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Does Your eCommerce Website Have a Pulse?

It’s the end of the quarter and one statistic I like to review each quarter is how well my website is doing at driving free traffic from natural search.  If you have your Google Webmaster account setup correctly it’s a huge resource with tons of indicators on what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing so well for driving free natural search traffic to your website.  If you’re not reviewing your Webmaster traffic reports at least once a quarter, you might not have your finger on the pulse to what’s really happening.

Let me show you a real life chart out of my Google Webmaster dashboard for the first quarter on a single search term that’s good at driving customers to my website and let’s go through some things I learned while reading this chart.

eCommerce SEO Chart

eCommerce SEO Chart

Looking at the chart you’ll see two lines.  The blue line is the impressions line.  This is how many times my website was “displayed” on Google’s search result page for this single keyword search phrase.  Because I’ve been watching this data for a long time I know my search rank for this keyword phrase has not really moved much over the course of time.  Google says it is landing mostly at 9 or 10 on the search results page.  If my rank was changing up or down a ton, I would have to take that into consideration for an increase or a decrease in impression volume.  But because I know that factor is fairly constant, I can begin to make more conclusions when analyzing the impression data.

Because I know my position for this search term is mostly a constant I can read the impression line as mostly an indicator of demand.  This line on the chart is telling me how often potential customers are searching this search term per day and because I’m landing in the top 10 I’m getting an impression most the of time this search term is executed.

The pattern of the impression line also tells me that this particular search phrase has “Seasonality” to it.  For an eCommerce business, seasonality is when your business will have higher demand during certain times of the year.  Most of the time this is due to an event.  In my case, I sell a product that has greater demand when people go on vacations.  So looking at the impression line on this chart tells me the demand increased from less than 20 searches per day to a peak over 250 searches per day and lasted for approximately 6 weeks.  Because I’ve been selling this product for a long time and I keep my finger on the pulse at all times I know that this search traffic increase was due to SPRING BREAK and people who take Spring Break vacations searching for my product.

This becomes valuable information for me to use the following year

1) I can better prepare my inventory
2) Align Spring Break related marketing and messaging before the season begins
3) I may also adjust my PPC campaigns and bid phrases for these 6 weeks

This information also tells me a lot about why my demand goes up and down.  I hear all the time from other eCommerce sellers saying things like “My sales are bad this week” or ” eBay must have made a change to their search” or “the economy is crashing.”  When people tell me their sales are going up or going down and they give me the reason why as an assumption regarding a big event, I worry for them.  I worry if they are making such broad assumptions about such an important factor in their business, they will also make big decisions from these assumptions that might be wrong and most of the time are wrong.  For example  they may lower their pricing thinking that will increase demand, when pricing is not the issue.  It’s best to know exactly why your sales are going up or going down and most of the information to inform you is out there.  All you need to do is find it.

Tip:  It’s best to know exactly why your sales are going up or going down and most of the information to tell you why is out there you just need to go find it.

The second line tells me how many times a person clicked on my link during these Google searches and also tells me the CTR (Click Through Rate).  When I see the 2% CTR I figure that’s a fairly standard number but it also tells me there is a ton of room for improvement.  Honestly I’m very happy to see that I landed on page 1 for this highly competitive search phrase but I’m very disappointed in the result of a 2% CTR.  It shows me I was inches away from buyers that never found me.  Inches!

Tip: If you’re inches away from success on a search results page, you still lost.  Continue to climb those last few inches.  Gaining the last few inches on a search results page require the biggest effort.

Instead of being upset with the past, it’s time for me to take action for the future.  Now I’m armed with the right information and I’m ready to get to work.  My next steps are to tweak things for a higher placement on this exact search phrase.  I’m going to make small adjustments to internal links, page titles, URLs and content.  I may even adjust a few inbound links from my blog.  These small changes are focused on raising my result from 10th place for this phrase to hopefully the top 5.  I know I’m competing against the big boys at this stage where beating Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon will be a challenge.  But I’m up for the challenge.

There are many other things this single chart tells me but we’ll save those lessons for another day.  I hope going through a live example of a real search term for a real website would help you learn with me.  If you remind me, I’ll share my results in another 3 months.

If you’re ready for my help at reading your eCommerce pulse and would like help improving your vital signs, give me a shout.

Cheers to selling smarter!