Consumers are spending an average of 482 minutes per day online.
That means there’s a big opportunity for e-commerce companies to grow. While that’s great news for your business, there’s also some unprecedented challenges ahead.
For one, in-person shopping has made a resurgence post pandemic, resulting in global digital traffic growth falling by 2%, according to the Salesforce Shopping Index.
Not to mention, Google announced is phasing and plans to roll out its biggest algorithm change in 10 years next year as well.
In addition, consumers are demanding more personalization and more convenience than ever before, making omnichannel shopping experiences essential. And with the recent economic downturn that began this year due to inflation, ecommerce companies need to know how to stay ahead.
To face these challenges head-on, it’s essential to stand out in search results and create an incredible brand experience.
To maximize results, you need a comprehensive SEO strategy focused on improving both foundational pillars and new trends to gain an edge over your competitors.
To best leverage existing resources and budgets, e-commerce companies must leverage automation tools built to help scale SEO efforts. This will help their team focus on other essential SEO goals, like optimizing for mobile, improving site speed, implementing a first-party data strategy, and stay ahead of other current trends.
By understanding the following emerging SEO trends, you’ll be able to better build the right SEO strategy, predict what your competitors will do next, and find ways to keep growing despite the year’s challenges.
Trend #1: Automation is key to SEO at scale
Statista reports that in 2022, e-commerce sales are expected to make up 20.4% of worldwide retail sales.
That means that e-commerce companies will keep expanding their online inventories — and as a result, they’ll have larger websites. If organic traffic is going to make it to those growing websites, though, SEO operations will need to scale accordingly.
SEO automation tools can help teams respond to this need by reducing their dependency on development and product engineering resources. For example, you can use automation tools to help your web pages more quickly be submitted for indexing or have your site’s most important pages get crawled faster by search engines.
Automation is also incredibly useful for teams that need to accelerate technical fixes and website optimizations. According to some surveys, technical SEO changes can take more than three months to implement, and in some cases, over a year.
But automation is about more than saving time. It’s especially important because it can increase your capacity to experiment. If you have 15 ideas for how to optimize your site and your development resources only allow you to implement 5, for example, that limits your site’s potential.
To maximize results, though, e-commerce companies must have a strategy around their usage of automation tools. Teams need to define what they want to achieve with automation, how they will track success, and how will they iterate on their efforts. One of the best ways to do this to have a suite of products that can put all the tools you need in one place.
Botify’s unified platform can help gather the data needed to understand how your website can be better, analyzes it, then recommends a list of optimizations you can make. With Botify Activation, we even take it a step further by providing powerful automation that can make these changes for you, reducing the time it takes to implement to hours rather than months.
Trend #2: Diversify to offset volatile PPC costs
Marketers have traditionally relied on paid traffic and targeted advertising to grow their businesses. Recently, though, volatile PPC advertising costs have made it hard to plan around and drive consistent traffic through these channels. As a result, many companies are beginning to diversify where they’re spending their team’s time and budget.
By diversifying some of your dollars toward SEO, you can be sure you’re setting your company up for long-term success. Focusing on your SEO ROI across the board, and not just on PPC advertising, will help you find more stability.
Your SEM and SEO efforts don’t have to compete.
Start by breaking down silos on your team, and work together to launch SEO and SEM campaigns together. Here are a few reasons this is a great strategy for your business:
- When a site performs well in organic search, the click-through-rate on their PPC ads for the same SERP will increase.
- Investing in SEO and SEM at the same time means that any long-term gains from SEO can help recoup potential losses from volatile SEM campaigns.
- The ROI on SEO efforts can reduce the need to spend as much on paid ads in the future.
Other keys to success? Being willing to invest and communicating the value of organic SEO to your company’s leaders. The top e-commerce companies globally recognize that investing in SEO is the winning long-term strategy.
Trend #3: Brands are embracing first-party data
As Google phases out third-party cookies many marketers may have already started to see this impact their ability to target ad campaigns. To face these challenges, e-commerce companies are putting their focus on first-party cookies.
Now, e-commerce companies have a reason to utilize and even increase the amount of data that they own. The first step is to look at your website’s first-party cookies — cookies created by the website the user is visiting directly, vs. third-party cookies which come from other websites. First-party data helps provide a great user experience by remembering a person’s preferences, like language settings. They also show you how your users act on and arrive at your website.
Gartner Director Analyst Chelsea Gross put it this way: “To succeed in a world of consent-based advertising, digital marketing leaders must accelerate when, where, and how they collect, aggregate, and deploy first-party data.”
For example, first-party cookies can tell you if a user abandons their cart. Then, you can re-target them with personalized ads or add them to a related email campaign because you have data from when they were on your website.
Using Botify, you’re able to see the entire organic search funnel, allowing you to better understand your user’s journey. From there, you can make optimizations that boost your SEO based on knowledge about your actual consumer.
For example, first-party data can show you what unique long-tail keywords are bringing traffic to your site already. Using that information, you can invest resources toward landing pages and content that you already know will drive traffic.
Trend #4: Site speed can make or break you
Google announced that Page Experience will become a ranking factor this year.
To protect conversion rates and keep your customers coming back to you, you need to direct resources toward improving your Core Web Vitals, especially site speed.
We all know that if a website is taking too long to load, you’ll leave it. Often, you may even go and search for a competitor.
A survey from Unbounce found that nearly 70% of consumers said a site’s speed affects their willingness to purchase something from an online retailer. This is reinforced by Google’s finding that users are 24% less likely to abandon pages that meet minimum CWV thresholds.
Additionally, eCommerce SpeedHub found that improving a site’s speed by even 1 second can result in a 3.3% conversion lift for desktop, and a 5.7% lift for mobile. The same 1 second can also reduce bounce rate and improve the number of page views your website gets.
These stats show that the ROI on efforts related to page speed could be massive.
Trend #5: Mobile-first SEO is a must
It’s no surprise that mobile is also the fastest-growing channel for online retail orders.
This growth in mobile traffic across industries has already caused Google to start prioritizing the mobile experience. That means Google will primarily use the mobile version of web pages for ranking and indexing.
If your site is difficult to navigate on mobile — if it’s full of annoying pop-ups, the content is too wide, or the text is too small to read — it’s going to do a lot of harm to your search engine rankings.
When a customer searches “bicycle” on mobile, the search results page is very different from on desktop. Due to the smaller screen, users’ eyes are immediately drawn to ads and Google Maps results. In fact, for some companies running paid ads, as much as 70% of their clicks will come from mobile devices.
Begin to master organic search and mobile SEO first. Then, work toward ranking in the top results on mobile for relevant keywords.
Trend #6: Video content is king
The popularity of video content is only growing. Since the pandemic, consumers are turning to video to help them make purchase decisions. According to one survey, up to 66% of consumers said they would prefer to learn about a product in a short video. If you want to stand out from your competition and engage your customers on a new level, video could be the answer.
Keep in mind, however, that Google has never directly stated that video content will boost rankings. Even so, video content can influence many factors related to SEO. For example, marketers have seen that video content doubles the amount of time a person spends on a page.
If people are spending more time on your page, that shows Google your content is high quality and valuable to users. This can improve your rankings because it demonstrates a good user experience.
Having video content on your product pages can also help you get ahead of one potential future trend: shoppable video. In 2019, Google began testing shoppable images. These allow businesses to have their ads show up in the Image Results tab, tagged with pricing and product information. From there, users can go right to the product page and purchase.
Google already allows optimized video content to show up as standalone content in search results. We predict that given the rise of video content, we’re only a few steps away from shoppable video being introduced on Google. In fact, shoppable video content is already happening on TikTok and Instagram.
Trend #7: Social media platforms are the new search engines
We can’t talk about video content without social media. Especially in the past two years, social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have become impossible to ignore. They might even already be an integral part of your omnichannel strategy.
What you may not realize, however, is that these platforms have to power to drive massive business results for your company. In fact, in 2022, users spent an incredible 2.3 billion dollars on TikTok. Here are some more mindblowing stats to think about:
- In 2021, TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular domain in the world.
- 58% of consumers visit a brand’s social media pages before going to its website.
- By 2023, influencer marketing spend is expected to grow to $4.62 billion, compared to $3.69 billion in 2021.
- In 2020, 42% of consumers researched products on social media.
- Gen Zers between 16 and 24 are more likely to use social media to research products than Google.
What does all this mean? Social media platforms are becoming more than a place to build brand awareness and run ads. They could be starting to encroach on traditional search engines.
When you’re using TikTok or Instagram, organic content, paid ads, and brand interactions are always going to feel more personalized because much of the content is user-generated or produced by influencers who have real connections with their audiences.
The good news for e-commerce companies? These platforms offer an alternative to advertising based on third-party cookies.TikTok makes it possible to quickly go viral and make huge sales based on organic efforts. Instagram offers the ability to build a community that can give you valuable insight into your customers’ behavior and needs. And both platforms offer the ability to utilize influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is a way to connect with your audience in a truly organic way. If you pick the right influencer, then you know they already have a relationship with your target audience. And the results speak for themselves: according to Influencer Marketing Hub, brands can earn as much as $5.78 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
So clearly social media marketing matters. But how can it affect SEO? While the impacts are not direct, studies show that familiarity with a brand can increase clicks in search engine results. Plus, having a large social media presence can increase traffic to your website and boost your brand authority — both of which are great for SEO.
Finally, if social media platforms really have the potential to outpace Google, getting started now isn’t a bad idea. Start thinking about how you can optimize your social media accounts for social.
Trend #8: E-commerce CEOs take charge by going headless
Headless commerce tech has rapidly developed in recent years.
If your business uses a traditional e-commerce platform, you may be used to frustratingly slow website updates. Even when you know a change could positively impact your business’s revenue, adjustments that have to happen on the backend can take weeks or months to go live.
Headless commerce is different because it separates the back end and the front end of an e-commerce application. It allows non-experts like marketing or SEO teams to make many changes on the front-end, without getting web development resources involved. If your business is ready to make a change, headless commerce could be a huge win for your team’s efficiency and your website’s organic search performance this year.
When the marketing or SEO team has the power to easily customize the website on their own terms, it unlocks a better user experience. While a traditional setup requires you to wait on development teams for who-knows-how-long, going headless allows you to optimize, test, and experiment with far greater speed and flexibility.
Whatever ideas you or your team want to implement, you can prioritize according to your overall SEO strategy — instead of competing with other business units for development resources. We’ve mentioned above how important site speed and mobile optimizations will be this year, for example. On a headless commerce platform, you can implement important updates to those areas yourself. With the power to make changes in your own hands, you can stay ahead of the competition and boost your search performance faster.
The benefits of going headless are pretty much limitless, but there are some SEO risks you should keep in mind, namely, the flexibility and customization that makes headless commerce so great can quickly become your undoing if you’re not careful.
When you’re creating a headless website, you need to have an SEO strategy from the beginning. Many people add in SEO later because they don’t understand it’s about more than keywords: your website structure has a huge impact on SEO performance.
Moving off of a traditional platform can be intimidating. As long as you have an SEO strategy and the right tools on your side, though, headless commerce can help you keep beating the competition and growing your business this year.
Headless commerce also gives marketers the opportunity to create innovative digital experiences. By separating key steps of the purchase journey from a website’s complex backend, you can take advantage of omnichannel marketing — which is consistently shown to increase order rates.
Trend #9: Consumer behavior demands more convenience and personalization
Another important consumer trend for 2022 is the increasing demand for personalization. More than two-thirds of consumers want personalized experiences. Plus, personalized experiences have been shown to have a positive impact on customer engagement and loyalty.
As such, it’s more important than ever to make personalization and convenience a core part of your marketing strategy. One of the best ways to create convenience for your consumers is by doing what we’ve already recommended in this article: focus on your website’s user experience. The same applies to personalization — once you have the foundations of a good SEO strategy, you can more easily start to personalize things for your users.
Here’re how SEO improvements increase convenience for users and allow for more personalized experiences:
- By polishing your site architecture, you can help users get to the information they need, faster.
- By boosting site speed, you can help users more conveniently and quickly choose their product and make a purchase.
- By emphasizing mobile SEO, you can help simplify the purchase experience for customers in the place they spend the most time — their phones.
- By implementing a first-party data strategy, you can understand what your users want and bring it to them through targeted ads and omnichannel experiences.
- By shifting to headless commerce, you can more easily build custom user experiences and integrate pages like the check-out across social media platforms.
No matter which SEO efforts you focus on first this year, you can be sure you’ll make things more convenient for your customers while also upgrading your organic search performance.
As an e-commerce company, you should be thrilled to know that emphasizing a solid SEO strategy will also allow you to bring more personalization and convenience to your customers. You just need to take advantage of the available opportunities and integrate user experience into your core plan.
The best part about SEO is that every improvement you make benefits both the user and your ability to achieve business results from organic search.
Learn how Botify can help you achieve better business results from your organic search.