Recently I have heard lots of “hating” related to SEO for ecommerce.
Now I understand where this comes from. SEO historically has had a bad wrap. It’s complicated, ever-changing and generally considered ikky.
For those that don’t know, SEO is the concept of optimizing your website and spreading the word about your site to other sites.
These inside and outside influences, boost your perceived relevance to search engines like Google. When Google believes your site is more relevant, they rank your site higher in search results.
Higher rankings = More Traffic = More $$$
This, in a nutshell, is SEO. And like I said, I have been hearing a lot of hating about SEO.
I’m not just hearing this from people who don’t understand it. I’m hearing it from other respected professionals in the space.
So the whole thing has me wondering, “Is SEO dead in Ecommerce?”
My resounding answer is no.
But then where is the bad wrap coming from. Let’s look at some Pros and Cons of SEO for Ecommerce and maybe this will help shed some light on it.
1. SEO is the Gift That Keeps Giving.
While it takes a lot of time to blog and generate content for your website, it’s evergreen. What I mean is that your blog posts, once ranking, bring traffic to your site over and over again. I have articles written years ago on ecommerce sites that continue to drive traffic. These posts bring customers day after day without ever having to go back and touch them.
2. SEO for Ecommerce is Free-ish
Your time is valuable and there is an opportunity cost to spending it on SEO. That aside, when you are starting your Ecommerce business, you must devote time to your site. This time, if spent on SEO, is well worth the tradeoff. SEO is an easy way to start driving traffic for free. Advertising costs can build up quickly and SEO you can do for free.
3. Differentiate Yourself from Competitors
Ecommerce businesses are popping up every day. To stay one step ahead of the competition you have to be current. If you want to help your business and build sales, you must incorporate SEO. To what extent, is up to you, but remember if you’re not doing it, there is a competitor willing to.
4. Really People Search for That?
You can’t imagine the visitors you will attract. While there are many different SEO techniques, all help your sites exposure. One of the easier techniques is to create content and write consistently on your blog. Being persistent and writing often, builds your credibility.
The more you write the more search results you will start to appear in. After some time, people will start approaching you to get your opinion for other articles. This in turn, results in more press and exposure for your ecommerce business. It’s a cycle that snowballs with time.
1. SEO for Ecommerce Takes Time
It can be a daunting task to think about all the things you should be doing to optimize your site. You don’t have to tackle it all at once. Break tasks up into little bite size pieces and you can accomplish it over time.
For example, every time you are adding images of your product to your site, take the time to write the ALT tags for the images. When naming your images, name them something that can help people find them.
Instead of 84629483.jpg rename it to large-yellow-rubber-ducky.jpg. Little changes each time you are working on your site build up over time.
2. Not Predictable and Repeatable
Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms and adjusting their ranking factors. It’s almost impossible to out-smart them. The naysayers say that you can waste months working on techniques only for Google to adjust and reckon your game plan obsolete. To some extent they are right.
But in reality, you shouldn’t be spending that much time on any one technique. A well rounded SEO approach for your ecommerce site is something that will continue to work for your site regardless of Googles changes.
Don’t focus your efforts on any one factor too much. The cumulative effect of these changes build up over time and will continue to drive traffic to your business.
3. Not Easily Scalable
Another critique of SEO for Ecommerce is that it’s not easily scalable. If you are getting 100 people to your site from SEO and 1 converts into a sale, you can’t just scale this traffic up with money. With paid traffic, you can merely spend more and bring 200 people to your site to get that second sale.
While this argument is partially true, it’s flawed in some ways. SEO is more of a game of the tortoise and the hair. A slow and steady approach helps build traffic. I rather have the 100 visitors and the 1 sale than not.
Additionally getting that one organic sale doesn’t prevent me from advertising also. Consistently improving your SEO, builds your visitors at a slower pace, but without having to pay for them.
4. Not Necessarily the Right People
Another critique of SEO for ecommerce is that you may be attracting the wrong people. Lots of traffic doesn’t mean lots of sales. You may be building traffic to your ecommerce business, but if they aren’t buying, what’s the point?
I understand this argument and it’s partially correct. You certainly don’t want to be attracting people to your site that aren’t potential customers.
For example if you are selling ballet slippers, you probably don’t want to blog about cake recipes. That’s not your targeted demographic. You should focus on attracting people who buy ballet slippers. If you stay focused on your customer, any traffic is good traffic
5. People Aren’t in the Right Mindset
Lastly, is the argument that not all searches have buying intent. Visitors may not be interested in purchasing your offering at the time. They may just want to know about how to put on your ballet shoes but not where to buy them.
While this is true, you have to introduce people to your brand at some point. While their intent may not be to buy your ballet shoes today, who knows about tomorrow?
If you have people on your site, you can drop a cookie to use in advertising later. Once they have visited your site, you can remarket to them over time.
Don’t Believe the Naysayers
So there are certainly some valid concerns and considerations with SEO for your ecommerce business. However, that doesn’t mean you can toss it out the window. Building a successful ecommerce business takes time and persistence.
There is no magic bullet that’s going to skyrocket your business overnight. (Unless you know someone at Shark Tank).
But for most of us, it takes a well-rounded approach to help spread the word. SEO is undeniably one of those channels.
So the next time you hear that SEO is dead for ecommerce, smile, and stay the course.
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