A Few Good Ideas for SEO at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition

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July 9, 2010

A Few Good Ideas for SEO at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition

Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Search Strategist

Views and Statistics about Shopping and SEO

At the eRetailer convention the other week, I heard some interesting statistics I’d like to share with you.  The statistics related to the ways people are using the Internet to shop nowadays.  I can’t vouch for the veracity of the stats, but they certainly seem reasonable enough to remark upon, so I’ll leave it up to you for future research as to how “true” they are.  Let’s get started!

First of all, spending on the Internet continues to increase while retail spending as a whole decreases.  It’s pretty obvious why this is.  The Internet offers its users the opportunity to spend their money in the most efficient way possible.  Through research and comparative shopping, an Internet user can find exactly the product he or she needs; they can also find this product at (or very close to) the lowest possible price and get the best deals.  It only takes a couple of hours to do this type of shopping research, while fifteen or twenty years ago this type of checking was only possible if you had a big tank of gas and the whole day off to drive around to a dozen different stores. 

So it’s no wonder that people are using the Internet to shop and they’re using traditional channels less often.  It saves more money, after all, and in this economy thrift remains the #1 concern.  As someone who sells products and services on the Internet, your main concern is now making sure that people and search engines are aware of the value your site offers.

Another important statistic was about the elements that propel the online buying decision.   As it turns out, internet shoppers really, really like free shipping and coupons.  According to a poll of people who’d completed an online purchase that offered free shipping, sixty percent of shoppers said they wouldn’t have bought the product without the free shipping offer.  According to a similar poll of Internet users who had just purchased a product with a coupon, fifty percent of these shoppers wouldn’t have bought the product without the coupon discount.

In other words, your site’s offers of coupons and/or free shipping are something you should let your visitors know about.  Check out the number of searches in your product offerings that involve words like these, and consider these as possible candidates for search optimization.

For example, suppose your restaurant has a website, and your restaurant offers delivered pizza.  Google Adwords reports that there are 673,000 searches each month for “pizza coupons.”  Do visitors to your site know about your coupons?  That is, is the offer obvious when you land on any page on the site, or is the offer hidden at the bottom of the page, below the fold, in tiny text? 

You may also be able to do some SEO research to see whether there are any keyword iterations of “pizza coupons” for which you could improve visibility, such as “coupon for pizza” (8,100 searches/month), “pizza takeout” (2,900 searches/month), and so on.  Not only will your site get search traffic for popular terms, but there will be a much better chance of a sale.  Same goes for optimizing keywords related to “free shipping.”

The final statistic I wanted to mention was about mobile phones/internet.  Right now, mobile phones are driving about five percent of sales on comparison shopping engines.  That is to say, around five percent of sales made through comparison shopping engines are made by people on mobile phones.  Ten years ago that was unthinkable, but the intersection of technology and convenience is opening the door to a new world. 

That five percent is trending upwards and is likely to increase over time as prices of Internet browser phones and data plans go down.  Once these prices drop enough for widespread adoption (maybe by around 2015 or so?), you’re likely to see much more of the following actions from shoppers on their mobile phones:

  • Get someone’s opinion on a product while shopping
  • Read full product descriptions
  • Check prices
  • Check order status
  • Look for coupons
  • Check in-store availability
  • Check shipping costs
  • Read a product review
  • Check rebate status
  • Make a purchase online

Each of these actions is possible today with high-end mobile phones, but what’s going to happen when high-speed Internet is a standard option on every mobile phone?  What we think of as “online shopping” today is probably going to be very different in a relatively short period of time.

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