As more businesses are relying solely on their online presence and searchability, eCommerce businesses stand to gain the most by investing in search engine optimization (SEO). While the same can be said for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, only SEO drives long-term results that don’t rely on higher ad spend budgets for a greater return on investment (ROI).
SEO is the practice of optimizing your website using specific guidelines known to be favored by major search engines like Google and Bing. There are many aspects to SEO: Some of them deal with optimizing your page code; others have to do with design. Others focus on content and user experience (UX). However, for the sake of discussion, SEO can be divided into three categories: On-page optimization, off-page optimization and technical optimization.
The categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, mobile-friendliness is both on-page and technical optimization. The classifications are useful only for discussion. In reality, all of these techniques work together to optimize your website and drive more conversions.
On-page optimization is oriented around content and enriching the user experience. These efforts are crucial because they clean up the parts of your website that customers access and interact with. One may even argue that on-page optimization is the most critical aspect of SEO because it helps users find what they are looking for.
eCommerce businesses often find on-page optimization to be the most important because their website is their main source of revenue. If visitors find it difficult to browse, your store won’t be making too many sales!
While the other aspects focus on gaining Google’s favor, the purpose of on-page optimization is improving UX and addressing issues that concern your audience.
On-page SEO includes but is not limited to:
Off-page optimization aims to promote your brand outside of the boundaries of your website. The most crucial part of off-page optimization is link building.
Link building involves having relevant third-party websites pointing to your site to establish you as an authority on your industry’s specific topics. SEO practitioners call these links “backlinks.”
Backlinks are important because Google sees them as a vote of confidence in your content and your brand, by extension. If enough websites point to yours, Google may increase your rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Off-page optimization also includes the following techniques:
Technical optimization is the backbone of any SEO strategy. If there are holes in your technical SEO strategy, your entire SEO effort may not yield any tangible results.
Think of technical SEO as the foundation of a construction project: It’s the first part of the structure that gets built, and upon it rests the success of the rest of the building. If the foundation was not built correctly, the whole structure could collapse.
Technical SEO deals entirely with your website’s code and optimizing it so that Google’s crawlers can index it quickly and with ease. The more useful information Google’s crawlers are able to glean from your code, the likelier the search engine will be to serve your results on a SERP triggered by a relevant keyword.
If Google’s crawler finds any issues with your code, your website may not rank as well as it should, regardless of how relevant your content is. Don’t make the mistake of skipping it – in fact, most SEOs start with technical optimizations before doing any other SEO work.
Technical optimization techniques include but are not limited to:
Every business looking to gain a foothold in the online marketplace can benefit from SEO. However, SEO is especially critical for eCommerce websites because most online shoppers start their journey by looking up products at Google. SEO helps eCommerce companies by providing a consistent and reliable way of outranking their competition that doesn’t rely on ad spend budgets.
This is not to say that SEO is inherently better than PPC advertising strategies. PPC excels at bringing quick results, making it crucial for eCommerce businesses that need a steady stream of traffic to convert into paying customers.
However, as mentioned earlier, PPC advertising is heavily reliant on fat ad spend budgets, especially if you’re always targeting highly competitive keywords. If you don’t have the most significant budget for PPC ads, SEO can help augment this by giving you long-term benefits that will also attract a stream of viable leads.
SEO can be detailed, but it exists to improve the big picture. Like PPC, SEO’s primary goal is to put your products on your customer’s screens to entice them to make the purchase. However, what makes SEO unique is that it does so in a way that enriches the experience of the user.
Instead of making a hard sale, SEO convinces your customer to buy your products by building trust and credibility. This is especially true of on-page optimizations that seek to create better content and improve how that content is delivered to your customers.
Even the most successful PPC campaigns wouldn’t give you positive results if your website doesn’t load properly, has a confusing landing page and doesn’t have enough relevant information. The truth is that customers who found you through a cursory Google search already know what they want to buy. If they find your prices agreeable and they have the purchasing power, they’ll most likely finalize their purchase.
However, if your website’s UX is enough of a hindrance, they’ll look for someplace else to buy the product. Customers are also acutely aware of other sites selling your product, which means that they won’t hesitate to seek out a better UX if they aren’t satisfied with yours.
In this regard, SEO can help you by ensuring that your website conforms to industry standards. You’ve invested so much in getting customers to click on your page and view your offerings – it only makes sense that your website is fully optimized for conversion.
Many eCommerce business owners hesitate to invest in SEO because of the time it takes to generate positive results. Unlike PPC, which delivers quick but short-term results, it can take at least a month of SEO work before you might see improvements in your analytics. That being said, the benefits of SEO go deeper than traffic increases.
The one thing that SEO does best is to build trust and credibility for your brand. Whereas PPC helps you put your products on your customers’ screens, SEO helps your customer make the purchase decision. If your website is easily searchable, loads quickly, is mobile-friendly and contains relevant information, it’s more likely to gain the attention of paying customers.