Getting to Page 1 of SERPs
The continuing shift to e-commerce and the dominance of Google as the preferred search engine makes understanding the best way to get to page one of the search engine results pages (SERPs) critical to improving sales in 2015.
Underperforming product pages are wasted space on a company's website. Companies invest the same resources to maintain and update poor-performing pages as they would with superior performing pages, so the need to optimize pages is clear.
According to a study conducted by Chikita Insights, more than 91 percent of Google e-commerce referrals come from first page search results. Only 2.3 percent of referrals come from products that appear after the second page.
Google determines search rank through an algorithm that includes keywords, listing quality and reviews, and having the product in stock, so it's important for retail marketers to optimize the use of each of these factors on their product pages. Products with all of these attributes will land on the first two pages 25 percent of the time, while failing to have just one of these likely pushes it to the third page or later.
Keywords are essential in the title and description. Keywords in either the title or description will increase search rankings, but the most visible items — i.e., the ones that will appear on the first page of Google SERPs — will include keywords in the title and description, will follow best practices for listing quality and reviews, and will have the item in stock.
Google determines listing quality based on a combination of images, videos, discounts and items in stock. Items with images are 50 percent more likely to be found on page one of a search than items without an image. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but three or more images is what's needed to be considered highly visible for the Google algorithm.
Research from Contact Analytics shows that highly visible items have at least 20 reviews — positive or negative. Positive reviews are more valuable. The best way to ensure a higher percentage of positive reviews is to provide outstanding customer service, which includes ensuring items are in stock. In-stock items are 700 percent more likely to appear on page one vs. out-of-stock items.
Video provides another boost in search rankings. Only 6.6 percent of items without video land on page one, and only 7.9 percent on page two. However, customers can be turned off if a video takes too long to load once they come to a retailer's site.
Interestingly, price is a relatively unimportant factor is general searches, with items found on page one and page two having about the same prices as items found on page 10.
Yet there are more specific searches in which price does matter in the Google rankings. For example, if a consumer conducts a "commodity" search looking for an item like HDMI cable, low-priced items have better Google search visibility than premium-priced items. Similarly, premium pricing results in significantly lower Google search rankings in brand searches.
However, lower pricing actually hurts results for targeted product searches. For example, search for a "Ninja Blender" had pricier blenders on page one, while lower-priced blenders and accessories appeared on page two or later.
Now that the holiday shopping rush is over, the beginning of the new year is a good time for retailers to review on-site search rankings, content quality, product assortment, product naming and product purchase associations to improve discoverability and increase sales.
Tips for Getting to Page 1
- Enrich product listings by maximizing keywords, adding videos and photos, and providing discounts for commodity goods.
- Engage customers to provide feedback, which will increase the number of reviews.
- Provide excellent customer service to improve your chances of getting positive reviews. Raving fans will help sell products not only on your site, but through positive posts they make on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media.
David Feinleib is the founder of Content Analytics, which provides deep insight into on-site search rankings, content quality, product assortment, product naming and product purchase associations to improve discoverability and increase sales.