When it comes to selling your products online, few digital channels can match the prowess of e-commerce search engine marketing (SEM).
E-commerce has changed the way we shop as well as how retailers do business. Many retailers have adapted well to this shift in consumer behavior, reaping the rewards of embracing the digital frontier.
But just like any business, attracting buyers comes down to capitalizing on the best methods to grab the attention of your target audience. Despite the rise of social media and the effectiveness of email marketing, search engines remain the largest drivers of traffic for e-commerce.
Unless your online store has incredibly strong brand recognition and a devoted customer base, driving traffic to your store via e-commerce SEM should be a high priority for you.
So, you want to get your products to the top of Google?
Here’s how to do it.
#1. Selling on Amazon
To say that Amazon is dominating the online retail space would be a gross understatement. In the U.S. alone, Amazon’s share of the e-commerce market is 49% and 5% of all retail sales. Amazon built up its reputation as one of the best places to buy online for just about anything you can think of.
Interested in a pillow in the shape of a filet of salmon? Amazon has you covered.
In the market for a 5,500-pound lathe machine? How does free shipping with Amazon Prime sound?
Google and other search engines recognize how valuable Amazon is to its users searching for specific products. Just try a few manual product searches, and you’ll probably notice that Amazon almost always has at least one product listing (if not more) on the first page of search results. Not to mention that Amazon also uses Google Ads to drive traffic, too.
Because of how ubiquitous Amazon has become with buyers and in Google search, many retailers have flocked to the platform to get a piece of the action with e-commerce SEM. And while you may be able to move your products at volume, Amazon isn’t a perfect solution for everyone.
Take into consideration that while you may receive traffic from organic search to your Amazon listing, you will eventually find out just how competitive it is on Amazon. Not only do you have to contend with hundreds of other sellers pushing similar products, but you also have to play by Amazon’s rules.
Still, Amazon offers your products tremendous exposure both on its platform and in Google.
#2. Product SEO
Regardless of what you think you should be doing to sell your products online, e-commerce SEO needs to be a core component of your digital strategy. Ignoring SEO will only hurt you in the long-run, but it’s no simple task.
In fact, e-commerce SEO requires a unique skill set to do well. It’s still search engine optimization—only on steroids. Some SEOs who specialize in e-commerce tend to have extensive coding and technical knowledge due to the complex nature of managing an online store with tens or hundreds of thousands of SKUs or more.
The thing with product SEO is that while it does work, organic search is an extremely competitive digital channel. It requires consistent effort and a lengthy commitment.
It may take several months before you see any real progress, although that shouldn’t detract from SEO’s value as an investment. The key is to partner with an SEO agency that has helped other e-commerce retailers or explicitly hiring someone with tons of relevant experience to handle this workload.
Just like investing in the stock market, SEO will be rewarding with the right amount of patience and persistence.
However, if you’re reading this with a major shopping holiday around the corner, perhaps you need a quick win sooner than later.
#3. Google Shopping Ads
As valuable as e-commerce SEO can be, there’s no denying the power of Google Shopping Ads.
If you want to know the quickest and easiest way to get your products to show up at the top of Google and search engines, Google Shopping is it.
Whenever a product search happens on Google, users will almost always see some variation of Google Shopping Ads before any organic listings. Similar to other types of Google Ads, your products will populate in searches based on keywords the searcher uses and you have to pay for your products to show up.
Here are two examples of Google Shopping Ads:
Just like Amazon and organic search, Google Shopping can be enormously cutthroat. If you’re looking to target shoppers during the end-of-year holiday season, your costs will increase compared to other times of the year.
7 Tips for Google Shopping Ads
Assuming you want to increase your sales while minimizing your ad spend, there are a few ways you can squeeze more out your Google Shopping campaign.
- Filling out all product fields: Google has several required fields you’ll need to fill out in your product CSV lists. Our recommendation is to complete as many fields as are available/applicable. Important ones include the color, shipping weight, and sale price of your product
- Properly configuring your site’s product feed: No one likes doing manual work if they don’t have to, so make sure your product feed is set up correctly. This will ensure you don’t run into any upload errors in your shopping campaigns.
- Campaign structuring matters: You want your most profitable products to show up the most often, and you can do this by using campaign priorities if you wanted to have those in a different campaign. You can also use custom labels to another way to filter a group of individual products.
- Enabling promotions in Google Merchant Center: This can be an easy one to miss if you don’t know about this feature to offer promotions to customers. Fill out this form first, and then once Google’s team gives their approval, you can create new promotions in your campaign.
- Use high-quality images: You have an opportunity to make your shopping ad look better than the other guys, so always use high-quality products images, and upload as many as you can to show multiple angles.
- Specificity matters: Vagueness doesn’t sell products—be as descriptive and specific as possible in your product titles.
- Never turn on auto-pilot: If there’s one thing we tell everyone, it’s to never let any digital campaign run without being proactive and always monitoring results. Just remember that Google Shopping is only becoming more crowded, so what may work now may not in just three months.
E-Commerce SEM: Choosing the Right Path
Leveraging e-commerce SEM is a great option for selling products online. Mastering this digital channel for e-commerce can take a bit of work, but you should be able to decide which will work best for you.
To summarize, consider the following three ways to get your products to the top of Google:
- If you’ve got the time and are willing to keep at it, go for e-commerce SEO.
- Amazon is a great way to get exposure, especially through their platform, but you have to play by their rules in an even more competitive environment.
- You’ll have to spend per click, but Google Shopping Ads are fast and effective if you want something more immediate than SEO and offering more search engine exposure than Amazon.