Search engine optimizing an online shop and sales relevance

by Ulf Liljankoski, January 2007

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INTRODUCTION

When you search engine optimize an online shop, you in most cases choose a couple of broad keywords/phrases which are relevant for the online shop, and you also thoroughly optimization of the content (on-page [see note 1] as well as off-page [see note 2]).

My questions at issue are:

1. What part of the search engine optimization is most relevant for a online shop with a wide range of products and a wide range of customers?
2. What kind of searches on the search engines (which words and phrases) leads to a sale?

To get some answers to these questions, I have analyzed statistics from a search engine optimized online shop. The statistics range is from 2006-January-01 to 2006-December-31.

The results are divided into two parts.
In the first part I analyze the results for the broad keywords and the sale they generate.
In the second part I analyze the remaining words/phrases.

With a word I mean a search for a single word. e.g. pens.
With a phrase I mean a search for a combination of words, e.g. +pen +ballpoint +green +ink,

THE CONDITION FOR THE ANALYZED ONLINE SHOP

The online shop I have analyzed has been search engine optimized for six broad keywords (very relevant for the shop), and all product pages and information pages has been thoroughly search engine optimized.

Searching for five of the broad keywords will place the online shop in top 5 result at Google, Eniro, MSN Live och Yahoo, and top 6 for one of the keywords.

The online shop has been search engine optimized on-page as well as off-page for the broad keywords, and for the remaining words/phrases it has only been search engine optimized on-page.

RESULTS

Results for the broad keywords
The broad keywords generate much traffic. Even if these keywords are very relevant for the online shop, they do not generate many sales.
Sales frequencies are 0 – 2.63 % when the visitor has searched for the broad keywords.

Example:

Keyword

Sales frequencies

Broadkeyword1

1.05 %

Broadkeyword2

0.78 %

Broadkeyword3

0.00 %

Broadkeyword4

0.40 %

Broadkeyword5

0.00 %

Broadkeyword6

2.63 %

If the broad keywords are combined with additional words when searching on a search engine, they hardly generate any traffic (even if the online shop ranks top 10 combining a broad keyword with additional words) – this may suggest that the broad keywords are rarely combined with additional words, the sales frequency are however higher.
Sales frequencies are 0 – 100 % when combining a broad keyword with additional words.

Example:

Keyword

Sales frequencies

Broadkeyword1 + additional words

18.00 %

Broadkeyword2 + additional words

25.00 %

Broadkeyword3 + additional words

100.00 %

Broadkeyword4 + additional words

0.00 %

Broadkeyword5 + additional words

0.00 %

Broadkeyword6 + additional words

0.00 %

Results for the remaining words/phrases
The searches for the remaining words/phrases generate sales in 0 % – 100 % of the cases. Searches with two or more words combined generate most sales (e.g. +fishing +rod +beginner +kit or +fishing +rod +beginner).

Example:

Phrase

Sales frequencies

Exampleword1 + Exampleword2

100.00 %

Exampleword1 + Exampleword3 + Exampleword4

25.00 %

Exampleword5 + Exampleword6 + Exampleword7

85.00 %

Also single words that are precise for a product can generate sales in 0 % – 100 % of the cases if there is no greater competition in visibility on the search engines.

Example:

Keyword

Sales frequencies

Preciseword1

100.00 %

Preciseword2

75.00 %

Preciseword3

30.00 %

MY CONCLUSION

My conclusion is that the broad keywords do not generate many sales (calculated as a percentage). A search engine optimization for some individual broad keywords are for that reason, in my opinion, of slight interest for an online shop with a wide range of products and a wide range of customers.
However it is more important to search engine optimized an online shop (with a wide range of products and a wide range of customers) thoroughly to generate sales on individual products.

DISCUSSION OF THE RESULTS

Online shops can differ in product range and who their customers are. Some shops are more niched in their product range than others and their customers are individuals with a special interest.
The niched online shops does not, in my opinion, need to get thoroughly search engine optimized as much as the online shops with a wide range of products and a wide range of customers, because of a broad keyword for a niche could be very precise and apt for their products.
Of course it is also better to thoroughly search engine optimize a niched online shop, but in my opinion it is not that important. But more research should be made regarding this and sales on a niched shop should be compared with sales on an online shop with a wide range of products.

We should also have in mind that the statistics may differ between business of various kinds.

————-NOTES————-
1. Refers to search optimizing the site it self e.g. title, text etc.

2. Refers to search optimizing external factors e.g. inbound links, anchor text etc.

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