For online retailers, the end of the year is when a sizable chunk of the business’s revenue is made.
According to the National Retail Federation, quarter four is when merchants generate 30 percent of their annual sales, on average. This fact is likely apparent to most, given the sales figures that come out after each holiday season.
In 2018, Cyber Monday smashed records, becoming the highest U.S. eCommerce sales day in history, generating $7.9 billion in revenue. Moreover, this was just a single day in the 2018 holiday season. Zooming out to see the larger picture–as Adobe Analytics reports–from the beginning of November until the end of the year, eCommerce retailers earned $126 billion in sales, a 16.5 percent year-over-year increase.
Given that the holiday season is when most merchants become profitable for the year, it is critical to figure out how to drive traffic to an online store and encourage consumers to convert. In fact, the biggest challenge marketers face is generating traffic and leads.
With the fourth quarter about to begin, we figured that it would be a great time to help marketers and merchants solve that problem and break down the top four tactics for driving traffic to eCommerce stores and avoiding holiday marketing mistakes.
For pretty much all online retailers, their potential buyers are seeking out the products they sell on Google. The job of the merchant (and their team) is to ensure that they are found in such engines and earn consumer clicks.
Therefore, sellers must possess an appealing website that has a strong technical SEO foundation, including an up-to-date sitemap, properly implemented canonical tags, an intuitive site structure and other technical necessities.
Technical SEO helps ensure that retailers can get their sites found through Google, so this is the first step to take. To rank well during the 2019 holiday season, merchants should:
Since July of last year, Google has been warning users when they are about to visit a site that does not feature HTTPS protocol. Naturally, these sites deter potential visitors like crazy, particularly sites where users might enter sensitive data such as credit card info.
Therefore, it is necessary for retailers to move their stores to HTTPS to drive traffic to their online store and not scare off would-be buyers.
Since HTTPS is considered as a ranking factor by Google, those who employ it will not only gain more consumer trust (and traffic) but will also potentially receive a slight boost in the SERPs.
Create a Crawl Budget
For merchants to get consumers to land on their most valuable pages, Google must crawl and index those pages. When the engine does, sellers want to make sure that those pages are fully optimized for the best results.
Given this, some might consider spending a bit extra to ensure optimal outcomes. Therefore, retailers should consider employing a website crawler to gain an overview of how pages perform in Google’s SERPs. A couple of prime options for this would be:
- DeepCrawl: This program supplies online merchants with tons of data on how to improve pages, including information on inadequate titles, weak descriptions and metadata, duplicate content, broken pages and more.
- Botify: Botify is one of the most robust crawlers on the web today and serves the likes of Expedia, Refinery29 and Glassdoor. Here, sellers can gain a unique recommendation report containing info on which pages have been crawled by Google, powerful suggestions on restructuring content for better results and tons of other in-depth details for earning higher rankings.
Ensure Proper Semantics Markup
When it comes to how to drive traffic to your online store during the holiday season, retailers need every advantage they can get. Therefore, it is vital to optimize eCommerce sites for voice searches and create clearly structured content for search spiders and users alike.
To do that, merchants must ensure that their semantic markups are correctly implemented.
Semantic markups are HTML tags that allow websites to better inform Google about a page’s contents. For instance, heading tags like <h1> show search bots that the text wrapped in these tags is the page’s main title. Furthermore, <h2> tags tell engines about a piece’s subheadings.
Since semantic markups are what help to make websites readable, and given the importance Google places on UX, it is essential to verify that these elements are appropriately applied.
If they are not, a merchant’s rankings will suffer.
Fix 404 Errors
A sizable number of 404 errors can do serious harm to a site’s SEO performance. For audiences who come across these pages, they could act as their cue to head to another website. Therefore, retailers should fix any broken or missing pages to re-engage users as quickly as possible.
To achieve this, merchants will want to review their link profiles using a tool like Ahrefs or Moz. Using such a tool, sellers should identify any links pointing to a 404 page.
Once established, redirect these broken links to other relevant pages. If the page is not appropriate, users are likely to become frustrated, so ensure that there is some correlation between the original page and the new destination.
Doing this will not only improve the user experience of the store, but it will also redirect any potential “link juice” to the new page(s).
Put a Spotlight on Speeds
Regarding eCommerce search engine optimization, speed is a critical factor that cannot be ignored. This is highlighted in the fact that former Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, Maile Oyhe, stated:
“Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”
Moreover, Google has considered speed as a ranking factor for nearly a decade now. In fact, Google is so serious about fast loading sites that the engine has provided several free tools for merchants to utilize to help increase site speed, including:
Making improvements to a site’s load times with the tools listed above can not only help retailers to climb the SERPs, but it can also enhance conversion rates as well.
While Google’s test tools will provide actionable insights on how to improve an eCommerce site’s speed, some general steps that retailers can take include:
- Minimize redirect chains
- Enable browser caching
- Compress images
Craft SEO-Friendly Content
Retailers who consistently publish unique and valuable content tend to drive far more traffic than those who do not. Sellers are aware of this, too, as is reported by the Content Marketing Institute:
“92% of content marketers surveyed say their organization views content as a business asset (i.e., an asset or process where there is direct investment and a goal of increasing value over time), yet fewer than half (46%) have a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset.”
This point is important given that many (if not most) consumers are looking for more than just products. They want useful information. Therefore, producing quality content is a fantastic way to give more customers what they want while simultaneously driving traffic to your online store.
Consider publishing blogs, videos, how-to guides, product reviews and anything else that could potentially benefit consumers.
Moreover, this concept is also applicable to product pages. If retailers want to drive traffic to these destinations, it is necessary to understand on-page SEO for product pages and how to implement such tactics effectively.
However, when producing content for site visitors, don’t rely too heavily on keywords. Google now understands topics, thereby making specific keywords less critical than the integration of LSI keywords that give the engine a broader view on if the content will address searchers’ desires.
Use SEO and PPC Together to Reach All Points in the Funnel
Many people think that SEO and PPC is an either/or dichotomy. This notion is entirely backward. In fact, the combination of SEO and PPC is the secret to search engine success.
When retailers run a PPC campaign, they can get their listings to top the SERPs, even above the organic results. This positioning allows merchants to capture consumers who are still top-of-funnel and build awareness for the brand.
Moreover, PPC campaigns can influence a site’s SEO in several ways. Not only does the increased traffic aid in rankings, but the keyword data obtained through the effort allows retailers to better optimize their pages for targeted phrases that can enhance their SERP positioning.
When a business better optimizes its on-page strategy, it can create more visibility through search engines, thereby capturing consumers who are lower in the funnel and are closer to converting (particularly if they are searching long-tail keywords).
Flipping things on their head once more, to obtain fruitful outcomes in PPC for eCommerce, campaigns are highly dependent on keyword and landing page relevance. When these components match users’ expectations, Google is more likely to increase the campaign’s quality score, which can lower the cost-per-click for various keywords.
Therefore, a site that is well-optimized from an SEO perspective can enhance a brand’s PPC performance, while PPC campaigns can bolster the company’s SEO strategy, effectively creating a positive feedback loop.
This constant back-and-forth dynamic between SEO and PPC helps retailers to reach consumers at all points of the sales funnel, thereby earning more awareness, traffic and conversions.
Yet, even for those who don’t convert, retailers can introduce retargeting ads into their strategy to re-engage those who fell out of the funnel and pull them back into the fold.
By neglecting the aforementioned tactics, retailers fail to reel in tons of potential buyers who could be converted into loyal customers. Don’t leave such significant amounts of traffic on the table. Optimize your eCommerce store to reach the maximum number of qualified consumers.
Still think you need help driving traffic to your online store? Then reach out to Visiture and we can put together a custom plan to take your business to the next level of SEO success.