15 eCommerce SEO Experts Reveal Top Insights for 2023

Wondering how to do eCommerce SEO?

Looking for expert insights on eCommerce SEO?

Not sure how to make your online store more successful?

From acknowledging that the traditional customer journey is dead, to pivoting quickly due to Google’s constant updates, to reevaluating benchmarks after the digital boom and bust pandemic that followed, experts from award-winning agencies weigh in on what’s next in eCommerce SEO.

We wanted to go beyond the unpredictable, so we interviewed 15 digital growth and SEO experts to get their insights, tips and lessons learned as part of our in-depth eCommerce SEO research.

In this article, e-commerce experts discuss search behavior, practical customers, forecasting to match current trends, and more.

Let’s see what they have to say.

Implement Multi-Touchpoint Customer Journeys As Search Behaviors Change

James Finlayson, Head of SEO at the7stars: “Google search volume isn’t just stagnating – in many cases it’s shrinking. Even so, consumers are doing more research before buying than ever – on Amazon and other ‘super retailers’, on TikTok, big publishers with loyal audiences, Pinterest, YouTube and Reddit. We recently looked at one market where we estimate that less than 10% of search activity actually happens on Google.” Read Finlayson on digital and in-store shopping, pushing for bigger budgets and their Sofology success story.

Sara Povoas, Head of Content and SEO at iProspect Portugal:  “We have noticed a huge increase in purchases, not only for the younger audience but also for the older one, which is new. I think users are more and more demanding and informed — if you have a lot of offers, you have to make smart decisions. So people are asking for more. Reviews, opinions, video demos and price comparisons are becoming increasingly popular as people perform these searches to make decisions to make a purchase.” Read Povoas about changing inventory, health and beauty trends, and customer communication.

Luke Carthy, eCommerce SEO & CRO consultant: “What I’m seeing with my consumer-based clients is that the average order value is up, but the number of transactions is probably flat or down. What I mean by that is they spend more per transaction. Instead of someone going to a clothing store, maybe once a month or once every few weeks, depending on what their previous shopping habits were like, they will shop less often. And when they shop, they will spend more money. I think it’s happening for a couple of reasons: one is to mitigate shipping costs and, two, to try to get the thresholds for claiming rewards, whatever they are.” Read Carthy on procurement, change strategies and B2B clients.

Jen Cornwell, senior director of digital strategy at Ignite Visibility: “The way people shop has changed because they’ve gone online and now they’re back to this hybrid style. I think it’s all about setting expectations: can we ever get back to those traffic levels or those online conversion levels again? What are some creative ways we can go if we think this is the case? User behavior has undergone a major shift.

For example, we had an electronics client that sold computers, both online and brick-and-mortar. We started to see a shift in early 2022 as they had more foot traffic in their stores – which they’re happy about, but they’re not seeing as many online purchases anymore. Even in cases where there is no standard component or the product is only available online, the opportunity for someone to go and buy it in person just pulls them away from Internet access as much as before.” Read Cornwell on video content, white tech, and creative on-page optimization.

Get Creative With Product Reviews, Long-Tail Keywords & Specificity, As Google Algorithm Updates Intensify

James Euinton, Account Director at The SEO Works: “Over the years, as Google has improved its handling of language, it has become more important to focus on more specific, longer-tail phrases. Sometimes this may mean catering to specific questions and keywords that fall outside the standard product and category pages. It’s important that we tailor additional content to them to target the customer at different points in the journey or funnel.” Read Euinton on moving the needle quickly, the core vitals of the web, and the business context.

To Rad Marcus, CEO at Upswing: “The biggest challenge this year has been for marketing managers to explain market downturns and how to do it. So I would say it was more about being proactive in communicating these changes to our customers. They needed support in understanding the overall market trends and that it was a general change in demand – and, of course, in adapting to it. This also meant new tactics or focusing on specific actions. For example, if Google now recommends specific searches, we make sure our clients have filters or categories that target those searches. We also focus on having the right content to answer those searches. Or keep their Google My Business profiles optimized. In short, we were proactive in adjusting strategies, budgets, as well as specific actions that implied changes at Google.” Read Marcus on differentiating through promotion, video search, and developing internal tools.

Eli Schwartz, growth advisor and strategic SEO consultant: “Google and other search engines use deep learning to continuously improve search results for their users. Last year, I noticed that local results were triggered more often when Google detected local intent. At the same time, on results where there shouldn’t have been local intent, I’ve seen local results disappear.”

Forecasts, SEO ROI & Data-Led Decisions Should Be At The Forefront For Ecommerce Businesses

Marc Swann, Director of Search at Glass Digital: “There’s no doubt that retailers are feeling the pinch as consumers tighten their belts, and that’s a risk for most marketing agencies when it comes to justifying the value of their services. SEO is a channel that is often more at risk when times are tough and marketing budgets are scrutinized. SEO performance can ultimately be sustained in the short and even medium term without the recurring costs associated with it, unlike something like paid search where once ad spend stops, performance drops. So, certainly, cost justification in SEO is something that we’ve seen demand for more and that we don’t see it as a luxury in tougher times. Ultimately, those who are able to execute their SEO strategies through the tough times will be in a much stronger position when the economy eventually turns positive.” Read Swan on multilingual sites, sports retailers and “luxury” channels.

Steve Walker, CTO at Journey Further: “Measuring ROI has always been important, but it’s no longer a nice-to-have. Measuring ROI is essential. This is why performance monitoring tools like SEOmonitor are critical for your agency. The number of internal teams has also increased dramatically in recent months. This is a great thing for the SEO industry and a testament to the importance of SEO in digital marketing – but it fundamentally changes the way agencies should work. We are no longer just additional resources that perform core SEO activity. We need to act in a similar way to business consulting and provide support at a strategic level.” Read Walker on new user journeys, impact measurement and funnel optimization. Rank Tracker Strategic View, December 2022

Ben Austin, Founder & CEO at Absolute Digital Media: “We use forecasting to both promote and upsell to e-commerce clients to demonstrate our understanding of the industry they compete in and the business. By doing so, we can more effectively dictate what is needed to drive continued business growth while highlighting the ongoing value provided by our innovative SEO strategies. In addition to providing a basic forecast of a brand’s current market position, we provide additional insight into broader business benefits such as repeat customers, revenue and ROI.” Read Austin about business strategies, ecommerce performance, and dynamic URLs.

Charlie Norledge, Head of SEO Performance at Impression: “Proposals are much more competitive now because there are probably fewer clients going to market as things have started to slow down a bit. We had to make sure we included innovative tactics there. Like when we’re talking about how to leverage social media trends in organic, when we’re talking about tech SEO, not just putting a bucket list, making sure we’re prioritizing behind things and just giving them as much detail as possible.

Forecasting is another important part. When we go to the competition field, prediction is, I would say, necessary. If we didn’t do that, we might miss out. We fought against other agencies, and because we had forecasts, we ended up getting the job.” Read Norledge about GPT-3 efficiency, reporting and client expectations.

Kevin Gibbons, founder and CEO of Re:signal: “It’s important for us to have strong communication with our clients about where the priorities are and to make sure we know not only where the search demand is, but also the supply. Knowing what clients are focusing on—both in terms of seasonality and where priorities might be and where they might shift because of those issues—helps us rethink what we’re doing.

I think everyone is probably a little more price conscious and more careful about what they do now. So again, that’s why e-commerce is such a strong sector for us. Because you can track the performance of organic revenue. Everyone wants to make sure they are maximizing their ROI.” Read Gibbons on internationalization and their ASICS success story.

SEO forecast by SEOmonitor, December 2022

Leverage Integrated Campaigns To Build More Growth Opportunities

It’s not just about one channel or one tactic, but digital e-commerce professionals are increasingly exploring how they can optimize the end-to-end customer experience, coordinate PR and SEO efforts, and understand the entire industry landscape and where the opportunity lies:

Petar Jovetić, organic director of Impression: “Everything we do must show value and be targeted. We are increasingly introducing innovations into our offer. It was quite compelling to use artificial intelligence to handle a larger workload and then do it more efficiently. Another thing I want to explore is using our CRO department, especially at the bottom of the funnel where every user counts, to strategically grow acquisition with more A/B testing, multivariate testing, etc. We explore how CRO and SEO can complement each other more. I think that’s really attractive in the current economic climate. So we’re not just adding additional users, we’re nurturing them through the funnel to conversion.” Read Jovetic on SEO maturity frameworks and the state of retail.

Charlie Clark, Account Director & Founder of Minty Digital: “I’ve noticed that more clients are looking to build their brand through digital PR, and we’re building their brand name, not just focusing on sales. Some of the bigger companies we work with used to have a separate budget for SEO, and that used to be the whole thing. They now allocate separate budgets within their departments, one for SEO and one for PR. It’s going to have its traditional PR, standard press releases, but then it’s going to tie into the digital aspect of that as well, which is something that’s been quite interesting to know.” Read Clark about entering new markets and campaign KPIs.

Heemesh Vara, Head of SEO at Semetrical: “Our keyword research process focuses on industry-wide research. It is something different from other agencies. Where they might take a category-by-category approach and do it month-by-month, we do it the other way around. It’s a lot of work for us at the beginning, but it gives the client and us a complete picture of their entire industry. For example, we worked with a vintage furniture client with multiple product types and categories, from sofas, stools, chairs, side tables, etc. So we had to research the whole industry at once. And this is one of our unique selling propositions that we always include in our offer.” Read Vara on SEO data analysis and basics, stakeholder management and budgeting.

Ultimately, as our 15 interviews showed, both e-commerce customers and markets continue to change, so it’s critical to demonstrate sustainable results.

Keeping in mind all these challenges that SEO professionals face, we continue to develop SEOmonitor to help you:

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor.