All of the how-to guides about e-commerce have essentially the same advice for new online entrepreneurs. You’re supposed to get your site up and running, and then you’re supposed to bid on relevant keywords using pay-per-click ad networks like Google AdWords to generate some initial traffic, brand awareness, and revenue. Ideally, you’ll begin to receive more organic traffic as time goes by. Over time, the business becomes self-sustaining.
There are two major problems, however, with that basic roadmap. The first problem is that the competition on PPC ad networks can be unbelievably intense. Bidding on some keywords can be so heavy that you’re likely to lose money on new customer acquisitions unless you’re fortunate enough to be in an industry with little competition. You may decide that losing money to gain a customer simply isn’t a feasible way of doing business.
Under some circumstances, paying for PPC marketing isn’t even possible. If you sell platinum e liquid, for instance, most PPC networks won’t run your ads at all. In that case, buying traffic while you build an organic search engine presence isn’t an option. That means you’ve got to build your business the slow way. Getting traffic and generating sales requires a lot more effort without PPC marketing, but the good news is that it can also cost significantly less. Here’s how to do it.
Focus on Product and Category Page SEO
The visitors who are most likely to buy from your website are the ones who land on your site’s product and category pages. That’s because anyone who searches for a specific product or type of product is highly interested in buying. For that reason, you want to do everything possible to ensure that your site’s commercial content will earn good organic search engine rankings.
Many new online entrepreneurs skimp on the quality of their product and category pages, either because they don’t understand SEO principles or because they think it’s not worth the effort because a new site isn’t likely to earn high rankings right off the bat. The truth is, however, that even a new site can sometimes rank for competitive terms if its SEO is on point.
Every product and category page on your site should have high-quality original text that explains what’s on the page and answers the questions that a potential customer might have. The text on the page should explain what the product is and how to use it. The text should explain what the product is good for and who should buy it. The text should also explain how to have the best possible experience with that product. If the text addresses all of those points, it should have a good chance to earn a high ranking.
Produce High-Quality Original Blog Content
Although you’ll always get the most conversions from the commercial pages on your site, the fact is that it can often be difficult for a new site to generate a lot of traffic to its commercial content because commercial search terms always have plenty of competition on Google. When your site gains authority and notoriety, you’ll find it easier to rank for competitive keywords. In the meantime, though, you need to get traffic by any means necessary – and the best way to do that is by publishing non-commercial content in your blog.
As an expert in your field, you have a unique perspective on your industry and probably have a lot of worthwhile information to share. What are some of the common problems that people experience when using products like the ones you sell? What are some of the little-known tips and tricks that people can use to have a better experience with those products? What are some of the recent events that have happened within your industry, and what’s your opinion about those events? These are just a few of the topics that can make for great blog posts, and filling your blog with relevant content is a great way to generate traffic when you’re not ranking for many commercial search terms yet.
Build Relationships With Influencers and Thought Leaders
In order to begin earning higher ranks for commercial search terms, your website needs to increase in authority and notoriety. One of the ways in which search engines such as Google gauge the authority of a website is by considering the quality and quantity of the other websites linking to that site. A link from one site to another is like a vote of confidence, and over time, many of those votes can help a website’s search rankings improve.
One of the most effective ways to build authority and brand recognition for your business is by forging relationships with influencers and thought leaders in your field. If you’re a fashion brand, for instance, you might consider sending a few items to people who post fashion content on Instagram. If you sell consumer products, you might consider asking bloggers if they’d like to review those products. Sending free samples can be a significant expense, of course, but it’s a great way to build awareness of your brand while simultaneously exposing your business to influencers’ audiences.
Look for Targeted Advertising Opportunities
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, PPC marketing isn’t always the most effective way for an e-commerce site to generate traffic because of the extremely high cost. Advertising in general, however, is a strategy that you shouldn’t ignore completely. It can be quite profitable, for instance, to advertise on a website if that website’s audience is likely to be interested in what you sell.
Let’s suppose, for example, that your business sells dog food. You can bid on the term “dog food” on Google AdWords, but you’re likely to spend a fortune trying to compete with the large brands already bidding on that term. Instead, you can look for targeted advertising opportunities such as pet blogs and dog owners’ forums. Placing a banner advertisement on a relevant website can cost much less than bidding on keywords, and advertising in that way can be extremely effective if the people who see your ad are likely to be interested in your products.