Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is paramount to maximizing the profitability of an eCommerce company. An ideal custom-tailored strategy paired with the right SEO tools leads to execution of SEO tactics which drives business results. Successful implementation is where an SEO expert and partner can help take your business to the next level. However, before leaping into an SEO partnership to perform and execute a new SEO strategy, it’s important for merchants to have a solid handle on their business goals and needs. SEO can be very beneficial to merchants. But if goals and expectations are not properly communicated in the beginning, the results can be lacking and off-point. This can lead to wasted time for both parties. To avoid disappointment, here are five questions eCommerce merchants need to ask themselves before hiring an SEO partner.

1. Which site actions are currently the most valuable?

What features, functions and user actions equate to the most organic growth and revenue on your eCommerce website? In other words, what items or pages are currently resonating and converting well with new customers? Pages that currently rank and perform well organically will play a key part in benchmarking success for other pages being optimized. It’s important that merchants have an idea of what is currently performing well to help their SEO partner with focus and direction.

Most SEO Action Plans will have sections that focus on content optimization and on-site optimization. Both initiatives will analyze the technical aspects of both high performing and low performing pages, content, and meta information. Proactive merchants that identify their most valuable content can provide beneficial insights to an SEO partner. It’s also okay to not always know why  – that’s why you’re hiring an SEO partner after all.

2. Who is your target audience?

What type of people are your customers? Are they new parents, teenagers, Millennials, Baby Boomers or some combo of these groups? A considerable portion of SEO success is dependent upon content and verbiage. Due to the different ways in which groups communicate and interact with eCommerce websites, your SEO partner will rely on your expertise and understanding of the target audience. No one knows your customers better than you. Therefore, when your SEO partner is working on onsite optimization that could include new blogs, press releases, or informal content for your customers, they will need to know who they are writing for and what your unique customer expectations are.

3. What are your unique selling points?

Why do customers buy from you versus your competitors? Are you known for excellent customer service, best prices, or unique products that can’t be found anywhere else? Merchants who know and market their USPs successfully will be ahead of the competition – particularly for SEO. The primary focus of SEO for eCommerce websites is to drive traffic and sales. Merchants need to showcase their top USPs to new visitors and reinforce them to repeat customers.

An SEO partner will work to direct customers to the right place and present your business in the best light. Effectively communicating USPs is an integral part of a successful SEO strategy.

4. Who is your biggest competitor and why?

Who is that other company you and your team always reference in meetings or try to emulate? Merchants who are familiar with their competitors will have an edge. For SEO, it’s possible to gain a lot of valuable information on competitors. For example, their total monthly traffic, the keywords they are ranking for that your site isn’t, and how well they’re doing on mobile.

A complete SEO strategy will include a detailed competitor analysis. Have an idea of at least 2 competitors to include in an SEO plan, and a detailed competitor profile can provide an SEO partner with a great head start. A good SEO partner will integrate concepts that are working in your industry, develop original material based on that success, and make your company more competitive.

5. How will you monitor success?

Are you measuring success based on conversion rates, customer growth, or sales revenue? Maybe it is a combination of metrics? How you monitor success is both a practical and ideological question. There are many data points that can be tracked when analyzing the progress and success of SEO. Every business is unique, and merchants need to decide what matters most to their individual needs.

Concise reporting of key metrics is a critical way to see how the efforts of your SEO partner are paying off. An experienced SEO specialist will be familiar with multiple types of reporting tools and will likely have a recommendation. However, if you’re able to share how you measure success and what’s important to you, it will make it easier for your SEO partner to target the appropriate areas of improvement where you’ll see desirable results.  In addition, it’s important for merchants to be engaged in the reporting process and to ask questions to help push efforts in the right direction.

SEO is a Team Effort

Regardless of how talented your SEO partner is, your input and industry insights are invaluable. You are the expert on your eCommerce business. Spending time helping your SEO partner to understand your business needs and goals are essential to success. If you are ready to begin the SEO process, looking for SEO help, or want to evaluate your current SEO plan and strategy then contact us. Finding the right SEO partner begins with a conversation and we would like to talk to you.