Running an e-commerce store can be a daunting process in today’s age of online shopping. More customers than ever are relying on digital storefronts to buy their favorite products, but even though demand is high, competition is also insanely fierce.

Fortunately, as a small e-commerce company, you can leverage a variety of digital marketing tactics to help your brand stand out from a crowded field. While elements like content marketing and social media are valuable, nothing is going to be as essential as search engine optimization (SEO).

Today, we want to discuss why SEO is so crucial for e-commerce business.

A Quick Recap: SEO
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, let’s break down the fundamental components of search engine optimization.

As you already know, most people use search engines (like Google) to find things online. Whether it’s dog food, dentists, or a chic new restaurant, these search engines are integral to modern society.

Search engine optimization is when you optimize your site pages to rank as highly in these searches as possible. If you sell baby clothing, for example, you want to show up whenever someone types “baby clothing” (or something similar) into a search bar.

There are two forms of SEO: on-page and off-page. Let’s look at each one.

On-Page SEO: this is when you optimize the pages of your website for searches using keywords and tags.
Off-Page SEO: whenever you create content that is posted on another site (i.e., a blog post) that links to your pages.

When it comes to building an SEO marketing strategy for e-commerce stores, on-page SEO is going to have the most impact. While content and inbound marketing can help you in the long run, people come to your digital storefront to buy products, not read articles.

Why is SEO Valuable?
Let’s look at some startling numbers to see the impact that SEO can have on your brand.

The first search result gets about 30 percent of all traffic
All search results on the first page get 91.5 percent of all traffic
Fifty-one percent of total website traffic comes from organic search results, either through social media, search engines, or paid advertising (five percent, 34 percent, and 10 percent, respectively)
Organic search results create over 40 percent of online revenue

As you can see, there is massive potential if you can rank highly on searches. Simply put, the more you invest in SEO marketing, the more traffic you can get flowing to your site. Considering that the average conversion rate (leads to customers) is about 2.5 percent, higher traffic can lead to stronger sales.

Here are a few other reasons why SEO is essential for e-commerce marketing.

Cost-Effective
It’s natural to assume that paying for ads is the best way to get customers to your site. However, since only about 10 percent of all search engine traffic results from ads, that idea is misguided. Most consumers avoid paid advertisements and scroll down to see organic results, which is where you should be.

Fortunately, optimizing your site for SEO doesn’t cost as much as pay-per-click ads. It will take more time and energy to get it right, but since you’re building long-term success, the investment is well worth it.

Improve Customer Experience
Can optimizing your product pages for SEO really make things better for the customer? Yes, it can. The attention span of the average online shopper is remarkably short, so the easier it is to find a particular product, the better.

If your customers have to sift through pages to find what they want, they are much more likely to go to a competitor. When you optimize your keywords every step of the way, it’s far more efficient to locate the exact product.

For example, if someone wants 100 percent cotton baby clothing, including that detail in the listing and product URL ensures that the customer finds it faster, leading to a better experience.

Better Qualified Traffic
For the most part, it will be challenging to rank higher than big brands for generic search terms (i.e., baby clothing). However, by optimizing your SEO for more targeted keywords (i.e., cotton baby clothing, baby clothing in Colorado, etc.), you can rank higher on searches.

The other benefit of focusing on these types of keywords is that you are much more likely to find qualified customers. Rather than getting tons of hits from people looking for baby clothing, you can pinpoint users who want a specific kind of clothing (i.e., 100 percent cotton, stain-resistant, etc.).

Overall, targeting these users can boost your conversion rate, which will drive higher sales. More traffic and a higher conversion rate can make your e-commerce brand much more competitive.

Bottom Line: Start Incorporating SEO Today
Most businesses don’t focus on search engine optimization because the results aren’t immediate. However, incorporating these methods in addition to all of the other marketing you may be doing will ensure better success in the future. SEO may take longer to build momentum, but once it does, you can get an incredible ROI for years to come.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Patel is a digital marketing enthusiast and the President of a leading Digital and Ecommerce Development Agency in Dallas, Texas. Mike holds a BS, Computer Science degree from Wayne State University and is a key player in the Ecommerce development and digital marketing industry since 2004. The scope of technology in his extensive experience of more than 15 years ranges from Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) management, Ecommerce SEO, Google Shopping Ads and more.