More Profitable Online Retailing Cont'd
Carrying on from Pete’s exceptional post last week, I’m continuing the summary of Further’s first e-commerce seminar, hosted at The Forum in Norwich.
As Rob discussed what needs to be done to run a successful e-commerce site from an on page perspective, Mark picked up the trail with the darker ½ of optimisation…off site.
The Evolution of Google
The evolution of Google from the early days of beta to their current powerhouse of search results they are today has shifted Google from mere 10 listings per page to a user experience like no other. With shopping, news and places listings now in the infamous Top 10, Google search results are not only a place where users start their journey though the web, it is fast becoming the only place that users need to go on the web. So with that in mind, why would you not want to try and monopolise all of these areas with your brand to try and maximise exposure in the search results? Seems like a no brainer!
But how can my business get listed in Google Products, News and Places? Well, believe it or not, they’re all free, and relatively easy.
Google Products – Google Products is as easy as uploading all your products to the Google Merchant Centre. Google Products are ranked based on price, title, description/content and reviews.
Google News – This requires approval from Google, but is still free to apply. There are both editorial and technical requirements that need to be met in order to appear for Google News.
Google Places – Every business should at the very least have a Google Places listing. From small to large businesses, Google Places helps you appear in the search engines for all locations that are relevant to your business. All that is required is confirming your business listing in Google, and from there you can customise the listing with a business description, hours of operation, discounts, etc.
“That’s all moderately fascinating, but can you tell me how to make my website rank better in Google?”
“Sure, just get other sites to link to you and do on-site optimisation”
The ‘Bucket’ Analogy
I’m going to attempt to explain the famous ‘bucket’ analogy that Mark introduced in the lecture last week.
What you need:
1 – bucket (website)
1 – pool (desired goal)
1 – water supply (off site optimisation/linkbuilding)
Say for example, the bucket is your website, and the pool represents your goal (as Rob addressed in the first ½ of the presentation).
Your assignment (if you choose to accept it), is to fill the bucket (website) with water (links) and pour it into the pool faster than your competitors (higher rankings). Sounds easy, right? But what happens if your bucket is full of holes, in other words, what happens if there are errors on site that are causing the bucket to leak as soon as you try and fill it. It’s going to take much longer to get to the same end goal.
The holes in your bucket can take many forms, but Mark touched upon the most common on site optimisation error that we see here at Further, duplicate content.
The example used was a pair of gold Adidas trainers (everyone’s favourite). The user can find them under Adidas ( example.com/adidas/t3042), but because of the colour, they can also be found under gold trainers (example.com/gold-trainers/t3042). Here we have the same product, with the same content…on different pages. This confuses Google, as it’s not intelligent enough to determine which page is more important over the other, so it looks towards authority…links! (See where I’m going with this?). And there’s your leaky bucket, you are building links for a site that has twice as many pages as it needs, therefore dilutes the value each link provides the site as a whole, and means you need twice as many to achieve the same result.
To recap, there are 6 ‘easy money’ questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are you in Google Merchant Centre?
2. Have you submitted to Google Places?
3. Have you applied for news feeds?
4. Do you have sitemaps for video content?
5. Are you asking customers to leave reviews?
6. Are you even asking them to link to you?
‘Likes’ are becoming ‘Links’
Mark commented on some interesting points in regards to social and ecommerce.
78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
14% of consumers trust advertisements!
Taking into consideration the above points, as well as the fact that both Google and Bing announced that social media is now a considered factor in their ranking algorithms; incorporating social media into your ecommerce activities is fast becoming a necessity.
So what can you achieve from ‘Social eCommerce’?
Customer acquisition (Deliberately placed last as this should not be primary goal for social media)
A key point Mark stressed was not to try all aspects of social media all at once. All too often we hear of companies being bit by the social media bug and created a Twitter account, a corporate Facebook page, a YouTube page, etc. Normally it’s down to one person to manage, and months down the line all is given up on, as none of the sites seem to be generating buzz, traffic, etc. Moral: Become confident with one tool before moving onto another.
It’s all about Conversion
At the end of the day, all of the above mentioned, as well as from Rob’s portion of the seminar is to increase conversions, but how do you know you’re getting the best conversion rate possible? Are users looking for something on your site but are just not finding it easily? This is where A/B testing and MVT testing come into the light.
For every objection, you need to create a counter objection. Sounds simple, well it is! The best way to deal with a barrier on your site is to eliminate it or create an easy path around it. You’re probably thinking ‘My site doesn’t have any barriers’! Maybe not…but what if there are? What if some of your traffic would love to buy on your site but because of some glitch that you might not realise exists, it is preventing them from spending their hard earned cash with you. Worth a look, isn’t it?
There are several tools on the market that can help you with conversion optimisation. All of the ones listed below are either free, or have free versions available.
But how long does a test take? Will I be waiting months for results? It depends…
Big changes on site = Quicker changes in conversion rate
Small changes on site = Slower changes in conversion rate
Keep in mind that there are several variables that need to be considered when determining a timeline for any online campaign:
Search volumes for keywords
Seasonality of searches
Click-through rate of searchers
Conversion rate of website
But don’t be discouraged…It can be done!
I’ll leave you with this final thought:
Agencies should be producing campaigns based on real objectives: revenue, sales, and enquiries. Rankings alone don’t tell you this so should not always be primary determining factor on success.