The 8 Benefits of SEO for Ecommerce

Prominent exposure on organic search result pages can do more for an ecommerce site than generate immediate sales.

Prominent exposure on organic search-result pages can do more for an ecommerce site than generate immediate sales.

Ecommerce businesses live and die by their ability to attract new customers. In the race to increase revenue, traffic from organic search can be essential. Here’s why.

SEO Benefits for Ecommerce

1. Driving brand awareness. Most ecommerce sites need search engine optimization for low-cost brand awareness. An appearance on the first page of search results or in Google’s Answer Box could be the first time a shopper has stumbled across your brand or could trigger her to remember that she once visited your site.

Moreover, some searchers view ranking well as an endorsement, which improves their likelihood to click on a top result.

2. Filling the marketing funnel. The traditional marketing funnel — awareness, interest, desire, action — relies on a steady stream of new shoppers. SEO plays a critical role in driving lower-cost top-of-funnel traffic at the awareness stage.

But SEO plays a role in the other stages, as well. As shoppers continue their journey from awareness to interest (research) to action (purchase), the intent revealed in their keyword choices moves from informational to transactional. Targeting the correct intent at the ideal points in your site influences shopper movement to the next phase, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

3. Elevating content. It makes sense to advertise for keywords with high transaction intent. But the value of other content — such as blog posts, buyers’ guides, and how-to articles — is not immediate.

For those content types, SEO is helpful. Content optimization efforts can yield substantial increases in traffic at little cost. It requires only an understanding of what people search for (based on keyword research), an ability to optimize content, access to your content management system, and time.

4. Expanding remarketing audiences. Once shoppers land on your site through organic search (or other channels), your paid search team can place cookies for remarketing campaigns. You can then expose display ads to those shoppers when they leave your site and continue their journeys. The more people you drive to your site, the larger your remarketing audiences will be.

SEO remarketing makes even more sense when you consider visits to the content at the top of the funnel. As shoppers traverse the web, they’re passively reminded that your brand provided them something of value.

5. Capturing the long tail. Fifteen percent of search queries are new — Google has never seen them before. These obscure one-time phrases make up part of the long tail, which comprises queries that individually drive few searches but in the aggregate represent nearly 40 percent of the total. And long-tail phrases tend to convert at a higher rate than other keywords.

Ecommerce sites are typically well structured to target those long-tail searches because they’re built hierarchically on increasing levels of detail. For example, a common click path for an apparel site might be Clothing > Men’s Clothing > Accessories > Ties > Blue Ties > Blue Silk Ties. Those pages are deeper in the click path and match well to long-tail keywords (“mens blue silk ties”). But there are too many of them to target separately. Scalable SEO is the key.

6. Improving the user experience. A strong user experience drives conversions. SEO helps understand shoppers and thus optimize your site’s usability. That, in turn, can improve rankings.

Keyword data provides a window into shoppers’ desires. They want something; that’s why they’re searching. Sites that fill that desire quickly are more likely to make the sale. That same data helps understand how shoppers think or speak about their desires. Using their keywords on your site can improve the experience. For example, if most searchers seek “affordable blue silk ties,” emphasizing low-cost options could improve usability.

Also, providing a quality user experience is a key ranking factor, especially for Google. If searchers click to your site in large numbers but then immediately return to search results, Google assumes your site isn’t relevant for that query or is otherwise undesirable. And that behavior can hurt rankings.

7. Lowering paid search costs. The content you optimize for SEO should also benefit Google Ads campaigns, presuming you collaborate on the phrases that drive value for organic and paid search. Google’s Quality Score measures the relevance of ads to landing pages, to determine the cost per click.

Optimized landing pages mean better Quality Scores, lower click costs, and higher performance in organic search.

8. Creating lasting value. SEO is an investment in long-term performance. Unlike advertising, its value does not stop when the campaign ends.

But SEO is not a one-and-done endeavor. It’s a never-ending cycle of optimization projects, each focusing on the content, design, or technology that makes up your site. Each project will likely have long-term value, elevating organic search performance for months or years.

Jill Kocher Brown
Jill Kocher Brown
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