Here’s my pick of 3 prominent trends for eCommerce SEO in 2015.
Stat: More than 50% of U.S. offline retail sales will be influenced by the web by 2017. That’s $1.8tn in-store sales influenced by online.1
Trend: The need for a seamless digital-to-physical store customer experience
Everyone talks about how online success is influenced by offline marketing, PR and brand and we’ve seen the impact of closing high-street stores on online sales. But the other side of the coin is the influence of your brand online and how the experience a user has on your website influences offline behaviour and sales. This trend highlights the importance of consistency across all possible elements of customer experience.
The challenge for appealing to the modern “connected customer” is to understand what they want from your brand at each touch-point and where they will make their all-important purchase.
A logical place to start in the quest for a consistent brand experience online is to integrate online marketing channels.
Social Media Signals for Search Engine Optimisation
Cyrus Shepard from MOZ says “After page authority a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor”2. Although the correlation between social media and SEO campaign performance is not an exact science it is clearly a growing ranking factor. As well as indicating a healthy brand reputation to Google, there are also the indirect benefits to SEO campaigns such as increased traffic and brand awareness.
So, point one: having a healthy social media presence can only help your brand, website and SEO campaign.
Conversion Rate Optimisation and User Experience
If visitors can’t easily find or do what they want on your site (be it through poor navigation, lack of content or poor website functionality) this can cause new customers to leave and develop negative associations with your brand. Imagine your eCommerce website as a real-world shop, if people can’t get from the door to the products then they’ll just leave. Customers being able to buy from you online is a massive part of their customer experience that will lead to brand loyalty and offline shopping.
Point two: making it easy for people to buy from you online will encourage them to buy from you offline too!
eCommerce and Content integration
When it comes to spending a lot of money people generally do their research first. Whether it’s a new house, a sofa or a smartphone people want to find out what their options are, roughly what it’s going to cost them and how quickly they can get it. Although people will likely look for 3rd party and unbiased sources of information they will also want to find a good amount of information from the brand they intend to purchase from.
Many eCommerce sites have long kept this useful content largely separate from the “selling” areas of their website in sub domains. Keeping blog content that is so important in helping customers make a purchase decision as well as driving traffic to your website in a kind of “content ghetto” in a separate subdomain will soon become a thing of the past.
Point three: when people are researching your products online make sure that your website clearly helps them find the information they need to decide to buy from you, whether that is online or offline.
Stat: Research from the Royal Mail reported that 46% of customers have abandoned baskets due to delivery concerns3
Trend: Swift Fulfilment Promoted in SEO
In 2015 eCommerce websites will need to be competitive when it comes to delivery and that means offering a range of options to suit your customer. Since we can’t all have our own delivery drones, like Amazon, try these ways to take advantage of this trend online:
- Are you making delivery options visible on the category and product pages of your website? Don’t make people hunt for this information!
- Consider writing delivery offers in meta data. By including delivery offers like “free next day delivery” in your meta data your website will have more chance of winning the click from the search engine results page.
- Selecting keywords with a delivery element to them, optimising your site and linkbuilding with these keywords, will not only show a good intent to purchase from consumers searching for these terms but the search traffic for these terms is likely to grow in line with consumer trends.
Here is one example of how targeting the keyword “next day delivery dresses” helped to achieve a 368% increase in non-branded SEO revenue in a competitive market.
Stat: Mobile commerce accounted for over a fifth (21.9%) of online shopping on Cyber Monday 2014, up 15.9% year-on-year.4
Trend: Mobile or Die
The year of mobile is like my 29th birthday because it’s happened the last three years in a row! It’s easy to see why this trend has been forecast for so many years now, look at how many people are permanently attached to their smartphones these days. The fact is that the mobile revolution is one which companies often need to invest heavily in, to make sure that a website looks good and converts visitors across countless resolutions and devices is expensive and time consuming. The cost of revamping a large website to become super mobile friendly, is one reason for the slow fruition of this trend.
Unfortunately for eCommerce businesses though, a study by Shop.org highlighted that mobile devices play an important role in the customer purchase journey at the research stage with 42% of those surveyed researching products on a smart phone and 53% using a tablet. Further research by IBM ExperienceOne reflects a growing trend in people using mobile devices to purchase products with 19.1% of all website sales in December 2013 were on mobile devices, more than 3 times the number from December 2011.5
To Infinity and Beyond
To put it in a nut shell, a holistic approach to digital marketing and SEO will become more necessary than ever for eCommerce websites in 2015. By focusing on your audience and their journey across all channels and devices the integration can provide a valuable and consistent picture of your brand and maximise the ROI from your marketing spend, wherever that sale make occur.