To make money, as the old saying goes, you need to spend money.
In SEO terms, this translates to paid search, which can be a highly effective—but expensive—way of increasing eCommerce sales and gaining presence in the online marketplace.
While paid search is certainly a viable marketing strategy, organic search traffic is the golden apple that every eCommerce marketer should reach for: According to SparkToro, for every click to a paid result from Google, there are 11.6 clicks to an organic result.
In other words, while paid traffic might be more of a sure thing, organic traffic can net almost 12 times the juice, if you can get it.
Organic traffic also typically leads to a much higher conversion rate compared to paid traffic.
Recently, we looked at six ways to increase sales online through eCommerce marketing. In this follow-up article, we’ll take a closer look at a few strategies for increasing your online sales through organic search traffic without blowing your marketing budget.
Organic search traffic is online traffic that comes to your website through unpaid channels.
This could be from someone searching for your company specifically, or clicking on your site in search results, or coming to your site through a piece of content you’re hosting.
If you’ve ever searched for a specific brand or product on Google—because a friend or family member recommended it, because you heard about it in the news, or because you saw someone else using it, for example—you’ve contributed to that company’s organic search results.
Now that we’ve seen what organic search traffic is and why it’s so valuable, let’s look at three strategies you can use to boost your organic search traffic to increase sales online.
While Google’s search algorithm is notoriously complex and ever-evolving, one thing that we do know is that useful content gets rewarded. This means that no matter how many SEO tricks and keyword stuffing you try to employ, you’ll never be able to outmaneuver an authoritative and thorough piece of content.
For example, if you sell lawn care equipment online, and you post one of the best articles on the internet answering the question “when is the best time of day to mow your lawn?” you have a very good chance of increasing your organic search traffic significantly.
There are (as of September of 2020) almost seven million results for that search on Google, though, so you will have to produce a standout piece of content to stand out. It’s well worth the effort, though, as the first three organic Google results (below the paid results denoted by an “Ad” label) account for 75.1% of all clicks, according to Backlinko.
Once you have created a strong piece of content and (hopefully) cracked the first page of Google’s organic results, all you need to do is include some natural CTAs to guide readers into your sales funnel.
For more on improving your organic search traffic through content marketing, check out our guide on how to get more conversions from your content, including how to use storytelling techniques to improve your writing, and our guide on how to avoid creating content that is total garbage.
Use Google’s related searches at the bottom of the search results page, and the “People Also Ask” box near the top to find more questions to build content around. In the example above, you would find “when is it too hot to mow the lawn?” and “when is the best time to cut grass after winter?” among others.
It’s also a good idea to target multiple stages of the customer journey. While a potential customer may search for “best lawnmowers” early in their shopping journey, they might search for “best electric lawnmowers for small yards” later in their journey. If you can create content that can help your target audience at each stage, you can capture more customers and online sales.
Major brands that have been around for decades or longer have a huge head start over most companies that will be hard to overcome. Why? Because their name is already in the public consciousness.
That’s why smaller and newer companies with less brand awareness need to leverage their advantage in nimbleness to gain digital marketing visibility
One approach is to target seasonal and local trends quickly.
For example, a recent Gartner report (full article available to clients) found that searches for “breathable face mask” overtook searches for “protective face mask” in early May as temperatures rose.
While your business may never be able to compete with Amazon or other massive suppliers on searches for “face masks,” you might be able to crack the first page of organic results by anticipating trends before they happen and creating content and landing pages for those searches.
Another approach is to take advantage of your existing strengths and lean into your niche.
For example, if you sell swimwear online, you’ll have trouble going head-to-head with major swimwear retailers. But if your online store already does well selling swimwear for short-haired pets, you should focus your attention on gaining visibility in that niche where competition isn’t as stacked. That way, you’ll increase overall traffic to your online store and increase overall revenue as a result.
Another great way to build visibility for your online business organically is by getting other popular sites to link to your content. This not only brings browsers of those sites to your online store, but also strengthens your domain authority in the eyes of Google’s algorithm.
Some of this should happen naturally if your content is good (for example, the external articles I’ve linked to in this article), but it also never hurts to do a little online networking by sharing your content on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter and starting conversations around it.
Did you know that Google will penalize content from sites that are poorly constructed (broken links, duplicate content, etc.) even if that content is strong?
For that reason, you can make gains in your organic search traffic just by doing a little website and product page housekeeping. For starters, you can perform a site audit to address any broken links, missing images, typos, and duplicate content, and make sure that all redirect links are pointed to the right place.
It’s also a good idea to create a unique 404 error page for any broken links that you happen to miss. You can even get creative with it to add a memorable brand-building experience for your visitors. For example, check out this 404 page from NPR that includes the standard links to search the site or report the error, but also to several articles about infamous lost souls like Amelia Earhart.
In addition to “presenting (human) audiences with the most relevant, unique and useful content aligned to their journeys,” Gartner recommends that online stores continuously address the following SEO fundamentals (full article available to clients):
Page load time. Slow loading pages make it harder for Google to index your site. Monitor and reduce load times, especially on key pages.
Code quality. Sloppy backend code is seen as a red flag by Google.
“Spiderability.” If Google can’t see your content with its automated web crawlers, it won’t be indexed.
Mobile friendliness. Content that doesn’t translate well to a mobile device loses points.
URLs. URLs should be concise and include relevant keywords.
User experience. Your website visitors should find your site well organized and easy to navigate.
Sitemaps. Use up-to-date XML sitemaps to help Google find your most important pages.
Content audit. Remove any low-quality or outdated content.
Image alt attributes. All images on your site should have alt text to help humans and web crawlers.
Duplicated content. Google sees duplicate content as a mistake or an effort to trick the system, and it will negatively impact your site ranking.
HTML tags. Tagging subheads where appropriate can elevate the importance of specific sections in your content.
Meta tags. Meta descriptions are basically useful summaries of your content, and they figure prominently in a search engine results page.
Internal linking. The pages on your site should fit together in a cohesive way, and internal linking is the thread that keeps that fabric together.
External linking. When other high-quality sites link to your site, Google gives your site a bump in value.
Monitoring everything above feels like a full-time job. Website optimization tools can automate many of these tasks for you.
The biggest brands will always have the upper hand on organic search through name recognition. But SEO software can help you narrow the gap through features like auditing, keyword tracking, and automated site monitoring.