In this Blog:
- The more organic page visits you're attracting, the less you spend on advertising, and if you start generating organic sales, you're going to gain even more traffic.
- Keywords are the foundation of on-page optimization for retail search engines. Additional best practices include utilizing user-generated content and adding images and videos to your product detail pages.
- Product content optimization should be done at scale, with content for all the items on all channels optimized and standardized across (international) markets to guide customers to your products.
What is Retail Search?
Retail search is the on-site search feature that online shoppers use to search products or brands on eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Bol.com, and Zalando. Shoppers can find products by using category links to narrow them down to the desired product (browsing) or by using the search bar (typing a keyword in the search box).
Most shoppers use a combination of browse and search. By driving organic or paid search, brands can lift their products to the top of retail search results. Having a strong 'retail search game' means giving your brand and products a significant edge over your competition.
Retail Search Algorithms
eCommerce sites have (just as Google) their own search algorithms. It is based on a brand's or seller's sales velocity, which accounts for the biggest part of the actual ranking equation, and the on-page optimization of your product listings.
Discounts and product giveaways aren't working to rank your brand higher and are not a tactful long-term strategy since they can damage your brand image. On the other hand, the more organic page visits you're attracting, the less you spend on advertising, and if you start generating organic sales, you're going to gain even more traffic. Generating organic sales can prove to an eCommerce platform that your product is related to that particular keyword or search term you are targeting.
Generating organic sales is not easy at the beginning since you have to create your own sales velocity. But, once you get this rolling, the trend continues. If you maintain a constant high in-stock rate, low return rate, fast delivery, stable and competitive price point, and good (preferably 4+) review star rating, the product will likely keep ranking high.
On-Page Optimization - 6 Tips
If you can reveal the on-page factors that rule a retailer's search algorithm, you can optimize your product pages to maximize search placement. We need to know which on-page factors retail search algorithms look at to generate organic sales.
Not all content changes have a similar impact on a retailer's search rankings, but the following factors most likely do have an effect.
1. Keyword Research
First of all, you need to define and understand your target group and how they search for your products. Make a list with potential keywords and narrow down each keyword.
Then find out search volume and keyword difficulty for each keyword. The more people are searching for a keyword, the more chance the competition is tough. If you do not already have a decent position for that keyword, focus on including long-tail keywords and new trending keywords with low to medium competition.
Tools such as Google Trends and Google Search Console can help you with your keyword research, but keywords that might be optimal for Google search may not be optimal when it comes to an online retail platform. This is why it is recommended that you use a platform-specific keyword research tool. More and more eCommerce platforms and marketplaces share their own keyword suggestions and data (e.g., bol zoektrends or Study Amazon's "Best Seller" rankings).
You can also utilize customer reviews to find popular keywords. Analyze which keywords are used in reviews regularly. Then, use this 'language used by consumers' as input for product content. This tactic can improve search rankings.
2. Product Copy
Once you have found the right keywords, include them in your title tag, meta description, H1 tag, and product description. The more keywords you rank for, and the higher you rank for those specific terms, you will generate more sales. But, stuffing your product listing with keywords is counterproductive. Keep your copy descriptive and naturally incorporate important keywords for SEO purposes.
If you could not use some relevant keywords in your product title, bullet points, or description, you can, in some cases, add them as back-end search terms.
Product titles: Make your titles descriptive and not too long, but clarify what type of product you are selling. A good title is a maximum of 80 characters long and includes:
- Brand name
- Serial name
- Product type
- Specs/distinguishing characteristics, e.g., size, color, primary search keywords.
In the examples below, we see a product title that is too long on the left. Such titles are often verbose, over-informative, and hardly readable, especially on a small screen such as a mobile device.
The second 'wrong ❌' example is the product title of a Philips TV. The seller forgot to mention this (the product type, TV) in the title. The fast-scanning TV shopper could overlook this product detail page because it does not appear in the search results or is unclear which product type it is. A computer screen, perhaps?
The ✔️ title is a good example because it is not too long and contains the brand name, the product code, the TV screen dimension and type, the product type (TV), and some features that could be essential search keywords for this product. However, the title could be a bit more descriptive.
Bullet points: Create a bulleted list that highlights key features and how each feature benefits the buyer.
Specs tables: Keywords that are specifications such as TV screen size in inch should be again mentioned in the specs table on a product detail page.
Descriptions: To improve the retail search performances of your products:
- Incorporate frequently used keywords to your product descriptions;
- Put the most important info & keywords at the beginning of your product description;
- Constantly optimize your product description with keywords that your shoppers are looking for: Monitor search behavior and rankings.
Reading is a complex mental process. That's why you should keep your product copy simple and scannable, be precise, turn features into benefits, and trigger the readers' emotions.
Visual pauses make the reading process less tiring. Therefore, use sufficient white space in your product descriptions. Implement breaks.
Other ways that make reading less tiring are using:
- Paragraphs that each make one point;
- Clear titles and subheadings;
- List in bullets.
3. Product Images
The number of images is one of the factors that retail search engines most likely look at. The more images, the better - provided they are of good quality and add value for shoppers. Make sure that your images also contain your main keywords by marking up images with alt text.
For all retailers (and Google shopping), images are one of the most important content assets. Make sure your main/Hero Product Image shows:
- An image of the item itself
- A white background
- No logos
- High definition quality
SiteLucents' product image overviews let you discover the number of images and incorrect images at a glance.
4. Product Videos
Since retailers designed their algorithms to offer buyers the products with the highest chance of a sale, videos can play an important role in retailer search algorithms. According to a Marketing Sherpa study, viewers are 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.
5. Ratings & Reviews
Conversion rates peak when a product's average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5. One review can lift orders by 10% and a +0.5 star rating with 9%. That's why most retail search algorithms take the review score and number of reviews into account.
Besides that, reviews provide your product detail pages with a consistent and structural flow of keyword-rich content. Tracking customer reviews helps you identify issues with your products and product content and gives you keyword ideas- in the customer's language, which improves the findability of your products.
SiteLucent's full customer reviews module can give you an overview of all reviews found on a Product Detail Page (PDP), including:
- The average amount of reviews and star rating;
- The review title and verbatim text;
- Possible images and videos that are part of the review;
- The positive and negative points.
6. Product Categorisation
Your products' specified categories should help shoppers find your products easier in the search results. Being as specific as possible means your eCommerce listings are shown for the most relevant searches. This improves the customer journey and leads to more sales.
Additional product page SEO best practices include using a clear URL structure and implementing schema markup.
Getting Content Right At Scale
On-page Retail Search Optimisation is challenging. Every detail counts — A missing keyword in a title, a wrong image, bad review, or category that's not in place. Showing complete, correct, and compelling information on a product detail page is crucial to improving your brands' organic retail search placement and sales.
Most brands leverage their own sales channels and multiple indirect eCommerce channels, including marketplaces. With more than 2 in every 3 consumers heading to marketplaces to search for products, on-page optimization should be done at scale, with content for all the items on all channels optimized and standardized across (international) markets, to guide customers to your products.
Improve with Content Scorecards
SiteLucent can measure your current status and benchmark competitors, help you optimize, and make continuous marginal improvements with the Digital Content Completeness Score (DCC score).
If you get 1% better every day for an entire year, you'll be 37 times better by the time you're done! That's what we call the power of tiny gains!
Measure the impact on Retail Search
How quickly do organic retail search placements change on, for instance, amazon?
In the example below, we compare the top 10 brand share of search on Monday, December 6, and November 29 on keyword 'soundbar' (and some language variants of this keyword).
For instance, looking at Yamaha, the brand had a visibility share of 17.5% on December 6 and 10% on November 29 - an increase of 7.5 percentage points.
JBL shows an increase of 3.3 points, and Bose's visibility share remained the same. LG lost 5.
Do you want to learn more about how to monitor content optimization's effect on retail search performances? Find it out in our on-demand webinar: Product Content Monitoring & Its Effect on Retail Search Performances.