Why Your Business Needs SEO

online marketingIf you are tasked with promotion of the eCommerce side of your business, it may be difficult to see the immediate benefits of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). With so many different marketing methods such as affiliate marketing, Pay Per Click, email and Social Media Marketing offering almost immediate returns, why would you bother with a website content strategy and page optimisation?

Today I’d like to outline why your eCommerce results will benefit from SEO perhaps more than any other type of marketing and why all of the other, immediate return marketing methods rely on a well optimised website to get the very best Return On Investment.

Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click marketing is the obvious way of bringing in immediate traffic, designed to convert for eCommerce websites.  With PPC as the name suggests, you pay Google or Bing when traffic is sent to your website from strategically placed ads in search results and on affiliated websites, with the cost of those advertisements metered using an auction format.  This sounds like a really good deal. In effect, a retailer only pays when targeted traffic arrives at that retailer’s website. This isn’t however the full story…

Taking Google’s AdWords system as an example, the amount of money per click that is paid is based on a number of factors, one of which is the Quality Score of the landing page any ads are directed at.

Basically, Quality Score is a meter of correlation between the subject of the advertisement on Google and the landing page content. This means page optimisation in the target website has a direct impact on both click cost and overall budget spend for any paid campaigns.  It doesn’t stop here…

Once users land on an eCommerce website, page optimisation and functionality come into play. This applies to all sources of website traffic, so in effect correct page level optimisation directly affects the returns possible from Pay Per Click and every other marketing method.

Pay Per Click can be, if used on its own rather narrow in focus and is generally targeted around product pages. This means PPC campaigns are missing out on promotion of other, just as vital levels of the potential sales funnel of the website.

Organic Search Engine Optimisation fills all these gaps, meaning targeted traffic can be gained for the eCommerce website even at the very top of the potential sales funnel, when people are doing their initial research into products.

The beauty of a well optimised and content rich website is that organic clicks into the website and eventually those all important ‘add to baskets’ are generated from a massive range of diverse keyphrases.

Some of these keyphrases are so obscure and left-field that even the best online marketer may miss them when doing keyphrase research.

As Google say… many of the searches they see have never been done before on Google. It really does pay to optimise for a broad set of keyphrases and ‘think outside the box’ to get those additional clicks and sales.

The Advertising Anomoly

Many eCommerce website owners like to use the direct medium of Google Shopping, part of the Google AdWords suite of products, to get immediate return for advertising investment. This is fine, but without a well optimised website these website owners are missing out on a little advertised opportunity to avoid paying Google their Pay Per Click fee!

Search for a product in Google and find one that has both paid advertisements, either Google Shopping ads or traditional Google AdWords search ads and top of page organic placement for the keyphrase you have searched for. Did you click on the organic result? If you did, then you are not alone!

Research has shown repeatedly that people are naturally suspicious of paid adverts where there is no organic presence in search results.

Even if there are organic results alongside paid adverts, people are far more likely to click those organic results than on the paid ads.  This means that even though an eCommerce retailer has set up paid advertising with Google, those adverts will tend not to get clicked on if there is an organic result for that same website high on first page, meaning no PPC fee for Google.

This alone means that having well-optimised pages providing organic results is well worth the effort to optimise those pages, but also because people tend not to trust paid advertising alone, conversion rates from those utilising just PPC ads alone will get a far lower conversion rate than those with organic results as well.

Multi-Channel Sales Funnels

Those eCommerce websites which tend to do particularly well use a broad variety of different marketing techniques to drive targeted traffic. This means it can sometimes be difficult to pin down exactly where sales are coming from for the untrained eye.

Luckily, Google Analytics provides the snappily titled Multi-Channel Funnels, which can easily tell you which one, or combination of different marketing methods are making a difference to the bottom line of your eCommerce business.

Although Pay Per Click is undoubtedly a great way to get targeted traffic to product pages, you might be surprised at how much of this traffic originated through organic results. Take a look through the ‘Top Conversion Paths’ and ‘Assisted Conversions’ in Analytics, you might be shocked to find that actually, all of those clicks you have paid for were initiated via the organic results in Google!


David Fairhurst

Head of eCommerce

Intelligent Retail

David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London

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