25th August 2023
By Kate Nicholson-Russell, SEO Account Director
A cohesive search engine marketing (SEM) strategy needs to combine insights and data from both paid and organic channels. When implemented effectively, these strategies can free up the budget for reinvestment in other paid search campaigns; ideally for keywords where there is low organic visibility.
Search elements can be influenced individually, but taking a holistic approach to search engine results pages (SERPs) unlocks an abundance of opportunity. Combining an organic strategy into your paid search planning can allow for: efficient spending; create operational efficiencies to increase conversions; align brand and performance objectives; provide a competitive edge; and support audience and device personalisation.
Integrating SEO into your eCommerce strategy improves your bottom line because it means you’re treating your website as an asset instead of a means to an end.
Organic strategy considers market localisation as a priority. Regardless of where search is planned and bought across the paid and organic spectrum, the process must be rigorous and scalable across any region. This approach requires alignment at both a global and local level that breaks down roles from worldwide strategy to localised implementation. You should also be prioritising technical SEO implementations that ensure users only interact with content intended for their region.
Shaping your site navigation and information architecture around demonstrable consumer patterns is another organic strategic tactic that can improve overall conversions. You can use keyword search data to understand demand and relevance, and seasonal trends to plan promotional content and forecast interest in products, which is especially relevant for peak sales periods.
Finally, investing in technical upgrades that improve your page load time has been shown to increase conversion rates and in turn, revenue, across all digital channels. Nearly 70% of consumers believe that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer -- 50% would give up animation and video for faster load times. For every second delay in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%.
Studies have consistently shown that the quicker a page loads, the more likely a user is to perform the targeted action on that page. Page rendering speed is a core technical SEO implementation and an organic strategy should link web performance to business objectives, ultimately building a mutually beneficial culture of collaboration.
Many retailers have made significant investments in their onsite experiences in the last few years, to compete with the Amazon behemoth. For some, the payoff has been remarkable. For example. Boots completely overhauled their digital infrastructure and saw a revenue increase of more than 115% over two years, growing their customer base by more than 45%, and increasing annual orders by more than 42%. Tesco’s online offering currently retains 27% of the overall market share, almost twice as much as the nearest competitor. It attracts over 25 million visits per month and boasts a whopping 28% conversion rate.
We know that these retailer sites are attracting more and more consumers; so how do you ensure your products are optimised for their internal search experience? What factors should be considered to compete in searches that occur outside of traditional search engines? The answers lie with the organic strategy experts in your organisation.
Of course, this doesn’t remove Amazon from the final equation – 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon. Most organic strategy action items can be applied to the Amazon search experience, from keyword research, competitor landscape analysis, and customer sentiment assessments to content audits and creation.
Search behaviours manifest on social platforms very differently, depending on the user demographic. 36% of Reddit users are between the ages of 18-29 and it generates 46.7 million searches per day and 40% of Gen Z use TikTok or Instagram to search instead of Google.
According to Google Search Senior Vice President, Prabhakar Raghavan, “younger people are generally interested in more ‘visually rich forms’ of search and discovery.” While Google is adjusting its product suite to compete, TikTok is evolving to adapt to these user behaviours by improving its search functionality with AI recommendations and predictive text that looks at factors such as CTR, watch times and reports.
Both Instagram and Google have made recent updates to their Maps tools, as Raghavan (perhaps tragically!) pointed out that many young people today have never seen a paper map (making everyone born before 1996 feel like crypt keepers!) SEO tactics can be applied to ensure that your business can be found via localised searches, as well as helping to shape product sentiment by combining data from social listening tools with consumer trends and review platforms.
Social visibility and engagement should also inform your content strategy, and data based on search behaviours and user intent can surface not only questions that users are asking but also how brands can tackle them in the right manner and tone - ultimately leading to authority.
As the consumer search experience enters the age of AI, you should be focusing on how both paid and organic channels can leverage opportunities throughout the entire search landscape. Any AI solution should be able to address the following criteria: it either a) increases efficiency; b) optimises data-driven decision-making; or c) personalises the user experience.
In regards to organic strategies, you should be considering your overall content planning from a brand safety perspective; for example, if a potential customer were to ask “is X brand’s Y product any good?”, the answer wouldn’t just come straight from your style guidelines. There are a range of external data sets that can be used to influence brand narrative; your content must take search sentiment into account so you can be the primary source of truth.
By planning for an ever-evolving user journey, you make the business resilient to any future updates and offer users a responsive experience on the web.
Organic research and strategy ultimately determine where consumers are asking questions and how you can influence their journey. The end goal should be to improve the user experience for all channels regardless of their device, connection speed or purchase intent.