SEO 101: The Ecommerce Sales Funnel

SEO 101: The Ecommerce Sales Funnel

For the uninitiated, search engine optimization (SEO) can seem like a foreign language. It’s not necessarily intuitive. Plus, the algorithmic rankings employed by Google and other search engines are constantly in flux. They do this on purpose to make sure the most relevant content makes it to the top of results. So, how can your ecommerce store compete in the world of SEO and online marketing? You need to understand a few basics. Here’s some key information about SEO and the ecommerce sales funnel.

Foster Brand Awareness

Building a brand is arguably the most important aspect of boosting your sales through SEO. Google is now featuring snippets on its search result pages. These can provide consumers with a preview of exactly what they’re looking for in a search query. This is great for brands that are able to exactly meet search terms. However, doing this requires you build a strong presence first.

Additionally, having a strong brand will create customer loyalty for your store. Retaining your customers is essential in the world of online sales. But before you can do so, you need to get them. Over 60 percent of marketers believe getting new customers is the top aim of advertising. There are a few ways ecommerce vendors can go about this.

Use Marketing Tools and KPIs

Data is critical to business success in today’s world. You need to learn a few key performance indicators (KPIs) if you want to stay ahead of the game. Here are a few to consider when running your online store:

  • Sales over a period of time
  • Conversion rate
  • Average margin on individual items and whole inventory
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • Site traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Affiliate and influencer success rate
  • Customer acquisition cost

You should consider how to capture data on these KPIs before you decide on a cloud ecommerce platform. The best ones have built-in analytics to help you summarize these numbers.

Target a Niche

Narrowing down your pool of potential customers might not seem like a great idea. However, this can actually benefit SEO, which in turn will help you draw better-qualified customers. Think of it this way: How likely is it that a random group of people is going to want to purchase a highly specific item—say an obscure baking utensil? Sure, you’ll reach a few people who are legitimately interested. But your conversion rate will likely be quite low. On the other hand, people who are disproportionately interested in baking will probably at least want to investigate your inventory of odds and ends. Narrowing your target audience will help you reach the people who are actually interested in your products.

This can be accomplished through your SEO and advertising strategies such as employing long-tail keywords in your content. These are searchable phrases that are specific to your goods or services. You will be more likely to rise to the top of search results with more fine-tuned search terms. Also, people looking up long-tail search terms will be much more likely to engage with your content than the average person. Do some keyword research to determine the best options for your ecommerce store.

Don’t Be Afraid of Email

A lot of people tend to think email is outdated in the age of social media. This is a misconception when running an ecommerce store. A study by the Direct Marketing Association found email marketing produces ROI in the ballpark of 4300 percent. The low cost and high reward of email makes it an extremely valuable marketing asset. Always ask for email addresses when people visit your website—or check out.

It can be difficult to get a hold on SEO and marketing for people who have no experience in the field. Considering these SEO 101: Ecommerce Sales Funnel tips before you delve into building your own SEO strategy will improve your odds of success.


seo vs ppcIf you want to attract visitors to your site then there are a couple of ways of doing this. Among the most popular and effective ones are SEO and PPC.

Which one is better?

I have been thinking about this issue for a while and have come up with a few points to try and help me reach a final decision.

Let’s take a look.

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SEO vs Design

seo vs web design
Smart bots or sexy design?

We all know that some things go together better than others.

So what about search engine optimization and an attractive website? Common sense tells us that webmasters are divided into two groups; those who only want to sell things and those who just want to entertain the world and share something they are passionate about.

This is fine in theory but we all know that life is not so black and white.

Even if you are writing on a subject you care deeply about you still need to attract visitors as well as pay the bills. Equally, if you are an online business owner then that doesn’t automatically make you the modern day equivalent to an old mill boss who only wants results and doesn’t care how it is done.

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Get Your Content Under Control

content is kingInternet marketing statistics are sobering stuff. I mean really sobering.

Did you know anywhere up to 80% of your potential customers will be using the information they get from the web to decide whether or not they do business with you?

To most consumers that doesn’t extend past typing your name into a search engine and glancing over the first five to ten things that pop up – what will they see?

Go ahead and see for yourself.

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Google Targets ‘Scraped’ Content and ‘Content Farms’

google content farmIn a move “to encourage a healthy web ecosystem,” Google recently announced a major change to its search algorithm – a move to devalue so-called “content farms” that primarily copy content from other websites, and sites that offer little or no value-added content for users.

The move ensures the continuance of the Internet adage, “Content is King!” According to Google, its algorithm tweak “noticeably” impacted 11.8% of its search queries, dropping the search engine results page (SERP) rankings of sites that “copy content from other sites or sites that are just not very useful,” while providing better SERP rankings for “sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Continue reading “Google Targets ‘Scraped’ Content and ‘Content Farms’”

6 Ways To Ensure SEO and User Satisfaction with Your Content

customer satisfaction surveyIt’s a thin line to walk between ensuring search engine optimization and keeping your readers satisfied with your content.

If your content awkwardly uses SEO keywords you can easily turn off your readers.

Also, too many SEO keywords can hurt your ranking on Google and other search engines as well.

Follow these six tips to help your content maintain the balance between marketable and valuable.

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One Site Fits All or Better Having Microsites?

micrositeMany website owners as their businesses expand they come to the dilemma of splitting their sites into a few microsites so they can rank better for their targeted terms.

This is not really an easy topic and before you make such a radical move there is a lot to take into consideration.

The first thing you need to ask yourselves is why would you want do something like that?

Continue reading “One Site Fits All or Better Having Microsites?”

Web Visitors Flock to Career Sites

For career sites, there’s no business like the recession business!

With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an over 9% unemployment rate in June 2009, it appears that job search sites will continue to show an accelerated growth during this economic recession.

On August 6th, 2009 eMarketer reported that more than 65 million visitors have rushed to job search sites in June 2009.  Most of the top 10 career service and development websites in the U.S. (ranked by unique visitors) have experienced double digit percentage increases in the number of unique visitors from June 2008 to June 2009.

June 2009 data from comScore pegged growth in unique visitors to career resource sites at 10% over the previous year, with seven of the top 10 sites seeing at least double-digit increases. More than 65 million visitors checked out career sites in June.

“The top three sites in the category—CareerBuilder, HotJobs and Monster—have maintained their leadership positions for several years now, but there are also a few upstarts in the industry making some noise,” said Jeff Hackett, comScore senior vice president, in a statement. “Certainly with millions of Americans reevaluating their careers right now there is opportunity for continued growth and innovation in this segment of the online marketplace.”

What are the most common search terms at career sites? Here’s the list:

These job search terms are closely aligned with the job categories of the list of over 3 million jobs that can’t be filled, released by Fortune back in February 2009.

Among all the excitement from career sites, there appears to be no discussion about this fact: the combined number of page views from the top career sites wasn’t even close to that of Craigslist back in 2007.

According to data from Compete, lately Monster has been able to start getting closer to the number of unique monthly visitors of Craigslist, however it’s important to remember that Craigslist doesn’t operate the large marketing and advertising expenditures that Monster does. Furthermore, the other 3 sites that showed healthy numbers of unique visitors from June 2008 to June 2009 (Careerbuilder, Indeed, and Hotjobs) have a long way to go to reach the monthly unique visitor numbers of Craigslist and Monster.

How to target your audience using Facebook Ads

For the last week, I have been pretty busy creating and tweaking online ads at Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, so I thought it would be useful to provide a bit of advice from my personal experience using Facebook Ads.

Why did I choose Facebook Ads?  Consider the following bar graph from Venture Beat’s article titled Facebook’s traffic growth leaving rivals in the dust.


For simplicity, I will assume that you want to drive visitors to a single website.


  1. Do your research: You cannot expect Facebook Ads to do miracles for you.  It will do a pretty decent job at providing impressions but the “clickability” of your ad is 100% up to you.  Forget one-size-fits-all approaches, you will require to develop at least 5 ads (I am currently working with 8).  You need to think about the profiles of your website visitors.  For a quick video tutorial of this idea, take the quick tour of the web attitudinal web analytics firm iPerceptions from Canada.  (Avinash Kaushik is on their Advisory Council, so yes, you have to listen).  Is your ad audience: female? male? young? old? English speaking? Time-constrained? Etc, etc, etc.  Preparation of audience profiles should be about 60% of your time dedicated to develop online
  2. Select your text and image for your ad: As you can see from the two ads below, you can have a subject line of 25 characters, text of 135 characters, and you can upload an image (there are appear no limits on the image file size because Facebook will resize it to fit the add).  example-of-adsIt is important that you have a variety of images available because you will be needing as you A/B test your ads.  Notice that Facebook users can give your ad a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to your ad!  Don’t try to fully capitalize words (e.g. FREE), or use strange characters (keep to the regular alphabet, both using different languages is ok, actually I encourage it!).  Remember to use proper punctuation, otherwise your ad won’t be approved.  great-widgets
  3. Think of the keyword(s) of your ad: This step is critical because it will allow you to use SEO and SEM tools such as Google Trends.  Let’s assume that you want to promote your great widgets at  So an important keyword to consider would be “widgets”.  Let’s check out what is the search volume index of “widgets” at Google Trends.  widgetsWow, this is a lot of useful information!  Notice that we get a couple of relevant news that show what drove queries for this term.  Company names and product names are useful because then you can go into their websites and see what are their current SEO and SEM practices.  Also, you should look if the already have ads around Facebook.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and keep an eye on the current practices of your competitors.  It is also important to check out what keywords are related to your keyword, what regions (or countries or cities) provide the most queries for your keyword, and what languages are those queries made on.  Another important source of information is Google Ad Planner.  For a discussion on how to use Google Ad Planner, refer to this web analytics analysis of Flickr, Photobucket, Shutterlfly, Snapfish, and Slide using Google Ad Planner.
  4. Reach the (exact) audience you want: facebook-audienceUsing the information from the previous steps, you can fill in the fields on step 3.  Notice that not all keywords are available at Facebook, so its important that you look for keywords related to your own keyword(s) of choice.
  5. Price your ad: I will skip this step for now, because it deserves a whole post of its own.  If this is your first time creating Facebook ads, then I would recommend setting the price towards the  lower limit and setting a total budget for 1 month.  Keep track of your A/B testing and then you will have enough information to develop a more detailed pricing strategy.

That’s it for now and happy experimenting with Facebook Ads!