Ben Austin is the CEO and founder of Absolute Digital Media. The agency specializes in providing SEO, digital PR, and PPC campaigns and recently won SEO Agency Of The Year at the UK Digital Growth Awards.
How do you usually approach pitching to eCommerce clients?
Before pitching to eCommerce clients, we take the time to understand their business across multiple levels. By doing so, we can construct a relevant pitch that really picks up on the brand’s challenges and current performance to better showcase the value we can provide.
This also allows us to better position the client against their competition, ensuring we encapsulate where the market is now vs where it will be in a few weeks, months, and years time. With economic shifts taking place all around us, we’re also constantly looking at how we can develop our clients’ SEO strategies to future-proof them, through utilizing past data to forecast what business could look like with our help.
Do you use forecasting for pitching or upselling to eCommerce clients? How do you approach it?
We utilize forecasting for both pitching and upselling to eCommerce clients to showcase our understanding of the industry they compete in and the business. By doing so, we can more effectively dictate what is required to drive continuous growth to the business whilst highlighting the ongoing value our innovative SEO strategies provide.
In addition to providing a basic forecast of the brand’s current market position, we supply further insight into the wider business benefits such as returning customers, revenue, and ROI.
What are the main SEO challenges your eCommerce clients are facing?
Low-quality content, loading speed, and teams working in silos are the 3 main SEO challenges our eCommerce clients face.
What is a recent challenge that you had to overcome in an SEO campaign for eCommerce?
A recent, more specific challenge that we had to overcome in an SEO campaign for eCommerce was Dynamic URL generation caused by filter selection on an eCommerce site. Search engine crawlers can’t crawl parameters very easily, and it can be particularly complex if the URL parameters ARE being crawled (and indexed) if the right meta tags (noindex, follow) and canonicals are not added.
It can significantly hike up the amount of crawler activity and stop crawlers from visiting the most important pages. They can quickly lead to duplicate content too if the right canonicals are not included.
We faced high crawler activity and canonicals being ignored on the dynamic URLs which was causing a lot of indexing issues for our site and lots of customer confusion too. To resolve this, we stripped back our filter feature and generated static URLs instead of dynamic URLs for some of the product filter options to rank in Google SERPs further benefiting from increased visibility by targeting specific keywords we were unable to target previously.
Can you give me an example of a successful SEO campaign for an eCommerce client? Which were the main tactics and challenges?
Stelrad worked with another agency before us, but they felt like they weren’t progressing digitally at the speed that their internal sales targets needed. They were on page 3 for ‘radiators’ and below that for their main range pages organically. Their paid ad campaigns were only targeting branded or generic terms without a strategy.
We devised an integrated campaign consisting of SEO, Digital PR and PPC (Search, Display & Shopping) to help them compete.
The campaigns remained data-led and collaborative with PPC data informing the SEO targeting and the SEO keyword research being utilized by all channels to build strong SERP exposure. Through doing so, we successfully increased Stelrad’s non-branded search queries by 52% and grew their overall organic visibility by 74%. We also increased their top 3 positions by 54%.
However, when Stelrad first partnered with us, we were dealing with a very large eCommerce website with vast technical issues that required bug fixing, securing the domain and improving site speed and performance.
They had also previously relied on poor SEO tactics so required a disavow to remove poor/ spammy backlinks, and needed full page rewrites to increase the word count and value to customers through improving the quality of the content on the site and removing duplicate copy.
What have you noticed in terms of search behavior trends within your 2022 campaigns?
From the data we see, more long-tail terms convert based on product features as opposed to generic search terms. As a result, we’ve adapted our client search campaigns to focus more on phrase match variants that use the product name and features as an anchor to encourage them to convert higher volumes of customers.
As search typically still acts as the first interaction on campaigns, we can then see users convert to shopping or direct thereafter.
Have eCommerce clients’ needs or requests changed over the past months, given the economic shifts? If yes, how?
Client requests have become much more data-led, focusing on mid to low-funnel activity, which comes as part of a greater need to understand what’s happening during the checkout funnel to improve conversion rates.
The general shift has been to optimize current processes and recalibrate sales based on profitability first and then to move progressively back towards the volume of sales.
How do you approach SEO budgets in eCommerce in the context of 2023?
When it comes to approaching SEO budgets in eCommerce in the context of 2023, we’ve already begun reviewing our existing client campaigns, forecasting what the next year will look like. In addition to looking at new ways to push our clients forward, we reflect on the deliverables we have already carried out and their impact of them.
However, we don’t just look at our client’s website, customer, and overall business data, but the wider picture. How are other brands likely to step up their game in the New Year and how can we prepare our clients for that?
Regardless of contract length, we look at the full year’s view which allows us to effectively plan against market trends, competitor strategies, demand, and much more.
Have you noticed any differences between different industries under the eCommerce sector, in terms of search behavior trends?
Yes, we have noticed a few key differences between different industries under the eCommerce sector. Two of these include the fashion industry which has seen a rise in branded-based terms converting a move away from generic search, as shopping and performance max campaigns are taking more of this type of traffic.
Within the trade product sector, search has been more product feature led with users looking at mid to long-tail key queries with a higher level of intent.
10 main common challenges in the eCommerce SEO world.
Based on the 15 interviews in this series, we identified 10 main common challenges in the eCommerce SEO world. We didn’t stop here and dug deeper into their context and possible solutions.