SEO Strategies for Specialty Merchants


Published on

Certain retailers (Amazon, Overstock, eBay, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Home Depot, etc.) are very strong in terms of natural search rankings, creating a barrier to entry for specialty retailers. While this is indeed a challenge, there is an opportunity for specialty retailers to grow, compete and flourish via natural search. While there is a real challenge, most consumers are brand savvy and knowledgeable of the products they desire. With this stated, there is a real opportunity for specialty retailers to market their brands and grow.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

SEO Strategies for Specialty Merchants

  1. 1. Successful SEO Strategiesfor the Specialty MerchantBy Richard ChavezPM Digital
  2. 2. 2OverviewCertain retailers (Amazon, Overstock, eBay, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Home Depot, etc.) are very strongin terms of natural search rankings, creating a barrier to entry for specialty retailers. While this is indeed achallenge, there is an opportunity for specialty retailers to grow, compete and flourish via natural search. About PM Digital SEO Strategies for Specialty Merchants Solutions Technical Customer Journey Social Media Optimization Content Local Authority Building Cross-Channel Brand / Multi-Brand Retailer Specifics Case Study Key Takeaways Q&A
  3. 3. 3About PM Digital Digital Agency servicing clients in retail,financial services, non-profit, CPG and more Primary service offerings: SEO, SEM,Display, Email Marketing, Social Media andCreative Clients include The North Face, UllaPopken, dELiA’s, Steve Madden and manymore 8 clients in the Internet Retailer Top 100 Based in New York with offices inScottsdale, AZ, Minneapolis and Columbia,SC
  4. 4. 4SEO Strategies for Specialty MerchantsWhile there is a real challenge, most consumers are brand savvy andknowledgeable of the products they desire. With this stated, there is areal opportunity for specialty retailers to market their brands and grow.Q1 2013, % of searches as specialty brand searches*: Shopping: 36% Apparel: 80% Baby: 75% Health & Beauty: 57% House & Garden: 64% Sport & Fitness: 94%3* Top 100 Search Terms driving traffic to Shopping and Classifieds Sites - 12 Rolling Weeks ending March 30, 2013, Hitwise
  5. 5. 5Technical SolutionsContent cannot be viral unless it’s visible! Technical SEO optimizationwill continue to be critical for success and ever evolving.Primary areas of focus: Duplicate content (many causes, growing concerns from mobilesites) – responsive design is key Schema Markup (structured page element data that better informssearch engines of content and customer feedback), best for product pages, store locations, events and more –growing of importance and most brands omit (competitiveadvantage) 3
  6. 6. 6Technical Solutions (cont.)Customer Reviews/Feedback: Social signals from customer reviews provide unbiased technicalfeedback to a search engine of a product/retailer’srelevancy/popularity. Product reviews can be used to feed category review pages (ex.handbag reviews), brand categories and more. Product reviews should be in-line in page code vs. external call(iframe) Product star ratings can be published in meta data to add visualenhancements of natural search listings. Can also lead to increased conversion rates and fewer returns. 3
  7. 7. 7Understanding The Customer JourneySearch data from Google or Bing provides a quantitative understandingof consumer shopping behavior. That data can be classified into thecustomer’s journey / sales funnel to merchandise products and createcontent to create brand awareness and increase share of voice(rankings) at each stage.Items to consider when creating such a roadmap: Avoiding brand speak vs. consumer speak (ex. daypacks vs. backpacks) Apply sales funnel to taxonomy (navigation) Create categories based on primary product type, product use andcustomer benefit3General InterestInvestigation PhaseNarrowingPhaseConversionPhaseEye Care4,400(SV*)* Source: Google Adwords data average monthly search demand, exact-match, localAnti-AgingCream2,900(SV*)DarkCircles3,600(SV*)EyeCream3,600(SV*)sea resultsdeep sleeprecoveryserum, 0(SV*)General InterestInvestigation PhaseNarrowing PhaseDue DiligencePhaseConversionPhaseElectricGuitars9,900(SV*)* Source: Google Adwords data average monthly search demand, exact-match, localGibson LesPaul Guitars990 (SV*)Gibson LesPaulStandard Pro990 (SV*)GibsonGuitars40,500(SV*)Buy Gibson Les PaulStandard Proonline, 0 (SV*)Gibson Les PaulStandard ProReviews260(SV*)
  8. 8. 8Social Media Optimization Social media Search engines use social signals to rank regular search results1 Primary items that provide SEO signals via social media: Optimized profile (core brand statement, keywords and link back to site) Profiles have a strong following (likes/followers) Posts are regular and current Posts capture consumer activity (likes, comments, shares/retweets) Posts link to site (home, category, product, content, blog on domain) via direct link(200-level) or via 301 redirect via URL shortener Connecting your brands (optimizing and sharing) via Google+, Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and other relevant profiles can greatly influence SEOrankings Some topics of interest: New product releases Events Store openings 31. Guide to Social Signals for SEO, SEOMozFacebook Twitter Google +
  9. 9. 9Content Solutions Sub-Category Creation / Merchandising Based on the Customer Journey, creating deeper category pages based onproduct solutions, customer need, etc. can create new entry points andincrease brand awareness. Develop on-page copy to support the category and customer intent (contentshould be placed within the fold for all audiences) Linking products from multiple categories can solve more customer needs. Product Optimization Amazon and other reseller sites (ex. eBay) Provide “amazon” specific product descriptions and create moreauthorative / in-depth product descriptions on your own siteContent isKing!
  10. 10. 10Local Content Solutions“To succeed, marketers need to craft a comprehensive local search advertising strategy to reachconsumers who hop, for example, from MapQuest to Internet yellow pages (IYP) and then to theirfavorite search engine.” ~Forrester ResearchWhile primary KPIs/goals may be for online conversion, several consumers search online andpurchase offline (~63%)1 and local store options do appear frequently in broader searches.Primary focus: Create pages for each physical store, link internally and optimize for the following: Local searches by state and city (target geo-specific keywords [brand and non-brand]) Submit store listings to Google, Yahoo and Bing Places with individual store URLs Create localized content pages Sponsorships Geographic product strengths Seasonality opportunities 31. Importance of Search in Influencing Offline Buying, comScore
  11. 11. 11Authority Building SolutionsBased on the Customer Journey, several customers search for informativecontent to help their purchase decision. This type of query can be in the form ofeducational searches, reviews, how-to, and more. Understanding where andwhen to create content can help better inform customers, improve off-pageauthority and create thought leadership for brands.Primary area of focus: Reviews How to tips Content sharing Promotional content3
  12. 12. 12Authority Building Solutions (cont.)Reviews: In addition to technical integration, product reviews can be fed to landingpages to create review pages based on product categories, brands andmore. The increased visibility and content that solves customer inquiries canlead to increased conversions and greater SEO authority from socialsignals. 61% or online shoppers think that online opinions and experiences of otherconsumers play a vital role in their purchase decision (Lightspeed Research) Bazaarvoice and Power Reviews offer hosted landing pages that areintegrated into a site. Great way to gain visibility for superlatives (best)Local reviews (Yelp, Kudzu) can create greater search real estate and increase linksand increase online > offline conversions3
  13. 13. 13Authority Building Solutions (cont.)How-to: There are several instances where consumers aren’t sure what/how to buy(ex. gifts, high ticket items, special occasions, etc.). Creating content toguide customers with how-to tips, product demonstrations, etc. can provideinformation they need and lead to increased conversions Blogging is a great place to store this type of content Linking the relevant blog posts in the navigation can proactively feed the content tocustomers during their shopping experience Sharing content (articles, videos, etc.) with external bloggers, how-to sites,Polyvore can establish brand thought leadership and introduce new customers toa brand Never pay for guest blog posts and can be deemed as search engine spam Only post to sites that are relevant to your brand (ex. wedding blogs to a jeweler)3
  14. 14. 14Authority Building Solutions (cont.)One of the most common types of shopping keyword types are promotional.Consumers compare several sites and look for the best product at the bestprice. Part of their price consideration is promotion perks such as coupons,free shipping, sales, clearance and more).While customers searching for discounts are not ideal there are many of them!Benefits: More customers to your brand vs. affiliate sites Reduced acquisition costs More control of discount content (own your brand)Recommendation: Create a promo section focusing on coupons, free shipping, special offers, loyalty programs3
  15. 15. 15Cross-Channel SolutionsIn addition to a great customer acquisition tool, SEO also acts as a hubfor other marketing channels (online and offline). From TV commercialsto catalogs, SEO can be the glue that brings customers back to yoursite.Primary area of focus: Optimize based on in-market campaigns Catalog mailings SEO/SEM integration PR3
  16. 16. 16Cross-Channel SolutionsIn-Market Campaigns:As brands launch new campaigns in-market, search engines are manytimes the natural call-to-action or inquiry mechanism.Even when the campaign is completely new, search demand is usuallygenerated once the campaign gains momentum.Recommendations: Develop keyword strategy/optimize prior to launch (search-informedstrategy)1 Optimize from a top-down approach to support future brand buzz Optimize featured products to maximize visibility 3Blue = world’s most interesting manRed = better than nakedSource: Growth in search demand, Google Insights1.
  17. 17. 17Cross-Channel SolutionsCatalog Mailings:While catalog production may seem like a dated tactic, it is still veryeffective in creating renewed brand awareness, return purchases andoverall increased conversion rates from SEO and other channels.Recommendations: Mail catalogs to new customers Mail catalogs on a regular basis Encourage existing customers to join mailing list Optimize products featured in the catalog (cover, fold, etc.)3
  18. 18. 18Cross-Channel SolutionsSEO / SEM Integration:While the process of SEM and SEO is different the goal is the same (capturetraffic and sales from search engines).Both channels have their unique strengths that the other can leverage. On-going data sharing and analysis is key to continued growth and reducedacquisition cost.Recommendations: SEO / SEM Blended Reporting (at least quarterly) Ad copy / page optimization content sharing based on high performing ad-groups /pages (CTR, Conv. Rate, ROI) Find dual performing sweet-spots Uncover gaps in keyword coverage across both channels3BrandSEOSEMSEO Visibility SEO % Clicks SEO % ofOrdersSEO % of Rev. SEM CTR SEM ConvPage 1 (1-3) 98% 98% 98% 21% 7.9%Page 1 (4-10) 1.4% 1.3% 1.3% 13% 5.8%Beyond Page 1 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%Sample
  19. 19. 19Cross-Channel SolutionsPR:Online distribution and optimization network sends your press release to thousands of sites, portals,online databases, financial networks, information systems and content syndicators – from newsportals to niche sites specializing in subject-specific or localized content.Benefits: Greater exposure for timely content and news in both search and social networks Extends audience beyond journalists and traditional media audience into the search engineresults pages Opportunity to connect with journalists and bloggers directly by using keyword triggers Longer shelf life. Press Releases can continue to be found several months or years after initialrelease Opportunity to partially shape the brand results in search engines - more corporate-controlledcontent.Recommendations: Provide keyword strategy to PR team prior to release draft Optimize press releases (links to internal pages) Post on your own site first then publish externally3
  20. 20. 20Brand / Multi-Brand Retailer SpecificsSingle-Brand Retailers: Own Your Brand Create authority product descriptions, provide abstracts to dealer partners or encouragethem to write their own Create promo content Create product / how-to tips and video from brand experts Watch for counterfeits (review brand search results, create content to inform customersof counterfeit products) Support your dealer partners (co-op programs)Multi-Brand Retailers: Create branded storefronts (product categories, local) Develop in-depth product descriptions and create your own product images Co-op programs with brands Optimize where the manufacturer can’t (free shipping, coupons)3
  21. 21. 21Case StudyChallenge: Bedding retailer carried multiple brands and had strong sales andrankings for the brands at the carried While the SEO success was strong, it was limited to top and bottomlevels of the sales funnel Blended SEO/SEM data showed strong SEM traffic and high consumersearch demand, but low conversions for mid-tier searches (sub-category / brand + product type), content did not existSolution: PM Digital created sub-category pages at the Narrowing Stage forthree top-selling brands Pages went live in early October 2012SEO Results: Traffic increase Q4 YOY: 8% Order increase Q4 YOY: 32% Revenue increase Q4 YOY: 27% 3General Interest(bedding)Investigational(brand + bedding)Narrowing(brand +product type(fitted sheet)Conversion(brand +product name
  22. 22. 22Key TakeawaysTechnical: Solve duplicate content Implement schema markup for products, store location pages and events (add star ratings) Implement in-line product reviews and add to category pagesCustomer Journey / Sales Funnel: Research the customer journey via search data and apply to navigation, contentOptimization/Content/Social: Leverage social media to distribute optimized content Create on-page content to support the brand and customer interest / shopping needs Optimize for all marketing channels Own your brand and develop your own authority for the brands you carry3
  23. 23. 23Q & A
  24. 24. 24Thank You!Richard ChavezSr. Director, SEOPM Digital212-851-8681rchavez@pmdigital.comwww.pmdigital.comBlog: @PMDigital, @richardachavez