SEO and SEM optimisation have forever been important in the world of eCommerce. They are clearcut ways of getting your business found in a noisy online space where websites jostle for competition and ultimately the attention of consumers. This has now been exacerbated and the competition has become more fierce with thousands of retailers moving their businesses online throughout lockdown. This means that the eCommerce market is now more saturated than ever before. 

To earn your place in the upper echelons of Google’s search rankings and get yourself found now requires an astute knowledge of the ways in which to optimise your efforts, and knowing the difference between the technicalities of SEO and SEM. These two acronyms are seemingly blurring closer and closer across the internet but what do they mean and how do they differ? Here’s the lowdown on them and how they can impact your eCommerce website: 

What is SEO and why does it matter?

SEO refers to search engine optimisation which is the process of maximising your eCommerce website traffic by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. This is necessary for eCommerce websites as it means your business can be found not only by those searching your name directly but also those who are simply searching around a product area. 

To make sure your site begins to push the correct buttons, think about loading issues. This may involve compressing images to ensure they aren’t too large and including alt text on all images. Your written content can also be optimised by targeting a  variety of high and low volume keywords and pruning content after long periods of growth to ensure redirects and and tags are still relevant. 

When done well, eCommerce sites can reap the rewards of a strong SEO strategy. Etsy has managed to gain strong standing in a world dominated by the likes of Amazon through its optimization. 

A screenshot of Etsy's website showing item listings

While it's no surprise this example should have a product range that reflects the season, the above categories are extremely useful for prospective customers and for bringing in some hyper-relevant seasonal traffic through SEO.

What is SEM and why does it matter?

SEM refers to search engine marketing which is the process of using paid tactics to gain visibility in search engine results pages. A paid SEM strategy includes both the activities involved with setting up and optimizing ads and encompasses paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.

While SEO allows you to optimise your website to help  appear higher in search results, and online advertising allows you to send promotional content to audiences of your choice, SEM combines both benefits as your content is both optimised for higher search rankings and is placed primarily in front of audiences who are most likely to convert when they click on your ads. 

To extrapolate as much as you can from your SEM strategy, ensure that your customer journey on your site is consistent with any SEM ads used. There will be nothing more frustrating for consumers  than to click on an ad that says one thing but takes them to the landing page on something else. You really want to make sure your ad message correlates with your landing page message. 

When done well, eCommerce sites can leverage SEM to drive more on-site traffic that increases the likelihood of more conversions. Surfdome, for example, have clearly identified the keywords that they want to corner with the SEM strategy and as a result manage to gain traction on search engine results pages, even though they also sell clothing and apparel.

A screenshot showing SEM ads targeting a 'surfboard' search on Google

Optimising Beyond SEO and SEM 

In standing out in a saturated eCommerce market your drive for success should not end at being selected from within Google rankings. Fundamentally, you must also ensure the traffic works for you when traffic lands on your website and this involves optimising key touch points within the customer journey. 

Cloud.IQ’s offering of solutions that can be personalised throughout the customer journey to optimise key touch points is a surefire way to see your business soar and rise above the competition. Click here for a free trial. 

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