September 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

Experts offer search marketing tips to quickly boost sales

Experts in search engine marketing strategies offered tips at the Shop.org Annual Summit this week on things that online retailers can do to increase revenue in the near term. Following is a sampling of their advice.

Experts in search engine marketing strategies offered tips at the Shop.org Annual Summit this week on things that online retailers can do to increase revenue in the near term. Here’s a sampling of their advice.

  • Use negative keywords in pay-per-click search marketing campaigns, said Ken Jurina, president and founder of web design firm Top Draw and search marketing firm Epiar.

    By purchasing a negative keyword, a marketer instructs a search engine to not display a paid search ad when a shopper searches on a keyword phrase that includes the negative keyword. The goal is to eliminate unwanted clicks on ads by shoppers unlikely to click through to make a purchase.

    For example, using a common negative keyword like “free” will prevent many shoppers just looking for free versions of a retailer’s advertised products. This “decreases irrelevant clicks and impressions which cost money but won’t lead to conversions,” Jurina said.

  • Embed customer-generated product reviews on product pages, said Brian Klais, chief operating officer, search engine optimization firm Netconcepts. Ideally, he added, retailers should post customer-generated reviews on product pages, a step that has been known to increase keyword traffic by 250%.

    Klais also suggested that retailers use branded, short URLs to identify web pages, and to organize page titles in the sequence of category/product/brand to boost keyword traffic.

  • Take advantage of store locators, said Bill Leake, CEO, Apogee Search Marketing. Leake noted that online store locators typically get a large amount of traffic, and that, of the top 25 retail sites in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, 16 have physical stores and identify them with online store locators.

    But, despite the valuable online space store locators offer for running promotions and other content to engage shoppers, only two of those 16 retailers have any meaningful call-to-action graphical image in their store locator sections, he added. “Don’t waste this opportunity,” he said.

  • Re-focus the home page, said Amanda Watlington, CEO, City Square Consulting, and owner, Searching for Profit. “Most home pages are graphics-intensive and do not have a clear keyword focus visible to search engines and users,” she said.

    Watlington suggests optimizing home pages for search engines by taking steps such as inserting keyword-rich content at the top of the page, including runners like “Back to School Bargains” and “Featured Homecoming and Prom Dresses.”

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