If you run an ecommerce business, you get how important and hard it is to stand out online. You may be selling artisanal chocolate bunnies, but you’re still competing against sites like Amazon in the search results.
So how do you set yourself apart? How do you get that click from the search results even if Amazon/Walmart/competitor is outranking you for that coveted #1 or #2 position?
SERP features that could exist
Let’s take the example of [artisanal chocolate], which has 2,900 searches per month:
Keyword volume in SERPs via Keywords Everywhere.
Even in this pretty simple SERP, there are multiple elements at play:
- It’s localized to Portland (where I conducted this search) with a map. Seems Google perceives this as a search for something you would want to buy in person.
- It contains content sites as well as businesses who sell chocolates.
- It has one shopping ad in the right column (which is rare to see), though more specific ones have a whole row of these PLAs (Product Listing Ads) at the top.
- It has a bunch of regular organic listings below the map.
Some SEOs may look at this and think that there is no way they will compete. I see a bunch of opportunities though when you step outside of the pure SEO mindset and start to analyze how you can compete.
Look at a different transactional item SERP, this one for a specific shoe, the Nike Air Max:
When you look past the fact that it’s a branded search result and Nike dominates (top ad, first 4 organic listings, and first 2 PLAs), you see that they also have review stars showing in the results:
If you are an ecommerce website, you must have reviews for your products and mark them up with Schema (using the Review Schema) to set yourself apart if there are no other stars showing. It’s not guaranteed that they will show, but if you have no errors then more often than not they will show.
It is often not possible to do this on a category page by aggregating reviews to the main category page and then having reviews on each product, but for specific product searches these can work very well.
If you are selling products that others have as well, and listing them via a feed, you have massive duplicate content issues across other sites and will struggle to compete unless you are the brand.
Also, unless you take new content that others don’t have and add it to your product pages.
Some content you can add:
- Reviews that you gather yourself
- Reviews that others license to you exclusively (this is usually expensive unfortunately)
- Historical pricing data
- Size charts (if apparel)
- Videos? Look at REI for inspiration.
Going back to the original artisanal chocolates query above, there are multiple websites on which you should be listed as an artisanal chocolate company in Portland.
Often called Barnacle SEO, this is a fantastic way to get your brand found (especially if you are small) even when they are not clicking into your own website.
It can drive traffic and conversions (this is an example from my own site and a site on which I got listed and prioritized):
Do this at scale, and you can drive great targeted traffic while also earning those ever-important backlinks to help your own SEO rankings.
As you saw on the [artisanal chocolate] search result, sometimes Google thinks that searches like this have a local intent.
If you are a local store, then you must compete within the map to stand a chance at being successful especially if you don’t take orders online or ship your product.
On information queries, sometimes you can get a featured snippet even for lists of products:
These can happen in many ways, but are most often triggered by searches like “best”, “top”, “highest rated” where a list is present at the top (or the code is written in unordered or ordered list format).
Read more here from Stat Search Analytics.
Google has recently started noting when an image in their Image Results is for a product that you can buy. This is done by marking up your product pages with Schema Product and ensuring that you have the name and price marked up.
Pull description content onto category pages
This is an ecommerce/marketplace SEO tactic that so few companies do that you can leverage it against your competitors almost for sure.
On your main category pages, such as this fonts page, you likely list products that are for sale. And maybe you have some generic content at the top (some call this “SEO content” which should make you cringe as it does me), but have you included unique content from each product on the category page?
Think about it – 30 products x 30 words each = 900 words of unique, relevant content. Why would you NOT do it?
Use PLAs to your advantage
Finally, don’t be afraid of putting a bit of advertising budget into your marketing to help yourself out. You can often get them ranking well even as a small brand, though the clicks may be a bit expensive.
While buying ads doesn’t help you rank better, it has been proven many times (here is a study) that buying ads correlates strongly to better clickthroughs for your organic listings. I have personally seen many times where organic clickthrough rate suffers when a brand stops buying ads and thus making their name more familiar to the person as they scroll into the organic listings.
So give them a try. We have Google Shopping companies as well.
What about you? What have you done to stand out online as an ecommerce brand?