Why SEO can help prepare your brand for the future of retail
Thinking toward the future can seem a bit tricky at the moment; all our attention is on the here and now. And this is hardly surprising when a global pandemic is creating uncertainty in most areas of our lives.
Yet as marketers, part of our remit is to plan ahead. We must try and anticipate the future, and how it will impact our sales, revenue, and profits. We need to work without reacting in an emotive way; stripping back our personal worries and simply focusing on what we can do to best support the brands we work for.
Not only is work a welcome distraction, but there are significant digital marketing projects we can take on to make real progress. Putting the right search engine optimization (SEO) plans and actions into place now could have a positive impact for the future, particularly now that we’ve moved into a digital-first era (more on that later!)
You can use this blog post as your personal call-to-arms; your ally to get inspired for your digital marketing activities in the coming weeks and months. We’ll share some reasons why SEO is becoming more important to invest in, and some of the actions you can take off the back of that.
The digital-first era is here
2020 has acted as a fast-forward button. The future is already here, and it is all digital. Before Covid-19, consumers had far more freedom and choice to do shopping in the way they wanted; now, consumers can only shop in the ways they are allowed to.
Various shopping restrictions such as lockdowns, mask rules and store capacity have combined with consumer fears over contracting Covid-19. That has opened up the internet to be the first stop for many shoppers; hence the name ‘digital-first’. In a recent blog post, we suggested that retailers can’t rely on footfall this year.
This way of shopping looks like it is here to stay, and it is more important than ever as a marketer to gear up for the direction that retail is taking.
It’s time to get your house in order
Now that more shoppers are coming online, you can expect:
- Higher levels of competition for paid ads, and potentially needing to bid in greater amounts
- More online competitors as direct-to-consumer brands take up internet real estate
- The need to overcome any legacy website issues
- More focus to be put on your eCommerce SEO efforts.
Why is SEO so important now?
Whether it is for key shopping events (think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the run-up to the holidays) or for everyday purchases, all online retailers will want to cash in on the demand from consumers.
Above, we referenced the potential for paid search to be a trickier prospect going forward, particularly if you were relying on the top spots to get website traffic and conversions. It makes sense to future-proof your overall digital marketing strategy by getting better with SEO.
Despite SEO being a longer-term strategy, it can add an element of stability to your marketing. A well-optimized website, free of troublesome technical issues, can lead to your products and product categories appearing in the search engine result pages (SERPs) even if your paid ads are failing.
Be mindful of D2C brands
The newest competitors on the block are direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. These are the eCommerce retailers who have taken out the reliance on the middle man and ship their own branded products directly to their customers.
- Their websites tend to be smaller than a traditional eCommerce store; making their upkeep easier
- Their products probably fit into one main category; making the website hyper-relevant for user’s searches
- Their brand was likely built with a strong voice and personality; users will recognize certain names as trusted retailers when looking at the SERPs.
It pays to keep these thoughts in mind as retailers face greater competition online, and not just the traditional competitors you’ve been scrutinizing for the past few years.
Luke Carthy recently joined us for a webinar about eCommerce SEO and spoke about D2C models being one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in eCommerce this year, so it’s time to start paying attention to what it means for you as an online retailer.
What action should you take?
Now you’re clear on why SEO is more important, let’s take a minute to talk about what you can do next…
Fix common eCommerce SEO issues
A great place to start is by reading our detailed blog post from Ruth Everett on the common SEO issues facing eCommerce websites. Ruth covered many helpful points from link architecture to poor content and is an essential read if you think your eCommerce website is suffering in a few areas.
You may require a wider toolset than you currently rely on, particularly if you have limited data to prove or disprove eCommerce success.
Anticipate periods of higher demand
Aside from the usual sale periods, you’ll also have to keep your eye on the news agenda. With Covid-19 spreading in some regions, there will be a greater number of people relying on internet shopping to get what they need.
Along with greater website traffic, you should also consider the type of products that people will most likely be looking for. If you’re a clothing retailer, ball gowns and workwear will be a low priority, whereas loungewear and athletic clothes would be more popular.
This is just a reminder to ensure that your website navigation is catering to people’s needs and that you’ve gone ahead and optimized product landing pages and descriptions in time. If you’re working on a mass keyword research and on-page optimization project, take a minute to check if your task order is right, or you need to bring some parts forward.
Don’t forget other channels
One last thought from us: don’t feel like you have to drop all of the other marketing activities that you’re doing to address SEO. Paid search may well be needed for you at certain times and for certain products.
The key is to not build an overreliance on one single channel, and instead think about what you can do to ensure you still pick up traffic and sales when things aren’t going exactly as planned. SEO can help you to do this, and also usually leads to a better user experience too.
Sounds like a win-win scenario, right?