How brands can win in search
Easy to Buy is one out of The 8 Fundamentals designed to help you scale up and execute your eCommerce strategy. It focuses on making your products easy to find in online retailers, and easy for shoppers to add to basket by helping you win in search...
What exactly does ‘winning in search’ mean?
‘Search’ is an intricate concept with various crossovers, especially as Amazon started to disrupt Google and more and more businesses are selling online than ever before. So before we get into highlighting how you can go about winning in search, it’s important to know exactly what it is and why brand’s can’t afford to overlook it.
As a manufacturer, winning in search often ends up referring to having your products appear on the first page of search results on a retailer’s website. Above the fold (the first one to four products listed), even better. Your optimisation isn’t necessarily focused on search engines as it does for marketers and retailers. In this respect, traditionally it was the manufacturer’s job to make sure that their brands and products were optimised on a retailer’s websites, and it was then the retailer's job to make sure their websites were optimised for Google and for the shopper. However, over the years these implicit accounts of responsibility have started to blur as Bloomberg reported that more than 50% of people start their search queries directly on Amazon. This growing statistic reinforces the changes in the way that people are shopping; if more shoppers are finding products directly from a retailer's search results than they are on Google or through a retailer's taxonomy, then brands can't afford to assume that the retailer is doing everything it can to optimise your specific portfolio over your competitors. Especially as a retailer's concern wouldn't be around which specific brands are selling, just as long as shoppers are buying from their platform.
Additionally, winning in search has started to require a twofold perspective; as a brand your priority might be to boost your product on the first page of a retailer's website. However, what might get overlooked is whether those products that you are optimising are relevant for the search terms that your customer is using. A lot of people’s concern may be ‘can customers find my product online?’ But the follow up question needs to be ‘will my customer’s find my product relevant to their needs?’ Digital Consultant, Arham Khan, shared some fantastic insights on this matter, explaining the importance of contextual keywords here.
Once you’ve done your market research and finalised the most contextually relevant keywords, the next step is to use that insight to boost those products to the top. Below we’ve highlighted the three points to focus on that will facilitate your race to the top...
1. Fixing the basics - are your products optimised?
Fixing the basics encapsulates monitoring image, description and legal & allergy information. It may not be the most glamorous of tasks, but the results increase your brand integrity, customer loyalty and online visibility. The key questions to focus on which will impact your search results are….
- Is your product tagged to the right category and shelf?
With so many retailers including category in their search algorithm or listing search results by category, it is critical that your products are tagged to the right shelf and category.
- Will the retailer’s URL pattern impact the search results?
For retailers who use a URL structure that includes category words, brands and product names, check to make sure that the current URL structure is correct and if you make changes to product content, then make sure that those changes are also reflected in the URL.
- Is your content crafted around your keywords?
It’s a balance. Your content shouldn’t be overflowing with repeated keywords but alternatively you need to make sure that they’re embedded organically into your title and description.
The answers to the above will vary from retailer to retailer which a good analytics provider will be able to advise.
2. Take a broader view - is your data contextualised?
When a leading coffee manufacturer first adopted our eCommerce analytics software, they were surprised to discover not only that their products didn’t show up on the first page of search, but that the products that did, were all from the same competitor. This insight led them to researching their own and their competitor's brand positioning and subsequently adjusting their strategy accordingly. Since then, this coffee manufacturer has created a new digital strategy which targets these blind spots. When you have a contextualised view, it means you don’t just see the progress of selected SKUs, but of every SKU that is within that search. Without this approach, there is the danger of missing major changes and opportunities to your portfolio which can drastically effect your sales.
This is the 'Easy to buy' dashboards. This Fundamental shows you: 1) Your products’ share of voice within the page 1 results of key searches and 2) what products are listed in those first page results. 'Easy to buy' is one out of The 8 Fundamentals designed to increase your online sales.
3. Knowing the retailer’s requirements - are your actions tailored?
In a recent Q&A, E Fundamentals’ co-founder and former CEO of Sony, said “You’ve got to educate yourself so if your platform isn’t performing how you want it to, you are the one who has to tell the retailers where they’re going wrong. This is a totally different way of thinking.”
We continually refresh our understanding of retailers’ search algorithms and best practices, both of which are unique to each retailer. We share these with clients when they come on board so they’re aware how to execute their insights contextually. In one instance, a lot of our clients were really surprised to learn the purpose of one of the fields in Brandbank; the misuse of this field was affecting how their products were being displayed. However, this was only unique to one retailer, and one retailer only. As a result, this discrepancy caused an error to valuable information that would have otherwise helped convert a shopper. It’s insights like these that can practically make your data redundant because often beyond the analytics, there isn’t any guidance on how to apply it through both the retailer’s and shopper’s perspective.
The key takeaway
These short term fixes will improve your product positioning in search really quickly. However, there are a culmination of things which need to be looked into and executed regularly to improve your brand's performance on an going basis as retailer’s search algorithms will keep changing. This is why having data which is pulled from the shopper’s perspective is so important; this approach puts your data in context so you’re not just ticking boxes, but making real strides towards increasing your sales, as we’ve seen from the hot drinks manufacturer example above.
When you join E Fundamentals, you’re given an e-guide which explains the key insights around what is in each retailer’s search algorithm and how you should optimise your product content to win in search with each retailer. Get in touch to find out how the service provides an integrated approach to help you stay on top of the page.
Get in touch for a free demo of the eCommerce analytics software that can turn your search results around and increase your online sales. Don't hesitate to get in touch even if you're looking to just discuss your eCommerce goals and challenges with a specialist.