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With the holidays approaching, SEO analysts BrightEdge are releasing their yearly list of important optimization trends ecommerce brands should know about.

Based on data collected by tracking over 6,000 ecommerce keywords over 10 categories over the past three years, the latest list makes one thing very clear – successful ecommerce brands are increasingly relying on content creation to drive their sales. 

Of the top five new trends covered, three highlight different ways content creators and other types of publishers are leading the ecommerce market by delivering consumers with the most valuable content at the right times.

Let’s explore the latest ecommerce trends below:

1) Brands and publishers are siphoning away retail traffic

Retailers these days have a lot of competition to contend with online. Not only are you fighting to stand out among the slew of other online retailers, but you have to outrank brands and publishers in search results. 

According to the report, retailers’ performance for top ecommerce keywords is down 70% from 2020. Meanwhile, brands are making headway into shopping results by adopting direct-to-consumer models while content publishers are attracting attention with product overviews and reviews.

2) Retailers Are Driving Ecommerce With Content

While the report does not include data impacted by the new “helpful content update”, the data does emphasize that retailers who publish quality content are more effectively able to differentiate their brand and their products from those who only offer product descriptions.

Specifically, BrightEdge says retailers should:

  • Focus on creating context for your products through content.
  • ‘Organize categories in ways that make it easier to learn about and shop multiple related products.

3) Organic Links Are Still Crucial

As Google’s ad platform and other features like localized business listings have taken over more and more space in search results, many have suggested that organic search results have lost their importance. 

However, BrightEdge’s data suggests that classic organic search results are still the most effective traffic source for retail brands. For the top ecommerce results, up to 70% of all clicks went to organic search results.

In fact, it appears Google may be aware that online shopping-related searches are best served through organic search results, as local packs, videos, and image carousels have all become less common for ecommerce searches. 

4) More Ecommerce Sites Are Adopting Schema Markup

Brands, publishers, and retailers involved in ecommerce are all increasingly adopting a few specific types of schema markup to make their pages easier for search engines to understand and index. 

Specifically, these three schema types have seen significantly increased usage around shopping results:

  • Product
  • ImageObject
  • ItemList

5) Article and Category Pages Dominate Ecommerce

Category pages have always been a major driver of clicks for ecommerce, and this remains true in 2022. For the top keywords, category pages have the highest click-through rate 70% of the time. However, BrightEdge noted that recently, articles about products have higher click-through rates than links directly to product pages.


Google’s search results are always shifting. It is important for brands to stay aware of the latest trends in their market and adapt the most effective SEO strategies if they want to stay ahead of the competition – especially leading up to the holiday season.

Instagram is launching a new feature called “Payments in Chat”, though the name undersells the actual capabilities of the feature.

As announced via Meta’s Newsroom, the Payments in Chat feature will allow online businesses to collect payments directly from customers through the chat tool. But, more than that, the tool will enable companies to completely handle the sales process through chat – including answering customers’ questions, creating new purchase orders, managing payments, and even tracking product shipments.

As the announcement explains:

“We want to help people start conversations with businesses they care about and help them find and buy products they love in an easy, seamless experience, right from the chat thread.”

How It Works

To make Payments in Chat possible, the new feature uses Meta Pay – the company’s first-party payment processing service. This keeps the process streamlined, allowing shoppers to make purchases in just a few taps while providing secure data transmission and purchase protection.

Using this service, customers are able to initiate a chat with a company representative to ask questions about a potential purchase, checkout, pay for the purchase, and track its shipment to your home without ever leaving Instagram’s chat.

When combined with Instagram Shops, the new Payment in Chat feature makes it possible for shoppers to go from discovering a new product to buying it with just a few taps or without the need to ever leave the platform.

Ecommerce websites have become a major part of the internet as online shopping has taken off in recent years. However, the unique nature and structure of these sites can make them uniquely tricky to optimize. 

Product variant pages, annual sales, and the need for lots of high-quality images may make it difficult to optimize these pages using some traditional SEO strategies, while other techniques remain essential for high rankings.

Thankfully, Google’s own Alan Kent has produced a short video full of SEO tips specifically for ecommerce sites. I’ll embed the full video at the bottom of the page, but we’ll also be sharing the highlights below:

8 Tips for Ecommerce SEO

  1. Cover the Basics: Basic technical SEO like allowing Google to crawl your site or using proper page titles is crucial for helping Google find and understand your website. For starters, make sure page titles feature your brand name and product details (such as color) and use structured data to make your product pages easy for Google to sort through your online store pages.
  2. Create Content for Every Stage of the Shopping Journey: Google knows that searchers are often looking for information rather than wanting to buy right now. This is why the search engine prioritizes sites with a wide array of content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. To help you get started brainstorming, Kent suggests providing gift ideas, highlighting reviews, and including detailed information about your products.
  3. Markup Product Variant Pages: To keep product variants well organized, ensure every variant has a unique URL and establish a canonical page.
  4. Reuse Regular Sale URLs: Preserve URLs from sales so they can be reused later. For example, you’ll want to use the same URLs every year for holiday sales.
  5. Performance: When shoppers are ready to buy, they want to do so as quickly as possible. When your page is competing against a similar product page for a spot in the search results, speed is often the tiebreaker that will help you come out ahead.
  6. Be Patient: SEO takes time to gain momentum. In many cases, it can take months for changes to impact your rankings. Don’t try to rush things or change strategies because you’re getting restless. Just keep working on improving your overall SEO.
  7. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help: Every site is unique and may not benefit equally from Google’s broad advice. Don’t hesitate to ask SEO experts how to best optimize your site or how to adopt these strategies to your needs.
  8. Focus on Users: At the end of the day, Google wants to provide the best possible site for users. Be that site. 

Twitter is signaling its plans to let brands establish dedicated shops on the platform through a limited test.

The company revealed it is introducing dedicated shopping pages including up to 50 products to a handful of brands as an experiment ahead of plans to roll out the feature to more retailers later this year. 

The feature allows a brand or business to add a simple “View shop” button to its profile page, which will link to a Twitter-hosted e-commerce page. When clicked, the button will then take users to your actual online store or website, where the transaction can be completed. 

As Twitter described the new feature in its blog post announcement:

“People are already talking about products on Twitter. We want Twitter Shops to be the home for merchants on Twitter where they can intentionally curate a catalog of products for their Twitter audience and build upon the product discussions already happening on our service by giving shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.”

Only Available to a Select Few

As Twitter Shops are currently considered a beta test, the feature is only available to a small number of brands in the U.S. Specifically, the announcement only mentioned five brands that have utilized the feature so far – Verizon, Arden Cover, the Latinx In Power podcast, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.

Additionally, only iPhone users are currently able to view or interact with the shops, though the company plans to roll the feature out to other devices in the future.

Social Stores Are Becoming The Norm

The new feature underscores the increasingly blurry line between social media and online shopping. Several other platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have rolled out their own shopping tools to brands on their platform, though the most obvious comparison is Pinterest’s current shopping system where users can discover brands and shop their products on the platform before finalizing their purchase through retailer’s own sites.

For more, read Twitter’s full announcement here.

Right in time for the Back to School shopping season, Google is rolling out three new updates to its shopping tools for online retailers.

By creating new places for your products and promotions to be seen, highlighting your latest promotions, and adding deeper analytics for your online shop, the search giant is making it easier than ever for brands to connect with shoppers and helping shoppers find the products they want for the best price possible.

“Deals Related To Your Search”

Google is creating a dedicated section for products that are discounted or similarly low-priced when users browse products. 

New "Deals related to your search" feature for online retailers

Even better, being included in this section takes no additional work once your shop is set up in Google Merchant Center (which is required for online retailers to be included in any Google Shopping results).

Google chooses which products get included “based on factors such as the discount itself, how popular a product is, how popular the site is, and more,” according to the announcement.

The general “Discounts related to your search” section is already live within Google’s Shopping tab, but the search engine also announced an upcoming seasonal carousel that will show deals related to upcoming shopping events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

New Google Shopping seasonal promotions section for online retailers

New Ways to Customize Promotions

Google says its recent efforts to make it easier to create and manage promotions have received a warm welcome from online retailers, so the company is going even further to give shops the ability to target promotions to new customers and highlight active promotions.

The company describes its new ways to customize promotions:

  • To help you attract new customers with your best deals, you can now indicate if a promotion is only available to customers who haven’t previously bought from you. The title of the promotion could now say “10% off for new users”. While these promotions will still be shown to all, shoppers will only be able to access the promotional price if eligible (e.g. they are making a first-time purchase with the retailer). 
  • To help you reach more customers, you can now highlight your promotions on free listings on the Shopping tab. You can navigate to the promotions tab in Merchant Center to choose which promotions you want to be indexed through organic traffic and appear on free listings or, alternatively, supported with ad spend.

New Merchandise Insights For Online Retailers

Google is adding historical best seller data to its best sellers report to help shops predict upcoming seasonal trends based on how products have performed at similar times in the past. 

Google Shopping best sellers data for online retailers

Additionally, the best sellers report is receiving a new field called ‘relative demand’ which shows the relative demand for products in the same category and country along with recommendations for potential opportunities to stock new products. 

The company says these additions will help online retailers by making it easier to keep up with the changing demands of customers.

“You can use this information during peak sales periods, like Back to School, to explore what’s top of mind for shoppers and figure out how you can adjust your product assortment and campaigns to meet these needs.”

To access the best sellers report, online retailers just first opt into market insights in the Merchant Center.

The past six months have seen upheavals in just about every area of life, from schooling, to work, to our daily shopping habits. Now, a report from BrightEdge suggests these shifts are going to continue at unprecedented levels through the holiday shopping season. 

The report, based on an evaluation of eCommerce clients across a wide range of industries predicts a historic online holiday shopping season for a massive range of interests – emphasizing the need to start preparing now. 

What Changed

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to do more online shopping this year. In-store shortages, quarantines, and general concern with public gatherings has made online shopping a go-to choice for both essentials and luxuries.

Interestingly, the analysis suggests that though shoppers are doing significantly more online shopping compared to 2019, the revenue per order remains relatively stable. 

The report offers two theories for why this shift is occurring:

“Here are our hypotheses:

1. Shoppers shifted purchasing behaviors online during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and are more keenly aware of their budgets – refraining from placing big-ticket purchases online, while stocking up on more essential goods or affordable luxuries.

2. Shoppers started buying more frequently online after COVID-19, supplanting offline purchases. This would include the buy-online, pickup-curbside behavior that may include cheaper items that were previously always purchased in-store.”

Black Friday Goes Virtual

Another major factor contributing to the predicted surge in online shopping during the 2020 holiday shopping season is the cancellation of many Black Friday events. 

Not only does this mean consumers will be forced to look elsewhere for big deals, it is expected that many retailers will be pushing huge online sales for Black Friday to make up for lost revenue. It is also expected for Cyber Monday to gain an even higher profile this year. 

What You Can Do

With all these factors in mind, BrightEdge has one recommendation for brands trying to regain their footing this holiday season – invest in search engine optimization. 

As the report says:

“An impressive 60% of consumers have been shopping online more often since COVID-19, and of that group, 73% plan to continue after the pandemic. What digital marketers and SEOs have long known is finally coming to fruition: online shopping is convenient and easy. Now the trick is to make SEO important within your organization.”

Other Takeaways

In the conclusion of the report, BrightEdge offered a few key insights into the current behavior of online shopping and what they expect to see in the future:

  • “The research suggests that shoppers browse more frequently, leading to more purchases and overall revenue, though these purchases are smaller in value.
    This could be because shoppers are becoming more aware of their budgets – refraining from placing big-ticket purchases online while stocking up on more essential goods or affordable luxuries.
  • As we enter Q4 and the holiday shopping season, search is helping reveal radical changes in real-time.
  • The traditional customer journey is being radically altered in many industry sectors of the economy.  As a result, it has never been more important to truly understand how consumer behavior and use this understanding to drive engaging experiences.”

To view the full report, check out BrightEdge’s complete holiday shopping guide here.

Instagram is making it easier for small businesses to get the most out of Instagram Shops with a new mini-site full of resources, guides, and set-up tools. 

Instagram Shops is a free way for businesses to set up an online store and complete sales on one of the most popular social networks.

While Shops require third-party e-commerce parties to handle payment, they make it possible for people to complete the entire purchase without ever needing to leave the Instagram app – making the entire process seamless. 

Since Instagram Shops only launched in May, many businesses may not even know Instagram Shops exist or how to get in on the action for themselves. So, Instagram took the step of putting as many resources in one place as possible to help get started. 

‘The Season For Shops’

The new mini-site is called ‘The Season for Shops’ and caters to brands trying out Instagram Shops for the first time. 

The most important features include:

Setting Up Shop

First and foremost, this guide provides step-by-step instructions for setting up your storefront, including signing up for and connecting accounts across platforms.

Help Guides

Once you’ve got your shop set up, these guides will help you take the next step to make your products easy to browse and purchase. 

Tagging Products

Tagging products in your feed posts, stories, and streams allows people to immediately browse and buy your products as soon as they see them. This is key for making it convenient to go from scrolling through your feed to clicking buy.

To help you get started tagging your products effectively, The Season for Shops site has two guides available:

  • Start Tagging: A 19-page guide with detailed information on the variety of product tag types.
  • Tag With Purpose: A simple guide to the do’s and don’ts of tagging.

Collections

Another important way to make your products easy to browse is by grouping related products into Collections. 

This allows users to browse through your products like any category on your store website. It can also gather related themes like “beach outfits” or “rainy day apparel”.

Find out how to make the most of collections with an 8-page guide outlining all the details and tricks you can use. 

Shopping Ads

Want to take your shop to the next level? By investing a bit of money for shopping ads, you can share your products with a wider audience and increase the chance of finding new customers. 

This can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it, with simple “boosts” which amplify the number of people who see your store or targeted ads which specifically connect with those most likely to purchase. 

As such, Instagram released three guides explaining everything from the basics to more advanced shopping ad strategies:

  • Holiday Shopping Ads Strategy: A simple motivational guide with ideas for advertising in the upcoming holiday season.
  • Set Up Shopping Ads: A 9-page “get started” guide with information explaining what shopping ads are, how to set them up, and how to monitor your results.
  • Custom Shopping Audiences: This 7-page guide details how to target your ads to specific audiences of ideal buyers. 

To check out all the guides for yourself, explore the ‘Season for Shops’ mini-site here.

Facebook is launching a major overhaul called Shops which will make it easier for brands to sell their products to users without sending them off the social network. 

In theory, the move would allow e-commerce businesses to operate their entire business over Facebook, without an external website or online shop.

With Facebook Shops, businesses can turn their Facebook pages into completely shoppable storefronts. The company also plans to extend the feature to Instagram in the near future.

While the service is free to set up on the social networks, it is powered by third-party services such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Woo which tend to require a fee or subscription to use. Additionally, the service will charge a fee when customers complete a transaction using the feature. 

Businesses will also be able to include their shops in Stories or buy ads to promote their shops and products across the social networks. However, it is unknown exactly what those ads will look like when they arrive.

In a blog post, Facebook indicated they will be working to integrate loyalty programs into their online shop sometime soon. 

“You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards,” said a company representative. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage, and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

While discussing the move in a live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that brands struggling to recover from the COVID-19 shutdowns could use the feature to connect with new and existing customers.

“If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” said Zuckerberg. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time.”

After 8 years, Google is finally bringing organic, unpaid listings into its Shopping search results.

Starting next week, the Google Shopping tab “will consist primarily of free product listings.”

Google Shopping Organic Listings

This is a huge shift from how Google has treated the section in the past. Since 2012, the Shopping tab has been exclusively for paid product listing or ads.

The decision comes during the ongoing shutdown of many local businesses, driving consumers to online retail. In particular, Amazon has seen a massive surge in usage this month.

Although the company says it had plans to open the Shopping tab for organic listings before this, Google’s President of Commerce Bill Ready noted the ongoing crisis was a major motivation for “advancing our plans to make [Google Shopping] free for merchants.”

Importantly, the change is permanent and will not revert as businesses across the country begin to reopen.

“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs,” said Ready. “For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.”

What Happens To Paid Shopping Listings

With Google moving to make the Shopping tab more like its traditional search engine results pages, the company will begin treating paid shopping ads similarly to ads shown in other areas.

Paid shopping ads will primarily appear at the top and bottom of results pages in the Google Shopping tab. Additionally, carousels of product listing ads will continue to be only for paid ads.

How To Get Your Products Indexed

Google says the revamped shopping tab will continue to be powered by product data feeds provided through Google Merchant Center. Although GMC was once a paid service, the company opened the Merchant Center to all retailers for free more than a year ago, as it began to integrate organic product listings into search results across the platform.

To get your own products included in search results within the Google Shopping feed and elsewhere across Google, you’ll need to start a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product feed detailing the products you carry. Additionally, you must opt-in to “surfaces across Google” to be included in organic results.

SimilarItems

Google Image Search is making it easier for consumers to find the exact item they’re looking for with a new “Similar Items” suggestion area on searches from mobile devices. The company says the new feature will also help shoppers find new products that compliment one they were already looking for, opening an entirely new door for potential sales.

For the moment, the suggestions feature is limited to just handbags, sunglasses, and shoes. This is to allow Google to refine the feature and guarantee it is providing relevant results for searchers. Over the next few months, they aim to expand to include other apparel and potentially home & garden items.

img

”Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user.”

In the same stroke, Google has also made the existing product results in image searches more useful for consumers by displaying price and availability information in results.

Including your products and services in the “Similar Items” feature requires adding Schema.org product metadata to the pages for every product you want to include. Theoretically, this would mean you could also exclude specific items from “Similar Items” results if desired.

The metadata markup tells Google the name, image, price, availability, & currency your business uses to include in search results. Once you’ve added the markup, it can take up to a week for Google to crawl your new data and add it to the search results.

If you’ve already implemented Schema metadata but your products aren’t showing up in the results, you may test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check for errors that may be keeping your products out.