock.
- Assign internet marketing, invest in a store promotion (SEO, contextual advertising, remarketing).
- Control sales and all other processes, try to sell by yourself.
- Evaluate your business processes and develop the most important in your online store.
- Analyze your competitors, find out how to stand out and be better.
Because all of this as a complex will let you be out of those 70% of owners who, unfortunately, stopped their ecommerce SEO.