SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a process that attracts traffic to your website. In the case of online marketplace websites or multi-vendor marketplaces, it is a strategy to attract high-quality prospects to your store and grant wider exposure to your products and services.
With so much talk about SEO for online marketplaces, it is only natural to be curious about it. If you are looking to gain practical exposure on the same, then you have come to the right spot. Here’s everything you need to know about SEO for online marketplaces.
Elements of SEO for Online Marketplaces
SEO for online marketplaces can be decomposed into four main elements:
On-page or technical SEO revolves around improving the website’s performance by making technical tweaks. As such, you will be engaged in optimizing the website responsiveness, load speeds, site URLs, structured data markup, etc. While such improvements will make the website rank on the search engine result pages (SERPs), it needs to be augmented with other techniques, such as incorporating keywords, maintaining keyword density, adding alt text, etc.
Off-Page SEO improves a website’s reputation through techniques like link building, PR, social media marketing, citations, etc. In essence, it involves interacting with external websites to create a more "on-brand" effect. The resultant response influences the search engine's opinion of your website, which, in turn, affects the ranking. Apart from the well-known off-page SEO techniques cited previously, site owners can also perform off-page SEO through link scrubbing, improving and optimizing content, guest blogging, etc.
Content optimization pertains to structuring the content such that it offers value to the visitors. Different content forms include blog posts, videos, animations, podcasts, infographics, etc. The content optimization strategy will mold according to the type of content. Adding keywords, including meta content, making content accessible are some of the top ways to optimize content.
Why Is SEO Important for Online Marketplaces?
The fact that vendors outsource SEO services highlights how SEO for online marketplaces is layered and complex. As such, it is only natural to wonder, “is it even worth it? And if so, why?”
To cut a long story short, SEO for online marketplaces is crucial, especially at this juncture where online shopping is the new normal.
As for the “why?” the answer is pretty simple - online marketplaces are saturated.
Consider the case of Amazon itself, the eCommerce giant hosts nearly 6.4 million sellers worldwide, of which 1.5 million vendors are actively selling. Multi-vendor marketplaces aside, the marketplaces sector itself is roiling with intense competition, with every business trying to make sales online.
As such, MarTech services like SEO come as a beacon of hope to level the playing field. It can help businesses:
On average, one out of four internet users clicks on the first Google search result. Naturally, the response would be no different for marketplaces. And once you land this sweet spot on digital real estate, you are bound to make more sales. After all, it is no rocket science - the more your products or services are visible and discoverable, the more they will sell. By ranking your website or your products/services in the marketplace, you can increase the revenue potential even in the face of high competition.
Earn Trust and Credibility
With several players flocking the market, trust and credibility will be key differentiators that will help your business stand out. The fact that you are superseding your competition indicates that you are serious about conducting business and will treat your customers accordingly. Your high ranking is also an indicator of a loyal customer base, which again instills trust in a business.
Unlike a limited period marketing strategy that predominantly offers a one-off result, SEO is persistent and long-term. For marketplace websites, topping the SERPs means welcoming high-quality prospects and gaining trust. As for products that rank high on multi-vendor marketplaces, they would always top the charts and make their way past the checkout. Not to mention that highly ranked products also show up in search results, which means that you can tap into the customer base of the host website and also regular internet users!
As modern-day consumers understand the world of online advertising, they become warier about it. This fact came to light when a study highlighted that 96% of buyers do not trust ads. And with this stigma, businesses will have to face the constant pressure of nailing their advertising strategy - which, well, is not really pragmatic. Against this backdrop, SEO for the marketplace emerges as a viable option to promote your business without coming off as sketchy, sleazy, or overly enthusiastic. It attracts organic traffic that has a higher potential to convert leads into paying customers.
Consumers look up products and services online as they are curious to know more about them. They may wish to know about the product features or compare two identical products - either way, it forms a vital part of their buyer’s journey. And being their first stop on this exploration offers you the unique opportunity to educate them about your business and establish yourself as a market or domain expert. Of course, you can only capitalize on this opportunity if you can truly offer value and meaningful content that can keep shoppers engaged.
SEO is one of the many components of a long-term digital marketing strategy. And even if they do not yield results instantly, they will play a role in increasing traffic, boosting conversion, and promoting business growth. As such, your current investment in an SEO services company will continue bearing fruit even after your association with it is over.
The trick lies in following the best practices of SEO and practicing patience. And what are these? Let’s take a look at it in the following segment.
How to Perform SEO for Online Marketplaces?
As stated above, SEO is a slow but steady way to make your way into the spotlight. On that note, here are a few strategies that may help with optimization:
Index Your Catalog
Whether your catalog contains 20 products or 200 or 2000, segmenting them into appropriate categories makes it easier for the search engine to locate, identify, and correlate them. An organized catalog is easy for the search engines to crawl through, making your products accessible without compromising the responsiveness of the search engine and the marketplace at large. As such, follow a universal indexing format to list all your products into categories and subcategories to make them more discoverable
Search engines will be the largest contributors of traffic to your brand, making your website the largest driver of user information. By integrating your website and CRM, you remove the need for manual addition of this data to the CRM, manual labeling, segregation, assignment, etc., and you can rely on the CRM to process all data automatically. It creates a closed ecosystem where all your teams - marketing, sales, service, and support, focus on data presented within the CRM without worrying about any of the channels, including your website, because it is integrated with the CRM.
Flesh Out the Product Details
Product details are a window to the product even before it makes its way to the customer. As such, you need to paint a vivid picture to let them know what they are getting for their money. To do so, you will need to beef up product details with as much information as possible.
Add the title, description (more on this later), brand name, features, photos, videos, USPs, quantity, availability - basically, anything that will help tip the scales in your favor. Making such details readily available allows the buyer to make a well-rounded and informed decision. And since we are talking about making this information “readily available”, the layout against which this information is displayed will also play an influential role here.
Tag Your Products With Keywords
While product details educate shoppers, they also offer ripe opportunities to organically incorporate keywords that educate search engines. Any seasoned SEO expert will let you know that keywords are the name of the game. However, you will need to conduct a thorough keyword analysis and study your niche and target market to understand what your buyers are searching for
For instance, if your target audience is students and low-income households, adding keywords like ‘cheap’ or ‘affordable’ can fetch you buyers. On the flip side, if your clientele consists of the elite, using words like ‘luxury’ or ‘premium’ can help your brand get discovered.
While product details are the most obvious places where you can incorporate keywords, also consider other meta tags, such as the site URL, alt text for product images, etc., to tag the products.
Be Smart While Picking Keywords
Just because you ought to use keywords, it does not mean that you can use them indiscriminately. The truth is that not all keywords are created equal, and you have to practice prudence while selecting them for the task.
While searching for keywords, keep an eye out for the search volume. Typically, a high search volume indicates the popularity of the keyword as it suggests that several users are looking up the keyword. It also generally aligns with the user’s intent of learning more about the product or purchasing it. However, also include a mix of long-tail, unique, or related keywords to ensure that your products do not get lost in the crowd.
After all, if you are trying to rank for generic words like “t-shirts”, you will find yourself drowning in a flurry of other brands selling t-shirts. Think something far more specific, like “cotton t-shirt” or “yellow cotton t-shirt” to drive home your point.
Essentially, research the keywords, use a mix of popular and off-beat but relevant keywords while listing your products. The search engines will do the rest.
Optimize for Voice
Smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, powered by personal digital assistants, are paving the way for the future of voice-based searches. In fact, revenue generated by voice shopping is pegged to touch USD 40 billion by 2022 . As such, businesses should keep up with the trend and optimize for ranking their products for voice searches.
The first step in this direction would be to rank for conversational and contextual keywords. It is believed that voice search queries are triggered by a set of 25 keywords, with words like "how," "what," and "best" leading the front. Optimize your product listings as rich answers to such queries, and your products will fly off the shelves like hotcakes.
Streamline Your Product Descriptions
While we recommend that you pack your product descriptions with maximum information (and keywords), practice caution while doing so. Because even though you are optimizing for search engines, you are writing for humans. And long and trailing product descriptions that are of no value or are incoherent are only going to hurt your business.
On that note, here are a few pointers on nailing your product descriptions:
- Add an attractive title that conveys maximum information in minimum words.
- Use power words in your titles to evoke an emotional response.
- Focus on the features and benefits of the product from a buyer’s point of view.
- Make the product description readable and skimmable by using bullet points.
- Weave in a story about the product to grant it personality.
Apart from the textual information, also include high-quality images and even videos of the product in its natural settings to make it more appealing to shoppers, which in turn will inform the search engine that you offer value.
Respond to Product Reviews
First of all, reviews are an excellent addition to your SEO suite. They work as social proof and offer credibility to your product. At the same time, they are also hotspots for high-quality keywords considering that the buyer will use the organic terms that they searched for while locating your product.
And while positive reviews are a testament to your product’s value proposition, it is the negative reviews that offer you an additional chance to rank your products. Interestingly, nearly 53% of customers expect to hear from a business within a week after submitting a negative review. You are essentially being given an opportunity to redeem yourself and utilize this opportunity to establish your brand! Capitalizing on this opportunity will help you come off as sincere but will also echo the keywords with a decent amount of frequency to help the product rank.
When you connect your website and CRM, all customer interaction data gets collected into the CRM, and based on user behavior, they get automatically assigned to the right team. This saves you time and effort, which would otherwise be wasted on manual segregation and assignment. This user information is also visible to other teams who can use it to improve their respective activities. The marketing team, for example, can use information collected by the sales team to make their advertising content more relevant. The CRM unifies your teams, and your website gives them the information needed to be more efficient.
Track and Analyze Performance
When all is said and done, you need to track and measure the performance of your SEO strategies. From engagement to revenue - different metrics will offer an insight into how your efforts fare in the real-world setting.
A few KPIs that you will have to watch out for include:
- Organic traffic
- Search ranking
- Search visibility
- Click-through rate
- Bounce rate
- Return on investment
- Cost per acquisition
And while you are at it, read up on the latest trends prevailing in the world of SEO and recalibrate your strategies accordingly. Overnight changes in the search engine algorithm can change the rules unexpectedly, so be prepared for such shocks.
Attracting buyers has become progressively tougher, with new sellers entering the market with every passing minute. Fortunately, SEO for online marketplaces can help businesses stand out and get noticed.
However, SEO is highly dynamic and resource-intensive. As such, it is best to outsource SEO services so that you can focus on your core responsibility - selling. Engaging a reliable SEO services company allows you to profit from someone else’s expertise without putting in the grunt work. Talk about a win-win situation!