Thursday, November 23, 2006

Search Engine Optimization for E-commerce: A Tale of Two Shoppers

Search engine optimization is a hot marketing technique right now, and companies are utilizing different approaches to ensure that their sites are the ones getting the top results on the major search engines like Google and Yahoo. Many e-commerce sites believe that they are already appropriately search engine optimized and do not need to take further action. The engines are indexing the individual product pages, and those pages are appearing at the top of the results lists, so many sites do not expand upon their SEO efforts. The problem is that these sites are likely missing out on an entire category of shoppers.
Take, for example,, a major e-commerce player that has a great SEO strategy in place on its site. One of the thousands of products that Amazon sells is the well-known business book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. A Google search for the book’s title (with the number seven spelled out or written as a numeral) or even for “seven habits book covey” brings up Amazon’s page for that book at the top of the results. This indicates that Amazon’s strategy is working appropriately – for one type of buyer. A buyer that is typing this information into the engine is extremely motivated – he has already done his research about the particular book, and he knows that he wants to purchase it. That makes this strategy valuable – Amazon can catch the targeted buyers who are no longer browsing but are already buying. There’s no way to tell how often a book’s particular title is typed into a search engine. It could be once a month, once a week, or once a year, but it is a phrase that will likely bring in sales.
The problem is that at the search stage the targeted buyer is likely doing price comparisons before making a final purchase. Therefore, he might be going from search engine result to search engine result, checking the price of the book at one site and then backing up to check the price elsewhere. If he does buy his book from Amazon, there is no way to gauge if he is going to return for future purchases. Instead, the next time he wants to buy something, he’ll repeat the process – research, search, compare, and then buy. He might choose Amazon, but he might instead choose another bookseller. Therefore, in order to attract more sales, a business’s optimization strategy needs to be broadened to encompass more than just the targeted buyer.
The other type of buyer, the one who is often ignored by Internet marketers, is the person who is looking for a resource for multiple purchases over time. This person is essentially looking for a partner – a site that can be bookmarked and returned to over and over again. You can tell this type of buyer by the phrases that she uses. For example, she may be an HR manager who needs to buy books every few months to train new employees, or the CEO of a new company who wants to stay on top of the latest trends. And so, she won’t search for a particular book title or author, she’ll search for a general phrase – one like “business books.”
To catch this type of buyer, you need to not only optimize for manufacturer names and model numbers but also for these general types of phrases. You can then take this strategy a crucial step further, by building pages for your site that have essential, relevant information for someone who might become a lifetime buyer. Google “business books” and you find that Amazon has embraced this strategy by creating a page with a sampling of the business books offered at the site, clearly intended to reach the lifetime buyer.
For your company, this type of page might list benefits you provide to your customers, describe awards your site has won, or feature specific products that meet the needs of the searcher. Basically, when trying to reach a potential lifetime buyer, you need to have a page or pages that explain why one should buy from your business today, tomorrow, and well into the future. These buyers are, clearly, the ones who provide a greater value over the long term than the shopper looking for one, and only one, specific product.
Now of course, there are caveats to these rules. Are there buyers who will search on a specific product and then revisit a site many times in the future for additional purchases? Of course. Are there people who are searching on general phrases because they’re not sure what to buy who will then make a single purchase and never return? Naturally. But these are largely exceptions. The fact remains that if a searcher types a general phrase into a search engine, finds you in the results, makes a single purchase, and never returns to your site, that person is still a customer who is spending money with your business. And undecided searchers using your site for research purposes about specific products are more likely to bookmark and return to your site if they have a positive experience, so it’s still important that you make sure to cater to the potential lifetime shoppers at all times. While the trend with e-commerce sites in general is to optimize for the specifics, savvy marketers can expand this strategy to target the lifetime buyers as well. Such an approach can be a simple way to increase both an e-commerce site’s traffic as well as the site’s business.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger IMAutoPilot said...

I think this speaks to why amateur site owners need to look towards a professional search engine optimization company to help them with SEO and ecommerce conversions. Good ARticle.

At 2:43 AM, Blogger Seo Link Master said...

Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....

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