E-Commerce Times Talkback
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Two new reports have predicted several more years of sustained growth for e-commerce, as
well as a strong 2002 holiday season, as online shoppers search for bargains in a
languishing economy. In one of the reports, Forrester Research predicted that by 2007,
online sales will make up 8 percent of all retail spending, compared with just over 1
percent today, and will total $218 billion annually.
Many of our clients are gearing up for online Christmas shoppers right now. Search engine marketing is important as many customers will either return to sites they shopped at last year, or search for new sites by using search engines.
In order to make sure your site is visible for search engine users and online shoppers, we recommend targeting MSN, Google and Yahoo as these search engines tend to send the most traffic. We recommend optimizing your ecommerce site by ensuring page titles and product descriptions capture key search terms. You can use your WebTrends reports, Overture's keyword suggestion tool, and search engine research to determine how to describe your products so that search engine users find your site listed at the top of the search engines. A good product title and description does not hype a product as a Best Seller! You can work with a person or company that knows how to get ecommerce sites listed in MSN, Google and Yahoo. Or, for do-it-yourselfers, optimize a few pages and test them yourself at MSN. It only takes 3 days to see results if you pay for inclusion (just $25/page/year at MSN). These pages are tricky to get ranked high in search engines, but absolutely possible if you have properly optimized and submitted the necessary pages. For Yahoo - You'll only be able to submit your home page to Yahoo ($299/year). For Google - make sure your home page, category and product pages have not already been picked up by Google on their own. Google does not read metatags, so page titles and product descriptions will matter more at that search engine for good placement. Search engine marketing is very possible, even for dynamic pages, which typically ecommerce sites have as they are database-driven pages. You should not have to create special doorways or begin link campaigns to get listed at MSN, Google and Yahoo. But as we've seen with our clients, what matters most is how well you can convert this newly found traffic to customers. You should be able to convert 2% or more of your unique visitors (identified by WebTrends or Hitbox reports) to customers for each of your products and services. I encourage you to collect site search data, ensure you can easily locate your products using your site search tool, ensure you have relevant and consistent navigation, quality inventory and stellar customer service - this is what converts the traffic to sales. Good luck! Laura Thieme, Bizresearch