There are many factors to consider when building a website. SEO is typically high on the list. You’re online to get noticed, so it makes sense to place discoverability at the top of your list of priorities.
FMCG companies have typically neglected SEO favouring instant-results marketing such as paid social and Google shopping ads. With the rise of D2C shopping, FMCG should now pay close attention to SEO to reap the benefits now and in the future.
This guide will cover optimising your site for search engines such as Google, building authority, optimising the user experience, and creating the ideal website structure.
Why does SEO matter for FMCG?
SEO is how we get our website ranked on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Without a strong ranking, you might as well not have a site at all. This can happen for several reasons: your competitors are outranking you or because the user experience means that visitors typically don’t stick around.
If your SEO strategy to date has been “if we build it, they will come”, then you’re sadly mistaken.
Given time, a website might begin to rank and get noticed, but this is a short-sighted strategy when you can take steps to increase your chances of success. To fail to make these simple optimisations is at best naive and at worst negligent.
SEO scares many FMCG companies as it isn’t as easy to attribute success to a particular activity. With paid social media, your website cookies can easily track a sale to a specific ad. (But that is all set to change soon, anyway.)
With SEO, the journey might be more fragmented, and users might have multiple touchpoints before making a final purchase. This makes it more challenging to attribute ROI to SEO activity, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
Start with an SEO audit
You can’t create an SEO roadmap until you know where you currently stand. An SEO audit will help you to understand your position, so you know what needs to improve.
A good SEO audit should cover:
- On page factors – meta information, internal linking, schema use. These are all things you can directly control.
- Off page factors – links pointing to your site, social shares. These are things that might be out of your control.
- Site content overview – content gaps, keyword use, internal linking.
- Site issues – mobile analysis, crawlability, duplicate content, URL structure.
Once you understand the health of your site, you can begin to implement changes to ensure your site is making the most of opportunities. Nearly every SEO campaign should follow an SEO adit with keyword research. This will help to shift the focus from your website to your user’s intent. And every good SEO campaign should place user intent at its core.
What does keyword research look like for FMCG?
Keyword research for FMCG website owners should focus on the intent and search volume. When it comes to eCommerce site owners, your key focus should be how often customers are looking for products or services that you offer.
If there’s low demand, then SEO efforts might not be worth it. But if consumer interest in what you have to sell is high-then now’s an excellent time to start!
The most popular keyword research tools include Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. There are paid versions available such as SEMRush, which offers features like pay-per-click advertising monitoring and competitor analysis and more.
It would help if you optimised for branded and non-branded keywords, as this will help maximise your reach. While you might be relying on customers knowing precisely what they are looking for in a D2C context, you should also consider those speculative browsers exploring their options.
SEO and website structure
A common problem eCommerce websites face is a messy website structure, making life more difficult for users trying to navigate your website. Just like human website browsers, robot crawlers will also struggle to make sense of the mess.
Many eCommerce websites grow organically, adding more and more product lines as the business expands. Your website will have a clear hierarchy structure in an ideal world, with your home page at the top, category pages under this, and then products sorted into categories.
Every time a product moves to a new category, or you delete a category, your website gains a 404. Broken links can be disastrous for SEO and the user experience. During your SEO audit, you should look out for broken links, orphan pages and messy URL structure.
Focus on the user experience
Google and other search engines take their cues from internet users. If they click on a link from the SERP and quickly navigate away, they assume the page didn’t meet their requirements. A high bounce rate can negatively impact your SEO standings.
By focussing on the user experience, you can help users who land on your site achieve their goals. When this happens, search engines learn that your site is relevant for particular search terms and reward it with higher rankings.
When assessing the user experience, look at the following factors:
- Ease of navigation
- Signposting within the content (website copy and internal links)
- Page loading times
- Ease of checkout process
- Image and video content to enhance the shopping experience
- Mobile user experience
Building your website authority
SEO is frustrating for many business owners as there are no guarantees. PPC can offer instant results from the moment you set your campaigns live. With SEO, it could be months before you see any positive impact from your work. But unlike PPC, SEO will continue to benefit your website even if you decide to stop working on it.
Short of a huge algorithm update punishing you in the rankings, you can rely on a steadily increasing stream of traffic, even if you are no longer investing in SEO. With PPC, as soon as the budget dries up, the traffic stops.
Building your website authority is all about establishing high-quality backlinks and giving your site time. Domain age and a regularly updated website will serve you well. So if your brand new eCommerce website struggles to find its footing, don’t write off SEO just yet. Keep your site updated, monitor usability issues, and invest in quality content to help guide the user. If you need help getting there, we’re here to help.