Data and analytics don’t just make for smarter business strategies; they take the subjectivity out of an issue, allowing an entire organization or team of people to tackle a goal with objectivity at the helm.
This type of approach is useful for all aspects of a business, but can seriously aid e-commerce sites when it comes to keyword research. SEO is ever-changing, as companies like Google manipulate their search engine algorithms to deliver the highest possible quality results. For most businesses, especially those working primarily online, it’s essential to get to the top of those results to drive traffic from qualified customers.
In fact, improving your SEO rankings via keyword research can increase your revenue up to 300%. Here, the breakdown on exactly how analytics and keywords increase traffic and conversions.
Step 1: Begin with a Measuring System
What gets measured, grows. Use Google Analytics to measure and monitor site traffic. If you want to use something else, however, there are a few options.
Set Clear Goals
To create an effective data-based strategy, you need to figure out where you’re at now, and then determine where you want to go. If you haven’t been using analytics already, you might not have access to all of this information. And if that’s the case, it’s okay to use your best guess — it’s better than nothing.
To get started, look at:
- Number of new customers per week
- Number of sales by product
- Average value of product orders
- Lifetime value of your customers
Once you know where you’re at right now, it’s easier to set realistic goals. Many online stores set both a desired goal or the ideal goal and then a bare minimum goal, which you can determine by taking the desired goal and dividing it by three.
Step 2: Pretend You’re the Customer
When it comes to working on both your paid and non-paid keywords, you’ll want to search like you’re the customer. There are a few tools that are useful for this:
- Google’s auto suggest tool, pictured below. Simply start typing a search term you think a customer would use and look at the suggested searches that show up underneath the search bar. Then check out the “related searches” at the bottom of the page
- For the second Google tool, you need to sign up for a Google AdWords account (it’s free) and then look for the Keyword Planner tool.
- A non-Google option is Keyword.io.
Use these tools to get an idea of what keywords people are actually searching for. It doesn’t make sense to optimize your content or use a paid search strategy for keywords that aren’t actually being used.
Experiment with Paid Search
Once you have a list of probable search terms, start buying traffic for those terms through AdWords. But, before making a purchase, ensure the traffic volume will keep to a manageable level while you investigate what types of searches result in conversion. To do this, use the following tactics:
- Lock down the search network to just Google Search
- Set the region to just the U.S. (or to specific states if that makes sense for your product)
- Use the keyword match tools to limit where the ad shows
When it comes to the keyword match tools, using [brackets] narrows the search to only exact matches, and using “quotation marks” narrows it to phrase matches. So, for example, if the customer searches for "aerogel hairspray wholesale," here is what your customer will get:
- If your keywords are set to aerogel hairspray with no punctuation, the ad will show because it has two of the words
- If the keywords are set to “aerogel hairspray,” the ad will show because the two words are next to each other in the search term (but if the customer had searched for aerogel wholesale hairspray, the ad wouldn’t show)
- If the keywords were set to [aerogel hairspray], the ad wouldn’t show because it wasn’t an exact match of the customer searching for just those two keywords.
In doing this, you can track what types of search terms lead to actual purchases before you spend more money on keyword traffic. In other words, you’re only spending money on the most effective keywords.
In this case, “aerogel hairspray” converts much better than other keywords.
Optimize for Organic Traffic
Once you have an idea of what search terms lead to purchases, you can optimize your site for organic traffic for those same search terms.
Make Changes — Slowly
Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to SEO. Once you see that a change appears to be working on one page, it’s easy to get excited and roll those changes out sitewide — or get excited about possibilities and change more than one thing at once. If you change multiple keywords and see a positive effect, you won’t know what specifically caused the results, which means you’ll have a hard time replicating them.
Wait for a few weeks, track results and see what works. Once you’ve found out what consistently causes an increase in revenue, then you can change things across your site. After you make those changes across your whole store, it’s time to start back at step one with new measures for “today” and set a new target.
It is a long game and it might not seem exciting or flashy, but it works — six months from starting this strategy, many online stores report results including:
- A year-to-year new customer increase of 200%;
- A 40% improvement in overall conversion rates; and
- Over 300% growth in revenue.
You can also check out these case studies for more examples:
Since it’s going to take at least a few weeks to get usable data, start today by picking an analytics tool and setting it up.