Rethinking Your eCommerce Strategy for 2021 – SEO vs. PPC

By Scott Perry 2 months ago
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Rethinking eCommerce Strategy - SEO vs PPC

It’s fair to say that given the current financial climate and state of global health over the last 12 months, we can now see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. You may have previously seen posts from the team explaining the importance of Digital Marketing as well as ways of adapting your SEO strategy during the COVID-19 onslaught. However it’s high time that we investigate how business owners and eCommerce management teams could be rethinking their strategies for the competitive times that are sure to come. This post will look at the which aspects of SEO and PPC you can review to result in impactful changes to your eCommerce strategy.

Should I focus on SEO or PPC?

Although these are both crucial elements to success, they each go hand in hand. Simply put, your PPC activity will not be as successful if you do not have an SEO friendly website. From the other perspective, you might have a flawless eCommerce website, but without a paid advertising strategy, you will not be channeling as many users to your online store.

If you are prioritising work, we would recommend focussing on SEO first. The main reason for this is that you can utilise continual site traffic and increase organic visibility in the long term. Therefore SEO should and must be an ongoing effort which you or your marketing teams monitor and update frequently. However, any updates must be done in accordance with upcoming trends. Therefore, consistent and meaningful updates to content will help improve and sustain your organic performance. Once you have a healthy website with a clear SEO strategy in place, then you should start devising your PPC strategy to drive targeted traffic to specific pages of interest. This will increase awareness and lead to a greater volume of product sales for your e-commerce business. When done correctly, PPC will put your brand, products and services in the eyes of your clients.

Our recommendation is that any digital marketing strategy for eCommerce businesses in 2021 should leverage both SEO and PPC. But which elements are important? This post will address what we know most eCommerce businesses miss. Please contact our team if you have any technical questions or wish to register interest in our FREE SL/CED event on eCommerce Marketing Strategies to Increase Sales.

What aspects of SEO will benefit eCommerce Stores in 2021?

Before taking any SEO advice from this post. It’s important to understand that SEO is an umbrella term that covers a whole range of elements, both on page and off page. You should also remember that SEO best practices continuously change. Sadly, this means there is no such thing as ‘evergreen content’. Therefore, your marketing teams will need to keep on top of your website’s optimisation and organic performance. Fundamentally, you should consider your SEO strategy as a long term investment. This will therefore mean you can maintain an up to date website and thus maximise your return on investment. With this in mind, the points here should not be your sole SEO focus.

If you do happen to want more advice on your business’s digital strategy, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our SEO & PPC specialists.

From our experience we have found that the majority of online stores miss some of the most obvious on-page SEO best practices. If you look back at the numerous Google Algorithm updates from previous years, these all put great emphasis on user experience. For this reason, we feel this trend will continue in 2021.

Image SEO

Image SEO is often overlooked. Images don’t only add depth to a page, they also showcase your products as well as enhancing user experience. The most important aspect of image SEO that websites miss is defining a concise and keyword rich image title and image alt tag. Optimising images for use on websites is a whole entity in itself. We recently published a post on Image SEO Strategy which will give you more information.

Product Videos

Videos are and always will be great marketing collateral. Due to the increase in online video consumption, they are seen as being beneficial for user experience. You may be able to acquire video content from suppliers or manufacturers, which will save you time and money. However, if not, consider the production of a product video for your trending items. Remember, good quality video files can be very sizeable, for this reason, in order to maintain a healthy site speed, we advise that you use a platform like YouTube to host your video content. You will then be able to embed this within your category or product pages. Want more help? Check out our post on the creation of engaging video content.

Main Content

Product titles and descriptions can be like Marmite. Before you start writing content for your pages, it’s crucial that you keep your target clients in mind. Some will want a concise, qualitative description with bullet points highlighting unique selling points. Whereas others will want a quantitative description which really romances the product. Whichever your audience is, you must ensure that your descriptions contain relevant and trending keywords. Read more about why content marketing is important.

Backlinks and testimonials

Good feedback can work wonders for sales. For eCommerce these are not only in product reviews, but are also in customer service feedback. You should consider how you can showcase your company and product reviews. These will instil confidence in your brand as well as the products that you sell. You can do this by adding widgets that link Feefo, Trustpilot and Google reviews to your websites home and category pages. In addition to this, making product reviews and star ratings prominent on product pages can encourage sales. In addition to this they will also give you insights on how the customer perceives the value and quality of the products you have on offer. You can read more about the benefits of product reviews in our guide to a successful product reviews programme.

Want to read more about the process of analysing your website optimisation? Check out our post on the 10 steps to successful SEO strategy.

Tips for PPC Strategy in 2021

Now that we have an idea on some SEO focuses, we need to think about other ways to bring customers to your website. The main port of call for ecommerce websites nowadays is Google Ads. Google Ads have totally evolved over the years. With ad placements now possible in numerous formats across search, display, video and app platforms. However, as the digital era continues to evolve. We need to be receptive to the locations of users in the moments that matter to your business. Therefore, it’s important to have an approach which targets each level of the marketing funnel, in order to build brand awareness, consideration and conversion. Check out how your website and digital marketing can attract new business

Before you map out your website’s PPC strategy, you must have a good idea of your audience and their purchase journey. This will allow you to get the right split between awareness, lead generation and remarketing campaigns. A multi-channel lead generation strategy is now a large part of many retailers’ marketing efforts. However, with all this in mind, it’s important not to fall into one of the many common and costly mistakes when running Google Ads.

What is the most common mistake when running PPC ads?

Many businesses believe that PPC is a one time operation, with the common consensus being that you can simply create your ads, set your budget and then leave them to work their magic. However, this is most definitely not the case. Even though many platforms are working towards automating their PPC ads, you still need to monitor these on a daily basis, to ensure you are not wasting your budget on unqualified impressions, poor quality ad texts and assets. Negative keywords is a major overlooked option on Google campaigns that users not leverage with the result of their campaigns being too expensive to continue investing in them. Having an active negative keywords strategy list in place for your different campaigns is always the key to success.

On the other hand, many accounts that we review take on the ideology that bigger budgets will mean more traffic. To maximise return on investment, the majority of these accounts can be optimised in other ways. For example, really think about your target audience. Ask yourself where and when your audience is online and target them in these locations at the right times. Bear in mind, not all of these will constitute Search Ads.

For the majority of industries, Search Ads work very well for top level marketing funnel. However a multi-channel strategy is what you should develop in order to maintain presence and maximise your return on investment. In order to do this, you can utilise Google Shopping ads as well as display ads across web, apps and social networks. These formats are effective for mid and lower funnel marketing, in addition to remarketing to previous users. With remarketing ads you can even target organic users to your website, meaning a greater audience and increased chance of conversion.

Following this, other formats and placements may be of benefit to your business. For example: more and more consumers now turn to video in order to research products. For this reason YouTube is fast becoming one of the favoured marketing platforms, with a vast array of ad types and placement options available.

Is PPC strategy difficult?

If you are new to paid advertising, it can seem a very daunting task to get set up. There are lots of help articles online as well as training videos which you can refer to, however this can be a minefield in itself. If you want more advice or guidance on getting started with your paid marketing campaigns get in touch with one of our specialists.

Which platform is best for PPC?

Each platform has different audiences and impacts on that audience in different ways. The power of these platforms continues to evolve as the developers work to grab the business of advertisers. The most interesting factor with PPC is there is no one size fits all rule. You will need to experiment with different ad formats on different networks and platforms. Begin with a lower budget to gather data on success rates and return on investment. You can then adapt these ads and your budgets to drive more interactions and therefore increase sales. Read more about the main Google advertising networks.

Which platforms offer social PPC?

Facebook/Instagram

Utilising both Facebook and Instagram can provide an e-commerce business with great return on investment. A social media campaign on those two networks can start getting you results straight away. This is because you can create highly targeted audiences with high buy intention. In addition, you can also create lookalike audiences of your current customers or introduce a remarketing and cross/up sell strategy for your products. You can also create a Facebook/Instagram store for your business, import your products and start selling to new and existing clients.

YouTube

Another network that is ‘on the rise’ is YouTube, it has almost 2 billion active monthly users consuming content. As well as the fact that it is the second biggest search engine after Google search. 62% of businesses have an active YouTube channel. Posting content and utilising YouTube advertising to generate awareness and sales for their products. Advertising on YouTube is becoming more and more common, with the most popular form of ads being the in-stream skippable video ads. Working within the Google ads manager, YouTube ads can be customised to suit your needs. This therefore helps to bring your products to the right audience at times of discovery. 

Pinterest

A misjudged social media network where users search for inspiration on different projects, at different stages of their consumer journey, is Pinterest. Users of Pinterest search for unbranded products and ideas with 98% of them stating that they bought a product first seen on the platform. Pinterest offers catalogue connection, meaning you can set up a store and offer shoppable pins to your audience. This therefore increases product sales with advertising campaigns and thus an immediate return on your investment.  

TikTok

With 500 million active users, Tik Tok presents another opportunity to advertise your products and present them in front of your target audience. However, Tik Tok is an expensive network for advertisers and the cost per 1000 impressions is around $10. In addition to this, TikTok campaigns require a minimum investment of $500. As a consequence, these may not be a great fit for your business if you’re looking for more affordable and predictable advertising options.

Can you list on Google for Free?

There are a few ways you can get your business in the eyes of customers on Google. Some of these are free. In October 2020 Google made changes making it completely free for retailers to list their products on Google Shopping. You can start your organic product listing by creating a Google Merchant Centre account and setting up a product feed. Your product feed will serve your product data to Google Shopping placements. If you want to enhance these placements, you can link your Google Merchant Centre account with your Google Ads account.

Google Shopping Ads can be one of the most effective ways to drive sales and revenue for any ecommerce business. While they are easy to set up, they can be quite challenging to manage. This is mainly due to the fact that you can’t target directly by keyword. However you can leverage negative keyword lists and then use the priority settings to effectively funnel searches into the right campaign and the right products. This method can then help eliminate unnecessary ad spend on other campaigns. If you are thinking of starting PPC advertising on Google with a limited budget, Shopping Ads must be your first priority.

What else can assist your eCommerce business strategy?

Once you have outlined your SEO and PPC strategies for 2021. It’s important to understand that digitising your entire operations should be at the forefront of your priorities. This includes taking control of your inventory management in addition being open minded in spotting trends with product sales and customer behaviour. Even though it may seem an easy task to create a simple stock system, with charts to show trends, there are actually a number of providers that can revolutionise this for you.

How to understand sales and company data?

As you know Universal Google Analytics can provide a breadth of data on how users come to and navigate your website. One of Google’s big announcements last year was Google Analytics 4, which incorporates a variety of new insights. See what Google Analytics 4 can offer you.

On the other hand, you could develop or invest in a system that allows you to analyse your company data. This is known as your business intelligence. You can create something basic on a spreadsheet or Google sheet where you can import relevant material. On the other hand you could use a specialist provider such as Connexica with their LUCENT360 service.

How to streamline inventory and fulfilment?

Being competitive on price and speed of delivery can reduce the risks of losing sales to competitors. Streamlining your order fulfilment and delivery will help increase loyalty and desire to spend money with your business. An example of how to manage this is with Stok.ly, who provide ePOS, stock control and multi-channel ecommerce solutions for UK retailers.

As a result of streamlined operations, you will have a greater ability to drive the right clients to your website as well as to provide unparalleled service.

If you would like any further help or advice on your ecommerce strategy please get in touch with our team today.

Don’t forget, on the 23rd March 2021 we will hold a FREE event on eCommerce Marketing Strategies to Increase Sales. Register interest to receive your ticket now.

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  Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimisation
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