Are you stuck in the past with your e-commerce SEO?
If so, stay tuned to today’s episode with a lady who has over 11 years of experience in tech SEO, content, and social media, and has worked both in-agency and client side. She’s speaking at the next Brighton SEO and currently runs her own agency focusing on a strategic search-first approach. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Yvie Ansari.
In this episode, Yvie shares 5 ways that eCommerce businesses need to take advantage of, including:
- Be strategic and customer-centric in approach
- Focus more on UX
- Learn how to compete in a noisy space
- Understand what eCommerce works now
- Learn how to scale your eCommerce SEO with AI technologies
Five Ecommerce SEO Strategies
Yvie: Hi, everyone, and thanks for having me on the podcast.
D: Thanks for coming on. You can find Yvie over it at yvamedia.com. So today, you’re sharing five ways e-commerce businesses need to take better advantage of SEO in 2023. Starting off with number one, be strategic and customer-centric in approach.
1. Be strategic and customer-centric in approach
Y: Yeah. When it comes to your overall approach and strategy around e-commerce, it’s really important to know what your customers’ objectives are. Not just their SEO objectives, but their broader business objectives so you can build an approach around that. And what’s really important is not just what the business objectives are, but who the customers are in the first place. What are the different personas that the business is targeting? And how can you build an approach around that to target those personas? What is the best way to reach those people and get your message across? And not just get your message across, but convert those people into customers.
D: Do you have any preferred way of defining personas? A business may have a thought process in terms of what its ideal customer looks like. It doesn’t necessarily match exactly who their customer is based upon their analytics. Do you tend to look at marketing automation software? Do you like to talk to customers directly? How do you go by that?
Y: Defining who the customer is obviously very much sits with the business itself in terms of not just knowing who’s currently coming to the business because that’s great but who they’re trying to bring into the business. That’s not necessarily talking to existing customers, but talking to the business about who is their product for. What is it that they are trying to achieve with that product? What pain points are they trying to address? And in terms of defining that profile of customers, it’s less about your fluffy metrics that a lot of businesses worry about. Things to think about would be shopping habits, what brands they interact with, their income level, where they are based, and that sort of thing of important demographical information. There might be things around like age range and gender. It might be less important for some products because you might have quite a broad range. But for other products, that might be quite important.
I think it’s really important to get clear on what exactly that customer profile is that you’re trying to target, not the customer profile that’s necessarily already coming to the business because it might not even be the right customer that you’re trying to reach. That doesn’t mean that you don’t cater to that audience. It’s more about like niching into the specific audience that you’re trying to attract, to get clear on your content and you know what it is you’re trying to say to that specific audience that you are trying to reach.
D: And this, of course, is an episode in itself and we could dive deeper into this. But moving on to point number two, focus more on UX.
2. Focus more on UX
Y: Yes. It’s become clear that over time, Google’s become more and more focused on UX and making sure that the content is valuable to the user and that the experience on the website is valuable. We can talk all about the E-A-T framework because that very much aligns with the importance of UX. But essentially, without having great UX, you’re going to have struggles getting people to convert on your website. If I go to a website and it takes forever to load, I’m not going to stay there, I’m going to leave pretty quickly, because I haven’t got all the time in the world to wait for stuff to load. That’s just one tiny area that you can dig into in terms of why UX is important. But making it clear what it is you want your customer to do on your page helps get them to convert. If I don’t know what I’m doing on the page, if there are 10 different calls to action and loads of different things for me to look at, I’m going to get really overwhelmed and confused. So just make it streamlined and clear what am I supposed to do on the page and then I can go and do that.
D: Yeah, the thing about UX is it’s very difficult from an SEO perspective to measure the true impact of it on future rankings. You would think that search engines would look at the limited amount of time that people spend on a page and the fact that they’re coming back to the SERP fairly quickly to look at other results instead. But it really is hard to put a finger on it and to be definitive about how much, if at all, it impacts your rankings. But at the end of the day, if your customers are having a poor experience, you have to trust your gut as an SEO as opposed to just relying on stats. Would you agree with that statement?
Y: I agree. There are certain parts of UX that you can measure, like, for example, PageSpeed. But I agree that certain things like conversion times and things like that are a little bit more difficult to put a finger on. As you say, it’s about trusting your gut and also aligning to your competitors and looking at what they’re doing, especially if you’re quite a small business, and you’ve got a big competitor in space. More likely than not, they’ve probably done some UX research. So you can go and look at their content and see how you can potentially leverage that journey on your own site.
D: That’s a great point. And also looking at paid search results. If someone who is a competitor of yours is spending a lot of money on paid search, it’s likely that they’ve highly honed that landing page to be lucrative commercially and to be profitable. So you can probably guess, from an SEO perspective, learn from paid search landing pages as well. Is that something that you would look at?
Y: Yeah, definitely. A lot of the time, especially in e-commerce, the paid search landing pages are organic pages anyway. If there is a business that has a lot of paid search invested in an organic landing page, for example, a category page, then there is definitely some data or information that you can take from that to leverage on your own site.
D: And point number three, learn how to compete in a noisy space.
3. Learn how to compete in a noisy space
Y: This one, I would say, requires taking a bit more of a step back. At the start, we talked about the overall strategy and customer-centric approach, etc. What’s really important in terms of competing in a noisy space is understanding how different marketing channels integrate into each other. And this is what a lot of businesses really struggle with, how to integrate SEO into the broader marketing mix.
There’s so much data around SEO that we have available. Loads of things around user behaviors, search queries, etc. But I don’t think that data is always being used to then look at your broader marketing approach. For example, giving that data to the paid search team and helping them out in terms of expanding different areas to bid on. Helping them understand where to push spend and where to pull back depending on organic performance. And that’s just one small area. There are lots of different areas that you can look at more broadly in terms of things like social media and helping that team understand what content to create for the target audience that’s following the brand. And even other things like much broader campaigns. If you’ve got a big e-commerce brand, for example, and you’re running TV adverts. Helping that team understand what creative to put forward and what messaging would resonate with the audience. There’s so much data on the SEO side of things that you can share with the rest of the marketing department to help you stand out and tie everything together.
D: You mentioned the word content there, and your point number four is to gain a better understanding of e-commerce content that works now. So what e-commerce content works best now?
4. Understand what eCommerce works now
Y: Yeah, there are different formats that businesses can use. And I feel that there isn’t enough use of those different formats, because essentially every person learns in a different way. One person might want to read articles, one person might want to see a video, and one person might want to see something bite-sized. Again, it comes back to looking at the audience and understanding how they’re interacting and engaging with content. And that’s looking at, for example, things like your bounce rates on the content that’s on your website, and then also looking at your social media to see who’s engaging with what.
But what’s also really important is answering frequently asked questions, and that’s such a simple thing, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Your customers are going to be asking loads of questions about your products, your shipping, or things about your brand. For example, if your brand is sustainable, what are the fabrics that you’re using, or what materials are using to be sustainable, all that stuff. Being able to identify all those user behaviors through your keyword research. And then answering all of that through FAQs. And helping people get to an answer much more quickly than trying to route through your website. Helping that content stand out through things like schema markup, Featured Snippets, and things like that is really going to help that audience get to that content more quickly.
D: And you touched on FAQs there as well, certainly great practice to ensure that all common questions that customers are likely to ask are available to find the answer for on your website. Is it just as effective to have a big FAQ page with all the answers on that one page? Or is it always better to try and answer a different question on a different page to optimize things from an SEO perspective?
Y: That’s a good question. And this is a very cliche SEO response, but it depends. For some businesses, where there isn’t a lot of specific FAQ information that might relate to a specific category, product, or the brand, it makes sense to have a broader FAQ page, because in that case, you don’t need to hit the customer exactly when they’re going to be thinking about that question. It’s more that they might have a question so here’s a list of questions that they might have.
But if they are searching through the website, looking for specific products, especially if it’s a small e-commerce website, and they have 20 or 30 products, then it makes more sense to go specifically into the product page or the category page, or maybe a Features page. I’ve got a client that’s got Features pages. And it makes sense that you stick the specific FAQs into those pages, because that’s more likely where the customer might have the question. And it will, as you mentioned, help optimize that page a bit more as well.
D: And point number five is learn how to scale your eCommerce SEO with AI technologies.
5. Learn how to scale your eCommerce SEO with AI technologies
Y: Yes, so when it comes to e-commerce, a lot of us SEOs use automation as such to create things like metadata and product descriptions and all of that. And traditionally, what we’ve done in order to do that, is use Excel and loads of different formulas in Excel to create a template, which we then plug different information into to quickly scale that information. But now that we’ve got access to AI tools, like Chat GPT, it’s a lot easier to create a prompt and a load of different product descriptions because you’re not reliant on the same template that you just plug stuff into. This way, you can create different product descriptions in a very quick way to scale that content creation. And this is especially important for large e-commerce websites that have 1000s of pages, but they don’t have a big content team and don’t have loads of resources to throw at to constantly create new information for products and add new metadata and stuff like that. So yeah, AI technology is really important for scaling and bringing products to market more quickly.
The Pareto Pickle – Internal Linking
D: Alright, let’s finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
Y: I would go with internal linking. Now, some people might say that this requires quite a lot of effort. But if you do this on a regular basis, and on an ongoing basis, as you’re publishing content, it’s not a lot of effort at all. It’s just the case of inserting internal links into your blog content, for example, to help boost the authority through the website and point those links to really important pages, like your category pages or an important product that you’re trying to push at the moment. And it is so important, and it’s one of the things that gets missed quite a lot. And it does provide quite a lot of great results when you’re pushing that authority through the website because it’s not just stuck in one place on the website. It’s telling Google that these pages are important and gives them a boost.
D: Well, it’s probably the most common answer for this particular question so there must be something in there. I’m your host, David Bain. You can find Yvie Ansari over at yvamedia.com. Thank you so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.
Y: Thanks for having me.