The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we consume the media, how we move about in public, and more importantly, our methods of buying essentials and products have completely moved online.
In March 2020, when the lockdown was announced, UPI transactions skyrocketed to an incredible 565%, as per an ET Money report. Any business, be it a traditional or an eCommerce one has been forced to move online.
Shopify, a proprietary eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems, grew over 38% to 457 million merchants in 2020.
Let’s understand what is SEO?
The pandemic has seen most people searching for products via search engines. SEO offers a unique opportunity to grab eyeballs and in turn, customers. SEO or search engine optimization is a method where organizations and businesses can organically get business leads or users without paying for ads or sponsored content. A good starting point in the SEO game is to use the EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) strategy while formulating your online strategy.
Now, let’s move on to 10 ways in which SEO can help eCommerce businesses move past COVID-19:
Earn From The Trend
Let’s assume, you are a retailer selling shoes of all types. It is summer in India and the cricket season is on. The particular manufacturing company has announced a discount on the sports shoe. As a retailer, you can run a small SEO campaign that focuses on that particular shoe.
The advantages would be that the customers would come across your website or social media pages on the first page of the search engine while searching for those shoes. Remember, customers are in a hurry and nobody goes beyond the first page. A Forbes report mentioned that the first page of Google captures over a staggering 71% of clicks. You can then change your SEO strategy as per your sales and vice versa.
Google has also indicated the mobile-first index will be used to determine SEO rankings in 2021. This means that the longer a user stays on your website, the higher your SEO rankings will go.
Leverage YouTube To Rank Higher
As per a report, India has 342.3 million YouTube users, up from 168 million in 2017. A 2019 Think with Google report on India also mentioned the following on the use of video- “we found that 80% of auto buyers watch YouTube videos to find answers and reviews before making their purchase”.
The pandemic has seen many consumers take to YouTube to make purchases for the household, be it a laptop or healthy food items for young children.
If you are looking to amp your social media strategy, think in terms of video. Google owns Youtube, which means that if your SEO keywords for the search engine are optimized, your videos will also turn up in the video bar of the engine. Customers will search for a product and look for its reviews in the video format.
YouTube is comprehensive in its parameters for reviewing SEO- target keywords, engagement rates on a video, subtitles, video descriptions, and sentiment among others. You can then add links to your website or social media in the description. A good thumb rule for YouTube is that of TOP- Targeting, Optimizing and Promoting your videos.
Go LOCAL in Your SEO Strategy
Local SEO, in simple terms, is optimizing your website for a specific local area. For this, you should include the name of your business and the area it is located in. If you are a sports store, make sure to add your details online. Ask happy customers to rate you online so that your Google Rankings improve.
Google Listings is another way to amplify your local SEO strategy. You will have to add or claim your organization/business, verify it thereafter and then add photos, videos, and your office timings on the page. If you are a supermarket, you can add your location and timings online. In the pandemic, consumers will want to shop local in their nearby areas, rather than traveling miles to buy their essentials.
Prepare For the Trend- Voice Searches
“Hey Siri, play Despacito.”
“Alexa, when is my order arriving?”
We have all used these two lines before. Voice-related technology is on the rise. 20% of searches in the Google App are done by voice. Google has its own Digital Assistant for a while, with the tech giant talking about schema on websites. But what is Schema?
Schema is a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs (Search engine results pages). The technology is available only for news publications due to them putting out verified stories and information. It will soon be available for organizations and businesses.
How to prepare for this trend? Revamp your SEO strategy or hire a digital marketing agency specializing in eCommerce businesses. Write coherent and easy-to-read sentences on your website to rank higher in the search engines. Remember, you are writing for people and not robots. You are also writing for consumers who are busy and cannot read for more than a minute.
As for the technical aspects, there are four points to understand-
- Follow all the specifications that Google has mentioned (content, data protocol, etc.).
- Add the Google Schema in the coding of your website.
- Test and approve the data.
- Send the content for the eligibility and onboarding process.
The importance of SEO in eCommerce is only growing. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated its importance manyfold. SEO, which is both, front and back end of a website would aid your content management, and by extension, headless commerce.
Headless Commerce is simply an eCommerce solution that stores, manages, and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer. A prominent example is that of Nike. The sports retailer wanted to get more sales via mobile. They implemented headless commerce. React SPA, combined with Node.js backend for frontend was what Nike did. They eventually overtook Adidas for the number of sales in 2020. You can read more examples of Headless Commerce here.
Part of the IoT (Internet of Things) technology where everything is connected to the cloud, Headless Commerce is also helpful when it comes to user experience. A good thumb rule to follow in UX is that of three clicks: users should find whatever they want within three clicks on a mouse. This gives the front-end developers the freedom and the backends the space to experiment on a website. Read a useful post about how to SEO for Headless Commerce
Experiment With Your Content
Experiment with what you want to say on social media. Even if you run a bricks and mortar business, make sure to post adequately online. This solves two objectives. It will amplify your business among current customers and create a feeling of reliability and trust amongst potential customers. You can experiment with memes or even a few self-deprecatory can earn a snigger on social media and SEO channels. If you do not try, you would not know.
There are many tools available to evaluate your social media content. The process might take time but as a business owner, you can understand what type of content, marketing techniques are working for your business. Here are a few tools:-
- Google Search Central – For the latest updates on the Google Search algorithm and best SEO practices
- Crazy Egg – Crazy Egg is essential in understanding what customers are looking at your websites. It generates heat maps and also provides A/B testing for your website.
- Semrush – A competitive marketing and business analytics, Semrush is known for its keyword research and local SEO features.
- Moz – A blog on the latest SEO trends and practices.
Make SEO A Part of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Ensure that your overall brand tone and image are in sync with what is being on social media and for SEO content. Do not sacrifice your brand strategy just for a few clicks or numbers. Do away with dead links or pages on your website. Your website should talk about COVID-19 protocols, and ensure phone numbers and email IDs are in use. Your advertising strategy does not happen via a campaign, but on a daily basis through social media content and SEO changes.
Nurture The Relationship Between SEO & User Experience
SEO, which is a continuous and not a one-off process will be helpful when it comes to the user experience of your website. You might notice a navigation tool is not working, or a banner is not catching as much attention as you wanted. Such practices will only help you get better in a time where customers are spending extra time on the internet, due to the pandemic.
Even if you are in a business that did not run during the pandemic, you can use this time to build trust and potential sales amongst clients. The Google Search console helps website owners understand various user-experience issues for navigation via a mobile. Understand and hire an experienced web developer to solve all UX-related issues.
Search Your Customer & Your Brand
Potential customers are scouring the internet, looking for new content to consume and new items to go for tab shopping (the online term for window shopping). Search Engine analysis would be the best way to get to know your customer well and even find the pressure points of your brand story. It is time to revamp that.
eCommerce which had taken a hit due to the pandemic is slowly getting back to its hit. Our ways of shopping have changed, with AR/VR also going to play a major role. SEO would have its role in being consistent with its messaging and tone for every business, which is vying for those crucial 30-second attention spans. Every company is a media company in 2021, and it’s best to start now.